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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T Luxury

      I could have been a contender

    It feels a bit odd to be spending some time in the 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe after driving the CT6 earlier this year. In a way, it felt like I was stepping back into the past where Cadillac was making some dumb decisions that ultimately would hurt their vehicles. The ATS coupe is a prime example of this where Cadillac had a legitimate challenger to likes of the BMW 3/4-Series and Audi A5 in terms of performance and handling. But some bone-headed decisions would regulate it to the mid-pack.

    • The ATS Coupe is still quite the looker. It features the classic rear-wheel drive proportions of a long front end and a short rear deck.The low roofline and raised belt line give off an impression of aggressive elegance. Our test car came with a set of machined-finished, 18-inch wheels that help the design pop.
    • Move inside and it is clear that the interior hasn’t aged so well. For example, the sheet of piano black trim with the silver capacitive touch buttons really look out of place. The trim is also a magnet for fingerprints.
    • Cadillac’s designers deserve a bit of credit for providing a nice mix of materials such as the Bordello Red leather upholstery, suede microfiber covering parts of the dash and door panels, and carbon fiber trim.
    • The front seats are very comfortable for long trips and do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. The rear seats are best left to be used for additional storage as leg and headroom are minuscule. Trunk space is quite small for the class at 10.4 cubic feet.
    • CUE is still a bit of a mixed bag. While the overall usability is better with quicker response times and the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the touch capacitive buttons are still hit and miss in terms of responding.
    • Power comes from a 2.0L turbo-four producing 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. We had the eight-speed automatic that was introduced last year, but a six-speed manual is available as an option.
    • The 2.0L turbo is a punchy performer. Power comes at a smooth and steady rate. The engine does lose some points under hard acceleration as it is not refined as some competitors.
    • The eight-speed automatic is the weak point for the ATS. It is slow to downshift when you need the thrust to pass a slower vehicle. We have to assume this comes down to the programming which is tuned more for fuel economy than performance. Gear changes, for the most part, are seamless.
    • One area that Cadillac hasn’t messed with is the ATS’ handling. The coupe is a willing accomplice down a twisty road with sharp reflexes, little body roll, and steering that provides the right balance of steering feel and weight. We had the optional V-Sport Suspension package which adds a performance suspension and a set of summer-only, run-flat tires which only improves the handling.
    • The downside to this handling goodness is a very stiff ride. Compared to the last ATS we drove (not the ATS-V), this coupe transmitted more bumps and imperfections, making for a very uncomfortable ride. Some of this can be laid at the V-Sport Suspension package.
    • The ATS coupe seen here is the Luxury model - one step above the base model. It carries a base price of $41,395. Our test car was loaded with $12,055 in options, bringing the as-tested price to $54,445. You might be wondering why not jump into the Premium Luxury or Premium Performance if you’re planning to spend that much cash. That is because those two trims only come with the 3.6L V6. If you want the 2.0L turbo, you have to go either the base ATS or Luxury.
    • If I was to buy this car, I would skip the V-Sport suspension package, performance exhaust kit, slotted rotor and brake pad upgrade, and the 18-inch wheels. That would drop the price to a somewhat reasonable $48,490.

    Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the ATS Coupe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    (Author's Note: And that is the final review for 2017. (Hooray!) I'll be revealing my favorite vehicles before the end of the year, so stay tuned. As for 2018, there will be a mix of some leftover 2017 models mixed in with the first batch of 2018 models. Expect to see reviews start back up around the Detroit Auto Show. In the meantime, have a safe and joyous holiday. -WM)

    Year: 2017
    Make: Cadillac
    Model: ATS Coupe
    Trim: 2.0T Luxury
    Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DI VVT Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 5,500
    Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 3,000 - 4,600
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 
    Curb Weight: 3,571 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Lansing, Michigan
    Base Price: $41,395
    As Tested Price: $54,445 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    V-Sport Suspension Package - $2,265.00
    Performance Exhaust Kit - $1,650.00
    Safety & Security Package - $1,500.00
    Morello Red Semi-Aniline Leather - $1,295.00
    Slotted Rotor and Brake Pad Upgrade Package - $1,190.00
    Power Sunroof - $1,050.00
    18" Bright Machined-Finish Alloy Wheels - $850.00
    Black Chrome Accented Grille - $820.00
    V-Series Rear Spoiler - $665.00
    Phantom Gray Metallic - $595.00
    Black Chrome Rear Trim - $175.00



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    I wonder if Cadillac will address the issues listed here with the 2018 model, if not with the successor of the ATS.

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    8 hours ago, riviera74 said:

    I wonder if Cadillac will address the issues listed here with the 2018 model, if not with the successor of the ATS.

    I think at this point they are investing all their money into the coupe only and the new CT version since that is what they seem to imply will be the future.

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    On 12/22/2017 at 8:22 PM, dfelt said:

    Nice ride, just too small for me. Perfect for most others though. :) 

    i think the ATS series is too small for a lot of people.  

     

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    Every car in the ATS's class is 'too small for a lot of people'. Just like full-size trucks are "too large for a lot of people".

    ATS total legroom is within 1/2-in of the C-class, meanwhile having 3 more cubic feet interior room than the MB.
    How often have you read how the C-class is too small for a lot of people?? This is a segment of small cars for those that they AREN'T 'too small' for!

    Personally, I'm the type that an S-class is too small for me.

    Edited by balthazar
    • Upvote 2

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    12 hours ago, balthazar said:

    Every car in the ATS's class is 'too small for a lot of people'. Just like full-size trucks are "too large for a lot of people".

    ATS total legroom is within 1/2-in of the C-class, meanwhile having 3 more cubic feet interior room than the MB.
    How often have you read how the C-class is too small for a lot of people?? This is a segment of small cars for those that they AREN'T 'too small' for!

    Personally, I'm the type that an S-class is too small for me.

    Sounds like they just don't know how to use the interior space that's available. 

    The 3 Series and MB don't have the small car feel to them like the ATS does. Whatever it is, the ATS feels smaller. 

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    Some people may well feel the interior is smaller, but it's not. Thusly, it seems Cadillac is using the interior space/packaging better if it's providing more dimensions in the same size package.

    Look, I'd have to see these side-by-side for myself, but it certainly seems to be a ridiculous sticking point for many. If one feels the car, somehow, is 'tight'.... that's the reason OEMs build multiple size sedans, right?

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    1 hour ago, ccap41 said:

    Sounds like they just don't know how to use the interior space that's available. 

    The 3 Series and MB don't have the small car feel to them like the ATS does. Whatever it is, the ATS feels smaller. 

    Have to disagree with you. The ATS is small yet I can actually fit into the driver's seat while no one can sit behind me. The 3 series and MB C-Class I actually cannot fit into to drive safely as my knees are on the dash. Yes that is getting 6'6" tall me with 40" inseam so long legs into the auto, but my knees do not push on the dash in the ATS compared to the BMW or MB products.

    So much for my Heritage land building something that can actually fit me.

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    These are nice cars, but size wise for people and cargo, just consider it a 2+2 sports car and your expectations will be met.  Don't expect miracles from the small back seat or the tiny trunk.

     

    Edited by frogger

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    12 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    Have to disagree with you. The ATS is small yet I can actually fit into the driver's seat while no one can sit behind me. The 3 series and MB C-Class I actually cannot fit into to drive safely as my knees are on the dash. Yes that is getting 6'6" tall me with 40" inseam so long legs into the auto, but my knees do not push on the dash in the ATS compared to the BMW or MB products.

    So much for my Heritage land building something that can actually fit me.

    I wouldn't expect you to have agreed. Nothing fits you unless it's what you like. Everything else just so happens to be itty bitty and cramped.

    Yet you fit into an ATS... 

    The drivers' seats are basically a wash, dimensionally. The rear seats is the only place there is sigificant differences. Oh and the headroom in the BMW is 3 inches more than the ATS/C63.

    From left to right: Giulia, M3, ATS-V, C63

    Dimensions.PNG

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    13 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    I wouldn't expect you to have agreed. Nothing fits you unless it's what you like. Everything else just so happens to be itty bitty and cramped.

    Yet you fit into an ATS... 

    The drivers' seats are basically a wash, dimensionally. The rear seats is the only place there is sigificant differences. Oh and the headroom in the BMW is 3 inches more than the ATS/C63.

    From left to right: Giulia, M3, ATS-V, C63

    Dimensions.PNG

    I understand the measurements, but there seems to be no industry standard on where they are taken at and the ATS seats I know for a fact go lower into the floor than the others so I can get the head room I need.

    I really wish there was a set standard for where one measures the interior room at.

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    It's a 3rd party test... 

    There is no way BMW would release numbers of max head room with the seat higher than its lowest point. Same with all of the other measurements. What benefit would there be to that? Lie about their interior dimensions? 

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    There ARE SAE standards for interior measurement... but I wonder if the methodology is where discrepancies show up.

    So when legroom is measured, how is the adjustability of the front seat accounted for? Are the numbers max measurements, whereas in reality everyone is less in normal useage?

    Edited by balthazar

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    14 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    It's a 3rd party test... 

    There is no way BMW would release numbers of max head room with the seat higher than its lowest point. Same with all of the other measurements. What benefit would there be to that? Lie about their interior dimensions? 

     

    14 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    There ARE SAE standards for interior measurement... but I wonder if the methodology is where discrepancies show up.

    So when legroom is measured, how is the adjustability of the front seat accounted for? Are the numbers max measurements, whereas in reality everyone is less in normal useage?

    I understand the points your both making and wonder myself also, I assume everyone sets the seat at the lowest point to measure but then where on the seat are they measuring from and is it a consistent point for all auto's in that class. 

    One would hope that the SAE Standards would cover this, but from what I have read they do not seem too and in this is where the rub is. I would also think they would move the front seats all the way forward to maximize the rear seat leg room, but then how many people really drive that way versus having the seat all the way back and then measuring rear seat room. So much wiggle room on how one measures interior space.

    Very crazy I think. :dizzy:

    4 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    I was just looking at that myself, SAE J1100. 

    http://standards.sae.org/j1100_200911/

    Weird the inconsistent nature in updates that they have posted on that link. A few years in a row shows updates yearly, then every 3 to 5 years and back to yearly. Really weird on how they update them. 

    The SAE standards must be written by lawyers due to all the gobbly gook that is written in them. sad :( 

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    1 hour ago, dfelt said:

    Have to disagree with you. The ATS is small yet I can actually fit into the driver's seat while no one can sit behind me. The 3 series and MB C-Class I actually cannot fit into to drive safely as my knees are on the dash. Yes that is getting 6'6" tall me with 40" inseam so long legs into the auto, but my knees do not push on the dash in the ATS compared to the BMW or MB products.

    So much for my Heritage land building something that can actually fit me.

     

    3 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    Sounds like they just don't know how to use the interior space that's available. 

    The 3 Series and MB don't have the small car feel to them like the ATS does. Whatever it is, the ATS feels smaller. 

    Dfelt is spot on. Its been my observation and defense of the ATS since it hit the road.  Cadillac gave enthusiasts the exact car they wanted.. problem was.. as I've said since I started posting on forums.. ENTHUSIASTS ARE THE WORST FUCKIN CUSTOMERS because they don't buy cars in the numbers needed to really sustain. Mercedes buyers are not enthusiasts. BMW drivers are quickly moving that direction as well. Point of fact.. look at the performance tests and comparos and tell me how the ATS, a car that is now 6 MYs old.. is second only to the Brand new Alfa Romeo in performance and handling? That's even with a new C-Class, Jag XE, upgrades to the 3series and IS.. and new A4.

    Furthermore the ATS was built for DRIVERS, not passengers. As always I say fuck the passenger.. they get what they get. BMW 3series owners apparently wanted a more family oriented car... the the current 3Series is more liken to Lexus than BMW. Go get in a 3series or new C-Class and U will see that the space for the driver is compromised for the sake of backseat occupants without seat adjustments, not be just the fore and aft.. but the ergonomic ups and downs as well. Measurements be damned.. the ATS is more comfy in the front.. than both the 3 and C. In the rear.. they have an edge. 

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    The ATS is behind the C and 3/4 Series in performance as well. 

    Even V Series. 

    It's great but it doesn't dominate anything. It's basically a wash between which car the buyer thinks looks the best because the numbers are all too close and mixed with no clear "this car does everything the best". 

    https://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2015-bmw-m3-vs-2015-mercedes-amg-c63-s-2016-cadillac-ats-v-comparison-test-2015-bmw-m3-vs-2015-mercedes-amg-c63-s-2016-cadillac-ats-v-final-scoring-performance-data-and-complete-specs-page-5

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    51 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    The ATS is behind the C and 3/4 Series in performance as well. 

    Even V Series. 

    It's great but it doesn't dominate anything. It's basically a wash between which car the buyer thinks looks the best because the numbers are all too close and mixed with no clear "this car does everything the best". 

    https://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2015-bmw-m3-vs-2015-mercedes-amg-c63-s-2016-cadillac-ats-v-comparison-test-2015-bmw-m3-vs-2015-mercedes-amg-c63-s-2016-cadillac-ats-v-final-scoring-performance-data-and-complete-specs-page-5

    I agree with you that the numbers are close in a very cramped market segment.

    Yet Motor Trend seems to think differently:

    http://www.motortrend.com/cars/cadillac/ats-v/2017/

    QUOTE: 

     This was the best handling sedan of the high-performance group, “The results are clear: with tires no more aggressive than the other cars’, the ATS-V slaughters its competitors with 1.03 g of steady-state cornering grip and a staggering 23.7-second figure-eight performance. That’s not only 0.3 second quicker than the next-best Mercedes, but the list of supercars the Caddy beats is embarrassingly long.”

    Editors love the ATS-V’s platform and find the powerful brakes, and well-weighted steering extremely capable on the track and through any curvy canyon.

    This is what used to be said all the time about BMW M series or MB AMG series.

    Digital Trends seems to think inline with Motor Trend:

    https://www.digitaltrends.com/car-reviews/2017-cadillac-ats-v-coupe-review/

    QUOTE:

    The ATS-V feels more like an old-school performance car than the C63 and the M4. It’s not as refined or as luxurious, but it’s rawer, and offers a more visceral driving experience with a devil-may-care attitude. It’s more playful than an RS 5 thanks to its rear-wheel drive layout, though that comes at the obvious expense of traction. There are plenty of alternatives to the Caddy but they’re not necessarily better or worse; they each have their own distinct personality. What matters is the ATS-V holds its own against the competition.

     

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    56 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    The ATS is behind the C and 3/4 Series in performance as well. 

    It's basically a wash ... because the numbers are all too close and mixed with no clear "this car does everything the best".

    So is it "behind" or "a wash"?

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    50 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    This was the best handling sedan of the high-performance group, “The results are clear: with tires no more aggressive than the other cars’, the ATS-V slaughters its competitors with 1.03 g of steady-state cornering grip and a staggering 23.7-second figure-eight performance. That’s not only 0.3 second quicker than the next-best Mercedes, but the list of supercars the Caddy beats is embarrassingly long.”

    That's two performance metrics. Like i said, across all of the tests. acceleration, braking, cornering, slalom, etc. 

     

    51 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    There are plenty of alternatives to the Caddy but they’re not necessarily better or worse;

    Hey look, your quote is about exactly what I said.

    It depends which one the buyer thinks looks the best. 

    51 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    So is it "behind" or "a wash"?

    Sorry, isn't** 

    It is a wash. 

    • Upvote 1

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    I have lots of experience with my brother's ATS coupe and it is quite small inside, no doubt smaller than the sedan that is usually tested.  That is one of the drawbacks of that fantastic coupe styling.  The front seats are fine, the rears are basically useless.  The trunk is also quite small.  His is the the Premium performance I believe and it is loaded, including all the safety suites.  It has the magnetic ride which is great, though still a little stiff, I wouldn't deem the ride rough or brittle.  His is a 15 so it has the older 6 speed auto.  Fortunately it is not as slow witted as the new 8 speed seems to be.  His is the V6 of course and I would actually prefer it here.  It also has AWD. 

     

    20161001_175521_zpsrcrrm8c6.jpg

    Edited by Stew

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      EPA fuel economy figures for the 1.6T with AWD are 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined. My average for the week landed around 26.7 mpg, mostly due to cold weather during the week I had the Kona.
      Woah, This Crossover Handles
      If you wanted a subcompact crossover that handled decently, your choices were either the Mazda CX-3 or Toyota C-HR. The Kona enters the ring as the third choice, and possibly the best. On the backroads, the Kona feels quite agile and has almost no body roll. If I was to nitpick, the steering doesn’t have as much feel as you’ll find in the CX-3. But it feels noticeably better than the C-HR. Ride quality is impressive with most bumps being isolated from passengers sitting inside. Not too much wind and road noise come inside.
      Possibly the Best Subcompact Crossover At the Moment
      Hyundai has a very compelling package in the Kona. There is an excellent performance from the turbocharged engine, impressive driving dynamics, easy to use infotainment system, and a long list of standard equipment. There are some drawbacks with the small cargo area and rear legroom topping the list. If you need the space, a Honda HR-V would be my first pick. The dual-clutch transmission still needs a bit more work to iron out the hesitation issues I experienced. 
      That first impression I had still stands and moves the Kona not only being the best in the class at the moment, but also onto a very rarefied list; a vehicle I would considering buying.
      How I Would Configure A Kona: The only reason I see buying the Ultimate is for the adaptive cruise control as most of the other safety equipment such as blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, and forward collision avoidance are available on other models. So if I wanted the Turbo engine, then I would step down to the Limited at $26,100. For those who think that is a tad expensive still should consider the SEL Plus as it comes very well equipped for $23,950. You do sacrifice the turbo engine for the 2.0L four-cylinder which is fine if your planning to drive mostly around town. Add an additional $1,400 for all-wheel drive.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Kona, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Kona
      Trim: Ultimate
      Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC 16-Valve GDI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/29/27
      Curb Weight: 3,276 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $29,150
      As Tested Price: $ 30,380 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
    • By William Maley
      For the past decade, Acura has felt lost at sea. Not sure of what it wanted to be as a brand. This was shown by mixed messaging in their lineup as they weren’t sure to focus on luxury, technology, or sport. This muddled mess of identities would cause a fair amount of issues. But in the past couple of years, Acura started to get its act together thanks in part to new leadership. The first fruits of their efforts came last year in the form of the third-generation RDX. 
      It has been over two years since I last drove an Acura, so when the opportunity for an RDX A-Spec landed on my desk, I took it with both hands. It was time to see what Acura has been up to and if they’re taking a step in the right direction. 
      You Want Presence? You Got It!
      The RDX is the first production model to feature Acura’s newest design language and its no shrinking violet. The front end draws your attention with a large trapezoidal grille paired with a massive Acura emblem. Sitting on either side is Acura’s Jewel-Eye LED headlights that add a distinctive touch. My A-Spec tester takes it further with distinctive front and rear bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black, and a special Apex Blue Pearl color that is only available on this trim. This crossover garnered a lot of looks during the week I had, something I hadn’t experience in quite some time.
      Cozy, Polarizing Interior
      The RDX’s interior captures the feeling of being in a sports car with a symmetrical dashboard design that cocoons the front passengers. A rotary drive-mode selector found in the center stack echos the design found in the NSX supercar. While it does emphasize the sporty nature of the vehicle, the position of the knob does make the climate controls a bit hard to reach. A-Spec models have some special touches such as red contrast stitching, a suede panel on the passenger side of the dashboard, and new trim for the instrument cluster that help it stand out. Material and build quality are quite close to some competitors from Germany.
      A set of sport seats with increased bolstering and power adjustments come standard on the A-Spec. I found them to be quite comfortable for any trip length and were able to hold me if I decided to be a bit enthusiastic. Back seat passengers will be plenty comfortable with an abundance of head and legroom. I would have like to see the back seat be able to slide forward and back to offer more comfort. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 29.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 when folded. There’s also a little storage nook under the cargo floor to stash valuables.
      Intuitive Infotainment?
      Acura’s previous infotainment system drew a lot of ire from people. The dual-screen layout was confusing as some functions were split between the two screens such as changing the audio input. Not helping was the two different control methods for this setup; touchscreen for the bottom portion and a controller for the top screen. Thankfully, Acura has introduced a new infotainment system for the RDX. A large 10.2-inch screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Seeing the touchpad for the first time sent chills down my spine as I thought back to my frustrating experiences with Lexus’ Touchpad Controller. But Acura says this controller is much easier and logical to use than competitors. Okay, challenge accepted.
      Acura’s touchpad controller is slightly different from Lexus’ setup as it is mapped to the screen. So if you want to access the navigation, you tap that part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. This removes the dragging of the finger across the touchpad to get it to the selection you want. This seems quite logical on paper, but I found to be somewhat frustrating. It took me a few days to mind-meld with the system as I was still used to dragging my finger across the touchpad to select various functions. This made simple tasks such as changing presets or moving around in Apple CarPlay very tough.
      There is also a smaller touchpad that controls a small section of the screen. This allows you to scroll through three menus - audio, navigation, and clock. This would prove to be the most frustrating aspect of this system as it didn’t always recognize whenever I scroll down on the touchpad to move to another screen.
      Thankfully, Acura has left a number of physical controls for the audio and climate systems. I’m glad that some luxury automakers aren’t falling into the trap.
      Powertrain Goes Back To Its Roots
      The RDX has always found itself with a different powertrain throughout its various generations. The first version used a turbo-four engine, while the second-generation moved to a V6. For the third-generation, Acura went back to the RDX’s roots and settled on another turbo-four engine. The 2.0L engine punches out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic and either front or my tester’s Super-Handling all-wheel drive system.
      The turbo-four is quite a potent engine with little turbo lag when leaving a stop and a seemingly endless amount of power for any situation. The ten-speed automatic is very smooth and quick when upshifting. But it does stumble somewhat when you need a quick shot of speed. 
      I did notice that the 2.0L turbo isn’t a quiet engine when traveling on the expressway, going above 2,000 rpm when traveling at 70 mph. This may explain the slightly disappointing 21.7 mpg average I got during the week. EPA fuel economy figures for the A-Spec SH-AWD are 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. The standard RDX models see a small bump in their EPA fuel economy figures.
      Capable Driver
      Acura is no stranger to building a crossover that is good to drive, the larger MDX crossover is a prime example. But the RDX A-Spec takes that a step further. This version gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup which negates a fair amount of body roll on a winding road. The steering firms up nicely when pushed through corners. When going through the daily grind, the RDX A-Spec will let in a few more bumps and road imperfections due to its suspension tuning. Road and wind noise are kept to very minimal levels.
      Welcome Back Acura
      The 2020 RDX shows that Acura is starting to figure out what it wants to be; a brand that offers something playful in the class. The RDX certainly has the qualities with a bold exterior, punchy turbo-four, and a surprising chassis that offers sporty handling and a mostly-comfortable ride. The slightly-confounding infotainment system and poor fuel economy figures do sour it a bit. But the RDX is a very compelling alternative to many compact luxury crossovers.
      It does give me hope that Acura is figuring out who it wants to be and excited to see what comes down the road such as the new TLX.
      How I Would Configure An RDX: For me, I would basically take the exact RDX tester seen here. That will set me back $47,195 after adding destination and $400.00 paint option. Everyone else should look at the Technology package that will get you most of the safety equipment that is part of Acurawatch, along with a 12-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, and parking sensors. It will not break the bank at $41,000 for FWD or $43,000 for AWD.
      Disclaimer: Acura Provided the RDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Acura
      Model: RDX
      Trim: A-Spec
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VTEC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,600 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: East Liberty, Ohio
      Base Price: $45,800
      As Tested Price: $47,195 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Exterior Color - $400.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      For the past decade, Acura has felt lost at sea. Not sure of what it wanted to be as a brand. This was shown by mixed messaging in their lineup as they weren’t sure to focus on luxury, technology, or sport. This muddled mess of identities would cause a fair amount of issues. But in the past couple of years, Acura started to get its act together thanks in part to new leadership. The first fruits of their efforts came last year in the form of the third-generation RDX. 
      It has been over two years since I last drove an Acura, so when the opportunity for an RDX A-Spec landed on my desk, I took it with both hands. It was time to see what Acura has been up to and if they’re taking a step in the right direction. 
      You Want Presence? You Got It!
      The RDX is the first production model to feature Acura’s newest design language and its no shrinking violet. The front end draws your attention with a large trapezoidal grille paired with a massive Acura emblem. Sitting on either side is Acura’s Jewel-Eye LED headlights that add a distinctive touch. My A-Spec tester takes it further with distinctive front and rear bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black, and a special Apex Blue Pearl color that is only available on this trim. This crossover garnered a lot of looks during the week I had, something I hadn’t experience in quite some time.
      Cozy, Polarizing Interior
      The RDX’s interior captures the feeling of being in a sports car with a symmetrical dashboard design that cocoons the front passengers. A rotary drive-mode selector found in the center stack echos the design found in the NSX supercar. While it does emphasize the sporty nature of the vehicle, the position of the knob does make the climate controls a bit hard to reach. A-Spec models have some special touches such as red contrast stitching, a suede panel on the passenger side of the dashboard, and new trim for the instrument cluster that help it stand out. Material and build quality are quite close to some competitors from Germany.
      A set of sport seats with increased bolstering and power adjustments come standard on the A-Spec. I found them to be quite comfortable for any trip length and were able to hold me if I decided to be a bit enthusiastic. Back seat passengers will be plenty comfortable with an abundance of head and legroom. I would have like to see the back seat be able to slide forward and back to offer more comfort. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 29.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 when folded. There’s also a little storage nook under the cargo floor to stash valuables.
      Intuitive Infotainment?
      Acura’s previous infotainment system drew a lot of ire from people. The dual-screen layout was confusing as some functions were split between the two screens such as changing the audio input. Not helping was the two different control methods for this setup; touchscreen for the bottom portion and a controller for the top screen. Thankfully, Acura has introduced a new infotainment system for the RDX. A large 10.2-inch screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Seeing the touchpad for the first time sent chills down my spine as I thought back to my frustrating experiences with Lexus’ Touchpad Controller. But Acura says this controller is much easier and logical to use than competitors. Okay, challenge accepted.
      Acura’s touchpad controller is slightly different from Lexus’ setup as it is mapped to the screen. So if you want to access the navigation, you tap that part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. This removes the dragging of the finger across the touchpad to get it to the selection you want. This seems quite logical on paper, but I found to be somewhat frustrating. It took me a few days to mind-meld with the system as I was still used to dragging my finger across the touchpad to select various functions. This made simple tasks such as changing presets or moving around in Apple CarPlay very tough.
      There is also a smaller touchpad that controls a small section of the screen. This allows you to scroll through three menus - audio, navigation, and clock. This would prove to be the most frustrating aspect of this system as it didn’t always recognize whenever I scroll down on the touchpad to move to another screen.
      Thankfully, Acura has left a number of physical controls for the audio and climate systems. I’m glad that some luxury automakers aren’t falling into the trap.
      Powertrain Goes Back To Its Roots
      The RDX has always found itself with a different powertrain throughout its various generations. The first version used a turbo-four engine, while the second-generation moved to a V6. For the third-generation, Acura went back to the RDX’s roots and settled on another turbo-four engine. The 2.0L engine punches out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic and either front or my tester’s Super-Handling all-wheel drive system.
      The turbo-four is quite a potent engine with little turbo lag when leaving a stop and a seemingly endless amount of power for any situation. The ten-speed automatic is very smooth and quick when upshifting. But it does stumble somewhat when you need a quick shot of speed. 
      I did notice that the 2.0L turbo isn’t a quiet engine when traveling on the expressway, going above 2,000 rpm when traveling at 70 mph. This may explain the slightly disappointing 21.7 mpg average I got during the week. EPA fuel economy figures for the A-Spec SH-AWD are 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. The standard RDX models see a small bump in their EPA fuel economy figures.
      Capable Driver
      Acura is no stranger to building a crossover that is good to drive, the larger MDX crossover is a prime example. But the RDX A-Spec takes that a step further. This version gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup which negates a fair amount of body roll on a winding road. The steering firms up nicely when pushed through corners. When going through the daily grind, the RDX A-Spec will let in a few more bumps and road imperfections due to its suspension tuning. Road and wind noise are kept to very minimal levels.
      Welcome Back Acura
      The 2020 RDX shows that Acura is starting to figure out what it wants to be; a brand that offers something playful in the class. The RDX certainly has the qualities with a bold exterior, punchy turbo-four, and a surprising chassis that offers sporty handling and a mostly-comfortable ride. The slightly-confounding infotainment system and poor fuel economy figures do sour it a bit. But the RDX is a very compelling alternative to many compact luxury crossovers.
      It does give me hope that Acura is figuring out who it wants to be and excited to see what comes down the road such as the new TLX.
      How I Would Configure An RDX: For me, I would basically take the exact RDX tester seen here. That will set me back $47,195 after adding destination and $400.00 paint option. Everyone else should look at the Technology package that will get you most of the safety equipment that is part of Acurawatch, along with a 12-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, and parking sensors. It will not break the bank at $41,000 for FWD or $43,000 for AWD.
      Disclaimer: Acura Provided the RDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Acura
      Model: RDX
      Trim: A-Spec
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VTEC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,600 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: East Liberty, Ohio
      Base Price: $45,800
      As Tested Price: $47,195 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Exterior Color - $400.00
    • By William Maley
      Rarely, do I get the chance to drive different versions of the same model. The fleet companies I work with scheduling vehicles do their best to serve up a smorgasbord of vehicles for me to experience. But from time to time, things happen where one vehicle in a run has to be swapped because it needs to go home or is required for an important event. It happened to be that the stars aligned in such a way that two Volvo 60 series models would be swapped for various vehicles in this go around. So I found myself with an S60 Momentum one week and a V60 Cross Country another week.
      A prime opportunity to experience two different takes on the same model.
      Design: Same and Different
      Both of the 60 models continue Volvo’s design of simple elegance. The smooth boxy shape is contrasted by the “Thor’s Hammer” lighting element in the headlights and a sloping beltline along the side. Compared to the larger S90, the S60 looks cleaner. This can be attributed to the rear where the license plate has been moved from the bumper to the trunk and a raised lip on the trunk lid. The optional 19-inch wheels fitted on my tester look somewhat out of place as it removes some of the understated look the sedan is trying to present.
      The V60 Cross Country certainly looks the part of an off-road wagon with a three-inch lift to the suspension, body cladding along the side, different grille color, and new wheel choices. Around back, Volvo takes some ideas from their crossovers with the tailgate being similar in design to XC40 and XC60, and the tall L-shaped headlights. Out of the two, I found myself liking the V60 Cross Country more than the S60.
      Inside Story
      The simple elegance philosophy continues inside for both the S60 and V60. The dash features a simplistic design with clean lines and minimal brightwork. Both vehicles feature some surprising interior touches such as wood trim and machined metal pieces. The S60 does falter slightly as some interior pieces are hard plastics with some texturing. This is due to the S60 being the base Momentum trim, higher trims swap this for soft-touch material.
      Both the S60 and V60 feature front seats that provide an excellent balance of support and comfort. Ten-way power adjustments allow any person to find a setting that fits them. I also like both models coming with the optional power thigh extender to make long drives more bearable. Rear seat space is a mixed bag as there is plenty of legroom in both models, but headroom is constrained in the S60 due to the sloping roofline. 
      In terms of cargo, the V60 Cross Country is the champ. Open the power liftgate and you’re greeted with 23.2 cubic feet. This can be expanded to 50.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The S60 trunk space is slightly disappointing, only offering 11.6 cubic feet. At least the rear seats can be folded down to increase load capacity.
      Non-Sensus-ical Infotainment
      All S60 and V60s come with a nine-inch screen featuring Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. A large screen oriented like a tablet to control most of the functions fits in line with the company’s minimalist approach. But using this system becomes quite infuriating. To start, Sensus takes over a minute to boot up whenever the vehicle is started. You’ll be able to tell since the system will not respond or respond slowly whenever an input is made during this. Thankfully, the system responds quickly once it fully boots up. This brings us to another problem with Sensus, its confounding menu system. Trying to do something simple such as increase fan speed or turn on/off a safety system means swiping into various screens and menus to find that button or slider.
      Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard and does make Sensus slightly easier to use. But I think some real improvements will come when the next version of Sensus comes out that will be based on Google’s Android platform. I’m also hoping for some more redundant controls such as a fan knob or temperature buttons.
      When Five equals Four
       
      Both models come equipped with the T5 engine. Before you start thinking that this means a turbocharged five-cylinder, T5 in current Volvos means a turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. Opting for the T5 on the S60 means you only get front-wheel drive - you’ll need to step to the twin-charged T6 or PHEV T8 for all-wheel drive. As for the Cross Country, it gets all-wheel drive as standard. 
      The T5 is a very potent engine as I found in my review of the XC40 last year and that still holds true for both 60 series models. No matter the situation such as needing to pass a slower truck or leave a stoplight, the turbo-four is eager to move the vehicle at an astonishing rate. The eight-speed automatic is smooth and delivers prompt shifts.
      On the Cross Country, Volvo has an Off-Road mode that turns on a low-speed function, hill descent control, and optimizes the steering to keep the vehicle moving through whatever muck. For most buyers, this mode will never be touched at all. But I found it to be very handy driving through unplowed roads.
      EPA fuel economy figures stand at 23 City/34 Highway/27 Combined for the S60 and 22/31/25 for the V60 Cross Country. I got an average of 24.7 for the S60 and 23.1 in the Cross Country on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
      A Smooth Ride Is Here, Provided You Have the Right Wheels
       
      As I mentioned earlier, the S60 I had came with a set of optional 19-inch wheels. This introduces a problem as the ride feels choppy. Over various bumps and imperfections, the S60 wasn’t able to smooth over a fair number of them. I assume going with the standard 18-inch wheels solves this issue somewhat, although some people report the ride is still rough on the smaller wheels. The V60 Cross Country also has a set of 19-inch wheels, but it is noticeably smoother over rough surfaces. Credit must be given to the higher ride height and softer suspension tuning. Wind and road noise are almost non-existent, making both perfect long-distance travelers.
      Handling is where the S60 redeems itself somewhat. The sedan shows little body and impressive grip when driven through a winding road. I do wish the steering had a little bit more weight, but that may be solved by moving to the R-Design or Polestar models. The Cross Country is a vehicle you want to push due to its softer suspension tuning.
      Two Good Models, But One Stands Tall
      The new 60 models are worthy successors to the models before it. An elegant design and mostly roomy interior pair nicely with the strong performance from the T5 engine. Sensus is the biggest stumbling block for both models, but a new version is around the corner which may solve some of the issues.
      Between the two, I found myself being more impressed with the V60 Cross Country. It has more character in its design compared to the S60 and the ride is much more comfortable. The almost $57,000 price-tag is a bit much, but with some smart optioning, you can make it much more reasonable. As for the S60, I did find it to be quite a decent steer. But the ride does need some work when on the larger wheels. Also, the Momentum can get quite expensive if you go overboard with options. My tester carried a nearly $46,000 price tag, three-grand more than the T5 versions of the R-Design and Inscription which come with some of the optional features as standard.
      The S60 and V60 Cross Country are excellent alternatives to the usual suspects, just be careful on the options.
      How I would configure them:
      There are two different ways I would go configuring an S60.
      Value: Start with the Momentum T5 at $36,050 and add Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel ($750) and Premium Package ($2,050) to end up with a nicely equipped S60 at $39,845. You will miss out on some items such as the 360’ camera system, pilot assist, and Harman Kardon audio system, but that pushes the price to over $44,000. Sport: An R-Design T6 fits the bill here and comes with all-wheel drive as standard for a price of $48,045. Decide which metallic paint you would like ($645) or stick with the basic black. Add on the Advanced Package and Heated Rear Seats and Steering Wheel to end up with a final price tag of $51,645 for black or $52,290 for any of the metallic colors. For the V60 Cross Country, it would be similar to my test vehicle with most of the option packages and adding the Harman Kardon Premium Sound system ($800) to bring the final price to $52,795.
      Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the S60 and V60; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: S60
      Trim: T5 Momentum
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/34/27
      Curb Weight: 3,657 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ridgeville, SC 
      Base Price: $36,050
      As Tested Price: $46,249 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Advanced Package - $2,500.00
      Premium Package - $2,050.00
      Multimedia Package - $1,850.00
      19" 5-Spoke Cut Wheels - $800.00
      Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
      Pebble Grey Metallic - $645.00
      Linear Lime Deco Inlay and Interior High Level Illumination - $600.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: V60
      Trim: Cross Country
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 4,202 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
      Base Price: $45,100
      As Tested Price: $56,990 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $4,000.00
      Cross Country Pro Package - $2,800.00
      Advanced Package - $2,500.00
      Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
      Birch Light Metallic - $645.00
      Park Assist Pilot - $200.00

      View full article
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