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By William Maley
On the day I was getting the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a week-long test, meteorologists were calling for a massive snowstorm in Metro Detroit. Depending on where you lived, snowfall was expected to range from six inches to almost a foot. As I was signing the paperwork and getting the key, the snow was beginning to fall at a heavy rate. It would be an interesting week with one of oldest crossovers on sale.
The current Outlander Sport has been with us since 2011 and it still stands out from other crossovers in the class. This comes down to an aggressive design and Mitsubishi making a number of changes to the design in the past few years. For 2018, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander Sport with new bumpers and LED running lights. Up front, Mitsubishi went with a dual grille setup - a narrow one on top and a large mesh one for the bottom. 18-inch wheels come standard on all Outlander Sports and look quite sharp.
Mitsubishi hasn’t done much to the Outlander Sport’s interior since its launch and it clearly shows. The design is very uninspired with seemingly endless black plastic and almost no brightwork. Most materials used feel brittle and cheap, which is very disappointing when compared to other models such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Mitsubishi does redeem itself a little bit with the dash being covered in soft-touch material. Another plus point to the Outlander Sport’s interior is the control layout. The buttons and knobs are laid out in a logical fashion and are within easy reach.
Getting comfortable in the front seats is not hard thanks to a decent amount of manual adjustments on offer, along with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel for the driver. Slightly worrying was my test Outlander Sport having a driver’s seat that slightly rocked whenever the vehicle accelerated and stopped. I know this issue isn’t isolated to my test vehicle. Speaking to some who have driven different 2018 Outlander Sports, they have reported the same issue. Mitsubishi really needs to figure out this issue and get a fix out ASAP.
The rear seat offers a decent amount of headroom, but there is barely enough legroom for taller passengers. Cargo space is quite good with 21.7 cubic feet of space behind the front seats and 49.5 cubic feet when folded.
For 2018, Mitsubishi has installed a new 7-inch infotainment system on all Outlander Sports. Higher trims like our test SEL add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Compared to Mitsubishi’s previous infotainment systems, the one in the Outlander Sport is excellent. The system is very easy to use with a simple and vibrant interface. Performance is quite good as the system quickly responds to a user’s input.
Mitsubishi offers two engines for the Outlander Sport. ES and LE models use a 2.0L four-cylinder, while the SE and SEL models feature a larger 2.4L four-cylinder. Our test vehicle had the latter engine which produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front- or Mitsubishi's All-Wheel Control (AWC) system. Out of the two engines, the 2.4 is the one to get as is feels noticeably quicker when leaving a stop. But it will run out of steam at higher speeds, making passing or getting onto the freeway a bit difficult. The CVT is somewhat slow to respond whenever you step on the accelerator.
The AWC system redeems the Outlander Sport to a point. AWC offers the driver three different modes - 2WD, 4WD Auto, and 4WD Lock. The difference between the two 4WD settings is Auto only sends power to rear wheels if it detects slip where Lock sends power to all wheels. Putting the system into 4WD Lock, the Outlander Sport easily went through roads with close to a foot of snow on the ground with no issue. The system was able to quickly shift power to the wheels with grip to help keep the car moving. I believe if you fit you a set of snow tires to the Sport, you will have a very good winter vehicle.
Fuel economy figures of 22 City/27 Highway/24 Combined put the Outlander Sport towards the bottom of the class. My average for the week landed around 23.2 mpg.
For a subcompact crossover, the Outlander Sport’s ride is pleasant. It glides over bumps and other imperfections. Handling is a mixed affair. Drive the Outlander Sport normally around a corner and it feels composed. Begin to push it and there is a fair amount of body roll. Steering has a very rubbery feel and there is a noticeable dead zone when the wheel is centered.
This might be the first review I have done where I have two verdicts on the Outlander Sport. As a whole, the model really needs to be replaced. In many areas, the Outlander Sport significantly trails competitors. It doesn’t help that the as-tested price was $29,310 which makes the Sport a bit of poor value. I know dealers put a lot of cash on the hoods of Outlander Sports to get them moving, which is likely one reason why it is Mitsubishi’s best selling model. But I would rather put my money into a Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, the new Hyundai Kona, and others since they are newer and offer so much more.
But I will admit that the Outlander Sport came at a very opportune time. The snowstorm really brought up some of the Outlander Sport’s best qualities, primarily the AWC system and punchy four-cylinder around town. I remember an auto writer once saying that some of the most memorable vehicles are those that are not the best, but can show some bright spots in a difficult situation. The Outlander Sport for me is one of those vehicles.
Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: Outlander Sport
Engine: 2.4L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 167 @ 4,100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/28/25
Curb Weight: N/A
Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
Base Price: $25,895
As Tested Price: $29,310 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
Touring Package - $2,000.00
Diamond White Pearl - $200.00
Tonneau Cover - $150.00
Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio - $125.00
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By William Maley
I couldn’t believe my eyes as to what stood before me. In the driveway stood an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I had to touch it to see if I was imagining it. Okay, I am being a bit hyperbolic, but considering the long time it took Alfa Romeo to get its affairs in some semblance of order, it is amazing that the Giulia is on sale.
Still, I had a bit of trepidation with spending a week in the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The past year has seen a number of outlets reporting various gremlins pop up on their test vehicles. Would my particular one be spared? If so, what does the Giulia Quadrifoglio offer over the competition?
Alfa Romeo is known for styling vehicles that stand out and Giulia Quadrifoglio is no exception. Up front resides the traditional Alfa triangle grille and large openings in the bumper with mesh inserts. The carbon fiber hood features gentle sculpting and a set of air vents in the channels. The side profile features more of the gentle sculpting on the doors, along with carbon fiber side skirts and 19-inch wheels finished in dark gray. The rear is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio makes its intentions known to the world with a carbon fiber lip spoiler and massive rear diffuser with large exhaust pipes sitting on either end. Finishing off the vehicle are cloverleaf badges on the front fenders and a dark blue finish.
At first glance, the Giulia’s interior looks elegant. The dash has a flowing wave shape that is higher on the driver’s side to make space for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. Material choices such soft-touch plastics, carbon fiber accent trim, and a small-rimmed steering wheel with Alcantara and carbon fiber help set the Quadrifoglio apart from other Giulia models. But Alfa Romeo earns some red marks as the center console is littered with cheap plastics - the controller for the infotainment system and gear lever being the key offenders.
Our test Giulia Quadrifoglio came with the standard leather and Alcantara sport seats. A set of carbon fiber Sparco racing seats are available as an option, but it is one we would recommend trying out first. Sitting in a Quadrifoglio with the optional seats, I found that I could not fully settle into them due to my wide shoulder blades. The standard seats offer increased bolstering to hold you and a passenger when the road gets twisty. I would like to see a little bit more cushioning in the seats as it becomes somewhat uncomfortable the longer you sit in them. The back seat in Giulia is average for the class, offering a decent amount of head and legroom for those under six-feet. Getting in and out of the back seat is not easy due to a narrow opening.
All Giulia Quadrifoglios come equipped with an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Controlling this is a rotary knob in the center console, along with using voice commands. The system itself is very frustrating for a number of reasons. For one, the system is slow when put against competitors. It takes a few moments to switch between various menus. Also, certain functions don’t work as you might expect. For example, turning the knob in the navigation system doesn’t zoom in or out. You have to scroll the navigation menu to find the Zoom command to allow this function. Other issues I experienced during my week-long test of the Giulia included,:
The system wouldn’t play my iPod if I had it paused for more than minute or if I switched to another audio source and then back to the iPod. Connecting my iPhone 7 Plus to the system via Bluetooth took on average about 45 seconds. I had the system crash on me twice during the week I had the Giulia. One of those crashes required me to turn off the vehicle and start it back up to get the system working again. Alfa Romeo needs to go back to the garage and do some serious work with this infotainment system.
Underneath the carbon fiber hood lies the beating heart of the Quadrifoglio, a 2.9L twin-turbo V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Drive is sent to the rear-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Quadrifoglio models have four drive modes - Race, Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency and each one alters the engine’s behavior. Advanced Efficiency and Natural are about the same with the throttle being a bit more laid back. But that isn’t to say the Giulia isn’t quick in either mode. It has more than enough oomph to leave other cars in the dust when leaving a stop light or merging. But the engine really comes alive when in Dynamic or Race. The throttle sharpens up and the exhaust opens up to deliver a tantalizing soundtrack. Mash the pedal and hold on because this engine will throw you back. The engine sings at mid and high-rpms with speed coming on at an astonishing rate. Alfa says the Quadrifoglio can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and I can say they are right on the money.
The automatic transmission is quite impressive. In Normal and Advanced Efficiency, the transmission delivers smooth gear changes. Turn to Dynamic or Race and the gear changes are snappy and fast. Oddly, the automatic transmission exhibits some hesitation when leaving a stop. This is a problem more attune with dual-clutch transmissions.
EPA fuel economy figures for the Giulia Quadrifoglio are 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed at 19.7 mpg.
Handling is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio truly shines. Enter into a corner and Giulia hunkers down with little body roll and gives you the confidence to push a little bit further. Steering is another highlight, offering quick response and decent weight. The only complaint I have with the steering is that I wished for some road feel.
There is a trade-off to Giulia’s handling and that is a very stiff ride. Even with the vehicle set in Advanced Efficiency or Natural mode, the suspension will transmit every road imperfection to your backside. Wind and road noise isolation is about average for the class.
It is time to address the elephant in the room and that is Alfa Romeo’s reliability record. Since the Giulia went on sale last year, numerous outlets have reported various issues from a sunroof jamming to a vehicle going into a limp mode after half a lap on a track. The only real issues I experienced during my week dealt with infotainment system which made me breathe a sigh of relief. Still, the dark cloud of reliability hung over the Giulia and I never felt fully comfortable that some show-stopping issue would happen. This is something Alfa Romeo needs to remedy ASAP.
Now we come to end of the Giulia Quadrifoglio review and I am quite mixed. Considering the overall package, the Quadrifoglio is not for everyone. No, it isn’t just because of reliability. This vehicle is a pure sports car in a sedan wrapper. It will put a big smile on your face every time you get on the throttle or execute that perfect turn around a corner. But it will not coddle you or your passengers during the daily drive. Add in the material quality issues and concerns about reliability, and you have a mixed bag.
To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.
Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Make: Alfa Romeo
Engine: 2.9L 24-Valve DOHC Twin-Turbo V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 505 @ 6,500
Torque @ RPM: 443 @ 2,500 - 5,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20
Curb Weight: N/A
Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy
Base Price: $72,000
As Tested Price: $76,995 (Includes $1,595.00 Destination Charge)
Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00
Harman Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00
Montecarlo Blue Metallic Exterior Paint - $600.00
Quadrifoglio Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel - $400.00
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By William Maley
Nissan has played it safe for the past couple of generations with the Altima to some success. But with the sales decline in midsize sedans and automakers like Honda and Toyota taking bigger risks with their sedans, Nissan knew that it had to make some ambitious changes with the next Altima. The end result made its debut today at the New York Auto Show.
Nissan didn't go full-on drastic in terms of the exterior like the new Accord or Camry, but the 2019 Altima is very different from the model it replaces. A fair amount of the design - especially in the side profile and lighting come from the 2017 Vmotion 2.0 concept. The front end takes ideas from the larger Maxima - the flowing hood and aggressive bumper - and adds a huge version of Nissan's V-Motion grille. Most dimensions have increased - 1 inch longer, 1.9-inch longer wheelbase, and 0.9-inch wider.
The interior isn't as dramatic as the exterior. Nissan went for a simple and clean look. But there are some key changes. The dashboard has been lowered to help make the interior feel more spacious. An 8-inch touchscreen featuring the latest version of the NissanConnect infotainment system is standard on all Altimas. This includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
For power, the base engine is a revised 2.5L four-cylinder pumping out 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 2.0L VC-Turbo engine producing 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. This is the first Nissan model to get this unique engine that automatically adjusts compression ratio to deliver more power or fuel economy. Both engines come paired with a CVT. Nissan for the first time will offer AWD on the Altima, but only on the 2.5.
Nissan's ProPilot Assist technology will come standard on the SV, SL, and Platinum trims. ProPilot is a semi-autonomous system that keeps you a set distance away from the vehicle in front of you and keeps the vehicle centered in the lane. It will also bring the car to a full stop in heavy traffic situations and start back up when traffic begins to move.
No mention of pricing, but the 2019 Altima arrives at Nissan dealers this fall.
Press Release is on Page 2
All-new 2019 Nissan Altima – with Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology, new powertrains and Intelligent All-Wheel Drive – makes world debut at New York International Auto Show
The 2019 Altima goes on sale in the U.S. this fall NEW YORK – Nissan today revealed the all-new Altima, bringing excitement back to the mid-size sedan segment with expressive styling, an uplifting interior, two new powerplants, the first available Intelligent All-Wheel Drive in a Nissan sedan in the U.S. and advanced Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, including ProPILOT Assist. The 2019 Altima goes on sale in the U.S. in the fall, followed by other global markets at later dates.
The sixth generation of Nissan's best-selling sedan made its world debut at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, alongside the first North American showing of Nissan's Formula E racing car.
"This new Altima builds on 25 years and more than 5.6 million Altima sales to date – but to us, this is just a starting point," said Denis Le Vot, senior vice president, chairman of management committee, Nissan North America, Inc. "That's why we decided to shake up the midsize segment in terms of design, driving enjoyment and technologies that are advanced and affordable."
The new Altima follows the 2018 LEAF in embodying the vision of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, making vehicles more desirable by re-defining how they are driven, powered and integrated into society. A key component is ProPILOT Assist, a single-lane "hands-on" driving assistance technology that eases driver workload by reducing the amount of driver acceleration, steering and braking input under certain driving conditions, such as single-lane highway driving. ProPILOT Assist is standard on the 2019 Altima SV, SL and Platinum grades.
Also new for 2019 is Rear Automatic Braking, which helps the driver detect stationary objects when backing up, and if necessary applies the brakes to help avoid a collision. The addition of Rear Automatic Braking to Nissan Safety Shield creates Safety Shield 360, which provides front, side and rear safety monitoring and intervention technologies – including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), radar-based Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and High Beam Assist (HBA).
Two new engines are introduced on the all-new Altima. Replacing the previous-generation Altima's 3.5-liter V6 engine is the company's world's first production-ready variable compression turbo inline 4-cylinder. The engine delivers near V6-level performance with 4-cylinder fuel economy. Standard on all 2019 Altima grade levels is a new 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder direct-injection engine. More than just the gains in horsepower and torque, the new engine offers improvements in noise, vibration and harshness, along with enhanced fuel economy and cleaner emissions.
The 2019 Altima also offers available Intelligent All-Wheel Drive for the first time ever on an Altima. The AWD system is available on all trim levels equipped with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine.
"We saw that the lack of available all-wheel drive has been a key factor in pushing U.S. buyers who prefer sedans to compact SUVs," said Le Vot. "Of the top three selling midsize sedans in the U.S., only Altima will offer all-wheel drive. We expect this to be a key sales driver, especially for customers in the northern part of the country."
The all-new Altima's expressive design was inspired by the award-winning Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept. The new Altima is lower, longer and wider than the previous generation with a highly balanced, aggressive stance that includes available 19-inch wheels and tires. Inside, the all-new premium interior features a wide "gliding wing" instrument panel – which accentuates the exterior's low cowl and hood, helping create an open, airy environment.
Key interior comfort and convenience features range from seats with added bolstering for improved holding and support, to standard NissanConnectSM featuring Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ and an 8-inch multi-touch color display.
The 2019 Altima will be offered in a range of trim levels – S, SR, SV, SL and Platinum. All five come equipped with the standard 2.5-liter engine and are available with Intelligent All-Wheel Drive. In addition, the Altima SR and Platinum grades are available with the advanced 2.0-liter VC-Turbo engine (front-wheel drive only). An exclusive launch edition based on the Platinum VC-Turbo will be offered in limited quantities and open for reservations in early summer 2018 (U.S. market only).
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By William Maley
The Hyundai Elantra GT has always stood apart from its sedan counterpart due to its European roots. This is most apparent in terms of handling where the hatchback felt slightly sharper than the sedan. Hyundai’s U.S. office has once again called on the European office to source a new Elantra GT hatchback. The model known in Europe as the i30 has been said to be a viable alternative to the Volkswagen Golf by automotive writers. Does that hold true in terms of the U.S.?
Hyundai’s designers took a page out of the Golf’s playbook when it comes to the exterior. It may not have the excitement or sharp design traits of other compacts, but the Elantra GT’s shape is very classy. The front end features Hyundai’s new hexagonal grille shape and deep cuts in the bumper for the fog lights. The side profile features a large area of glass to help the interior feel airier and a set of 18-inch wheels with black center caps. The rear has a crease running along the rear tailgate and a dual exhaust system.
My first impression of the Elantra GT’s interior was, “this is more interesting to look at than the Elantra sedan”. The dash design is clean with sculpting along the passenger side to provide some visual differentiation. Sport models feature red accent trim around the vents and stitching on the seats to give off the impression of sportiness. Material quality is average for the class with an equal mix of hard and soft-touch materials. Passengers sitting up front will find controls to be in easy reach and the seats offering adequate comfort. Taller passengers sitting in the back will be complaining about the minuscule amount of legroom. With the driver’s seat set in my position, I found my knees were almost touching the back of it. The Elantra GT’s cargo space is towards the top of the class with 24.9 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 55.1 cubic feet when folded.
All Elantra GT’s get Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system housed either in a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen mounted on top of the dash. Our tester came with the larger 8-inch screen with navigation. Hyundai’s BlueLink system is one our favorite infotainment system with an easy-to-understand user interface, physical shortcut buttons around the screen, and snappy performance. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard and bring more capability to BlueLink.
Under the hood of the Elantra GT Sport is a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder producing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is the same engine you’ll find in the Elantra Sport and Kia Soul !. A six-speed manual is standard, but the model seen here had the optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The first couple of days driving the Elantra GT Sport was somewhat of a disappointment. The throttle felt very sluggish, not letting the turbo engine provide a rush of power. Not helping was the transmission which was focused more on upshifting quickly, along with stumbling with gear changes at low speeds. But I soon figured out that putting the vehicle into Sport mode makes the vehicle much more lively. The throttle loosens up and allows the engine to exploit its full potential. The transmission seems to hold on to gears slightly longer to allow for improved performance. My hunch is that the standard drive mode is actually an eco mode to maximize fuel economy. I would like to see Hyundai add a separate eco mode and have the standard driving mode be a balance of eco and sport.
In terms of fuel economy, the Elantra GT Sport is rated at 26 City/32 Highway/28 Combined with the DCT. My average for the week landed around 27 mpg with a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving.
The Elantra GT Sport’s handling is Hyundai’s best effort to date. Sport models swap the torsion beam rear suspension found on the standard GT for a sport-tuned multilink setup. This swap makes the Elantra GT quite nimble in the corners with little body roll and feels poised. Steering provides decent weight when turning. The sporty setup does mean the Elantra GT Sport has a compliant ride with more road imperfections being transmitted. Not much wind noise comes inside, but a fair amount of road noise does.
The Elantra GT Sport is so close to being a viable alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. It offers a clean exterior look, well-equipped interior, spacious cargo area, and impressive handling characteristics. But the programming of the standard drive mode dents the appeal of the Sport, making it feel less ‘sporty’. Hopefully, Hyundai has some plans to tweak the drive mode programming and dual-clutch transmission.
Hyundai has an agreeable compact hatchback in the form of the Elantra GT Sport. But we think given a little bit more time and work, it could be one of the best.
Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra GT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: Elantra GT
Trim: Sport A/T
Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT GDI Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed dual-Clutch
Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 ~ 4,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/32/28
Curb Weight: 3,155 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
Base Price: $24,350
As Tested Price: $29,210 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
Sport Tech Package - $3,850.00
Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
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