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2018 Buick Regal Sportback Essence

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Driven: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback Essence 2.0t

(the original review is in this post.  Revised reviews are further down, in this post, and in  this other post)

HIGHS:

-Nice understated shape conceals a cleverly integrated hatchback design

-'Decent' propulsion from 2.0t engine

-Nicely shaped upper dash with touchsreen oriented slightly to driver.  Interesting at least from a design standpoint.

-Sporting driving position and good room in both rows, mostly, plus the biggest benefit being improved leg room over previous model

-Really nice cargo space, with seats up, or seats down, the cargo area of this vehicle and the flexibility of it in a car like this IMO is a major draw

-View outside of this vehicle is improved over its platform mate (Malibu, my daily driver) due to the rear door glass being longer and taller.  View out the front and rear is essentially the same.

-AWD availability is a nice plus, thanks Buick.

LOWS:

-I can't recall any of the GM vehicles I have driven with this ubiquitous 2.0t engine, where i have actually been wowed or impressed by it.  It has decent thrust, but honestly you gotta spool it up a bit, the tranny doesn't respond instantly, it's not a five star smooth tranny, and it's kind of rough and noisy overall as a powertrain (AT LEAST FOR IT'S PRICE / CLASS).  I was hoping the 2.0 would make the car match the near luxury description but I don't think it's overall a smooth enough powertrain to meet that claim.  It's neither smooth, nor sporting or exciting.  And this is with front wheel drive.  I will reserve final judgment until i get in the GS with the v6, which is the engine I think most people will really end up liking in this car.

-Heavier than it's Malibu platform mate.  No doubt acceptable due to the larger engine, but the benefit of the extra weight doesn't manifest itself in any real tangible way anywhere in the ride and drive of the car.

-Not really any quieter inside than my Malibu.  Strange, because this Buick is supposed to have quiet tuning, and goo in the tires to help make it quieter.  The ride isn't really any more plush, either.

-Steering is sort of dead and mushy.  That's not GERMANIC now, is it.

-NEED TO BE ABLE TO TURN OFF THE AUTOSTOP WHEN YOU WANT TO.

-Not really much nicer inside than in my Malibu.  The lower dash is the same 'less expensive' plastic you see in cheap Chevy's.  The door panels are a little nicer, but not that much more.  Many switches and buttons are the same.  The console is nicer (I don't like the shifter centered in the console now actually, it's quite a reach) I guess...except for cupholders in front of the climate controls.  The upper dash material is an upgrade over the Malibu, but it's not a PREMIUM dash material either.

-I can't really tell for sure if the seats are better.  My Malibu seats are poor.  The Regal seats seemed to hug me more, but they still felt thin and insubstantial.  The leather quality was slightly better, but still nothing to write home about. 

-Rear head room suffers a bit with the hatch design.  I don't mind the tradeoff personally, but the Malibu retains a bit more headroom, and the Regal TourX really has much more....so get the wagon if rear head room matters.

-Sunroof was nice to have considering how bunkerlike the Malibu can feel....but again the hatch design limits the size of the sunroof here compared to the Malibu's BAMR.  I can live with the compromise here myself, and again, the wagon will satisfy your urge for BAMR if you need it.  I would encourage GM to develop a way to integrate a larger moonroof with the hatch design.  I think it could be done, but would require time and money on a redesign effort.

-Options / packages on this car are, simply put, stupid.  But that merits its own post.  At least in this car, the heated steering wheel and leather heated seats were both included.  You can actually get this car with heated steering wheel but without heated seats.  How f-cked up is that?  In 2019, Fusion, Toyota, and others will have things like blind spot and cross path detection as standard equipment.  And those are not 'premium' makes.

-I'll let others decide if they think the styling is too tepid.  I don't mind the understated styling but do admit that the color selections that are available on this car leave me wanting.  I like the red on the GS, and the smoked pearl metallic is nice.  And Buick seems to think they should charge extra for paint colors when they don't make the ride and drive anything special.

-pricing.  I think the average nature of this car would be easily forgiven if the pricing were in line with being an average car; not priced for a premium marque.  Like the LaCrosse and Envision, it is best to wait out the model year if you are buying and wait for the inevitable 7,000-10,000 or more in discounts...which might bring the pricing in line with what the vehicle really is.  You can't say this vehicle is appealing at the prices it is at now.  

SUMMARY:

This probably seems like a negative review, but you should consider it more of underwhelmed and let down.  This car as I drove it just doesn't have any kind of endearing personality to speak of!  At the end of the day, it took Buick two extra years to bring to the US it's own Malibu clone, which doesn't have much more to show for it.... apart from the clever hatch and base 2.0 engine upgrade over the 1.5.  I actually am very curious now to be among the first to try the 2019 Malibu 1.5t + CVT combo.  But that's an aside for another discussion.  The 2.0 that general motors puts in so many vehicles has never impressed me, and that's due more to it's character than anything.  I had hopes this would be the ONE CAR that it would feel sporting in; one that would make the car feel at least a little, like a SPORTS SEDAN.  Nope.  I will wait with baited breath to someday find a v6 GS to test, as i think it will be the only Regal worth anything.  At least worth anything more than just being another option in the midsize, genericar class.  And I hope Buick is working on a twin turbo six option as well for the GS (GSX?).  I tend to think this car won't move the needle in marketplace excitement until it has a tire shredder under the hood to brag about...The v6 will promise smoother revs and deeper lungs at least......... Still, as a replacement in the bottom end of the Buick lineup for the Verano, I am ok with this.  Just please, sex it up!

 

 

 

 

Edited by regfootball
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Probably the only reason to get Buick over Malibu or other car in the segment is to get TourX, not the Sportback

2018-Buick-Regal-TourX-front-three-quart

 

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We were really underwhelmed by the new regal. I have autotrader searches out for Certified '17 GSes instead.  Typically finding them for ~$24k with 15k on the odometer.

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3 hours ago, ykX said:

Probably the only reason to get Buick over Malibu or other car in the segment is to get TourX, not the Sportback

2018-Buick-Regal-TourX-front-three-quart

 

I do admit. The hatchback is versatile as well. Wish we could get a GS wagon. 

1 hour ago, Drew Dowdell said:

We were really underwhelmed by the new regal. I have autotrader searches out for Certified '17 GSes instead.  Typically finding them for ~$24k with 15k on the odometer.

I've got to get out and try a new LaCrosse as well. V6...

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The newest Lacrosse is everything it is supposed to be.  Albert likes those also, but they are holding their value better than the '17 Regal.  I want to stick around the $25k mark for a used vehicle.  The '17 GS can be had with adaptive cruise control and Android Auto and Buick Certified for $25k, so it's really high on the list for me with those killer apps. 

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Really thorough write-up, Reg.  I won't go out of my way to drive one.  I sat in one and didn't like the rear visibility, but I'm picky about that and I'm of average height.  I like to sit high and see a lot of glass around me, with thinner pillars.  That will be the day.

You seem to like the new thematic Buick dash.  It's simple and convenient, but it also seems to be a retro throwback to the late 60s, with a heavy ridge across the top of the cowl.  I'm not so sure.  I like dashboards that have 3 defined zones, so to speak, or more sculpting if not 3 defined zones.

I don't know how the steering would compare to the outgoing Regal.  I found the last one to be nimble with enough road manners and isolation, but I believe you.  I'm guessing these are all electric P.S. units, with hydraulics now gone.

I will agree that I am warming up to the new LaCrosse.  I have not warmed up to its MSRP.  They can sticker at 2x the one that I bought! I don't like a console where its surface is way above the seating surfaces like the LaCrosse, and even this new Regal, have.

I will say that, even if the final experience isn't very Germanic, the car (2018 Regal) definitely looks "more" Germanic as it's approaching you if you're going in the other direction.

 

Edited by trinacriabob

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Over the last few weeks I keep warming up to the 2017+ LaCrosse with more and more of them hitting the used market.

Some are as low as 22-23k.  Ones in colors you want plus options you want are tough to find but the main takeaway with the LaCrosse is v6 availability and slightly larger size.  It really IMO set up Buick nicely to market the LaCrosse even with sedan sales dwindling, as the Regal is hatch only and is not Buick's entry car.  (No longer Verano).  The LaCrosse is the only sedan now, and the Impala is becoming familiar and fading.  XTS getting put out to pasture.  Ford ditching sedans too.  So perhaps LaCrosse sales may possibly increase if they appeal to v6 buyers who don't want Impalas and if the prices drop some.

The raised console is a problem.  It does put the shifter joystick in a good spot but the dash itself could stand to be a bit nicer and the raised console area has some cheapness and such, apart from being too tall.  Older buyers still sometimes want bench seats which this car will never have...but buyers like that don't want the intrusiveness of the console they way it is now.  Even the new Regal's console is intrusive too.

A 2-3 year old LaCrosse in the right color, with the huge moonroof, and maybe AWD for super cheap may be a nice future ride.  The styling change affected me but now the new body is growing on me some.  

Buick doesn't really care if the Regal sells too huge.  They would probably prefer the LaCrosse to sell well and just import a set but manageable number of Regals each year since the import them from Germany and now Opel is out of the mix.  The Regal is there just to round out the lineup.  Not be a huge piece of it.  Enclave is Buick's $$$$ car these days.  The LaCrosse is for the guy who just got his spouse the Enclave but he wants a Buick too.

 

Edited by regfootball
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Remember that GM now has to pay PSA to build Regals.... so they probably don't care how many they sell. 

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^^^^  right.

I'd be surprised if Buick actually wants to sell any more than 25-30k a year of the sportback and tourX combined.

The TourX is incidental, and the base Sportback takes over for the Verano as the entry car, so they don't have to bring over the Astra / Verano.

I think if Buick really set their minds to it, and configured the choices right, the Sportback could sell very well as crossover alternatives, but they would have to drop MSRP's which GM doesn't like doing.

Every time i see a tourX and the shitty looking wheel cladding, I get wound up because a GS wagon would be awesome and it would really be a nice niche; I think they could sell a few, since they just want to be niche anyways.

I'd like to see Regal add a twin turbo 6 to really put the car on the map but i suppose that will never happen.

Imagine a 350-400hp GS wagon or sportback.

Edited by regfootball

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1 hour ago, regfootball said:

Imagine a 350-400hp GS wagon or sportback.

I would take a 350 - 400 HP CUV GS Buick over the Wagon or Sportback.

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On 5/15/2018 at 6:21 PM, dfelt said:

I would take a 350 - 400 HP CUV GS Buick over the Wagon or Sportback.

Something Xt5 sized in the Buick lineup with said engine....would be cool.

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Always puzzles me how GM NA can't ever seem to make use of the Opel stuff and now Opel is gone.  

Maybe GM should have brought the previous Insignia wagon over......

 

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Edited by regfootball
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Very cool.  The photos show both the new (ridged cowl) and old (Regal like) dashboard for the Insignia.  That brick-maroon interior is pretty nifty.  Since Volvo seemingly does well with their wagons stateside, the same could be true of a rebranded Insignia wagon.

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I have a second test drive of the new Regal which turned out to be more favorable, and so I'll come back and make note of that yet today if i am able.  It really was a case where the person accompanying me and the route and situation in general allowed for a better test drive and so will be making some modified impressions in a few areas.

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Second / Revised review

Driven: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback Preferred II 2.0t

(the original review is in the first post of this thread.  This post is a second / revised review)

HIGHS:

prior review

-Nice understated shape conceals a cleverly integrated hatchback design

-'Decent' propulsion from 2.0t engine

-Nicely shaped upper dash with touchsreen oriented slightly to driver.  Interesting at least from a design standpoint.

-Sporting driving position and good room in both rows, mostly, plus the biggest benefit being improved leg room over previous model

-Really nice cargo space, with seats up, or seats down, the cargo area of this vehicle and the flexibility of it in a car like this IMO is a major draw

-View outside of this vehicle is improved over its platform mate (Malibu, my daily driver) due to the rear door glass being longer and taller.  View out the front and rear is essentially the same.

-AWD availability is a nice plus, thanks Buick.

added

-shifter was more aggressive, seemed to downshift better.  Driver may have been more throttle aggressive as well.

-Preferred II cloth was ok by me.  It has a nicer pattern and more stitching compared to regular Preferred trim.  This maybe should be the standard cloth.  I would still want a more elaborate leatherette / cloth mix or leather still anyways.

-Heated Steering wheel! on Preferred II trim.

-Back lumbar support was exceptionally comfortable and noticeable.  Seat felt way better than my Malibu and for some reason better than the last Regal drive.

-loved the dash angled to the driver.

 

LOWS:

previous

-I can't recall any of the GM vehicles I have driven with this ubiquitous 2.0t engine, where i have actually been wowed or impressed by it.  It has decent thrust, but honestly you gotta spool it up a bit, the tranny doesn't respond instantly, it's not a five star smooth tranny, and it's kind of rough and noisy overall as a powertrain (AT LEAST FOR IT'S PRICE / CLASS).  I was hoping the 2.0 would make the car match the near luxury description but I don't think it's overall a smooth enough powertrain to meet that claim.  It's neither smooth, nor sporting or exciting.  And this is with front wheel drive.  I will reserve final judgment until i get in the GS with the v6, which is the engine I think most people will really end up liking in this car.

added

For whatever reason, the powertrain felt better this time.  The 2.0t still doesn't feel like a very elastic motor to me.  It does not seem to like to rev to me.  Ever.  On like 10+ vehicles I have driven with the 2.0t .  I guess that part of it is not a deal breaker however.

-Heavier than it's Malibu platform mate.  No doubt acceptable due to the larger engine, but the benefit of the extra weight doesn't manifest itself in any real tangible way anywhere in the ride and drive of the car.

-Not really any quieter inside than my Malibu.  Strange, because this Buick is supposed to have quiet tuning, and goo in the tires to help make it quieter.  The ride isn't really any more plush, either.

added

For whatever reason, the car felt reasonably quiet inside.

-Steering is sort of dead and mushy.  That's not GERMANIC now, is it.

-NEED TO BE ABLE TO TURN OFF THE AUTOSTOP WHEN YOU WANT TO.

-Not really much nicer inside than in my Malibu.  The lower dash is the same 'less expensive' plastic you see in cheap Chevy's.  The door panels are a little nicer, but not that much more.  Many switches and buttons are the same.  The console is nicer (I don't like the shifter centered in the console now actually, it's quite a reach) I guess...except for cupholders in front of the climate controls.  The upper dash material is an upgrade over the Malibu, but it's not a PREMIUM dash material either.

-I can't really tell for sure if the seats are better.  My Malibu seats are poor.  The Regal seats seemed to hug me more, but they still felt thin and insubstantial.  The leather quality was slightly better, but still nothing to write home about. 

Added

as mentioned above, the cloth in the Preferred II was ok, still would want leather, but for cloth wasn't bad.  Seats and back support felt far better this time around.

-Rear head room suffers a bit with the hatch design.  I don't mind the tradeoff personally, but the Malibu retains a bit more headroom, and the Regal TourX really has much more....so get the wagon if rear head room matters.

-Sunroof was nice to have considering how bunkerlike the Malibu can feel....but again the hatch design limits the size of the sunroof here compared to the Malibu's BAMR.  I can live with the compromise here myself, and again, the wagon will satisfy your urge for BAMR if you need it.  I would encourage GM to develop a way to integrate a larger moonroof with the hatch design.  I think it could be done, but would require time and money on a redesign effort.

Added

This time the car had a normal moonroof.  While not quite a awesome as a larger moonroof, it did lighten up the cabin inside some.  I tend to think the rear vision camera surround view rear view mirror would be beneficial on this car because of the really small rear window.

-Options / packages on this car are, simply put, stupid.  But that merits its own post.  At least in this car, the heated steering wheel and leather heated seats were both included.  You can actually get this car with heated steering wheel but without heated seats.  How f-cked up is that?  In 2019, Fusion, Toyota, and others will have things like blind spot and cross path detection as standard equipment.  And those are not 'premium' makes.

Added

-The very nice person accompanying me on the test drive and I spent a lot of time mocking how stupid it was for Buick to offer this car from the factory trimmed out with a heated steering wheel but without factory heated seats.  This sheer utter complete stupidity of this to sell vehicles in snow / cold states alone is cause for product planners to get canned.   I don't give a shit if the car is built in Germany and that creates logistics issues.  Honestly, Buick pull your head out of your behind.

-I'll let others decide if they think the styling is too tepid.  I don't mind the understated styling but do admit that the color selections that are available on this car leave me wanting.  I like the red on the GS, and the smoked pearl metallic is nice.  And Buick seems to think they should charge extra for paint colors when they don't make the ride and drive anything special.

-pricing.  I think the average nature of this car would be easily forgiven if the pricing were in line with being an average car; not priced for a premium marque.  Like the LaCrosse and Envision, it is best to wait out the model year if you are buying and wait for the inevitable 7,000-10,000 or more in discounts...which might bring the pricing in line with what the vehicle really is.  You can't say this vehicle is appealing at the prices it is at now.  

Added

The rear hatch while masterfully done, is pretty large and is on the border of really benefitting from a power hatch setup with your remote.  It is large, heavy and clunky to close / slam shut.

SUMMARY:

This probably seems like a negative review, but you should consider it more of underwhelmed and let down.  This car as I drove it just doesn't have any kind of endearing personality to speak of!  At the end of the day, it took Buick two extra years to bring to the US it's own Malibu clone, which doesn't have much more to show for it.... apart from the clever hatch and base 2.0 engine upgrade over the 1.5.  I actually am very curious now to be among the first to try the 2019 Malibu 1.5t + CVT combo.  But that's an aside for another discussion.  The 2.0 that general motors puts in so many vehicles has never impressed me, and that's due more to it's character than anything.  I had hopes this would be the ONE CAR that it would feel sporting in; one that would make the car feel at least a little, like a SPORTS SEDAN.  Nope.  I will wait with baited breath to someday find a v6 GS to test, as i think it will be the only Regal worth anything.  At least worth anything more than just being another option in the midsize, genericar class.  And I hope Buick is working on a twin turbo six option as well for the GS (GSX?).  I tend to think this car won't move the needle in marketplace excitement until it has a tire shredder under the hood to brag about...The v6 will promise smoother revs and deeper lungs at least......... Still, as a replacement in the bottom end of the Buick lineup for the Verano, I am ok with this.  Just please, sex it up!

Added

The car seemed nicer this time around.  Still not sporty but pleasing.  Ok for a Preferred trim I figure.  Buick needs to change the available colors and allow a GS body trim package for a front wheel drive Regal.  All the muted and dark dreary colors Buick offers now needs to be balanced out.  I would like to see a GS style body trim package available for a Regal wagon that is not a TourX as well.  Hopefully this car may be available with a newer turbo four some day but due to the Opel break off, probably not.  After driving this and the LaCrosse back to back I must say for a daily driver I would prefer this but either car is ok.

Edited by regfootball

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I took a Sportback 2.0 Preferred FWD out for another spin..  I think by now I am thinking more clearly on what this car is about.

The engine and tranny performed better and feels decently fast but it did not feel 'sporting'.  For the base model that's ok, sure...i guess i get it.  I can't wait to see if the new 2.0 in the Cadillac feels more lively.

The ride and steering and handling are numb, particularly on the base tire and wheel package.  They are not bad, because it's decently quiet and the ride is 'good'.  The car feels less agile and less sporting than my regular platform mate Malibu.  There is no sense of "game on" with the chassis on this car.  The suspension almost can feel a bit floaty at times and the steering is easy to turn but kinda mushy.  I don't think this is a different observation than the buff books have been saying.

The interior criticisms in the press are about right.  It's ok but does have cheapness relative to its higher pricing.  IMO it would only take a little bit more with the interior to make it near lux like it should be.  

All the above said, I still like the packaging.  The room and space, the seating position, the nice integration of the hatchback.  I love the package.  With the hatch though, a power hatch will be needed.  In fact, sales guy seemed to think they may be adding that in a year ......  They better, it's a near lux brand and the hatch is very wieldly.

This one had a moonroof, and it helps brighten the interior.  On the sportback it is so small of roof panel but it is better than nothing.

This Preferred I  didn't have heated seats or steering wheel.  It is beyond idiotic that the Preferred II with cloth seats has standard heated steering wheel, but it doesn't have heated seats.

I like the car and it is low key and comfortable, but there is a missed opportunity here.  This would be fantastic to offer a sport handling package on the more base level cars and it would really I think draw in the younger buyers it was intended to.  The car sort of telegraphs an attitude, compared to the other Buick vehicles like the LaCrosse and Envision.  It would help this model stand out and get some young buyers to the brand.  I would go one further and suggest whatever new 2.0 is going in the Cadillacs be put in this (although since the Opel sale I suppose that wouldn't happen).  I'd even be interested in seeing a v6 / FWD combo in a lesser trim.  The GS v6 should be a twin turbo six.  I have some thoughts coming up soon on how much I think Buick's option packaging for the Regal sucks.

Overall I can't really bash the car, and I like it, I may get one down the road.  But I think there is plenty of ways to make it better, the best place to fix it quick is ride and handling option package.  I still want to try a GS someday too.

 

 

Edited by regfootball

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Have yet to see a Sportback on the road, after seeing the very underwhelming reviews quickly forgot about one I did see perhaps.

Mayhem the model run will be short..

 

 

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19 minutes ago, frogger said:

Have yet to see a Sportback on the road, after seeing the very underwhelming reviews quickly forgot about one I did see perhaps.

Mayhem the model run will be short..

 

 

sales guy said the dealer had not sold one Regal (hatch or wagon) yet.  After these last 4 months or whatever.  He said because there is no incentives on them.  No programs, for leasing or finance.  The incentives drive the traffic and buyers.  GM maybe doesn't even want these to sell after the Opel sale since they are built overseas.  No advertising support either.  The Buick GMC dealers first priority is selling pickups, and then after that its the larger SUV's.  He said the Buick Encore is the hottest seller at the dealership.  People love em and the big incentives and cheap leases move em out the door.  He also agreed with me that they should make a vesion of the TourX without the cladding.

Edited by regfootball

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The very nice person accompanying me on the test drive and I spent a lot of time mocking how stupid it was for Buick to offer this car from the factory trimmed out with a heated steering wheel but without factory heated seats.  This sheer utter complete stupidity of this to sell vehicles in snow / cold states alone is cause for product planners to get canned.

Anyone who seriously wants to review products needs to get this ingrained in their approach.

Just because a particular feature (or in this case; a particular pairing of features) isn't done the exact way the reviewer prefers it, this is NO WAY justifies advocating people lose their jobs over it. A product review needs to take into consideration generalities and averages of the consumer at large, and over-the-top hyperbole causes MANY readers to 'shut down' on the review because right there it unhinges itself from reason.

I, for one, can take or leave heated seats. My wife's car has them, I've used them countless times, they're kinda nice (she says she won't have another car without them). I don't want a heated steering wheel in any case, so while I might consider checking the heated seat option box (if offered separately), I'd only be happy to skip the heated wheel.  Yet I'd never advocate unemployment (hyperbole) if they were paired together, and that's just me talking to myself.

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I have yet to see a Regal on the roads here. See plenty of Enclaves a few Envisions.

 

okay now that the Envision is tariffed the Tourx might get a boost.

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I haven't seen a Sportback on the road yet, but back in mid-May saw a brown TourX at a gas station...only new Regal I've seen out and about in NE Ohio.. I find the TourX quite striking in person. 

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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fun to play with Opel's configurator.  I wish the AGR seats without the stupid track back was available here.....

 

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or custom colors

 

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Edited by regfootball
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      I felt very mixed when I reviewed the Mitsubishi Outlander last year, There was a lot to like about the crossover, but the list of negatives pushed me towards recommending it if you could find one at a good price. How would I feel when I drove the Outlander PHEV? Spoiler: About the same.
      (Author's Note: If you're looking for thoughts on the interior, I will direct you to my Mitsubishi Outlander review from last year as the PHEV shares all of the positives and negatives from the standard model.)
      Not much is different from the standard Outlander I drove last year to the PHEV except for the various hybrid badging around the vehicle, and additional fuel filler door on the rear passenger-side fender housing the charging outlets. The hybrid system is comprised of 60kW electric motors mounted on each axle providing 80 horsepower. The motors draw their power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery. A 2.0L inline-four acts as the generator for the battery and can power the wheels in certain situations. Total output stands at 190 hp. The driver has three different drive modes for which the Outlander can operate. EV which makes the Outlander PHEV only run electric power; Battery Save which turns on the engine to power the wheels to save charge; and Battery Charge where the generator charges up the battery. Most of my week, I found myself using Battery Save and Charge when driving on the freeway. Around town, it was left in EV or automatic mode. When the Outlander PHEV is running on electric power only, it provides enough grunt to get out of the way of traffic when leaving a green light. But begin to climb in speed and you realize this isn’t a quick car. Despite the instantaneous torque, the Outlander PHEV does take its time getting up to speed. Some of this can be attributed to the curb weight of 4,222 lbs.  Not helping is when the engine comes on to charge/power the wheels. When the engine is put under a load, it sounds very harsh and under a lot of stress. EPA figures for the Outlander PHEV are 74 MPGe (electric and gas combined) and 25 MPG (gas only combined). My average for the week landed around 35 MPGe, which is well under the EPA figure. But I will cut it a fair amount of slack as it arrived during one of the coldest weeks Michigan experienced. For electric-only range, Mitsubishi claims 22 miles. I saw between 16-18 miles which isn’t bad considering the cold temps. On recharging, Mitsubishi says that the Outlander PHEV takes about 13 hours when plugged into 120V/8A outlet, or 8 hours for a 120V/12V outlet. In my testing with 120V charging, it took about 8 hours to fully charge a depleted battery. The Outlander PHEV feels at home on long stretches of road where it shows off one of its strongest attributes, a smooth ride. On some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Outlander glided over them like it was nothing. On a winding road, the Outlander PHEV feels slightly out of its depth partly due to very num steering. What is surprising is that the PHEV doesn’t have as much body roll as the standard model when put into a corner. I feel conflicted on the 2020 Outlander PHEV as on the surface, it is a pretty competent crossover with the ability to run on electric power only. But the gas engine needs a bit of NVH work and performance could be slightly better. Also, it has several issues that I talked about in the previous Outlander. The final nail is the price; $43,600 for the top-line GT seen here. Yes, it does qualify for a federal tax credit of almost $6,000 that drops the price to under $38,000. But that still a fair amount of money for what is an old crossover.  If you can find one at a decent price, around $35,000 or less, then I would say take a closer look at it. Otherwise, wait to see Ford and Toyota’s entrants into the PHEV crossover market.  
      Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander PHEV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mitsubishi
      Model: Outlander PHEV
      Trim: GT
      Engine: 60kW Electric Motors (Front and Rear Axles), 2.0L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Single Speed Reduction Gearbox (Front & Rear), All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 80 @ 0 (Electric), 117 @ 4,500 (Gas),  190 (Total)
      Torque @ RPM: 101 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor), 144 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor), 137 @ 4,500 (Gas)
      Fuel Economy: MPGe/Gasoline Combined - 74/25
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
      Base Price: $41,495
      As Tested Price: $43,600 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      GT Premium Interior Package - $400.00
      Pearl White Paint - $395.00
      Carpeted Floor Mats and Portfolio - $145.00
      Charging Cable Storage Bag - $70.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      I felt very mixed when I reviewed the Mitsubishi Outlander last year, There was a lot to like about the crossover, but the list of negatives pushed me towards recommending it if you could find one at a good price. How would I feel when I drove the Outlander PHEV? Spoiler: About the same.
      (Author's Note: If you're looking for thoughts on the interior, I will direct you to my Mitsubishi Outlander review from last year as the PHEV shares all of the positives and negatives from the standard model.)
      Not much is different from the standard Outlander I drove last year to the PHEV except for the various hybrid badging around the vehicle, and additional fuel filler door on the rear passenger-side fender housing the charging outlets. The hybrid system is comprised of 60kW electric motors mounted on each axle providing 80 horsepower. The motors draw their power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery. A 2.0L inline-four acts as the generator for the battery and can power the wheels in certain situations. Total output stands at 190 hp. The driver has three different drive modes for which the Outlander can operate. EV which makes the Outlander PHEV only run electric power; Battery Save which turns on the engine to power the wheels to save charge; and Battery Charge where the generator charges up the battery. Most of my week, I found myself using Battery Save and Charge when driving on the freeway. Around town, it was left in EV or automatic mode. When the Outlander PHEV is running on electric power only, it provides enough grunt to get out of the way of traffic when leaving a green light. But begin to climb in speed and you realize this isn’t a quick car. Despite the instantaneous torque, the Outlander PHEV does take its time getting up to speed. Some of this can be attributed to the curb weight of 4,222 lbs.  Not helping is when the engine comes on to charge/power the wheels. When the engine is put under a load, it sounds very harsh and under a lot of stress. EPA figures for the Outlander PHEV are 74 MPGe (electric and gas combined) and 25 MPG (gas only combined). My average for the week landed around 35 MPGe, which is well under the EPA figure. But I will cut it a fair amount of slack as it arrived during one of the coldest weeks Michigan experienced. For electric-only range, Mitsubishi claims 22 miles. I saw between 16-18 miles which isn’t bad considering the cold temps. On recharging, Mitsubishi says that the Outlander PHEV takes about 13 hours when plugged into 120V/8A outlet, or 8 hours for a 120V/12V outlet. In my testing with 120V charging, it took about 8 hours to fully charge a depleted battery. The Outlander PHEV feels at home on long stretches of road where it shows off one of its strongest attributes, a smooth ride. On some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Outlander glided over them like it was nothing. On a winding road, the Outlander PHEV feels slightly out of its depth partly due to very num steering. What is surprising is that the PHEV doesn’t have as much body roll as the standard model when put into a corner. I feel conflicted on the 2020 Outlander PHEV as on the surface, it is a pretty competent crossover with the ability to run on electric power only. But the gas engine needs a bit of NVH work and performance could be slightly better. Also, it has several issues that I talked about in the previous Outlander. The final nail is the price; $43,600 for the top-line GT seen here. Yes, it does qualify for a federal tax credit of almost $6,000 that drops the price to under $38,000. But that still a fair amount of money for what is an old crossover.  If you can find one at a decent price, around $35,000 or less, then I would say take a closer look at it. Otherwise, wait to see Ford and Toyota’s entrants into the PHEV crossover market.  
      Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander PHEV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mitsubishi
      Model: Outlander PHEV
      Trim: GT
      Engine: 60kW Electric Motors (Front and Rear Axles), 2.0L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Single Speed Reduction Gearbox (Front & Rear), All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 80 @ 0 (Electric), 117 @ 4,500 (Gas),  190 (Total)
      Torque @ RPM: 101 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor), 144 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor), 137 @ 4,500 (Gas)
      Fuel Economy: MPGe/Gasoline Combined - 74/25
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
      Base Price: $41,495
      As Tested Price: $43,600 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      GT Premium Interior Package - $400.00
      Pearl White Paint - $395.00
      Carpeted Floor Mats and Portfolio - $145.00
      Charging Cable Storage Bag - $70.00
    • By William Maley
      Nearly two years ago, I drove the then all-new Hyundai Kona crossover at a press event. It was a unique looking vehicle that was entering the growing subcompact crossover class. Out of the three Hyundai vehicles I drove, the Kona impressed me most with its performance and value for money. But if there is something I have learned over eight years with reviewing vehicles, is that I can’t take first impressions as final. It has been a long wait, but I finally got my hands on a 2020 Kona Ultimate AWD. Let’s see if my first impression can still hold up.
      The Outer Limits (of Exterior Design)
      You may be forgiven for thinking that the Kona has just arrived in a UFO from Planet Nine due to its shape. But Hyundai knew they needed to make a splash in what is becoming a very competitive class. Designers took some influence from the Jeep Cherokee with a rounded front end and the front lights being separated into daytime lights and headlights. Another design trait is the slit that sits between the grille and hood cutline. Finishing off the look is body cladding running along the lower edge and a bright green paint color only available on the turbo engine models. It may seem like an odd mashup of ideas, but it works surprisingly well.
      A Conventional Interior
      Some will be disappointed that Hyundai didn’t continue the wacky design for the Kona’s interior. But having an interior that is user friendly will always pull ahead of interesting design. That isn’t to say Hyundai hasn’t added some special touches such as vent surrounds and seat stitching matching the exterior color. Hard plastics are used throughout, but they don’t feel hollow or cheap when you run your hand across.
      There is a fair amount of space for those sitting upfront. Comfort is ok for short trips, but I found myself wanting more thigh support on longer trips. In the back, there is a large amount of headroom for most passengers. Legroom is a different story as tall people will find their knees pressed against the front seats. Cargo space is another area where the Kona is lacking. With the rear seats up, the Kona’s cargo area measures 19.2 cubic feet - about 0.1 cubic feet more than the Toyota C-HR. Fold them down and space increases to 45.8. This trails the likes of the Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Kicks, and Honda HR-V.
      The One To Still Be Beaten (Infotainment-wise)
      The Kona Ultimate comes equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s infotainment system. This system has consistently been one of my favorites as Hyundai nails the basics - simple interface, blazing-fast performance, and having features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. My only complaint is that the design is starting to look dated when compared to other automakers and their updated infotainment. 
      Turbo Power!
      Two powertrains are available in the Kona. SE, SEL, and SEL Plus use the 2.0L four-cylinder offering 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic. Limited and Ultimate come with the turbocharged 1.6L four producing 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet. This is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Front or all-wheel drive is available for either engine.
      Zippy is the word to describe the performance of the turbo engine. The Kona easily accelerates away from a stop and has no issue with passing a slower vehicle. The dual-clutch transmission seems to stumble when leaving a stop, but does get itself together at higher speeds. I also found the transmission is slow to react when your floor the throttle, taking a few milliseconds to downshift.
      EPA fuel economy figures for the 1.6T with AWD are 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined. My average for the week landed around 26.7 mpg, mostly due to cold weather during the week I had the Kona.
      Woah, This Crossover Handles
      If you wanted a subcompact crossover that handled decently, your choices were either the Mazda CX-3 or Toyota C-HR. The Kona enters the ring as the third choice, and possibly the best. On the backroads, the Kona feels quite agile and has almost no body roll. If I was to nitpick, the steering doesn’t have as much feel as you’ll find in the CX-3. But it feels noticeably better than the C-HR. Ride quality is impressive with most bumps being isolated from passengers sitting inside. Not too much wind and road noise come inside.
      Possibly the Best Subcompact Crossover At the Moment
      Hyundai has a very compelling package in the Kona. There is an excellent performance from the turbocharged engine, impressive driving dynamics, easy to use infotainment system, and a long list of standard equipment. There are some drawbacks with the small cargo area and rear legroom topping the list. If you need the space, a Honda HR-V would be my first pick. The dual-clutch transmission still needs a bit more work to iron out the hesitation issues I experienced. 
      That first impression I had still stands and moves the Kona not only being the best in the class at the moment, but also onto a very rarefied list; a vehicle I would considering buying.
      How I Would Configure A Kona: The only reason I see buying the Ultimate is for the adaptive cruise control as most of the other safety equipment such as blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, and forward collision avoidance are available on other models. So if I wanted the Turbo engine, then I would step down to the Limited at $26,100. For those who think that is a tad expensive still should consider the SEL Plus as it comes very well equipped for $23,950. You do sacrifice the turbo engine for the 2.0L four-cylinder which is fine if your planning to drive mostly around town. Add an additional $1,400 for all-wheel drive.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Kona, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Kona
      Trim: Ultimate
      Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC 16-Valve GDI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/29/27
      Curb Weight: 3,276 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $29,150
      As Tested Price: $ 30,380 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

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

      View full article
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