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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


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I don't see where Oldsmobile fits and would have enough sales to be around still.  Do we really need more 1.5t, 2.0t and 3.6L CUV's from GM?     

Cadillac sales peaked in the late 70s and were in steady decline in the 80s and Mercedes and BMW were on the rise.  With the Japanese coming in the 90s the sales drop continued.  The 1981 Seville

BMW sold 2.5 million last year. Honda/Acura sold 5.3 million.

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Nice review read, so performance over efficiency which explains the MPG issue. Not a fan of the NSX, so I was not thrilled to see that center stack dial knob and appreciate the feedback on how it was not easy to use. I am honestly surprised that they built it this way when Japanese are such tiny people and reaching so far for a knob to make things work is hard.

Over all Acura fans will be happy, I do not see this getting conquest sales.

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I like it a lot.  That infotainment system seems like a huge improvement on the previous dual screen system.  My wife's car has it and I hate it.  They do drive very nice, so that's a huge plus.  Also, Acurawatch safety system is not very intrusive like on some other vehicles.

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Im liking the 2021 TLX. Interior and exterior.   And with a TT 3.0 V6, I might have a canditate to replace my 2012 eventually.  Again, depending what other cars are available in 2023-2024-2025 because Im kinda  thinking about NOT spending money needlessly...  I wasnt gonna change my TL anytime soon anyway, but Covid reinforced that mindset.   I could FINALLY say that a recent new car has peaked my interest again.  And Im hoping that Acura will keep producing the 2021 TLX until  Im ready to part ways with my 2012 TL in another 3 years or so.  That will make this new gen TLX 3 years old. I dont think Acura will cancel it due to low sales... (Covid economy, CUV/SUV sales reality, etc)  Hope not.    There is nothing else out there in 2020 that I want to own.  Maybe a Cadillac CT5, but it doesnt hit the right buttons within the price range that I want to be in. A CT5 V or Blackwing is where its at with me, and THAT is too much money for me to spend on a car.  

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Love that they have kept the climate control (and hopefully seat heat/ventilation?) controls outside of the touch screen.  Red seats would be a bit too obnoxious for me.  Given the price similarity I wonder how this compares to the Blazer.

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting a bit of a ricer vibe from it , but in a good way. Has a sporty look to it- with some power to back it up. Love that blue color! Also liking the mean looking front end....

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It looks good, ups the ante for Acura/Honda cultmembers, sort of a return to form for them.

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Problem is Acura wants to position themselves as a performance brand but there are 500+ hp competitors in this segment.  So they aren’t even close to competition on performance. 
 

Acura is giving $12,000 off the RLX right now before they kill it off.  This is another brand in contraction.

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2 hours ago, smk4565 said:

Problem is Acura wants to position themselves as a performance brand but there are 500+ hp competitors in this segment.  So they aren’t even close to competition on performance. 
 

Acura is giving $12,000 off the RLX right now before they kill it off.  This is another brand in contraction.

Who is adding sedans in a CUV/SUV market?  No One I suspect.  The car sales are no longer there unlike 7-10 years ago.

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5 hours ago, smk4565 said:

Problem is Acura wants to position themselves as a performance brand

They were always a performance brand since the introduction of Acura in North America.  

Not a brutish, big block 455 V8 engine in a small, compact Civic kinda way.  But with high revving, silky smooth 4 cylinder,s great manual transmissions, great handling like a golf cart kinda way partnered up with "technological" dual overhead cam shafts and variable valve timing in a Civic and Integra.  Leading the way was Acura's Ferrari fighting mid-engine gem 1st gen NSX.  

The rest of that early line-up, were not torque monster cars. Were not high horsepower behemoths. What they were, were sporty oriented, great handling, mid level luxury cruising sedans.  The compact car Integra early on and well into its 2nd and 3rd generation were sporty, zippy and peppy things.    Fun cars to drive.    A different, very Honda approach to performance...

And they lost that in the early 2000s.  

In reality, all Acura (and Honda) is doing now, is just going back to its 1980s roots.  So, not a problem...

5 hours ago, smk4565 said:

but there are 500+ hp competitors in this segment.

What Balthy said...

And this was never Acura's image to begin with.  So...not a problem. 

5 hours ago, smk4565 said:

So they aren’t even close to competition on performance. 

Acura was always a different kind of performance. Had a different approach to performance. A different angle if you will. 

Actually, BMW first did this angle of performance with their 2002 in the 1970s.  Acura's cars emulated that. But with FWD instead of RWD.   

 

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Acura builds 2 FWD crossovers with near segment bottom power.  And they have the TLX with currently segment bottom power and the Type S that is coming is still less powerful than CT5-v I think and the Acura is wrong wheel drive with a 57/43 weight balance.

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Concerning Honda/Acura. Being FWD on their smaller cars like the Civic or the ILX  is not really an issue.  

On their mid level CUVs and TLX, being FWD with their SH-AWD  system or PAWS really is not an issue.  The SH-AWD system or PAWS takes care of any RWD bias there is because Acura's systems are that good in that all important fun in handling  category...  Which those systems are also available in their bigger CUVs. 

Concerning Acura, their problem from the 2000s all the way to 2020 is not about wrong wheel drive. 

Their problem was a lack of focus and eye off the ball of what their cars really mean to their buyers.  And of course, really ugly front fascias and really porky vehicles that stopped being about fun driving characteristics with bulky, old looking interiors.

Acuras (and Hondas) of the 1980s and 1990s, had just about the industry's most youthful looking cars exterior wise and their interiors were simple, driver oriented with sportiness in mind.  

The handling of their cars during this heyday were spirited and fun.

And then the 2000s came along and Honda/Acura became...old man cars.    

Acura always reminded me of what Oldsmobile used to be in the 1950s/1960s/1970s and certain 1980s models.  About mid-level 'sporty' luxury.  Acura, I felt, replaced Oldsmobile in the market place in the 1990s. 

And then, I felt, Acura BECAME Oldsmobile in EVERY sense of the way. In that Acura became a shadow of its former self, became  stale and 'old' in the 2000s EXACTLY how Oldsmobile became that in the 1980s and 1990s. 

Front wheel drive IS Acura's image.

NOW...its SH-AWD and  PAWS.

Acura successfully marketed this SH-AWD thing.

Acura is just now, redefining and re-engineering their cars and CUVs to fit EXACTLY that image and infusing that DNA SUCCESSFULLY into their cars and CUVs.    Acura cars and CUVs are JUST NOW, getting back that fun to drive quotient they once had in the 1980s and 1990s.

Is it too late?   Only time will tell.  Time ran out on Oldsmobile as in the mid-to late 1990s, Oldsmobile got back on track. But it was too little too late for Oldsmobile.  Will it be the same for Acura?

But one thing is for sure....Acura does NOT need RWD, does NOT need 500 HP.  If Acura does THAT, then they will surely be doomed.   Acura is ALL ABOUT the fun-to-drive quotient.   

I mentioned Oldsmobile and how Acura to me replaced Oldsmobile in the marketplace.   

I should also include BMW.  Acura closely resembles BMW.   Acura is Japan's BMW.  A FWD (and now SH-AWD)  version of BMW (of the 1970s -1990s)   

BMW has became just another CUV company with ALL their vehicles becoming fat and bloated AWD things.  Lots of HP, but disconnected to the road because of all that heft and drive by wire bullshyte they have incorporated in their driving characteristcs.

 Acura has tried to get their cars to be more connected to the driver as of late and made their cars more responsive and more fun for the driver...

One does NOT need 500 HP to be fun to drive.  I think Acura has finally found the right mixture for fun to drive cars with just the RIGHT AMOUNT of HP and weight and SH-AWD or PAWS.   

The BMW M5 has OVER 500 HP.   Closer to 600 HP with 500 some odd ft/lbs of torque.  This M5 is the FIRST M5 to NOT BE RWD.  Its AWD.  I havent heard ANYBODY say that the M5 is fun to drive...   And BMWs were at one time...fun to drive...

Ill repeat.  Acuras need not be 500plus HP.    Acuras just need to be fun to drive...  And they are fast becoming so... 

 

 

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They are doing enough to survive, but competition is far greater these days compared to their heyday of the 90s and early 2k.  Tesla has eaten up a lot of that market of entry lux vehicles with the 3 and Y, Porsche is no longer just a sports car company, Koreans are moving upmarket and investing a lot of coin attempting to do so.

 

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It is rather interesting that while Nissan/Infiniti are circling the drain, Acura is struggling because of what the Koreans are doing. 

Oldsmobile reached its sales peak in 1986 when half of the models sold were the rear-drive G-body Cutlass Supreme models.  Once that was replaced by the W-body in 1988, Olds was losing lot of sales (at least until the first Aurora).  By the time the Intrigue and the Alero showed up, Olds was on its way out for good.  If Acura was meant to replace Olds, it has wildly succeeded.  BMW of course is a tougher nut to crack.  Pontiac has been replaced by Nissan and Honda/Acura will probably replace Nissan sooner than any of us think.

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Ill go a step further.

What @frogger said about the Koreans...

Hyundai is wonderfully replacing Chevrolet cars.  The Elantra is doing in the marketplace what the Cavalier/Cobalt and Cruze did in the market and what Chevrolet failed to do as where Hyundai is succeeding.  To SUSTAIN people interested in the car.  Hyundai is also succeeding where Chevrolet failed big time with Cavalier/Cobalt/Cruze is that Hyundai seems to have a POSITIVE public image on the Elantra as where Chevrolet always had negativity surrounding its image with the Cavalier/Cobalt/Cruze trio.  

The Sonata seems to be Hyundai's equivalent to what an Impala was to Chevrolet. An upscale, classy Chevrolet with some styling pizzazz.  This new generation Sonata has gone back to the droopy faced Sonata's image.  Call that Sonata ugly if you will, that Sonata made a splash in the marketplace and lost that momentum when they revised and retracted the aggressive styling on the next gen.  This new gen, which actually looks like Chevy's last gen Malibu, seems to get back that mojo. 

KIA will replace Nissan.  I see KIA as a modern form of Datsun. If KIA doesnt get visions of grandeur.  The managers of KIA should let Hyundai and Genesis handle the higher end stuff. KIA will do wonders if they handle the lower end stuff.     

Honda will just continue to be Honda.   

Genesis is replacing Infiniti quite easily.   Acura better be careful and not let Genesis steal their food off their table.  Its up to Acura at this juncture to not let that happen.  GM dropped the ball on Pontiac, Oldsmobile.  Spent tooo much money on Saturn, but had a good starting point, but flubbed it.  Spent unnecessary money buying and trying to save SAAB. THAT money could have been spent on the road to success on Oldsmobile and perhaps, Oldsmobile would have STILL been here TODAY had GM not wasted their time on money on SAAB...

BMW will not be replaced by anybody.  What I meant to say above was that Acura is  kinda Japan's BMW.  But with FWD (SH-AWD) instead of RWD.

BMW is just killing itself.  BMW has just become just another CUV manufacturer with a few expensive, bloated sedans and coupes in the line-up.   IF EVs ever become a thing and replace ICE (which I think WILL happen), TESLA will eventually replace BMW. Especially now that autonomous driving pods may have been put to rest for good BECAUSE of Covid19. 

Acura could EASILY make fun to drive EVs and remain faithful to their fun to drive image as Acura in the future if EVs become the norm, like I have already stated, because it seems as Acura is in line of righting their ship.   I think BMW has gone tooo far off course that it seems almost impossible to get back to their roots.   Tooooo many folk just dont know about fun, handling BMWs anymore.  BMW has built toooo many bloated sedans and CUVs    SAVs  (yeah right)  for people to give a shyte about driving dynamics and about BMWs anymore.  When the next "in" car company comes along with a new generation of drivers in the next decade, I think BMW is done for.  Tesla could be that company.  But one thing is for sure, BMW is on the way out. I see the signs. In hindsight, the signs are the same ones as how Cadillac was going down in the 1980s and 1990s... 

 

 

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I don't see where Oldsmobile fits and would have enough sales to be around still.  Do we really need more 1.5t, 2.0t and 3.6L CUV's from GM? 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, frogger said:

I don't see where Oldsmobile fits and would have enough sales to be around still.  Do we really need more 1.5t, 2.0t and 3.6L CUV's from GM? 

 

Buick and GMC seem to cover the filler niche between Chevy and Cadillac pretty well..

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To be fair, Oldsmobile had a hand with GM's initial DOHC 4 and 6 cylinder engines. Lotus did Chevrolet's first DOHC V8 in the Corvette, but Oldsmobile did their own DOHC and Cadillac used it.  More precisely, Cadillac "hired" Oldsmobile to do their DOHC V8 and Oldsmobile did  a version of that to use as well. 

If a different timeline had occurred and Oldsmobile had survived, I think Oldsmobile would be on the cutting edge of automotive trends right about now so I dont think Oldsmobile would have been doing  1.5t, 2.0. and 3.6 liter V6 CUVs.   I think Oldsmobile would be doing EV CUVs right about now, trying to compete with Tesla.  And for the last 3-4 years.  I think Oldsmobile would have used the Bolt platform to do their own CUV with it.  Oldsmobile would have probably used the Volt, to do their own version and Opel, would have badge engineered the Olds version rather than Chevy's.  

I get this vibe as Oldsmobile was doing turbos first in the 1960s, before Chevy with its Corvair. Oldsmobile saw DOHC from the Japanese in the 1980s and did their very own in the mid-80s with the Quad 4, and then Shortstar V6 waaaay before any other GM division.   Oldsmobile did GM's first lux oriented SUV in the late 1980s with Bravada with the old S-10 based Blazer.  LATE 1980s...Waaaaay ahead of the SUV craze. Luxury or otherwise.  Waaaay before any BMW SAVs or Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer editions. Waaaay before OJ Simpson Bronco super slow speed chases....   Waaaaay before Jurassic Park Wrangler or Mercedes Benz MLs...   Waaaaay before Navigators and Escalades and RAV4s and Lexus RXs...

And I think this trend of Oldsmobile being ahead of trends were gonna continue. 

But...we will NEVER know...

Things happen the way they do because it is the way its suppose to be...

 

Edited by oldshurst442
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BMW worldwide outsold Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and Genesis combined last year, so I think they are doing just fine.

 

Acura might be able to pick up Infiniti’s leftovers if they fizzle from the market.  But you can get the same performance Acura has from a Sonata, Edge, RAV4 or whatever other garden variety car is out there.

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20 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

BMW worldwide outsold Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and Genesis combined last year, so I think they are doing just fine.

 

Nah. They are not.

Like I said. They are just like anybody else doing shytty CUVs.

Like I said, when another "in" car company comes in to charm the masses, BMW is done for.  

BMW does NOT do CUVs better than anybody else.  They do NOT do memorable CUVs. There are no 2002 CUV equivalents. No M badged 3 or 5 Series cars or CUVs that charm today. No CUV E36 or E 46 equivalent.  No Z3 or  Z8 or 7 Series saloon James Bond CUV equivalent movie star...

They just do the same ol same ole. Like everybody else.  They are riding on the coattails of those past vehicles. But they are NOT charming any new drivers.  New drivers are buying them BECAUSE of their past.  But when another  enthusiast car maker takes the market by storm, BMW is done for.  

In other words. The X5 and X6 have lost that loving feeling they once had.  The X7 is a disgusting design. Neither CUV just mentioned is gonna  carry the BMW flame to the next generation of BMW lovers...  The X3 and X1 are just...well, they are just the same ole same ole I was talking about. No better than a KIA RIO or Ford Escape...

THIS is what happened to Cadillac.  Cadillac too, was outselling Mercedes and BMW in the very 1990s that BMW enthusiasts all go  googoo gaagaa with E30 M3s,  E36 M3s, E46 M3s,  E34 M5 inline 6 AND V8, E39 M5s.  Cult classic Z8s and Z3s... And Cadillac...was outselling them.  But by the late 1990s. A different story all together. Same with BMW now.   Tesla has taken a fair share of market share from BMW and EV sales are still very very niche. Even Tesla sales are niche.  They are growing fast, and at the expense of many auto manufacturers. Not just BMW.  But Tesla has got that same type of following that BMW enjoyed in the 1970s/1980s and 1990s. Its taken Tesla just a decade to achieve what BMW achieved  in 30. 

Irony. 

What Cadillac did to their image in that same 30 year span that BMW took advantage of, BMW flubbed itself in just less than 20.  

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      Location of Manufacture: Ota, Gumma, Japan
      Base Price: $30,115
      As Tested Price: $34,783 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      TRD Handling Package - $1,270.00
      TRD Exhaust System - $1,100.00
      TRD Sway Bar - $550.00
      Special Color - $425.00
      Center Armrest - $199.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $169.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The 86's exterior has undergone some significant changes. The most apparent is the front where the front bumper has been swapped to give the coupe a slightly more aggressive look. There are also new headlights with the "86" logo seen on the outside edge. These changes, along with a rear wing really help the 86 still look quite fresh. A feat when you take into consideration that this car, along with its sister, the Subaru BRZ has been around for eight years. The interior boasts a new steering wheel, updated instrument cluster with a color trip computer; and a seven-inch touchscreen radio featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.  Trying to find a comfortable position the 86 took longer than I expected due to the limited amount of adjustments on offer. The sport seats provide excellent bolstering to hold you in during enthusiastic driving but falter in terms of comfort when it comes to long drives. As for the back seat, I would only recommend it for either very small kids or extra storage space. We come to the key weak point of the 86, the engine. It is the 2.0L Flat-Four from Subaru which produces 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque when equipped with the six-speed manual - figures drop by five when equipped with the automatic. Not much has changed in the performance department. At low speeds, the 86 goes along merrily. But then the power band falls off a cliff and you're left wondering when it will come back.  It doesn't help that the engine note of the 2.0L sounds like a bucket of bolts dumped into a dryer. This doesn't encourage wanting to climb higher in the rev band and giving the illusion of going faster - something Mazda does quite well with the MX-5 Miata. On my test car, an optional TRD exhaust was fitted and it somehow makes the noise worse. It sounded like a group of cats fighting one another to get that prime spot in the box from an Amazon delivery. The manual transmission does not like being shifted quickly as it becomes slightly stiff and bulky. Go slowly and the gear lever responds with a smooth and positive feel. An option that was ticked on this vehicle was the TRD handling package which adds a set of SACHS dampers. The SACHS do make an improvement in terms of body control as the 86 doesn't really exhibit any sort of roll. What you get a vehicle that is fun to toss in the corners. Helping out is the steering that responds quickly and provides a decent feel. But there is a downside to the TRD Handling package and that is the ride quality. I found the FR-S to be quite stiff and transmit most bumps and road imperfections. This package only increases the frequency and impact them. I would highly recommend driving a standard 86 against one with the Handling Pack to see which one you would prefer. The 86 GT starts at $30,115 and my tester with the two TRD options and some other items stickers at $34,783. If you drop the TRD options, then it becomes slightly better at just under $32,000.  Who is the 86 for? The obvious answer to this is someone who wants something fun to drive but doesn't have that much to spend. Of course, there are other options that offer more performance, the 86 shines on a winding road. But as someone pointed out in our interactive review, the 86 is a good option for someone who wants a blank canvas. This and the BRZ have a large aftermarket which means an owner can build their coupe to their desires. Want to upgrade the suspension and brakes? There are parts available. Feel like dropping in a larger engine? That is possible. It's a blank canvas ready for someone to make it their own. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the 86, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: 86
      Trim: GT
      Engine: 2.0L DOHC D-4S 16-Valve Flat-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 205 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 156 @ 6,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/24
      Curb Weight: 2,817 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ota, Gumma, Japan
      Base Price: $30,115
      As Tested Price: $34,783 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      TRD Handling Package - $1,270.00
      TRD Exhaust System - $1,100.00
      TRD Sway Bar - $550.00
      Special Color - $425.00
      Center Armrest - $199.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $169.00
    • By William Maley
      Back in the spring, I spent some time with two different Volvo 60 series models - the S60 Momentum and V60 Cross Country. I came away impressed with the work Volvo had done, picking Cross Country as my favorite. A couple months back, another 60 series model rolled up for a week long evaluation. This one is very different.
      Unlike most performance wagons that grab a bullhorn and shout for attention, the V60 Polestar goes for a more sedate approach. From afar, it looks like your standard V60. Get closer and you begin to see the small changes such as the lowered ride height, 20-inch grey wheels that cover up the massive gold brake calipers, and the two Polestar badges. Only changes for the interior are the Polestar logo embossed on the front headrests and gold seatbelts. Under the hood is Volvo's T8 powertrain. This is the 2.0L twin-charged four-cylinder paired with an electric motor on the rear axle to produce a total output of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque. This setup also provides all-wheel drive. It is quite shocking (pardon the pun) as to how fast the V60 Polestar goes. Step on the accelerator and it feels like you have engaged warp drive as the two powertrains work together.  But there were times where the gas engine and electric motor didn't seem to be on the same page. There would be the odd delay or surging of the gas engine when driving around town in the hybrid mode. Hopefully, this is something that could be addressed with an update to the engine software. The other party trick of the V60 Polestar is the ability to run on electric power alone. This comes from an 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack underneath the cargo floor. Volvo claims a range of 22 miles on electric power alone, but I was able to stretch it out to around 23 to 25 miles throughout the week. Recharging took around eight to eleven hours if the battery was near or fully depleted.  For the week, I saw an MPGe average of 52.1. With the battery drained, I saw the average fall to around 29.1 MPG.  Volvo turned to suspension supplier Öhlins to develop something bespoke for the V60 Polestar. What was delivered is a special set of dampers that are manually adjusted by gold-colored aluminum knobs. You'll easily find the ones in the front by opening the hood - sitting on top of the shock towers. The ones in the back are slightly harder to find as they're located above the wheels in the wheel housing. This is something that feels like more of a talking point when showing off the wagon, not something you want to mess with unless you are knowledgeable on damper tuning. The V60 Polestar may be the best handling Volvo I have driven in quite some time. The Öhlins dampers do make a difference as they minimize body roll. But the dampers cannot fully hide the massive weight of the Polestar - tipping the scales at 4,522 pounds. This makes the wagon not feel as nimble. In terms of ride quality, the V60 Polestar does well on smooth roads. Take it on a road with a litany of bumps and potholes and the ride becomes very choppy. This is where I wished Volvo had gone for a computer-controlled damper system to make the ride slightly smoother. A price tag of over $68,000 is a bit much for a Volvo, but you need to take into consideration that you're getting everything as standard. That includes the premium B&O audio system, full LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, Pilot Assist, and more. The only option on our tester is the metallic paint. Despite the price tag and rough ride, I'm happy to see Volvo venturing out and doing some wild as the V60 Polestar. This vehicle is a prime example of having your cake and eating it by delivering excellent performance and efficiency in one package. The fact that this package is in a wagon shows this for someone who doesn't want to follow the Joneses and get a performance crossover. Would this be the 60 Series model I would buy? No, that honor falls to the V60 Cross Country I drove in the early spring. But the Polestar runs a close second. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the V60 Polestar, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: V60
      Trim: T8 Polestar Engineered 
      Engine: 2.0L Twincharged DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder, Two AC Electric Motors
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 328 (gas), 46 (electric motor front), 87 (electric motor rear), 415 (combined)
      Torque @ RPM: 317 (gas), 111 (electric motor front), 177 (electric motor rear), 494 (combined)
      Fuel Economy: Combined MPGe/Gas - 69/30
      Curb Weight: 4,522 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
      Base Price: $67,300
      As Tested Price: $68,940 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Metallic Paint - $645.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Back in the spring, I spent some time with two different Volvo 60 series models - the S60 Momentum and V60 Cross Country. I came away impressed with the work Volvo had done, picking Cross Country as my favorite. A couple months back, another 60 series model rolled up for a week long evaluation. This one is very different.
      Unlike most performance wagons that grab a bullhorn and shout for attention, the V60 Polestar goes for a more sedate approach. From afar, it looks like your standard V60. Get closer and you begin to see the small changes such as the lowered ride height, 20-inch grey wheels that cover up the massive gold brake calipers, and the two Polestar badges. Only changes for the interior are the Polestar logo embossed on the front headrests and gold seatbelts. Under the hood is Volvo's T8 powertrain. This is the 2.0L twin-charged four-cylinder paired with an electric motor on the rear axle to produce a total output of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque. This setup also provides all-wheel drive. It is quite shocking (pardon the pun) as to how fast the V60 Polestar goes. Step on the accelerator and it feels like you have engaged warp drive as the two powertrains work together.  But there were times where the gas engine and electric motor didn't seem to be on the same page. There would be the odd delay or surging of the gas engine when driving around town in the hybrid mode. Hopefully, this is something that could be addressed with an update to the engine software. The other party trick of the V60 Polestar is the ability to run on electric power alone. This comes from an 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack underneath the cargo floor. Volvo claims a range of 22 miles on electric power alone, but I was able to stretch it out to around 23 to 25 miles throughout the week. Recharging took around eight to eleven hours if the battery was near or fully depleted.  For the week, I saw an MPGe average of 52.1. With the battery drained, I saw the average fall to around 29.1 MPG.  Volvo turned to suspension supplier Öhlins to develop something bespoke for the V60 Polestar. What was delivered is a special set of dampers that are manually adjusted by gold-colored aluminum knobs. You'll easily find the ones in the front by opening the hood - sitting on top of the shock towers. The ones in the back are slightly harder to find as they're located above the wheels in the wheel housing. This is something that feels like more of a talking point when showing off the wagon, not something you want to mess with unless you are knowledgeable on damper tuning. The V60 Polestar may be the best handling Volvo I have driven in quite some time. The Öhlins dampers do make a difference as they minimize body roll. But the dampers cannot fully hide the massive weight of the Polestar - tipping the scales at 4,522 pounds. This makes the wagon not feel as nimble. In terms of ride quality, the V60 Polestar does well on smooth roads. Take it on a road with a litany of bumps and potholes and the ride becomes very choppy. This is where I wished Volvo had gone for a computer-controlled damper system to make the ride slightly smoother. A price tag of over $68,000 is a bit much for a Volvo, but you need to take into consideration that you're getting everything as standard. That includes the premium B&O audio system, full LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, Pilot Assist, and more. The only option on our tester is the metallic paint. Despite the price tag and rough ride, I'm happy to see Volvo venturing out and doing some wild as the V60 Polestar. This vehicle is a prime example of having your cake and eating it by delivering excellent performance and efficiency in one package. The fact that this package is in a wagon shows this for someone who doesn't want to follow the Joneses and get a performance crossover. Would this be the 60 Series model I would buy? No, that honor falls to the V60 Cross Country I drove in the early spring. But the Polestar runs a close second. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the V60 Polestar, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: V60
      Trim: T8 Polestar Engineered 
      Engine: 2.0L Twincharged DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder, Two AC Electric Motors
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 328 (gas), 46 (electric motor front), 87 (electric motor rear), 415 (combined)
      Torque @ RPM: 317 (gas), 111 (electric motor front), 177 (electric motor rear), 494 (combined)
      Fuel Economy: Combined MPGe/Gas - 69/30
      Curb Weight: 4,522 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
      Base Price: $67,300
      As Tested Price: $68,940 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Metallic Paint - $645.00
    • By William Maley
      This week at the Cheers & Gears' Detroit bureau sees the 2020 Lexus RX 350L Lux come in for an interactive review. It has been some time since I last drove any version of the RX and it has gone some significant changes. The key one is the introduction of a three-row version - designated by the L at the end. Another welcome change is an introduction of a touchscreen for the Lexus Enform infotainment system.
      Power comes from a 3.5L V6 with 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Out the door, this RX 350 comes with an as-tested price of $63,540 with a $1,025 destination charge.
      Here are some quick thoughts,
      Acceleration isn't the RX's strong suit. The V6 moves the crossover at an adequate speed. The touchscreen makes a huge difference in overall usability with Enform. I find myself not screaming at it - both internally and externally. Third-row does eat up a lot of cargo space when up. I'll be trying to squeeze myself into the third-row along with other items throughout my week in the RX. In the meantime, drop off any questions you have.


      View full article
  • Recent Status Updates

    • Drew Dowdell

      If you get this, you are a critical thinker.
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      There are 34 people. You kill 30. How many people are in the bedroom?
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      Happy birthday, Landis!  Hope it was a good one.  Again, it would have been my dad's birthday ... and Napoleon Bonaparte's.  (Both of them were height challenged.)
      I'd be going to Mario's on that beachfront boulevard in Galveston to pig out at their Italian buffet. 
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      Happy birthday to my love Albert
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