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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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      You may be forgiven for thinking that the Kona has just arrived in a UFO from Planet Nine due to its shape. But Hyundai knew they needed to make a splash in what is becoming a very competitive class. Designers took some influence from the Jeep Cherokee with a rounded front end and the front lights being separated into daytime lights and headlights. Another design trait is the slit that sits between the grille and hood cutline. Finishing off the look is body cladding running along the lower edge and a bright green paint color only available on the turbo engine models. It may seem like an odd mashup of ideas, but it works surprisingly well.
      A Conventional Interior
      Some will be disappointed that Hyundai didn’t continue the wacky design for the Kona’s interior. But having an interior that is user friendly will always pull ahead of interesting design. That isn’t to say Hyundai hasn’t added some special touches such as vent surrounds and seat stitching matching the exterior color. Hard plastics are used throughout, but they don’t feel hollow or cheap when you run your hand across.
      There is a fair amount of space for those sitting upfront. Comfort is ok for short trips, but I found myself wanting more thigh support on longer trips. In the back, there is a large amount of headroom for most passengers. Legroom is a different story as tall people will find their knees pressed against the front seats. Cargo space is another area where the Kona is lacking. With the rear seats up, the Kona’s cargo area measures 19.2 cubic feet - about 0.1 cubic feet more than the Toyota C-HR. Fold them down and space increases to 45.8. This trails the likes of the Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Kicks, and Honda HR-V.
      The One To Still Be Beaten (Infotainment-wise)
      The Kona Ultimate comes equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s infotainment system. This system has consistently been one of my favorites as Hyundai nails the basics - simple interface, blazing-fast performance, and having features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. My only complaint is that the design is starting to look dated when compared to other automakers and their updated infotainment. 
      Turbo Power!
      Two powertrains are available in the Kona. SE, SEL, and SEL Plus use the 2.0L four-cylinder offering 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic. Limited and Ultimate come with the turbocharged 1.6L four producing 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet. This is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Front or all-wheel drive is available for either engine.
      Zippy is the word to describe the performance of the turbo engine. The Kona easily accelerates away from a stop and has no issue with passing a slower vehicle. The dual-clutch transmission seems to stumble when leaving a stop, but does get itself together at higher speeds. I also found the transmission is slow to react when your floor the throttle, taking a few milliseconds to downshift.
      EPA fuel economy figures for the 1.6T with AWD are 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined. My average for the week landed around 26.7 mpg, mostly due to cold weather during the week I had the Kona.
      Woah, This Crossover Handles
      If you wanted a subcompact crossover that handled decently, your choices were either the Mazda CX-3 or Toyota C-HR. The Kona enters the ring as the third choice, and possibly the best. On the backroads, the Kona feels quite agile and has almost no body roll. If I was to nitpick, the steering doesn’t have as much feel as you’ll find in the CX-3. But it feels noticeably better than the C-HR. Ride quality is impressive with most bumps being isolated from passengers sitting inside. Not too much wind and road noise come inside.
      Possibly the Best Subcompact Crossover At the Moment
      Hyundai has a very compelling package in the Kona. There is an excellent performance from the turbocharged engine, impressive driving dynamics, easy to use infotainment system, and a long list of standard equipment. There are some drawbacks with the small cargo area and rear legroom topping the list. If you need the space, a Honda HR-V would be my first pick. The dual-clutch transmission still needs a bit more work to iron out the hesitation issues I experienced. 
      That first impression I had still stands and moves the Kona not only being the best in the class at the moment, but also onto a very rarefied list; a vehicle I would considering buying.
      How I Would Configure A Kona: The only reason I see buying the Ultimate is for the adaptive cruise control as most of the other safety equipment such as blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, and forward collision avoidance are available on other models. So if I wanted the Turbo engine, then I would step down to the Limited at $26,100. For those who think that is a tad expensive still should consider the SEL Plus as it comes very well equipped for $23,950. You do sacrifice the turbo engine for the 2.0L four-cylinder which is fine if your planning to drive mostly around town. Add an additional $1,400 for all-wheel drive.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Kona, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Kona
      Trim: Ultimate
      Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC 16-Valve GDI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/29/27
      Curb Weight: 3,276 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $29,150
      As Tested Price: $ 30,380 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
    • By William Maley
      For the past decade, Acura has felt lost at sea. Not sure of what it wanted to be as a brand. This was shown by mixed messaging in their lineup as they weren’t sure to focus on luxury, technology, or sport. This muddled mess of identities would cause a fair amount of issues. But in the past couple of years, Acura started to get its act together thanks in part to new leadership. The first fruits of their efforts came last year in the form of the third-generation RDX. 
      It has been over two years since I last drove an Acura, so when the opportunity for an RDX A-Spec landed on my desk, I took it with both hands. It was time to see what Acura has been up to and if they’re taking a step in the right direction. 
      You Want Presence? You Got It!
      The RDX is the first production model to feature Acura’s newest design language and its no shrinking violet. The front end draws your attention with a large trapezoidal grille paired with a massive Acura emblem. Sitting on either side is Acura’s Jewel-Eye LED headlights that add a distinctive touch. My A-Spec tester takes it further with distinctive front and rear bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black, and a special Apex Blue Pearl color that is only available on this trim. This crossover garnered a lot of looks during the week I had, something I hadn’t experience in quite some time.
      Cozy, Polarizing Interior
      The RDX’s interior captures the feeling of being in a sports car with a symmetrical dashboard design that cocoons the front passengers. A rotary drive-mode selector found in the center stack echos the design found in the NSX supercar. While it does emphasize the sporty nature of the vehicle, the position of the knob does make the climate controls a bit hard to reach. A-Spec models have some special touches such as red contrast stitching, a suede panel on the passenger side of the dashboard, and new trim for the instrument cluster that help it stand out. Material and build quality are quite close to some competitors from Germany.
      A set of sport seats with increased bolstering and power adjustments come standard on the A-Spec. I found them to be quite comfortable for any trip length and were able to hold me if I decided to be a bit enthusiastic. Back seat passengers will be plenty comfortable with an abundance of head and legroom. I would have like to see the back seat be able to slide forward and back to offer more comfort. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 29.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 when folded. There’s also a little storage nook under the cargo floor to stash valuables.
      Intuitive Infotainment?
      Acura’s previous infotainment system drew a lot of ire from people. The dual-screen layout was confusing as some functions were split between the two screens such as changing the audio input. Not helping was the two different control methods for this setup; touchscreen for the bottom portion and a controller for the top screen. Thankfully, Acura has introduced a new infotainment system for the RDX. A large 10.2-inch screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Seeing the touchpad for the first time sent chills down my spine as I thought back to my frustrating experiences with Lexus’ Touchpad Controller. But Acura says this controller is much easier and logical to use than competitors. Okay, challenge accepted.
      Acura’s touchpad controller is slightly different from Lexus’ setup as it is mapped to the screen. So if you want to access the navigation, you tap that part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. This removes the dragging of the finger across the touchpad to get it to the selection you want. This seems quite logical on paper, but I found to be somewhat frustrating. It took me a few days to mind-meld with the system as I was still used to dragging my finger across the touchpad to select various functions. This made simple tasks such as changing presets or moving around in Apple CarPlay very tough.
      There is also a smaller touchpad that controls a small section of the screen. This allows you to scroll through three menus - audio, navigation, and clock. This would prove to be the most frustrating aspect of this system as it didn’t always recognize whenever I scroll down on the touchpad to move to another screen.
      Thankfully, Acura has left a number of physical controls for the audio and climate systems. I’m glad that some luxury automakers aren’t falling into the trap.
      Powertrain Goes Back To Its Roots
      The RDX has always found itself with a different powertrain throughout its various generations. The first version used a turbo-four engine, while the second-generation moved to a V6. For the third-generation, Acura went back to the RDX’s roots and settled on another turbo-four engine. The 2.0L engine punches out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic and either front or my tester’s Super-Handling all-wheel drive system.
      The turbo-four is quite a potent engine with little turbo lag when leaving a stop and a seemingly endless amount of power for any situation. The ten-speed automatic is very smooth and quick when upshifting. But it does stumble somewhat when you need a quick shot of speed. 
      I did notice that the 2.0L turbo isn’t a quiet engine when traveling on the expressway, going above 2,000 rpm when traveling at 70 mph. This may explain the slightly disappointing 21.7 mpg average I got during the week. EPA fuel economy figures for the A-Spec SH-AWD are 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. The standard RDX models see a small bump in their EPA fuel economy figures.
      Capable Driver
      Acura is no stranger to building a crossover that is good to drive, the larger MDX crossover is a prime example. But the RDX A-Spec takes that a step further. This version gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup which negates a fair amount of body roll on a winding road. The steering firms up nicely when pushed through corners. When going through the daily grind, the RDX A-Spec will let in a few more bumps and road imperfections due to its suspension tuning. Road and wind noise are kept to very minimal levels.
      Welcome Back Acura
      The 2020 RDX shows that Acura is starting to figure out what it wants to be; a brand that offers something playful in the class. The RDX certainly has the qualities with a bold exterior, punchy turbo-four, and a surprising chassis that offers sporty handling and a mostly-comfortable ride. The slightly-confounding infotainment system and poor fuel economy figures do sour it a bit. But the RDX is a very compelling alternative to many compact luxury crossovers.
      It does give me hope that Acura is figuring out who it wants to be and excited to see what comes down the road such as the new TLX.
      How I Would Configure An RDX: For me, I would basically take the exact RDX tester seen here. That will set me back $47,195 after adding destination and $400.00 paint option. Everyone else should look at the Technology package that will get you most of the safety equipment that is part of Acurawatch, along with a 12-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, and parking sensors. It will not break the bank at $41,000 for FWD or $43,000 for AWD.
      Disclaimer: Acura Provided the RDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Acura
      Model: RDX
      Trim: A-Spec
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VTEC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,600 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: East Liberty, Ohio
      Base Price: $45,800
      As Tested Price: $47,195 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Exterior Color - $400.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      For the past decade, Acura has felt lost at sea. Not sure of what it wanted to be as a brand. This was shown by mixed messaging in their lineup as they weren’t sure to focus on luxury, technology, or sport. This muddled mess of identities would cause a fair amount of issues. But in the past couple of years, Acura started to get its act together thanks in part to new leadership. The first fruits of their efforts came last year in the form of the third-generation RDX. 
      It has been over two years since I last drove an Acura, so when the opportunity for an RDX A-Spec landed on my desk, I took it with both hands. It was time to see what Acura has been up to and if they’re taking a step in the right direction. 
      You Want Presence? You Got It!
      The RDX is the first production model to feature Acura’s newest design language and its no shrinking violet. The front end draws your attention with a large trapezoidal grille paired with a massive Acura emblem. Sitting on either side is Acura’s Jewel-Eye LED headlights that add a distinctive touch. My A-Spec tester takes it further with distinctive front and rear bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black, and a special Apex Blue Pearl color that is only available on this trim. This crossover garnered a lot of looks during the week I had, something I hadn’t experience in quite some time.
      Cozy, Polarizing Interior
      The RDX’s interior captures the feeling of being in a sports car with a symmetrical dashboard design that cocoons the front passengers. A rotary drive-mode selector found in the center stack echos the design found in the NSX supercar. While it does emphasize the sporty nature of the vehicle, the position of the knob does make the climate controls a bit hard to reach. A-Spec models have some special touches such as red contrast stitching, a suede panel on the passenger side of the dashboard, and new trim for the instrument cluster that help it stand out. Material and build quality are quite close to some competitors from Germany.
      A set of sport seats with increased bolstering and power adjustments come standard on the A-Spec. I found them to be quite comfortable for any trip length and were able to hold me if I decided to be a bit enthusiastic. Back seat passengers will be plenty comfortable with an abundance of head and legroom. I would have like to see the back seat be able to slide forward and back to offer more comfort. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 29.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 when folded. There’s also a little storage nook under the cargo floor to stash valuables.
      Intuitive Infotainment?
      Acura’s previous infotainment system drew a lot of ire from people. The dual-screen layout was confusing as some functions were split between the two screens such as changing the audio input. Not helping was the two different control methods for this setup; touchscreen for the bottom portion and a controller for the top screen. Thankfully, Acura has introduced a new infotainment system for the RDX. A large 10.2-inch screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Seeing the touchpad for the first time sent chills down my spine as I thought back to my frustrating experiences with Lexus’ Touchpad Controller. But Acura says this controller is much easier and logical to use than competitors. Okay, challenge accepted.
      Acura’s touchpad controller is slightly different from Lexus’ setup as it is mapped to the screen. So if you want to access the navigation, you tap that part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. This removes the dragging of the finger across the touchpad to get it to the selection you want. This seems quite logical on paper, but I found to be somewhat frustrating. It took me a few days to mind-meld with the system as I was still used to dragging my finger across the touchpad to select various functions. This made simple tasks such as changing presets or moving around in Apple CarPlay very tough.
      There is also a smaller touchpad that controls a small section of the screen. This allows you to scroll through three menus - audio, navigation, and clock. This would prove to be the most frustrating aspect of this system as it didn’t always recognize whenever I scroll down on the touchpad to move to another screen.
      Thankfully, Acura has left a number of physical controls for the audio and climate systems. I’m glad that some luxury automakers aren’t falling into the trap.
      Powertrain Goes Back To Its Roots
      The RDX has always found itself with a different powertrain throughout its various generations. The first version used a turbo-four engine, while the second-generation moved to a V6. For the third-generation, Acura went back to the RDX’s roots and settled on another turbo-four engine. The 2.0L engine punches out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic and either front or my tester’s Super-Handling all-wheel drive system.
      The turbo-four is quite a potent engine with little turbo lag when leaving a stop and a seemingly endless amount of power for any situation. The ten-speed automatic is very smooth and quick when upshifting. But it does stumble somewhat when you need a quick shot of speed. 
      I did notice that the 2.0L turbo isn’t a quiet engine when traveling on the expressway, going above 2,000 rpm when traveling at 70 mph. This may explain the slightly disappointing 21.7 mpg average I got during the week. EPA fuel economy figures for the A-Spec SH-AWD are 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. The standard RDX models see a small bump in their EPA fuel economy figures.
      Capable Driver
      Acura is no stranger to building a crossover that is good to drive, the larger MDX crossover is a prime example. But the RDX A-Spec takes that a step further. This version gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup which negates a fair amount of body roll on a winding road. The steering firms up nicely when pushed through corners. When going through the daily grind, the RDX A-Spec will let in a few more bumps and road imperfections due to its suspension tuning. Road and wind noise are kept to very minimal levels.
      Welcome Back Acura
      The 2020 RDX shows that Acura is starting to figure out what it wants to be; a brand that offers something playful in the class. The RDX certainly has the qualities with a bold exterior, punchy turbo-four, and a surprising chassis that offers sporty handling and a mostly-comfortable ride. The slightly-confounding infotainment system and poor fuel economy figures do sour it a bit. But the RDX is a very compelling alternative to many compact luxury crossovers.
      It does give me hope that Acura is figuring out who it wants to be and excited to see what comes down the road such as the new TLX.
      How I Would Configure An RDX: For me, I would basically take the exact RDX tester seen here. That will set me back $47,195 after adding destination and $400.00 paint option. Everyone else should look at the Technology package that will get you most of the safety equipment that is part of Acurawatch, along with a 12-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, and parking sensors. It will not break the bank at $41,000 for FWD or $43,000 for AWD.
      Disclaimer: Acura Provided the RDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Acura
      Model: RDX
      Trim: A-Spec
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VTEC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,600 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: East Liberty, Ohio
      Base Price: $45,800
      As Tested Price: $47,195 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Exterior Color - $400.00
    • By William Maley
      Rarely, do I get the chance to drive different versions of the same model. The fleet companies I work with scheduling vehicles do their best to serve up a smorgasbord of vehicles for me to experience. But from time to time, things happen where one vehicle in a run has to be swapped because it needs to go home or is required for an important event. It happened to be that the stars aligned in such a way that two Volvo 60 series models would be swapped for various vehicles in this go around. So I found myself with an S60 Momentum one week and a V60 Cross Country another week.
      A prime opportunity to experience two different takes on the same model.
      Design: Same and Different
      Both of the 60 models continue Volvo’s design of simple elegance. The smooth boxy shape is contrasted by the “Thor’s Hammer” lighting element in the headlights and a sloping beltline along the side. Compared to the larger S90, the S60 looks cleaner. This can be attributed to the rear where the license plate has been moved from the bumper to the trunk and a raised lip on the trunk lid. The optional 19-inch wheels fitted on my tester look somewhat out of place as it removes some of the understated look the sedan is trying to present.
      The V60 Cross Country certainly looks the part of an off-road wagon with a three-inch lift to the suspension, body cladding along the side, different grille color, and new wheel choices. Around back, Volvo takes some ideas from their crossovers with the tailgate being similar in design to XC40 and XC60, and the tall L-shaped headlights. Out of the two, I found myself liking the V60 Cross Country more than the S60.
      Inside Story
      The simple elegance philosophy continues inside for both the S60 and V60. The dash features a simplistic design with clean lines and minimal brightwork. Both vehicles feature some surprising interior touches such as wood trim and machined metal pieces. The S60 does falter slightly as some interior pieces are hard plastics with some texturing. This is due to the S60 being the base Momentum trim, higher trims swap this for soft-touch material.
      Both the S60 and V60 feature front seats that provide an excellent balance of support and comfort. Ten-way power adjustments allow any person to find a setting that fits them. I also like both models coming with the optional power thigh extender to make long drives more bearable. Rear seat space is a mixed bag as there is plenty of legroom in both models, but headroom is constrained in the S60 due to the sloping roofline. 
      In terms of cargo, the V60 Cross Country is the champ. Open the power liftgate and you’re greeted with 23.2 cubic feet. This can be expanded to 50.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The S60 trunk space is slightly disappointing, only offering 11.6 cubic feet. At least the rear seats can be folded down to increase load capacity.
      Non-Sensus-ical Infotainment
      All S60 and V60s come with a nine-inch screen featuring Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. A large screen oriented like a tablet to control most of the functions fits in line with the company’s minimalist approach. But using this system becomes quite infuriating. To start, Sensus takes over a minute to boot up whenever the vehicle is started. You’ll be able to tell since the system will not respond or respond slowly whenever an input is made during this. Thankfully, the system responds quickly once it fully boots up. This brings us to another problem with Sensus, its confounding menu system. Trying to do something simple such as increase fan speed or turn on/off a safety system means swiping into various screens and menus to find that button or slider.
      Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard and does make Sensus slightly easier to use. But I think some real improvements will come when the next version of Sensus comes out that will be based on Google’s Android platform. I’m also hoping for some more redundant controls such as a fan knob or temperature buttons.
      When Five equals Four
       
      Both models come equipped with the T5 engine. Before you start thinking that this means a turbocharged five-cylinder, T5 in current Volvos means a turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. Opting for the T5 on the S60 means you only get front-wheel drive - you’ll need to step to the twin-charged T6 or PHEV T8 for all-wheel drive. As for the Cross Country, it gets all-wheel drive as standard. 
      The T5 is a very potent engine as I found in my review of the XC40 last year and that still holds true for both 60 series models. No matter the situation such as needing to pass a slower truck or leave a stoplight, the turbo-four is eager to move the vehicle at an astonishing rate. The eight-speed automatic is smooth and delivers prompt shifts.
      On the Cross Country, Volvo has an Off-Road mode that turns on a low-speed function, hill descent control, and optimizes the steering to keep the vehicle moving through whatever muck. For most buyers, this mode will never be touched at all. But I found it to be very handy driving through unplowed roads.
      EPA fuel economy figures stand at 23 City/34 Highway/27 Combined for the S60 and 22/31/25 for the V60 Cross Country. I got an average of 24.7 for the S60 and 23.1 in the Cross Country on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
      A Smooth Ride Is Here, Provided You Have the Right Wheels
       
      As I mentioned earlier, the S60 I had came with a set of optional 19-inch wheels. This introduces a problem as the ride feels choppy. Over various bumps and imperfections, the S60 wasn’t able to smooth over a fair number of them. I assume going with the standard 18-inch wheels solves this issue somewhat, although some people report the ride is still rough on the smaller wheels. The V60 Cross Country also has a set of 19-inch wheels, but it is noticeably smoother over rough surfaces. Credit must be given to the higher ride height and softer suspension tuning. Wind and road noise are almost non-existent, making both perfect long-distance travelers.
      Handling is where the S60 redeems itself somewhat. The sedan shows little body and impressive grip when driven through a winding road. I do wish the steering had a little bit more weight, but that may be solved by moving to the R-Design or Polestar models. The Cross Country is a vehicle you want to push due to its softer suspension tuning.
      Two Good Models, But One Stands Tall
      The new 60 models are worthy successors to the models before it. An elegant design and mostly roomy interior pair nicely with the strong performance from the T5 engine. Sensus is the biggest stumbling block for both models, but a new version is around the corner which may solve some of the issues.
      Between the two, I found myself being more impressed with the V60 Cross Country. It has more character in its design compared to the S60 and the ride is much more comfortable. The almost $57,000 price-tag is a bit much, but with some smart optioning, you can make it much more reasonable. As for the S60, I did find it to be quite a decent steer. But the ride does need some work when on the larger wheels. Also, the Momentum can get quite expensive if you go overboard with options. My tester carried a nearly $46,000 price tag, three-grand more than the T5 versions of the R-Design and Inscription which come with some of the optional features as standard.
      The S60 and V60 Cross Country are excellent alternatives to the usual suspects, just be careful on the options.
      How I would configure them:
      There are two different ways I would go configuring an S60.
      Value: Start with the Momentum T5 at $36,050 and add Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel ($750) and Premium Package ($2,050) to end up with a nicely equipped S60 at $39,845. You will miss out on some items such as the 360’ camera system, pilot assist, and Harman Kardon audio system, but that pushes the price to over $44,000. Sport: An R-Design T6 fits the bill here and comes with all-wheel drive as standard for a price of $48,045. Decide which metallic paint you would like ($645) or stick with the basic black. Add on the Advanced Package and Heated Rear Seats and Steering Wheel to end up with a final price tag of $51,645 for black or $52,290 for any of the metallic colors. For the V60 Cross Country, it would be similar to my test vehicle with most of the option packages and adding the Harman Kardon Premium Sound system ($800) to bring the final price to $52,795.
      Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the S60 and V60; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: S60
      Trim: T5 Momentum
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/34/27
      Curb Weight: 3,657 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ridgeville, SC 
      Base Price: $36,050
      As Tested Price: $46,249 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Advanced Package - $2,500.00
      Premium Package - $2,050.00
      Multimedia Package - $1,850.00
      19" 5-Spoke Cut Wheels - $800.00
      Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
      Pebble Grey Metallic - $645.00
      Linear Lime Deco Inlay and Interior High Level Illumination - $600.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: V60
      Trim: Cross Country
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 4,202 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
      Base Price: $45,100
      As Tested Price: $56,990 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $4,000.00
      Cross Country Pro Package - $2,800.00
      Advanced Package - $2,500.00
      Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
      Birch Light Metallic - $645.00
      Park Assist Pilot - $200.00

      View full article
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    • While at the dealer this morning for some routine service, I strolled around the lot.  At the back, i spotted a couple rusty old minivans, a rusty Ram pickup w/ what looked like at outboard motor attached (or maybe it's a salt spreader for plowing), a Jaguar w/ a munched bumper, and a Smart cabriolet 'Passion' trim level...
    • At the dealer for some service today, noticed a bird nest in the ‘e’ on the sign. 
    • Latest News Afterthoughts: A Car In Troubled Times Driving To Provide Some Space To What Is Going On In the World ---> Read More 2021 Ford F-150 Features New Tech, Hybrid Power But You'll Need To Look Inside and Under the Skin To See Them ---> Read More Toyota Yaris Bids Farewell To U.S. After 2020 We hardly knew you Yaris and Yaris Hatchback ---> Read More 2021 Volkswagen Arteon Decides To Freshen Up Subtitle Changes Outside, Major Changes Inside  ---> Read More Spying: The Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Exists! Hyundai's Upcoming Pickup Begins To Come Into Focus ---> Read More 2021 Lexus IS Wants To Play Spot the Difference Yes, this is a new model. ---> Read More Rumorpile: 2021 Mazda3 Gets Some New Engine Options This isn't the Mazdspeed3 you're looking for ---> Read More Latest Reviews Review: 2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD The crossover from Planet Nine ---> Read More Review: 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec Acura starts to find itself again ---> Read More Review: 2020 Volvo S60 and V60 Cross Country A Tale of Two 60s ---> Read More Quick Drive: 2020 Toyota Camry XLE V6 Do V6 engines still have a place in midsize sedans? ---> Read More Quick Drive: 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE Does the sedan follow the groove laid down by the hatchback? ---> Read More Click here to view our privacy policy CheersandGears.com - Established 2001  P.O. Box 17974, Pittsburgh, PA 15235 You can manage your subscription settings at the following link https://www.cheersandgears.com/settings/?area=newsletters
    • Yeah it's usually not the wait staff's fault, I guess.
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