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Being the car guy in the family is sometimes a difficult thing. Case in point is when someone asks for your help with buying a car. About a year or two ago, my dad asked me for some help with buying a new midsize sedan. He had two contenders in mind to replace his 2006 Ford Fusion - the new Fusion or the Nissan Altima. At the time, I had just reviewed the Altima and thought the four-cylinder powertrain needed a bit more refinement. The Fusion had its own set problems as the 1.6L EcoBoost four-cylinder - the engine my dad was considering - was having a number of reliability issues. There was also MyFord Touch which had a number of problems. At the time, I was leaning towards the Fusion when my dad threw a curveball; what about the last-generation Fusion? After giving it a few moments of thought, I thought it would be the best choice at the time.

 

So fast forward to now when a 2015 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD came in for a week’s evaluation and I found myself wondering if my dad had made the right call with going with an older Fusion. Well, let’s find out.

 


2015 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD 1


The Fusion has a number of items to help make it stand out in the crowded midsize class. The biggest one is the exterior design. The Fusion’s shape follows the trend of four-door coupes with a low roofline and a short rear end. The front end is very much like an Aston Martin with a low-slung front end and a trapezoidal front end. The overall look gives the Fusion an air of looking more expensive than it really is. However, I think the Fusion design is just trying a little bit too hard to stand out. Also, I think the Fusion must have mugged an Aston Martin to use its front clip.

 

As for the Fusion’s interior, I wished Ford had done more in terms of design. Step inside and you find yourself surrounded by materials in black and sliver. While the company does deserve some credit for using high-quality materials throughout the interior, I wished Ford’s designers had taken some of the enthusiasm from the exterior and placed it inside.

 


2015 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD 14


Front seat passengers get power-adjustments, along with heat and cooling. I found the seats to provide excellent support and comfort. Rear seat passengers will find legroom is decent. Headroom is tight thanks to the sloping roof. When I put my 5’8” frame back here, I found my head to be touching the roof.

 

My tester came equipped with the MyFord Touch infotainment system, This system has been criticized for a number of issues including non-responsive capacitive buttons, laggy performance, and a questionable voice recognition system. Ford has been ironing a number of problems and the good news is that some of the problems are gone. The capacitive buttons actually respond when pressed and a good amount of the lag is gone. But there is still a fair amount lag in the system. An example of this comes when going to my presets on the radio and it taking a few seconds to respond. Also, I found the voice recognition system not recognizing my voice. I tried using the commands the system provides, but it couldn’t understand anything I said to it. Just for a laugh, I swore at the system and the response it gave back was something to effect of ‘Do you need help?’

 

For Powertrain and Handling Impressions, See Page 2


 

Being the top-of-the-line Fusion, it means that it gets the turbocharged 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic, and the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. My tester had the latter of the two drivetrains. Since this was a turbocharged four-cylinder, I was expecting it to be like other ones I have driven where power would come on instantaneously before running out of steam midway through the rpm band. In the case of the 2.0L EcoBoost, power doesn’t come on instantly. Instead it feels more like a V6, gradually building up power as the revs climb. It should also be noted the 2.0L EcoBoost is quite refined with barely any noise coming from the hood. The six-speed automatic is quick and responsive for any situation you throw at it.

 


2015 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD 9


Fuel economy is the biggest drawback with the 2.0 EcoBoost. Equipped with all-wheel drive, the 2.0 EcoBoost is rated by the EPA at 22 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. My average for the week was around 24 MPG. Although it should be noted that I was seeing around 20 to 21 when driving in stop and go city traffic during my first few days of testing.

 

Driving around in the Fusion presented a mostly comfortable and quiet ride. I say mostly due to my tester being fitted with optional 19-inch wheels which do let in a few more bumps and imperfections. On the freeway, there is barely the hint of road and wind noise. Out on a twisty road, the Fusion handles quite well. The car barely has any body lean and is very nimble. Steering is quite hefty, but more exuberant drivers will wish for a bit more feel.

 

So at the end my week, I felt a bit mixed about the Fusion. On one hand, Ford has done a lot to make the Fusion stand out with an upscale look, impressive powertrain, and a nice balance between comfort and sport. But there are some big downsides to the Fusion as well: MyFordTouch still has a fair amount of issues, the rear seat is kind of tight, and the optional AWD results in some poor MPGs. The biggest sticking point though is the price. A base Fusion Titanium starts at $30,390. With AWD and options equipped on my tester, it rose to $38,820. That price puts in the range of base and decently equipped compact luxury sedans, Drop AWD and the price goes to around $36,000. Still that's a lot of money for a midsize sedan, especially when many competitors offer a lot of the same features for less money.

 

So when I think back about my dad and whether or not he made the right call with going the older Fusion and not the newer one, I can say now that he made the right call.

 

Disclaimer: Ford Provided the Fusion, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

 

Year: 2015
Make: Ford
Model: Fusion
Trim: Titanium AWD
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L Four-Cylinder
Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 5500
Torque @ RPM: 270 @ 3000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
Curb Weight: 3,821 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Hermosillo, Mexico
Base Price: $32,600
As Tested Price: $38,820* (Includes $825 Destination Charge and $490 Sync and Sound Discount)

 

Options:
Driver Assist Package - $1,200.00
Adaptive Cruise Control - $995.00
Active Park Assist - $895.00
Navigation System - $795.00
19-Inch Aluminum Wheels - $695.00
Heated and Cooled Front Seats - $395.00
Ruby Red Tinted Clearcoat - $395.00
Rear Inflatable Seatbelts - $190.00
Premium Floor Mats W/ Trunk Mat - $175.00
Heated Steering Wheel - $150.00


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Great write up, I too am wondering how many of the mid size sedans from some of the base players can be priced at Luxury level and if it is worth it. This seems to say no for the Ford Fusion Titanium. Nice car but a bit pricey.

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OK.. $40K for a mid-size when I got my full size Impala LTZ for less with almost everything except the AWD option (WTF Chevy even tho I don't want). Let me say again.. there is a reason why Lincoln is a Dead Car Walking and it has a lot to do with Ford brand itself

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I just don't like these cars. They drive okay, but I never was a fan of the looks, and the 2.0T is underpowered. And 38K?!? Lol, they're nuts. You can buy a really nice Avalon or Impala for that. I'd buy a Charger RT, personally.

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I had almost the same car, minus AWD, Adaptive Cruise, Active Park, and NAV, just last week.

 

I mostly agree with Williams write-up.  I'd put money on the Fusion being one of the best in the segment for blending ride and handling.  The steering is fantastic and a class above its station.   A 6-speed auto now seems rather quaint, though this particular one goes about its business with no fuss. Still, there is enough torque from the 2.0T that a higher 7th and 8th gear would be useful on the highway.  

 

The 2.0T is smooth and torquey, feeling much like a V6 in power delivery.  The notable exception is when you call down to the engine room for "All Ahead - Full" and then you get a decidedly 4-cylinder unpleasant sound.  It's not enough to be a deal breaker, but it won't fool you into thinking it is a V6.

 

After 250 miles of driving, fuel economy was around 27mpg  in 80/20 Highway/City. That sounds decent until you realize there are more powerful V6es in bigger/heavier cars that can do better.  (Camaro, Charger, Accord, Avalon to name a few)

 

MyFordTouch/Sync is absolutely abysmal and dated.  The voice recognition got it right exactly ZERO times.... in fact sometimes it got it laughingly wrong.   Me saying "Tune XM 51" would result in "Tuning AM 430" or "Tuning XM 220", as just an example. MyFordTouch/Sync is so bad that it makes me avoid Ford vehicles in general. I only took this one because it was the newest car on the National Car Rental lot and I've already had the Chrysler 200 (a car that I like) a bunch of times. My other choice was a new Sonata, but I was already pretty tired so I didn't want to go into a coma or a Neu Beetle, but that didn't have a USB input.

 

William is also correct about the system lag.  This extends to the physical buttons as well.  I accidentally activated the front heated seat via the touch screen and noticed it a minute later.  I tried to shut it off via the physical buttons, yet repeated taps did not change the setting. It took more than 6 taps to get a reply.

 

The sound from the Sony audio system is great.  Better than the Bose that GM puts in Chevy and Buicks, but not quite to the level of the Fender system available in some VWs (my personal favorite in the "family car" segment).

 

Much ado has been made about the Titanium trim level, but I just don't see it. The quality of the materials isn't improved over lesser Fusions. Titanium on a Fusion does not a Buick make.

 

In the end, the Fusion is a fantastic car for long distance, high speed travel with a bit of spirit. Yet the experience is terribly hobbled by the horrendous MyFordTouch/Sync system.  At $38,820 (William's car) or $31,460 (estimated MSRP of my car), there are any number of excellent alternatives to consider too.

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From what I have read, the Fusion seems like a good car, but $39k for one is crazy.  Even if you drop the fancy paint, 19" wheels, premium mats and inflatable belt bags, you are still at $37k.  Seems like a lot for a Fusion.

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OK....I ABSOLUTELY CANT STAND when someone says the Fusion looks like an Aston Martin...

 

I give passes to non-car guys and gals as they dont know any better and to internet car guys that want to give Ford a hard time because they are GM or Mopar or Honda fanbois...

Ill always correct the latter...

 

But Im fuming with informative articles like this one...especially when the author is a car guy himself...

 

2013 Ford Fusion

 

2013-ford-fusion-front-end.jpg?w=552&h=3

2015 Ford Mustang

 

2014%2B-%2B1

 

 

OK...you say that this looks like an Aston Martin...

Fair enough...

2009astonmartindB9.jpg

 

Except in 1968....

67929487.DBNfzbQ0.IMG_5682.JPG

Ford+Shelby+Mustang+GT500KR+Convertible+

 

The trapezoidal effect is less apparent...but its there..

ford-fusion-10_600x0w.jpg

 

Just for reference...1960s Aston Martin

7289359_orig.jpg

 

Why do we keep on banging that false message?

Because the grill has some sort of billet grill and the Fusion mimics that?

Mustangeleanor.jpg

 

 

Oh look...this Camaro also looks like an Aston Martin...because the the little grill lines are horizontal...

4731-640x460.jpg

 

 

The point Im trying to make...is that the Fusion looks like a Ford...

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I drove a 2014 Fusion SE 2.0EB last year at a driving event (which I posted about in member reviews). The car is hit and miss with me on a number of aspects.

 

- I'm not a fan of the exterior styling, it's not that I think it's ugly or anything, I just lose all interest if something is strongly derivative.

 

- I also wasn't impressed with the interior. Particularly the MFT center stack, which is a cheap looking matte plastic that has no physical landmarks for your hand to follow so you're constantly forced to take your eyes off the road. "But it has voice recognition" you say. That's a lame excuse for a bad looking, non-functional central control panel for all of the interior functions. Every other midsize car does it better. All of them.

 

- There's also the manual mode, which offers paddle shifters. If you're using this in any sort of spirited fashion, you'll find yourself fighting the car's automatic shifts every time you push higher in the rev range.

 

- I'd rather have a duratec V6 than the 2.0L Ecoboost.

 

Now as far as the good:

 

+ The Fusion has excellent steering and handling. You can put the car where you want even at 9/10ths and feel complete control. The ride/handling trade off is great. Very little body roll without any sort of punishment from the suspension.

 

+ One of the best brake pedals I've ever used. Great feel and easy to modulate.

 

+ Good seats. Sporty and attractive, yet comfortable.

 

+ Fairly quiet. Not the most isolated inside, but in the upper part of the class, and plenty refined.

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About that manual mode...

My Acura has it...I never use it. I hate these things more than I do actual manual transmissions. But at least my TL has paddle shifters....at least with other manual mode cars its the automatic gear shifter itself that you could toggle up and down with...but with my wife's Fusion...its just two useless little buttons on the gear shifter....how confusing and stupid is that???!!! :stupid:

 

Makes you wonder what genius thought that a sporty feature that mimics manual changing of gears necessitated buttons? :retard:

Edited by oldshurst442

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After reading William's, Drew's and CP's take on the Fusion, I will attempt to give my personal take of my wife's 2013 base 1.6 ecoboost SE.

 

Engine:

1.6 liter ecoboost.

The infamous 1.6.

Nothing scary about it. My wife's Fusion was built in June 2013 and we bought the car in December of that same year. I guess all that recall work was made on the assembly line.

There is no turbo lag in this car. Or very little. I am used to driving 6 cylinder engines so obviously I sometimes mash the throttle when I want to merge in on the highway and yes...if driven this way, one experiences turbo lag, but if one gradually increases throttle pressure and lets the turbo spool up, in no time you can feel the surge of energy and the car lunges forward.

At highway speeds, it seems like the turbo is always spooling and passing power is always there for you to use.

Ive owned and driven my fair share of GM's value pushrod V6s - 1989 2.8 V6 Firebird - 1994 3.1 V6 Grand Am GT - 1999 3.4 V6 Alero -  and this 1.6 liter ecoboost has about the same feel of acceleration as these V6s from GM. 

 

Exterior design. I feel like the Fusion, along with the Optima, are the most beautifully designed cars today (in their class). Ive yet to see the new generation Malibu in person so lets just leave it at that.

However, after owning the Fusion for a year and a half, I could see why some folk dont take to the Fusion's look. The Fusion has some gorgeous lines and with certain angles, the Fusion is a knock-out, but in other angles, she looks awkward.

 

Interior. Keep in mind that I am basing this view on a base SE 1.6 ecoboost. $26 000 Canadian. I guess this is about 22 000-23 000 American.

You cant really ask for anything more in this price range. The seats are very comfy and look like a million bucks, with the french stitching and all. The materials, for a sub $25 000 dollar, are top notch. Very durable for family hauling needs. The plastic piano black trimming seems fine to me. The quality of the seat material is course, but durable. Soft touch arm rests and dashboard a plenty...

 

That little opening underneath the radio is cool. My wife has stuck pictures of our children there, so its cool. My Acura TL has no place for me to place pictures of my family. I like that. Yes its corny, but I do love my family....

 

The bad:

The C-Pillar chrome trim has fallen off. Both sides. The dealership replaced free of charge...acknowledged earlier Fusions have that problem.

Airbag module is under recall, needs to be replaced.

Another recall regarding some nuts and bolts on the steering wheel system. Might corrode and fail. That also needs to be replaced. Made an appointment so when the parts come...

 

My wife and I dnt really use SYNC. The radio and HVAC system have buttons...so we use those. The buttons are well placed and large. There is also the sterring wheel buttons...So...I dont know how well the base version of SYNC works.

 

Fuel Economy:

My wife achieves anywhere from 10.6 liters/100 KM to 11.1 liters/100 KM from the summer to the winter. Mostly city and urban driving. Hilly areas to boot.

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      Cargo area is another weak point to the CX-9. With both back seats up, there is only 14.4 cubic feet. This puts it behind most of the competition aside from the GMC Acadia which has 12.8. It doesn’t get any better when the seats are folded. With the third-row down, the CX-9 has 38.2 cubic feet. Fold down the second-row and it expands to 71.2 cubic feet. To use the GMC Acadia again, it offers 41.7 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and rises to 79 with both rows. Keep in mind, the Acadia is about six inches shorter than the CX-9.
      Infotainment
      All CX-9’s come equipped with the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The base Sport comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, while the Touring and above use a larger 8-inch screen. A rotary knob and set of redundant buttons on the center console control the system. Using Mazda Connect is a bit of a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look a bit dated with the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Trying to use the touchscreen is an exercise in frustration as it is not easy to tell which parts are touch-enabled and not. On the upside, moving around Mazda Connect is a breeze when using the knob and buttons. Currently, Mazda doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Thankfully, this is being remedied with the 2019 model as Touring models and above will come with both.
      For the Atlas, Volkswagen offers three different systems. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard on the S. Moving up to either the SE, SE w/Technology, or SEL nets you an 8-inch screen. The top line SEL Premium adds navigation to the 8-inch system. All of the systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The current Volkswagen system is one of the easiest to use thanks in part to intuitive menu structure and quick responses. Moving through menus or presets is easy as the system reacts to the swiping gesture like you would do on your smartphone. There are a couple of downsides to the Volkswagen system. One is there is no haptic feedback when pressing the shortcut buttons on either side of the screen. Also, the glass surface becomes littered with fingerprints very quickly. 
      I did have an issue with the system when trying to use Apple CarPlay. At times, applications such as Spotify would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to get the apps unfrozen until I shut the vehicle off. After resetting my iPhone, this problem went away. This leaves me wondering how much of this problem was with my phone and not the infotainment system.
      Powertrain
      Both of these crossovers are equipped with turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The CX-9 has a 2.5L producing either 227 or 250 (on premium fuel) horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The Atlas has a 2.0L producing 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An optional 3.6L V6 with 276 horsepower is available for the Atlas. For the Mazda, power is routed to a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The Volkswagen makes do with an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive only. If you want AWD, you need the V6.
      Thanks to its higher torque figure, the CX-9 leaves the Atlas in the dust. There is barely any lag coming from the turbo-four. Instead, it delivers a linear throttle response and a steady stream of power.  NVH levels are noticeably quieter than the Atlas’ turbo-four. The six-speed automatic delivers seamless shifts and is quick to downshift when you need extra power such as merging.
      The turbo-four in the Atlas seems slightly overwhelmed at first. When leaving a stop, I found that there was a fair amount of turbo-lag. This is only exacerbated if the stop-start system is turned on. Once the turbo was spooling, the four-cylinder did a surprising job of moving the 4,222 pound Atlas with no issue. Stab the throttle and the engine comes into life, delivering a smooth and constant stream of power. The eight-speed automatic provided quick and smooth shifts, although it was sometimes hesitant to downshift when more power was called for.
      Fuel Economy
      Both of these models are close in fuel economy. EPA says the CX-9 AWD should return 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined, while the Atlas 2.0T will get 22/26/24. During the week, the CX-9 returned 22.5 mpg in mostly city driving and the Atlas got 27.3 mpg with a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. The eight-speed transmission in the Atlas makes a huge difference.
      Ride & Handling
      The CX-9 is clearly the driver’s choice. On a winding road, the crossover feels quite nimble thanks to a well-tuned suspension. There is a slight amount of body roll due to the tall ride height, but nothing that will sway your confidence. Steering has some heft when turning and feels quite responsive. Despite the firm suspension, the CX-9’s ride is supple enough to iron out most bumps. Only large imperfections and bumps would make their way inside. Barely any wind and road noise made it inside the cabin.
      The Atlas isn’t far behind in handling. Volkswagen’s suspension turning helps keep body roll in check and makes the crossover feel smaller than it actually is. The only weak point is the steering which feels somewhat light when turning. Ride quality is slightly better than the CX-9 as Atlas feels like riding on a magic carpet when driving on bumpy roads. Some of this can be attributed to smaller wheels. There is slightly more wind noise coming inside the cabin.
      Value
      It would be unfair to directly compare these two crossovers due to the large gap in price. Instead, I will be comparing them with the other’s similar trim.
      The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology begins at $35,690 for the 2.0T FWD. With destination, my test car came to $36,615, The Technology adds a lot of desirable features such as three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane departure alert. The Mazda CX-9 Touring is slightly less expensive at $35,995 with destination and matches the Atlas on standard features, including all of the safety kit. But we’re giving the Atlas the slight edge as you do get more space for not that much more money.
      Over at the CX-9, the Grand Touring AWD begins at $42,270. With a couple of options including the Soul Red paint, the as-tested price came to $43,905. The comparable Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion is only $30 more expensive when you factor in destination. Both come closely matched in terms of equipment with the only differences being the Grand Touring has navigation, while the SEL comes with a panoramic sunroof. This one is a draw as it will come down whether space or luxury is more important to you.
      Verdict
      Coming in second is the Mazda CX-9. It may have the sharpest exterior in the class, a premium interior that could embarrass some luxury cars, and pleasing driving characteristics. But ultimately, the CX-9 falls down on the key thing buyers want; space. It trails most everyone in passenger and cargo space. That is ultimately the price you pay for all of the positives listed. 
      For a first attempt, Volkswagen knocked it out of the park with the Atlas. It is a bit sluggish when leaving a stop and doesn’t have as luxurious of an interior as the CX-9. But Volkswagen gave the Atlas one of the largest interiors of the class, a chassis that balances a smooth ride with excellent body control, impressive fuel economy, and a price that won’t break the bank.
      Both of these crossovers are impressive and worthy of being at the top of the consideration list. But at the end of the day, the Atlas does the three-row crossover better than the CX-9.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-9
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium)
      Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,361 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $42,470
      As Tested Price: $43,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Soul Red Metallic - $595.00
      Cargo Mat - $100.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Atlas
      Trim: 2.0T SE w/Technology
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/26/24
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Chattanooga, TN
      Base Price: $35,690
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The three-row full-size crossover has taken the place of large SUVs as the vehicle of choice for growing families. Crossovers offer the tall ride height and large space, but not at the cost of fuel economy and ride quality. Recently, I spent a week in the 2018 Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas. These two models could not be any different; one is focused on providing driving enjoyment, while the other is concerned about providing enough space for cargo and passengers. Trying to determine which one was the best would prove to be a difficult task.
      Exterior
      There is no contest between these two when it comes to design as the CX-9 blows the Atlas out of the water. The overall look balances aggressive and elegance traits. For the front, Mazda has angled the clip to give off a sporting profile while a large grille and a set of slim headlights accentuate this. Move around to the side and you’ll notice the CX-9 has quite a long front end and the rear roof pillars are angled slightly forward. These design cues help make the CX-9 look slightly smaller than it actually is.
      Someone once described a Volkswagen vehicle as “looking like a bit of a square, but a posh square.” That’s how I would sum up the Atlas’ design; it is basically a box on wheels. There are some nice touches such as the LED headlights that come standard on all models and chunky fenders. The 18-inch alloy wheels that come with the SE w/Technology look somewhat small on the Atlas, but that is likely due to the large size of the vehicle.
      Interior
      The Atlas’ interior very much follows the ideals of the exterior, which are uncomplicated and utilitarian. While it does fall flat when compared to the CX-9’s luxury design, Volkswagen nails the ergonomics. Most of the controls are within easy reach of driver and passenger. One touch that I really like is the climate control slightly angled upward. Not only does this make it easier to reach, but you can quickly glance down to see the current settings. There is only a small amount of soft-touch material used throughout the Atlas’ interior, the rest being made up of hard plastics. While that is slightly disappointing as other crossovers are adding more soft-touch materials, Volkswagen knows that kids are quite rough to vehicles.
      If there is one benefit to Volkswagen’s plain styling on the outside, it is the massive interior. I haven’t been in such a spacious three-row crossover since the last GM Lambda I drove. Beginning with the third-row, I found that my 5’9” frame actually fit with only my knees just touching the rear of the second-row. Moving the second row slightly forward allows for a little more legroom. Getting in and out of the third-row is very easy as the second-row tilts and moves forward, providing a wide space. This particular tester came with a second-row bench seat. A set of captain chairs are available as an option on SE and above. Sitting back here felt like I was in a limousine with abundant head and legroom. The seats slide and recline which allows passengers to find that right position. The only downside to both rear rows is there isn’t enough padding for long trips. For the front seat, the driver gets a ten-way power seat while the passenger makes do with only a power recline and manual adjustments. No complaints about comfort as the Atlas’ front seats had the right amount of padding and firmness for any trip length.
      The cargo area is quite huge. With all seats up, the Atlas offers 20.6 cubic feet of space. This increases to 55.5 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and 96.8 cubic feet with both rows folded. Only the new Chevrolet Traverse beats the Atlas with measurements of 23, 58.1, and 98.2 cubic feet.
      As a way to differentiate itself from other automakers, Mazda is trying to become more premium. This is clearly evident in the CX-9’s interior. The dash is beautiful with contouring used throughout, and a mixture of brushed aluminum and soft-touch plastics with a grain texture. If I were to cover up the Mazda badge on the steering wheel and ask you to identify the brand, you might think it was from a German automaker. Ergonomics aren’t quite as good as the Atlas as you have to reach for certain controls like those for the climate system.
      The CX-9’s front seats don’t feel quite as spacious when compared to the Atlas with a narrow cockpit and the rakish exterior are to blame. Still, most drivers should be able to find a position that works. The seats themselves have a sporting edge with increased side bolstering and firm cushions. I found the seats to be quite comfortable and didn’t have issues of not having enough support. Moving to the second row, Mazda only offers a bench seat configuration. This is disappointing considering all of the CX-9’s competitors offer captain chairs as an option. There is more than enough legroom for most passengers, but those six-feet and above will find headroom to be a bit tight. Getting into the third-row is slightly tough. Like the Atlas, the CX-9’s second row slides and tilts to allow access. But space is noticeably smaller and does require some gymnastics to pass through. Once seated, I found it to be quite cramped with little head and legroom. This is best reserved for small kids.
      Cargo area is another weak point to the CX-9. With both back seats up, there is only 14.4 cubic feet. This puts it behind most of the competition aside from the GMC Acadia which has 12.8. It doesn’t get any better when the seats are folded. With the third-row down, the CX-9 has 38.2 cubic feet. Fold down the second-row and it expands to 71.2 cubic feet. To use the GMC Acadia again, it offers 41.7 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and rises to 79 with both rows. Keep in mind, the Acadia is about six inches shorter than the CX-9.
      Infotainment
      All CX-9’s come equipped with the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The base Sport comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, while the Touring and above use a larger 8-inch screen. A rotary knob and set of redundant buttons on the center console control the system. Using Mazda Connect is a bit of a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look a bit dated with the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Trying to use the touchscreen is an exercise in frustration as it is not easy to tell which parts are touch-enabled and not. On the upside, moving around Mazda Connect is a breeze when using the knob and buttons. Currently, Mazda doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Thankfully, this is being remedied with the 2019 model as Touring models and above will come with both.
      For the Atlas, Volkswagen offers three different systems. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard on the S. Moving up to either the SE, SE w/Technology, or SEL nets you an 8-inch screen. The top line SEL Premium adds navigation to the 8-inch system. All of the systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The current Volkswagen system is one of the easiest to use thanks in part to intuitive menu structure and quick responses. Moving through menus or presets is easy as the system reacts to the swiping gesture like you would do on your smartphone. There are a couple of downsides to the Volkswagen system. One is there is no haptic feedback when pressing the shortcut buttons on either side of the screen. Also, the glass surface becomes littered with fingerprints very quickly. 
      I did have an issue with the system when trying to use Apple CarPlay. At times, applications such as Spotify would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to get the apps unfrozen until I shut the vehicle off. After resetting my iPhone, this problem went away. This leaves me wondering how much of this problem was with my phone and not the infotainment system.
      Powertrain
      Both of these crossovers are equipped with turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The CX-9 has a 2.5L producing either 227 or 250 (on premium fuel) horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The Atlas has a 2.0L producing 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An optional 3.6L V6 with 276 horsepower is available for the Atlas. For the Mazda, power is routed to a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The Volkswagen makes do with an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive only. If you want AWD, you need the V6.
      Thanks to its higher torque figure, the CX-9 leaves the Atlas in the dust. There is barely any lag coming from the turbo-four. Instead, it delivers a linear throttle response and a steady stream of power.  NVH levels are noticeably quieter than the Atlas’ turbo-four. The six-speed automatic delivers seamless shifts and is quick to downshift when you need extra power such as merging.
      The turbo-four in the Atlas seems slightly overwhelmed at first. When leaving a stop, I found that there was a fair amount of turbo-lag. This is only exacerbated if the stop-start system is turned on. Once the turbo was spooling, the four-cylinder did a surprising job of moving the 4,222 pound Atlas with no issue. Stab the throttle and the engine comes into life, delivering a smooth and constant stream of power. The eight-speed automatic provided quick and smooth shifts, although it was sometimes hesitant to downshift when more power was called for.
      Fuel Economy
      Both of these models are close in fuel economy. EPA says the CX-9 AWD should return 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined, while the Atlas 2.0T will get 22/26/24. During the week, the CX-9 returned 22.5 mpg in mostly city driving and the Atlas got 27.3 mpg with a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. The eight-speed transmission in the Atlas makes a huge difference.
      Ride & Handling
      The CX-9 is clearly the driver’s choice. On a winding road, the crossover feels quite nimble thanks to a well-tuned suspension. There is a slight amount of body roll due to the tall ride height, but nothing that will sway your confidence. Steering has some heft when turning and feels quite responsive. Despite the firm suspension, the CX-9’s ride is supple enough to iron out most bumps. Only large imperfections and bumps would make their way inside. Barely any wind and road noise made it inside the cabin.
      The Atlas isn’t far behind in handling. Volkswagen’s suspension turning helps keep body roll in check and makes the crossover feel smaller than it actually is. The only weak point is the steering which feels somewhat light when turning. Ride quality is slightly better than the CX-9 as Atlas feels like riding on a magic carpet when driving on bumpy roads. Some of this can be attributed to smaller wheels. There is slightly more wind noise coming inside the cabin.
      Value
      It would be unfair to directly compare these two crossovers due to the large gap in price. Instead, I will be comparing them with the other’s similar trim.
      The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology begins at $35,690 for the 2.0T FWD. With destination, my test car came to $36,615, The Technology adds a lot of desirable features such as three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane departure alert. The Mazda CX-9 Touring is slightly less expensive at $35,995 with destination and matches the Atlas on standard features, including all of the safety kit. But we’re giving the Atlas the slight edge as you do get more space for not that much more money.
      Over at the CX-9, the Grand Touring AWD begins at $42,270. With a couple of options including the Soul Red paint, the as-tested price came to $43,905. The comparable Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion is only $30 more expensive when you factor in destination. Both come closely matched in terms of equipment with the only differences being the Grand Touring has navigation, while the SEL comes with a panoramic sunroof. This one is a draw as it will come down whether space or luxury is more important to you.
      Verdict
      Coming in second is the Mazda CX-9. It may have the sharpest exterior in the class, a premium interior that could embarrass some luxury cars, and pleasing driving characteristics. But ultimately, the CX-9 falls down on the key thing buyers want; space. It trails most everyone in passenger and cargo space. That is ultimately the price you pay for all of the positives listed. 
      For a first attempt, Volkswagen knocked it out of the park with the Atlas. It is a bit sluggish when leaving a stop and doesn’t have as luxurious of an interior as the CX-9. But Volkswagen gave the Atlas one of the largest interiors of the class, a chassis that balances a smooth ride with excellent body control, impressive fuel economy, and a price that won’t break the bank.
      Both of these crossovers are impressive and worthy of being at the top of the consideration list. But at the end of the day, the Atlas does the three-row crossover better than the CX-9.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-9
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium)
      Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,361 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $42,470
      As Tested Price: $43,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Soul Red Metallic - $595.00
      Cargo Mat - $100.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Atlas
      Trim: 2.0T SE w/Technology
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/26/24
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Chattanooga, TN
      Base Price: $35,690
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
    • By William Maley
      Ford has launched the configurator for the 2019 Ranger today and we got our first look at pricing. It will begin at $25,395 for the XL extended-cab model with 2WD - price includes $1,095 destination charge. Pricing for the rest of the lineup is as followed,
      $27,615 - XL SuperCrew 2WD $29,035 - XLT SuperCab 2WD $29,555 - XL SuperCab 4WD $31,210 - XLT SuperCrew 2WD $31,775 - XL SuperCrew 4WD $33,035 - XLT SuperCab 4WD $33,305 - Lariat SuperCab 2WD $35,210 - XLT SuperCrew 4WD $35,480 - Lariat SuperCrew 2WD $37,305 - Lariat SuperCab 4WD $39,480 - Lariat SuperCrew 4WD There are a number of options on offer such as appearance packages, spray-in bed liner, and 8-inch touchscreen with Sync3. Go crazy on the options, and you can have a Ranger that will cost you over $45,000. All Rangers come with a 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder paired up with a ten-speed automatic.
      Compared to other models in the class, the Ranger has the highest base price. The Nissan Frontier is the cheapest at $19,965, followed by the Chevrolet Colorado ($21,590), GMC Canyon ($22,095), and Toyota Tacoma ($24,740).
      It still will be awhile before you can drive a Ranger off the dealer's lot as it will launch early next year.
      Source: Ford

      View full article
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