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    • By cp-the-nerd




      2017 Cruze Hatchback Premier (1.4T/6A)
      Odo - 8051 mi

      We just took the Cruze on a 1,000 mile road trip (from Baltimore to Myrtle Beach and back) and this was my first extended, in-depth experience driving and living with the car for a week. I'll break down the review into sections if you want to skip around.

      Fuel Economy (EPA rated 28 city/37 highway):
      *Premium gas/mobil 1 oil used. Manual recommends regular gas, dexos approved synthetic oil.

      On our trip, we achieved 39.3 mpg leaving Baltimore and 41.0 mpg coming back, based on the gauge cluster. My wife reports that it's fairly accurate, if optimistic by an mpg. Hand calculation is pretty much out the window because we have to hit 3 different gas stations with wildly different pump shut-offs and then we burn half a tank around town for the week. Sorry, I'm just not that invested when I know we can trust the gauge cluster.

      We did not hypermile whatsoever, just used cruise control as much as possible. We passed slow traffic and drove aggressively when the situation called for it. No sitting behind slow traffic or drafting large trucks to fluff the numbers. We drove 7-10 over the speed limit, with most of the journey being 65 and 70 mph zones.

      - From what I can tell, 75 mph seems to be the 40 mpg cutoff. 
      - 60 to 70 mph is the sweet spot for crushing the EPA highway rating.
      - The gauge cluster's "Best 50 mile average mpg" indicated we set a new high score of 49 mpg.

      Engine/Transmission
      1.4T DI VVT is rated 153 hp/177 tq
      C&D test numbers for the premier hatchback auto: 0-60 in 7.7 sec, 1/4 mile in 16 @ 84 mph.

      In my experience, the direct-injected 1.4T provides more than adequate acceleration and feels peppy. The tires will peel out a bit when floored from a stop, and the engine offers strong torque for low-stress highway merging or passing even with 2 people and probably 150 lbs of luggage. I also drove with 4 adult occupants and acceleration remained adequate around town without revving hard. At full throttle, the engine starts getting out of breath above 5500 rpm.

      The transmission is more eco-tuned than I'd like, but the logic is a far cry from the mess of GM's first 6-speeds. Downshifting to accelerate takes a bit of prodding, but the downshift is drama free with a progressive surge of turbo torque that follows. After 6 hours on the road, we hit stop and go traffic briefly and under 25 mph the transmission tripped over itself a few times noticeably enough for my wife to point it out. Can't really be replicated on demand.

      Steering/Handling

      The electric power system in the Cruze has good heft to it, and the predictable turn-in seems to mask the electric numbness.

      It's easy to drive, which is a comment I found myself coming back to frequently in my thoughts behind the wheel. It's not sporty, but it nails easy driving and commuting. The tires are all-season performance firestone firehawk GTs in 225/45R17 size. They handle securely, but make a lot of road noise in an otherwise quiet car. Michelins or Continentals will make a world of difference.

      Brakes

      One of the weak points of the car is the brake pedal. It sits an inch further forward than the gas pedal, which is very awkward in use. There's also too much play between gentle slowing and heavy braking. It feels like you're pushing through the floor to stop quickly.

      Mechanically, the car has 4-wheel disk brakes, and they stop the car with authority. Pedal placement and feel is really the problem.

      Conclusion

      My wife and I really like the car. I keep coming back to the "easy to drive" sentiment, fun wasn't the goal here and I already have a car for that. It's very happy commuting and eating up highway miles at 40 mpg. I was comfortable in the seats for 8 hours of driving, which is very rare. The acceleration power straddles base versus optional engines of other cars like the Civic and Mazda 3 without sacrifice to maximum fuel economy, which is a good balance that hasn't left us wanting.

      With a set of good tires and perhaps a tune in the far future, this car will be hanging around well beyond the last payment.
    • By William Maley
      At the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai unveiled the Santa Cruz pickup concept. It was well received by the media and attendees to the show that Hyundai started making plans to possibly launch this truck, though the Korean home office had cold feet about this project. Much has changed since the debut of the Santa Cruz concept. Hyundai's sales have been falling as consumers are flocking to the likes of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. So far in 2017, Hyundai has seen sales fall 11 percent.
      Michael J. O’Brien, Hyundai's Vice President of Corporate and Product Planning in the U.S. tells Reuters that the company's top brass has finally given the green light for the pickup project. It is expected to be similar to the Santa Cruz concept and will likely be based on one of Hyundai's crossovers. A timeframe for when would see the truck was not given.
      The truck is part of broader plan to get Hyundai back on track in the U.S. According to sources, Hyundai is planning to launch a new Santa Fe Sport next year, followed by a replacement for the three-row Santa Fe in 2019, and ending with an all-new Tucson in 2020. 
      Source: Reuters

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    • By William Maley
      At the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai unveiled the Santa Cruz pickup concept. It was well received by the media and attendees to the show that Hyundai started making plans to possibly launch this truck, though the Korean home office had cold feet about this project. Much has changed since the debut of the Santa Cruz concept. Hyundai's sales have been falling as consumers are flocking to the likes of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. So far in 2017, Hyundai has seen sales fall 11 percent.
      Michael J. O’Brien, Hyundai's Vice President of Corporate and Product Planning in the U.S. tells Reuters that the company's top brass has finally given the green light for the pickup project. It is expected to be similar to the Santa Cruz concept and will likely be based on one of Hyundai's crossovers. A timeframe for when would see the truck was not given.
      The truck is part of broader plan to get Hyundai back on track in the U.S. According to sources, Hyundai is planning to launch a new Santa Fe Sport next year, followed by a replacement for the three-row Santa Fe in 2019, and ending with an all-new Tucson in 2020. 
      Source: Reuters
    • By cp-the-nerd
      My wife's Cobalt Sport is at 140,000 miles and it's starting to nickle and dime her. It's been efficient (29 mpg average mostly highway) with a bulletproof powertrain (2.4L/4A), but it's loud, it's ugly inside, and it's run its course. Besides, it's not fitting of a young woman with a doctorate in pharmacy making good money.

      Her requirements for her next car were:
      -small/maneuverable 
      -more efficient with longer range between fill-ups
      -peppy acceleration (Cobalt had a reasonable 173 hp)
      -good for highway commuting
      -decent tech features like good stereo, heated seats, remote start
      -reasonably nice inside and out
      -light color interior (tired of burning her ass on cheap black leather seats)

      She already liked the looks of the new Cruze, but she initially was only considering sedans. Thinking pragmatically, since I already drive a sedan, I suggested she consider a different body style for versatility sake. Memories of dowdy hatchbacks from growing up in the 90s and soccer mom CUVs made her recoil in fear, but I sent her pics of the Cruze hatch when it was unveiled and she made an instant 180 on her preconception.

      Given her highway commute, I sent her pics of the new Encore and said she had to give it a try. I knew the Buick's quiet tuning and interior would be really appealing in person. She wasn't in love with the tall styling, but admitted it was good looking for a crossover, and the compact size was nice.

      The Contenders:

      Chevy Cruze Hatchback Premier




      Buick Encore Essence Trim



    • By William Maley
      The Infiniti QX80 SUV is already a brazen SUV in terms of its looks. If the QX80 Monograph concept that debuted on the eve of the New York Auto Show is any indication, it seems that next-generation will become more brazen.
      With measurements of 16 feet long and 6.5 feet tall, the QX80 Monograph is an imposing vehicle. The girth is further accentuated by the gold paint and chrome accents. A set of 24-inch wheels feature a design that overlaps the tires, making them look larger than they really are.
      The front end is reminiscent of the QX50 Concept shown this year at Detroit with a tall and wide version of Infiniti's double-arch grille and a prominent bumper with deep chiseling. The slim headlights extend into thin light bars along the front fenders. Along the side is some sculpting for the doors and handles pop out whenever you want to get in. At the rear, thin taillights and extended exhaust outlets help underline the width of the concept.
      “The QX80 Monograph is an exploration of how we plan to take a step forward in the large SUV segment. This is an important initiative for INFINITI, as the QX80 is popular with buyers in a number of markets — particularly in North America and the Middle East,” said Francois Bancon, Infiniti Vice President of Global Product Strategy.
      Source: Infiniti
      Press Release is on Page 2


      INFINITI QX80 Monograph: a design study exploring 'upscale luxury' with commanding presence
      QX80 Monograph is the ultimate expression of futuristic luxury SUV design New design study signals INFINITI's intention to evolve its presence in the large SUV segment "Monograph" – a detailed study into a single area of expertise NEW YORK – INFINITI has unveiled the QX80 Monograph, a new design study exploring upscale luxury and signaling INFINITI's intention to further develop its standing in the large SUV segment.
      The QX80 Monograph combines luxury with a commanding presence, and demonstrates the high levels of space and utility for which the QX80 production car is renowned. It illustrates how the design of INFINITI's large SUV could evolve in future. Originating at INFINITI's design studio in Atsugi, Japan, and unveiled for the first time in New York, the QX80 Monograph is the ultimate expression of futuristic luxury SUV design.
      "The QX80 Monograph represents a detailed study into our expertise of exterior design. QX80 Monograph shows our concept of luxury and style on the road, and is an exploration into how we could enhance our future INFINITI offering in the luxury SUV segment."
      Roland Krueger, President, INFINITI
      The ultimate expression of futuristic luxury SUV design
      Hints at a forward-looking new design for INFINITI's large SUV Applies INFINITI's latest signature design cues on a new scale "The QX80 Monograph provides the opportunity to reimagine INFINITI's signature design DNA on a totally different scale. We sculpted our body pure, straight and horizontal, the muscularity both brute and sensual; part Rodin's Thinker, part Michelangelo. INFINITI 'carrozzeria' used svelte satin copper skin, set off by an ultra-powerful double arch grille with abstract structural mesh, distinctive and focused human eye signature headlamp, and iconic fender vent. Our designers continue to impress by finding new avenues for INFINITI artistry."
      Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design
      The QX80 Monograph hints at a forward-looking new design for INFINITI's flagship large SUV. The concept applies the brand's latest design language in a sculptural and artistic way, incorporating a mix of geometric and organic shapes to combine power with elegance, creating a commanding and sophisticated presence.
      The QX80 Monograph is over five meters long, almost two meters tall (including roof rails), and more than two meters wide (door mirrors folded). It appears longer thanks to defined character lines, in particular the strong, straight shoulder line that runs from the grille all the way to the rear of the car.
      The headlamps extend into thin lights that wrap around the front corners of the hood and run along the wings, for a unique light signature from the front and in profile. The light bars running along the front wings end in sculptured rear-view cameras at the leading edge of the two front doors.
      The face of the QX80 Monograph appears more powerful and purposeful, with large, functional fender vents delivering more air to the engine, flanking an aluminum chin guard. Enhancing its SUV credentials, an underbody cover runs the length of the floor, protecting the car's undersides and aiding aerodynamic performance.
      A thin strip of aluminum below the grille emphasizes the car's width and incorporates razor-sharp LED fog-lamps at each end for a modern, high-tech appearance. At the rear, defined horizontal lines highlight the car's wide and powerful aura. The appearance of the sharper, thinner tail-lamps are mirrored in the wide twin exhausts, which feature a gloss-black aerofoil in between to encourage smoother air flow off the back of the car.
      The doors open to reveal an integrated, brushed aluminum sill step to ease ingress and egress, while vents aft of the front and rear wheels provide a further distinctive metallic accent to the design. These vents could also perform a valuable aerodynamic function, evacuating turbulent and drag-inducing air from the wheel arches.
      The QX80 Monograph's design details express INFINITI's approach to high quality, high precision car manufacturing. Notably, the QX80 Monograph's blacked-out A-pillar sits flush with the side windows and windscreen, while the pop-out door handles are also flush with the bodywork. These elements give a cleaner appearance and help to minimize drag and wind noise.
      Unmistakable INFINITI signature design elements are taken from the company's latest concept and production vehicles. QX80 Monograph features the latest incarnation of INFINITI's hallmark "human-eye" headlamps, raised high up in the front of the car, as well as slimmer, sharper rear combination lamps. The unique piano key design of the head- and tail-lamps enables individual LED elements to light up independently, providing an artistic application of the latest adaptive lighting technology.
      The new interpretation of INFINITI's double-arch grille is taller and wider, giving it a powerful new face, while a new grille mesh suggests a highly sculptural and technical form. The new mesh adds greater visual depth with a series of individual sculptures that appear linked together in a lattice. The crescent-cut D-pillar has been reshaped, its sharper and higher trailing edge enhancing the horizontal aspect of the QX80 Monograph's upper body.
      The QX80 Monograph features a frosted-effect paint finish, following positive feedback from recent INFINITI concepts completed with a similar effect. The desaturated color and satin-like surface each suggest an unusual treatment of the metal beneath, providing a textured contrast to the gloss chrome and brushed aluminum elements around the concept.
      Straight-spoke, two-tone wheels – 24 inches in diameter – are finished in chromium black with contrasting brushed copper elements. The outer edges of the wheels overlap the tires, presenting the appearance of a 26-inch wheel and low profile tires to complement the scale of the QX80 Monograph.
      "Earlier INFINITI show cars have started conversations with our customers, which gives us the chance to talk about the brand's future direction. We have listened to our customers to discover their expectations for a large SUV from INFINITI in 2017 and beyond. The QX80 Monograph illustrates how INFINITI's 'powerful elegance' design language could be used to develop our luxury SUVs in future."
      Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design
      Evolving INFINITI's presence in the luxury SUV segment
      INFINITI QX80 Monograph: a modern interpretation of luxury SUV design "The QX80 Monograph is an exploration of how we plan to take a step forward in the large SUV segment. This is an important initiative for INFINITI, as the QX80 is popular with buyers in a number of markets – particularly in North America and the Middle East."
      Francois Bancon, Vice President, Global Product Strategy, INFINITI
      The INFINITI QX80 Monograph is a forward-looking interpretation of the QX80's exterior design, offering the size, utility and luxury appeal expected of cars in this segment.
      As the brand's largest SUV, the QX80 makes an important statement for INFINITI, combining supreme space and utility with luxury and sophistication. INFINITI's full-size SUV serves as a private jet for the road; it meets the uncompromising needs of a target buyer who wants for nothing.
      "Monograph" – a focused and detailed study
      QX80 Monograph represents a focused examination of a singular theme – exterior design in the luxury SUV segment INFINITI defines a "monograph" as a detailed study into a single area of expertise. In this context, the INFINITI QX80 Monograph is a detailed examination of how the exterior design of the QX80 may evolve in the future.
      The QX80 Monograph is the first model from the brand to bear the "Monograph" nomenclature. Monograph studies explore ways INFINITI can develop specific elements of its cars. 

      View full article
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