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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2016 Dodge Challenger SXT Blacktop

      Six is good, but eight is even better

    For a time, the V6 was looked down upon in the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang because they were seen as lackluster. The engines didn’t match aggression that was being expressed by the exterior of the coupes. But rising gas prices and increasing regulations on fuel economy and emissions has the likes of GM, Ford, and FCA revisiting the idea of a V6 muscle car. We recently spent some time in a 2016 Dodge Challenger V6 to see if it is worth it.

    • I will argue that the Challenger is still the meanest looking out of the three muscle cars on sale. Dodge’s designers were able to bring the design of the original Challenger into the modern era without making it look like a complete mess. The little details such as the narrow grille, quad headlights, fuel filler cap, and rectangular taillights are here and help it stand out. Our tester featured the optional Blacktop package that adds a blacked-out grille, black stripes, and a set of 20-inch wheels.
    • The downside to bringing the original Challenger design into the modern era is poor visibility. Large rear pillars and a small glass area make it somewhat difficult to backup or making a pass. The good news is that a number of Challenger models like our SXT Plus come with a backup camera as standard and blind spot monitoring is available as an option.
    • The Challenger’s interior hasn’t changed much since we last reviewed it back in 2014 with the SRT 392. It is still a comfortable place to sit in and controls are in easy reach for the driver thanks to the center stack being slightly angled. Still, the limited glass area does mean you will feel somewhat confined.
    • Power for the SXT is Chrysler’s 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, you need to step to one of the V8 engines.
    • The V6 is quite surprising with how much performance is on offer. Step on the accelerator and the V6 moves the Challenger with surprising authority. Power comes on a smooth rate no matter what gear you find yourself in. The eight-speed automatic is one of best in the business with smart shifts.
    • Only disappointment is the V6 doesn’t sound like it belongs in the Challenger. There isn’t that muscular roar when step on the accelerator. A new exhaust and some tweaking in the engine could fix this issue. 
    • As for fuel economy, we got an average of 23.4 mpg. Not bad for a coupe that is rated at 19 City/30 Highway/23 Combined.
    • One item that the Challenger is known for is its ride comfort and this hasn’t changed. Even with the optional Super Track Pak fitted to our tester, the Challenger was able to provide a cushy ride over some of Michigan’s terrible roads. Road and wind noise are kept at very low levels.
    • Speaking of the Super Track Pak, this should be mandatory equipment on the V6 model. With firmer suspension bits, it makes the Challenger feel slightly smaller and reduces body roll around corners. However, it cannot mask the Challenger’s weight. Pushing it around a corner, the Challenger feels quite big and not as nimble the as the Chevrolet Camaro I drove afterward.
    • The Challenger SXT Plus starts at $29,995. Add on a few options such as the Blacktop package and you’ll came to an as-tested price of $34,965, pretty good value for a muscle car.
    • Going with the V6 option in the Challenger isn’t bad a choice. You get the looks of a muscle car and some decent performance. But as I drove the Challenger during the week, I couldn’t help but think about what if I had the V8. Six is good, but eight is even better.

    Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2016
    Make: Dodge
    Model: Challenger
    Trim: SXT Plus
    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
    Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
    Horsepower @ RPM: 305 @ 6,350
    Torque @ RPM: 268 @ 4,800
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/30/23
    Curb Weight: 3,885.2 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
    Base Price: $26,995
    As Tested Price: $34,965 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    SXT Plus 3.6L V6 Package 21V - $3,000.00
    Driver Convenience Group - $1,095.00
    Sound Group II - $795.00
    Blacktop Package - $695.00
    Super Track Pak - $695.00
    UConnect 8.4 NAV - $695.00

    Edited by William Maley

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    10 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

    No thanks. V8 or bust in this segment. Especially in the Chally.

    Agreed.

    I actually think the small turbo mills are more enticing than the V6's. Just something about them that I like more than torqueless V6's...

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    And to this I say: Meh. V8s are overrated.

    Yes, they make a good noise. Yes, they offer more in the way of straight-line speed. But so what?

    I can claim ownership of both a fourth-gen Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, a Dodge Challenger and a late-model Ford Mustang. None of those cars were equipped with their optional V8s; they were all lowly V6 models.

    But that doesn't mean they were any less fun.

    Actually, what you give up in raw grunt you earn back in handling (it's especially true for the Mustang). And, personally, I relish good handling over a V8's thump since I find myself traveling more on Kentucky's curvy backroads versus our interstate highways or bypasses. However, for the times I have traveled on straighter blacktop, I've always found the V6 to be adequate.

    Then there's the money you save on the purchase price and, obviously, on insurance costs and at the gas pump.

    I guess what you do lose and never gain back is image. But, you know, I could care less about my car giving some mediocre middle-aged bald spot a hard-on between traffic lights. I didn't buy my car for someone else to enjoy -- selfishly, it's for me and me alone.

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    Not in those older generations you don't gain handling capabilities back with their skinny tires and soft suspensions.

    "that doesn't mean they were any less fun" - Yes. Yes it does mean they are less fun! lol

     

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    7 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    Not in those older generations you don't gain handling capabilities back with their skinny tires and soft suspensions.

    "that doesn't mean they were any less fun" - Yes. Yes it does mean they are less fun! lol

    Certainly, you do realize you've just made an argument here that's about as watertight as the Titanic.

    Skinny tires? My fourth-gen, six-banger Camaro and Firebird were both equipped with the same exact 16-inch wheels and tires as the Z28 and Trans Am, respectively, for 1998.

    (Only SS and WS6 models had 17-inch wheels and tires. Additionally, all Camaros and Firebirds used the same dual-piston brakes starting that year, regardless if they were V6 or V8-equipped.)

    In fact, the Firebird I owned was also equipped with the Y87 performance package that earned the car a V8 steering box and an upgraded suspension. I can't remember if the Camaro I had also packed the Y87 package, but I'm leaning toward yes since it had the Z28's 16-inch wheels and I remember the window sticker showing the car to be pretty much a fully-loaded V6 car, save for leather seats. So then, so much for a downgraded suspension.

    Let's also dig a little deeper, think with an open-mind for a second. Those V6 cars actually had most of the engine's weight placed behind the front wheels, and weighed a few hundred pounds less than their V8 counterparts. Obviously, these factors had positive effects on how the V6 cars handled.

    Facts aside, driving impressions are, like styling, ultimately a subjective matter. The stock tires on a Scion FR-S, for example, are actually pretty frickin skinny. But, if I recall correctly, most reviewers praise the FR-S as being fun to drive and a good handling car, just slow. Hmmmm...

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    9 hours ago, Blake Noble said:

    Certainly, you do realize you've just made an argument here that's about as watertight as the Titanic.

    Skinny tires? My fourth-gen, six-banger Camaro and Firebird were both equipped with the same exact 16-inch wheels and tires as the Z28 and Trans Am, respectively, for 1998.

    (Only SS and WS6 models had 17-inch wheels and tires. Additionally, all Camaros and Firebirds used the same dual-piston brakes starting that year, regardless if they were V6 or V8-equipped.)

    In fact, the Firebird I owned was also equipped with the Y87 performance package that earned the car a V8 steering box and an upgraded suspension. I can't remember if the Camaro I had also packed the Y87 package, but I'm leaning toward yes since it had the Z28's 16-inch wheels and I remember the window sticker showing the car to be pretty much a fully-loaded V6 car, save for leather seats. So then, so much for a downgraded suspension.

    Let's also dig a little deeper, think with an open-mind for a second. Those V6 cars actually had most of the engine's weight placed behind the front wheels, and weighed a few hundred pounds less than their V8 counterparts. Obviously, these factors had positive effects on how the V6 cars handled.

    Facts aside, driving impressions are, like styling, ultimately a subjective matter. The stock tires on a Scion FR-S, for example, are actually pretty frickin skinny. But, if I recall correctly, most reviewers praise the FR-S as being fun to drive and a good handling car, just slow. Hmmmm...

    1998 Camaro v6's has tire options of 215/50R16 and 235/55R16 and the SS came with 275/40R17s. Z/28 has a super awkward tire size of 245/5016. Those are very much different tire sizes. Not just section width but a more aggressive aspect ratio as well. And yes those taller sidewalls made for a squishy feeling.

    Looking up what exactly this Y87 Performance Package entails.. Nothing to do with suspension. 3.42 gears, Zexel-Torsion LSD, 235/55R16 Goodyear Eagles, Dual exhaust, 4 wheel disc brakes, and the V8's steering rack.

    The little FR-S/BRZ twins do have relatively skinny tires, and they also come with low rolling resistance tires from the factory. 214/45R17. The car has a boxer engine and it sits extremely low in the car bringing the CG down a ton in comparison. Yes, the V6 Camaros and Mustangs of those older generations weighed less because of less engine but you'll never objectively explain how the V6(of those older generations because the new ones are a completely different story with 1LE packages and north of 300hp and such) could be more fun than their V8 counterparts. Sliding around a 2700-2800lb car with exceptional balance is not the same as a 3300-3500lb, not well balanced, car.

    "Also critical in it’s handling dynamics is the BRZ has one of the lowest centers of gravity of any production car in the world at just 18.1 inches. This is because of Subaru’s Boxer engine design with its inherently low height and its mass concentrated low in the chassis. It contributes to all Subaru’s having this important characteristic, but BRZ takes maximum advantage of this."

    http://www.torquenews.com/1084/three-things-make-2015-subaru-brz-special-sports-car

    For what it's worth, C/D compared the Mustang and Camaro back in 1999 and the V6 Camaro ran a 16.1@87mph. That's not exactly fun speed either.. The little BRZ does the same in 15.0@94mph. Not the greatest comparison. Slow and overweight vs quick and light.

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    15 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    1998 Camaro v6's has tire options of 215/50R16 and 235/55R16 and the SS came with 275/40R17s. Z/28 has a super awkward tire size of 245/5016. Those are very much different tire sizes. Not just section width but a more aggressive aspect ratio as well. And yes those taller sidewalls made for a squishy feeling.

    Looking up what exactly this Y87 Performance Package entails.. Nothing to do with suspension. 3.42 gears, Zexel-Torsion LSD, 235/55R16 Goodyear Eagles, Dual exhaust, 4 wheel disc brakes, and the V8's steering rack.

    The little FR-S/BRZ twins do have relatively skinny tires, and they also come with low rolling resistance tires from the factory. 214/45R17. The car has a boxer engine and it sits extremely low in the car bringing the CG down a ton in comparison. Yes, the V6 Camaros and Mustangs of those older generations weighed less because of less engine but you'll never objectively explain how the V6(of those older generations because the new ones are a completely different story with 1LE packages and north of 300hp and such) could be more fun than their V8 counterparts. Sliding around a 2700-2800lb car with exceptional balance is not the same as a 3300-3500lb, not well balanced, car.

    "Also critical in it’s handling dynamics is the BRZ has one of the lowest centers of gravity of any production car in the world at just 18.1 inches. This is because of Subaru’s Boxer engine design with its inherently low height and its mass concentrated low in the chassis. It contributes to all Subaru’s having this important characteristic, but BRZ takes maximum advantage of this."

    http://www.torquenews.com/1084/three-things-make-2015-subaru-brz-special-sports-car

    For what it's worth, C/D compared the Mustang and Camaro back in 1999 and the V6 Camaro ran a 16.1@87mph. That's not exactly fun speed either.. The little BRZ does the same in 15.0@94mph. Not the greatest comparison. Slow and overweight vs quick and light.

    Jesus, dude...

    Alright then, let's do this, I guess...

    1. The 245/50R16 tire size you mentioned for the Z28 were a Z-rated tire offered as optional equipment for 1998. They were not the standard tire for that year. All base Z/28s had 235/55R16 tires... and, hey, wouldn't you know it? Those are the same tires that my V6 Camaro had.
    2. I've discovered there's some confusion as to whether or not Y87 cars had upgraded suspension parts. I've seen a few sources say yes, others no. I've been under the impression the suspension was upgraded somehow over a basic non-Y87 car. So I decided to do a little research. It appears whatever source you've quoted is ultimately correct. However, with that said, it's possible Y87 cars likely use different steering arms from base V6 cars to use the V8 steering box. If so, I suppose some sources might be counting that as an "upgraded suspension." My apologies for further propagating that confusion.
    3. ...But, while researching the above topic, continuing on with V6 vs V8 suspension differences, all '98 and up V6 and base V8 F-Body cars actually use the same rear coil springs (code TJ). Obviously the front springs are different between the two to account for a lighter/heavier engine, not necessarily to make the handling worse or the ride any softer. Again, only SS and WS6 cars had upgraded springs all the way round. So, once again I'll ask, what downgraded suspension?

    So to recap:

    • The Camaro I owned had the same 235/55R16 tires as a base model Z28 for 1998.
    • The Camaro I owned I believe had the Y87 package, which meant it shared the same steering box and rear differential as a 1998 Z28. It's also possible the steering arms are shared as well.
    • The Camaro I owned had the same rear coil springs as a base model '98 Z28. The front coil springs were different to compensate for difference in weight of the V6 versus the V8 engine, not to compromise the ride or handling. This is true for all 1998 Camaros -- base V6, Y87 V6 and base Z28 -- with the exception of SS models.
    • As an aside, at this point, it wouldn't surprise me if even the shocks are the same between base V6, Y87 V6 and base Z28 Camaros built in 1998, although I haven't researched this yet.

    The tire and suspension differences are so minor between the car I owned and a base Z28 I don't see how anyone could argue the V8 absolutely handled better, unless we're talking about an SS model which could boast a slight advantage over both the V6 and Z28. But at that point, what engine the car has becomes completely irrelevant. Sure, you can say there's a V8 better than the V6, but you'd be choosing to be ignorant to the fact that it's also better than a similar V8 car as well.

    Moving forward now...

    1. Using quarter mile times in a discussion about handling is totally irrelevant. I don't think you make left and right hand turns in a straight-line drag race. Or are you onto some new fun trend that you'd like to share?
    2. Curb weight has little to weight distribution. For example: it's possible for one car to weigh 3,000 lbs. and the other 3,500 but both have the same 55/45 weight distribution. So your point is... ?
    3. The V6 Camaro has 57/43 weight distribution. The FR-S is 53/47. I thought that was interesting.

    Ultimately, though, you are missing the point of my mention of the FR-S in the last bit of my post, just like how you're missing the entire message of my original post.

    On that last note, let's see if using a British accent fixes that, for whatever reason:

    Does that make it any clearer? You're trying to dispute that entire notion based on -- what? -- two out of the four cars I've owned that I'm basing my impression on?

    I need a goddamn Advil now.

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    32 minutes ago, Blake Noble said:

    You're trying to dispute that entire notion based on -- what? -- two out of the four cars I've owned that I'm basing my impression on?

    This is all that needed to be said.. you're defensive of them because you've owned them..

    I'm not intentionally coming off aggressive.. That's the stupid internet's fault or not capturing my light-ness of discussion. My bad there, brother.

    The reason I brought up 1/4 mile times/0-60 times was because you said "fun". You said they were more "fun" and that's why I looked into more than just maximum handling capabilities.

    Thank you for informing me on those v6 and z/28 similarities. Way closer than I would have thought but I'm still coming up with 245's and 235's for the z/28, both on 16 inch wheels. That seems like not enough tire for the LS1..just sayin'.

    The point of weight distribution is handling capabilities. A Camaro with a v6 or v8 over the front axel is going to have a lot more weight over the front end than a BRZ with a boxer 4 tucked lower and further back. The BRZ and '98 Camaro will be night and day in corner carving.

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    1999 z/28 test results

    1999 Camaro v6 test results

    I realize they are 1999 and not 1998, FYI. But that's the same generation for the Camaro so I assumed it was okay.

    Found it interesting that the z/28 held a higher maximum lateral g's but the v6 did the emergency lane change a good amount quicker(nearly 5mph). They also took the same distance to brake 70-0mph. Interesting, indeeeeeeed.

    Edited by ccap41
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    The Challenger needs the 5.7L V8 to be relevant. It weighs too damn much and lacks handling/braking in its class overall, but especially in V6 trims. A V6 Challenger will not drive better because you saved 100 lbs, as the car's most redeeming quality is being a muscle car and the V6 struggles to keep up with common family cars with 2.0Ts and V6s. Fun in a Challenger is a rip-roaring V8 laying a patch of rubber, not getting 30 mpg and losing races against grocery getters.

    The same argument can easily be applied to the Camaro and Mustang prior to the late 2000s. It's an incredibly unpopular stance to claim that a 90s pony car is just as fun (or moreso) without a V8. Some things are "subjective opinion" but come on.

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    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    This is all that needed to be said.. you're defensive of them because you've owned them..

    I'm defensive of them because not necessarily because of my ownership of them, but because these cars deserve to be judged and enjoyed based on their own merits and not what they lack compared to their V8 counterparts. These cars do have a unique flavor of their own to offer and appreciate. 

    Let me touch on this thought of mine for just a minute: I sincerely believe the "no replacement for displacement" mentality that lingers over the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger like a sour fart is what'll ultimately doom these cars when internal combustion engines go the way of the carrier pigeon, Soviet Union and Member's Only jackets. And what I've seen unfold in this thread only further solidifies that notion, honestly.

    If these cars survive electrification, it'll be nothing short of a damn miracle because the shear number of all of the old folks and folks who are "old at heart" dying from heart-attacks at the silence of a electric Mustang burnout alone will likely justify some sort of government '90s assault weapons-style ban on electric cars, despite the fact an all-electric Mustang could give way to the best driving Mustang of all time, if not simply the best all-around Mustang ever.

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    The reason I brought up 1/4 mile times/0-60 times was because you said "fun". You said they were more "fun" and that's why I looked into more than just maximum handling capabilities.

    I said they were more "fun" because you can use more of the car in legal driving conditions. Remember the driving conditions I mentioned earlier? I've never set a tire on a drag strip and I don't carry a stopwatch around. I do plenty of driving on curvy country roads and backroads (US 421 in particular is a real treat) and anything packing more than 300 to 325 horsepower would be pretty much useless. Really, 300 horsepower can be a bit too much at times.

    Reference that James May segment I posted. There's less power with a V6 Camaro, Mustang or Challenger, sure, but there's more usable power. Sure, with a V8 model you can go 0-60 faster than the taco squirts, and down the quarter mile quicker than an ape with a hot fire poker up its ass, but those are ultimately just numbers on paper. It doesn't count for much if you can't use those numbers in the real world.

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    Thank you for informing me on those v6 and z/28 similarities. Way closer than I would have thought but I'm still coming up with 245's and 235's for the z/28, both on 16 inch wheels. That seems like not enough tire for the LS1..just sayin'.

    Well, hey, it was the late '90s. Compared to what automakers were using less than 10 years prior, those tires were probably something for the Camaro then. Today, we're used to 17 inch wheels as standard equipment on Camries and Malibus.

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    The point of weight distribution is handling capabilities. A Camaro with a v6 or v8 over the front axel is going to have a lot more weight over the front end than a BRZ with a boxer 4 tucked lower and further back. The BRZ and '98 Camaro will be night and day in corner carving.

    Well, yah.

    I really don't know where to go here but I wasn't originally trying to directly compare the Camaro to the FR-S...

    20 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    I'm not intentionally coming off aggressive.. That's the stupid internet's fault or not capturing my light-ness of discussion. My bad there, brother.

    No worries. I didn't mean to come across abrasive, either. Defensive, maybe. But then again, I'm not used to an argument being this civilized around here, sadly.

    19 hours ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    The Challenger needs the 5.7L V8 to be relevant. It weighs too damn much and lacks handling/braking in its class overall, but especially in V6 trims. A V6 Challenger will not drive better because you saved 100 lbs, as the car's most redeeming quality is being a muscle car and the V6 struggles to keep up with common family cars with 2.0Ts and V6s. Fun in a Challenger is a rip-roaring V8 laying a patch of rubber, not getting 30 mpg and losing races against grocery getters.

    The same argument can easily be applied to the Camaro and Mustang prior to the late 2000s. It's an incredibly unpopular stance to claim that a 90s pony car is just as fun (or moreso) without a V8. Some things are "subjective opinion" but come on.

    I'll agree that the Challenger is a Fatty McFatpants that needs to go on a diet. But I'm sticking to what I said earlier: the V6 SE and SXT cars are better at backroad exploration than the R/T models.

    But, really, a Challenger is best at cruising down boulevards and interstates and going on long distance trips. It's a big, comfortable car. It's half family car, half grand tourer. It's basically a Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe wearing a pony car pelt. (Not much different, then, than the Challenger in Vanishing Point if you think about it a bit.) And, really, what engine you have under the hood is moot when all you do is loaf around on straight-stretches of road.

    And I'm proud to march to the beat of different drum here.

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    I own a 5.7 Challenger R/T. I love it, but could a V6 Chally replace it? Sure. Why not? It's is a rare event when I get a chance to stretch the Hemi's legs. It's my go to car for road trips, and on rare occasions I drive it down some winding, twisting mountain roads near where I live, but that is usually a waste of time because of the number of families out for a weekend cruise on the same mountain roads that muck-up any opportunity for me to unwind the Challenger, and that is the problem. There really isn't any safe legal way to reach the potential of these cars unless one spends his weekends at the track, drives dangerously, or temps fate with the local law enforcement and most people have little time for that, so most of these cars are really nothing more than daily driver's, and who really cares if it is a V8 or V6?  

     

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      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
    • By William Maley
      Despite being one of the best sellers in the luxury crossover class, the Lexus RX lacked something many competitors offered; a third-row option. Lexus rectified this a couple of years ago by stretching the RX's body and adding a third-row to create the RX L. I spent some time in the RX 350L Luxury back in the fall to find out if Lexus has another winner or if this a half-baked attempt.
      You can tell the difference between the standard RX to the longer L by looking for a floating roofline treatment. This is due to Lexus blacking part of the c-pillar to help disguise the added bulk. It doesn't fully work as looks somewhat half-baked. At least Lexus was more successful upfront where non F-Sport models get a new mesh insert to replace the horizontal slats, along with a revised bumper. When equipped with the Luxury Package, the RX is a plush and pleasant place to spend time. The leather upholstery feels nice to the touch and the use of contrasting colors (cream and brown in my tester) help make it feel special. Lexus has finally added a touchscreen for the RX's infotainment and it makes a huge difference. Gone are the litany of issues I have noted in previous models such as, Being precise with your finger movements when selecting an item Becoming very distracting to use when on the move Not the most intuitive controller Now using Lexus Enform or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not an exercise in frustration, but one of ease. My only complaint is that I wished Lexus moved the screen slightly more forwards. It is quite a reach to use the touchscreen. Those sitting in the second row will not have much to complain about as head and legroom are plentiful for most passengers. The same cannot be said for the third-row. Getting back here is difficult as there is not enough a gap when the second-row seat is moved forward. Once back here, space is non-existent with your head touching the headliner and legroom from nothing to something bearable depending on where the second-row is set. The one upside to the longer RX is cargo space. With the third-row seat folded, you get about seven extra cubic feet of space compared to standard RX. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in several Lexus and Toyota vehicles.  For the RX 350L, it produces 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with all-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive is standard. Performance is adequate as you'll be able to keep up with traffic or make a pass with no issue. Those wanting a bit more performance should look at something like the upcoming Acura MDX or Volvo XC90. Comfort is still a key hallmark to the RX. Bumps and potholes become mere ripples when driven over. There is also a noticeable lack of road and wind coming inside. The RX 350L feels like a stop-gap solution until Lexus finishes up their upcoming three-row crossover due out within the next couple of years. The third-row isn't all useful for carrying passengers and is best to fold down to expand cargo space. If you need a third-row, there are much better options such as the Volvo XC90. But if you really want an RX, stick with the standard two-row version and pocket the cash you saved for something nice. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 350L, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: RX
      Trim: 350L Luxury
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,597 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
      Base Price: $54,700
      As Tested Price: $63,540 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      12.3" Navigation System/Mark Levinson 15-Speaker Premium Audio System - $3,365.00
      Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert Braking - $1,865.00
      Running Boards - $640.00
      Color Head-Up Display - $600.00
      Second-Row Captain's Chairs - $405.00
      All-Weather Floor Liners with Cargo Mat - $330.00
      Cold Weather Package - $315.00
      Mudguards - $155.00
      Door Edge Guards - $140.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Despite being one of the best sellers in the luxury crossover class, the Lexus RX lacked something many competitors offered; a third-row option. Lexus rectified this a couple of years ago by stretching the RX's body and adding a third-row to create the RX L. I spent some time in the RX 350L Luxury back in the fall to find out if Lexus has another winner or if this a half-baked attempt.
      You can tell the difference between the standard RX to the longer L by looking for a floating roofline treatment. This is due to Lexus blacking part of the c-pillar to help disguise the added bulk. It doesn't fully work as looks somewhat half-baked. At least Lexus was more successful upfront where non F-Sport models get a new mesh insert to replace the horizontal slats, along with a revised bumper. When equipped with the Luxury Package, the RX is a plush and pleasant place to spend time. The leather upholstery feels nice to the touch and the use of contrasting colors (cream and brown in my tester) help make it feel special. Lexus has finally added a touchscreen for the RX's infotainment and it makes a huge difference. Gone are the litany of issues I have noted in previous models such as, Being precise with your finger movements when selecting an item Becoming very distracting to use when on the move Not the most intuitive controller Now using Lexus Enform or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not an exercise in frustration, but one of ease. My only complaint is that I wished Lexus moved the screen slightly more forwards. It is quite a reach to use the touchscreen. Those sitting in the second row will not have much to complain about as head and legroom are plentiful for most passengers. The same cannot be said for the third-row. Getting back here is difficult as there is not enough a gap when the second-row seat is moved forward. Once back here, space is non-existent with your head touching the headliner and legroom from nothing to something bearable depending on where the second-row is set. The one upside to the longer RX is cargo space. With the third-row seat folded, you get about seven extra cubic feet of space compared to standard RX. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in several Lexus and Toyota vehicles.  For the RX 350L, it produces 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with all-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive is standard. Performance is adequate as you'll be able to keep up with traffic or make a pass with no issue. Those wanting a bit more performance should look at something like the upcoming Acura MDX or Volvo XC90. Comfort is still a key hallmark to the RX. Bumps and potholes become mere ripples when driven over. There is also a noticeable lack of road and wind coming inside. The RX 350L feels like a stop-gap solution until Lexus finishes up their upcoming three-row crossover due out within the next couple of years. The third-row isn't all useful for carrying passengers and is best to fold down to expand cargo space. If you need a third-row, there are much better options such as the Volvo XC90. But if you really want an RX, stick with the standard two-row version and pocket the cash you saved for something nice. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 350L, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: RX
      Trim: 350L Luxury
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,597 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
      Base Price: $54,700
      As Tested Price: $63,540 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      12.3" Navigation System/Mark Levinson 15-Speaker Premium Audio System - $3,365.00
      Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert Braking - $1,865.00
      Running Boards - $640.00
      Color Head-Up Display - $600.00
      Second-Row Captain's Chairs - $405.00
      All-Weather Floor Liners with Cargo Mat - $330.00
      Cold Weather Package - $315.00
      Mudguards - $155.00
      Door Edge Guards - $140.00
    • By William Maley
      Do you need a V8 engine in your flagship luxury sedan? That's a question I posed myself when a Genesis G90 equipped with a 5.0L V8 engine was dropped off for a week. The standard G90 with the twin-turbo V6 offers an impressive amount of performance and refinement. But the V8 offers much more power, along with some extra goodies you cannot get with the V6. 
      Since our last visit with the G90, Genesis has given a bit of a facelift. The front end prominently features a new diamond-shape. I found myself growing to like it, even if I thought it was a tad too large. But I can see this becoming a point of contention. Other changes include new wheels and a restyled rear end that makes the G90 look a bit cleaner. No changes of note for the interior. It still is very luxurious to sit in and the controls are logically laid out. The only item I'm sad not to see is the new 12.3-inch digital cluster that is found in the all-new G80 and GV80. Opting for the Ultimate means back seat passengers get their own screens mounted behind the front seats. This allows you to tap into the G90's infotainment system to play audio, check various information, and look at the navigation system. Ultimate models come with the larger 5.0L V8 producing 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option. The V8 is a bit of a tough sell when compared to the twin-turbo 3.3L V6 as it slower off the line and not as flexible whenever you need to accelerate quickly. Both engines also are similar in terms of refinement, offer a muted engine note. The only place I found the V8 to be slightly better than the V6 was in my average fuel economy. The V8 returned 24.7 mpg, while the V6 only got 20.3 mpg. A combination of the V8 G90 being rear-wheel and not all-wheel, along with more miles being done on the highway likely contributed to the better fuel economy figures. Ride quality is still on the hallmarks of the G90. With the adaptive suspension in either SMART or Comfort, the G90 glides along any road surface with nary a bump or pothole coming inside.  Around bends, the G90 doesn't feel at home with a fair amount of body roll. There is a Sport model to help reduce this, along with adding more weight to the steering. For the as-tested price of $76,695, you are getting quite a lot of equipment. There are LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, power sunshades, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, memory settings for seats, and much more. The only way I could recommend the G90 Ultimate is either if you're operating a livery service or just want a V8 engine no matter what. Otherwise, you'll be happy with the G90 Premium and its twin-turbo V6. That said, the current G90 is starting to show its age, especially when compared to some of the new Genesis models such as the G80 and GV80. A new model is coming down the pipeline and if the recent models are any indication, the G90 has a real shot of becoming one of the best luxury sedans. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G90, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Genesis
      Model: G90
      Trim: 5.0 Ultimate
      Engine: 5.0L GDI V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 5,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
      Curb Weight: 4,817 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea
      Base Price: $75,700
      As Tested Price: $76,695 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
  • Posts

    • I feel you are omitting the competition factor here. Plywood, I suppose, only competes with OSB, tho I imagine the same companies manufacture both. It's pricing is much more directly tied to supply & demand, having no 'MSRP'. BE's have to compete with IC directly, and built by a multitude of companies. Price is the primary factor for consumers. Look at it this way- if the Model 3 came out at $25K, where do you think it's sales (sans production limitations) would be?
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    • This page is proof of two things:   1. Some people have a problem with context.   2. Some people just want to bitch for the sake of bitching because they think they have to accomplish some kind of mystical “gotcha” moment.  And you (and a few others) have beat that horse to death. Maybe it’s time for a new argument. 
    • For our Buick loving Buddies... Fins...! For the perverted in all of us... Final thought...  
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