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Review: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Crew Cab


William Maley

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You ever hear someone say, “Eh it was good, but it wasn’t great.”? That really doesn’t tell you anything about the thing you were asking about. Consider asking a friend about a new restaurant and they say that phrase to you, it would drive you mad because your friend hasn’t given you a clear indication of where they stand. Well I’m about to commit this sin with the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71. I think the Colorado is a good truck, but not a great one. Now before you start screaming at your screen and writing angry comments, I will explain what I mean.

 

The Colorado has been on sale in a number of market for a few years now, but only arrived in North America last year. This was due to General Motors making a number of changes to get it sellable in the U.S. Market. For example, the exterior of the worldwide Colorado is very different to the one sold in the U.S. The Colorado’s front fascia sold in other markets looks likes it was taken off the Equinox, while the NA-Spec Colorado gets a front fascia thats more akin to the Silverado with longer split grilles and a set of different bumpers and lights. Otherwise, the rest of the NA-Spec truck is the same with a somewhat rounded cab shape and various bed sizes. My tester was equipped with smaller 5’2” box which means you’ll have to do a couple more loads. There is a s 6’2” box available if you want something bigger. Also, my Colorado boasted the Z71 package, which nets you Z71 decals on the rear fenders and a set of 17-inch alloy wheels.

 


2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Crew Cab 15


Another big change between the Colorado sold here and elsewhere is inside. The two models boast different dashboard layouts for their specific markets. In the case of the North American model, Chevrolet took some ideas from the Silverado and implemented them into the Colorado. Controls are within easy reach of the driver and passenger and the truck boasts a lot features that you would not expect on a midsize only a few years ago. My particular tester came equipped with heated seats, Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation, Automatic Climate Control, Trip Computer, and Bluetooth. Chevrolet MyLink stills has a fair amount of problems with slowness, responding when pressed, and causing my iPod to crash constantly.

 

Seats in the Z71 are a combination of leather and cloth. I found the front seats to provide good support, but I also found that getting the right position took quite awhile. Either I was too far away to reach the steering wheel and pedals comfortably, or my knees would be touching the underside of the steering column. Maybe some power adjustments or smoother manual adjustments would help out here. Back seat space is quite good when it comes to headroom. Legroom is a different story as it's small to nonexistent dependent on how tall the person sitting up front is. It should also be noted that the rear seats can either be flipped up to access a storage shelf or flipped down to provide added cargo space.

 

For thoughts on powertrain and handling, see the next page.


 

Power for the Colorado comes from either a 2.5L four-cylinder or a 3.6L DI V6. There is a Duramax four-cylinder diesel that will be arriving for the 2016 model year. For my tester, it boasted the 3.6 V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet. This comes paired up with a six-speed automatic and a four-wheel drive system. This engine is the weak link in the Colorado. Most truck engines whether they are a V6 or V8 have their torque right in the low-end of the rpm band. The Colorado V6’s torque is towards the higher end of the rpm, meaning you have to give the V6 some revs to get it moving. The six-speed automatic is smooth in around town and expressway driving. But I found it to be a bit slow when I pressed on the accelerator to make a pass. Fuel economy is rated at 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. I got an average of 18.2 MPG.

 


2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Crew Cab 12


On the ride front, the Colorado is quite good. Compared to the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, the Colorado delivers a comfortable ride with many bumps and harshness not making it inside the cabin. Also, wind and engine noise were mostly nonexistent. The Colorado also earned bonus points for how maneuverable it was thanks to the small size.

 

Aside from the engine, there is one other sticking point for the Colorado and that happens to price. My tester as shown here came with an as-tested price of $36,710. That’s quite a lot of money for a midsize truck, especially considering the average price of a full-size truck is only $4,000 more or so.

 

So lets go back to the beginning of this review where I said the the Colorado is a good truck, but not a great one. There are lot of things to like about Colorado; its distinctive looks, feature list, ride, and maneuverability. But there are a fair number of items that leave a black eye on the Colorado such as the V6, MyLink, and the price. It leaves the Colorado in this interesting middle ground where it's better than the competition, but not quite as good as it should be. For now, that is enough for GM as the Colorado is more modern than its contemporaries. But I wonder down the road, will this be enough?

 

Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Colorado, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

 

 

Year: 2015
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Colorado
Trim: Z71 4WD Crew Cab
Engine: 3.6L SIDI DOHC VVT V6
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 305 @ 6800
Torque @ RPM: 269 @ 4000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined -17/24/20
Curb Weight: 4,380 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Wentzville, MO
Base Price: $34,115
As Tested Price: $36,710 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)

 

Options:
Bose Audio System - $500.00
Chevrolet MyLink - $495.00
Spray-On Bedliner - $475.00
Trailering Equipment Package - $250.00


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I think your price evaluation actually supports the Colorado. Your $36k test truck was LOADED. It had 4WD, Z71 pkg, V6, audio upgrade, and whatever else you said. A Silverado Z71, 4WD, crewcab/shortbox starts at $43,500 with cloth seats and 4 inch touch screen. Sure there are discounts. Say you can get $5,000 off. You still have a more expensive truck with less standard equipment.

 

It's also going to get less real world fuel economy and be more difficult to park and maneuver as a daily driver.

 

You can get a V6 Colorado for much less if you can live without the Z71 package or 4WD. Depends on your needs and your wallet, but this truck even loaded with options still makes a serious case for itself.

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I would price out a fullsize with the same options and configuration of our Colorado.  i can GUARANTEE you are looking at a price premium of at leaast 10k more.  In my drive i had no problem with the powertrain and I drive a V8 04 Dakota everyday. 

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I would price out a fullsize with the same options and configuration of our Colorado.  i can GUARANTEE you are looking at a price premium of at leaast 10k more.  In my drive i had no problem with the powertrain and I drive a V8 04 Dakota everyday. 

 

That is a legitimate point. But I think you could argue with some of the deals you can get on full-size trucks from time to time, you're in the ball park of my as-tested Colorado price.

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"only $4,000 more"

 

I dont like arguments when they are presented in this fashion..." for only an x amount more"...

 

Financing @ 0% interest...keep in mind...0% interest...

At $4000..that is an extra $333.33/month for a year.

At $4000..that is an extra $66/month for 5 years....

 

Sure...that does not sound like much...an extra $66/month...for 5 years...but that is the equivalent an extra tank of gas for the month for the next 5 years.

 

That is a week's groceries of nothing but the good food...you know...the junk food...chips and chocolate bars and stuff for the kids...for the next...5 years.

 

That is a dinner and a movie for you and a date each month...for the next 5 years...

 

That is an oil change, rotation of tires and switching from winter to summer tires, and some other maintenance of the vehicle for the year...for the next 5 years...at which $66/month is roughly $800/year...which covers easily the regular maintenance of the vehicle for the year. Or a good chunk of it at least...

 

$4000...that is a plane ticket to a Caribbean Paradise Island plus hotel and food...for 2 weeks...for 2 people...

 

$4000...that is a nice emergency amount of money for when your washing machine and refrigerator bust on you....and if you have a wife and kids....you know that this scenario WILL happen...and the Fridge usually breaks 2 months AFTER the washing machine breaks...well...with that $4000 that was not spent on the Silverado...now buys you both appliances and there is no sweating about it...

 

So yeah...$4000 is a good chunk of change...where one could put that $4000 to good use if one does not need a bigger rig than a Colorado...so why buy the bigger Silverado and waste that $4000...instead of giving it to Mary Barra...why dont YOU use it...put that $4000 to good use...for YOUR own use...retirement fund or just to bet it all on black at the Roulette table...

Edited by oldshurst442
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The Z71 has cloth and leatherette upholstery.  There is no leather in a Colorado Z71.  I love my truck, an LT extended cab 4X4 w/3.6.

Edited by ocnblu
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Lol, not as good as it should be?? Should it emit gold from it's tail pipe and be able to be fueled by water or something?

 

How one could say this isn't a great truck is beyond me. This truck completely rewrites the book for this segment. It took a market that was stagnant and stale and breathed fresh life into it by offering modern powertrains, options, and technologies. It beats the Tacoma is literally EVERY single measurable aspect. Better ride, better handling, better brakes, better content, better power, better mileage, better noise levels, better refinement. All for the same price. How exactly can you take issue with THAT??

 

People need to stop comparing it to full-size trucks. Isn't competition isn't full-size trucks, it's other MIDSIZE trucks. It's like dissing a Corolla because a similarly equipped Camry is only 4K more. And dissing it because an Avalon is only 5K more. And dissing it because a GS is only 7K more. It's a stupid argument. This truck exists for a very specific reason, to fulfill a very specific role. And it does so spectacularly. If that, combined with the fact it completely up-ended this segment and reinvigorated it doesn't define a great vehicle, Idk what does.

 

Also, if you're going to argue price, let's be realistic about it. A similarly equipped Silverado is $12,000 more than a Colorado. Without incentives, you aren't coming anywhere NEAR a 4K price difference. Even when they are at their best, you're still likely to be a minimum of 5-6 grand off. That's not exactly chump change. When interest is figured in, that's $100+ more a month. Tell someone 100-120 dollars a month difference in payment isn't a big deal..... 

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Lol, not as good as it should be?? Should it emit gold from it's tail pipe and be able to be fueled by water or something?

 

How one could say this isn't a great truck is beyond me. This truck completely rewrites the book for this segment. It took a market that was stagnant and stale and breathed fresh life into it by offering modern powertrains, options, and technologies. It beats the Tacoma is literally EVERY single measurable aspect. Better ride, better handling, better brakes, better content, better power, better mileage, better noise levels, better refinement. All for the same price. How exactly can you take issue with THAT??

 

People need to stop comparing it to full-size trucks. Isn't competition isn't full-size trucks, it's other MIDSIZE trucks. It's like dissing a Corolla because a similarly equipped Camry is only 4K more. And dissing it because an Avalon is only 5K more. And dissing it because a GS is only 7K more. It's a stupid argument. This truck exists for a very specific reason, to fulfill a very specific role. And it does so spectacularly. If that, combined with the fact it completely up-ended this segment and reinvigorated it doesn't define a great vehicle, Idk what does.

 

Also, if you're going to argue price, let's be realistic about it. A similarly equipped Silverado is $12,000 more than a Colorado. Without incentives, you aren't coming anywhere NEAR a 4K price difference. Even when they are at their best, you're still likely to be a minimum of 5-6 grand off. That's not exactly chump change. When interest is figured in, that's $100+ more a month. Tell someone 100-120 dollars a month difference in payment isn't a big deal..... 

 

Very nicely stated, Frisky Dingo  :D

 

Four months in and I'm still loving my '15 Canyon Crew Cab SLT Long Bed 4WD.  For those of you that have been around a while, you know my ultimate truck is the GMC Sierra.  But as stated above, $100/$120 more per month was the deal killer for me.  So far the wife, who by the way is against pickup trucks for people like me who don't NEED a truck but WANT a truck, is very much in love with my Canyon too.  Have had adults ride in the back seat several times with no major complaints, and my kids (4 & 9 years old) love the Canyon.  I'm glad to have saved myself the $100+ more in payment over a Sierra, but that doesn't mean I still don't want one eventually  :lol:

Edited by GMTruckGuy74
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i wanted a new colorado badly, but when it came down to it the price as optioned was 37k. i worked with the dealer, as we buy nearly every vehicle we own from them, and we just couldnt get close enough to where i wanted to be. the dealer is great and his motto is i want you to be happy whether its a purchase from me or elsewhere. I ended up with a 2014 jeep unlimited. it fit my needs better and the price was more comfortable for me. granted i kept my 04 colorado because a jeep just isnt a truck no matter what, but ultimately, like stated above, the price was the deal breaker and i am sure its the same way for most. In fact at that dealership they have early model 1500's going for what they have the colorados listed for. we are talking 4x4 crew cabs here. they may be LT's but a full size v8 pickup for the same price is hard to turn down...

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I guess it's about as hard to turn down as a well-equipped 335i M Sport for a stripper 528i. Or a Ford Fusion 2.0T Titanium for a Taurus SE. Wranglers drive like $h! compared to a Tacoma even, let alone a Colorado.

 

I'll never understand people's obsession with getting a car that is larger at the expense of features and comfort just to avoid spending similar money on a 'lesser' model. 8 years in the car business, and it's one of the dumbest things I've ever seen, and it happens regularly.

Edited by Frisky Dingo
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I guess it's about as hard to turn down as a well-equipped 335i M Sport for a stripper 528i. Or a Ford Fusion 2.0T Titanium for a Taurus SE. Wranglers drive like $h! compared to a Tacoma even, let alone a Colorado.

 

I'll never understand people's obsession with getting a car that is larger at the expense of features and comfort just to avoid spending similar money on a 'lesser' model. 8 years in the car business, and it's one of the dumbest things I've ever seen, and it happens regularly.

Yup Frisky.

Sometimes we are on the same page...other times...well...lets just say what Boris the Animal always says.

 

Anyway+there+is+obviously+no+point+in+ar

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i test drove a new colorado, ive owned a previous gen 04 colorado since new, and between the 3 its the jeep for me. the steering and handling of the jeep and the new colorado are on par with each other to me, granted i didnt wail on the colorado like i have the jeep cause, you know, i didnt own it. comparing the 2014 unlimited to the 04 z71 colorado i have isnt even fair so i wont do that. im averaging 18-19 mpg's with the jeep which is close to the real world colorado mpg's.

 

as far as the other point i am very much willing to sacrifice creature comforts for a more capable truck. higher torque, higher towing capacity and more room for the same price or less at the expense of say heated seats, touch screen nav, and bluetooth yadda yadda? yeah, i wont shed a tear cause to me i buy trucks to "truck". less to go wrong or fix down the road. I guess im just one of the old hold outs that truck is for work. now if you are talking cars and performance like the bmw analogy, then no you are right thats dumb, but at the end of the day the monthly payment a budget allows is usually what will dictate a purchase.

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i test drove a new colorado, ive owned a previous gen 04 colorado since new, and between the 3 its the jeep for me. the steering and handling of the jeep and the new colorado are on par with each other to me, granted i didnt wail on the colorado like i have the jeep cause, you know, i didnt own it. comparing the 2014 unlimited to the 04 z71 colorado i have isnt even fair so i wont do that. im averaging 18-19 mpg's with the jeep which is close to the real world colorado mpg's.

 

as far as the other point i am very much willing to sacrifice creature comforts for a more capable truck. higher torque, higher towing capacity and more room for the same price or less at the expense of say heated seats, touch screen nav, and bluetooth yadda yadda? yeah, i wont shed a tear cause to me i buy trucks to "truck". less to go wrong or fix down the road. I guess im just one of the old hold outs that truck is for work. now if you are talking cars and performance like the bmw analogy, then no you are right thats dumb, but at the end of the day the monthly payment a budget allows is usually what will dictate a purchase.

 

Fair enough, but my point is that most people have no use for the things a Silverado does better than a Colorado. It had more torque, but it's no quicker. It pulls more, but most people don't tow with their trucks. It's larger, but most people don't need the extra room. I just don't get the appeal of having more of the things you'll never use, but less of the things you will. To each their own, I suppose.

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i test drove a new colorado, ive owned a previous gen 04 colorado since new, and between the 3 its the jeep for me. the steering and handling of the jeep and the new colorado are on par with each other to me, granted i didnt wail on the colorado like i have the jeep cause, you know, i didnt own it. comparing the 2014 unlimited to the 04 z71 colorado i have isnt even fair so i wont do that. im averaging 18-19 mpg's with the jeep which is close to the real world colorado mpg's.

 

as far as the other point i am very much willing to sacrifice creature comforts for a more capable truck. higher torque, higher towing capacity and more room for the same price or less at the expense of say heated seats, touch screen nav, and bluetooth yadda yadda? yeah, i wont shed a tear cause to me i buy trucks to "truck". less to go wrong or fix down the road. I guess im just one of the old hold outs that truck is for work. now if you are talking cars and performance like the bmw analogy, then no you are right thats dumb, but at the end of the day the monthly payment a budget allows is usually what will dictate a purchase.

 

Fair enough, but my point is that most people have no use for the things a Silverado does better than a Colorado. It had more torque, but it's no quicker. It pulls more, but most people don't tow with their trucks. It's larger, but most people don't need the extra room. I just don't get the appeal of having more of the things you'll never use, but less of the things you will. To each their own, I suppose.

 

 

you have a very valid point, i'll not argue that. it is dumb to forgo nicer amenities for the sake of having bigger if you arent going to take advantage of the trade off. i feel like a lot of times im one of the last bastions of seeing a truck for work instead of a second vehicle. i'd hate to pay premium money and tear something up. my ideal truck is still bench vinyl seat, vinyl floor, crew 4wd. heheh i guess thats why my '62 scout 80 and wrangler with power nothing and a 6sp appeal to me so much! trust me if i could have made it work within my budget that rain forest green metallic z71 crew cab colly would be hanging out in my garage for sure!  

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      Not much has changed outside since we last checked out the 4Runner in 2016. It still has a blocky and chunky look that helps it stand apart from other SUVs. This Venture model adds several goodies such as TRD wheels, blacked-out trim pieces, and a Yakima roof rack; perfect if you decide to go adventuring. Inside, Toyota has made a massive update to the infotainment system. A larger eight-inch touchscreen running an updated version of Toyota’s Entune system is standard. This change makes it so much easier to operate the system either parked on while on the move. It doesn’t hurt that this system also brings forth Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Aside from this, the interior hasn’t changed. There is plenty of space for those sitting in the front or back, and controls are well marked. Power comes from the old, but reliable 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The base SR5 can be equipped rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, while other trims only come with four-wheel drive. The 4Runner’s performance is adequate. Around town, the V6 can get up to speed quickly and smoothly. But it struggles when trying to get up to higher speeds. Adding an extra gear would allow for more flexibility in terms of performance. It would also help fuel economy as I saw 15.4 mpg for the week. EPA figures are 16 City/19 Highway/17 Combined. My average for the week landed at 15.4 mpg. The 4Runner’s roots of being an old-school SUV show up prominently when driving on pavement. It has noticeable body roll-around turns and the ride quality is rough. One area that I sadly did not get to test was the off-road capability. With such features as Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control, this helps make the 4Runner very capable off-road. The 4Runner should be considered by someone who wants to venture off-road. For those who are planning to commute or go on family trips while on pavement, Toyota has other models that should be considered first.
      Land Cruiser Heritage Edition
      The Heritage Edition adds some nice touches to the Land Cruiser’s exterior such as 18-inch BBS wheels with a bronze finish, black accents for the front grille, and vintage-style “Land Cruiser” badges on the rear pillars. The Heritage Edition does lose the entry steps found on the standard model, making it somewhat difficult to get in and out. The interior looks somewhat boring in terms of the design, but Toyota nails the materials. Wood trim, supple leather, and soft-touch materials make this a very pleasant place to be in.  Despite having one of the larger screens in Toyota’s utility lineup, the Land Cruiser’s infotainment system leaves a lot to be desired. Using an older version of Entune, it feels sluggish and the graphics look somewhat dull. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to be found here as well. Anyone sitting in the front or second-row will have no complaints about space or comfort. No third-row is available on the Heritage Edition which helps boost cargo space from 41.3 cubic feet (with the third-row folded) to 53.5. Under the hood is a 5.7L V8 engine producing 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and a full-time four-wheel drive system.  Performance from this engine is impressive considering the Land Cruiser’s curb weight of almost 6,000 lbs. It will move away from a stop much faster than you first think. The only place where the engine seems to run out of steam is on the highway. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of providing smooth and quick shifts. I do wish it wasn’t giddy with trying to shift into top gear quickly. Fuel economy isn’t great with EPA figures of 13 City/17 Highway/14 Combined. I only got 13 mpg during my week. I was surprised at how well the Land Cruiser drove on pavement. It felt stable and provided a ride that made even some of the roughest roads feel smooth. There is a fair amount of body roll when cornering, but that is to be expected considering the size and intended purpose of this vehicle. I am bummed that I didn’t get the chance to take the Land Cruiser off-road during my week. But from reading other reviews, very few vehicles can match what is on offer. How to sum up the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition? This is a vehicle that will not impress most due to the poor fuel economy and aging infotainment system. But for a small group who are wanting something that can take them anywhere and back, and do it in comfort, the Land Cruiser is the right vehicle. (Addendum: As I post this review a few months late, I have some news on the Land Cruiser. Earlier this month, Toyota unveiled the next-generation model with a new twin-turbo V6 replacing the V8. The outside doesn't look that much different from the current model, but the interior has underwent some major changes. It is unclear whether or not we'll see this model arrive in the U.S. The best chance we possibly have is next-generation LX. Stay tuned. -WM)
      Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the SUVs, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: 4Runner
      Trim: Venture
      Engine: 4.0L DOHC 24-Valve V6
      Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/19/17
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $44,285
      As Tested Price: $48,877 (Includes $1,120.00 Destination Charge and $730.00 Keep It Wild discount)
      Options:
      Kinentic Dynamic Suspension Suspension System (KDSS) - $1,750.00
      TRD Pro Exhaust - $799.00
      Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof - $730.00
      Running Boards - $345.00
      Cargo Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $269.00
      Door Edge Guard - $79.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Land Cruiser
      Trim: Heritage Edition
      Engine: 5.7L DOHC 32-Valve VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 381 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 401 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/17/14
      Curb Weight: 5,715 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $87,645
      As Tested Price: $89,239 (Includes $1,295.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Glass Breakage Sensor - $299.00
    • By William Maley
      There are some cars I will not turn down the opportunity to spend time with again. A prime example is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a car that brings a smile to my face. This past fall, I had a chance to spend some time in a soft-top version and to figure out whether I would have this or the RF.
      What has changed since our last visit with Miata? Only a few things such as the addition of Mazda's i-Activsense suite of active safety features (automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning) as standard; and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the Club and Grand Touring models. I find myself drawn more to the standard Miata than RF because it looks a bit neater. The hardtop makes the Miata look somewhat bulky.  The 17-inch wheels finished in dark silver help set the car off. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes using the MazdaConnect infotainment system a bit more bearable to use. I found myself using CarPlay more due to its easier interface layout and brighter graphics. Power comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G inline-four with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed manual, while an automatic is optional. As I noted in my review of the RF, the new 2.0 makes a dramatic difference to the Miata's performance. Leaving a stop, the engine freely revs and delivers a smooth rush of power. I think this version is slightly faster than the RF, mostly due to it not having the foldable hardtop. The six-speed manual is still one of the sweetest transmissions I have used. It feels smooth and precise when running through the gears. Handling is still one of the Miata's strong points as it eagerly changes direction and shows little body roll. Steering is sharp and provides the right amount of weight when driven hard. Ride quality is slightly better than the RF I drove last year due to the Grand Touring not having as stiff as a suspension setup. Yes, you will still feel several bumps and imperfections. But not at the rate as you'll experience in the Club. The Miata is one of those few cars I find myself still being impressed with every time I get the chance to drive one. It offers a level of driving fun that very few models can match, along with a price tag that won’t break the bank. If you were to ask which Miata I would choose, it would be the soft top. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mazda
      Model: MX-5 Miata
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29
      Curb Weight: 2,341 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $31,670
      As Tested Price: $32,790 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Grey Cloth Roof - $200.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      There are some cars I will not turn down the opportunity to spend time with again. A prime example is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a car that brings a smile to my face. This past fall, I had a chance to spend some time in a soft-top version and to figure out whether I would have this or the RF.
      What has changed since our last visit with Miata? Only a few things such as the addition of Mazda's i-Activsense suite of active safety features (automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning) as standard; and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the Club and Grand Touring models. I find myself drawn more to the standard Miata than RF because it looks a bit neater. The hardtop makes the Miata look somewhat bulky.  The 17-inch wheels finished in dark silver help set the car off. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes using the MazdaConnect infotainment system a bit more bearable to use. I found myself using CarPlay more due to its easier interface layout and brighter graphics. Power comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G inline-four with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed manual, while an automatic is optional. As I noted in my review of the RF, the new 2.0 makes a dramatic difference to the Miata's performance. Leaving a stop, the engine freely revs and delivers a smooth rush of power. I think this version is slightly faster than the RF, mostly due to it not having the foldable hardtop. The six-speed manual is still one of the sweetest transmissions I have used. It feels smooth and precise when running through the gears. Handling is still one of the Miata's strong points as it eagerly changes direction and shows little body roll. Steering is sharp and provides the right amount of weight when driven hard. Ride quality is slightly better than the RF I drove last year due to the Grand Touring not having as stiff as a suspension setup. Yes, you will still feel several bumps and imperfections. But not at the rate as you'll experience in the Club. The Miata is one of those few cars I find myself still being impressed with every time I get the chance to drive one. It offers a level of driving fun that very few models can match, along with a price tag that won’t break the bank. If you were to ask which Miata I would choose, it would be the soft top. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mazda
      Model: MX-5 Miata
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29
      Curb Weight: 2,341 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $31,670
      As Tested Price: $32,790 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Grey Cloth Roof - $200.00
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
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