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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

      Is the Fiata better than a Miata?

    Ever since Mazda launched the MX-5 Miata back in 1989, competitors have been trying their best to out-maneuver it.; whether that is through better design, handling, or more power. While all have come and gone, while the Miata is still kicking around. What do you do in this case? If you can't beat them, join 'em. That's the case with Fiat as a few years ago, they would take the place of Alfa Romeo of developing a new roadster using the Miata as a base. The end result is the 124 Spider.

    Fiat’s designers wanted to do a modern interpretation of the 124 Spider designed by the legendary Pininfarina design house. The problem was trying to get that design to work with the MX-5 Miata’s structure. To pull this off, designers would add five inches to the overall length of the 124 Spider. The front end features many of the design touches found on the original 124 Spider with teardrop headlights, trapezoidal grille, raised fenders, and twin-power bulges on the hood. Around back is where the design begins to fall apart. The overall shape and certain choices such as the overhanging trunk lid don't fully mesh with the front. It looks like Fiat had two design teams working on either end of the vehicle, but put a curtain between them so they couldn’t see what the other was doing.

    The Abarth version of the 124 Spider does get some special touches to help it stand out from the other trims. They include a darker grille opening, 17-inch alloy wheels finished in a dark gray, and a quad-tip exhaust system. The only item we would change is making the Abarth badges smaller. The large size really detracts from the iconic look Fiat is trying go for.

    Putting the soft top down in the 124 Spider is very easy. Simply unlatch the mechanism holding the top in place and fold it back into its little storage space. Raising the top is just as painless as you just need to pull a latch behind the seats and pull the top forward. It will only take a few tries before you’re able to put the top up and down in just a few seconds.

    Moving inside, the only real differences between the 124 Spider and MX-5 Miata are the Fiat badge on the steering wheel, different fonts used for the gauges, and soft-touch plastics on the top of the door panels. Otherwise, the 124 Spider features the same layout and quirks of its donor vehicle. Controls readily fall to hand for either driver or passenger. Abarth models come with a 7-inch touchscreen with the Mazda Connect infotainment as standard equipment. On the plus side, Mazda Connect is easy to grasp thanks to an intuitive interface and a simple control knob. Downsides include the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto;, and the awkward placement of the control knob. It will get in the way whenever you are shifting gears with either transmission.

    Snug is the keyword when describing the experience of sitting inside the 124 Spider. I’m 5’ 8” and had to set the driver’s seat almost all the way back to not feel cramped. Once I was able to find the right seat and steering positions, it felt like I was a part of the vehicle and not sitting on top of it. The passenger will complain about the lack of legroom as the transmission tunnel protrudes into the footwell. The seats themselves provide excellent support and will hold you in during an enthusiastic drive.

    The motivation for the 124 Spider is provided by Fiat’s turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. The Abarth produces 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The base Classica and up-level Lusso see a small decrease in horsepower to 160. The difference comes down to the Abarth featuring a different exhaust system. Our tester featured the optional six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles. A six-speed manual comes standard. Although the 124 Spider has higher power figures than the Miata, it isn’t that much faster. Reviewers who have run 0-60 tests say the Miata does it under six seconds, while the 124 Spider takes over six seconds. There are two reasons for this: First, the Miata is lighter than the 124 Spider by an average of about 120 pounds. Second is the engine has a bad case of turbo lag. The turbo doesn’t fully spool up until about 2,000 to 2,500 rpm, leaving you wondering where all of this power is when leaving a stop. Once it’s going, power is delivered in a smooth and somewhat linear fashion.

    The automatic transmission is another weak point of this powertrain. It loves to upshift early and leaves you without any turbo boost. This can be rectified by using the paddles on the steering wheel or throwing the automatic into the manual shift mode. The manual transmission is the better choice as it allows more flexibility with the engine.

    EPA fuel economy figures for the 124 Spider stand at 25 City/36 Highway/29 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 28 MPG.

    If there is one place that the 124 Spider Abarth can give the MX-5 Miata a run for its money, it is in the handling. The Abarth feels more athletic and confident when entering a corner with little body roll and fast transitions thanks to a sport-tuned suspension. Steering is the same as Miata with excellent road feel and quick turning. The downside to the athletic handling is a very stiff ride. Road imperfections are directly transmitted to those sitting inside. There is also an abundance of wind and road noise coming inside the 124 Spider.

    In some ways, the 124 Spider is better than the MX-5 Miata. The Abarth provides crisper handling and the interior is slightly nicer than what you’ll find in the Miata. But in other areas, the Miata is the better vehicle. The turbo lag from the turbocharged 1.4L saps a bit of the fun out of the vehicle and the design is somewhat unflattering. We can understand why someone would pick the 124 Spider Abarth over the Miata as it is something different. But is it the better Miata? The answer is no.

    Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2017
    Make: Fiat
    Model: 124 Spider
    Trim: Abarth
    Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir Inline-Four
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 5,500
    Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29
    Curb Weight: 2,516 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
    Base Price: $28,195
    As Tested Price: $30,540 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    6-Speed AISIN Automatic RWD Transmission - $1,350.00

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    I know some are excited that this rebadge Mazda Miata is out there giving Fiat some much needed quality in their auto line. Yet the car is just Meh to me. Small, tiny and just does nothing to excite me. Miata is the same way. So many other exciting cars to drive over this.

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    I wouldn't mind having a Miata at some point..it seems like it (and this variation) is the only affordable pure sports car on the market...seems like it would  be a lot of fun.  Cars like this are all about handling and the joy of driving, not about how fast they can go around a race course or down a drag strip.

     Seems like it would be great for 3 season weekend drives on the winding, hilly backroads of Ohio...

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    9 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    I wouldn't mind having a Miata at some point..it seems like it (and this variation) is the only affordable pure sports car on the market...seems like it would  be a lot of fun.  Cars like this are all about handling and the joy of driving, not about how fast they can go around a race course or down a drag strip.

     Seems like it would be great for 3 season weekend drives on the winding, hilly backroads of Ohio...

    I get the point you're making, but would take an ATS Coupe over a miata or 124.

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    53 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    I get the point you're making, but would take an ATS Coupe over a miata or 124.

    Agreed. But the price difference is probably like 10-15k so that's a difficult comparison. 

    Went to their sites..

    ATS starts at 38k and the Miata starts at 25k. Spider is the same as the Miata. 

    Price wise, its more like a base Mustang/Camaro, BRZ, or Toyota 86 comparison. If I could get the ATS coupe with the same engine as the Camaro 2.0T that would be my choice. I just like the inside, outside, and visibility of the ATS so much more. 

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    2 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Agreed. But the price difference is probably like 10-15k so that's a difficult comparison. 

    Went to their sites..

    ATS starts at 38k and the Miata starts at 25k. Spider is the same as the Miata. 

    ATS starts at $37,595 

    Fiat 124 per the story above starts at $28,195

    If the roughly $9,500 is more than you want to spend, I would then go Camero starting at $25,905 or Mustang starting at $25,585 as both I think are superior to the Miata or 124 and can handle on par or better.

    Just my preference, but while I know the American auto's are heavier, a quality driver can handle the added weight and match or beat the Miata/124 duo same as I think they can beat the Subaru/Toyota duo of BRZ/86.

    Again, just MHO.

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    Apples and oranges, the ATS is a luxury sports coupe like the BMW 4-series, etc.  

    Something about a minimalist ragtop like the Miata appeals to me..like the old British sports cars but with reliability and quality.   Maybe I'm also thinking about something fun for my 50th in a few years.  I love my Jeep for daily use, but want something fun and pure also...

    I think @A Horse With No Name would understand.  It's one of those things you either 'get' or don't..I'm starting to 'get' it.   

    As far as the Detroit sports coupes go, I have old Mustangs, kind of like the new Mustang, but find the Challenger far more appealing (want one also).   The Camaro just doesn't appeal to me at all. 

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    7 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Apples and oranges, the ATS is a luxury sports coupe like the BMW 4-series, etc.  

    Something about a minimalist ragtop like the Miata appeals to me..like the old British sports cars but with reliability and quality.   Maybe I'm also thinking about something fun for my 50th in a few years.  I love my Jeep for daily use, but want something fun and pure also...

    I think @A Horse With No Name would understand.  It's one of those things you either 'get' or don't..I'm starting to 'get' it.   

    As far as the Detroit sports coupes go, I have old Mustangs, kind of like the new Mustang, but find the Challenger far more appealing (want one also).   The Camaro just doesn't appeal to me at all. 

    OK, I turned 50 on November 27th just a couple weeks back and I still have not gone through a midlife crisis according to my kids and wife, so I guess I just do not get it as the Miata while well built is just a cramped uninspiring auto. 

    Does it handle well yes, but I do not get what is so great about the car. The American Pony cars are far superior to me in handling and fun factor. For the fun and handling but in luxury form we have the ATS coupe. So covered no matter what end you want. I really do not get the appeal to the cracker jack box Miata, but then that is my problem I guess as I see Zero Appeal to that car.

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    @dfelt I assume you can understand that not everyone has the same tastes in cars, different cars appeal to different people for different reasons.  I'm not built like an NFL linebacker or NBA player and already have an SUV, so I'm don't need much in terms of storage space in a fun car. I don't need luxury in a sports car either. Another pure sports car that appeals to me is the Boxster, but the Miata would be a much better deal on price and reliability.  

    I like sports coupes like the Mustang, Challenger, ATS, etc but those  are a different genre. 

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    2 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    @dfelt I assume you can understand that not everyone has the same tastes in cars, different cars appeal to different people for different reasons.  I'm not built like an NFL linebacker or NBA player and already have an SUV, so I'm don't need much in terms of storage space in a fun car. Another pure sports car that appeals to me is the Boxster, but the Miata would be a much better deal on price and reliability.  

    I get that point and fair enough in the body size thing and yet I get the attraction to Porsche and if I am going to pay $30,000 or less and want a true road ripping car regardless of where it comes from. I can find plenty of very low mile Porsches here in Washington for $30,000 or less that would be better than the Miata.

    Autotrader search

    1998 Porsche Boxster with 36,611 miles for $12,687 convertible. This is a freakin awesome deal.

    https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=467544212&zip=98043&referrer=%2Fcars-for-sale%2Fsearchresults.xhtml%3Fzip%3D98043%26startYear%3D1981%26sortBy%3DderivedpriceDESC%26maxPrice%3D30000%26incremental%3Dall%26firstRecord%3D0%26endYear%3D2018%26makeCodeList%3DPOR%26searchRadius%3D25&startYear=1981&numRecords=25&maxPrice=30000&firstRecord=0&endYear=2018&makeCodeList=POR&searchRadius=25&makeCode1=POR&modelCode1=BOXSTE

     

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    Yeah. But.

    Let us be really honest though.  (Mr. Cubical beat me to the punch. I was typing this post while he posted his.)

    This is the car in question.

    Image result for fiat 124 spider abarth

     

    I understand the reasons why we are picking 2.0T ATS coupes and we are mentioning 2.0T Camaros and ecoboosted Mustangs and Subrau BRZs.  But, we are being quite unfair to the car in question. 

    None of those cars mentioned, including the Toyobaru, are in the same league. As in the Fiat 124 is a roadster. While all are competitors competing for the same market even...even if there is a slight difference in price for all, none drive or feel the same way. Not even the Mustang and Camaro convertibles.

    Visibility in a roadster, top down, well, has to be better than any coupe...

    Handling for a base Camaro or Mustang might be on par with the Fiat 124 Abarth, (I might assume that a 1LE suspension package is available for the Camaro 2.0T?) but the driving feel of a Fiat 124 Abarth is not the same...albeit slightly heavier than the Miata, its still all about being old skool British and Italian roadster...

    With that being said...sure...you folk prefer other enthusiast machines in this range than the Fiat 124 Abarth. Its your choice. In no way am I gonna argue that. 

     

    I personally WOULD choose the Fiat 124 Abarth over all other cars mentioned so far.  With a slight exemption on an ecoboosted convertible Mustang. 

    Image result for ford mustang convertible 2018

     

    For me, the Fiat 124 Abarth is all about the drive and the looks.

    For me,  the ecoboosted Mustang convertible...is all about  the looks. 

    I like them both equally. And I dont car how much money one costs over the other. In other words, if I was gonna be choosing one over the other, money would NOT be one of the criteria. 

     

    EDIT:

    Even Mr. Speedy Fapper weighed in and he too, said what I wanted to say.

    Then a Challenger was also mentioned.  Yes...I would choose the Challenger over all others, but like I started this post, the car in question IS about a Fiat 124 Abarth. It aint fair to it to talk about a muscle car....and yes....Im  all about the muscle cars!!!!

    Edited by oldshurst442
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    3 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    I get that point and fair enough in the body size thing and yet I get the attraction to Porsche and if I am going to pay $30,000 or less and want a true road ripping car regardless of where it comes from. I can find plenty of very low mile Porsches here in Washington for $30,000 or less that would be better than the Miata.

    Autotrader search

    1998 Porsche Boxster with 36,611 miles for $12,687 convertible. This is a freakin awesome deal.

     

     

    For me, I won't spend money on a 20 yr old car...I want a new or CPO car with new car reliability and  a warranty..don't  want to f*ck around the old car problems of a 20 yr old car...been there, done that.

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    I like the Boxster, have ridden in a few and driven a couple.  But I definitely wouldn't want a 20 yr old one...too much that can go wrong, and go German wrong ($$$$).  No more money pits.   I want peace of mind and fun, not a nightmare. 

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    7 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    @oldshurst442 I hear what your saying but I would take this used Porsche over the 124 as I posted in my response above. This baby to me looks better.

    1998Boxster.jpg

    Yes well...

     

    Charlie Sheen's (Harper's) reaction to the Boxster, particularly this generation closely mirrors my reaction to it...:P

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    11 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    I like the Boxster, have ridden in a few and driven a couple.  But I definitely wouldn't want a 20 yr old one...too much that can go wrong, and go German wrong ($$$$).  No more money pits.   I want peace of mind and fun, not a nightmare. 

    :roflmao: That seems to be Fiat's real name, Money Pit!

    MoneyPit.gif

    For those that wonder what colors and love this car I give you this to help you decide!

    124Abarth.gif

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    For the 28k the Abarth costs it's really difficult to beat because when I build a Mustang or Camaro I add things that swell the price to 30-32k(but with them you can certainly get some discounts but I won't include those). 

    I think the biggest reason I've never really lusted over the small coupe/roadster is I live in such a flat boring landscape. On a daily basis I wouldn't really get to take advantage of something fun and toss-able like the 124/MX-5. 

    I'll add an even larger twist to the game.. Hot hatches. if I had to keep the MSRP under 30k.. I'd probably get a GTI and I haven't heard a bad thing about them on back-road twisties either. Yeah, they're considered wrong wheel drive... 

    GTI.jpg

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    Of all the roadsters, I like this one the best.  As much as I like big luxury cars, there is a part of me that wishes I had the garage space and time to futz with an old British roadster like a Triumph or Austin Healey. 

    The Fiata is about as close one can get to a modern incarnation of those cars... which is blasphemy because it's an Italian name on a Japanese built car..... but it is what it is.  Only the Z4 compares in atmosphere.  I've never really cared for the looks of the Miata in any generation.

    It's for that same reason that I would like an old Saturn Sky Red-Line.... they hit the nail on the head with that car. It's a shame it didn't live on in another brand.

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    The 124 is the brightest spot in the Fiat line, with the 500 Abarth being a dark horse.  I prefer the 124 to the Miata although I like the RF, yet on the other hand when I heard about the wind buffeting problems in the RF it kind of made me not smile as wide.

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    Co-worker of mine searched for over a year for the perfect car to replace his wife's Mini Roadster.  They like Chevy, so when they found a Krypton Green Camaro 2LT with stick somewhere down south, they were excited.  The dealer even paid to have it delivered by rollback to PA.  She comes to pick him up in it most evenings.  It's a hot looking car with the black stripes and wheels.  But the bloom is off the rose already, as he says it is unnecessarily hard to get in and out of, plus you can't see out of it... ALL THIS after living with a Mini Roadster!  He is 56.  /tangent

    Edited by ocnblu
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    I sat in a 5th gen Camaro last year at a car show..ridiculous tiny side windows, tiny mirrors, blind spots everywhere.  Needs Silverado-size outside mirrors and a back up camera.   And maybe a periscope.    

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    1 hour ago, ocnblu said:

    6a00d83451b3c669e201a3fcea8802970b.jpg

    That reminds me of all the generic looking minimalist icons that Google and Apple have put into their software that just makes me think, WTF is that supposed to represent?

    They could not do an arrow if it is a left turn indicator?

    Maybe a star rising?

    Sad that Chevy has taken a cheap ass way of doing whatever it is supposed to represent.

    :stupid:

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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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