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    William Maley

    Review: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

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      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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    the 1.4 turbo is amazing in the 500 abarth, and begs the driver to peg the boost gauge. in the roadster format, the engine is eeeeeeeh, and having an automative doesn't help at all. 

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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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    58 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    1998 Porsche Boxster

    That's actually more lame of a car than a 2018 MX-5, believe it or not. 201 1998 horsepowers..  

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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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      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany
      Base Price: $39,070
      As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00
      Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00
      Appearance Package: $485.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Expectation can be a very dangerous thing. You come into something thinking it will blow your mind and more often than not, it comes up short. That’s how I felt during the first few days into a loan of a 2019 Buick Regal GS. What was being presented didn’t match up with my experience. But over the week I had the vehicle, it began to grow on. That isn’t to say some issues need to be addressed.
      At first glance, you might think Buick decided to stick with a sedan shape. But the sloping rear hatch gives away its true identity as a Sportback. This helps give the impression that the Regal is sporty, helped further by short overhangs. By adding small touches such as large front air intakes, GS-specific 19-inch wheels. Brembo front brake calipers finished in Red, and a small lip spoiler, the GS transforms the Regal into looking like a red-blooded sports sedan. 
      The interior sadly doesn’t match up with what is being presented on the outside. While there was some effort to make the GS stand out with faux carbon-fiber trim, special sport seats, and GS badging, it doesn’t quite match with what is being presented outside. Not helping are some cheap plastics littered throughout the Regal GS’ interior. If this was a standard Regal, I may have given it a slight pass. But considering this GS carries a price of almost $43k, it becomes a big issue. The interior does redeem it somewhat with a logical and simple layout. No one had any complaints about whether the controls were confusing or hard to reach.
      Let’s talk about the front seats, The Regal GS comes fitted with racing-style front seat with aggressive side bolstering and faux holes towards the top where the belts for a harness would go into. This design seems more at home in a hardcore Corvette than a Buick. Before you start thinking that the seat design only allows a small group of people to fit, Buick has fitted adjustable bolstering to allow a wide set of body types to sit comfortably. With this and other power adjustments, I was able to find a position that suited me. Over a long drive, the seats were able to provide the right amount of support and comfort.
      The back seats don’t get the same “race car” treatment as the front, but they do offer ample head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space is quite impressive with 31.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 60.7 when folded. The Kia Stinger I drove back in January pales in comparison with 23.3 and 40.9 cubic feet.
      The Regal GS features an eight-inch touchscreen with the new Buick Infotainment 3 system. As I mentioned in my Silverado/Sierra 1500 review, the new system is worlds better than Intellilink. The interface has been cleaned up with simpler graphics and fonts that are much easier to read. Also seeing noticeable improvements is the overall performance. The system is much faster when bringing up different functions or crunching a route on the optional navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE round off the system. 
      With the effort Buick has put in, you might have the feeling that the Regal GS has something special under the hood. That isn’t the case. Under the hood of the GS is GM’s venerable 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet. While the V6 packs 40 more horsepower than the 2.0L turbo-four from the last-generation model, it is also down 13 pound-feet. This absence becomes apparent when you decide to sprint away from a stoplight or exiting a corner as you need to work the engine to get that rush of power. A numb throttle response doesn’t help. If you resist from attack mode, the V6 reveals a quiet and refined nature. But again, you will need to work the engine when merging or making a pass.
      Before someone shouts “put a turbo on it”, Buick cannot do that as there isn’t enough space in the engine bay due to the design of the platform. We’ve known about this issue since 2016 when Holden was gearing up to launch the Commodore - its version of the OpelVauxhall Insignia.
      The nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with unobtrusive shifts when going about your daily errands, but offers up snappy shifts when you decide to get aggressive. A glaring omission on this sports sedan is the lack of paddle shifters. 
      Fuel economy for the 2019 Regal GS is 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. I saw an average of 20 during the week. This can likely to be attributed to the test vehicle having under 1,000 miles on the odometer. 
      On paper, the Regal GS’ handling credentials seem top-notch with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and a GKN all-wheel drive system featuring a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential. The latter allows a varying amount of power sent to each rear wheel to improve cornering. In the real world, the GS is more Grand Tourer than Gran Sport. While the sedan shows little body roll, its reflexes are slightly muted due to a nearly 3,800 pound curb weight. The steering provides a decent amount of weight when turning, but don’t expect a lot of road feel. What about that AWD system? For the most part, you really won’t notice working unless you decide to push the limits or practice your winter driving skills in a snowy and empty parking lot. 
      Thanks to the CDC system, the Regal GS’ ride is surprisingly smooth. With the vehicle in Tour, the suspension glides over bumps and imperfections. The ride begins to get choppy if you One area that I’m glad Buick is still focusing on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent. 
      The 2019 Buick Regal GS is a case of expectations being put too high. Despite what the exterior and sports seats of the interior may hint at, this isn’t a sports sedan like a Kia Stinger GT or something from a German luxury brand. But my feelings began to change when I thought of the GS as being more of a grand tourer. It has the ingredients such as a refined powertrain, a suspension that can be altered to provide either a comfortable or sporty ride; and minimizing the amount of outside noise.
      There lies the overall problem with Regal GS as Buick doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a sport sedan or a luxury sedan with grand tourer tendencies? This confusion will likely cause many people to look at something else which is a big shame.
      How I Would Configure a 2019 Buick Regal GS.
      My particular configuration would be similar to the vehicle tested here with the Driver Confidence Package #2, Sights and Sounds, and Appearance packages. The only change would be adding the White Frost Tricoat color, which adds an additional $1,095 to the price. All together, it comes out to $44,210.
      Alternatives to the 2019 Buick Regal GS:
      Kia Stinger: The big elephant in the room when talking about the Regal GS. For a similar amount of cash, you can step into the base GT model with its 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive setup (AWD adds $2,200). I came away very impressed with the styling, performance on tap from the V6, and handling prowess. Downsides include the interior design being a bit too minimalist and the ride being a bit rough. Volkswagen Arteon: The other dark horse to the Regal GS. There is no doubt that the Arteon is quite handsome with flowing lines and sleek fastback shape. Having sat in one at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I found it to be very roomy and upscale in terms of the interior materials. I hope to get some time behind the wheel in the near future to see how it measures up in handling. Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Regal GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Buick
      Model: Regal
      Trim: GS
      Engine: 3.6L V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,800 
      Torque @ RPM: 282 @ 5,200
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany
      Base Price: $39,070
      As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00
      Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00
      Appearance Package: $485.00
    • By William Maley
      The news about the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have been constant barrage about how they aren’t doing so well in the sales charts. In fact, Ram has taken second place in overall truck sales from the Silverado. General Motors is quick to point that Ram has been increasing amount of money on the hoods of the 2019 Ram 1500, along with the last-generation model being sold alongside. But could there be more to this slump? What if the new Silverado and Sierra didn’t move the needle as far as the competition?
      The new Silverado and Sierra continue to separate from one another in exterior design. The basic shape may be the same, but it is the details where the two begin to develop their own identities. On the Sierra, it goes for some polarization with its gaping maw of a grille and c-shaped headlights. Chevrolet is a bit more restrained with the Silverado featuring a split bar grille and separate headlight housings. More differences can be seen turning to the side as the Silverado has slightly more pronounced fenders than the Sierra.
      Both trucks arrived in their off-road trims: Trail Boss for the Silverado and AT4 for the Sierra. This is denoted by two-inch lift for the suspension, blacked-out trim pieces, and meaty off-road tires featuring some sharp-looking wheels. I tend not to like off-road models as they go overboard with the “LOOK AT ME” bits placed on it, which I get why a number of buyers absolutely love it. But the Trail Boss and AT4 find that nice point where they look the business without being too shouty about it.
      GMC is also trying to set itself apart in terms of the tailgate. My Sierra AT4 tester came equipped with the MultiPro tailgate which offers “six functions and positions.” They include, 
      Primary Gate (Full Tailgate) Primary Gate Load Stop: Panel that holds longer items in the bed Easy Access: Flip the inner part of the tailgate to allow for better access for items in the bed Step to allow for easy entry and exit from the bed Inner Gate with Load Stop Inner Gate as a work surface You will not find a physical tailgate handle. Instead, there are two buttons that sit between the backup camera. The top button releases the inner gate, while the bottom allows the full tailgate to open. Opening the inner gate wasn’t as smooth as the full tailgate, feeling like it was sticking at points. A lot of this I would attribute to cold temperatures during the week. Despite this issue, having the inner tailgate give way to allow for better access to the bed and a step does give a unique selling point. I do wonder how will this tailgate design hold-up in the long run.
      Moving inside, GM is still focusing on functional and practical aspects. This is evident with the large knobs and buttons controlling various functions, and a comprehensive gauge cluster. But this approach does put both trucks behind the pack in terms of interior design and materials when compared against Ford and Ram. I had to do a double-take getting inside the Silverado for the first time as the dashboard really didn’t change that much aside from the colors and slightly altered buttons. This isn’t helped by some of the material choices which look and feel out of place in trucks that carry price tags that are around the $60,000 mark.
      But the Silverado and Sierra’s interiors do claw some points back in terms of overall comfort. No one will have any issue trying to find a position that works thanks to a generous amount of power seat adjustments and a steering wheel that finally provides tilt-telescope adjustment. Space in the back of crew cabs is massive with loads of head and legroom.
      Both trucks came with an eight-inch screen (lesser trims get by with a seven-inch screen) and new software - Chevrolet Infotainment 3/GMC Infotainment. The interface looks like a simplified version of MyLink/Intellilink with simpler graphics and easier to read fonts. Moving around the system is easy thanks to the simple menu structure and quick responses for any command. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration comes standard. Both trucks were able to find my iPhone 7 Plus and bring up the CarPlay interface within seconds of plugging it in.
      There are four different engines on offer, including a new 2.7L turbo-four. There’s also a turbodiesel V6 that will be arriving for the 2020 model year. Both of my test trucks came with the V8s - Silverado packing a 5.3L and the Sierra using the 6.2L.
      The 5.3L V8 has not been my engine of choice for the last-generation trucks. Not because of the power on offer, but more of the tuning of the throttle pedal. It made the V8 feel very sluggish and would make the driver push further down on the pedal to get it moving a decent clip. Thankfully, GM has addressed this issue and 5.3 now feel likes it has 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. You can lightly press on the accelerator and V8 doesn’t feel artificially overwhelmed. A new eight-speed automatic (standard on higher trims) helps keep the engine right in the sweet spot of power and provides smooth shifts.
      As for the 6.2L V8, it is a monster. With 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet, it moves the Sierra at a surprising rate. Making a pass or merging on to a freeway is no problem as there is an abundance of power waiting to be unleashed. A new ten-speed automatic (jointly developed with Ford) helps keep the engine right in the spot of power. Unless you need or want all of the power, the 5.3 is the engine I would recommend for either truck.
      EPA fuel economy figures for the V8s are 15 City/20 Highway/17 Combined for the 5.3 and 15/19/17 for the 6.2L AT4.  My averages for the week were 16.1 for the 5.3 and 15.2 for the 6.2. 
      Ram is still the gold standard when it comes to ride quality due to its rear coil spring setup. But GM isn’t so far behind with its solid rear axle setup. Most bumps and imperfections become mere ripples. Larger potholes didn’t upset either truck, but I would put that towards the off-road suspension. The standard trucks may bounce around. Handling is quite surprising as both trucks feel agile around bends. Noise isolation, for the most part, is excellent, though the knobby tires fitted to the Trail Boss and AT4 do ruin some of the tranquility.
      My feelings are mixed on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500. GM has either fixed or improved various problems that I have talked about in previous reviews. But it feels GM hasn’t done enough to fully set their trucks apart from the competition. I think this line from my journal says it all.
      “If General Motors wasn’t touting various aspects of these new trucks such as the aluminum body panels or multi-pro tailgate, I would have thought both models went through a dramatic mid-cycle refresh.”
      This could give the full explanation as to why the Silverado and Sierra are currently getting beaten out by Ford and Ram Trucks in the sales chart. Buyers may not see any real changes for both trucks when compared against the competition. GM has been on the offensive, saying to be patient. But that approach may not work and may cause the automaker to draw up some drastic measures.
      That’s the thing about the full-size truck market, you need to show up with the best. Anything less and you’re in danger of losing. 
      How I would configure a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500.
      There are two options I would consider with the Silverado. First is the RST. I would order a 4WD crew cab with a short and opt for the 5.3L V8. From there, I would add the Convenience Package with Bucket Seats, Convenience Package II, Safety Package, and Trailering Package. That brings the final price to $52,745 excluding any discounts I could get. Second is the Trail Boss which gets the 5.3L V8 as standard. Options would mirror the RST and bring the final price to $54,285.
      If I was to order a Sierra 1500, then I would start with the SLT Crew Cab 4WD with a short bed. This comes with the 5.3L V8 as standard and I would only add two options; Dark Sky Metallic for $495 and the SLT Premium Plus Package for $6,875. This package combines a number of option packages such as the SLT Preferred Package and the two Driver Alert Packages. The final price comes to $60,460 with a $1,000 discount for ordering Premium Plus Package.
      Alternatives to the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500.
      2019 Ram 1500: Ram's redesign on the 1500 has helped make it a real challenger to both Ford and GM. The interior raises the bar of what a truck can be with an impressive design and high-quality material choices. It also boasts an impressive list of safety features such as adaptive cruise control. Ride quality is still class leading. What may put some people off is the styling as it looks a bit plain. 2019 Ford F-150: Bestselling for reason, Ford has constantly improved the F-150 to keep it one step ahead of the competition. It features one of the largest selection of powertrains that help give it some impressive towing numbers. A number of trims also gives buyers different options to build their F-150 the way they want. But Ford trails Ram and GM when it comes ride quality. Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the trucks, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (*Author's Note: Unfortunately, I lost the window sticker to the GMC Sierra 1500 I drove. I have built the truck as close as possible to my memory to get an approximation on price. -WM)
      Year: 2019
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Silverado 1500
      Trim: LT Trail Boss
      Engine: 5.3L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 355 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 4,100
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/20/17
      Curb Weight: 5,008 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $55,955 (Includes $1,495 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Convenience Package with Bucket Seats - $1,805.00
      Convenience Package II - $1,420.00
      Off-Road Assist Steps - $895.00
      Safety Package I - $890.00
      Bed Protection Package - $635.00
      Trailer Brake Controller - $275.00
      Advanced Trailering Package - $240.00
      Year: 2019
      Make: GMC
      Model: Sierra 1500
      Trim: AT4
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start
      Driveline: Ten-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5,600 
      Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4,100
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/19/17
      Curb Weight: 5,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana
      Base Price: $53,200
      As Tested Price: $64,955 (Includes $1,595 Destination Charge and $500 discount for the AT4 Premium Package)*
      Options:
      Off-Road Performance Package - $4,940
      AT4 Premium Package - $3,100 with a $500 discount
      Technology Package - $1,875
      Driver Alert Package II - $745
    • By Drew Dowdell
      At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
      On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  
      Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
      My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
      The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
      Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.
      One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
      Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
      Year: 2020
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Telluride
      Trim: SX
      Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
      Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
      Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
      Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
      Base Price: $31,690
      As Tested Price: $45,815
      Destination Charge: $1,045
      Options:
      SX Prestige Package - $2,000
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
      Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115

      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
      On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  
      Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
      My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
      The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
      Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.
      One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
      Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
      Year: 2020
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Telluride
      Trim: SX
      Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
      Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
      Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
      Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
      Base Price: $31,690
      As Tested Price: $45,815
      Destination Charge: $1,045
      Options:
      SX Prestige Package - $2,000
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
      Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115
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    • DRIVEN: 2020 Subaru Ascent Premium (AWD 2.4 turbo) HIGHS: -Finally, what the market was looking for, a worthwhile Subaru entry into the 3 row crossover segment.  And packaging, size wise, styling, just about perfect for Subaru -2.4 engine can snarl, nice go juice, and the CVT is actually fairly responsive.  Moves out well, or at least feels like it does.  Makes the Ascent feel sporty actually. -As mentioned above, packaging is just about perfect for Subaru.  It might be considered a tweener, but it does not feel hulking or girthy...and it still will be garagable for many of those folks that would shop import brands.  Cabin width not as wide as a Traverse, noticeably so...but conversely feels like a nice size upgrade from an Outback.  Maybe if you try to have three in the second row its a concern but otherwise should be ok.  Plenty of comfort remains and the third row is decent sized for leg room.  This may be the sweet spot size of a 3 row for many customers. -Cloth seats were attractive and did feel nice at the bottom. -Simple clean dash layout, noticeably signature Subaru.  Some interesting trim.   -Open and airy feel inside the cabin, and likewise visibility out.  In particular in front it doesn't feel significantly larger in front then a Forester or Outback. -Carlike ride and handling.  At least in line with the sort of current expectations of a Subaru / Toyota / Honda type of customer.  And reasonably quiet inside. -Nothing particularly egregious, and entirely in line with Subaru and Japanese car in general brand character.  If you are a Subaru fan, this is your manna, this should EXCITE you. LOWS: ...all that said (above) -A few times I caught the CVT with its pants down and it went into slow response / rubber bandy mode. -Dash, to me, did feel plain and basic (and that also is entirely in character for a Subaru).  I will go on record saying that a Traverse is nicer inside and much more interesting.  -Steering felt light and numb enough that I can't say it was anything besides decent.  All while being a huge upgrade in steering compared to other Subarus I have driven the last few years.  It is very much improved compared to those.  And the suspension was composed enough in the Ascent that it didn't bounce and bob and weave like I had when i drove a Forester before. -I didn't dissect the cargo area greatly but I do think maybe it is down a little bit in terms of usable dimensions compared to say, a Traverse or Atlas....probably as useful or more useful than an Acadia. -At the end of the day, apart from the kind of lively powertrain, the whole rest of the vehicle is MILQUETOAST.  Which, if you are a Subaru fan, should EXCITE you.  I mean, I think a Santa Fe may be more appealing emotionally.  I was expecting something to feed the soul here, there is nothing.  How they made it still feel lifeless while still miraculously making this vastly improved over other Subarus, must have required special skill. SUMMARY: At the end of the day, a perfectly innocuous but highly useful device that absolutely fulfills the Subaru brand character while at the same time borders on being something equal to the NPC version of an automobile.  And some will absolutely love that.  While superbly capable, I think I VASTLY prefer my GM's or even the VW Atlas.  Seek those out instead if you want ANY personality in your 3 row family hauler.        
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