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    Review: 2015 Fiat 500L Easy


    • The Largest Fiat On Sale In the U.S.


    If you wanted a Fiat 500 but had a family, you would have to ultimately pass on it. There just wasn’t enough space for four passengers or even two passengers and all of their stuff. But about year ago, Fiat started selling a bigger 500 known as the 500L which boasted more space and became more appealing to small families. I spent a week in the larger 500 to see if the added size helps or hurts.

    Even though the 500L shares the 500 name, that is where the similarities end. Fiat designers have added two feet to the 500L, and given it a boxy shape that is more akin to the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. The front end is very much 500-esq with the winged-Fiat emblem, dual light setup, and narrow vent underneath. Although as someone pointed out to me and I happen to agree with, the 500L’s front-end look likes it has an overbite. Also, I think the choice of wheel covers on the Easy model really don’t help the 500L’s look. I would trade them for a set of wheels from the 500L Trekking model. But I want to give Fiat’s designers some credit on the 500L. The model boasts a large area of glass which not only helps improve visibility, but also makes the interior feel much more spacious.

    2015 Fiat 500L Easy 11

    Moving inside, the 500L features the same funkiness found on the standard 500. Such details as a squarish steering wheel, unique dashboard design, and panoramic sunroof give the 500L its own identity. Material and build quality is quite good with mixture of cloth, soft-touch plastic, and hard-touch plastic in the places where you expect them. This particular model came with the optional 6.5-inch UConnect system. Despite a smaller screen, this system keeps the familiar UConnect interface and ease of use that I have praised this system for. Also on my tester was the optional Beats sound system which provided mostly good sound, but I found it to be a bit heavy on the bass, even after I turned it down a bit. One other complaint I have deals with the dual-zone climate control system. I found it to be too low in the center stack to glance at quickly and quite the reach to change temperature or fan speed.

    Now with an increase in overall size, you would think that the interior has seen an increase in space. You would be correct. Step inside the back seat and there is a stadium style seat arrangement which gives your passengers a higher view, along with a decent amount of legroom. Remember that panoramic sunroof I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that eats into rear headroom. Sitting my 5’8” frame back here, I found my head making contact with the headliner. Anyone taller than me will likely have to crick their neck to fit back here. At least the seats were comfortable. Moving to front, seats provide good comfort and support, along with a small number of adjustments.

    Thoughts on Power and Ride on page 2


    Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder producing 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Those with keen eyes will surmise this sounds very familiar to the 500 Abarth, and you would be correct. On Easy models and up, you have the choice of either a six-speed manual or automatic. (Note: Pop models get a six-speed dual-clutch automatic). I had the latter transmission in my tester. Compared to the Abarth I drove a few weeks back, the 500L has about 800 extra pounds to lug around. But the 1.4 doesn’t feel like it's being worked any harder. Acceleration is very smooth and the engine seems to be able to get going at any speed. The six-speed automatic I found tended to hold gears longer that it probably should. At least the transitions between gears were smooth. Fuel economy for the 500L with the automatic is rated at 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. My week saw an average of 24.3 MPG.

    2015 Fiat 500L Easy 8

    The 500L is surprisingly good when it comes to day to day driving. The suspension copes with small and medium size bumps pretty well, while larger ones do unsettle it. Road noise is kept to a decent level, but wind noise is very apparent due to the 500L’s shape. The 500L is surprisingly good when it comes into the corners, showing minimal body motion. However the squarish shape and oddly-shaped steering wheel will make you think twice about having some fun with this vehicle.

    The 500L is wise move for Fiat as it helps bring more buyers into their showroom. But there are two big elephants in the room. One deals with reliability. Both Consumer Reports and TrueDelta have a fair number of complaints about the 500L. In fact, the 500L is one of the lowest rated models in Consumer Reports ratings. The second is the price. The 2015 Easy model starts off at $20,545, while my tester rang in at $26,895 thanks to the automatic transmission and a big option package which included the sunroof and UConnect system. For the same amount of money, you could get into the base 500L Trekking or a fully loaded Kia Soul. These two factors make the 500L less appealing. Add in the upcoming the 500X, and you end up with a lose-lose situation.

    Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 500L Easy, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2015

    Make: Fiat

    Model: 500L

    Trim: Easy

    Engine: 1.4L Turbocharged MultiAir Inline-Four

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500

    Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 2,500 - 4,000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25

    Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Kragujevac, Serbia

    Base Price: $20,545

    As Tested Price: $26,895 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Easy Collection 4 - $4,100

    AISIN Heavy Duty 6-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,350

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    • By William Maley
      Summertime means something different for everyone. For some, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. For others, it is the time to take that trip you have been thinking about for awhile. If you’re an automotive writer like myself, summertime means convertible season. The feeling of having the roof down and enjoying the expanded view of the sky is something quite special. This summer saw two of GM’s latest convertibles roll into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit garage, the new Buick Cascada and recently redesigned Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible. How did these two droptops fare in the summer heat?
      Exterior:
      There is no denying the Opel/Vauxhall roots of the Buick Cascada as it is just basically the Cascada sold in Europe with Buick basing. But that isn’t a bad thing since the Cascada is handsome for the most part. The front features a new grille design and headlights with LED accents. The side profile reveals short overhangs for the front and rear. These overhangs make the side look somewhat oddly proportioned. A set 20-inch wheels come standard. Around back, a long chrome bar runs along the trunk lid into the taillights. 
      On the opposite end is the Chevrolet Camaro. If you’re looking for something quiet and doesn’t bring attention, then maybe you should pass on it. Redesigned last year, Chevrolet retained the Camaro’s basic profile with its sharp lines and rounded corners. But major work was done on the front and rear ends. The front features a narrow top grille and slim headlights. A massive grille sits underneath between a set of deep cuts into the front bumper. The back has been cleaned up with a new trunk lid design, rectangular headlights, and quad-exhaust tips. 
      One item both the Cascada and Camaro share is a fabric top. Putting the top down or up takes under 20 seconds for both vehicles. With the tops down, both vehicles look quite good. But put the tops up and the Cascada is the better looking of the two. I can’t put my finger as to why, but I think it deals with how the Cascada has a little bit more glass than the Camaro. 
      Interior:
      Unfortunately, both the Cascada and Camaro fall on their face when it comes to the interior for different reasons.
      In the case of the Cascada, it features the dash from the outgoing Verano and Encore. This reveals that the Cascada is older despite what Buick may have you think. For example, the center stack is laden with buttons and it will take you a few moments to find the specific one you’re looking for. Not helping is the Cascada using GM’s last-generation infotainment system. While the system is easy to use, the interface is looking very dated. It would have been nice if Buick could have slipped in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascade, but that would have likely introduced more problems than solutions.
      On the upside, the Cascada’s interior is well-built and features decent quality materials. A fair amount of dash and door panels feature some soft touch material. The front seats are comfortable for short and long distance trips. Power adjustments for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a position that works. One touch Buick deserves applause for is the seat belt presenter. The front seat belts are nestled away when the Cascada is turned off to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat. But when you start it up, the presenter extends for both the driver and passenger to buckle in. The back seat provides enough space for kids or small adults. Taller folks like myself will find minimal legroom. With the top up, anyone sitting back here will feel very confined. With the top down, this feeling goes away. 
      Step into the 2016 Camaro Convertible’s interior and you’ll find the same retro ideas from the previous model such as the shape of the dash and circular vents. But Chevrolet improved the overall usability of the Camaro’s interior. For example, the retro-inspired engine information gauges that were placed ahead of the shifter in the previous generation are gone. In its place are a set of air vents that also control the temperature of the climate control system. 
      Our tester featured the optional Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation. We know we’re beating a dead horse with our complaints with MyLink such as a slow response when going from various screens and recognizing devices plugged into the USB ports. But you would think that GM would maybe issue an update or something by now to fix some of these issues? Like other Chevrolet models we have driven this year, the Camaro’s MyLink system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We tried CarPlay and found it to be easier to use than most automaker’s infotainment systems. But, we had issues with apps crashing and the system not always recognizing our phone.
      The front bucket seats are quite comfortable and will hold you in if you decide to tackle that special road aggressively. A set of power adjustments makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable position. The back seat is best reserved for small kids or extra storage as legroom is nonexistent. You would think that the Camaro Convertible wouldn’t feel as claustrophobic as the coupe since you can put the top down, but it isn’t. Sitting in the Camaro convertible with the top down, I felt like I was being contained in a small box. Blame the high belt line for this.
      Powertrain:
      Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 
      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00
      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Summertime means something different for everyone. For some, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. For others, it is the time to take that trip you have been thinking about for awhile. If you’re an automotive writer like myself, summertime means convertible season. The feeling of having the roof down and enjoying the expanded view of the sky is something quite special. This summer saw two of GM’s latest convertibles roll into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit garage, the new Buick Cascada and recently redesigned Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible. How did these two droptops fare in the summer heat?
      Exterior:
      There is no denying the Opel/Vauxhall roots of the Buick Cascada as it is just basically the Cascada sold in Europe with Buick basing. But that isn’t a bad thing since the Cascada is handsome for the most part. The front features a new grille design and headlights with LED accents. The side profile reveals short overhangs for the front and rear. These overhangs make the side look somewhat oddly proportioned. A set 20-inch wheels come standard. Around back, a long chrome bar runs along the trunk lid into the taillights. 
      On the opposite end is the Chevrolet Camaro. If you’re looking for something quiet and doesn’t bring attention, then maybe you should pass on it. Redesigned last year, Chevrolet retained the Camaro’s basic profile with its sharp lines and rounded corners. But major work was done on the front and rear ends. The front features a narrow top grille and slim headlights. A massive grille sits underneath between a set of deep cuts into the front bumper. The back has been cleaned up with a new trunk lid design, rectangular headlights, and quad-exhaust tips. 
      One item both the Cascada and Camaro share is a fabric top. Putting the top down or up takes under 20 seconds for both vehicles. With the tops down, both vehicles look quite good. But put the tops up and the Cascada is the better looking of the two. I can’t put my finger as to why, but I think it deals with how the Cascada has a little bit more glass than the Camaro. 
      Interior:
      Unfortunately, both the Cascada and Camaro fall on their face when it comes to the interior for different reasons.
      In the case of the Cascada, it features the dash from the outgoing Verano and Encore. This reveals that the Cascada is older despite what Buick may have you think. For example, the center stack is laden with buttons and it will take you a few moments to find the specific one you’re looking for. Not helping is the Cascada using GM’s last-generation infotainment system. While the system is easy to use, the interface is looking very dated. It would have been nice if Buick could have slipped in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascade, but that would have likely introduced more problems than solutions.
      On the upside, the Cascada’s interior is well-built and features decent quality materials. A fair amount of dash and door panels feature some soft touch material. The front seats are comfortable for short and long distance trips. Power adjustments for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a position that works. One touch Buick deserves applause for is the seat belt presenter. The front seat belts are nestled away when the Cascada is turned off to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat. But when you start it up, the presenter extends for both the driver and passenger to buckle in. The back seat provides enough space for kids or small adults. Taller folks like myself will find minimal legroom. With the top up, anyone sitting back here will feel very confined. With the top down, this feeling goes away. 
      Step into the 2016 Camaro Convertible’s interior and you’ll find the same retro ideas from the previous model such as the shape of the dash and circular vents. But Chevrolet improved the overall usability of the Camaro’s interior. For example, the retro-inspired engine information gauges that were placed ahead of the shifter in the previous generation are gone. In its place are a set of air vents that also control the temperature of the climate control system. 
      Our tester featured the optional Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation. We know we’re beating a dead horse with our complaints with MyLink such as a slow response when going from various screens and recognizing devices plugged into the USB ports. But you would think that GM would maybe issue an update or something by now to fix some of these issues? Like other Chevrolet models we have driven this year, the Camaro’s MyLink system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We tried CarPlay and found it to be easier to use than most automaker’s infotainment systems. But, we had issues with apps crashing and the system not always recognizing our phone.
      The front bucket seats are quite comfortable and will hold you in if you decide to tackle that special road aggressively. A set of power adjustments makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable position. The back seat is best reserved for small kids or extra storage as legroom is nonexistent. You would think that the Camaro Convertible wouldn’t feel as claustrophobic as the coupe since you can put the top down, but it isn’t. Sitting in the Camaro convertible with the top down, I felt like I was being contained in a small box. Blame the high belt line for this.
      Powertrain:
      Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 
      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00
      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00
    • By William Maley
      Three years might not seem like a long time. But in the automotive industry, it is an eternity. In that short amount time, a vehicle may be surpassed by competitors and sales may take a dive. Take for example the Nissan Altima. When the redesigned model was launched back in 2013, it was considered to be above-average and some key advantages over rivals. But time has passed and the Altima has been surpassed in a number of key areas by refreshed/redesigned competitors. Nissan knew they needed to do something to get the Altima back in contention. Last year, they introduced a refreshed Altima that would hopefully give them a fighting chance in the class. Let's see if it does.
      If you were expecting some big changes to the Altima’s exterior in this mid-cycle refresh, then you’ll be disappointed. The front end features a new V-shaped grille and revised headlights to bring the model in line with the current Nissan design language. Updated taillights and new wheel choices finish off the changes. The interior is mostly left alone in this refresh aside from some new choices of trim pieces. That isn’t a bad thing as the Altima’s interior is a nice place to be in with ample space for passengers, a fair amount of soft-touch materials used throughout, and a simple dash layout. 
      One item we do wish Nissan would have addressed in this refresh is the NissanConnect infotainment system. All Altimas come with a five-inch touchscreen as standard, while our SL tester featured the optional seven-inch screen. This system has a number of issues ranging from an interface that makes it look older than it really is to the system crashing our iPod on a regular basis. More worrying was the system crashing and rebooting twice during our week-long test. It would be nice for Nissan to take the system out of the Maxima and Murano and put it into the rest of their lineup as it doesn’t have the issues listed here.
      Under the hood of the Altima are the same engines that have powered it since 2013. Our Altima SL tester came with the standard 2.5L four-cylinder with 183 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. No matter which engine you pick, a Xtronic CVT routes the power to the front wheels. The 2.5 does quite well around town as the engine gets up to speed at a decent rate. Getting onto the highway is another story as you’ll need to almost floor the gas pedal to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. This also brings forth an abundance of engine noise, something we complained about in our 2014 Nissan Altima SL review. At least the Xtronic CVT is responsive when you step on the accelerator and the illusion of the stepped gears can make most buyers believe they’re driving an automatic.
      The EPA rates the Altima’s fuel economy at 27 City/39 Highway/31 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 31.7 MPG.
      The Altima’s ride and handling characteristics are in the middle. The suspension does a decent job of soaking up most bumps, but some larger ones will make their way inside. The recently redesigned Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat do a better job in this regard. In the bends, the Altima feels composed and shows little body roll. But the steering is way too light and doesn’t offer enough feel to feel sporty. If you want that, a Mazda6 or Ford Fusion should be on the list.
      How do you sum up the 2016 Nissan Altima? It is a competent midsize sedan. But competent isn’t a strong selling point to a midsize sedan as you can apply to any model in the class. What you need is something that makes your model stand out whether in terms of design or features. The Altima doesn’t have anything like that.
      Picking the Altima may be the safe choice, but it be might a choice you regret.
      Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Altima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Nissan
      Model: Altima
      Trim: 2.5 SL
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Xtronic CVT
      Horsepower @ RPM: 182 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 180 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/39/31
      Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN
      Base Price: $28,570
      As Tested Price: $32,115 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $1,700
      Moonroof Package - $800.00
      Carpeted Floormats and Trunk Mat - $210.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Three years might not seem like a long time. But in the automotive industry, it is an eternity. In that short amount time, a vehicle may be surpassed by competitors and sales may take a dive. Take for example the Nissan Altima. When the redesigned model was launched back in 2013, it was considered to be above-average and some key advantages over rivals. But time has passed and the Altima has been surpassed in a number of key areas by refreshed/redesigned competitors. Nissan knew they needed to do something to get the Altima back in contention. Last year, they introduced a refreshed Altima that would hopefully give them a fighting chance in the class. Let's see if it does.
      If you were expecting some big changes to the Altima’s exterior in this mid-cycle refresh, then you’ll be disappointed. The front end features a new V-shaped grille and revised headlights to bring the model in line with the current Nissan design language. Updated taillights and new wheel choices finish off the changes. The interior is mostly left alone in this refresh aside from some new choices of trim pieces. That isn’t a bad thing as the Altima’s interior is a nice place to be in with ample space for passengers, a fair amount of soft-touch materials used throughout, and a simple dash layout. 
      One item we do wish Nissan would have addressed in this refresh is the NissanConnect infotainment system. All Altimas come with a five-inch touchscreen as standard, while our SL tester featured the optional seven-inch screen. This system has a number of issues ranging from an interface that makes it look older than it really is to the system crashing our iPod on a regular basis. More worrying was the system crashing and rebooting twice during our week-long test. It would be nice for Nissan to take the system out of the Maxima and Murano and put it into the rest of their lineup as it doesn’t have the issues listed here.
      Under the hood of the Altima are the same engines that have powered it since 2013. Our Altima SL tester came with the standard 2.5L four-cylinder with 183 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. No matter which engine you pick, a Xtronic CVT routes the power to the front wheels. The 2.5 does quite well around town as the engine gets up to speed at a decent rate. Getting onto the highway is another story as you’ll need to almost floor the gas pedal to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. This also brings forth an abundance of engine noise, something we complained about in our 2014 Nissan Altima SL review. At least the Xtronic CVT is responsive when you step on the accelerator and the illusion of the stepped gears can make most buyers believe they’re driving an automatic.
      The EPA rates the Altima’s fuel economy at 27 City/39 Highway/31 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 31.7 MPG.
      The Altima’s ride and handling characteristics are in the middle. The suspension does a decent job of soaking up most bumps, but some larger ones will make their way inside. The recently redesigned Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat do a better job in this regard. In the bends, the Altima feels composed and shows little body roll. But the steering is way too light and doesn’t offer enough feel to feel sporty. If you want that, a Mazda6 or Ford Fusion should be on the list.
      How do you sum up the 2016 Nissan Altima? It is a competent midsize sedan. But competent isn’t a strong selling point to a midsize sedan as you can apply to any model in the class. What you need is something that makes your model stand out whether in terms of design or features. The Altima doesn’t have anything like that.
      Picking the Altima may be the safe choice, but it be might a choice you regret.
      Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Altima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Nissan
      Model: Altima
      Trim: 2.5 SL
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Xtronic CVT
      Horsepower @ RPM: 182 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 180 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/39/31
      Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN
      Base Price: $28,570
      As Tested Price: $32,115 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $1,700
      Moonroof Package - $800.00
      Carpeted Floormats and Trunk Mat - $210.00
    • By William Maley
      FCA US Reports August 2016 U.S. Sales Increased 3 Percent
      Jeep® brand posts 12 percent sales increase in August compared with same month a year ago Five Jeep brand models up in August, led by 41 percent increase in Jeep Cherokee sales Dodge brand up 5 percent; six Dodge brand vehicles log year-over-year sales gains in August Ram Truck brand up 2 percent; Ram ProMaster and Ram ProMaster City vans each post double-digit percentage sales gains September 1, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC today reported U.S. sales of 196,756 units, a 3 percent increase compared with sales in August 2015 (190,887 units).
       
      FCA US retail sales were 150,153 units in August, while fleet sales were 46,603 units. Retail sales represented 76 percent of total sales, while fleet sales were 24 percent.
       
      The Jeep®, Dodge and Ram Truck brands each posted year-over-year sales gains in August, led by the Jeep brand’s 12 percent increase. Five of the six Jeep brand vehicles recorded sales increases in August, with the Jeep Cherokee turning in the largest percentage year-over-year gain.
       
      The Dodge brand delivered higher year-over-year sales as the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Journey, Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Durango and Dodge Viper all recorded sales gains in August, helping to propel the brand to a 5 percent increase. Likewise, the Ram Truck brand was up with the Ram ProMaster and Ram ProMaster City vans each recording year-over-year sales increases for the month.
       
      Jeep Brand
      Jeep brand sales were up 12 percent in August compared with the same month a year ago. The Jeep Cherokee – the most capable mid-size SUV – posted a 41 percent sales gain, the largest percentage increase of any Jeep brand model in August. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass all turned in double-digit percentage increases for the month.
       
      Dodge Brand
      Dodge brand sales were up 5 percent in August compared with the same month a year ago, as Dodge cars and trucks had a strong sales month. The Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger each posted year-over-year sales gains in August. Charger sales were up 24 percent, while the Challenger turned in a 5 percent sales gain in August. Sales of the Dodge Durango full-size SUV, the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, the Dodge Journey crossover and the Dodge Viper were all up in August as well. The Dodge brand last month used the famed Woodward Dream Cruise to debut its new 2017 Challenger T/A and Charger Daytona – two performance-upgraded models infused with heritage style. Production for both models will begin this fall with Charger Daytona models available for order in September, followed by Challenger T/A models this October.
       
      Ram Truck Brand
      Ram Truck brand sales, which include the Ram pickup, Ram ProMaster and Ram ProMaster City, were up 2 percent in August versus the same month a year ago. Both the ProMaster and ProMaster City vans turned in double-digit percentage sales gains in August, led by the ProMaster City’s 32 percent increase. The ProMaster City – America’s most efficient work van – is the newest addition to the brand’s commercial vehicle lineup and contributes to the expanding, purpose-built van segment with a number of best-in-class, functional elements tied directly to commercial customer demand. Sales of the Ram pickup truck were flat in August.
       
      FIAT Brand
      FIAT brand sales, which include the Fiat 500, Fiat 500L, Fiat 500X and Fiat 124 Spider, were down 21 percent in August. In its second month on sale, the all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider logged 460 sales in August. Last sold in the U.S. in 1985, the 124 Spider brings classic Italian styling and proven performance to a new generation of buyers. The all-new 124 Spider delivers the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology and safety combined with iconic design.
      Chrysler Brand
      Chrysler brand sales were down 22 percent in August compared with the same month a year ago. Sales of the Chrysler 300 full-size sedan were up 22 percent compared with the same month a year ago. The all-new Chrysler Pacifica logged 7,459 in sales in August. The Pacifica reinvents the minivan segment with its unprecedented level of functionality, versatility and technology. With nearly 40 innovations not offered by any others in its class, the Pacifica is the new benchmark in the segment that Chrysler invented more than 30 years ago.
      FCA US LLC Sales Summary August 2016
      Reflects Restated Sales
                             Month Sales
      Vol %
      CYTD Sales
      Vol %
      Model
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Compass
      8,867
      6,891
      29%
      69,462
      40,418
      72%
      Patriot
      11,789
      10,690
      10%
      86,632
      80,328
      8%
      Wrangler
      15,290
      18,264
      -16%
      135,338
      139,536
      -3%
      Cherokee
      23,932
      17,014
      41%
      142,498
      139,582
      2%
      Grand Cherokee
      18,409
      16,477
      12%
      134,135
      125,653
      7%
      Renegade
      8,181
      7,941
      3%
      71,328
      27,861
      156%
      JEEP BRAND
      86,468
      77,277
      12%
      639,393
      553,378
      16%
      200
      4,210
      12,538
      -66%
      45,983
      128,673
      -64%
      300
      5,275
      4,339
      22%
      39,291
      33,069
      19%
      Town & Country
      1,809
      7,255
      -75%
      56,607
      53,469
      6%
      Pacifica
      7,459
      0
      New
      26,893
      0
      New
      CHRYSLER BRAND
      18,753
      24,132
      -22%
      168,774
      215,211
      -22%
      Dart
      2,898
      6,343
      -54%
      34,540
      61,102
      -43%
      Avenger
      0
      45
      -100%
      0
      1,197
      -100%
      Charger
      8,614
      6,964
      24%
      67,402
      67,802
      -1%
      Challenger
      5,262
      5,014
      5%
      45,489
      47,346
      -4%
      Viper
      58
      37
      57%
      406
      456
      -11%
      Journey
      11,732
      8,351
      40%
      66,415
      70,359
      -6%
      Caravan
      10,572
      10,330
      2%
      93,349
      56,218
      66%
      Durango
      5,204
      5,111
      2%
      49,059
      41,416
      18%
      DODGE  BRAND
      44,340
      42,195
      5%
      356,660
      345,896
      3%
      Ram P/U
      40,202
      40,341
      0%
      308,970
      295,243
      5%
      Cargo Van
      0
      29
      -100%
      21
      2,144
      -99%
      ProMaster Van
      3,234
      2,587
      25%
      23,206
      16,812
      38%
      ProMaster City
      990
      752
      32%
      11,832
      4,434
      167%
      RAM BRAND
      44,426
      43,709
      2%
      344,029
      318,633
      8%
      Alfa 4C 
      37
      97
      -62%
      376
      451
      -17%
      ALFA BRAND
      37
      97
      -62%
      376
      451
      -17%
      500
      1,243
      2,102
      -41%
      10,095
      17,982
      -44%
      500L
      131
      314
      -58%
      2,687
      6,334
      -58%
      500X
      898
      1,061
      -15%
      8,348
      2,279
      266%
      Spider
      460
      0
      New
      885
      0
      New
      FIAT BRAND
      2,732
      3,477
      -21%
      22,015
      26,595
      -17%
      TOTAL FCA US LLC
      196,756
      190,887
      3%
      1,531,247
      1,460,164
      5%
                        Total Car & MPV
      48,028
      55,378
      -13%
      424,003
      474,099
      -11%
          Total UV's
      104,302
      91,800
      14%
      763,215
      667,432
      14%
          Total Truck & LCV
      44,426
      43,709
      2%
      344,029
      318,633
      8%
                   
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