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    2016 Lexus IS Gets Two New Engines For the U.S.


    • 2016 Sees Lexus Introduce Two New Engines for the IS


    Last month, we reported that Lexus was dropping 2.5L V6 for the turbocharged 2.0L four in the IS sedan for Europe. We heard the engine would be coming to the states, but no timeframe was given. Today, Lexus announced details on the 2016 IS for North America. The big news is the turbo 2.0L is part of the changes, along with another engine.

     

    First up is the IS 200t, which takes the place of the IS 250. This packs a 2.0L turbo-four with 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

     

    Now if you want all-wheel drive, you oddly can't get it with the turbo-four. You'll have to opt the IS 300 AWD which packs a 3.5L V6 with 255 horsepower and 235 pound-feet. A six-speed automatic sends the power to all four-wheels.

     

    The IS 350 remains unchanged with 305 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, along with the choice of rear and all-wheel drive.

     

    Source: Lexus

     

    Press Release is on Page 2


     

    Lexus IS Sport Sedan Gets Revved Up In 2016 With Three Available Engines

    • 2.0L Twin-Scroll Turbocharged Gas Engine for New IS 200t
    • New 3.5L V6 Engine Provides More Options for All-Weather Drive with IS 300 AWD
    • Agile Handling Throughout IS Lineup
    • Available F SPORT Package Heightens Driving Experience


    The Lexus IS luxury sport sedan models will continue to delight drivers with their balance of luxury, agility and sportiness as they enter 2016 model year with a three model strategy with IS 200t, IS 300 AWD, and IS 350. The former IS 250 and IS 250 AWD are discontinued.
    The IS adds to its stable of engines and receives a turbocharged gas engine, bringing the number of engine alternatives to three. Drivers will have a hard time deciding which IS to take home with rear-wheel drive (RWD), all-weather drive (AWD) and F SPORT variants.
    The new IS 200t, available as RWD only, features a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with intercooler paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine cranks out 241 hp and has 258 lb.-ft. torque at 1,650-4,400 rpm. Lexus developed the turbocharged engine in house, first integrated it into the NX luxury utility hybrid for 2015 model year, and modified it for IS 200t.
    The IS 200t features a combination of water-cooled cylinder head, integrated exhaust manifold and twin scroll turbocharger for fast throttle response, performance and high torque at low engine revs. Variable Valve Timing intelligent – Wide (VVTi-W) allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson cycles.
    The D-4ST direct injection system combines a high pressure fuel system for injection directly in to the cylinders with a low pressure system for injection into the ports. Injection is split between the direct and port injectors according to the engine load to help fuel economy.
    With the popularity of the all-weather drive (AWD) system in inclement weather, Lexus offers the IS 300 AWD with 255 hp and 236 lb.-ft. torque at 2,000-4,800 rpm. The IS 300 AWD features a modified 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
    Lexus continues to offer the IS 350, in both RWD and AWD models.
    The IS sedans convey an aggressive yet elegant presence with the brand’s unmistakable spindle grille, L-theme LED daytime running lights and dynamic bodylines. The lineup combines silken power delivery with multi-link rear suspension and finely tuned electronic power steering derived from the Lexus GS sedan to deliver a rousing driving experience.
    At the same time, the brand’s hallmark luxury and sumptuous appointments remains intact. In addition to more engine choices, the Lexus IS features a few other changes for 2016. The new optional Premium Plus Package includes a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and rain-sensing wipers. A heated steering wheel is also now available as a standalone option. The IS 350 adds standard 18-inch five-spoke wheels with all-season tires.
    Drivers can also now opt in for additional peace of mind with Lexus Enform Service Connect. Lexus Enform Service Connect (one-year complimentary subscription) allows customers to remotely view information about certain aspects of their Lexus vehicle via the MyLexusandBeyond mobile application for iOS smartphone users or LexusDrivers.com. Information includes maintenance alerts, warning light notifications and a vehicle health report that includes email and push notifications for diagnostic information, required maintenance reminders, current vehicle alerts, service campaigns, and more.
    The IS 350 delivers scintillating performance from a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 306 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Its eight-speed, Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission integrates advanced G-force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) system to choose gears intuitively. Or, shift yourself with the paddle shifters.
    The electronically controlled all-weather drive system standard on IS 300 AWD and available on IS 350 models is designed to help enhance traction and grip under all driving conditions by automatically varying front-to-rear torque balance from 30:70 to as much as 50:50.
    A Drive Mode Select system features up to four driving modes to tailor the car’s combination of economy, comfort, performance and handling characteristics. All IS sedans feature ECO, NORMAL, and SPORT modes. Equipping the IS 350 with the F SPORT package also nets Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), controlled with SPORT S and SPORT S+ modes. In addition, AWD models also feature a SNOW mode.
    Available for all IS sedan models, the F SPORT package sharpens handling acuity with unique 18-inch wheels and special suspension tuning, while sharpening the design with unique interior and exterior trim. The finishing touch on the F SPORT experience for IS 300 AWD and IS 350 is an intake sound that creates a more sporting engine note.
    A Display Audio system equips the IS models with a seven-inch screen, HD Radio™, Bluetooth® audio, automatic phone book transfer, a vehicle information display and complimentary traffic and weather data provided via HD Radio. The multimedia system also incorporates cache radio which has the ability to pause live radio. It automatically records the previous 15 minutes for convenient replay.
    Keeping drivers connected, all IS models have Siri® Eyes Free mode, with technology licensed from Apple®. Compatible with the iPhone® 4S and iPhone 5 models forward, Siri responds to verbal requests to play music from iTunes®, get turn-by-turn navigation, and much more. Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while Siri reads notifications and calendar information and lets you, when safe to do so, add reminders, appointments and notes.
    Luxuries abound in the 2016 Lexus IS models. A high-efficiency dual-zone climate control system uses touch-sensitive electrostatic temperature switches. The IS offers two multimedia systems: a standard high-resolution Lexus Display Audio (LDA) with controller or the optional Lexus navigation system.
    The navigation system puts a world of capability at the driver’s fingertips via the second-generation Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI) multi-function control device. The RTI also allows control of the climate, audio, phone controls and more. Lend your ears to the available Mark Levinson® Premium Surround System and enjoy strikingly life-like sound reproduction, with 835 watts powering 15 speakers.
    The IS models exemplify the brand’s advanced passive and active safety technology. Ten Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags are standard, and the IS models employ the innovative Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, which integrates: Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control (TRAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) active safety systems with the Electronic Power Steering (EPS) or, where fitted (for IS 350 RWD F SPORT), Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS).
    The 2016 IS models can also be equipped with the available pre-emptive Pre-Collision System (PCS), which incorporates Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The model range offers several safety features, including a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system and a standard Auto Location Tire Pressure Warning System (AL-TPWS).

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    Talk about a YAWNER!!!!!!

     

    I am tired of these over HP V6 with weak Torque. The car is still ugly with the Predator grill and the design language leave much to be desired but to Lexus fans I am sure they will plunk down their hard earned money and lament how great these rebadged Toyota's are.

     

    The only thing impressive is the Turbo 4.

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    It is about time they got new engines, it has had the same engine lineup since 2007.  What makes no sense is you can't get AWD with the 2.0T which is the volume engine, or should be the volume engine for people anyway.

     

    Secondly, where did they find a 3.5 liter V5 making 255 hp?  2004?  Is that the old Chysler 300M engine?

     

    Thirdly, won't the gas mileage be the same on a 3.5 liter V6 making 255 hp, as it is on the 3.5 liter V6 making 306 hp?  So what is the point, who would buy the weaker V6 if you get the same gas mileage on both.  Why even offer both? Just offer one V6 to simplify manufacturing and ordering.

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    • By William Maley
      Almost three decades ago at the Detroit Auto Show, Toyota shocked the establishment with the introduction of Lexus and LS 400 flagship. Lexus hopes with the 2018 LS introduced this morning in Detroit is able to recapture some of that shock.
      The look of the 2018 LS is familiar and somehow different. The profile is the similar to the current LS, but Lexus made a number of changes to make it stand out. There is a more aggressive take on the spindle grille, a crease running along the doors, lower ride height, and larger wheels. The new GA-L platform that made it's debut last year on the LC coupe underpins the LS. It has been stretched and widened to provide measurements of 206.1-inches long 74.8-inches wide, and 57.1-inches tall. This makes it about the same size as a BMW 7-Series long-wheelbase.
      Power comes from an all-new 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine with 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with a new ten-speed automatic. Lexus says the LS with this engine will hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It is unknown whether or not a V8 or hybrid option will be introduced down the road. The front and rear multilink suspension setup from the LC is employed on the LS. An air suspension system is optional.
      The interior takes some ideas from the LC with a similar instrument cluster with traction control and drive mode selectors sitting on either side. The seats have been redesigned and now feature 28-way power adjustments for those sitting up front. Rear seat passengers can get reclining seats, an ottoman, and Shiatsu massage functionality. Tech-wise, there is a new version of Lexus' remote touch system with a 12.3-inch infotainment system and optional 24" color heads-up display which the automaker claims is the largest in the world.
      The 2018 Lexus LS is expected to go on sale towards the end of the year.
      Source: Lexus
      Press Release is on Page 2


      With the All-New 2018 LS, Lexus Reimagines Global Flagship Sedan
      Radical new design with coupe-like silhouette, yet spaciousness of prestige sedan New platform for greatest-ever LS agility and comfort All-new twin-turbo V6 with 415 horsepower 10-speed automatic transmission All-new available Lexus Advanced Safety Package New level of flagship luxury in every aspect Interior inspired by traditional Japanese aesthetics On sale in U.S. near the end of 2017 DETROIT, January 9, 2017 — It is possible that no single automobile has, upon introduction, upended its category as decisively as the first Lexus LS did when it launched the luxury brand 28 years ago. The 1990 LS 400 was the original luxury disruptor, winning critical acclaim and astonishing customers by setting new benchmarks for comfort, powertrain performance and smoothness, quietness, build quality, attention to detail, and dependability. The brand supported that groundbreaking vehicle by setting and maintaining new standards for customer service and satisfaction.
       
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      Just as the original LS launched the Lexus brand, the all-new 2018 LS continues the brand’s more dynamic direction. Each generation of LS sedans leading up to this iteration advanced luxury, craftsmanship, performance and safety in their own way, with the most recent also introducing a far more emotional design and engaging on-road performance.
       
      To create the all-new LS, Lexus took the approach of starting from new, reimagining what a flagship sedan should be, as if launching the brand all over again. The goal was not to improve on what Lexus has done, but to exceed expectations of global luxury customers.
       
      A common thread going through all LS models remains: Omotenashi, the concept of Japanese hospitality. Applied to a luxury automobile, it means taking care of the driver and passengers, anticipating their needs, attending to their comfort and helping to protect them from hazards.
       
      Vehicle Dynamics
       
      More than ever before, luxury sedan drivers demand greater handling agility and performance feel without sacrificing comfort. It’s one of the most difficult balances to achieve in a vehicle, yet the new Lexus global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L) meets the challenge. The new platform debuted in the LC 500 coupe and now, with a longer wheelbase, underpins the new LS. To enhance center of gravity height and weight distribution, the new LS has a wide and low design.
       
      The GA-L platform is the stiffest in Lexus history, setting the stage for enhanced handling, ride smoothness and cabin quietness. The 123-inch wheelbase is 1.3-inch longer than the current LS long-wheelbase model.
       
      Helping to provide the uncanny ride and handling balance in the new LS is the latest generation of a chassis control technology known as Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). This system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility. Handling can be further enhanced by active stabilizer bars and the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) System with independent front and rear steering. VDIM is capable of aiding stability when the car is traversing split-friction surfaces, such as dry pavement and ice.
       
      In creating the new LS, engineers used lightweight materials including ultra-high tensile steel sheet and aluminum to carve over 200 pounds from the current LS platform and body. These savings, along with the implementation of the new V6 engine and enhanced body rigidity, allow for a more dynamic driving experience. 
       
      Critical to its driving performance, the new platform lowers the car’s center of gravity by placing most of the mass, including the engine and the occupants, in a position more centralized and lower in the chassis. Special braces in the engine compartment, stiff aluminum front and rear suspension towers, and other features help bolster the strength of key chassis structures.
       
      The LS has a history of outstanding suspension compliance, yet Lexus saw opportunity for new gains in this realm as well. For example, the multilink suspension employs double ball joints on the upper and lower control arms to help allow for control of the smallest movements from the driver inputs and road conditions. Beyond sharing workload, a dual ball joint arrangement helps optimize suspension geometry to increase wheel control and yield more precise steering response with better initial effort. To reduce unsprung weight and therefore aid agility and comfort, aluminum is used extensively in the suspension.
       
      LS Performance and Smoothness Redefined: Twin-Turbo V6 and 10-Speed Transmission
       
      For both high power and excellent fuel efficiency, Lexus designed an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine specifically for the new LS with all-new twin turbos developed through the company’s F1 technology. This new engine in the LS is indicative of the more dynamic approach being taken by Lexus, offering V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy—all while minimizing noise and vibration. The new LS engine offers the output one would expect in a flagship sedan: 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, sizeable gains over the current LS model’s V8. The long stroke and optimized stroke-to-bore ratio contribute to high-speed combustion and the efficiency of the twin turbos, which assist the LS with a projected 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds (RWD).     
       
      Perhaps more critical is how Lexus tuned the engine and transmission to deliver instant acceleration and a constant buildup of torque toward the engine’s redline.
       
      A ladder frame structure in the cylinder block, redesigned engine mounts, electric wastegates and numerous other features help ensure the remarkable powertrain smoothness, a Lexus hallmark. The driver will be able to tailor powertrain response and feel by choosing from Normal to Sport to Sport+ modes, and just enough of the exhaust note can be heard to enhance the sporty feel.
       
      The first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission for a premium passenger car, having already debuted in the Lexus LC 500, is also used in the new LS flagship sedan. It is a torque-converter automatic, yet with shift times that rival those of dual-clutch transmissions. The wide bandwidth afforded by ten closely spaced ratios is ideal for all forms of driving, helping to provide an optimal gear for all conditions.
       
      Shifting via paddles is available, yet many will prefer the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s input. The system chooses the ideal ratio by monitoring the acceleration, braking and lateral-g forces.
       
      For starting acceleration, the close ratios of the low gears and the shortened shift time enable a rhythmical and exhilarating acceleration feel. The high torque of the twin-turbo engine matches ideally with the higher gear ratios for effortless, serene highway cruising, yet very quick downshifts yield direct acceleration with no lag in G response.
       
      Torque converter lock-up activates in all ranges except when starting off to provide a direct feel, while also supporting fuel efficiency.
       
      Crafting a Unique Identity
       
      “The LS is the flagship of the Lexus brand,” said chief designer, Koichi Suga. “More than any other model, it embodies the history and image of Lexus and serves as a symbol for everything the brand stands for.”
       
      Following the “Yet” philosophy that has been passed on since the first-generation LS, Lexus created a design offering the room and comfort of a prestige “three-box” sedan, yet with the stylish silhouette of a four-door coupe that holds stronger appeal for younger luxury customers.
       
      Lexus designers took full advantage of the new platform, with its lower profile and length on par with that of a prestige long-wheelbase sedan, to give the new LS a stretched, ground-hugging appearance. Compared to the current LS, the new model is about .6 inches lower, while the hood and trunk are approximately 1.2 inches and 1.6 inches lower, respectively. The new LS is the first Lexus sedan with a six- side window design. Also a first for a Lexus sedan, the flush-surface windows smoothly integrate with the side pillar.
       
      To preserve headroom with the lower profile, the new LS features an outer slide-type moonroof. The unique rendition of the spindle grille mesh, with a texture that seemingly changes in different light, is the result of both intense CAD development and hand-adjusting thousands of individual surfaces.
       
      The LS debuts five wheel designs, including two new 19- and three 20-inch wheel designs. The 20-inch premium wheels employ a brilliant appearance created using an electroplating technique known as sputtering. All but one of the wheel designs feature a hollow rim structure that helps reduce the resonance sound generated by the tires.
       
      Progressive Comfort with Traditional Inspiration
       
      Creating a new standard of flagship luxury is not simply a matter of adding more features. Inspired by the omotenashi principle, Lexus sought to instill the new LS cabin with luxury that welcomes and envelops the occupants while treating the driver like a partner.
       
      “I suggest that you simply open the door and experience that immediate, intuitive sense that you’re looking at an interior that is unlike any luxury car before,” said chief designer Suga.
       
      New seating designs, including available 28-way power front seats that feature heating, cooling and massage, exemplify this approach. The organically shaped dash design clusters information displays at uniform height to support the “seat-in-control” layout that emphasizes the driver’s ability to operate all systems without the need to change posture.
       
      While making the new LS even more of a driver’s car, Lexus also lavished attention to the rear seat, developing a design that creates seamless, enveloping continuity between the trim and seatbacks for passenger egress.
       
      Options for heating, cooling and massage make the rear seat a welcoming environment. The available power front and rear seat with Shiatsu massage and a raised ottoman, part of a wider rear seat luxury package, offers the most legroom of any previous-generation LS. In addition, the seat behind the front passenger in this optional package can be reclined up to 48 degrees, and can be raised up to 24 degrees to help assist the rear-seat passenger in exiting the vehicle.
       
      Because the new LS is lower than previous versions, Lexus, for the first time, equipped the available air suspension with an access function. Activated by unlocking the car with the smart key, access mode automatically raises the vehicle and opens the seat bolsters to welcome drivers behind the wheel.
       
      The Intersection of Tradition and Technology
       
      Lighting and attention to detail express a unique aesthetic in the LS. A new approach to creating trim elements again turned to Japanese culture, combining traditional Japanese aesthetic with advanced manufacturing techniques. This is reflected in signature touches, such as beautiful interior ambient lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns and armrests that appear to float next to the door panel.
       
      Inspired by Shimamoku wood patterns, the new forms that combine the artistic combination of natural woodwork and application of Japan’s sophisticated sliced wood and laser cutting manufacturing technologies can be seen in the new LS. New patterns include Art Wood Organic, Art Wood Herringbone, and Gray Sapele Wood with Aluminum. Compared to the straight-grain Shimamoku pattern, the new LS cross-grain is a larger pattern featuring bolder contrasts between light and dark, giving the wood a more vibrant appearance.
       
      The Sounds of Near Silence – or Great Music
       
      Lexus tuned the LS exhaust to convey a more authoritative tone, yet also designed the cabin to ensure utterly quiet cruising. New sound suppression methods further hush the environment compared to previous LS models. Active Noise Control quiets the cabin even more by detecting the sound of the engine coming into the vehicle and cancelling certain frequencies using antiphase sound from the audio speakers.
       
      The serenity of the LS cabin provides an ideal stage for the standard premium audio system or the audiophile-worthy available 3D surround Mark Levinson audio package with in-ceiling array speakers. The package features a more inviting graphic user interface. Its next-generation remote touch is designed to mimic smartphone operation, also supporting handwritten input. In addition to its 12.3-inch wide navigation display, the LS can incorporate an optional 24-inch color heads-up display (HUD)—the largest in the world—that projects a variety of information onto the driver’s forward view.
       
      Advanced Safety Features and Driver Support
       
      Structurally, the all-new Lexus LS offers a high degree of passive safety for occupant protection in collisions. Lexus has also equipped the LS with technologies that can possibly help prevent crashes from occurring or mitigate their effects.
       
      The LS will feature the brand’s Lexus Safety System + and offer the Advanced Safety Package, which features the world’s first system with Intuitive Pedestrian Detection with Active Steering within the lane. With this system, if a pedestrian is detected in the lane ahead and a collision is imminent, the LS is designed to automatically brake and potentially steer around the person while staying in the lane. The available color HUD is utilized in alerting the driver.
    • 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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