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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Premier

      Chevrolet's updated compact sedan is kind of a big deal

    American automakers haven’t been known for building good compact vehicles. Previous attempts have faltered when compared to those from the likes of Honda, Mazda, and Toyota. But this perception began to change when Ford brought out the Focus in 2000. It seemed progress was being made in making a decent compact vehicle thanks to their European branch helping out. Seeing this, GM decided to follow the same path. They called in their Korean and European offices to help out with the development of a new model known as Cruze. The vehicle proved to be a massive improvement from the Cobalt as it got the basics right such as fuel economy and overall interior space. Yes, the Cruze was lacking in some key areas such as design and driving fun. But it was light years ahead of GM’s previous attempts at a compact vehicle.

    When it came time to work on the next-generation Cruze, Chevrolet knew they had a good starting point and only needed to make improvements to make the model a real contender in the class. Let’s see if that has panned out or not.

    Dare I say the new Cruze is a sharp looking compact? Yes, but to a point. It is clear that Chevrolet’s design team took a lot of inspiration from the Volt PHEV when working on the second-generation Cruze. The overall profile and certain lines of the Volt appear on the Cruze. The front end features Chevrolet’s new tiered-grille and a set of slimmer headlights. Where the Cruze’s design falls flat is in the back. It seems Chevrolet’s designers really couldn’t be bothered to do something special. There two ways you can fix this. You can either go with the Cruze hatchback which to our eyes looks so much better thanks to the longer roofline and tailgate, or opting for the RS appearance package which dresses up the back with a more aggressive bumper. The RS package also adds mesh grille inserts, and sporty looking wheels - 18-inch ones on our Premier tester.

    Moving inside, Chevrolet has put a lot of effort in making the Cruze a nice place to sit in. Many surfaces are covered with high-quality materials and feature some unique touches such as a curving character line on the dashboard. Making yourself comfortable is quite easy thanks to eight-way power adjustments for the driver and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The front passenger has to make do with manual adjustments. In the back, there is enough legroom for most passengers. Headroom is slightly tight if you decide to get a sunroof. One nice item for those sitting in the back is the option of heated seats.

    One area Chevrolet is using as a selling point for the Cruze is technology. All Cruzes get a seven-inch touchscreen with Chevrolet MyLink and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi also comes standard across the board. Our Premier tester came with the optional 8-inch touchscreen with navigation. MyLink has been a source of frustration in many of Chevrolet vehicles we have reviewed, but it seems they are starting to get its act together. Overall performance has seen a slight improvement with transitions into various functions being snappy. The navigation system still has some performance issues as it slows down when zooming in or out. Chevrolet has also fixed some of the bugs with their Apple CarPlay integration. We saw no issues of slowdown or apps crashing whenever we had CarPlay up.

    Under the Cruze’s hood is a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder with 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission choice if you get the Premier. Anything below and you have the choice of the automatic or a six-speed manual. A diesel engine is coming later this year. The performance figures for the turbo 1.4L will not knock the socks off of anyone - 0-60 mph time of just over eight seconds. But you won’t think the Cruze is a slowpoke thanks the engine having a lot of low-end grunt. The vehicle leaps forward when leaving a stop and doesn’t feel that it is going to run out of breath. It doesn’t hurt Chevrolet has dropped almost 300 pounds from the new model. The six-speed automatic is quick to upshift to maximize fuel economy, but the same cannot be said for downshifts. It takes a moment or two for the automatic to go down a gear when you step on the accelerator.

    The turbo 1.4 comes with an auto stop-start system as standard. The system is quick to start the engine back up whenever you take your foot off the brake. One item that will irk some people is that you cannot turn off the stop-start system.

    EPA fuel economy figures for the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze stand at 29 City/39 Highway/33 Combined for the Premier sedan. Our average for the week landed around 31.2 mpg. The L, LS, and LT sedan get slightly higher fuel economy figures of 28/39/32 for the manual and 30/40/34 for the automatic.

    It seems most compacts are trying to outdo one another in terms of offering the best driving experience. So it is a bit of fresh air that Chevrolet has decided to skip this and make the Cruze ride like a bigger car. The suspension provides a cushy ride with most bumps being ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to almost silent levels. Handling is competent in the class as the Cruze shows little body roll. However, the steering is too light in terms of feel and weight when driven enthusiastically.

    Chevrolet’s previous attempts at a compact vehicle have ranged from the punchline to a bad joke to something that can be considered at competent. But with the 2017 Cruze, Chevrolet put their heads down into making a compact that could stand tall among competitors. They have succeeded as the Cruze gets the fundamentals right and offers some distinctive traits that help it stand out from others such as the big-car ride and impressive amount of tech. Yes, it would be nice if Cruze was a slightly sharper in terms of design and the steering tweaked a bit to make it a bit more fun to drive. 

    Since I have been reviewing new vehicles for almost five years, there have been only a few vehicles that I keep thinking about to this day. Chevrolet has two to its name. The first was the 2014 Impala and the Cruze is number two.

    Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Cruze, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2017
    Make: Chevrolet
    Model: Cruze
    Trim: Premier
    Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L DOHC VVT DI Four-Cylinder 
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 153 @ 5600
    Torque @ RPM: 177 @ 2000-4000
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/39/33
    Curb Weight: 2,978 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Lordstown, OH
    Base Price: $23,475
    As Tested Price: $29,195 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Sun & Sound w/Navigation - $1,995.00
    RS Package - $995.00
    Enhanced Convenience Package - $865.00
    Driver Confidence II Package - $790.00
    Floor Mats - $140.00
    Wheel Lock Kit - $60.00

    Edited by William Maley

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    That must be the lead wheel package if it took longer than 9 seconds to hit 60 mph. Even the previous gen took around 9-flat with more weight and less power.

    C&D Cruze Hatchback - 7.7 sec 0-60
    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-chevrolet-cruze-hatchback-automatic-test-review

    MT Cruze Premier Sedan - 8.2 sec 0-60
    http://www.motortrend.com/cars/chevrolet/cruze/2016/2016-chevrolet-cruze-first-test-review/

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    38 minutes ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    That must be the lead wheel package if it took longer than 9 seconds to hit 60 mph. Even the previous gen took around 9-flat with more weight and less power.

    C&D Cruze Hatchback - 7.7 sec 0-60
    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-chevrolet-cruze-hatchback-automatic-test-review

    MT Cruze Premier Sedan - 8.2 sec 0-60
    http://www.motortrend.com/cars/chevrolet/cruze/2016/2016-chevrolet-cruze-first-test-review/

    Doh... I meant to type 8 instead 9 since that what a number of outlets were reporting at the time when I was writing this review. (Thanks for giving me this heads up).

    The only one I know that had a Cruze go nine seconds was Edmunds I think. I will need to double check.

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    Nice review, good commuter auto or first auto. I am a bit dismayed as to why they are using an 8 inch screen when the 10 inch screen in the bolt is lovely. They should have that standard across all auto's. 10" and up in size as you go up in auto size. No stupid need for tiny screens.

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    $29K+ for a Cruze? As nice as it is (for its class anyway), there is simply no way in hell I would fork over that kind of cash on a compact car. That is insanity IMO. Aside from the price, GM has done a wonderful job of improving their status in the compact game. 

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    1 minute ago, surreal1272 said:

    $29K+ for a Cruze? As nice as it is (for its class anyway), there is simply no way in hell I would fork over that kind of cash on a compact car. That is insanity IMO. Aside from the price, GM has done a wonderful job of improving their status in the compact game. 

    I wouldn't either. I would be happy with a Cruze LT hatch with a couple of options that would put me around $24k. But here is the thing, dealers are putting a lot of cash on the Cruze to get them moving (because crossovers). I've seen Cruze Premiers like this one coming with reduced pricetags around $23 to 25k. If you know what you're doing, you can score a nice deal.

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    1 hour ago, William Maley said:

    I wouldn't either. I would be happy with a Cruze LT hatch with a couple of options that would put me around $24k. But here is the thing, dealers are putting a lot of cash on the Cruze to get them moving (because crossovers). I've seen Cruze Premiers like this one coming with reduced pricetags around $23 to 25k. If you know what you're doing, you can score a nice deal.

    Put all the cash you want on the hood but if you have to do that with a $29K compact, then it proves my point about it being too much money. I do agree with your assessment about the hatch though. That would be the only way to go for me. 

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    1 hour ago, William Maley said:

    I wouldn't either. I would be happy with a Cruze LT hatch with a couple of options that would put me around $24k. But here is the thing, dealers are putting a lot of cash on the Cruze to get them moving (because crossovers). I've seen Cruze Premiers like this one coming with reduced pricetags around $23 to 25k. If you know what you're doing, you can score a nice deal.

     

    6 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

    Put all the cash you want on the hood but if you have to do that with a $29K compact, then it proves my point about it being too much money. I do agree with your assessment about the hatch though. That would be the only way to go for me. 

    I honestly thing due to the so called living wage push, which has forced inflation up, the packages on auto's have also pushed the price up and yet then you see huge discounts to keep the product selling. 

    Why not just go ahead and bring the prices back down to reality. You would probably get allot more young people into an auto and excited about auto's if you did not have them starting in the mid 20's and going to the moon.

    Pricing on compacts and subcompacts are crazy now.

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    I've always thought the rear on the new Cruze sedan was a deal breaker, brings to mind an 8 year old Korean car.  Hatch is nice but if they cannot sell it at volume or a decent profit, it may be a one gen and done here.  For my needs, in this segment due to snow days and daytrips to the ski hill I'd likely choose an all new Impreza or upcoming Crosstrek for the AWD.

     

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    Don't foot the bill on a subcompact if its priced too high.  But chevy is giving leases away on these things recently.

    I don't think one need feel guilty about leasing when your lease payment might be less than what you pay on interest and taxes if you put it on a long loan (and lose 60% of MSRP if you try to trade it in 3 years).

     

    Then you can get some kit on your compact and not get gouged.  Thats where the Premier comes in.  Get some options.

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    Agreed that all cars are expensive but $29k for a Cruze is crazy.  You can get a decently equipped Camry for that and the Camry will hold value like crazy, even if it drives like crap.   I guess they have the Sonic and Spark for cheap cars, but as they push Cruz up market, then you have to push Malibu up, and then Impala gets squeezed and eliminated.

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    6 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    Agreed that all cars are expensive but $29k for a Cruze is crazy.  You can get a decently equipped Camry for that and the Camry will hold value like crazy, even if it drives like crap.   I guess they have the Sonic and Spark for cheap cars, but as they push Cruz up market, then you have to push Malibu up, and then Impala gets squeezed and eliminated.

    I wonder how much top of the line Corolla's are selling for? I don't really think about it as Toyota isn't my top go to brand when new car shopping, but I have notice a surge in new car prices. A 29k Cruze may not be such a bad deal.

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    The new Cruze is a totally lackluster offering that doesn't display even a hint of the engineering expertise and powertrain excellence GM is capable of. I'd pass it over for most any other car in the segment. They should have named it the Snuze.

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    On 4/11/2017 at 11:52 PM, LostinNewMexico said:

    I wonder how much top of the line Corolla's are selling for? I don't really think about it as Toyota isn't my top go to brand when new car shopping, but I have notice a surge in new car prices. A 29k Cruze may not be such a bad deal.

    The Corolla is one of the few cars I would take this Cruze over.

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    On ‎4‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 11:52 PM, LostinNewMexico said:

    I wonder how much top of the line Corolla's are selling for? I don't really think about it as Toyota isn't my top go to brand when new car shopping, but I have notice a surge in new car prices. A 29k Cruze may not be such a bad deal.

    Maybe I'm doing something wrong but I tried to build a Corolla and I picked the highest trim package and there was almost nothing of substance other than adding things like a cargo net, different floor mats, etc. and it's under 23k. It is pretty cool they offer some TRD stuff for it so I'd assume that'd all be covered under warranty. They offer lowering springs, high flow air filter(K&N-like), exhaust, and a sway bar. That's pretty cool, if I'm being honest.

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    On 4/13/2017 at 2:07 PM, Frisky Dingo said:

    The Corolla is one of the few cars I would take this Cruze over.

    I would have to disagree with you as they are numb non-inspirational tin cans. Yes I have driven one and still not impressed.

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    11 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    I would have to disagree with you as they are numb non-inspirational tin cans. Yes I have driven one and still not impressed.

    Have you driven any car and been impressed with them that aren't EVs?

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    7 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Have you driven any car and been impressed with them that aren't EVs?

    Plenty of ICE auto's that I am impressed with. V series from Cadillac.  M series from BMW, AMG series from MB, REAL skylines when I was in college in Japan. Corvettes, plenty of ICE auto's over the last 40 years.

    Toyota & Honda have nothing that is inspiring, roomy or desirable to me. I was carpooling with my coworker last night home in his new TRD Tacoma. He loves it but compared to the GM twins, you have a ok comfy seat in a sea of hard plastics and some soft touch plastics, but much to really go wow about. Course, this was just my thinking. as he loves his truck. To each their own.

    Have you gone out yet and actually driven a Bolt yet to give a real assessment of the auto?

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    3 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    Plenty of ICE auto's that I am impressed with. V series from Cadillac.  M series from BMW, AMG series from MB, REAL skylines when I was in college in Japan. Corvettes, plenty of ICE auto's over the last 40 years.

    Toyota & Honda have nothing that is inspiring, roomy or desirable to me. I was carpooling with my coworker last night home in his new TRD Tacoma. He loves it but compared to the GM twins, you have a ok comfy seat in a sea of hard plastics and some soft touch plastics, but much to really go wow about. Course, this was just my thinking. as he loves his truck. To each their own.

    Have you gone out yet and actually driven a Bolt yet to give a real assessment of the auto?

    So nothing under like...70-80k..? And I bet the C, 3/4, and ATS are way too small for a 6'6" human so now we're talking 100k+ for an E, 5/6, CTS in their respective performance variants. So.. yes,, we're all impressed with 100k cars. Haha

    Nope. I haven't seen one at my local GM store... They're probably a fairly tough sell still here where I'm at. On the other side of the river(STL) they probably do much better as the overall infrastructure is better than southern IL.

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    5 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    So nothing under like...70-80k..? And I bet the C, 3/4, and ATS are way too small for a 6'6" human so now we're talking 100k+ for an E, 5/6, CTS in their respective performance variants. So.. yes,, we're all impressed with 100k cars. Haha

    Nope. I haven't seen one at my local GM store... They're probably a fairly tough sell still here where I'm at. On the other side of the river(STL) they probably do much better as the overall infrastructure is better than southern IL.

    I love to test drive auto's all kinds and yes I will roll myself up into sub compacts and compacts to see what they are like. True, at my size, most auto's are always going to be north of 50K and closer to 100K. 

    Will say that I was impressed with the Ford Explorer Sport that we did a family test drive on as my son is considering it as a replacement for his Jeep Patriot. We also test drove the Explorer XLT, not impressed with that. Would be hard pressed to recommend it as the dash interface is terrible compared to the much better dash interface you get with the sport version. Yes another 50K SUV. :P 

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    2 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    I love to test drive auto's all kinds and yes I will roll myself up into sub compacts and compacts to see what they are like. True, at my size, most auto's are always going to be north of 50K and closer to 100K. 

    Will say that I was impressed with the Ford Explorer Sport that we did a family test drive on as my son is considering it as a replacement for his Jeep Patriot. We also test drove the Explorer XLT, not impressed with that. Would be hard pressed to recommend it as the dash interface is terrible compared to the much better dash interface you get with the sport version. Yes another 50K SUV. :P 

    If you're looking at the Explorer Sport have you looked at the Durango R/T? Similar size..and you get a V8.. Actually, it's probably larger, isn't it? Is a third row needed or could a JGC fit the bill?

    That's actually one of my favorite classes of vehicles, the larger 2 row SUVs. JGC rocks and has all sorts of trims and the Edge(new - not so much first gen and refresh) is awesome to me as well. The 4Runner is really gnarly, in the right trim. The Toureg is baller, but pricey... I'm on the opposite end as you.. 5'8" 170lbs.. So these things feel very large to me. I saw in an Edge Sport when I picked up my Focus and I loved how roomy it felt and how much more space there was behind the rear seats compared to my Escape or Focus. It isn't like I need a lot but as a new homeowner I know I'll be maxing out the hatchback often enough. Speaking of which... It was worse when they were separate, took the entire hatch space up. 1AB4D41A-7663-47FB-93E3-A854C43039D6_zps

    Wait, what thread is this even about? LOL

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    8 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    If you're looking at the Explorer Sport have you looked at the Durango R/T? Similar size..and you get a V8.. Actually, it's probably larger, isn't it? Is a third row needed or could a JGC fit the bill?

    That's actually one of my favorite classes of vehicles, the larger 2 row SUVs. JGC rocks and has all sorts of trims and the Edge(new - not so much first gen and refresh) is awesome to me as well. The 4Runner is really gnarly, in the right trim. The Toureg is baller, but pricey... I'm on the opposite end as you.. 5'8" 170lbs.. So these things feel very large to me. I saw in an Edge Sport when I picked up my Focus and I loved how roomy it felt and how much more space there was behind the rear seats compared to my Escape or Focus. It isn't like I need a lot but as a new homeowner I know I'll be maxing out the hatchback often enough. Speaking of which... It was worse when they were separate, took the entire hatch space up. 1AB4D41A-7663-47FB-93E3-A854C43039D6_zps

    Wait, what thread is this even about? LOL

    Very Cool :metal: 

    Yes my son does not like the external style or internal layout of the Dodge Durango. My daughter has one and loves it. My son has narrowed his choices to Jeep GC or Ford Explorer Sport edition. For the GC he is vacillating if he wants to do diesel or stay hemi.

    Back on topic, Cruze Diesel rocks! :metal: 

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      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

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

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

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

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

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

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

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Do you need a V8 engine in your flagship luxury sedan? That's a question I posed myself when a Genesis G90 equipped with a 5.0L V8 engine was dropped off for a week. The standard G90 with the twin-turbo V6 offers an impressive amount of performance and refinement. But the V8 offers much more power, along with some extra goodies you cannot get with the V6. 
      Since our last visit with the G90, Genesis has given a bit of a facelift. The front end prominently features a new diamond-shape. I found myself growing to like it, even if I thought it was a tad too large. But I can see this becoming a point of contention. Other changes include new wheels and a restyled rear end that makes the G90 look a bit cleaner. No changes of note for the interior. It still is very luxurious to sit in and the controls are logically laid out. The only item I'm sad not to see is the new 12.3-inch digital cluster that is found in the all-new G80 and GV80. Opting for the Ultimate means back seat passengers get their own screens mounted behind the front seats. This allows you to tap into the G90's infotainment system to play audio, check various information, and look at the navigation system. Ultimate models come with the larger 5.0L V8 producing 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option. The V8 is a bit of a tough sell when compared to the twin-turbo 3.3L V6 as it slower off the line and not as flexible whenever you need to accelerate quickly. Both engines also are similar in terms of refinement, offer a muted engine note. The only place I found the V8 to be slightly better than the V6 was in my average fuel economy. The V8 returned 24.7 mpg, while the V6 only got 20.3 mpg. A combination of the V8 G90 being rear-wheel and not all-wheel, along with more miles being done on the highway likely contributed to the better fuel economy figures. Ride quality is still on the hallmarks of the G90. With the adaptive suspension in either SMART or Comfort, the G90 glides along any road surface with nary a bump or pothole coming inside.  Around bends, the G90 doesn't feel at home with a fair amount of body roll. There is a Sport model to help reduce this, along with adding more weight to the steering. For the as-tested price of $76,695, you are getting quite a lot of equipment. There are LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, power sunshades, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, memory settings for seats, and much more. The only way I could recommend the G90 Ultimate is either if you're operating a livery service or just want a V8 engine no matter what. Otherwise, you'll be happy with the G90 Premium and its twin-turbo V6. That said, the current G90 is starting to show its age, especially when compared to some of the new Genesis models such as the G80 and GV80. A new model is coming down the pipeline and if the recent models are any indication, the G90 has a real shot of becoming one of the best luxury sedans. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G90, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Genesis
      Model: G90
      Trim: 5.0 Ultimate
      Engine: 5.0L GDI V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 5,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
      Curb Weight: 4,817 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea
      Base Price: $75,700
      As Tested Price: $76,695 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
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