• Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0

    Review: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring


    • A crossover that is built for two

    “But you’ll look sweet
    Upon the seat
    Of a Mazda CX-3 built for two”

     

    Okay, I might have slightly altered a song that you may sung during preschool and/or kindergarten. But that song perfectly describes the latest entrant in the subcompact crossover class, the 2016 Mazda CX-3. Let me explain.

     

    Mazda has been designing some of the sharpest looking vehicles for a few years and the CX-3 is no exception. The front end looks the same as the larger CX-5 and upcoming CX-9 with a large grill and chrome trim running along the outer edge into the headlights. Moving to the side shows off a flowing line that resembles an ocean wave. Finishing the look is a set of eighteen-inch wheels that come standard on the Grand Touring. The overall shape makes the CX-3 look bigger than it actually is.

     

    This thought goes away once you get inside the CX-3. Interior space can be best described as intimate. The front seats provide good support and come with extra side bolstering to hold you in whenever you decide its time to horse around. The back seat is quite small with little head and legroom. I’m 5’8” and found that I barely fit. There needs to be a sticker attached to the rear windows saying “the rear seat to be used only in case of emergencies". Cargo space is also small with the CX-3 only offering 12.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 44.5 cubic feet with them down. Our CX-3 tester had an even smaller cargo area due to the subwoofer (comes with the optional Bose audio system) taking up valuable space. Measurements are 10.1 and 42.3 cubic feet respectively. This trails the Honda HR-V which offers 24.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 58.8 cubic feet when folded.

     


    2016 Mazda CX 3 Grand Touring AWD 9


    At least Mazda did an impressive job when it comes to the design of the CX-3’s interior. A sleek looking dash features a small chrome bar running between a set of air vents. Various trim pieces are finished in contrasting colors to set off the interior. All CX-3s feature a seven-inch color touchscreen with the MazdaConnect infotainment system. The Grand Touring is the only trim that comes with navigation. Much like our experience in the MX-5 Miata, trying to use the touchscreen is more an exercise in frustration since you don’t know which controls are touch enabled. It is easier to use the control knob to move around the system.

     

    Power for the CX-3 comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder with 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque (@ 2,800 rpm). This comes paired with a six-speed automatic and the choice of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Our tester came with all-wheel drive. Around town the CX-3's 2.0 liter provides decent off the line power, but under heavier acceleration and at highway speeds, the engine struggles and sounds rough. Those who have timed the CX-3 to 60 mph say it takes about 8.5 seconds. The six-speed automatic delivers smooth and crisp upshifts, but is somewhat slow to respond when downshifting. Fuel economy for the CX-3 AWD is rated at 27 City/32 Highway/29 Combined. Our average landed around 26 MPG. Not bad considering the winter conditions the CX-3 was facing, along with the vehicle only having just a hair over 1,000 miles.

     


    2016 Mazda CX 3 Grand Touring AWD 8


     

    One key item Mazda points out on the CX-3 is the i-Active all-wheel drive system. Mazda says this system is able to predict road conditions through various sensors around the vehicle to provide information to the computer. From there, the computer is able to make various changes to all-wheel drive system to keep the vehicle moving through whatever mother nature decides to throw out. For example, if you turn on the windshield wipers, the system can tell that its raining and makes the necessary changes. Seems like a marketing gimmick, but it actually does make a difference. When the CX-3 was dropped off, the metro Detroit area was experiencing a big snow storm with snow amounts ranging from six to twelve inches. The all-wheel drive system was able to keep the CX-3 moving through deep snow drifts on the road. Even when stopped, you could tell the wheels spun briefly before the system made some quick adjustments to get the vehicle moving.

     

    Handling is where the Mazda CX-3 truly shines. Around corners, the vehicle feels nimble and body motions are kept in check. Steering is towards the top of the class with excellent weight and feel of the road. The daily drive reveals the CX-3 having a compliant ride with some bumps making their way inside. One area Mazda still hasn’t been able to fully solve yet is noise isolation. There is a fair amount of road and tire noise coming into the cabin. We’re wondering if going for the sixteen-inch wheels on the Touring trim would fix this issue. Wind noise is kept to acceptable levels.

     


    2016 Mazda CX 3 Grand Touring AWD 7


     

    In terms of pricing, the Mazda CX-3 is right in line with competitors. Prices range from $19,960 for the base Sport front-wheel drive to $26,240 for the Grand Touring all-wheel drive. Our Grand Touring tester came to an as-tested price of $29,260 with most options added. This is a lot of cash to drop on a subcompact crossover. The only thing we can see why you might go to the Grand Touring is for the optional safety package that adds radar cruise control and automatic braking. Otherwise you can get a good amount of equipment from the CX-3 Grand Touring as options on the Touring. Making this price tag harder to swallow is the Mazda CX-5 Touring all-wheel drive that is only a few hundred dollars more than our tester ($29,820), and offers more space and can be optioned with automatic braking.

     

    Let’s go back to the beginning of this review with the song and saying how it perfectly describes the 2016 Mazda CX-3. This a crossover that will work for either a single person or couple as there is enough space for their needs. A small family will feel cramped and wonder why there isn’t any more cargo space. In my notes for the CX-3, I made the connection between it and the Mazda MX-5 I drove a few weeks before. Both models are focused on providing driving excitement and sharp looks, but at the cost of practicality.

     

    This isn’t to say the Mazda CX-3 is a bad crossover. I happen to really like it. But it only works for a certain group of people.

     

    Cheers: Fun to drive, Clever all-wheel drive system, Looks that stand out
    Jeers: You can get a CX-5 for the same amount of money as our tester, Rear seat best used in emergencies, Engine struggles when getting up to speed on a freeway

     


    Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

    Year: 2016
    Make: Mazda
    Model: CX-3
    Trim: Grand Touring AWD
    Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.0L Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 146 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 146 @ 2,800
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/32/29
    Curb Weight: 2,952 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
    Base Price: $26,240
    As Tested Price: $29,260 (Includes $900 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    GT i-Activesense Package - $1,920.00
    Door Sill Trim Plates - $100.00
    Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00

    0


    Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0


    User Feedback


    Cool Review, so in other words, buy the CX5 over the CX3 as you will be happier as will your passengers is the message I get here.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Cool Review, so in other words, buy the CX5 over the CX3 as you will be happier as will your passengers is the message I get here.

     

    If you're single or a couple, go with the CX-3. Families, jump to the CX-5. 

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

    Cool Review, so in other words, buy the CX5 over the CX3 as you will be happier as will your passengers is the message I get here.

     

    If you're single or a couple, go with the CX-3. Families, jump to the CX-5. 

     

    Bill, what about people over the national average hieght of 5'10" for men, can the CX3 fit them?

     

    Ya know I will always ask the question if my 6'6" tall body can fit! :P

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

     

    Cool Review, so in other words, buy the CX5 over the CX3 as you will be happier as will your passengers is the message I get here.

     

    If you're single or a couple, go with the CX-3. Families, jump to the CX-5. 

     

    Bill, what about people over the national average hieght of 5'10" for men, can the CX3 fit them?

     

    Ya know I will always ask the question if my 6'6" tall body can fit! :P

     

     

    I can answer that since I'm just under that  (5'8"). Up front, yes. Back, no.

     

    dfelt: I can easily assume that your frame wouldn't fit most vehicles :P

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    :roflmao: Thanks Bill, Yes that is why I only drive full size SUVs except for the Trailblazer but then that is more of a block body style and I fit in either the front or back. :P

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

    Guest
    You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
    Add a comment...

    ×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor




  • Popular Stories

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. luquvelo
      luquvelo
      (31 years old)
  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      Homogeneous charge compression ignition or HCCI engines are a unique prospect - use compression to ignite gasoline, like in a diesel vehicle. This allows for better fuel economy and lower emissions. A number of automakers have built prototypes and said they would be putting them into production down the road, but it has never happened. That may change in the near future.
      The Nikkei Asian Review reports that Mazda will be launching an HCCI engine for the 2018 Mazda3 (Axela in Japan). This will be part of Mazda's second-generation of SkyActiv technologies to improve fuel economy. According to the report, the engine could give certain Mazda3 models a fuel economy figure of 30 kilometers per liter (about 71 mpg on the U.S. cycle). The report doesn't say if this is for city, highway, or combined.
      Can Mazda do it or will it be like the others and not appear? We'll be watching to find out that answer.
      Source: Nikkei Asian Review

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Homogeneous charge compression ignition or HCCI engines are a unique prospect - use compression to ignite gasoline, like in a diesel vehicle. This allows for better fuel economy and lower emissions. A number of automakers have built prototypes and said they would be putting them into production down the road, but it has never happened. That may change in the near future.
      The Nikkei Asian Review reports that Mazda will be launching an HCCI engine for the 2018 Mazda3 (Axela in Japan). This will be part of Mazda's second-generation of SkyActiv technologies to improve fuel economy. According to the report, the engine could give certain Mazda3 models a fuel economy figure of 30 kilometers per liter (about 71 mpg on the U.S. cycle). The report doesn't say if this is for city, highway, or combined.
      Can Mazda do it or will it be like the others and not appear? We'll be watching to find out that answer.
      Source: Nikkei Asian Review
    • By dfelt
      G. David Felt
      Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com
       
      Mazda CX-9, 812 miles, 5 adults, 8 days, 7 nights, Grade = D-
      25 years of Marriage is what started this lovely 8 days, 7 nights week for the family. Wife wanted to celebrate with the kids in a warm place. Answer was to trade in our time share condo for a time share condo on Kona at Aston Shores at Waikoloa (http://www.astonshoresatwaikoloa.com/).
      With the wife asking for a perfect week, I went ahead and got our place, made a reservation for a full size SUV, which sadly I could not get with Enterprise or Hertz as they both were out of stock, crazy but being married on Dec 24th does make auto rental in desirable places like the Hawaiian islands hard to find. I was able to reserve one with Budget rental who said they had a full size available for our trip.
      We arrived flying in on a direct flight with Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Kona, got our baggage and then off to Budget at 10pm to pick up our auto rental. Upon arriving, was met by a polite nice young woman, who checked me in, told me I would have a Mazda CX9. Due to my past experiences with Asian auto's, I did ask if they had an American suv? Sadly for Kona Budget uses Mazda as their only SUV's, so CX9 it would be. We walked out to the auto, it was the only one left in the SUV section, loaded up our luggage, got into the auto and I hit my head as I got in and off to our condo for the week.
      The next morning, as everyone was unpacking as we just crashed after our flight and slept, I went out to check out the Mazda. Realized that Budget does a terrible job of cleaning the auto's. Garbage was left in the center arm rest, the back door pockets had garbage in it and the interior clearly needed a wipe down. Off I went to get some paper towels and cleaned up the auto before the wife and kids saw it. Once the interior was all cleaned up, I went back in see if everyone was ready to head off to Costco to buy staples for the week when we just chill around the resort versus exploring the island.
      First thing I noticed is that my hitting of the head last night when we arrived was not just me being tired on a 6 1/2 hr flight. But was a piss poor design by Mazda on the CX9. My wife who is 5'8" tall had to do the same thing as me, face away from the car, place your butt in the seat and partially bent over swing into the auto. After you get past the A pillar you can sit up straight and there is plenty of head room. In fact everyone that sat in the front seats except Kay my sons girlfriend of 4 years had to do the same thing. My son and Daughter are also both 5'8" tall compared to Kay who is only 5'2" tall.
      Next thing is that what I thought was someone turning down the dash lights was actually not it at all but Mazda not putting any lights in the door lock or all the window buttons. Only a single light dot was on the drivers window. At night on an island that does not have bright street lights to allow the view the space to show up, finding your door locks or windows buttons is a pain. I know every maker puts basic controls on either side of the steering wheel, but Mazda really has a strange layout compared to GM, Ford or Dodge. Yes everyone has a different take on this but after all these years, some things should be consistent across all auto's. Example is the windshield wipers and rear window wiper, which should be first on the stick? I say front windshield wipers and yet Mazda felt rear should be.
      After checking the lights, getting myself all set for driving, we loaded up to head out for our first day of fun. 
      The Radio / Nav system has a Bluetooth option. My son said he would connect his phone so I could hear the navigation for where we were going first for breakfast and to stream Pandora. Sadly their Bluetooth SUCKS! takes about 1 1/2 to 2 miles of driving before the system is sync'd and working, was this way all week, at least it did work once it sync'd. I did think maybe this was an Apple to Mazda issue, but after testing it with my wife's and my own Android phones, experience was the same. Sucky Bluetooth connection and reading of the device. Pandora was actually better being streamed from my sons phone than from the auto system as there was much delay and pause on the auto system but everything played fine on the cell phone.
      Off and driving around Kona, first thing noticed by the family was the auto let allot of wind and road noise in. Definitely not my Trailblazer for sure which is much quieter inside. Observation was that while once the radio / Nav was up and working, the angle of it in the auto in a very sunny place makes the screen pretty much useless unless you use your hand or some other item to shade the display. Backup camera worked fine, very reliable but their fish-eye lens really distorts the view. Using your shoulder checks shows two blind spots in the rear making you want to check the camera but again distorted, so was cautious of backing out, pretty much always backed into places so I could easily get out of them.
      Corners, I have always prided myself on knowing my corners of an auto, yet this design of the Mazda really sucks for your corners, after a day of driving, I did figure out just how far I had to be to be in tight but not hit anything. Lucky for me, I never caused damage on any of the auto.
      Rain, WOW, So by our resort we were in the mid to upper 80's and sunny the whole time, from about 4000 to 9000 feet the island would have rain on and off and boy was it heavy. Two things noticed that the wife was not happy about nor was I, was that even on the fastest speed the windshield did not clear the rain away very well, bothered her more than me, after all heavy rain, but even in lite rain this other really bothered me and is a safety fail. The way the design of the auto is with the side mirrors, the rain makes the side mirrors unusable. I could see nothing out the mirrors as the water comes off the front windshield and smears across the side mirrors and pretty much makes those little mirrors useless. Not a good design at all.
      Seats, after our first day in the CX9, the kids let me know that the back seat was hard and not comfy for more than an hour of driving. The front bucket seats while having good side support and for a person as big as me was fine, for my more petite wife, she and the kids when they sat in the front all felt like they were sitting in a Toilet falling through. Very uncomfortable bucket seat. On top of this, only the drivers seat has full electronic control so I could have it go down to the floor, the front passenger seat was set very high and so you only had back and forth and low back support. Very limited, why not have the front seat equal to the drivers. Made no sense and the one time I tried to sit in the front, it was impossible, the setting of the seat was too high for me. All around failure. 3rd row seat was nice folding flat into the floor, but two poor designs, again head rest were manual as they had to be folded down and then you had to pull the 2nd row seats forward to allow you to put up or down the third row seat. Kay said it was the same comfort as the second row and for her plenty of space but then she is only 5'2" tall and very petite.
      Engine, WOW, Yes on Kona you have 3 mountains, 1 that is spewing lava, very cool to visit and see, above 9000 feet they had snow after snow storm so was able to snorkel / scuba in the morning and ski in the afternoon. Why do I bring this up, simple the engine really leaves a ton to be desired. average for the week was 16.8 mpg in a FWD CUV. Sucky no way to put it for this auto, worse yet was unless you kept it revved above 4500 rpm, any minor hill caused you to loose speed fast. Driving up to the Observation scopes was very tricky as it was a dirt road with snow and traction just sucked. Not what I was expecting. So according to Mazda this is a 227HP motor on regular gas or 250 on premium. I only used regular the whole time and should have gotten 22/28/25 average of City/Highway/Combined and yet did not matter, 16.8 is what the auto reported to me as average MPG. I was filling up every other day, plus who ever thought hiding the fuel filler door release on the left side of the drivers seat under the seat was cool is an idiot. Not easy to get too.
      Lighting, Interior left much to be desired as places I would expect lights to be the auto had none, places that should be easy to read where not, only the drivers dash and nav system would give you clear visible displays, otherwise even the overhead lights left allot to be desired. Mazda says they have key-less illumination entry system, but it never worked on our auto unless the pathetic light they had on each rear view mirror that put out barely any light is what they consider to be this system. Exterior, the headlights are OK, they give you enough light to see the road, but when no other auto's were around I did use the high beams to see the curves better in the road.
      Door Locks, Mazda says they have speed-sensing auto locking, not sure what it is, but the double click to unlock the auto was slow and most times a third press of the button was needed.
      Center console, comfy for my arm rest, strange with the dual split opening in the center, you had to open both sides to store anything in it, so not sure why they decided to split such a small center storage arm rest into what is about two 2 1/2 inch wide doors. A single door would be much better.
      USB ports, sad that all would allow connection to the NAV system but only 1 port in the center arm rest would charge your device and even then only android, apple could not get a charge off the port. Really weird cheap implementation of the USB ports.
      End Result - The auto was reliable and got us all over the island for 812 miles. Other than that, I really could not find any exciting point that would make me recommend the auto to anyone. My family was happy with our trip, wished we had a better auto. Next time I will reserve much earlier.
    • By William Maley
      2016… What a year. This year saw a number of things that no one thought would actually happen did. Not helping matters is the number of famous people that have sadly passed on. Here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau, it wasn’t such a great year for vehicles. For the 2016 review season, 44 vehicles came in for evaluation. Out of this group, only eight vehicles earned a spot of being my favorite vehicles from the year. Read on to see which vehicles made the cut.
      2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
      It is amazing how far Cadillac has come in the past decade and proof of it can be shown in the ATS- V coupe. A 464 horsepower twin-turbo V6 makes the vehicle fly with no issue. A set of sticky tires and adjustable dampers show the ATS-V is just as capable, maybe more so than its German counterparts. But it can also provide decent ride around town if you set the dampers into a comfort mode. Then there is the look. I’m not usually a fan of red, but it looks killer on the ATS-V coupe. It pairs quite nicely with sharp angles and a low roofline This was one of the models where I found myself grinning from ear to ear because of how much fun I had.
      2016 Chevrolet Volt
      It is amazing how far Chevrolet has come with the Volt. Five years ago, the Volt was this odd looking vehicle with a clever powertrain that made range anxiety nonexistent. Yes, 35 miles of electric-only range didn’t seem like a lot. However, the gas generator acted as an insurance policy if you ran out of juice with the battery. Flash forward to this year and Volt has not only seen an increase in overall range to 53 miles, but it has also gotten sleeker. This is currently my favorite looking Chevrolet vehicle with the new Cruze a close second. Other plus points include an improved interior and smooth ride. The new Bolt is currently basking in the spotlight that the Volt was at one time. But let us not forget the Volt is one of the key reasons why the Bolt exists. 
      2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack & SRT Hellcat
      Dodge covered the two extremes of performance this season with the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat. The Scat Pack was first up and I fell in love with it. For almost $40,000, you basically got an SRT Charger minus the adaptive suspension and number of luxury items. It was great fun with the 6.4L HEMI V8 bellowing down the road and the sharp looking Plum Crazy paint color. I found that you really don’t need the adaptive suspension as the Scat Pack does ok on bumpy roads or curvy roads.
      Then we come to the Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8. It seems maddening that we are given a vehicle with all of this power for a price tag under $66,000. Trying to describe the way the Hellcat goes is difficult and something you need to experience. This is a vehicle that will make you laugh like a small child every time you decide to drop the hammer to hear the whir of the supercharger and manic sound of the V8.
      2016 Kia Optima SXL
      It is no secret that the Kia Optima is one of my favorite midsize sedans. It offers distinctive looks and feature set at a price that will surprise many. But it was set to fall off my list earlier this year when I drove the Optima EX. The big issues were an uncomfortable ride and poor noise isolation. So when I found out that the top of line SXL was scheduled later in the year, I was worried that it would be plagued by the same issues. But those issues never appeared. The SXL was not only quiet but showed a noticeable improvement in terms of ride comfort. I still don’t know what black magic Kia did on the SXL, but it kept the Optima on my favorites list. Now if they could work on the lazy throttle…
      2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
      “Sometimes to fully test a vehicle, you need to put it in a situation where it isn’t fully comfortable.”
      That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show.
      2016 Scion iA
      I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on.
      2016 Toyota Prius Three
      I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota.
      2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
      If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. 
      There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles,
      Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road.
      View full article
    • By William Maley
      2016… What a year. This year saw a number of things that no one thought would actually happen did. Not helping matters is the number of famous people that have sadly passed on. Here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau, it wasn’t such a great year for vehicles. For the 2016 review season, 44 vehicles came in for evaluation. Out of this group, only eight vehicles earned a spot of being my favorite vehicles from the year. Read on to see which vehicles made the cut.
      2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
      It is amazing how far Cadillac has come in the past decade and proof of it can be shown in the ATS- V coupe. A 464 horsepower twin-turbo V6 makes the vehicle fly with no issue. A set of sticky tires and adjustable dampers show the ATS-V is just as capable, maybe more so than its German counterparts. But it can also provide decent ride around town if you set the dampers into a comfort mode. Then there is the look. I’m not usually a fan of red, but it looks killer on the ATS-V coupe. It pairs quite nicely with sharp angles and a low roofline This was one of the models where I found myself grinning from ear to ear because of how much fun I had.
      2016 Chevrolet Volt
      It is amazing how far Chevrolet has come with the Volt. Five years ago, the Volt was this odd looking vehicle with a clever powertrain that made range anxiety nonexistent. Yes, 35 miles of electric-only range didn’t seem like a lot. However, the gas generator acted as an insurance policy if you ran out of juice with the battery. Flash forward to this year and Volt has not only seen an increase in overall range to 53 miles, but it has also gotten sleeker. This is currently my favorite looking Chevrolet vehicle with the new Cruze a close second. Other plus points include an improved interior and smooth ride. The new Bolt is currently basking in the spotlight that the Volt was at one time. But let us not forget the Volt is one of the key reasons why the Bolt exists. 
      2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack & SRT Hellcat
      Dodge covered the two extremes of performance this season with the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat. The Scat Pack was first up and I fell in love with it. For almost $40,000, you basically got an SRT Charger minus the adaptive suspension and number of luxury items. It was great fun with the 6.4L HEMI V8 bellowing down the road and the sharp looking Plum Crazy paint color. I found that you really don’t need the adaptive suspension as the Scat Pack does ok on bumpy roads or curvy roads.
      Then we come to the Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8. It seems maddening that we are given a vehicle with all of this power for a price tag under $66,000. Trying to describe the way the Hellcat goes is difficult and something you need to experience. This is a vehicle that will make you laugh like a small child every time you decide to drop the hammer to hear the whir of the supercharger and manic sound of the V8.
      2016 Kia Optima SXL
      It is no secret that the Kia Optima is one of my favorite midsize sedans. It offers distinctive looks and feature set at a price that will surprise many. But it was set to fall off my list earlier this year when I drove the Optima EX. The big issues were an uncomfortable ride and poor noise isolation. So when I found out that the top of line SXL was scheduled later in the year, I was worried that it would be plagued by the same issues. But those issues never appeared. The SXL was not only quiet but showed a noticeable improvement in terms of ride comfort. I still don’t know what black magic Kia did on the SXL, but it kept the Optima on my favorites list. Now if they could work on the lazy throttle…
      2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
      “Sometimes to fully test a vehicle, you need to put it in a situation where it isn’t fully comfortable.”
      That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show.
      2016 Scion iA
      I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on.
      2016 Toyota Prius Three
      I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota.
      2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
      If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. 
      There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles,
      Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road.
  • Recent Status Updates

  • Who's Online (See full list)