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About igozoom

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    Stock Member
  • Birthday 02/10/1975

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  • Location
    Lake Arrowhead, Georgia
  • Interests
    Cars (Mazda and Volvo), computers, my four-legged kids (goofy Golden Retriever and the cat that owns him)...
  1. While I was going through the specs for the Altima 2.5S again, I just realized something that could partially explain the less-than-responsive handling. The Altima 2.5S uses T-rated tires, while most other base mid-sizers (Accord LX, Fusion S, use H-rated; other Accords, Mazda6 and Fusion SE use V-rated). Only the Camry LE used tires with a lower speed rating than the Altima, S-rated which I had never even heard of before. Logically, you would think that S, T and V-speed ratings are higher than H…..but that would make far too much sense! The ratings of tires used on regular cars start with S, followed by T, U, H and V…followed by Z, W, Y (although few ‘regular’ cars will have the latter three, as they are rated at maximum speeds of 149+mph, 168mph and 186mph respectively). S-rated tires are capable of up to 112mph, T- up to 118mph, U- to 124mph, H- to 130mph and V- to 149mph. When I first learned about speed ratings and what they meant, my immediate thought was why the heck did my car come with V-rated tires (up to 149mph) when my car has a speed limiter around 119mph. That was my 2006 Mazda3 and I’m just assuming that it was limited to 119mph….I didn’t learn that through actual experience…nope, not me….and that’s the story I’m sticking to! =) But along with the higher maximum speeds, each higher rating has other attributes that determine how the tire performs. As a rule, lower speed ratings are going to provide better ride quality while higher ratings will offer the best handling. So even at 60mph, the difference between an S-rated and H-rated tire could be evident in ride quality and, at even lower speeds, in handling performance. The use of 16” wheels/tires is kind of dinky as well. The Camry and Accord also have 16s on their base models, but Mazda, Ford and even Chrysler start out with 17s. So the Altima 2.5S had tires that were far from performance-oriented and they were on 16" wheels which looked undersized on the car. The step up to the Altima 2.5SV adds 17" alloy wheels and V-rated tires, which improve the car's appearance significantly and should have a similar impact on handling. The sporty 2.5SR goes ups that to 18" alloys also with V-rated tires.
  2. That is a tough question to answer…..just one thing? I’m assuming that you’re asking about a specific feature rather than a generalization (such as better handling, higher quality interior materials). Even though it’s not expected in a car of this class and price, it is definitely a car that needs Blind Spot Monitoring! The Altima 2.5SV (base price $25,460) includes Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA)…which I consider to be one feature since they use the same sensors and are usually packaged together. It is becoming more common either as an option or standard feature on many new cars, but it is usually available only on upper trim levels and/or as part of an expensive option package. Volvo pioneered the technology, known as the Blind Spot Information System (or by the acronym BLIS), but it is still a $925 option on even the higher trim levels of the Volvo S60. When I first heard about Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), I thought it sounded like a ridiculous waste of money. Technology just for the sake of making cars more complicated. If you know how to properly adjust your mirrors, you don’t need a BSM…. After owning a Mazda CX-9 with BSM for just over 3.5 years and 58k miles, I will readily admit that I was wrong! A lot of cars designs make it harder than ever to see the full ‘blind spot’ even with proper mirror adjustment. The Altima is one of those cars. My CX-9 doesn’t have the Rear-Cross Traffic Alert function, that was added the year after mine, but it is a great help when backing out of a parking spot or into a road. Even with BSM, I still check my mirrors (and usually glance quickly over my shoulder) before making a lane change. Even so, it has saved me from a potentially serious accident at least one time in the past few years. I was driving on a local highway just after dark one evening on my way home. In my Mazda, a warning light illuminates on the exterior mirror when a vehicle is detected in the ‘blind spot range’. In a split second, the truck ahead of me dropped a large piece of office furniture (a file cabinet, I think) into my direct path of travel. I was in the right lane of two northbound lanes and my instinct would be to swerve to the left to avoid crashing into the obstacle. BUT I had noticed the warning symbol illuminate on my driver’s side mirror maybe 20-30 seconds earlier, so I knew there was a car on my left side. Somehow, I was able to process all of that information and swerve (while braking hard from a speed of 70mph+) into the ‘emergency lane’ on the right side instead. I was able to maintain control of the car and come to a stop without a collision with another vehicle. So BSMs are an essential safety feature, in my opinion. Even though I am a two-time Mazda owner and fan of the brand, I think credit should be given where it’s due. Mazda has the widest availability of Blind Spot Monitoring of any vehicle brand. All Mazda3s except the base ‘i Sport’ has BSM and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert standard. On the ‘i Sport’ it’s offered as part of a $1000 option package that includes a lot of other features. Honda has their own rather unique LaneWatch feature, which only monitors that left/passenger side of the vehicle and displays the view on the center infotainment screen. It’s a more sophisticated system that most, but it leaves the driver side vulnerable.
  3. I travel a lot for work and rent cars 40+ times per year. After several years of dealing with substandard rentals (calling most of them mediocre would be a complement….and a lie), I realized that reserving a “Premium” car was the only way to be guaranteed a decent vehicle. The ‘Premium’ class can be anything from a Taurus Limited, Impala LTZ or Toyota Avalon to a Volvo S60. Recently, I had to fly to Memphis (from Atlanta) for a few days and made my rental reservation the day before I was arriving. I booked a Premium, but when I got to the lot (where I could usually pick a car using my Fastbreak card and be gone in a few minutes) there was nothing that fit the bill. Usually, at least with Budget, that means a free upgrade to a Grand Cherokee or Volvo XC60…but this time I only had two choices- a Chrysler 200 or Nissan Altima. My disdain for CVTs is only surpassed by my hatred of the Chrysler 200 (especially the 4-cylinder base models in rental fleets). So the Altima was, by default, my only choice. My only decision was whether to pick the hideous dark brown (Java Metallic) or medium-dark red (Cayenne Red). The black interior of the red one made the decision for me because beige rental car interiors can be especially grotesque. I’ve had some rentals in the past with beige or light gray interior that should have included a bottle of penicillin (use your imagination)! My rental was a 2.5S model, which is effectively the base model. Going off on a bit of a tangent, there is a trim level below the 2.5S simply called the 2.5. It’s only $400 cheaper and it lacks cruise control, backup camera, NissanConnect infotainment system, the ‘request’ button to lock/unlock doors without fumbling for a remote/fob and even a cabin air filter. It also loses two speakers (4 vs 6), illuminated visor mirrors, one seatback pocket, auto-on function for headlights, USB port and individual tire pressure monitor display for the TPMS. Considering that the 2.5 only accounts for 1.2% of the 62k Altimas currently in stock at dealers (29.5% are the 2.5S, like my rental), it defies (my) logic that there’s only a $400 difference in price for so many features. Just the manufacturing differences building such a small number (roughly 4000 using the 2015 sales total of 333k) of cars with different visors, no seatback pocket on one seat, different center control displays, etc. make no sense to me. Ironically, the price of the 2.5 is $182 higher on TrueCar than the 2.5S (in Georgia, at least). But back to my review… I’m not a fan of Nissan’s current design “language” and the Altima is no exception. Car & Driver shares my opinion and noted, while it shares a family resemblance with the Murano and Maxima, “this styling language still seems awkward to our eyes…especially if there’s a Mazda6 parked nearby!” It lands in third place, in my eyes, as the least attractive looking mid-size sedan following the Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry. But people rarely buy a car like this for looks. The interior was a mix of pleasant surprises and disappointments. The trunk was huge and there was more than enough room for my 6’2” 240# frame. The charcoal cloth seat fabric looked and felt nicer than expected. The driver’s seat was comfortable during the 15-20 minute trips I drove to/from my hotel and the company I was auditing. But I suspect the lack of lumbar support would be painfully obvious after an hour or so. Those are the only positive things I can say about the interior. The interior controls and layout weren’t horrible, but the Mazda6, Accord and Fusion all do it much better. The car I drove had just over 12k miles on it and had more squeaks and rattles than I expected (possibly due to a previous accident?) On uneven pavement or even small bumps, the shuddering of the dash and squeaking plastics were disconcerting. The materials looked and felt more appropriate for a Sentra than Altima (except the aforementioned seat fabric). There were a few noticeable wide gaps between panels that only reinforced the ‘low quality’ impression. A final note is the display for the audio system and backup camera in the center stack. The image quality of the backup camera was fine, but the display for the audio system looks like it was from 10+ years ago. The actual driving experience was significantly better than expected in most ways. The 182hp 2.5L had plenty of power for this class, but the sound at higher engine speeds was not pleasant. Then again, I’m biased because I used to redline my early-mid 90s Honda VTECs to redline just to hear them sing. I doubt many owners push it hard enough to notice. The truly surprising thing was the CVT. In the past, most CVTs simply revved to the optimum engine speed for acceleration and efficiency, based on throttle input. Under full throttle, that usually meant revving to around 5000rpm and staying there until you reached your desired speed. In the Altima (and even worse in the Sentra and Versa), that meant enduring droning (to the point of being ‘ear rape’ in the words of my best friend) and vibration from the engine. So I was amazed when the CVT in this Altima revved up to 4-5k rpm, then “shifted” dropping the revs and starting the climb to 4-5k rpm again, feeling just like a regular automatic. At the first opportunity, I had to check the Nissan website to make sure that they hadn’t suddenly realized that CVTs suck and started using regular ‘geared’ automatic transmissions again! It still has a CVT, but it is now programmed to mimic the operation of a conventional automatic with specific, fixed gear ratios. The result is surprisingly effective. CVT performance is a major complaint from owners of most Nissans and it appears that they’ve taken note and, more importantly, taken action. Ride quality was very good and it was very composed and comfortable on the highway. Altimas prior to the 2013 redesign were sportier than most mid-sizers when it came to handling and steering feel. But the current model has followed the example of the Toyota Camry, making the ride softer at the expense of handling prowess. The steering was numb and provided no feedback and the tires squealed in protest in curves taken at even remotely aggressive speeds. I have no doubt that my 2012 Mazda CX-9, despite being 1200lbs heavier with a much higher center of gravity, would beat it through a handling course. But again, 99% of Altima buyers (at least at this trim level) won’t be concerned about the handling limits because they’ll never approach them. The Altima wears the #3 sales crown among mid-size cars in the U.S. The Toyota Camry is the best seller (429k in 2015), followed by the Accord (356k last year) and the Altima sold 333k units. Those three models represent more than 1,000,000 sales last year! BTW, I’m willing to bet that the Accord would be the top dog if fleet sales were excluded from the totals. But my point is that the Altima must be doing enough things right to sell as well as it does. I’d actually like to drive the 2.5SR (or 3.5SR would be even better) because it would handle better, look better and improve on most areas where I found fault. Stay tuned for my review of the 2017 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD in the next week. I’m heading up to visit my best friend in Pittsburgh this weekend and he just took delivery of his new company vehicle earlier this week. We already have a 480-mile road trip planned and I’ll be doing the driving, so I’ll get a good feel for the ‘refreshed’ 2017 Fusion. I’m looking forward to it….
  4. The lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is really unacceptable on a car that is so comprehensively equipped otherwise. Hopefully they'll correct that in the near future....it's common place on pretty much everything new these days. I didn't notice the front passenger seat, but it appears to have a 4-way power adjustmenet (same as mine), which is simply moving fore/act and power reclining. The lack of a height adjustment doesn't seem like a huge omission for a passenger seat, but the lack of lumbar support could be unpleasant. Another oversight that will hopefully be addressed by a 'running change' in the near future. But I agree with you- the genuine Rosewood and Aluminum interior trim pieces look like they could be from a $70k vehicle. The Signature is only offered in four colors, which is a bit odd- Snowflake White Pearl, Jet Black Mica, Sonic Silver or Machine Gray Metallic. And the interior only comes in 'Auburn' which I think only adds to the upscale appearance, but may not be everyone's cup of tea. A black or beiege option wouldn't have been a bad idea. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, the moment I sat in the CX-9 Signature on the showroom floor, it reminded me of the internationally praised and awarded Volvo XC90! It's a legitimate contender among the likes of the XC90. Now Mazda just needs to be more visible and, until they build more dealerships, find other ways to land on the radar of buyers. I actually became a Mazda customer back in late 2005 after I attended an event at Road Atlanta called "Zoom=Zoom LIVE"! They did it once a year for several years and had all of their vehicles there, some of which could be test driven. I was planning to buy a bare-bones 2005 Volvo S40 until then. Maybe they should do something like that again, for the sake of brand awareness....
  5. I'm curious- why did you get rid of your 2011 CX-9? What color was it and did you have the NAV? I bought mine as a 'leftover' 2012 on Black Friday 2012 (11/30/15) and several months after the 'facelifted' 2013 models had arrived at dealers. Only six colors were available and I only found four to be acceptable (Copper Red and Brilliant Black were the two that I automatically disqualified). My first pick Brilliant Silver with Black interior followed by Stormy Blue with Sand or Black, then Dolphin Gray (with either interior color) and Crystal White Pearl were tied for last place on my list. I wanted one with everything except the outdated and useless NAV, so I ended up with Crystal White Pearl with the Moonroof/Bose/SIRIUS package + the Power Liftgate. The build date was 09/2012, so it was literally more than a year old and it only had 38 miles on the clock and plastic still on the seats. So it was a new, year-old car. it stickered for $38,735 and I bought it for $29.706 (plus tax) thanks to rebates and incentives....along with their desire to get rid of last year's model! I was considering a CPO 2010-2011 Acura MDX, but at the price I couldn't pass it up! I truly believe that the new CX-9 could be a much larger player in the game this time around....if they can just get people to realize that it exists!!! The first thing that I thought of when I got in the Signature model on the showroom floor was how much it reminded me of the new Volvo XC90. If every consumer buying a 3-row SUV/Crossover took the time to test drive the CX-9 before making a purchase, they'd sell them faster than they could build and ship them!
  6. Thanks. I have been concerned about Mazda making it solo after Ford sold the bulk of their shares in the company in 2008 and 2010. Mazda is a rather unique company because they're not affiliated with a large company. But they're still making money (mostly on the Mazda3 and CX-5) despite their limited sales volume. Even so, they should still be selling a lot more because they have some of the best cars (if not THE best) in each respective category. The CEO of Mazda North America retired effective 12/31/2015. He was a transplant from Ford back in 2003, when they held controlling interest, and he stayed to help Mazda survive their newfound independence. He was replaced by Masahiro Moro, who was formerly head of Mazda's Global Marketing and Sales division. I also read that Mazda is focusing on 35 specific markets and that some underperforming dealers will be cut and new dealerships added in the areas needed. I hope it works out because most people don't want to buy from a dealer that is 30 or 45 minutes out of their way.
  7. The price for a conservatively equipped Wrangler Sport (2-door) is around $35k. Loaded the Wrangler Unlimited can top $50k. I personally can't see the appeal, but they sold 202,702 Wranglers (they don't separate the Unlimited from the regular) in 2015...an increase from 175,328 in 2014! So there are obviously a lot of people who think it's worth the price. I'm pretty confident that the profit margin on the Wrangler is much higher than the Grand Cherokee, so these things are a real money-maker for FCA. They also depreciate at a much slower rate than the average vehicle, so they have great resale value. Again, it's not for me but there's obviously a lot of buyers out there willing to pay the price for one.
  8. The original Honda Insight 2-seater, introduced in 2000, was actually ahead of its time and overpriced. The Civic Hybrid was underpowered and the fuel economy gains didn't compensate for the higher price. The Accord Hybrid (2005-2007) was pretty pointless....it was a 'mild' hybrid that used the regular Accord's V6 and added an electric motor for a slight boost in power. They reused the Insight name on that godawful Prius-knockoff (and I didn't think it possible to make a car uglier than the Prius) in 2010. And now the CR-Z is a goner.... I've owned seven Honda/Acura vehicles (out of 12 total) in my 26 years of driving. My first car was a 1985 CRX and I later had a 1991 CRX Si just for fun, so I was cautiously optimistic about the CR-Z. Honda has traditionally been one of the most innovative car companies in the world (CVCC and VTEC immediately come to mind). Why they can't build a hybrid that resonates with the public defies logic... I wonder if the CR-Z would have sold if it had the 1.5L turbo from the 2016 Civic? We'll never know....
  9. I don’t usually take my vehicle to the dealer for service. But I just had a set of $1100 Michelins installed on my 2012 CX-9 GT and Discount Tire doesn’t do wheel alignments. My dealer recently sent me a coupon for a $49.95 alignment, so I decided to take advantage of it. While I was waiting for my car, I ventured into the showroom to check out the all-new 2016 CX-9 that was just released in the last month. They had a top-of-the-line Signature AWD model on display, which had a sticker of $45,215. The Signature is only available with Auburn-colored Nappa Leather interior and has real aluminum and genuine Rosewood trim. It even has very cool looking LED grille accent lighting. Everything is standard and there are no options. It was impressive, to say the least. I decided to take a quick test drive in a CX-9 Grand Touring FWD. The main difference between it and the Signature model in the showroom is the ‘regular’ leather interior (black in this case), no Rosewood trim and can be had in FWD or AWD, while AWD is mandatory on the Signature. The sticker price on the GT I test drove was $41,070. Like the Signature, there are no options…. everything is included. The original CX-9 was old in automotive terms, introduced in late 2006 as a 2007 model (nine model years is ancient). One of the primary obstacles in developing a new CX-9 was the lack of an engine to power it. The previous CX-9 was powered by a Ford-designed, Mazda-assembled 3.7L V6 good for 273hp @ 6250rpm and 270lb-ft of torque @ 4250rpm. It was a great engine with plenty of power, but it also guzzled gas (my 2012 is rated at 17/24mpg and I average just under 18mpg per tank). The 2016 CX-9 uses a turbocharged version of the 2.5L found in several other Mazda products. Mazda states that it produces 227hp on regular gas and 250hp on premium (@ 5000rpm in both cases). Regardless of the fuel used, it is rated at 310lb-ft of torque at a very low 2000rpm. On the surface, 227hp (or even 250hp) in this size and type of vehicle is at or near the bottom of the class. But the torque figure beats most of the competition by 40-50lb-ft. Again, just looking at numbers, the use of a 6-speed automatic appears to be a weakness when 8- and 9-speeds are common. But when you have that much torque at such a low engine speed, a good 6-speed is more than sufficient. Since I’m a repeat customer (and a current CX-9 owner), they let me take the test drive alone. That particular vehicle had almost 500 miles on it, so I didn’t feel quite as guilty pushing it a bit harder than usual. The salesman readily admitted that they only used regular gas, so it was only good for 227hp. I was expecting a significant difference in performance compared to my CX-9, and I was pleasantly surprised. My CX-9 is decently quick off the line but I have to rev it pretty hard if I want truly quick acceleration. If I need a quick burst of power for passing or merging into traffic, foot to the floor is the only way to go. But the new CX-9 pulls strongly almost from idle. There’s no need to push it past 5000rpm and power actually falls off between 5000rpm and the 6300rpm redline. In normal driving, it seriously feels like a big V6. The Aisin 6-speed automatic in my CX-9 is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. It always seems to be in the right gear in any given situation and will downshift two or even three gears in a split-second when you put the pedal to the floor. The 6-speed in the 2016 CX-9 performs just as well and, to my surprise, the need for downshifts is even less common. In situations where mine would downshift from 6th to 4th, the new one managed to stay in 6th and get the job done. The Achilles’ heel of the old CX-9 was fuel economy. As I mentioned earlier, mine is rated at 17/24mpg and I average just under 18mpg. The new model has a much improved rating of 22/28mpg (21/27 with AWD) and several tests I’ve found online show AWD models achieving 22-23mpg in real world driving. A 4-5mpg overall improvement is very impressive and also among the best in the class. The other major strike against the pre-2016 CX-9 was the dated interior design and technology (or lack thereof). It debuted almost 10 years ago and, despite updates in 2010 and 2013, it was still behind the curve. The new interior looks and feels more like a near-luxury vehicle than any Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango or Enclave/Traverse/Acadia I’ve ever seen. The seats are exceptionally comfortable and the assembly quality is excellent. The entire vehicle feels even more stiff and solid than before and the old model wasn’t too shabby in those areas to start with. The controls are well-placed, intuitive and even the ‘infotainment’ system (which I tend to hate in many new cars) was usable without reading the owner’s manual. It’s safe to say that I find the new 2016 Mazda CX-9 very impressive and a worthy successor to the first generation. While it is exceptional, no vehicle is perfect. But my quibbles are few and somewhat trivial. The way 98% of people drive, the new model is just as quick or quicker than before. But flat out acceleration from a standstill under full throttle feels slightly slower. I haven’t seen any published stats on the 2016 FWD, but estimates of the 0-60 time are in the 7.5-7.8sec range. My 2012 FWD was tested at 7.1sec, a slight but not insignificant difference. I also like the sound of my V6 better than the new turbo-4. Neither of those would be noticeable to the average buyer of this type of vehicle and it certainly wouldn’t deter me from buying one either. The new CX-9 has the potential to be a superstar among Large/3-row Crossovers! But the original CX-9 was also outstanding when it was introduced but, at best, sales were mediocre. The only year from 2007-2015 that it topped 30k was 2011, when 34,421 were sold. Most years were around the 25k mark, but just over 18k units were sold in 2014 and 2015. In comparison, the Toyota Highlander has sold over 100k units year since 2010 and almost hit 160k in 2015. The GM trio (Buick Enclave/Chevy Traverse/GMC Acadia) sold 279k unit combined in 2015 and the Ford Explorer was just a few hundred sales shy of 250k. Even the mediocre Nissan Pathfinder sells over 80k per year. Obviously, there is a huge market for 3-row SUV/Crossovers and Mazda has a great opportunity for sales growth. While they have an excellent grasp on developing and building great cars, they don’t really know how to market them! Mazda also has one of the smallest dealer networks among non-premium/luxury brands…. (second only to Mitsubishi). I hope that they remedy those two shortcomings rather than allowing another exceptional vehicle to remain off the radar for the vast majority of consumers!
  10. Back when these were new, some Chrysler employees and dealerships referred to the white Imperials as "Virginia Slims". The reference was obviously pejorative comparing the long but narrow (they could stretch is as long as they wanted, but width was limited by the K-car origins) to the long, slender brand of cigarettes.
  11. I just don't like the Dark Gray Finish on the 2017 Fusion Sport wheels. There doesn't appear to be another option to them. ]http://shop.ford.com/build/fusion/2017/#/config/Config[|Ford|Fusion|2017|1|1.|400A.P0V.....NRD.99P.NONFLEET.]
  12. First, let me apologize for 'pausing for laughter' over your car! =) The fact that it's leased makes me feel a little less guilty. What are of Pittsburgh do you call home? I'm on the east side of the city in a town called Forest Hills, two exits outside of the Squirrel Hills tunnels. My house is perched on the side of a steep hill, so to get to the house, I have to climb the hill, and then once I'm there, my driveway goes back down the hills to get to the back of the house. The climb from the main road to my house is maybe just over a half mile. I know a lot of people don't care for the Encore, but at the time it was the best deal for something a bit more premium. I'd really like it to have more power, but overall we've been happy with it and had no problems. It's a great car in the city, and it's a comfortable long distance cruiser too. Next time around we will probably move up to an Envision though depending on pricing. I know where the Squirrel Hill tunnel(s) are located, so I kinda know where you're talking about. Sounds like a helluva driveway, especially in a city where it snows regularly in the winter. The Envision looks pretty decent and the critics seem to like it so far. No love for the CX-5? The Grand Touring with Tech Pkg is nicer than any BMW X1 I've ever driven. The 2017 CX-9 looks pretty sweet as well. And Volvo is (finally) bring the V40 to the U.S. (soon) and a compact crossover called the XC40 will accompany it. Didn't care for the CX-5 three years ago. I do like the Volvos, but I can't sell a wagon at home, I tried. When we replace the Encore, it will probably be something larger. Envision is a possibility as is a Grand Cherokee. We do like the small size of the Encore when its just the two of us, but we're often hauling around extended family members and their associated luggage, and the Encore isn't great when you need to load 4 people up for a 4 day weekend in the mountains. I was originally thinking of replacing our Honda CR-V (which I hate) with a Grand Cherokee, but I think I'm going to replace that with a truck and then upsize the Encore. Did you drive the CX-5 after they added the 2.5L engine in 2014? I took a look at the pics of the Envision and I must admit that it ain't too shabby! It's actually quite good looking and hopefully it drives just the same. I just went back and read over my posts in this thread and saw that I hadn't professed my love for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. My mom bought a new first generation JGC in 1995 and she drove it for 10 years, my step-dad drove it for the next four years and I ended up with it as a second car in 2009 (mainly because I had an open slot in my garage at the time). I drove it on weekends, mostly to places I didn't want to venture in a mere mortal vehicle. That thing was rock solid until I sold it in 2013 with 280k miles on it- original engine and transmission. My mechanic wasn't surprised that the legendary AMC/Jeep 4.0L I-6 was still running strong, but he hadn't seen a transmission make it to 200k before mine. I think it was a combination of ATF changed every 30k miles and having the towing package (with auxiliary transmission cooler). I sold it to the 18-year-old son of a friend, against my warnings that the transmission could fail any time if he drove like most 18-year-old boys drive....and a week later it did! Thankfully, it didn't cause any hard feelings between me and my friend because he knew it was his son's fault. I also loved the second generation (1999-2004) and a co-worker had a beautiful blue Limited with chrome wheels that I loved to drive. I wasn't impressed with the third generation (2005-2010) even though my sister has a 2008 Laredo. But the fourth-gen (2011-present) knocked it out of the park! I've only driven examples with the 3.6L V6, but I can't imagine spending $3,295 for the 5.7L HEMI V8 option unless I needed to two more then 3500lbs. It's a great vehicle.
  13. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but here is the pricing breakdown for the Fusion vs. Fusion Hybrid for him- (all of these include an additional $700 for the Moonroof option) Fusion SE FWD- $700 Fusion SE AWD- $1500 Fusion Titanium FWD- $2500 Fusion Titanium AWD- $2900 Fusion SE Hybrid- $3500 ($2800 more than SE FWD) Fusion Titanium Hybrid- $5200 ($2700 more than Titantium FWD) Those prices are for cars that are (as far as I can determine) equipped identically except the powertrain. The Fusion SE FWD has a combined EPA rating of 29mpg, Titanium FWD is 26mpg, both AWD models are 25mpg compared to 42mpg for the Hybrids! But they still cost $2700-$2800 more? He's about 90% decided on the Fusion Titantium AWD. I actually thought I had him talked into an Explorer Limited AWD ($8,400). But they have changed the rules effective this year so they keep their cars for 4-years or 80k miles, while it was 2-years and 60k miles in the past. If he would actually be keeping the car for the full 4-years or 80k miles, he was almost ready to do it. But he moved to Pittsburgh with the guarantee that he will be promoted in less than 24 months. His next position will classify him as an "Officer" and he can go as high an Explorer Platinum AWD, Edge Titanium/Sport or Lincoln MKZ/MKC or MKX for $0 out of pocket. So he'd pay $8400 for the Explorer when he could get it for $0 in less than two years. The way that Ford packages features is strange. I love the Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert on my CX-9 and he has commented that he likes it. The way the packages are set up, the Escape (even the SE) has BLIS as does the Taurus SEL/Ltd. All Edge and Explorer models also have it. But no Fusions have BLIS, standard or optional. Otherwise, he's picking out the color combo that I would buy- Magnetic (Gray) with Black Leather. When he does get the next promo, if there's no one else in the region to hand off his Fusion to, it will go back to the leasing company for 'disposal'. I might be able to help them with that.....disposing of it into my garage! =) I wish it had the optional 19" wheels, but he's stuck with the standard 18". I'm sure the 18s will make for a more comfy ride and the less aggressive tires will be more appropriate for the climate.
  14. First, let me apologize for 'pausing for laughter' over your car! =) The fact that it's leased makes me feel a little less guilty. What are of Pittsburgh do you call home? I'm on the east side of the city in a town called Forest Hills, two exits outside of the Squirrel Hills tunnels. My house is perched on the side of a steep hill, so to get to the house, I have to climb the hill, and then once I'm there, my driveway goes back down the hills to get to the back of the house. The climb from the main road to my house is maybe just over a half mile. I know a lot of people don't care for the Encore, but at the time it was the best deal for something a bit more premium. I'd really like it to have more power, but overall we've been happy with it and had no problems. It's a great car in the city, and it's a comfortable long distance cruiser too. Next time around we will probably move up to an Envision though depending on pricing. I know where the Squirrel Hill tunnel(s) are located, so I kinda know where you're talking about. Sounds like a helluva driveway, especially in a city where it snows regularly in the winter. The Envision looks pretty decent and the critics seem to like it so far. No love for the CX-5? The Grand Touring with Tech Pkg is nicer than any BMW X1 I've ever driven. The 2017 CX-9 looks pretty sweet as well. And Volvo is (finally) bring the V40 to the U.S. (soon) and a compact crossover called the XC40 will accompany it.
  15. BTW, if Mazda would offer AWD on the Mazda3, the Subaru Impreza would be pretty much irrelevant. But it might cut into CX-5 and CX-3 sales...and the average transaction price for the CX-5 is substantially higher than the Mazda3 and the CX-3 is probably a little higher as well, even though it's built off the Mazda2.

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