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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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    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A

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    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A
    • By William Maley
      Most luxury SUVs will never go fully off-road. The closest they’ll ever get is driving down a gravel road. But that doesn’t mean some automakers aren’t filling them with the latest off-road for that one person who decides to. Case in point is the LX 570. Lexus’ variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated inside and out to try and draw buyers away from the usual suspects in the class.
      For 2016, Lexus has softened the LX’s boxy-shape with some rounded edges and more imposing fenders. The front grille has grown in size to match other Lexus vehicles, though to our eyes it looks more like the head from a Cylon in the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica tv show. The rear features new taillights and a reshaped tailgate. The interior has somehow become more opulent since the last LX we drove. A new dash design features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials. Our tester featured leather upholstery that can be described as red-orange. At first, I thought it was a bit much. But over the week I grew to like the color as it adds some personality. Sitting in either the front or second-row seats of the LX is a pleasant experience. There is plenty of head and legroom for both rows, along with heat. Front seats also get ventilation as standard. The third-row seat is a bit of joke. Getting back there in the first place is quite difficult due to the small gap when you move the second-row forward. Once back there, you find legroom is almost negligible. Finally, the way the third row folds up by side walls and not into the floor hampers cargo space - only offering 41 cubic feet. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface has arrived in the LX this year with a gargantuan 12.3-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the plus side, the screen is vibrant and easy to read. The negative is the remote touch controller as you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong function because the controller is very sensitive to inputs. Power comes from 5.7L V8 with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive system. On paper, the V8 should move the LX 570 with no issue. But a curb weight of 6,000 pounds negates this. Performance can be described as ho-hum as it takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator and quick to respond when you stab the throttle. The LX 570 is chock full of clever off-road tech such as crawl control, hill start assist, 360-degree camera system, and multi-terrain select system that optimizes various parts of the powertrain and four-wheel drive system. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to put any of these to the test. No matter the condition of the road, the LX 570 provides a smooth and relaxing ride. Impressive when you consider the LX is riding on a set of 21-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Lexus added a set of adaptive dampers for the 2016 LX and you can adjust the firmness via a knob in the center console - Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The dampers do help reduce body roll in corners, giving you a little bit more confidence. Steering is what you would expect in an SUV, light and numb. This makes the LX a bit cumbersome to move in certain places such as a parking lot. Compared to the last LX 570 we drove, the 2016 model has gone up in price. Base price now stands at $88,880 and our as-tested price comes in at $96,905. This one feels a bit a more worth of price tag that Lexus is asking for, but I still think a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover are slightly better in terms of value. If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains and want something that can you there and back, along with providing all of the luxuries, look no further than the LX. Otherwise, there are a number of other luxury SUVs that make more sense if you’re planning to stay on the pavement. Year: 2016
      Make: Lexus
      Model: LX 570
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15
      Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn
      Base Price: $88,880
      As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00
      Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00
      Luxury Package - $1,190.00
      Heads-Up Display - $900.00
      Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00
      Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00

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