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    LA Auto Show: Mazda CX-3 Crossover


    • Mazda Makes Its Mark On the Subcompact Market


    Mazda is the latest automaker to jump on the subcompact crossover train with the introduction of the 2016 CX-3 the night before the LA Auto Show kicks off.

    The CX-3 is based on the next-generation Mazda2 and compared to the CX-5, its about a foot shorter. But park a CX-3 and CX-5 side by side and it's hard to tell difference. The CX-3 features Mazda's KODO design language which features flowing lines to highlight the wheel arches and a higher beltline, along with a trapezoidal grille with the trim extending into the headlights. Mazda designers blacked out the rear pillar to give the feeling of the roof floating.

    Inside the CX-3 is a tidy and clean space. The dash layout is very similar to the Mazda3 with a dual-screen instrument cluster iPad-like infotainment display.

    Power will come from the 2.0L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine. Mazda is keeping power specs close to their chest, but we're expecting 155 to 160 horsepower. For the U.S. market, Mazda will only offer the CX-3 with a six-speed automatic with the choice of front or all-wheel drive. Everywhere else will get a six-speed manual.

    The Mazda CX-3 will be heading to dealers in mid-to-late 2015.

    Source: Mazda

    Press Release is on Page 2


    The All-new 2016 Mazda CX-3 Compact Crossover SUV

    Nov 18, 20148:00pm

    Mazda debuts the 2016 Mazda CX-3 at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The new compact crossover SUV is the fifth model in Mazda’s line-up of new-generation vehicles that feature the full range of SKYACTIV Technology and KODO—Soul of Motion design. The CX-3 offers all the essentials people look for in a vehicle; a design of overwhelming quality and style, packaging developed solely with the customer’s ease-of-use in mind, and the responsive driving feel that Mazda strives for in every model.

    In pursuing a design of beauty and sophistication, the essence of KODO—the expression of life within a vehicle—has been evolved to produce a sharper form with an enhanced sense of speed. In the interior, meticulous attention to detail regarding the materials used has created a cabin environment of impressive sophistication and quality. In terms of driving performance, the CX-3 adopts the full suite of SKYACTIV technologies, carefully crafted to match human sensibilities. This realizes driving pleasure with faithful response as well as excellent environmental and safety performance.

    The powertrain for North America is the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine, which along with Mazda’s new-generation AWD system delivers powerful and linear driving performance and outstanding environmental performance. To enhance the customer’s driving pleasure, the model also offers a wide range of Mazda’s latest technologies, including the Mazda Connect infotainment system and i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety features.

    With Mazda’s latest design and technology, the Mazda CX-3 is a vehicle to suit the customer’s creative lifestyle in any scene, from inner-city driving to enjoying the great outdoors. The model will go on sale globally, starting from Japan in spring 2015 and is expected to become a new core model in Mazda’s line-up.

    Design

    • Pursuing sophisticated beauty with the latest iteration of KODO

    The CX-3 design pursues beauty and sophistication, while expressing Mazda’s KODO design language in the most stylish fashion. Its powerful and highly vital form creates a pure expression of the vehicle Mazda’s designers themselves wanted, one that is not fettered by conventional classifications of vehicle type. The design team worked to create a straight expression of beauty and radical styling for the exterior. Achieving this involved an uncompromising approach to refining the proportions that form the foundation of its beauty and painstaking efforts to eliminate every unnecessary element. For the interior as well, a concerted effort to achieve the appropriate expression to the ambience and fine textures of the materials used realizes a high-quality, sophisticated cabin environment.

    Exterior

    • The front view of the CX-3 is designed to present a bold look that suits the model’s stylish proportions. The front grille stacks seven fins with silver-painted front edges to create an expression of concentrated energy that flows horizontally. The signature wing is stout and three-dimensional, as if machined from solid metal. It forms the starting point for a powerful sense of speed that flows across the entire body.
    • The headlamp layout positions the turn signals outside the main headlamp unit to create a narrow, sharp design suggesting eyes gazing forward. The tips of the signature wing extend into the headlamps with an integrated LED illumination line. This connects seamlessly with the lighting signature that surrounds the low beams, accentuating the model’s taut expression.
    • With the peak of the front fenders pushed rearward to lie beneath the base of the A-pillars, the side view of CX-3 conveys a sense of extended body size, far greater than the vehicle’s actual dimensions. Careful attention was devoted to creating the rich expression and subtle changes in each of the body surfaces for the following three sections. The front half of the body features a long nose with a flowing shape; the cabin section presents a sleek look achieved by blacking out the D-pillars; and the solid mass at the rear of the body conveys a look of strength and power.
    • The license plate is located in the upper part of the rear bumper to realize a short overhang design that gives the rear a clean look and powerful sense of solidity.
    • The CX-3 introduces a newly developed Ceramic Metallic body color. Its expression of a finely honed metallic surface and strong sense of hardness changes in appearance depending on the light hitting it.
    • The CX-3 adopts large diameter tires that lend an appealing sense of a powerful drive and positive stance. Optional 18-inch aluminum wheels feature thick, sculpted spokes painted gunmetal gray and contrasted with the brilliant sheen of machined metal.

    Interior

    • The interior gives a high-quality and sophisticated feel coordinated with the exterior design. Keen attention was paid to every detail, including the cohesiveness of the spatial designs and the quality of materials used.
    • The surrounding character line and relatively high beltline, along with the deeply sculpted three-dimensional form of the door trim, create a comforting sense of snugness and openness for the front seat space.
    • All information displays and control systems are positioned in accordance with a driver-oriented design based on Mazda’s Heads-up Cockpit concept.
    • The soft material that covers the meter hood features a stitch-like finish on its front edge, producing an atmosphere of maturity.
    • Each individual part has been refined to provide the interior with a polished, high-quality feel. Examples includes the dark red accent color used on the door trim armrests and floor console kneepads, and the sharp form of the inner door handle bezels which look as if they were sculpted from solid metal.
    • Fine piping carefully added where the different coordinated seat materials meet, such as the Parchment leather and off-black Lux Suede offering, produces a sophisticated environment.

    Packaging

    • Human-centric packaging aimed at true ease of use

    In addition to applying the latest iteration of the KODO design language to realize stylish proportions, CX-3 development also secured an adequate amount of space. The aim was to achieve a package that properly represents Mazda’s vision of what a vehicle should be. As a result, the CX-3 offers ease of use that is unique to its crossover SUV packaging. It provides drivers with the clear view they need, is easy to enter and exit, and realizes a seating position with a low center of gravity that lends a reassuring sense of confidence when driving. It also adopts the advanced Mazda Connect connectivity system, which supports the customer’s active lifestyle.

    Dimensions, comfort and ease of entry/exit

    • With dimensions of 168.3 in. overall length, 69.5 in. width and 61 in. height (when equipped with the shark fin antenna and unladen), the body size makes the CX-3 easy to handle, even when driving in town or parking. The long nose has a 35.8 in. front overhang (measured from center of wheel), the solid-looking rear overhang is 31.3 in., and the wheelbase is 101.2 in. This establishes flowing proportions while securing adequate space for comfortable seating.
    • The front seats provide excellent shoulder room, distance between the two front seats, and legroom to comfortably seat occupants of any size.
    • The seating position of the rear seats is set closer to the center of the cabin than the front seats, and the hip-point is set taller than on the front seats. The resulting layout makes it easier for rear seat occupants to see out of the front and also to enjoy conversation with people sitting diagonally opposite in the front seats.
    • The hip-point for the CX-3 is optimally set for both front and rear seats. It combines with the meticulously executed side sill garnish structure and shape of the lower part of the rear doors to achieve excellent ease of cabin entry and exit for people of any size.

    Driving position

    • An optimal driving position allows the driver to enjoy driving while appreciating a clear view, and to drive with a feeling of confidence.
    • The CX-3 provides a wide field of vision out the front. At the same time, mounting the outer mirrors on the body panel of the doors widens the field of vision between the front window and mirror. To maximize visibility to the rear, the height of the rear part of the beltline and position of the C-pillars are carefully designed and quarter windows adopted.
    • Positioning the front wheels forward and optimizing the shape of the pedals and the distance between them realizes an optimal driving position that enables the driver to sit comfortably, extend their legs and reach the pedals more naturally. A hinged organ-type accelerator pedal is used.
    • Great effort went into achieving optimum positioning of each control device. Meticulous adjustment of the shift knob’s positioning on top of the floor console allows the driver to transfer their hand smoothly between it and the steering wheel, and to operate it smoothly and easily without applying excessive force. The commander control features a palmrest that promotes operating stability.
    • An optimized structure for the seatbacks and seat cushions, as well as for the shape and firmness of the seats, combines with vibration-absorbing urethane foam material employed by the seat cushions and seatbacks to achieve a comfortable ride with an excellent fit and hold. The extended seatback length of the rear seats makes the seats feel roomier.

    Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and connectivity system

    • Mazda’s new-generation HMI pursues safety as its top priority. The cockpit design is based on the Heads-up Cockpit concept, which aims to help drivers process large amounts of information while maintaining the correct driving position and concentrating on driving safely.
    • Information the driver requires and the devices for controlling its display are optimally positioned for safety. This includes the Active Driving Display, seven-inch center display and commander control.
    • Mazda Connect is an in-car infotainment system that makes it safer and easier to take advantage of functions such as internet connectivity and communications, even when on the move. It provides great convenience by providing services that require Bluetooth connectivity, such as hands-free phone operation, reception of short text messages, and internet radio including Aha by HARMAN.

    Driving Dynamics

    • Dynamic performance that provides unrestricted driving enjoyment

    Mazda is in constant pursuit of driving pleasure and faithful response to the driver’s will. Having the vehicle respond exactly as expected to the driver’s actions connects directly to the pleasure of the Jinba-Ittai driving experience and cannot be achieved merely with power and speed. Based on this philosophy, the CX-3 development team focused on delivering ease of handling on city streets, reassuring confidence on the highway, and particularly on faithful response when negotiating gently curving rural roads. By fully adopting SKYACTIV Technology and tuning all the characteristics to match human senses, Mazda produced light, linear response to the driver’s actions along with the handling stability that the Jinba-Ittai experience requires. The powertrain offering for North America is Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0. Also introduced is a new-generation AWD system. Powerful dynamic performance with linear response and excellent environmental performance provides unrestricted driving enjoyment.

    Chassis and body

    • The CX-3 adopts the SKYACTIV-CHASSIS, which delivers reassuring confidence and greatly enhanced levels of comfort thanks to thoroughly revised suspension and steering functions. Fine-tuning of every related component realizes natural response, ease of control and reassuring confidence, even when driving on the highway.
    • The chassis employs a lightweight torsion beam rear suspension system that features highly efficient packaging and dampers in the front and rear that optimize friction characteristics to deliver linear handling characteristics and ride comfort with a feeling of high quality.
    • The steering system allows light and agile handling in the city, but feels stable on winding country roads and the highway.
    • The brake system enables excellent control of vehicle speed at low- to mid-speeds and offers excellent braking performance under high-speed and high G force conditions.
    • The CX-3 also adopts Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY, which achieves high levels of performance in three seemingly contradictory areas: collision safety, weight reduction, and rigidity. Realizing an even simpler layout of Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY architecture, it combines effective positioning of high-tensile steel and optimized cross section shapes to produce a lightweight body that features high rigidity and a sense of positive damping characteristics.
    • The usage ratio of high-tensile steel throughout the vehicle body and parts is 63 percent. The usage ratio of ultra-high-tensile steel (780MPa or higher) is 29 percent and four percent of the total is rated 1,180 MPa.

    NVH and Aerodynamic Performance

    • Excellent quietness is achieved through controlling suspension resonance, tuning the shape and hardness of the engine mounts and adjusting their position, and optimally positioning sound insulating and absorbing materials.
    • For the AWD model, additional measures were taken to reduce noise and vibrations and suppress their transmission through the vehicle body. These include reinforcements added to the crossmember that connects the rear frame and optimization of the shape of the beading used on the spare tire pan.
    • Simulations using advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics allow aerodynamic parts to be place in the most strategic locations for optimal efficiency. This helps to achieve excellent aerodynamics that contribute to both driving performance and improved fuel economy.

    Powertrains

    • For North America, the CX-3 will use the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 gasoline engine which delivers linear, powerful driving performance and excellent real-world fuel economy.
    • The CX-3 features an automatic transmission as standard equipment on all trim levels. The SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic transmission achieves excellent fuel economy, a direct feel similar to that of a manual transmission, and smooth and powerful acceleration.
    • The new-generation AWD system employing an active torque control coupling first used on the Mazda CX-5 is available to achieve excellent drivability and vehicle stability. It employs a world’s first* front wheel slip warning detection system, which employs sensor signals to accurately monitor the driver’s intentions and constantly changing driving conditions. In addition, the CX-3 uses a newly developed power take-off and rear differential that is compact and light in weight.

    *As of October 2014, according to in-house data.

    Safety

    • World-class safety underpins the pleasure of driving the CX-3

    Based on Mazda Proactive Safety, every effort is dedicated to minimizing the risks that can lead to an accident and maximizing the range of conditions in which the driver can drive safely and confidently. Active safety measures to help identify potential risks early on and reduce any chance of damage or injury include the adoption of Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies. These enable the driver to enjoy every outing, whether driving on city streets, on the highway, or on winding roads. Passive safety features build on Mazda’s high-strength SKYACTIV-BODY. Dedicated effort went toward providing occupant safety, including the seatbelts and airbag system, and also toward helping protect pedestrians. The result is truly excellent safety performance, and the Mazda CX-3 is fully capable of earning high-level ratings in collision tests around the world.

    Active safety

    • Adoption of Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies, which use sensing devices such as milliwave radar, ensures the driver can enjoy safe driving in any scene, whether driving on city streets, on the highway, or on winding roads.
    • Passive safety
    • The CX-3 employs Mazda’s high-strength SKYACTIV-BODY, which effectively absorbs impact energy from any direction to suppress cabin deformation. This delivers collision safety performance capable of earning high-level ratings in tests performed by organizations in different regions.
    • A variety of safety equipment and mechanisms are employed to protect occupants in the event of an accident. This includes an SRS airbag system, a front seat structure that firmly supports the occupant’s head, and door armrests designed to absorb impact energy.

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    Perfection to some I guess. Interior is Bland Boring and comes off as Cheap to me. The center stack looks like it is missing stuff.

     

    Exterior just does not work for me. Nice that they have a long hood deck but over all the product line all looks the same and just blends in with the auto industry trend of generic disposable appliances.

     

    I could not recommend Mazda to anyone. Bland, Boring un-inspiring!

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    Perfection to some I guess. Interior is Bland Boring and comes off as Cheap to me. The center stack looks like it is missing stuff.

     

    I could not recommend Mazda to anyone. Bland, Boring un-inspiring!

     

    Umm.. The center stack isn't missing stuff, most of the controls are moved. A set of knobs and buttons behind the transmission control most of the functions.

    Also Mazda being bland and boring?! Are you sure you're not confusing this with Honda or Toyota?

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    I like the Cx3. It should do well. The should sell better than the Honda HRV, but it won't.

     

    Which is sad.. But I happen to be excited for both for different reasons.

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    Hah... if Mazda is bland/boring, I'd like to hear what company makes cars in the same segments that are less boring! 

    This is boring when they all look the same and no differentiation between models other than size. This is a Lazy mans way of just cookie cutter cars in Ultra Small, Small, Medium and that is it.  To QUOTE:

    Put the CX3 next to the CX5 and you will be hard pressed to tell which is which other than size.

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    Perfection to some I guess. Interior is Bland Boring and comes off as Cheap to me. The center stack looks like it is missing stuff.

     

    Exterior just does not work for me. Nice that they have a long hood deck but over all the product line all looks the same and just blends in with the auto industry trend of generic disposable appliances.

     

    I could not recommend Mazda to anyone. Bland, Boring un-inspiring!

     

    LOL... What? Are you smoking crack?

     

    I can understand not being a fan of the design, but to call it boring and a 'generic disposable appliance' is simply absurd. This is, along with Mazda's entire range, the most interesting looking vehicle in its segment. Actually, no, scratch that, the Nissan Juke deserves that claim, but it isn't much of a looker; It's quite the opposite in fact. This, however, does interesting in an aggressive, fluidic way with just the right amount of restraint. It's something you would expect of a brand with much more cache. But this... from Mazda? The little company that was rolling out forgettable stuff like the 626 and Tribute little more than 10 years ago? And even more recently was a little smile happy? This is astounding. Seeing a car like the CX-5 or the 6 or the 3 next to its competition makes you wonder what sort of ball and chain do these other automakers have attached to their designers imagination. The difference is vast and very few really come close to the caliber of design Mazda is putting out these days. I won't even dive into driving dynamics or interior quality (both of which are also on another level to the competition). Mazda is doing things right.

     

    I would really like to hear how the combinations of Sonic-Cruze-Malibu-Trax-Equinox compare favorably to the 2-3-6-CX3-CX5 from a design standpoint. Really, the only one of those that isn't boring is the Sonic. The rest seem like they were all designed by separate committees with different goals and focus groups straining whatever merit there was in the designer's original vision. I'll take the one-size-fits-all-but-reasonably-tailored approach of Mazda. It's the perfect way to spread a brand's identify and soul across its range of excellent vehicles. 

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    The CX-3 is a handsome little beast.  I like the floating roof treatment, although it makes me think "MINI coupe".  The clean, horizontal dash on this and other Mazdas is a really refreshing change from most everyone else's vertical center stack motif, although I am not a fan of mouse wheel controllers for too many functions.  And I wish Mazda would go ahead and show a new vehicle in a color OTHER than metallic red.  Overall, a sweet looking little package.

     

    A miniature crossover is high on my radar screen if my pickup dreams do not materialize.  I love the idea of the Renegade, and the Trailhawk version is cool, but I am scared of Fiat influence.  The HR-V is a good looking, amazingly capacious little runner with a true torque-less Honda engine (115 ft/lbs?).  The Trax has a tried-and-true vibe, with the nice 1.4t motor, and bulldog puppy looks, but I am not sure about the interior niceness and exterior color selection.  Where is Ford with the EcoSport?

     

    Back to the CX-3... if they offer it in interesting colors other than RED, and if the controller wheel is not too time consuming to use (we have two choices, either a clean dash appearance and the wheel, or a busier dash with dedicated buttons), and if the lighter interior color suits me, and if the price is not too high... maybe just maybe.  They will be at my fingertips, since my work location is our Mazda/Hyundai store.

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    This is why we have variety. I would have to put Chevy, Honda, Toyota, in this same bland forgettable design language.

     

    Glad so many here are happy with Mazda, I just do not find it appealing nor desirable.

     

    Now talk about GMC, they have some Awesome design language auto's. Terrain is a true standout that I hope in it's refresh keeps it's distinction.

     

    Back to Mazda, I admit I missed the point of having a control wheel for the screen which is what has removed all the buttons. So this does speak to 21century technology to try and simplify things. I hope it really works out as BMW and MB systems seem to be terrible IMHO.

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    After looking again, it seems the hamster push-and-turn wheel is only for AV control.  HVAC is traditional dials, which is good.

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    I checked it out today at the show. Lots of clever design details; the dash has a spacious-feeling horizontal theme, and the air vents are nicely thought out. Much more interesting to look at than HR-V, but nowhere near as spacious or practical inside.

     

    Surprisingly, HR-V has a plusher interior than the new CR-V, which has rather cheap feeling a dashboard and door panels, even on the Touring model. Lots of choices in the subcompact crossover segment now: HR-V, CX-3, Renegade, 500X, Encore, Trax, and Soul, as well as smallish premium compacts like GLA, Q3, and Countryman.

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    I actually like the 500X too, saw a gallery somewhere.  It crosses over from being cute to being purposeful in an Old European kind of way for me.  Still scared though.

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      Rain, WOW, So by our resort we were in the mid to upper 80's and sunny the whole time, from about 4000 to 9000 feet the island would have rain on and off and boy was it heavy. Two things noticed that the wife was not happy about nor was I, was that even on the fastest speed the windshield did not clear the rain away very well, bothered her more than me, after all heavy rain, but even in lite rain this other really bothered me and is a safety fail. The way the design of the auto is with the side mirrors, the rain makes the side mirrors unusable. I could see nothing out the mirrors as the water comes off the front windshield and smears across the side mirrors and pretty much makes those little mirrors useless. Not a good design at all.
      Seats, after our first day in the CX9, the kids let me know that the back seat was hard and not comfy for more than an hour of driving. The front bucket seats while having good side support and for a person as big as me was fine, for my more petite wife, she and the kids when they sat in the front all felt like they were sitting in a Toilet falling through. Very uncomfortable bucket seat. On top of this, only the drivers seat has full electronic control so I could have it go down to the floor, the front passenger seat was set very high and so you only had back and forth and low back support. Very limited, why not have the front seat equal to the drivers. Made no sense and the one time I tried to sit in the front, it was impossible, the setting of the seat was too high for me. All around failure. 3rd row seat was nice folding flat into the floor, but two poor designs, again head rest were manual as they had to be folded down and then you had to pull the 2nd row seats forward to allow you to put up or down the third row seat. Kay said it was the same comfort as the second row and for her plenty of space but then she is only 5'2" tall and very petite.
      Engine, WOW, Yes on Kona you have 3 mountains, 1 that is spewing lava, very cool to visit and see, above 9000 feet they had snow after snow storm so was able to snorkel / scuba in the morning and ski in the afternoon. Why do I bring this up, simple the engine really leaves a ton to be desired. average for the week was 16.8 mpg in a FWD CUV. Sucky no way to put it for this auto, worse yet was unless you kept it revved above 4500 rpm, any minor hill caused you to loose speed fast. Driving up to the Observation scopes was very tricky as it was a dirt road with snow and traction just sucked. Not what I was expecting. So according to Mazda this is a 227HP motor on regular gas or 250 on premium. I only used regular the whole time and should have gotten 22/28/25 average of City/Highway/Combined and yet did not matter, 16.8 is what the auto reported to me as average MPG. I was filling up every other day, plus who ever thought hiding the fuel filler door release on the left side of the drivers seat under the seat was cool is an idiot. Not easy to get too.
      Lighting, Interior left much to be desired as places I would expect lights to be the auto had none, places that should be easy to read where not, only the drivers dash and nav system would give you clear visible displays, otherwise even the overhead lights left allot to be desired. Mazda says they have key-less illumination entry system, but it never worked on our auto unless the pathetic light they had on each rear view mirror that put out barely any light is what they consider to be this system. Exterior, the headlights are OK, they give you enough light to see the road, but when no other auto's were around I did use the high beams to see the curves better in the road.
      Door Locks, Mazda says they have speed-sensing auto locking, not sure what it is, but the double click to unlock the auto was slow and most times a third press of the button was needed.
      Center console, comfy for my arm rest, strange with the dual split opening in the center, you had to open both sides to store anything in it, so not sure why they decided to split such a small center storage arm rest into what is about two 2 1/2 inch wide doors. A single door would be much better.
      USB ports, sad that all would allow connection to the NAV system but only 1 port in the center arm rest would charge your device and even then only android, apple could not get a charge off the port. Really weird cheap implementation of the USB ports.
      End Result - The auto was reliable and got us all over the island for 812 miles. Other than that, I really could not find any exciting point that would make me recommend the auto to anyone. My family was happy with our trip, wished we had a better auto. Next time I will reserve much earlier.
    • By William Maley
      2016… What a year. This year saw a number of things that no one thought would actually happen did. Not helping matters is the number of famous people that have sadly passed on. Here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau, it wasn’t such a great year for vehicles. For the 2016 review season, 44 vehicles came in for evaluation. Out of this group, only eight vehicles earned a spot of being my favorite vehicles from the year. Read on to see which vehicles made the cut.
      2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
      It is amazing how far Cadillac has come in the past decade and proof of it can be shown in the ATS- V coupe. A 464 horsepower twin-turbo V6 makes the vehicle fly with no issue. A set of sticky tires and adjustable dampers show the ATS-V is just as capable, maybe more so than its German counterparts. But it can also provide decent ride around town if you set the dampers into a comfort mode. Then there is the look. I’m not usually a fan of red, but it looks killer on the ATS-V coupe. It pairs quite nicely with sharp angles and a low roofline This was one of the models where I found myself grinning from ear to ear because of how much fun I had.
      2016 Chevrolet Volt
      It is amazing how far Chevrolet has come with the Volt. Five years ago, the Volt was this odd looking vehicle with a clever powertrain that made range anxiety nonexistent. Yes, 35 miles of electric-only range didn’t seem like a lot. However, the gas generator acted as an insurance policy if you ran out of juice with the battery. Flash forward to this year and Volt has not only seen an increase in overall range to 53 miles, but it has also gotten sleeker. This is currently my favorite looking Chevrolet vehicle with the new Cruze a close second. Other plus points include an improved interior and smooth ride. The new Bolt is currently basking in the spotlight that the Volt was at one time. But let us not forget the Volt is one of the key reasons why the Bolt exists. 
      2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack & SRT Hellcat
      Dodge covered the two extremes of performance this season with the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat. The Scat Pack was first up and I fell in love with it. For almost $40,000, you basically got an SRT Charger minus the adaptive suspension and number of luxury items. It was great fun with the 6.4L HEMI V8 bellowing down the road and the sharp looking Plum Crazy paint color. I found that you really don’t need the adaptive suspension as the Scat Pack does ok on bumpy roads or curvy roads.
      Then we come to the Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8. It seems maddening that we are given a vehicle with all of this power for a price tag under $66,000. Trying to describe the way the Hellcat goes is difficult and something you need to experience. This is a vehicle that will make you laugh like a small child every time you decide to drop the hammer to hear the whir of the supercharger and manic sound of the V8.
      2016 Kia Optima SXL
      It is no secret that the Kia Optima is one of my favorite midsize sedans. It offers distinctive looks and feature set at a price that will surprise many. But it was set to fall off my list earlier this year when I drove the Optima EX. The big issues were an uncomfortable ride and poor noise isolation. So when I found out that the top of line SXL was scheduled later in the year, I was worried that it would be plagued by the same issues. But those issues never appeared. The SXL was not only quiet but showed a noticeable improvement in terms of ride comfort. I still don’t know what black magic Kia did on the SXL, but it kept the Optima on my favorites list. Now if they could work on the lazy throttle…
      2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
      “Sometimes to fully test a vehicle, you need to put it in a situation where it isn’t fully comfortable.”
      That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show.
      2016 Scion iA
      I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on.
      2016 Toyota Prius Three
      I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota.
      2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
      If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. 
      There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles,
      Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road.
      View full article
    • By William Maley
      2016… What a year. This year saw a number of things that no one thought would actually happen did. Not helping matters is the number of famous people that have sadly passed on. Here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau, it wasn’t such a great year for vehicles. For the 2016 review season, 44 vehicles came in for evaluation. Out of this group, only eight vehicles earned a spot of being my favorite vehicles from the year. Read on to see which vehicles made the cut.
      2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
      It is amazing how far Cadillac has come in the past decade and proof of it can be shown in the ATS- V coupe. A 464 horsepower twin-turbo V6 makes the vehicle fly with no issue. A set of sticky tires and adjustable dampers show the ATS-V is just as capable, maybe more so than its German counterparts. But it can also provide decent ride around town if you set the dampers into a comfort mode. Then there is the look. I’m not usually a fan of red, but it looks killer on the ATS-V coupe. It pairs quite nicely with sharp angles and a low roofline This was one of the models where I found myself grinning from ear to ear because of how much fun I had.
      2016 Chevrolet Volt
      It is amazing how far Chevrolet has come with the Volt. Five years ago, the Volt was this odd looking vehicle with a clever powertrain that made range anxiety nonexistent. Yes, 35 miles of electric-only range didn’t seem like a lot. However, the gas generator acted as an insurance policy if you ran out of juice with the battery. Flash forward to this year and Volt has not only seen an increase in overall range to 53 miles, but it has also gotten sleeker. This is currently my favorite looking Chevrolet vehicle with the new Cruze a close second. Other plus points include an improved interior and smooth ride. The new Bolt is currently basking in the spotlight that the Volt was at one time. But let us not forget the Volt is one of the key reasons why the Bolt exists. 
      2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack & SRT Hellcat
      Dodge covered the two extremes of performance this season with the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat. The Scat Pack was first up and I fell in love with it. For almost $40,000, you basically got an SRT Charger minus the adaptive suspension and number of luxury items. It was great fun with the 6.4L HEMI V8 bellowing down the road and the sharp looking Plum Crazy paint color. I found that you really don’t need the adaptive suspension as the Scat Pack does ok on bumpy roads or curvy roads.
      Then we come to the Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8. It seems maddening that we are given a vehicle with all of this power for a price tag under $66,000. Trying to describe the way the Hellcat goes is difficult and something you need to experience. This is a vehicle that will make you laugh like a small child every time you decide to drop the hammer to hear the whir of the supercharger and manic sound of the V8.
      2016 Kia Optima SXL
      It is no secret that the Kia Optima is one of my favorite midsize sedans. It offers distinctive looks and feature set at a price that will surprise many. But it was set to fall off my list earlier this year when I drove the Optima EX. The big issues were an uncomfortable ride and poor noise isolation. So when I found out that the top of line SXL was scheduled later in the year, I was worried that it would be plagued by the same issues. But those issues never appeared. The SXL was not only quiet but showed a noticeable improvement in terms of ride comfort. I still don’t know what black magic Kia did on the SXL, but it kept the Optima on my favorites list. Now if they could work on the lazy throttle…
      2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
      “Sometimes to fully test a vehicle, you need to put it in a situation where it isn’t fully comfortable.”
      That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show.
      2016 Scion iA
      I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on.
      2016 Toyota Prius Three
      I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota.
      2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
      If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. 
      There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles,
      Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road.
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