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    2012 Suzuki Kizashi Sport GTS AWD



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    August 30, 2012

    If there was an automaker who closely followed Mitsubishi’s story in the U.S. to a degree, that automaker would be Suzuki. Suzuki, much like Mitsubishi was a rising star in the 1990’s and early 2000’s with vehicles like the Swift, Sidekick, Grand Vitara, XL7, and SX4. However in the late 2000’s, Suzuki began a fast decline into obscurity. Magazine and television ads began to disappear slowly, dealers either closed up shop or turned to something else, and people began to think that Suzuki was gone.

    Well, Suzuki is still around and building vehicles for the U.S. The brand’s newest vehicle, the Kizashi, is its second-take on a midsize sedan. Suzuki’s first attempt was the 2004 Verona. A rebadged Daewoo Magnus, the Verona was very forgettable and was pulled off the market. Since going on sale in 2010, the Kizashi has received favorable reviews in the automotive press as it is often lauded as one of the best sedans currently on sale. The buying public on the other hand doesn’t even know it exists.

    Does the Kizashi deserve more attention or should it stay in obscurity just like its brand?

    Next: The Outside Look


    Exterior

    Designers for the Kizashi went for a muscular, bold look. That’s evident when you look at the Kizashi ‘s front end where there is a sculpted hood, two-tiered front grille arrangement, a set of projector headlights, and flared front fenders. The side has a set of body skirts along the doors and a set of eighteen-inch sport wheels, which are standard equipment on the Sport GTS model, which we evaluated. Around the back, Suzuki’s designers did their own interpretation of the “Bangle-Butt” and it has actually worked. Other design cues for the back include an integrated spoiler with stoplight on the trunk lid and a set of chrome surrounds hiding the exhausts.

    gallery_10485_463_233688.png

    Suzuki mostly pulls off the look on the Kizashi except for one item: ahead of the front wheels, Suzuki slapped on some bright orange reflectors for the turn signals. This addition doesn’t make sense for a vehicle design in the 21st century.

    Next: Come On In


    Interior

    The Kizashi’s interior is really impressive for a Suzuki. That might sound like an underhanded compliment, but anyone who has sat in past Suzuki vehicles knows, the interiors left a lot to desire. Materials used throughout are a combination of soft- and hard-touch plastics, and metal trim. Build quality is very good with no apparent gaps or separation of materials on the 14,000 mile example we had for review.

    gallery_10485_463_307673.png

    The Sport GTS model comes with set a of bolstered, cloth bucket seats for the front passengers. The driver gets a power seat with ten-way adjustment, lumbar, and memory function. Finding a comfortable position in the seat does take some time, but you can find one. Back seat passengers will find a cloth-covered bench seat and a surprising amount of head and legroom.

    The Kizashi Sport GTS comes well equipped for the pricetag. Standard equipment includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, trip computer, dual-zone climate controls, Rockford Fosgate sound system, USB input for your MP3 player, sunroof, and 60/40 folding rear seats. The only options on our Kizashi were a trunk mat, floor mats, first aid kit, and a Bluetooth system.

    Next: Under the Hood


    Powertrain

    All Kizashi models come with one engine choice; a 2.4L inline-four producing either 185 HP (@ 6500 RPM) if you go for the six-speed manual or 180 HP (@ 6000 RPM) if you pick the CVT. Torque is 170 lb-ft (@ 4000 RPM), no matter the transmission choice. You also have the choice between front-wheel and all-wheel drive. If you do go for all-wheel drive like ours, you only transmission choice is the CVT.

    gallery_10485_463_184696.png

    Leaving from a stop, the 2.4L is initially sluggish before it starts to build some speed at a quick rate, as the engine revs up. If you need to make a pass or merge onto a freeway, the 2.4 is able to perform without a sweat. The CVT makes sure to keep you in the power as best as it can and is very smooth. Also, Suzuki fitted steering wheel paddles to the Sport GTS to mimic a six-speed transmission. The paddles do work very well, giving you the feeling of total control when taking the Kizashi for an enthusiastic drive.

    The Kizashi’s AWD system is unique as you can turn the system on and off via a button next to the steering wheel. The only way you know when you have engaged the system is an AWD light turns on in the instrument cluster. The system will seamlessly kick on if the Kizashi has a loss of traction or if you decide to be aggressive.

    The sacrifice you make for the sure footedness of all-wheel drive is less than ideal fuel economy rating. The EPA rates the Kizashi Sport GTS AWD EPA at 22 City/29 Highway/25 Combined. This comes from the extra 292 lbs the AWD system adds to the Kizashi’s weight. Average for the week was 24.5 MPG. On the highway, the Kizashi did much better, recording an average of 32.3 MPG.

    Next: The Drive


    Ride & Drive

    The Kizashi’s suspension is made up of MacPherson struts up front and a five-point multilink setup in the rear. Steering comes in the form of an electric power steering system with a rack and pinion setup. The steering feels like something you would find in a sports car. Each turn of the Kizashi’s steering wheel is directly sent to front tires. In turn, the system provides a surprising amount of road feel for the driver. This combination makes the Kizashi a joy to drive on curvy roads.

    gallery_10485_463_712890.png

    During normal driving, the Kizashi does a good job of proving a mostly comfortable and stable ride for passengers. Driving on rough surfaces, the Kizashi’s suspension does a decent job of minimizing the impacts. Noise from engine is mostly well-muted. The same cannot be said for road and wind noise as both are somewhat existent, but not to the point where you carry some ear plugs.

    Next: The Verdict


    Verdict

    I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel at the time of the Kizashi’s departure, after the week-long evaluation. When that time came, I felt surprised and amazed at Suzuki’s second mid-size effort. The muscular and sporty exterior hides one of the best suspension and all-wheel-drive setups in the class. Plus, the Kizashi has one of the better CVTs in the industry and comes with a nicely-equipped interior.

    However, the Kizashi isn’t the most fuel-efficient vehicle, despite being one of the smallest and lightest in its class. Plus, the 2.4L is very sluggish on initial acceleration.

    Those problems pale in comparison to the biggest drawback the Kizashi has, Suzuki itself. As I eluded in the introduction, Suzuki in the U.S. isn’t doing so hot. In a report back in April, we wondered whether the brand was preparing to the North American market leave because of certain developments. Some of those included cutting auto show appearances, saying goodbye to the top U.S. product planning and marketing executive, and suspending social media outreach. Since that report, the news for Suzuki hasn’t got any better. For 2012, sales are still down and the company is focusing on controlling its expenses. Add to the lack advertising and the silence any new products coming to U.S., and it’s easy to see why everyone is wondering what the future holds for Suzuki in the U.S.

    That leaves me in a tough spot with the Kizashi since I really liked it and would recommend it to anyone. However, the uncertainty of Suzuki in the States gives me some hesitation on recommending it. If you’re shopping for a new midsize sedan, you do at least need to give the Kizashi a chance. Vehicles like the Kizashi only appear once in a while and might be not be long before this disappears.

    gallery_10485_463_912243.png

    Cheers:

    Exterior Styling

    Interior Equipment

    Interior Space

    CVT

    AWD System

    Handling during sporty and normal driving

    Jeers:

    Reflectors on front fenders

    Fuel economy of the AWD Model

    Suzuki going dark on everything

    Year - 2012

    Make – Suzuki

    Model – Kizashi

    Trim – Sport GTS

    Engine – 2.4L Inline-Four

    Driveline – All Wheel Drive, CVT

    Horsepower @ RPM - 180 @ 6000

    Torque @ RPM – 170 @ 4000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined – 22/29/25

    Curb Weight – 3533 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Sagara, Japan

    Base Price - $25,899.00

    As Tested Price - $26,404.00* (Doesn’t include Destination Charge)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    My 2010 SLS was a real nice car. I got rid of it.

    Fuel mileage from the 2.4L was miserable vs the fuel mileage of any of the ION 3 2.4L's.

    Next while the car went down the road pretty good when it came to the time of needing to pass on two lane blacktop it just didn't have the power to make moves I could make in the ION's.

    If this car had 205 hp without a turbo it would be a nice driver, 220hp would make it real nice.

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    Suzuki needs to merge with mitsu and mazda, this is one company that also has a sparse portfolio and while the few products are pretty good up to a point, they could use working with a larger group to lower costs and improve/expand product offerings.

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    why would suzuki need to merge when they sell over 2.5 million vehicles a year.

    Footnote, Suzuki USA made money and was in the black in the US last year. The low volume production is likely the mode until the next wave of new products comes out in a year or two, the number of dealerships has stabilized and while obviously the advertising and such is not to the level of the big boys, the business plan for the next year or two is just to run lean, be in the black and once the new products come out the and VW situation is resolved, grow volume again.

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    Footnote, Suzuki USA made money and was in the black in the US last year. The low volume production is likely the mode until the next wave of new products comes out in a year or two, the number of dealerships has stabilized and while obviously the advertising and such is not to the level of the big boys, the business plan for the next year or two is just to run lean, be in the black and once the new products come out the and VW situation is resolved, grow volume again.

    Yes, Suzuki was in the black.. But they didn't really make any money. What they did was cut everything to the bone; marketing, people, vehicles, etc.

    As for product, there was a report from Automotive News saying new product could be here in 2015.. or an eternity in the automotive world.

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    2014 is more accurate. 2, likely 3 new models. yup an eternity, just like GM used to take with their products.

    Remember the global market, the US is not a primary country for everyone.

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    why would suzuki need to merge when they sell over 2.5 million vehicles a year. Footnote, Suzuki USA made money and was in the black in the US last year. The low volume production is likely the mode until the next wave of new products comes out in a year or two, the number of dealerships has stabilized and while obviously the advertising and such is not to the level of the big boys, the business plan for the next year or two is just to run lean, be in the black and once the new products come out the and VW situation is resolved, grow volume again.

    Since reaching black was due to cost cutting and gutting of the network, products and marketing, I do not see this as sustainable.

    I do not see the Suzuki product line as surviving on it's own without a long term tie up with a much bigger auto company or merging with a couple smaller companies to save costs and build a broader portfolio.

    We live in global times and this is a small pea size company that I do not see surviving as is.

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    I should rephrase my comment above.. There is a refreshed Grand Vitara and a new SX4 coming this year. After that, nothing.

    My big problem with Suzuki is there is nothing coming out. I don't mean vehicle wise.. I mean they're being silent.

    Look at Mitsubishi. They're in the same boat as Suzuki.. The difference is they're talking. They have some ads, they Facebook and tweet. They're noticeable and actually have presence. Not Suzuki.

    That's my worry.

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    Suzuki seriously needs to think of itself as the largest marketer of specialty vehicles rather than the smallest mainstream car maker. Build on the motorcycle heritage, and then get unique dealer look and feel, something along the lines of Fiat or Smart-

    The Swift is a neat little car, but I don't even think its sold here in the states.

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    ...and yen rate is going to kill a lot of Aian cars from coming here. And not to get political, but either party is pretty much going to continue printing money like a drunken sailor if elected, so the yen thing will stay the same.

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    I've had this car for about 1 1/2 years and love it. I am luckily and have several dealers near me. It's a great car period. I love the fact that there are not 500,000 on the roads here. I don't car how good a car is, if they are selling into the hundreds of thousands each year I'm not interested period. I want a great car that stands out in a crowd and is unique.

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    Guest Richard Pealer

    Posted

    Great review, and I couldn't agree more. I just bought this exact same configured, and color car about 1500 miles ago. Traded up from a Suzuki SX4. I really love driving this car, and can't wait for a little snow (well, I can wait to be sure, but you know what I mean). I don't honestly see the performance issue off the line, except if you're racing to the next light. Merging and passing are not a problem, and the steering, and brakes are very nice, not to mention the Rockford Fosgate audio system. Did I mention how much I like this car? Seriously, if you're in the market, you at least need to drive one before you pull the trigger. One last post, I'm averaging 26-27 MPGs on every tank.

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    It does not seem like that long ago when Suzuki kept saying things like "We will be launching 10 new cars in the next 5 years". But those never really surfaced. I remember many were due to the GM alliance, rebadging a bunch of Daewoos. I do not think that was the swiftest move since their products did not do well with their own badge here in the US. Maybe they will rebound as we look at smaller and smaller cars.

    As a side, I have test-driven the Kizashi a couple years ago and I do remember it being pretty nice.

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    13 model year, the AWD GTS and SLS model lose the rockford forgate audio.......because the new radio / nav was not engineered to work together. Was at CHI last week to see and play with the new unit. It's a nice unit. Much easier than a myfordtouch, maybe not as wow inducing. Looks cheap due to an aftermarket look but that was simple to do.

    the only version of the 13 with rockford fosgate is the front wheel drive GTS-L, which has the standard radio.

    no powertrain, styling, or interior changes for 2013. There is no longer an S model automatic. All are SE models now. SE AWD gains bluetooth. 17" alum wheels standard on any other model that does not have the 18".

    base manual gets a standard radio.

    No rockford Fosgate on the most expensive model means if I ever get one I will prob have to look at used. Prior rockford fosgate plsu pre-13 navs had issues working with the subwoofer and other electrical issues.

    Edited by regfootball
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    Sorry to hear about the Rockford Fosgate changes. That had a huge push on my decision to go with the GTS AWD, after test driving the SE. PS; My original post was under the "guest" name R. Pealer, on the Sept. 22

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    Sorry to hear about the Rockford Fosgate changes. That had a huge push on my decision to go with the GTS AWD, after test driving the SE. PS; My original post was under the "guest" name R. Pealer, on the Sept. 22

    How do you like the car? I still haven't been able to drive one.

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    I love driving it. I think the interior is very refined, much better than most other cars in it's price range. I have about 1600 miles on her, and I really have no issues what-so-ever. I've owned, and driven nothing but manuals for the last 30yrs, and I actually like this CVT. The paddles work quick, and smooth. I really haven't used the slap stick so much. The electronic steering has great feedback, and the braking is super. I don't know what else say. It's just a great overall package, and I actually look forward to my morning commute to work, and often take the long route home just for kicks. One last note, the Fosgate stereo has incredible sound, and my iPhone linked up without a problem. In fact, I set everything up using voice control. It also has a USB port (I use a 16gb flash drive in it), or you can plug any other medium into it. Good luck with your search. I think it will be well worth your time.

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    • By William Maley
      Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well.
      The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed.  You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well.  Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp.  Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top.   
      Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel
      Year: 2016
      Make: Ram Trucks
      Model: 1500 Crew Cab
      Trim: Laramie Longhorn
      Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600
      Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI
      Base Price: $52,365
      As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00
      4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00
      Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00
      Convenience Group - $495.00
      Trailer Brake Control - $280.00
      Cold Weather Group - $235.00
      3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well.
      The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed.  You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well.  Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp.  Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top.   
      Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel
      Year: 2016
      Make: Ram Trucks
      Model: 1500 Crew Cab
      Trim: Laramie Longhorn
      Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600
      Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI
      Base Price: $52,365
      As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00
      4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00
      Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00
      Convenience Group - $495.00
      Trailer Brake Control - $280.00
      Cold Weather Group - $235.00
      3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00
    • 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

      View full article
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