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William Maley

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About William Maley

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  1. Trying to stay relevant in a class where various automakers have come out swinging is a difficult task. They boast more modern designs, improved performance, and more features. But in the case of the 2019 Kia Optima, this midsize still has a few tricks up its sleeve to keep it in contention. The Optima still makes its presence known thanks to an updated front end and the sloping roofline. One item that may cause some issues are the 18-inch wheels. The dual-spoke design and black painted inserts didn’t quite work the Optima’s design to my eyes. But others who saw the vehicle thought it made the sedan look sporty. Not much has changed inside since our last look back in 2017. It may lack the excitement and wow in terms of design that you’ll find in competitors, but Optima nails the ease of use with many of the controls laid out logically. Front seats provide excellent support and space for any trip length. Those in the back will find plenty of legroom, but headroom is at a premium due to the sloping roofline. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic. Lesser models get either a 2.4L four-cylinder (185 horsepower) or a 1.6L turbo-four (178 horsepower). The turbo 2.0L is still a fantastic engine thanks in part to its flat torque curve - 1,350 to 4,000 rpm. This not only minimizes turbo-lag but makes the sedan feel more spritely than what the figures suggest. The automatic may lack the extra gears found in competitors, but it still provides smooth and rapid shifts. Fuel economy is where the 2.0L comes up short. EPA figures are 21 City/30 Highway/24 Combined, trailing the Honda Accord with its turbo 2.0L - 22/32/26. My average for the week landed at 25 mpg. Handling has been one of the Optima’s strong traits, especially in SX and SXL guises. It shows off minimal body roll and quick reflexes. The Mazda6 does hold a slight edge over the Optima as it provides more heft when turning. The sport-tuned suspension under the SX does mean the ride isn’t as comfortable as you’ll find in competitors, but it will not cause you or your passengers to cry uncle when driving on a bumpy road. Wind and road noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Pricing is the Optima’s big draw with a base of $22,990 for the LX and that includes several active safety features such as blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, and lane keep assist. The SX begins at $31,990 and comes loaded with items such as ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and navigation. Despite its age and new competition, the Optima is very much a contender. For the price, the sedan offers an abundance of features and surprising performance. The design hasn’t aged either which could make anyone think it just came from an auto show. But the Optima does falter in terms of fuel economy and rear headroom. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Optima Trim: SX Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/30/24 Curb Weight: 3,558 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $31,900 As Tested Price: $33,315 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: Snow White Pearl Paint - $495.00 View full article
  2. Trying to stay relevant in a class where various automakers have come out swinging is a difficult task. They boast more modern designs, improved performance, and more features. But in the case of the 2019 Kia Optima, this midsize still has a few tricks up its sleeve to keep it in contention. The Optima still makes its presence known thanks to an updated front end and the sloping roofline. One item that may cause some issues are the 18-inch wheels. The dual-spoke design and black painted inserts didn’t quite work the Optima’s design to my eyes. But others who saw the vehicle thought it made the sedan look sporty. Not much has changed inside since our last look back in 2017. It may lack the excitement and wow in terms of design that you’ll find in competitors, but Optima nails the ease of use with many of the controls laid out logically. Front seats provide excellent support and space for any trip length. Those in the back will find plenty of legroom, but headroom is at a premium due to the sloping roofline. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic. Lesser models get either a 2.4L four-cylinder (185 horsepower) or a 1.6L turbo-four (178 horsepower). The turbo 2.0L is still a fantastic engine thanks in part to its flat torque curve - 1,350 to 4,000 rpm. This not only minimizes turbo-lag but makes the sedan feel more spritely than what the figures suggest. The automatic may lack the extra gears found in competitors, but it still provides smooth and rapid shifts. Fuel economy is where the 2.0L comes up short. EPA figures are 21 City/30 Highway/24 Combined, trailing the Honda Accord with its turbo 2.0L - 22/32/26. My average for the week landed at 25 mpg. Handling has been one of the Optima’s strong traits, especially in SX and SXL guises. It shows off minimal body roll and quick reflexes. The Mazda6 does hold a slight edge over the Optima as it provides more heft when turning. The sport-tuned suspension under the SX does mean the ride isn’t as comfortable as you’ll find in competitors, but it will not cause you or your passengers to cry uncle when driving on a bumpy road. Wind and road noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Pricing is the Optima’s big draw with a base of $22,990 for the LX and that includes several active safety features such as blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, and lane keep assist. The SX begins at $31,990 and comes loaded with items such as ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and navigation. Despite its age and new competition, the Optima is very much a contender. For the price, the sedan offers an abundance of features and surprising performance. The design hasn’t aged either which could make anyone think it just came from an auto show. But the Optima does falter in terms of fuel economy and rear headroom. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Optima Trim: SX Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/30/24 Curb Weight: 3,558 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $31,900 As Tested Price: $33,315 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: Snow White Pearl Paint - $495.00
  3. Basically what he said. I try to be aware of my biases, even wrote some thoughts on it a few years back - https://contradictoryenigmas.tumblr.com/post/154206882939/bias-creep-redux
  4. Automakers want to be first into a new segment for various reasons. They can become the icon for the class and grab a fair chunk of sales as competitors rush to get their models in. There is a significant downside to being first as it allows some of the competition to study and figure out where to improve on. This brings us to the 2019 Volvo XC40 which is the focus of today’s review. It was one of the late arrivals to the subcompact luxury crossover class, but it allowed the automaker to study and figure what it could improve on. How does it stack up? The XC40 shares various design traits with the XC60 and XC90 crossovers. They include a familiar boxy profile, wide rectangular grille, and LED headlights with the signature “Thor’s Hammer” element. But Volvo allowed their designers to play around to give it a distinct identity. Take for example the side profile with its beltline that sharply rakes along the rear door and meets the rear pillar. There is also the option of a two-tone color palette that gives the XC40 a youthful look. Inside, the XC40 follows the ideals as seen in other Volvos with a minimalist look. But again, Volvo gave free roam to their designers to make it slightly different. While my test vehicle didn’t come with the bright ‘Lava Orange’ carpet, there is patterned metal trim where you would expect to find wood and felt-like material covering parts of the door panels. There is a fair amount of hard plastics used, but Volvo made the smart decision of keeping them in places where they make sense such as panels covering the center console. My R-Design tester came with leather upholstery for the seats, along with power adjustments for those sitting in the front. The front seats are the best place to sit in as they offer plenty of support and comfort for any drive length. In the back, there plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. But the XC40 falters on the seats as the bottom cushions come up a bit short and the seat-back doesn’t have any form of recline. Volvo’s technology story in the XC40 is mixed. The reconfigurable 12.3-inch display for the instrument cluster is a delight to look at with vibrant graphics and different layouts to present key information. Move over to the center stack to find a nine-inch touchscreen with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Many of the controls for audio, climate control, and systems are controlled through the screen, with a row of buttons sitting underneath for volume and a few other functions. This decision does make for a cleaner dash but also makes accomplishing simple tasks very irritating. To change the fan speed or audio input, you have to go through various screens to find that one menu or slider. Adding more physical buttons would clutter up the dash, but would massively improve overall usability. What engine comes under the hood of the XC40 ultimately depends on the driven wheels. Go for front-wheel drive and you’ll end up with the T4 - turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 187 horsepower. Opt for all-wheel drive like in my tester and you’ll get the T5 - the same 2.0L four, but with 248 horsepower. Both come paired with an eight-speed automatic. The T5 is the workhorse of Volvo’s lineup by boasting decent performance and fuel economy for most of their models. In the XC40, the T5 becomes a surprising performer with excellent off the line performance and a seemingly endless flow of power when needed for passing. Some credit is due to the 258 pound-feet of torque which is available on the low end of the rpm band. The eight-speed automatic provided timely and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is rated at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 24 mpg. Opting for the R-Design does change up the chassis setup with an emphasis on sporty driving. This is apparent in the bends as the XC40 feels confident with minimal body roll and quick reflexes. Steering is responsive, but there will be some who wished there was a little bit more weight dialed in. The downside to the R-Design’s chassis is the ride feeling slightly rough, not helped by the optional 20-inch alloy wheels fitted to my tester. Despite being somewhat late to the party, the Volvo XC40 stands out from the subcompact luxury crossover crowd. The styling inside and out put the model into its own space that competitors dream about, along with offering a strong performer in the form of the T5 engine. Where the XC40 stands out is the Care By Volvo subscription service. Starting at $700 a month for 24 months, this service gives you the vehicle, complimentary maintenance, insurance, and the ability to upgrade your vehicle to another one after 12 months. No one has been able to match what Volvo is offering. The XC40 shows that if you bring something compelling to the party, it doesn’t matter how late you are. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the XC40, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Volvo Model: XC40 Trim: T5 R-Design Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 248 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,713 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ghent, Belgium Base Price: $35,700 As Tested Price: $46,385 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: R-Design Features - $2,500.00 Laminated Panoramic Sunroof - $1,200.00 Vision Package - $1,100.00 Advanced Package - $995.00 Premium Package - $900.00 20" 5-Double Spoke Matte Black Alloy Wheels - $800.00 Harman Kardon Audio System - $800.00 Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel - $750.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00 View full article
  5. Automakers want to be first into a new segment for various reasons. They can become the icon for the class and grab a fair chunk of sales as competitors rush to get their models in. There is a significant downside to being first as it allows some of the competition to study and figure out where to improve on. This brings us to the 2019 Volvo XC40 which is the focus of today’s review. It was one of the late arrivals to the subcompact luxury crossover class, but it allowed the automaker to study and figure what it could improve on. How does it stack up? The XC40 shares various design traits with the XC60 and XC90 crossovers. They include a familiar boxy profile, wide rectangular grille, and LED headlights with the signature “Thor’s Hammer” element. But Volvo allowed their designers to play around to give it a distinct identity. Take for example the side profile with its beltline that sharply rakes along the rear door and meets the rear pillar. There is also the option of a two-tone color palette that gives the XC40 a youthful look. Inside, the XC40 follows the ideals as seen in other Volvos with a minimalist look. But again, Volvo gave free roam to their designers to make it slightly different. While my test vehicle didn’t come with the bright ‘Lava Orange’ carpet, there is patterned metal trim where you would expect to find wood and felt-like material covering parts of the door panels. There is a fair amount of hard plastics used, but Volvo made the smart decision of keeping them in places where they make sense such as panels covering the center console. My R-Design tester came with leather upholstery for the seats, along with power adjustments for those sitting in the front. The front seats are the best place to sit in as they offer plenty of support and comfort for any drive length. In the back, there plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. But the XC40 falters on the seats as the bottom cushions come up a bit short and the seat-back doesn’t have any form of recline. Volvo’s technology story in the XC40 is mixed. The reconfigurable 12.3-inch display for the instrument cluster is a delight to look at with vibrant graphics and different layouts to present key information. Move over to the center stack to find a nine-inch touchscreen with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Many of the controls for audio, climate control, and systems are controlled through the screen, with a row of buttons sitting underneath for volume and a few other functions. This decision does make for a cleaner dash but also makes accomplishing simple tasks very irritating. To change the fan speed or audio input, you have to go through various screens to find that one menu or slider. Adding more physical buttons would clutter up the dash, but would massively improve overall usability. What engine comes under the hood of the XC40 ultimately depends on the driven wheels. Go for front-wheel drive and you’ll end up with the T4 - turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 187 horsepower. Opt for all-wheel drive like in my tester and you’ll get the T5 - the same 2.0L four, but with 248 horsepower. Both come paired with an eight-speed automatic. The T5 is the workhorse of Volvo’s lineup by boasting decent performance and fuel economy for most of their models. In the XC40, the T5 becomes a surprising performer with excellent off the line performance and a seemingly endless flow of power when needed for passing. Some credit is due to the 258 pound-feet of torque which is available on the low end of the rpm band. The eight-speed automatic provided timely and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is rated at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 24 mpg. Opting for the R-Design does change up the chassis setup with an emphasis on sporty driving. This is apparent in the bends as the XC40 feels confident with minimal body roll and quick reflexes. Steering is responsive, but there will be some who wished there was a little bit more weight dialed in. The downside to the R-Design’s chassis is the ride feeling slightly rough, not helped by the optional 20-inch alloy wheels fitted to my tester. Despite being somewhat late to the party, the Volvo XC40 stands out from the subcompact luxury crossover crowd. The styling inside and out put the model into its own space that competitors dream about, along with offering a strong performer in the form of the T5 engine. Where the XC40 stands out is the Care By Volvo subscription service. Starting at $700 a month for 24 months, this service gives you the vehicle, complimentary maintenance, insurance, and the ability to upgrade your vehicle to another one after 12 months. No one has been able to match what Volvo is offering. The XC40 shows that if you bring something compelling to the party, it doesn’t matter how late you are. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the XC40, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Volvo Model: XC40 Trim: T5 R-Design Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 248 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,713 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ghent, Belgium Base Price: $35,700 As Tested Price: $46,385 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: R-Design Features - $2,500.00 Laminated Panoramic Sunroof - $1,200.00 Vision Package - $1,100.00 Advanced Package - $995.00 Premium Package - $900.00 20" 5-Double Spoke Matte Black Alloy Wheels - $800.00 Harman Kardon Audio System - $800.00 Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel - $750.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00
  6. The last-generation Lexus LS felt a bit lost. It had many of the qualities of previous LS models, but it could not fully compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series. People pointed out the somewhat plain design, lackluster performance of the V8 engine, or the confounding infotainment system as possible reasons. But I think the reason comes down to Lexus not having something that made the LS stand out. How do you right the ship of what many considered to be at one time, the best luxury sedan on sale? If you’re Lexus, that means making some very drastic changes. Lexus has tended to play it safe with the LS’ design to fit with the general idea of a flagship sedan - providing a presence without shouting. But this new generation decides to stray away from that idea. The front end features a lot of inspiration from LC coupe with a wide grille, protruding cutouts for the faux vent, and a lowered hood. A set of Z-shaped LED headlights help the LS stand out from other Lexus models. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the previous model with slightly wider fenders and a new trunk lid design. One of the places that LS surprised me was the interior. The layout is quite attractive with a flowing dash and contours on the door panels. A clever touch is the horizontal slat pattern used on the center part of the dash that somewhat disguises the center vents. Material quality is top-notch with leather, real wood, and metal used throughout. This particular test vehicle was equipped with perforated leather upholstery which had a unique snakeskin pattern. I quite liked it, but some who rode in the vehicle found it to be a bit gaudy. This seat pattern is only available on the F-Sport, all other LS models have a plain design. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide numerous power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of legroom, but tall passengers will be annoyed by their heads touching the roof liner, a major downside to the lower roofline. The interior also houses a big disappointment; Lexus Remote Touch. The touchpad controller is still confounding and distracting to use as you need to be precise with your finger movements to correctly select the function you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up on another screen and want to scream. This is disappointing considering that Lexus Enform has improved a lot. The system is noticeably quicker in various functions and can use Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Despite the 500 designation, there is not a 5.0L V8 under the LS’ hood. Instead, Lexus is using a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic routes power to either the rear or all four wheels like in my test vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 is disappointing when leaving a stop as there is a considerable amount of turbo lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding. Once you get past this, the V6 provides plenty of scoot. Never once did I think that the V8 would be better whenever I need to merge or speed out of a corner. It is also noticeably quieter and more refined than the old V8. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined if you opt for AWD. Stick with RWD and the numbers rise to 19/30/23. My average for the week landed at 20.2 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Picking the F-Sport trim will get you a revised suspension setup and uprated brakes. It will not transform the LS into something like an Alpina B7 or a Mercedes-AMG S63, but it does make the vehicle feel a bit more poised on a winding road. When put into S+ mode, Body roll is kept in check and the steering is quick to respond. The coil springs used on the LS F-Sport are a bit stiff, which will provide a more choppy ride. An optional air suspension is reportedly better at dealing with bumps and other imperfections, but I will need to try it out before saying it is better or not. This drastic move by Lexus with the new LS could have gone wrong, but it pulls it off. The new model is more interesting to look at, luxurious and offers improved driving dynamics when ordered with the F-Sport package. There are still some thorns Lexus needs to extract such as the poor initial performance of the twin-turbo six and the mess that is Remote Touch. If you’re willing to deal with these issues, then the 2019 LS is a very viable alternative to the Germans. How I would configure an LS 500: Most likely I would build one similar to the one seen here, although I would get it in red as I think the paint really makes the design pop. Alternatives to the LS 500 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is still considered by many to be the best of the best. Considering its wide range of engines, very smooth ride, and impressive interior quality, it is tough to argue this. But the LS comes very close to matching the S-Class's interior quality, along with a more eye-catching design. It doesn't help that the S-Class is about $7,000 more than the LS. Genesis G90: Still the bargain in the flagship sedan class with a base price of $69,350 and coming with almost every feature you would expect. The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 offers better off-the line performance than the 3.5 found in the LS. But the LS offers higher quality interior materials than what is available in the G90. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 500 F-Sport Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo 24-Valve DOHC V6 Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 416 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 442 @1600 - 4800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 5,027 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $84,420 As Tested Price: $88,605 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System with 23 Speakers - $1,940.00 24-Inch Heads-Up Display - $1,220.00 View full article
  7. The last-generation Lexus LS felt a bit lost. It had many of the qualities of previous LS models, but it could not fully compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series. People pointed out the somewhat plain design, lackluster performance of the V8 engine, or the confounding infotainment system as possible reasons. But I think the reason comes down to Lexus not having something that made the LS stand out. How do you right the ship of what many considered to be at one time, the best luxury sedan on sale? If you’re Lexus, that means making some very drastic changes. Lexus has tended to play it safe with the LS’ design to fit with the general idea of a flagship sedan - providing a presence without shouting. But this new generation decides to stray away from that idea. The front end features a lot of inspiration from LC coupe with a wide grille, protruding cutouts for the faux vent, and a lowered hood. A set of Z-shaped LED headlights help the LS stand out from other Lexus models. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the previous model with slightly wider fenders and a new trunk lid design. One of the places that LS surprised me was the interior. The layout is quite attractive with a flowing dash and contours on the door panels. A clever touch is the horizontal slat pattern used on the center part of the dash that somewhat disguises the center vents. Material quality is top-notch with leather, real wood, and metal used throughout. This particular test vehicle was equipped with perforated leather upholstery which had a unique snakeskin pattern. I quite liked it, but some who rode in the vehicle found it to be a bit gaudy. This seat pattern is only available on the F-Sport, all other LS models have a plain design. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide numerous power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of legroom, but tall passengers will be annoyed by their heads touching the roof liner, a major downside to the lower roofline. The interior also houses a big disappointment; Lexus Remote Touch. The touchpad controller is still confounding and distracting to use as you need to be precise with your finger movements to correctly select the function you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up on another screen and want to scream. This is disappointing considering that Lexus Enform has improved a lot. The system is noticeably quicker in various functions and can use Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Despite the 500 designation, there is not a 5.0L V8 under the LS’ hood. Instead, Lexus is using a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic routes power to either the rear or all four wheels like in my test vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 is disappointing when leaving a stop as there is a considerable amount of turbo lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding. Once you get past this, the V6 provides plenty of scoot. Never once did I think that the V8 would be better whenever I need to merge or speed out of a corner. It is also noticeably quieter and more refined than the old V8. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined if you opt for AWD. Stick with RWD and the numbers rise to 19/30/23. My average for the week landed at 20.2 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Picking the F-Sport trim will get you a revised suspension setup and uprated brakes. It will not transform the LS into something like an Alpina B7 or a Mercedes-AMG S63, but it does make the vehicle feel a bit more poised on a winding road. When put into S+ mode, Body roll is kept in check and the steering is quick to respond. The coil springs used on the LS F-Sport are a bit stiff, which will provide a more choppy ride. An optional air suspension is reportedly better at dealing with bumps and other imperfections, but I will need to try it out before saying it is better or not. This drastic move by Lexus with the new LS could have gone wrong, but it pulls it off. The new model is more interesting to look at, luxurious and offers improved driving dynamics when ordered with the F-Sport package. There are still some thorns Lexus needs to extract such as the poor initial performance of the twin-turbo six and the mess that is Remote Touch. If you’re willing to deal with these issues, then the 2019 LS is a very viable alternative to the Germans. How I would configure an LS 500: Most likely I would build one similar to the one seen here, although I would get it in red as I think the paint really makes the design pop. Alternatives to the LS 500 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is still considered by many to be the best of the best. Considering its wide range of engines, very smooth ride, and impressive interior quality, it is tough to argue this. But the LS comes very close to matching the S-Class's interior quality, along with a more eye-catching design. It doesn't help that the S-Class is about $7,000 more than the LS. Genesis G90: Still the bargain in the flagship sedan class with a base price of $69,350 and coming with almost every feature you would expect. The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 offers better off-the line performance than the 3.5 found in the LS. But the LS offers higher quality interior materials than what is available in the G90. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 500 F-Sport Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo 24-Valve DOHC V6 Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 416 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 442 @1600 - 4800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 5,027 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $84,420 As Tested Price: $88,605 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System with 23 Speakers - $1,940.00 24-Inch Heads-Up Display - $1,220.00
  8. What a difference that four years make. That's the timeframe from the first Kia electric I reviewed (Soul EV) to the model seen here, the 2019 Niro EV. So much has changed in terms of battery technology and overall range that I could see myself having an electric vehicle as a primary mode of transport. There are some still some issues that make me think twice, but they are getting smaller. Kia avoided the trend of going crazy with the Niro EV’s design. Little touches such as blue accent trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and closed-front grille hiding the charging port help the EV stand apart from other Niro models. Changes inside are even smaller with a new center console featuring a dial control for the drive selector. This move is very smart as many buyers really don’t want their vehicle to shout “LOOK AT ME” when driving. The electric powertrain in the Niro EV packs quite the punch - 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is up 62 and 92 respectively from the Niro Hybrid I drove a few years back. Providing the electricity is a 64 kWh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery that provides an estimated range of 239 miles. Kia says the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in under eight seconds. But I found it to be slightly quicker thanks to all of the torque being available instantly. Merging onto a freeway is where the electric powertrain does lose steam - blame a hefty curb weight of 3,854 pounds. I saw a maximum range of 208 to 210 miles throughout my week. This was due to cold temperatures ranging from low 30s to high 40s. But I was able to do a forty-mile round-trip commute for most of the week without having any range anxiety issues. Charging anxiety is a different story. If you have been reading my electric and plug-in hybrid reviews, then you’ll know that I only have access to 120V charging at home. Plugging the Niro EV after my day job meant waiting over sixteen hours for a full charge. This caused me to not want to venture out far unless I had some important errands to run as it would mean a longer time for a recharge. If I had completely depleted the battery, I would be waiting over two days for the battery to recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that time drops to 9.5 hours for a full-recharge. Finding a quick charger has gotten easier in the past year or two, but it is still a hit and miss affair. There are no quick chargers near where I live (unless I have a Tesla). It's slightly better further south where I work as there some around the area. But that introduces its own set of problems such setting aside the time to charge up the vehicle to finding if one works. I should note that I didn’t get the chance to try quick charging with the Niro EV during my week. Handling is slightly better in the Niro EV thanks to the additional weight of the battery pack which reduces body roll. Steering is very light when turning, but will surprise you with how quick and accurate it deals with changes in direction. Ride quality is a little bit firm with some bumps and imperfections making their way inside. Where the Niro EV shines is noise isolation. During my work commute, I was surprised by how little wind and road noise came inside. The major downside to the Niro EV is its limited availability. At the time of this writing, Kia is only selling the Niro EV is twelve states - most of them having Zero Emission Vehicle (or ZEV) programs that require automakers to sell a certain amount of electric vehicles in their lineups. Nothing is stopping you from purchasing a Niro EV in one of the states that it is available, but I’m wondering how many people will do that. Pricing for the Niro EV begins at $38,500 for the base EX model. I had the EX Premium at $44,000 which adds such goodies as an eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats; sunroof. Add in a $1,000 Launch Edition package (LED headlights, front parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror), and my as-tested price came to $45,995. Expensive bit of kit, but the Niro EV does come with a long list of standard features including heated outside mirrors with power folding; seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. Plus, the Niro EV qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which may sway some buyers when it comes time to do their taxes. The Kia Niro EV is the first electric vehicle that I could see myself living with. It drives for the most part as a normal vehicle and offers enough range for most people. The big item you need to be aware of is charging. If you decide to purchase, be sure to get a 240V charger and check to see if there are any sort of fast chargers in your area. It may mean the difference between worry-free and a large amount of anxiety. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro EV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Niro EV Trim: EX Premium Engine: 356V Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Pack Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 3,800 - 8,000 Torque @ RPM: 291 @ 0 - 3,600 Estimated Range: 239 Miles Curb Weight: 3,854 lbs Location of Manufacture: Base Price: $44,000 As Tested Price: $46,045 (Includes $1,045.00 Destination Charge) Options: Launch Edition - $1,000.00 View full article
  9. What a difference that four years make. That's the timeframe from the first Kia electric I reviewed (Soul EV) to the model seen here, the 2019 Niro EV. So much has changed in terms of battery technology and overall range that I could see myself having an electric vehicle as a primary mode of transport. There are some still some issues that make me think twice, but they are getting smaller. Kia avoided the trend of going crazy with the Niro EV’s design. Little touches such as blue accent trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and closed-front grille hiding the charging port help the EV stand apart from other Niro models. Changes inside are even smaller with a new center console featuring a dial control for the drive selector. This move is very smart as many buyers really don’t want their vehicle to shout “LOOK AT ME” when driving. The electric powertrain in the Niro EV packs quite the punch - 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is up 62 and 92 respectively from the Niro Hybrid I drove a few years back. Providing the electricity is a 64 kWh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery that provides an estimated range of 239 miles. Kia says the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in under eight seconds. But I found it to be slightly quicker thanks to all of the torque being available instantly. Merging onto a freeway is where the electric powertrain does lose steam - blame a hefty curb weight of 3,854 pounds. I saw a maximum range of 208 to 210 miles throughout my week. This was due to cold temperatures ranging from low 30s to high 40s. But I was able to do a forty-mile round-trip commute for most of the week without having any range anxiety issues. Charging anxiety is a different story. If you have been reading my electric and plug-in hybrid reviews, then you’ll know that I only have access to 120V charging at home. Plugging the Niro EV after my day job meant waiting over sixteen hours for a full charge. This caused me to not want to venture out far unless I had some important errands to run as it would mean a longer time for a recharge. If I had completely depleted the battery, I would be waiting over two days for the battery to recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that time drops to 9.5 hours for a full-recharge. Finding a quick charger has gotten easier in the past year or two, but it is still a hit and miss affair. There are no quick chargers near where I live (unless I have a Tesla). It's slightly better further south where I work as there some around the area. But that introduces its own set of problems such setting aside the time to charge up the vehicle to finding if one works. I should note that I didn’t get the chance to try quick charging with the Niro EV during my week. Handling is slightly better in the Niro EV thanks to the additional weight of the battery pack which reduces body roll. Steering is very light when turning, but will surprise you with how quick and accurate it deals with changes in direction. Ride quality is a little bit firm with some bumps and imperfections making their way inside. Where the Niro EV shines is noise isolation. During my work commute, I was surprised by how little wind and road noise came inside. The major downside to the Niro EV is its limited availability. At the time of this writing, Kia is only selling the Niro EV is twelve states - most of them having Zero Emission Vehicle (or ZEV) programs that require automakers to sell a certain amount of electric vehicles in their lineups. Nothing is stopping you from purchasing a Niro EV in one of the states that it is available, but I’m wondering how many people will do that. Pricing for the Niro EV begins at $38,500 for the base EX model. I had the EX Premium at $44,000 which adds such goodies as an eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats; sunroof. Add in a $1,000 Launch Edition package (LED headlights, front parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror), and my as-tested price came to $45,995. Expensive bit of kit, but the Niro EV does come with a long list of standard features including heated outside mirrors with power folding; seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. Plus, the Niro EV qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which may sway some buyers when it comes time to do their taxes. The Kia Niro EV is the first electric vehicle that I could see myself living with. It drives for the most part as a normal vehicle and offers enough range for most people. The big item you need to be aware of is charging. If you decide to purchase, be sure to get a 240V charger and check to see if there are any sort of fast chargers in your area. It may mean the difference between worry-free and a large amount of anxiety. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro EV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Niro EV Trim: EX Premium Engine: 356V Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Pack Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 3,800 - 8,000 Torque @ RPM: 291 @ 0 - 3,600 Estimated Range: 239 Miles Curb Weight: 3,854 lbs Location of Manufacture: Base Price: $44,000 As Tested Price: $46,045 (Includes $1,045.00 Destination Charge) Options: Launch Edition - $1,000.00

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