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Found 220 results

  1. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com April 23, 2013 Well, that didn't go quite as planned… By the time you are reading this review, Toyota has introduced the new 2014 Highlander. I should have realized this when I was scheduling vehicles about a month ago, since this current generation of Highlander has been with us for about six years. But alas, I didn’t. Here’s the thing though: the current Toyota Highlander doesn’t look or even feel like its six years old. It still feels pretty new. Now it may seem a bit odd to do a review on a vehicle that’s destined to be replaced. But it’s the perfect time to spot the differences between the outgoing and new Highlander, and decided whether it’s a good idea to pick one up now or wait. The current Highlander’s styling is pretty plain when compared to other crossovers in the marketplace. Up front, Toyota designers placed a hexagonal grill and an aggressive air dam underneath. Around the back, there is a set of reworked taillights and name of the model around the license plate. There is a hint of 4Runner and Sequoia in the overall design, but it really doesn’t help give the Highlander an identity of its own. Moving inside, the Highlander shows its base model credentials very clearly. Hard plastics are used throughout the interior and the dashboard. Also the sea of grey plastics and cloth seats could make anyone feel like they are in a ‘50 Shades of Grey’ novel. Thankfully, fit and finish on this base Highlander is at the high standard Toyota is known for. The Highlander delivers top marks in passenger comfort and space. The cloth seats provide the right balance of comfort and support for all passengers. Second row passengers will appreciate the generous amount of head and legroom. The second row also features a clever trick where the center part can be folded down and stowed under the front console. This gives you two captain chairs and a storage cubby in its place. There is a third-row, but I would recommend that either small kids sit there or fold it down since it’s a bit tight on legroom for adults. My only real concerns with the interior were with the radio. For 2013, Toyota has installed a touchscreen unit on all trim levels for the Highlander. I found the screen to be very responsive when pressed and was easy to read at a glance, except when the sunlight hits the screen and makes it unreadable. Another problem for the radio deals with the control layout of the center stack. On either side of the radio are giant these ‘knobs’ and your first thought would be, “oh these are the volume and tune knobs”. Uh no, those ‘knobs’ are the hazard lights and the airbag lights. The volume and tune ‘knobs’ are microscopic in comparison as they sit on top of the radio. Putting the Highlander to work are two engines: a 2.7L four-cylinder or, what my Highlander came equipped with, a 3.5L V6 engine. The 3.5L produces 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a five-speed automatic. Power delivery is very smooth and effortless, moving this 4,266 lb vehicle without a sweat. The five-speed automatic is a bit of an oddity considering most of the competition. Even the four-cylinder Highlander comes equipped with a six-speed automatic. Toyota‘s engineers’ deserve some credit for making the five-speed work by providing seamless shifts. My Highlander was equipped with the optional 4WD system and it provided excellent traction when Mother Nature decided to drop a few inches of snow during the week. You could feel the 4WD system working when driving through the snow, making sure to keep you moving. Fuel economy on the 2013 Highlander V6 4WD stands at 17 City/22 Highway/19 Combined. During my week, I averaged 19.2 MPG which is on par for the class. On the highway, I got 21.2 MPG. On the road the Highlander coddles its passengers with a very a smooth ride. The suspension setup feels like it was made up of pillows and down comforters filled with feathers. This is perfect tuning for the Michigan roads the Highlander drove on since they are very decrepit. The tradeoff for the soft ride is poor handling and the Highlander exhibits this very well. The Highlander rolls and wobbles while braking or taking sharp turns. Some people may be turned off this, but most won’t care. What most people will care about is the amount of road and wind noise the Highlander exhibits. Driving in the city and suburbia, the Highlander is decent at keeping the noise out. On the highway, there is abundance of wind and road noise in the cabin. I don’t know if the higher trim levels have this problem as well. The 2013 Highlander proved to be a very solid offering in the crossover market. While it might not be the newest, quietest, or fun to drive, the Highlander provides the comfort, power, and value that most buyers are looking for. Now comes the question of whether you should you should go out and buy one now or wait for the new one? On one hand, the new Highlander does bring forth [a] new exterior that stands out and an interior that, in pictures, looks to bring in some new style and materials. On the other hand, the powertrains are carried over from this model with the only real change is a six-speed automatic for the V6. At the end of the day, I would say you would be happy going with either the old or new Highlander. The decision just rests on whether you want spend the money on the new shiny vehicle or save a few bucks on the old one. Either way, you're getting a very solid crossover. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Toyota Model – Highlander Trim – V6 4WD Engine – 3.5L DOHC VVT-i V6 Driveline – Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive, Five-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 270 @ 6,200 RPM Torque @ RPM – 248 @ 4,700 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/22/19 Curb Weight – 4,266 lbs Location of Manufacture – Princeton, IN Base Price - $31,845.00 As Tested Price - $33,757.00 (Includes $845.00 destination charge) Options: Running Boards - $649.00 Carpet and Cargo Mats - $280.00 Cold Weather Package - $60.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  2. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com April 23, 2013 Well, that didn't go quite as planned… By the time you are reading this review, Toyota has introduced the new 2014 Highlander. I should have realized this when I was scheduling vehicles about a month ago, since this current generation of Highlander has been with us for about six years. But alas, I didn’t. Here’s the thing though: the current Toyota Highlander doesn’t look or even feel like its six years old. It still feels pretty new. Now it may seem a bit odd to do a review on a vehicle that’s destined to be replaced. But it’s the perfect time to spot the differences between the outgoing and new Highlander, and decided whether it’s a good idea to pick one up now or wait. The current Highlander’s styling is pretty plain when compared to other crossovers in the marketplace. Up front, Toyota designers placed a hexagonal grill and an aggressive air dam underneath. Around the back, there is a set of reworked taillights and name of the model around the license plate. There is a hint of 4Runner and Sequoia in the overall design, but it really doesn’t help give the Highlander an identity of its own. Moving inside, the Highlander shows its base model credentials very clearly. Hard plastics are used throughout the interior and the dashboard. Also the sea of grey plastics and cloth seats could make anyone feel like they are in a ‘50 Shades of Grey’ novel. Thankfully, fit and finish on this base Highlander is at the high standard Toyota is known for. The Highlander delivers top marks in passenger comfort and space. The cloth seats provide the right balance of comfort and support for all passengers. Second row passengers will appreciate the generous amount of head and legroom. The second row also features a clever trick where the center part can be folded down and stowed under the front console. This gives you two captain chairs and a storage cubby in its place. There is a third-row, but I would recommend that either small kids sit there or fold it down since it’s a bit tight on legroom for adults. My only real concerns with the interior were with the radio. For 2013, Toyota has installed a touchscreen unit on all trim levels for the Highlander. I found the screen to be very responsive when pressed and was easy to read at a glance, except when the sunlight hits the screen and makes it unreadable. Another problem for the radio deals with the control layout of the center stack. On either side of the radio are giant these ‘knobs’ and your first thought would be, “oh these are the volume and tune knobs”. Uh no, those ‘knobs’ are the hazard lights and the airbag lights. The volume and tune ‘knobs’ are microscopic in comparison as they sit on top of the radio. Putting the Highlander to work are two engines: a 2.7L four-cylinder or, what my Highlander came equipped with, a 3.5L V6 engine. The 3.5L produces 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a five-speed automatic. Power delivery is very smooth and effortless, moving this 4,266 lb vehicle without a sweat. The five-speed automatic is a bit of an oddity considering most of the competition. Even the four-cylinder Highlander comes equipped with a six-speed automatic. Toyota‘s engineers’ deserve some credit for making the five-speed work by providing seamless shifts. My Highlander was equipped with the optional 4WD system and it provided excellent traction when Mother Nature decided to drop a few inches of snow during the week. You could feel the 4WD system working when driving through the snow, making sure to keep you moving. Fuel economy on the 2013 Highlander V6 4WD stands at 17 City/22 Highway/19 Combined. During my week, I averaged 19.2 MPG which is on par for the class. On the highway, I got 21.2 MPG. On the road the Highlander coddles its passengers with a very a smooth ride. The suspension setup feels like it was made up of pillows and down comforters filled with feathers. This is perfect tuning for the Michigan roads the Highlander drove on since they are very decrepit. The tradeoff for the soft ride is poor handling and the Highlander exhibits this very well. The Highlander rolls and wobbles while braking or taking sharp turns. Some people may be turned off this, but most won’t care. What most people will care about is the amount of road and wind noise the Highlander exhibits. Driving in the city and suburbia, the Highlander is decent at keeping the noise out. On the highway, there is abundance of wind and road noise in the cabin. I don’t know if the higher trim levels have this problem as well. The 2013 Highlander proved to be a very solid offering in the crossover market. While it might not be the newest, quietest, or fun to drive, the Highlander provides the comfort, power, and value that most buyers are looking for. Now comes the question of whether you should you should go out and buy one now or wait for the new one? On one hand, the new Highlander does bring forth [a] new exterior that stands out and an interior that, in pictures, looks to bring in some new style and materials. On the other hand, the powertrains are carried over from this model with the only real change is a six-speed automatic for the V6. At the end of the day, I would say you would be happy going with either the old or new Highlander. The decision just rests on whether you want spend the money on the new shiny vehicle or save a few bucks on the old one. Either way, you're getting a very solid crossover. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Toyota Model – Highlander Trim – V6 4WD Engine – 3.5L DOHC VVT-i V6 Driveline – Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive, Five-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 270 @ 6,200 RPM Torque @ RPM – 248 @ 4,700 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/22/19 Curb Weight – 4,266 lbs Location of Manufacture – Princeton, IN Base Price - $31,845.00 As Tested Price - $33,757.00 (Includes $845.00 destination charge) Options: Running Boards - $649.00 Carpet and Cargo Mats - $280.00 Cold Weather Package - $60.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  3. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 18, 2013 Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM Monday: Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV Tuesday: Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser Friday: Lexus LS 600h L A few weeks ago, I reviewed the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and really came away impressed. Now I was wondering how the larger brother, the 2013 Santa Fe would fare. Well I have an answer to that as I spent a week in the 2013 Santa Fe Limited AWD. Explaining the styling of the Santa Fe is pretty simple. Take a Santa Fe Sport and stretch out like taffy: Voilà, you have the Santa Fe. Compared to the Sport, the 2013 Santa Fe rides on a wheelbase that is 3.9 inches longer and overall length is 8.5 inches longer. Aside from different measurements, the models share many design cues. The front end features a large grille that I found to be almost too big and a set of distinctly-shaped headlights. The side profile reveals body sculpting, a bold character line, and a set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels. Compared to the Veracruz, Hyundai's first attempt at a seven-seat crossover, the new Santa Fe looks much more stylish. The story inside for the Santa Fe is almost similar to the Santa Fe Sport. It is a pleasant place to be with lots of soft touch materials along the door panels and dashboard. A couple pieces of wood trim along the dash add a nice contrasting touch. However a couple areas in the Santa Fe such as the release for the center console lid showed signs of wear and made me wonder about some of the materials used. Now this being a media car, I know they have a rough and tumble life. But with this Santa Fe having just under 7,000 miles and showing signs of wear, it makes me wonder what this vehicle would be like in a few years time.The center stack is comprised of a large eight-inch touchscreen that comes as part of the $2,900 Technology Package that includes navigation and Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system. As I said before, Hyundai's infotainment system has to be one of the fastest systems on the marketplace today. It also is one the easiest to use with a simple interface and large touch points. If you don't opt for the tech package, a 4.3-inch screen sits in that space and looks a bit odd. Underneath are controls for the HVAC system which are easy to understand and use. There is an odd thing about the seating arrangement in the Santa Fe lineup. The base GLS trim only comes with seating for seven-people via a second-row bench, while the Limited trim comes with seating for six thanks to two captain chairs. You can't option for six seats in the GLS or seven in the Limited. I'm wondering why Hyundai decided to give only one choice dependent on the trim. My best guess? Keep it simple. Comfort wise, head and legroom are excellent for the second-row. The third-row is best reserved for small kids or folded into the floor to expand cargo space from 13.5 Cubic Feet to 40.9 Cubic Feet. See the next page for thoughts on the powertrain and ride. Under the hood is Hyundai's 3.3L GDI V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. This is mated to a six-speed automatic to either the front wheels or our tester's optional all-wheel drive system. As I have said previously on the 3.3L V6, it moves any vehicle with authority. The Santa Fe is no exception. This engine is also very refined with not much noise coming from the engine bay. The six-speed automatic is quick on up and downshifts, and provides a seamless transition between them. Fuel economy wise, the 2013 Santa Fe with AWD is rated by the EPA at 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 21 MPG.The suspension duties are taken up by a set of MacPherson struts up front and a compact multi-link independent setup at the rear. This setup provides a very comfortable ride with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Take into consideration that this Santa Fe was equipped with the nineteen-inch alloy wheels and this suspension setup is more impressive. Hyundai has fitted the Santa Fe with their Driver-Selectable Steering Modes which can vary the steering weight from light (Comfort) to heavy (Sport). As I have said previously, I don't like this system since Comfort and Sport are on the extreme ends and really doesn't improve the driving experience. I found myself leaving it in normal and being happy with it. Much like the Santa Fe Sport, I found myself being impressed with the Santa Fe. Hyundai focused on the key areas that many buyers are looking for in a crossover; value for money, space, and comfort. This would be a crossover I would recommend to anyone. There is a 'but' to this review. As I said earlier, this Santa Fe showed signs of wear and tear at such a low amount of miles which makes me question some of the material choices and therefore quality. I'm wondering if this was a fluke and other Santa Fes don't show signs like this. If so, I would say Hyundai has done an excellent job on the Santa Fe and its worth a look. If not, then I think it's time for Hyundai to be asking some tough questions. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Limited, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2013 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Trim: Limited AWD Engine: 3.3L GDI DOHC 24-valve V6 Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 252 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,297 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea Base Price: $34,850.00 As Tested Price: $38,730.00 (Includes $845.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $2,900.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  4. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 18, 2013 Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM Monday: Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV Tuesday: Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser Friday: Lexus LS 600h L A few weeks ago, I reviewed the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and really came away impressed. Now I was wondering how the larger brother, the 2013 Santa Fe would fare. Well I have an answer to that as I spent a week in the 2013 Santa Fe Limited AWD. Explaining the styling of the Santa Fe is pretty simple. Take a Santa Fe Sport and stretch out like taffy: Voilà, you have the Santa Fe. Compared to the Sport, the 2013 Santa Fe rides on a wheelbase that is 3.9 inches longer and overall length is 8.5 inches longer. Aside from different measurements, the models share many design cues. The front end features a large grille that I found to be almost too big and a set of distinctly-shaped headlights. The side profile reveals body sculpting, a bold character line, and a set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels. Compared to the Veracruz, Hyundai's first attempt at a seven-seat crossover, the new Santa Fe looks much more stylish. The story inside for the Santa Fe is almost similar to the Santa Fe Sport. It is a pleasant place to be with lots of soft touch materials along the door panels and dashboard. A couple pieces of wood trim along the dash add a nice contrasting touch. However a couple areas in the Santa Fe such as the release for the center console lid showed signs of wear and made me wonder about some of the materials used. Now this being a media car, I know they have a rough and tumble life. But with this Santa Fe having just under 7,000 miles and showing signs of wear, it makes me wonder what this vehicle would be like in a few years time.The center stack is comprised of a large eight-inch touchscreen that comes as part of the $2,900 Technology Package that includes navigation and Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system. As I said before, Hyundai's infotainment system has to be one of the fastest systems on the marketplace today. It also is one the easiest to use with a simple interface and large touch points. If you don't opt for the tech package, a 4.3-inch screen sits in that space and looks a bit odd. Underneath are controls for the HVAC system which are easy to understand and use. There is an odd thing about the seating arrangement in the Santa Fe lineup. The base GLS trim only comes with seating for seven-people via a second-row bench, while the Limited trim comes with seating for six thanks to two captain chairs. You can't option for six seats in the GLS or seven in the Limited. I'm wondering why Hyundai decided to give only one choice dependent on the trim. My best guess? Keep it simple. Comfort wise, head and legroom are excellent for the second-row. The third-row is best reserved for small kids or folded into the floor to expand cargo space from 13.5 Cubic Feet to 40.9 Cubic Feet. See the next page for thoughts on the powertrain and ride. Under the hood is Hyundai's 3.3L GDI V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. This is mated to a six-speed automatic to either the front wheels or our tester's optional all-wheel drive system. As I have said previously on the 3.3L V6, it moves any vehicle with authority. The Santa Fe is no exception. This engine is also very refined with not much noise coming from the engine bay. The six-speed automatic is quick on up and downshifts, and provides a seamless transition between them. Fuel economy wise, the 2013 Santa Fe with AWD is rated by the EPA at 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 21 MPG.The suspension duties are taken up by a set of MacPherson struts up front and a compact multi-link independent setup at the rear. This setup provides a very comfortable ride with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Take into consideration that this Santa Fe was equipped with the nineteen-inch alloy wheels and this suspension setup is more impressive. Hyundai has fitted the Santa Fe with their Driver-Selectable Steering Modes which can vary the steering weight from light (Comfort) to heavy (Sport). As I have said previously, I don't like this system since Comfort and Sport are on the extreme ends and really doesn't improve the driving experience. I found myself leaving it in normal and being happy with it. Much like the Santa Fe Sport, I found myself being impressed with the Santa Fe. Hyundai focused on the key areas that many buyers are looking for in a crossover; value for money, space, and comfort. This would be a crossover I would recommend to anyone. There is a 'but' to this review. As I said earlier, this Santa Fe showed signs of wear and tear at such a low amount of miles which makes me question some of the material choices and therefore quality. I'm wondering if this was a fluke and other Santa Fes don't show signs like this. If so, I would say Hyundai has done an excellent job on the Santa Fe and its worth a look. If not, then I think it's time for Hyundai to be asking some tough questions. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Limited, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2013 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Trim: Limited AWD Engine: 3.3L GDI DOHC 24-valve V6 Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 252 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,297 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea Base Price: $34,850.00 As Tested Price: $38,730.00 (Includes $845.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $2,900.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  5. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 16, 2013 Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM Tuesday: Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD Wednesday: Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser Friday: Lexus LS 600h L During the life of the third-generation Nissan Maxima, the automaker created a new SE model that featured a 160 horsepower V6 engine (up to 190 later in its life), five-speed manual, stiffer suspension setup, and other changes to differentiate it from the standard model. Nissan dubbed it the four-door sports car and placed a sticker on the rear window denoting its status. Jump ahead to 2009 and the introduction of the seventh-generation Maxima, Nissan resurrected the four-door sports car moniker. With sleek styling, a 290 horsepower V6 under its hood, and sport tuned suspension, is the Maxima worthy of the 'four-door sports car' moniker? More importantly, where does the Maxima stack up in the full-size sedan class? Even though the current Maxima is going on five years, it still looks very fresh on the outside. The front is very familiar to the Infiniti M Hybrid I drove last year with a long front end and grille. You also have a flowing hood shape and distinguishing headlights. The back is reminiscent of the last-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class and there is a set of dual exhaust pipes peeking out from the bumper.Stepping inside, you can tell very much the Maxima is not aging very well. The design is very minimal with a lot of black plastic, leather, and dark wood trim on the center stack and console. The only contrast inside is the silver trim around the vents and on the steering wheel. I have to give Nissan credit for making that black dash soft-touch and padded. You'll also find soft-touch materials along the door panels and center armrest. Despite the claims that the Maxima is a full-size sedan, it really doesn't feel like it inside. You only have 95 Cubic Feet of Passenger space, much smaller than Toyota Avalon (103.6 Cubic Feet of Passenger space), Chevrolet Impala (105 Cubic Feet of Passenger space), and Kia Cadenza (106.8 Cubic Feet of Passenger space). This means the Maxima really doesn't have space for someone stretch out in the back seat. Yes, there is plenty of headroom and a decent amount of legroom. But sitting in the Maxima's back seat, I felt like I was sitting in a mid-size, not full-size sedan.My test Maxima came equipped with the optional nine-speaker Bose audio system and Nissan's infotainment system with a hard-drive based navigation system. The Bose system did an excellent job of pumping out sound from XM or my iPod. As for the infotainment system, the graphics are starting look relatively dated when compared to competitors. Blame the color choices and somewhat low-res screen. Performance-wise, Nissan's infotainment system is up there with Kia's UVO system by moving from one function to another in a second or so. Pairing my phone with the Maxima was easy since there was an option in the infotainment system to pair it, not the clumsy voice-command system from the Pathfinder. For powertrain and ride impressions, see page two. Powering the Maxima is a 3.5L VQ V6 with 290 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with Nissan's Xtronic CVT. The V6 has the same ferocity in its power delivery as you'll see in some V8 engines when you floor the go pedal. You'll also notice a fair bit of torque steer through the steering wheel as well. But when you decide to calm down, you'll find the V6 has a strong pull at the low end. NVH for the 3.5 is excellent. The Xtronic CVT is still one of the best CVTs on the marketplace with its ability to not exhibit the common traits of CVTs. In the Maxima, the Xtronic CVT has a special Ds mode which mimics a six-speed automatic. It's very a clever solution since it can trick anyone thinking you have a standard automatic and not a CVT. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the 2013 Maxima 3.5 SV at 19 City/26 Highway/22 Combined. My week saw an average of 23.2 MPG on premium gas. The Maxima's trump card in the full-size sedan class is how much fun it is to drive. The suspension is setup in a way that where it minimizes body roll and keeps you planted, without sacrificing a lot of the ride comfort. Steering provides very good feel and is quick to your inputs. As for ride comfort, the Maxima smoothed over bumps and imperfections with no problem. What is disappointing is the amount of road and wind noise that comes into the cabin. Out of all the full-size sedans I have driven, I can safely say the Maxima was the noisiest. On one hand, the Maxima is a really fun full-size sedan. A smart suspension setup and excellent steering make it very much worthy of the 'four-door sports car' moniker. But, the Maxima has been leap-frogged by everyone in the full-size sedan class. They have nicer interiors, more space, and quieter cabins. The 2013 Nissan Maxima is a very special car, but it's time for this 'four-door sports car' to take its final curtain call and have a new model ready in the wings. Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Maxima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2013 Make: Nissan Model: Maxima Trim: 3.5 SV Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 261 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22 Curb Weight: 3,568 lbs Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, Tennessee Base Price: $35,080 As Tested Price: $40,385 (Includes $780.00 Destination Charge) Options: SV Technology Package - $1,850.00 SV Value Package - $1,000.00 Monitor Package - $700.00 HID Xenon Headlights - $400.00 Rear Spoiler - $380.00 Floor Mats & Trunk Mat - $195.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  6. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 16, 2013 Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM Tuesday: Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD Wednesday: Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser Friday: Lexus LS 600h L During the life of the third-generation Nissan Maxima, the automaker created a new SE model that featured a 160 horsepower V6 engine (up to 190 later in its life), five-speed manual, stiffer suspension setup, and other changes to differentiate it from the standard model. Nissan dubbed it the four-door sports car and placed a sticker on the rear window denoting its status. Jump ahead to 2009 and the introduction of the seventh-generation Maxima, Nissan resurrected the four-door sports car moniker. With sleek styling, a 290 horsepower V6 under its hood, and sport tuned suspension, is the Maxima worthy of the 'four-door sports car' moniker? More importantly, where does the Maxima stack up in the full-size sedan class? Even though the current Maxima is going on five years, it still looks very fresh on the outside. The front is very familiar to the Infiniti M Hybrid I drove last year with a long front end and grille. You also have a flowing hood shape and distinguishing headlights. The back is reminiscent of the last-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class and there is a set of dual exhaust pipes peeking out from the bumper.Stepping inside, you can tell very much the Maxima is not aging very well. The design is very minimal with a lot of black plastic, leather, and dark wood trim on the center stack and console. The only contrast inside is the silver trim around the vents and on the steering wheel. I have to give Nissan credit for making that black dash soft-touch and padded. You'll also find soft-touch materials along the door panels and center armrest. Despite the claims that the Maxima is a full-size sedan, it really doesn't feel like it inside. You only have 95 Cubic Feet of Passenger space, much smaller than Toyota Avalon (103.6 Cubic Feet of Passenger space), Chevrolet Impala (105 Cubic Feet of Passenger space), and Kia Cadenza (106.8 Cubic Feet of Passenger space). This means the Maxima really doesn't have space for someone stretch out in the back seat. Yes, there is plenty of headroom and a decent amount of legroom. But sitting in the Maxima's back seat, I felt like I was sitting in a mid-size, not full-size sedan.My test Maxima came equipped with the optional nine-speaker Bose audio system and Nissan's infotainment system with a hard-drive based navigation system. The Bose system did an excellent job of pumping out sound from XM or my iPod. As for the infotainment system, the graphics are starting look relatively dated when compared to competitors. Blame the color choices and somewhat low-res screen. Performance-wise, Nissan's infotainment system is up there with Kia's UVO system by moving from one function to another in a second or so. Pairing my phone with the Maxima was easy since there was an option in the infotainment system to pair it, not the clumsy voice-command system from the Pathfinder. For powertrain and ride impressions, see page two. Powering the Maxima is a 3.5L VQ V6 with 290 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with Nissan's Xtronic CVT. The V6 has the same ferocity in its power delivery as you'll see in some V8 engines when you floor the go pedal. You'll also notice a fair bit of torque steer through the steering wheel as well. But when you decide to calm down, you'll find the V6 has a strong pull at the low end. NVH for the 3.5 is excellent. The Xtronic CVT is still one of the best CVTs on the marketplace with its ability to not exhibit the common traits of CVTs. In the Maxima, the Xtronic CVT has a special Ds mode which mimics a six-speed automatic. It's very a clever solution since it can trick anyone thinking you have a standard automatic and not a CVT. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the 2013 Maxima 3.5 SV at 19 City/26 Highway/22 Combined. My week saw an average of 23.2 MPG on premium gas. The Maxima's trump card in the full-size sedan class is how much fun it is to drive. The suspension is setup in a way that where it minimizes body roll and keeps you planted, without sacrificing a lot of the ride comfort. Steering provides very good feel and is quick to your inputs. As for ride comfort, the Maxima smoothed over bumps and imperfections with no problem. What is disappointing is the amount of road and wind noise that comes into the cabin. Out of all the full-size sedans I have driven, I can safely say the Maxima was the noisiest. On one hand, the Maxima is a really fun full-size sedan. A smart suspension setup and excellent steering make it very much worthy of the 'four-door sports car' moniker. But, the Maxima has been leap-frogged by everyone in the full-size sedan class. They have nicer interiors, more space, and quieter cabins. The 2013 Nissan Maxima is a very special car, but it's time for this 'four-door sports car' to take its final curtain call and have a new model ready in the wings. Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Maxima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2013 Make: Nissan Model: Maxima Trim: 3.5 SV Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 261 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22 Curb Weight: 3,568 lbs Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, Tennessee Base Price: $35,080 As Tested Price: $40,385 (Includes $780.00 Destination Charge) Options: SV Technology Package - $1,850.00 SV Value Package - $1,000.00 Monitor Package - $700.00 HID Xenon Headlights - $400.00 Rear Spoiler - $380.00 Floor Mats & Trunk Mat - $195.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  7. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 4, 2013 When Toyota introduced the refreshed Yaris subcompact last year, they also introduced a new tagline which is somewhat questionable. The tagline was "Yaris, it's a car!" So we know the Yaris is a car and not anything else, but is it one that you should go out and spend your money on? I spent a week with the 2013 Yaris L three-door to find out. Let's start with the obvious: This particular Yaris is a three-door model, which happens to be the only three-door subcompact on sale in the U.S. As for the design, Toyota cleaned up the Yaris by smoothing out some of the lines and removing some questionable details such as a single black push button/handle found on the previous model's tailgate. The front also sees some minor changes with a new front clip and headlights. Inside, the Yaris has just the bare essentials. This is due to this particular model being the base L. There is a wide dash that is mostly bare aside from the radio and climate controls sitting in the middle. Materials are pretty poor with hard plastic along the dash and door panels that look very cheap. I know that the Yaris L is a cheap car, but other vehicles with similar starting price use better materials. Two examples of this are the Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic. As for features, it's an odd game of 'it has this, but not that'. You get a radio that is very much familiar to the Scion FR-S and comes with CD, USB and Aux inputs and Bluetooth. Also standard is air conditioning. What isn't standard is a height adjustment for the front seats and remote mirrors. For those, you have to step up to the LE which costs only costs $935 more when compared to the price of the L model when equipped with the automatic. As for seating comfort, the front seats provided sufficient support. Without the ability to adjust the seat height, I always felt that I was sitting atop a milk crate while driving. The back seats provide decent legroom. Headroom is tight for those above 5'5" as your head will be touching the roof.For more on the engine and what it's like to drive, see the next page. Powering the Yaris is a 1.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine with 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual comes standard on the L 3-Door, but our tester was equipped with the optional four-speed automatic transmission. With all of this 'performance', the Yaris L shows significant signs of struggle. You have to have your foot close or almost to the floor to attempt passing, merging, and even trying to keep up with traffic sometimes. The four-speed automatic does its best to try and keep the vehicle moving, but you can tell it's working its heart out. This is a vehicle that deserves an extra 20 to 30 horsepower and torque, and two more gear ratios. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the Yaris L 3-Door at 30 City/35 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was 32.1 MPG. That is good, but competitors with a bit more oomph can match and exceed that. The Yaris L's ride is actually surprising. When you think of a subcompact, you think darty and sporty. The Yaris is not quite that. The ride is actually very soft, which means you don't feel bumps and road imperfections that much. It also means the Yaris isn't the vehicle you want to have some fun with thanks to the suspension and skinny tires. The steering weight is right in the middle, but kind of numb in feel. This isn't a deal breaker at all. What could be a deal breaker is the amount of road, wind, and engine noise coming into the cabin. There were times when I had to turn up the radio because of the cacophony of noises.Toyota completely missed the mark with the 2013 Yaris. It seems that the team working on it were trying to build a vehicle for the 2000s when everybody else was trying to build one for this decade. Just looking at the Yaris and comparing it to other vehicles such as the RAV4 and Avalon, I know Toyota can do much better. That's not even the biggest problem for the Yaris L; it's the poor value for the money. As I eluded to earlier, you can step up to the LE 3-Door for only $935 more which nets you height adjustment, remote mirrors, cruise control, and loads of other features. Why would you buy the Yaris L over the LE? The only reason I see is that you have $935 in your pocket, but you also have a bad value. You could also check out the Nissan Versa Note or Kia Rio LX for around the same money as the Yaris L and get much more equipment and a better value for money argument. The Toyota Yaris L is indeed a car... and that's about all anyone, even Toyota, can think of to say about it. Click Pictures to Enlarge Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Yaris, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Yaris 3-Door Trim: L Engine: 1.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i four-cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Four-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 106 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 103 @ 4,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/36/32 Curb Weight: 2,315 lbs Location of Manufacture: Kanegasaki, Japan Base Price: $15,095 As Tested Price: $16,477 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Rear Spoiler - $329.00 Carpeted Floor Mats/Cargo Mats - $180.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  8. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 4, 2013 When Toyota introduced the refreshed Yaris subcompact last year, they also introduced a new tagline which is somewhat questionable. The tagline was "Yaris, it's a car!" So we know the Yaris is a car and not anything else, but is it one that you should go out and spend your money on? I spent a week with the 2013 Yaris L three-door to find out. Let's start with the obvious: This particular Yaris is a three-door model, which happens to be the only three-door subcompact on sale in the U.S. As for the design, Toyota cleaned up the Yaris by smoothing out some of the lines and removing some questionable details such as a single black push button/handle found on the previous model's tailgate. The front also sees some minor changes with a new front clip and headlights. Inside, the Yaris has just the bare essentials. This is due to this particular model being the base L. There is a wide dash that is mostly bare aside from the radio and climate controls sitting in the middle. Materials are pretty poor with hard plastic along the dash and door panels that look very cheap. I know that the Yaris L is a cheap car, but other vehicles with similar starting price use better materials. Two examples of this are the Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic. As for features, it's an odd game of 'it has this, but not that'. You get a radio that is very much familiar to the Scion FR-S and comes with CD, USB and Aux inputs and Bluetooth. Also standard is air conditioning. What isn't standard is a height adjustment for the front seats and remote mirrors. For those, you have to step up to the LE which costs only costs $935 more when compared to the price of the L model when equipped with the automatic. As for seating comfort, the front seats provided sufficient support. Without the ability to adjust the seat height, I always felt that I was sitting atop a milk crate while driving. The back seats provide decent legroom. Headroom is tight for those above 5'5" as your head will be touching the roof.For more on the engine and what it's like to drive, see the next page. Powering the Yaris is a 1.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine with 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual comes standard on the L 3-Door, but our tester was equipped with the optional four-speed automatic transmission. With all of this 'performance', the Yaris L shows significant signs of struggle. You have to have your foot close or almost to the floor to attempt passing, merging, and even trying to keep up with traffic sometimes. The four-speed automatic does its best to try and keep the vehicle moving, but you can tell it's working its heart out. This is a vehicle that deserves an extra 20 to 30 horsepower and torque, and two more gear ratios. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the Yaris L 3-Door at 30 City/35 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was 32.1 MPG. That is good, but competitors with a bit more oomph can match and exceed that. The Yaris L's ride is actually surprising. When you think of a subcompact, you think darty and sporty. The Yaris is not quite that. The ride is actually very soft, which means you don't feel bumps and road imperfections that much. It also means the Yaris isn't the vehicle you want to have some fun with thanks to the suspension and skinny tires. The steering weight is right in the middle, but kind of numb in feel. This isn't a deal breaker at all. What could be a deal breaker is the amount of road, wind, and engine noise coming into the cabin. There were times when I had to turn up the radio because of the cacophony of noises.Toyota completely missed the mark with the 2013 Yaris. It seems that the team working on it were trying to build a vehicle for the 2000s when everybody else was trying to build one for this decade. Just looking at the Yaris and comparing it to other vehicles such as the RAV4 and Avalon, I know Toyota can do much better. That's not even the biggest problem for the Yaris L; it's the poor value for the money. As I eluded to earlier, you can step up to the LE 3-Door for only $935 more which nets you height adjustment, remote mirrors, cruise control, and loads of other features. Why would you buy the Yaris L over the LE? The only reason I see is that you have $935 in your pocket, but you also have a bad value. You could also check out the Nissan Versa Note or Kia Rio LX for around the same money as the Yaris L and get much more equipment and a better value for money argument. The Toyota Yaris L is indeed a car... and that's about all anyone, even Toyota, can think of to say about it. Click Pictures to Enlarge Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Yaris, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Yaris 3-Door Trim: L Engine: 1.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i four-cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Four-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 106 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 103 @ 4,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/36/32 Curb Weight: 2,315 lbs Location of Manufacture: Kanegasaki, Japan Base Price: $15,095 As Tested Price: $16,477 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Rear Spoiler - $329.00 Carpeted Floor Mats/Cargo Mats - $180.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  9. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 27, 2013 Back in the late nineties and early 2000s, hybrid vehicles were seen as being on the fringe of the automotive marketplace. Built with fuel economy in mind, the first hybrid vehicles were for those who wanted to stand out while getting impressive fuel economy. Fast forward to today and hybrid vehicles are now part of the mainstream. A number of manufacturers are offering hybrids in different types of vehicles. From compact cars all the way to luxury SUVs. But not every type of vehicle has a hybrid model. For example, there are no compact crossovers that offer a hybrid option. Somewhat weird when you consider the compact crossover class is currently the hot thing in the marketplace. Instead, some automakers are going with small vans/wagons for a hybrid with more space. Case in point, the 2013 Toyota Prius V. Introduced back in 2011, the Prius V takes the formula of the standard Prius and puts it into a larger package. Does this formula work though? The Prius V's exterior design can be summed up like: It's a Prius, but larger. Park a Prius and a Prius V next to each other and you can tell they share a family resemblance. Compared to the Prius, the V is about 5.3 inches longer, 1.2 inches wider, and 3.3 inches taller. Aside from the bigger dimensions, Toyota put on a new front end and restyled the rear end.The model seen here is the Prius V Two, the base model in the Prius V lineup. When I first got in and looked around, the song 'Bare Necessities' from The Jungle Book played in my head. The Two model looks and feels bare. Stepping inside, you are surrounded by the color grey from the door panels to the seats. It was too much grey for my taste. Materials in the Prius V range from textured hard plastics on the dashboard to vinyl on the door panels and the lid of the top glove box. I'm ok with the hard plastics, but the vinyl is an odd choice. As for features, the Two model comes well-equipped for the $27,748.00 price tag. There is a touchscreen radio, backup camera, Bluetooth, USB and Aux jacks, steering wheel controls, and automatic climate control.The front seats are very plush and provide the driver and passenger the basic adjustments to get themselves situated. I was wishing for a bit more support from the seats for longer trips as I was feeling pain in my lower back. Passengers in the back will find loads of head and legroom. Plus, passengers can move the seat forward and back, and recline to make themselves comfortable. Cargo space in the Prius V is huge. With the back seats up, you'll find 34.3 to 40.2 cubic feet of space. This is dependent on how far forward the back seat is. Fold the rear seats down and you have 67.3 cubic feet of space. Compared to its closest competitor the Ford C-Max Hybrid, the Prius V has about 9.8 to 15.7 cubic feet of more space with the seats up and 14.7 cubic feet more with the seats folded. Onto the next page for powertrain and ride impressions. Powering the Prius V is the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain that you'll find in a regular Prius. You have a 1.8L four-cylinder engine (98 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque) paired with a 60 kW electric motor. Total output of this system stands at 134 horsepower. A Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack provides power to the electric motor while a continuously variable transmission makes sure all of the power gets to the front wheels. The Prius V's powertain feels very overwhelmed. This is due to the V weighing 232 pounds more than the standard Prius. Leaving a stop or trying to make a pass, I found the powertrain was better at making noise than actual power. I really do think an extra 15 to 20 in horsepower and torque would really help out. The Prius V also features three different drive modes: Eco, Power, and EV. Eco cuts back on the available power from the hybrid system in a effort to boost fuel economy. Power increases throttle response and uses all available power from the system. EV allows the Prius V to travel a short distance on electric power only. During my week, I found myself using Power to get up to speed at a decent rate, while using EV mode to drive around in my neighborhood without using any gas. EPA rates the 2013 Toyota Prius V at 44 City/40 Highway/42 Combined. During my week long test, I saw an average of 43 MPG. The Prius V redeems itself somewhat in ride and handling. The suspension does a great job of ironing out bumps and providing a smooth ride for passengers. Steering is provided by electrically-power assisted system and it provides decent feel and weight for normal driving. This isn't the vehicle to go for an exuberant drive as the Prius V's handling is somewhat sloppy with the soft suspension tuning and the low-rolling resistance tires. Much like the Prius I had last fall, the Prius V exhibits the same abundance of road and wind noise no matter if you are driving in the neighborhood or go out onto the freeway. I'm really wishing Toyota addresses this with the next-generation Prius V. Is a bigger Prius a good thing? It really comes down to your priorities. If you're looking for a hybrid vehicle that delivers impressive fuel economy numbers while having a surprising amount space, then you should consider the Prius V. Otherwise, the negatives such as abundant road and wind noise, and poor performance have me going towards models like the Ford C-Max Hybrid. It's a matter of personal preference. The Prius V just doesn't meet mine. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius V, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Prius V Trim: Two Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive: 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 1.8L - 98 @ 5,200; Electric - 80 @ 0 Torque @ RPM: 1.8L - 105 @ 4,000; Electric - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 44/40/42 Curb Weight: 3,274 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price: $26,650.00 As Tested Price: $27,748.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  10. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 27, 2013 Back in the late nineties and early 2000s, hybrid vehicles were seen as being on the fringe of the automotive marketplace. Built with fuel economy in mind, the first hybrid vehicles were for those who wanted to stand out while getting impressive fuel economy. Fast forward to today and hybrid vehicles are now part of the mainstream. A number of manufacturers are offering hybrids in different types of vehicles. From compact cars all the way to luxury SUVs. But not every type of vehicle has a hybrid model. For example, there are no compact crossovers that offer a hybrid option. Somewhat weird when you consider the compact crossover class is currently the hot thing in the marketplace. Instead, some automakers are going with small vans/wagons for a hybrid with more space. Case in point, the 2013 Toyota Prius V. Introduced back in 2011, the Prius V takes the formula of the standard Prius and puts it into a larger package. Does this formula work though? The Prius V's exterior design can be summed up like: It's a Prius, but larger. Park a Prius and a Prius V next to each other and you can tell they share a family resemblance. Compared to the Prius, the V is about 5.3 inches longer, 1.2 inches wider, and 3.3 inches taller. Aside from the bigger dimensions, Toyota put on a new front end and restyled the rear end.The model seen here is the Prius V Two, the base model in the Prius V lineup. When I first got in and looked around, the song 'Bare Necessities' from The Jungle Book played in my head. The Two model looks and feels bare. Stepping inside, you are surrounded by the color grey from the door panels to the seats. It was too much grey for my taste. Materials in the Prius V range from textured hard plastics on the dashboard to vinyl on the door panels and the lid of the top glove box. I'm ok with the hard plastics, but the vinyl is an odd choice. As for features, the Two model comes well-equipped for the $27,748.00 price tag. There is a touchscreen radio, backup camera, Bluetooth, USB and Aux jacks, steering wheel controls, and automatic climate control.The front seats are very plush and provide the driver and passenger the basic adjustments to get themselves situated. I was wishing for a bit more support from the seats for longer trips as I was feeling pain in my lower back. Passengers in the back will find loads of head and legroom. Plus, passengers can move the seat forward and back, and recline to make themselves comfortable. Cargo space in the Prius V is huge. With the back seats up, you'll find 34.3 to 40.2 cubic feet of space. This is dependent on how far forward the back seat is. Fold the rear seats down and you have 67.3 cubic feet of space. Compared to its closest competitor the Ford C-Max Hybrid, the Prius V has about 9.8 to 15.7 cubic feet of more space with the seats up and 14.7 cubic feet more with the seats folded. Onto the next page for powertrain and ride impressions. Powering the Prius V is the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain that you'll find in a regular Prius. You have a 1.8L four-cylinder engine (98 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque) paired with a 60 kW electric motor. Total output of this system stands at 134 horsepower. A Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack provides power to the electric motor while a continuously variable transmission makes sure all of the power gets to the front wheels. The Prius V's powertain feels very overwhelmed. This is due to the V weighing 232 pounds more than the standard Prius. Leaving a stop or trying to make a pass, I found the powertrain was better at making noise than actual power. I really do think an extra 15 to 20 in horsepower and torque would really help out. The Prius V also features three different drive modes: Eco, Power, and EV. Eco cuts back on the available power from the hybrid system in a effort to boost fuel economy. Power increases throttle response and uses all available power from the system. EV allows the Prius V to travel a short distance on electric power only. During my week, I found myself using Power to get up to speed at a decent rate, while using EV mode to drive around in my neighborhood without using any gas. EPA rates the 2013 Toyota Prius V at 44 City/40 Highway/42 Combined. During my week long test, I saw an average of 43 MPG. The Prius V redeems itself somewhat in ride and handling. The suspension does a great job of ironing out bumps and providing a smooth ride for passengers. Steering is provided by electrically-power assisted system and it provides decent feel and weight for normal driving. This isn't the vehicle to go for an exuberant drive as the Prius V's handling is somewhat sloppy with the soft suspension tuning and the low-rolling resistance tires. Much like the Prius I had last fall, the Prius V exhibits the same abundance of road and wind noise no matter if you are driving in the neighborhood or go out onto the freeway. I'm really wishing Toyota addresses this with the next-generation Prius V. Is a bigger Prius a good thing? It really comes down to your priorities. If you're looking for a hybrid vehicle that delivers impressive fuel economy numbers while having a surprising amount space, then you should consider the Prius V. Otherwise, the negatives such as abundant road and wind noise, and poor performance have me going towards models like the Ford C-Max Hybrid. It's a matter of personal preference. The Prius V just doesn't meet mine. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius V, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Prius V Trim: Two Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive: 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 1.8L - 98 @ 5,200; Electric - 80 @ 0 Torque @ RPM: 1.8L - 105 @ 4,000; Electric - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 44/40/42 Curb Weight: 3,274 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price: $26,650.00 As Tested Price: $27,748.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  11. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 20, 2013 On the eve of the LA Auto Show, Ford revealed to everyone the Edge Concept. This concept gives us an idea of what the blue oval has in store for the next model due in a couple years time. Being a concept, you would expect a number of amazing technologies. The Edge Concept delivers on that with a collision avoidance system that can brake and swerve around a potential crash, fully automated parking system that find a parking spot and park itself with a press of a button inside or on the keyfob, and a new adaptive steering system that can automatically adjust the reaction of the front wheels to provide a more engaging and confidence-inspiring in all situations. On the exterior, Ford's designers took the the current Edge shape and made it much sharper with a bit more sheetmetal, large grille, creased character lines, and LED lighting. For the interior, Ford fitted Nubuck leather trim and highly stylized pedals. Also appearing is actual buttons and knobs to control MyFordTouch. Ford is keeping quiet what is powering the Edge concept, but in the press release, the company says the concept utilizes the next-generation turbocharged EcoBoost engines. Source: Ford Album: Ford Edge Concept 12 images 0 comments William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 Page 1 of 2 1 2 → Last » Click here to view the article
  12. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 20, 2013 On the eve of the LA Auto Show, Ford revealed to everyone the Edge Concept. This concept gives us an idea of what the blue oval has in store for the next model due in a couple years time. Being a concept, you would expect a number of amazing technologies. The Edge Concept delivers on that with a collision avoidance system that can brake and swerve around a potential crash, fully automated parking system that find a parking spot and park itself with a press of a button inside or on the keyfob, and a new adaptive steering system that can automatically adjust the reaction of the front wheels to provide a more engaging and confidence-inspiring in all situations. On the exterior, Ford's designers took the the current Edge shape and made it much sharper with a bit more sheetmetal, large grille, creased character lines, and LED lighting. For the interior, Ford fitted Nubuck leather trim and highly stylized pedals. Also appearing is actual buttons and knobs to control MyFordTouch. Ford is keeping quiet what is powering the Edge concept, but in the press release, the company says the concept utilizes the next-generation turbocharged EcoBoost engines. Source: Ford William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 WITH SELF-PARKING TECHNOLOGY AND OBSTACLE AVOIDANCE CAPABILITY, FORD EDGE CONCEPT IS TOMORROW’S UTILITY TODAY Ford Edge Concept revealed today at Los Angeles Auto Show offers strong hints at the technology, dynamic design and premium craftsmanship that will define the company’s next global utility vehicles Advanced, automated driving technologies include self-parking and obstacle avoidance systems currently under development by Ford; these technologies preview a future of semi- and fully autonomous driving options, delivering tomorrow’s technology today Sleek exterior design communicates athleticism, confidence and capability; interior finished with premium materials and craftsmanship surpassing segment expectations Ford utility vehicles will be America’s best-selling utility brand for three straight years in 2013, outpacing the nearest competitor by 32 percent through October of this year Ford, the company that defined the crossover utility vehicle segment, today introduced new automated driving technologies in the Ford Edge Concept. The technologies include a push-button and remote-operated parking feature customers could use from either inside or outside the vehicle. “The original Ford Edge offered customers in North America a fresh, compelling choice for an accommodating, efficient and safe medium utility vehicle,” said Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of The Americas, Ford Motor Company. “The next-generation Edge – previewed in the Ford Edge Concept – will build on these cornerstones to create a global vehicle with technology to make life easier, and design and craftsmanship to appeal to customers around the globe.” Key attributes of the Ford Edge Concept – a sleek, sporty appearance; capability; fuel efficiency; and technology that assists the driver – are in line with what customers value around the world, which is driving global growth in the utility vehicle segment. Data provided by IHS Automotive indicate global utility vehicle sales grew 45 percent between 2007 and 2012. The utility segment now accounts for more than 13 million sales annually – 17 percent of the global automotive market. Utility vehicle sales in China are projected to grow significantly, by more than 100 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to IHS Automotive. In South America the utility segment is projected to grow 39 percent, and in Europe it is projected to grow 27 percent over the same period. The current Ford Edge remains a segment sales leader in the United States. Edge is especially well-received in Southern California, where it accounts for nearly one in four sales this year of five-passenger medium utility vehicles. With market share of 23 percent, Ford Edge is the best-selling five-passenger utility vehicle in Southern California, according to Ford analysis of retail registration data from R.L. Polk. Moreover, U.S. Ford-brand utility sales overall are up 12 percent through October compared to last year, and Ford utility vehicles will be America’s best-selling utility brand for three straight years in 2013, as it is outpacing the nearest competitor by 32 percent through October. Advanced features to make smarter vehicles and better drivers Driver-assist technologies and semi-automated features in Edge Concept hint at a future offering even more intelligent and capable vehicles from Ford. These sensor-based technologies form the building blocks for the future of automated driving, and will help make driving safer and more efficient. “The rate of change in vehicle technology right now is unprecedented,” noted Raj Nair, Ford group vice president of global product development. “Our engineers around the world are advancing the systems that will ultimately help make drivers smarter, safer and more efficient. From advanced engine systems to collision avoidance and automated driving systems, Ford will continue to lead in delivering the technologies consumers want and need.” Fully assisted parking aid, a prototype technology, lets customers park their vehicles at the touch of a button, or even by remote control. The concept builds on Ford’s current active park assist feature. It can find a perpendicular parking space using ultrasonic sensors. From inside, the driver pushes a button to activate the system; from outside the vehicle, fully assisted parking aid can be remotely activated, allowing customers to wait until the vehicle has pulled out of a tight parking spot before entering. Using similar sensor and automated vehicle control technology, Ford has also begun a research project designed to refine advanced obstacle avoidance systems. In this case, the research and development vehicle is able to issue warnings if it detects slow-moving or stationary obstacles in the same lane ahead. If the driver fails to steer or brake following the warnings, the system will automatically steer and brake the vehicle to avoid a collision. Adaptive steering, another new technology from Ford featured on Edge Concept, makes steering at low speeds dramatically easier, and steering in all conditions feel more confident and engaging. The technology, which builds on Ford’s electric power-assisted steering system, controls the relationship between how much the driver turns the wheel and how much the road wheels turn. This means that low-speed steering – such as pulling into or out of a parking space – requires much less turning of the wheel. Tomorrow’s technology available today Developing technology that can help people around the world feel more confident and secure is a high priority for Ford. Ford Edge Concept features many of the automated driver-assist technologies – the building blocks to fully automated vehicles of the future – that the company offers on its global products today. These include: Active park assist, which can ease the stress of parallel parking by using sensors and the steering system to guide a vehicle into a parking spot; the driver controls the gas and brake pedals. Available on 12 Ford models today Lane-Keeping System, which uses a forward-facing camera that can scan the road surface for lane markings. The system can evaluate if the vehicle is drifting out of its lane and then alert the driver by vibrating the steering wheel. If the driver does not respond to the vibrations, the system provides steering torque to nudge the vehicle back toward the center of the lane. Available on 11 Ford models today Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, which uses radar to detect moving vehicles immediately ahead, and can modify cruising speed if necessary. Available on 10 Ford models today Blind Spot Information System, which uses radar sensors in the rear corners that monitor the spaces next to and just behind the vehicle. On the road, these sensors trigger a warning light in the mirror when there is another vehicle in the driver’s blind spot. Available on 13 Ford models today Sleek, athletic exterior design defines Ford Edge Concept The technologies in the Ford Edge Concept complement the vehicle’s exterior design, which is carefully sculpted, fluid and athletic. The side view is highlighted by a D-pillar line that comes down the rail, takes a jog and returns. Strong shoulders on Ford Edge Concept add to the feel and appearance of a runner in the starting blocks. The rearward slope of the grille influences the shape of the hood, which is both muscular and more compact. In a unique execution, the three-bar grille is connected to LED headlamps in a premium fashion. To aid the fuel efficiency of a next-generation EcoBoost® engine with start-stop technology, the Edge Concept has a new high-tech application of Active Grille Shutters. The shutters automatically open and close to maintain ideal engine operating temperature and maximize aerodynamic efficiency. When activated, a panel slips down from above, then two more move into place, appearing as if they radiate from the Ford oval. The brighter finish gives a stunning contrast to the black background. To improve efficiency further, unique air curtains are positioned on the lower part of the fascia. The air curtains and ducting are designed to guide air from the front of the vehicle, out through the front wheel wells and down the vehicle side. LED lighting is used on both the headlamps and taillamps of the Ford Edge Concept. Functional and decorative design elements combine to create a stunning display – these technical graphics are a hallmark of modern Ford design. The headlamps light up in complete white, creating an uninterrupted, homogeneous display. Individual LEDs light up crystal cubes on the high beams. The turn signal transforms from a chrome-appearing piece into bright amber, lit from behind through microscopic holes in the bezel, adding to the laser-thin appearance of the headlamps. The taillamps are executed in a similar fashion, cleverly and stylishly connected to the backlight. The exterior is painted in Copper Flame, a modern interpretation of a premium color currently popular on Ford cars. Elevated craftsmanship, elegant colors and rich materials The interior of Ford Edge Concept is open and airy, with a level of craftsmanship and material quality that consumers around the world will appreciate. “We wanted the interior to be consistent in its dynamic character with the exterior of the Ford Edge Concept,” said Hak Soo Ha, interior design manager. “We call the interior environment Dynamic Sanctuary, because it combines the energetic character of the exterior with a more premium cabin execution. The shapes provide a dynamic, in-motion impression that soothes rather than fatigues.” Premium interior elements include: Leather-wrapped and hand-stitched instrument panel 10-inch touch screen center display with MyFord Touch® Dynamic center stack with premium mechanical switchgear Unique gear shifter Bright work on the armrest, door-release bezel and air registers Floating binnacle top Unique steering wheel Scuff plate with bright silver finish, matte black paint and LED-lit “Edge” High levels of craftsmanship and rich materials unify the interior of Ford Edge Concept. Copper is used as the accent color in the carpet, instrument panel and other areas for its premium appearance, complementing the exterior paint color. Premium black Nubuck wraps the upper instrument panel, center console and door elements, enhanced by elegant stitching. The heavy, oiled-grain texture has a feel similar to leather used on high-end furniture; this is juxtaposed with smooth leather on the touchpoints. The vehicle’s leather seats are executed with a distinct perforation pattern, as well as premium stitching and accent plating in the head restraint and top of the shoulder bolster. “The Ford Edge Concept is the latest example of a utility vehicle that delivers the attributes global customers value most – design, fuel efficiency, driving dynamics, and customer-focused technology to help the driver feel more confident,” said Hinrichs.
  13. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 6, 2013 Chrysler has a habit of building a car that can cause everyone to go gaga and have the desire to own one. In the early 2000s, it was the PT Cruiser that caused many people to go crazy with lust. Then in 2005, lighting stuck once again with the introduction of the 300. Its bold styling and available HEMI V8 struck a chord with people. Here was a vehicle that looked like a million bucks, but was very much attainable. However the 300 lost it's exclusiveness and became old news. But a couple years ago, Chrysler under the guiding hand of Fiat launched a new 300. The new model was leaner and possibly a little meaner as well. But the question for the new 300 is this; can it be the attainable dream car like the previous model? I had a 2013 300S for a week to find out. The first-generation 300 received many praises for its very distinctive exterior design. That left Chrysler's designers in a tough spot with designing the next-generation model. Do they stick with what worked for the 300 and make minor changes or start anew? They went with the former and somehow made the new model look more exclusive. Park an old and new 300 and you can tell there's a family resemblance between them. The difference between the old and new is that new 300 features a smoother front and rear end, bolder wheel wells, and a set of LEDs arranged in a C-shape in the headlights. S models take the 300's design further by adding dark grey trim pieces and twenty-inch wheels with black paint on the wheel pockets. These additions really make the 300S stand out.One of the biggest complaints with the last 300 was the use of questionable materials in the interior. The outside looked great, but was let down by an interior that could be described as disappointing. The new model fixes that by a wide margin. Chrysler made the 300S look and feel like a more expensive car by using better materials such as soft-touch materials along the dash and door panels, brushed metal trim, and leather on the steering wheel and seats. Controls felt solid and build quality was excellent. The only item I would change in the 300S' interior is switching out the black seats for the optional red ones. I thought the red seats would be somewhat garish. But after spending a week in what felt like complete darkness thanks to black leather on the seats and black dashboard, the red leather would provide some contrast. As for comfort, the driver and passenger get enveloped in supportive leather seats with power adjustments and heat. Taking a quick trip up to Mid-Michigan for the day, I found that I was very comfortable and had no pain in my back. The back seat provides an adequate amount of head and legroom. However, there is a feeling of claustrophobia thanks to a high beltline and a small greenhouse. A large eight-inch touchscreen sits on top of the center stack and features Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system. UConnect controls the radio, climate, navigation, and number of other functions in the 300. This system is has to be one the most user-friendly infotainment system I have used thanks to large touch points and switching from one function to another very quickly. One point of contention with UConnect is the Garmin navigation system. Some complain that it looks like MyFirstNavigation, but I would argue that its easier to use than fair number of competitors. Sure it's simplistic, but the system gets the job done.Now that I have talked about the show in 300S, Let us dive into what makes this go on the next page. The 300 comes with the choice of a V6 or the HEMI V8. In this particular 300S, it was equipped with Chrysler's 3.6L Pentastar V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque, up from the standard 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is thanks to a sport-tuned exhaust and cold-air induction system. An eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF gets the power to the rear wheels. The 3.6L V6 is a very strong engine whether you're leaving a stop or needing to make a pass. There always seems to be enough power ready at your command. What impressed me more was the eight-speed automatic. This transmission plays very well with the V6, keeping it in the zone of power with no sweat. Shifts were unobtrusive and mostly quick when downshifting. I do wish the upshifts were a little bit faster when I hit the go pedal though.The eight-speed automatic also has one of oddest and confusing gear selectors on the market today. It's supposed to work like your standard gear selector where you pull back to go into reverse or drive and push forward to go into park. But I never could seem to get into the gear I wanted on the first try. I would figure out that there are notches when you push or pull the selector, which helped out somewhat. I was left wondering why Chrysler thought this was a good idea. Maybe with a refresh or next-generation, a rotary knob will take the place. Fuel economy wise, the 3.6L is rated at 19 City/31 Highway/23 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 25.3 MPG. Chrysler found a nice midpoint with comfort and sport with the 300S' ride. We'll start with the comfort. The suspension tuning and long-wheelbase make any road almost feel smooth, even with the standard twenty-inch wheels on the S model. Wind and road noise hardly make an appearance as well. As for the sport, Chrysler fits a touring suspension which helps reduce body roll. Steering has a nice feel and weight when being pushed. However, the large size of the 300S makes it a bit of a handful when being driven hard.In every facet, Chrysler has improved the 300. Under the familiar but somehow new body lies a number of major changes that make new model not only a standout in the Chrysler family, but in the entire marketplace. Also considering the as-tested price of $37,925 makes the 300S a bit of bargain. The affordable dream car is back with a vengeance. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the 300S, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Chrysler Model: 300 Trim: S Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 300 @ 6350 Torque @ RPM: 264 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/31/23 Curb Weight: 4,029 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $33,145 As Tested Price: $37,925 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: SafetyTec - $1,995.00 UConnect 8.4N AM/FM/Sat/Nav - $995.00 Light Group - $795.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  14. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 6, 2013 Chrysler has a habit of building a car that can cause everyone to go gaga and have the desire to own one. In the early 2000s, it was the PT Cruiser that caused many people to go crazy with lust. Then in 2005, lighting stuck once again with the introduction of the 300. Its bold styling and available HEMI V8 struck a chord with people. Here was a vehicle that looked like a million bucks, but was very much attainable. However the 300 lost it's exclusiveness and became old news. But a couple years ago, Chrysler under the guiding hand of Fiat launched a new 300. The new model was leaner and possibly a little meaner as well. But the question for the new 300 is this; can it be the attainable dream car like the previous model? I had a 2013 300S for a week to find out. The first-generation 300 received many praises for its very distinctive exterior design. That left Chrysler's designers in a tough spot with designing the next-generation model. Do they stick with what worked for the 300 and make minor changes or start anew? They went with the former and somehow made the new model look more exclusive. Park an old and new 300 and you can tell there's a family resemblance between them. The difference between the old and new is that new 300 features a smoother front and rear end, bolder wheel wells, and a set of LEDs arranged in a C-shape in the headlights. S models take the 300's design further by adding dark grey trim pieces and twenty-inch wheels with black paint on the wheel pockets. These additions really make the 300S stand out.One of the biggest complaints with the last 300 was the use of questionable materials in the interior. The outside looked great, but was let down by an interior that could be described as disappointing. The new model fixes that by a wide margin. Chrysler made the 300S look and feel like a more expensive car by using better materials such as soft-touch materials along the dash and door panels, brushed metal trim, and leather on the steering wheel and seats. Controls felt solid and build quality was excellent. The only item I would change in the 300S' interior is switching out the black seats for the optional red ones. I thought the red seats would be somewhat garish. But after spending a week in what felt like complete darkness thanks to black leather on the seats and black dashboard, the red leather would provide some contrast. As for comfort, the driver and passenger get enveloped in supportive leather seats with power adjustments and heat. Taking a quick trip up to Mid-Michigan for the day, I found that I was very comfortable and had no pain in my back. The back seat provides an adequate amount of head and legroom. However, there is a feeling of claustrophobia thanks to a high beltline and a small greenhouse. A large eight-inch touchscreen sits on top of the center stack and features Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system. UConnect controls the radio, climate, navigation, and number of other functions in the 300. This system is has to be one the most user-friendly infotainment system I have used thanks to large touch points and switching from one function to another very quickly. One point of contention with UConnect is the Garmin navigation system. Some complain that it looks like MyFirstNavigation, but I would argue that its easier to use than fair number of competitors. Sure it's simplistic, but the system gets the job done.Now that I have talked about the show in 300S, Let us dive into what makes this go on the next page. The 300 comes with the choice of a V6 or the HEMI V8. In this particular 300S, it was equipped with Chrysler's 3.6L Pentastar V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque, up from the standard 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is thanks to a sport-tuned exhaust and cold-air induction system. An eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF gets the power to the rear wheels. The 3.6L V6 is a very strong engine whether you're leaving a stop or needing to make a pass. There always seems to be enough power ready at your command. What impressed me more was the eight-speed automatic. This transmission plays very well with the V6, keeping it in the zone of power with no sweat. Shifts were unobtrusive and mostly quick when downshifting. I do wish the upshifts were a little bit faster when I hit the go pedal though.The eight-speed automatic also has one of oddest and confusing gear selectors on the market today. It's supposed to work like your standard gear selector where you pull back to go into reverse or drive and push forward to go into park. But I never could seem to get into the gear I wanted on the first try. I would figure out that there are notches when you push or pull the selector, which helped out somewhat. I was left wondering why Chrysler thought this was a good idea. Maybe with a refresh or next-generation, a rotary knob will take the place. Fuel economy wise, the 3.6L is rated at 19 City/31 Highway/23 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 25.3 MPG. Chrysler found a nice midpoint with comfort and sport with the 300S' ride. We'll start with the comfort. The suspension tuning and long-wheelbase make any road almost feel smooth, even with the standard twenty-inch wheels on the S model. Wind and road noise hardly make an appearance as well. As for the sport, Chrysler fits a touring suspension which helps reduce body roll. Steering has a nice feel and weight when being pushed. However, the large size of the 300S makes it a bit of a handful when being driven hard.In every facet, Chrysler has improved the 300. Under the familiar but somehow new body lies a number of major changes that make new model not only a standout in the Chrysler family, but in the entire marketplace. Also considering the as-tested price of $37,925 makes the 300S a bit of bargain. The affordable dream car is back with a vengeance. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the 300S, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Chrysler Model: 300 Trim: S Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 300 @ 6350 Torque @ RPM: 264 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/31/23 Curb Weight: 4,029 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $33,145 As Tested Price: $37,925 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: SafetyTec - $1,995.00 UConnect 8.4N AM/FM/Sat/Nav - $995.00 Light Group - $795.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  15. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 13, 2013 The past few years has seen Hyundai rise as a dominant player in automotive marketplace. Vehicles like the Sonata, Elantra, and the Accent have shown how far the Korean automaker has come and being rewarded for their efforts. There is one segment that Hyundai hasn't quite cracked yet; crossovers. It's not for the lack of trying. Hyundai has been trying its darndest since the first-generation Santa Fe rolled off in 2002. Some of their efforts have included making the second-generation Santa Fe larger and introducing a smaller and larger crossover to complement it. That didn't quite work, so Hyundai went back to the drawing board and came up with a new idea. Last year, they introduced the next-generation Santa Fes; a large seven-seat model called the Santa Fe and a new midsize model called the Santa Fe Sport. Is this idea working? To find out, I spent some time with the 2013 Santa Fe Sport. The Santa Fe Sport is one the first Hyundai vehicles to introduce their new 'Fluidic Precision' design language. The new design language gives the Sport a very muscular and expressive presence. The front end has a comically large chrome grille and sharp looking headlight units. Along the side profile is a strong character line that starts from the front wheel well and extends all of the way to rear taillights. Hyundai's designers raked the rear windows to add a nice stylish touch. This also means rear visibility becomes limited. Finishing the Santa Fe Sport off is a set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels in a graphite finish.Heading inside, the Santa Fe Sport is a very pleasant and comfortable place to be. The dash and door panels comes with lot of soft-touch materials and leather. The center stack layout is simple and the controls are well-placed for easy reach. As for comfort, my test Santa Fe Sport came equipped powered and heated front seats for the front passengers. You can easily find a comfortable position with no sweat. The back seat passengers also have it good with more than enough head and legroom. Also, you can get the Santa Fe Sport equipped with the rear seats that adjust forward and back, recline, and provide heat. My test Santa Fe Sport was also equipped with the optional navigation system and I have to say I was impressed. Hyundai installed their latest system which introduces a number of small changes such as improved maps and performance. The system is very easy to use and snappy. A number of automakers should take a look at Hyundai's system if they want to produce a quick and smooth infotainment system. Now that I have talked about the exterior and interior of the Santa Fe Sport, it's time for a look under the hood. The Santa Fe Sport is available with two engines. The one I had is the base 2.4L direct-injected four-cylinder with 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. This was paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is an option as is the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 264 horsepower and 269 pound-feet torque. The 2.4L does get the Santa Fe Sport moving, but you feel like it's under a lot of stress. Getting up to speed takes a few seconds longer than expected. Plus, the engine quickly runs out of breath as you try to make a pass or merge onto a freeway until the next gear hits. This surprised me a bit since this is the almost the same engine you'll find under the hood of the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. I praised the Optima's 2.4L for being peppy and smooth. While the 2.4L in the Santa Fe is smooth, it is not peppy. There is an Active Eco button that helps improve fuel economy, but it reduces the engine's power. The six-speed automatic does a good job when you're leaving a stop gently or moving along smoothly. Hammer the throttle and the automatic is somewhat confused before figuring out what it should do. EPA rates the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport FWD 2.4 at 21 City/29 Highway/24 Combined. During my week with it, I averaged 25.2 MPG.The Santa Fe Sport's ride is very comprised and quiet. Driving along the interstate for brief trip, the Santa Fe Sport exhibited minimal road and wind noise. The suspension is able to smooth out bumps and road imperfections with no problem. Here's lookin at you kid... Click Image to Enlarge If you are expecting any driving fun since it's named the Santa Fe Sport, then I need to explain the Sport is more of differentiation about the vehicle's size, not the fun-to-drive-ness. Much like the other crossovers in the class, the Santa Fe Sport has a bit of lean when turning due to its suspension tuning. The Santa Fe Sport also features Hyundai's Flex Steer which allows a driver to choose how much weight they want in their steering. In my review of the Elantra GT, I found myself leaving the system in Normal since the other two options were on the extreme. The same holds true for the Santa Fe Sport. Using the flex-steer system, I found myself using the Normal setting more than Comfort (too light) and Sport (too heavy). At the end of the week, I found the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport to be a very competent crossover. Hyundai focused on the areas that are important to buyers in this class; comfort, value for money, and styling. The only real concern I have is with the base engine as I found it to be somewhat stressed. For a fair number of buyers, the 2.4 will be ok if you equip it with front-wheel drive. If you are considering all-wheel drive, I would push for the 2.0T engine. Otherwise, Hyundai seems to be going in the right direction with the Santa Fe Sport. It could be the breakout hit they are looking for. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Sport Trim: FWD 2.4 Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 190 @ 6,300 Torque @ RPM: 181 @ 4,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/29/24 Curb Weight: 3,459 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $24,450.00 As Tested Price: $32,175.00 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) Options: Leather & Premium Equipment Package - $2,950.00 Technology Package - $2,700.00 Popular Equipment Package - $950.00 Cargo Cover - $150.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $100.00 Cargo Net - $50.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  16. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 13, 2013 The past few years has seen Hyundai rise as a dominant player in automotive marketplace. Vehicles like the Sonata, Elantra, and the Accent have shown how far the Korean automaker has come and being rewarded for their efforts. There is one segment that Hyundai hasn't quite cracked yet; crossovers. It's not for the lack of trying. Hyundai has been trying its darndest since the first-generation Santa Fe rolled off in 2002. Some of their efforts have included making the second-generation Santa Fe larger and introducing a smaller and larger crossover to complement it. That didn't quite work, so Hyundai went back to the drawing board and came up with a new idea. Last year, they introduced the next-generation Santa Fes; a large seven-seat model called the Santa Fe and a new midsize model called the Santa Fe Sport. Is this idea working? To find out, I spent some time with the 2013 Santa Fe Sport. The Santa Fe Sport is one the first Hyundai vehicles to introduce their new 'Fluidic Precision' design language. The new design language gives the Sport a very muscular and expressive presence. The front end has a comically large chrome grille and sharp looking headlight units. Along the side profile is a strong character line that starts from the front wheel well and extends all of the way to rear taillights. Hyundai's designers raked the rear windows to add a nice stylish touch. This also means rear visibility becomes limited. Finishing the Santa Fe Sport off is a set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels in a graphite finish.Heading inside, the Santa Fe Sport is a very pleasant and comfortable place to be. The dash and door panels comes with lot of soft-touch materials and leather. The center stack layout is simple and the controls are well-placed for easy reach. As for comfort, my test Santa Fe Sport came equipped powered and heated front seats for the front passengers. You can easily find a comfortable position with no sweat. The back seat passengers also have it good with more than enough head and legroom. Also, you can get the Santa Fe Sport equipped with the rear seats that adjust forward and back, recline, and provide heat. My test Santa Fe Sport was also equipped with the optional navigation system and I have to say I was impressed. Hyundai installed their latest system which introduces a number of small changes such as improved maps and performance. The system is very easy to use and snappy. A number of automakers should take a look at Hyundai's system if they want to produce a quick and smooth infotainment system. Now that I have talked about the exterior and interior of the Santa Fe Sport, it's time for a look under the hood. The Santa Fe Sport is available with two engines. The one I had is the base 2.4L direct-injected four-cylinder with 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. This was paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is an option as is the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 264 horsepower and 269 pound-feet torque. The 2.4L does get the Santa Fe Sport moving, but you feel like it's under a lot of stress. Getting up to speed takes a few seconds longer than expected. Plus, the engine quickly runs out of breath as you try to make a pass or merge onto a freeway until the next gear hits. This surprised me a bit since this is the almost the same engine you'll find under the hood of the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. I praised the Optima's 2.4L for being peppy and smooth. While the 2.4L in the Santa Fe is smooth, it is not peppy. There is an Active Eco button that helps improve fuel economy, but it reduces the engine's power. The six-speed automatic does a good job when you're leaving a stop gently or moving along smoothly. Hammer the throttle and the automatic is somewhat confused before figuring out what it should do. EPA rates the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport FWD 2.4 at 21 City/29 Highway/24 Combined. During my week with it, I averaged 25.2 MPG.The Santa Fe Sport's ride is very comprised and quiet. Driving along the interstate for brief trip, the Santa Fe Sport exhibited minimal road and wind noise. The suspension is able to smooth out bumps and road imperfections with no problem. Here's lookin at you kid... Click Image to Enlarge If you are expecting any driving fun since it's named the Santa Fe Sport, then I need to explain the Sport is more of differentiation about the vehicle's size, not the fun-to-drive-ness. Much like the other crossovers in the class, the Santa Fe Sport has a bit of lean when turning due to its suspension tuning. The Santa Fe Sport also features Hyundai's Flex Steer which allows a driver to choose how much weight they want in their steering. In my review of the Elantra GT, I found myself leaving the system in Normal since the other two options were on the extreme. The same holds true for the Santa Fe Sport. Using the flex-steer system, I found myself using the Normal setting more than Comfort (too light) and Sport (too heavy). At the end of the week, I found the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport to be a very competent crossover. Hyundai focused on the areas that are important to buyers in this class; comfort, value for money, and styling. The only real concern I have is with the base engine as I found it to be somewhat stressed. For a fair number of buyers, the 2.4 will be ok if you equip it with front-wheel drive. If you are considering all-wheel drive, I would push for the 2.0T engine. Otherwise, Hyundai seems to be going in the right direction with the Santa Fe Sport. It could be the breakout hit they are looking for. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Sport Trim: FWD 2.4 Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 190 @ 6,300 Torque @ RPM: 181 @ 4,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/29/24 Curb Weight: 3,459 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $24,450.00 As Tested Price: $32,175.00 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) Options: Leather & Premium Equipment Package - $2,950.00 Technology Package - $2,700.00 Popular Equipment Package - $950.00 Cargo Cover - $150.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $100.00 Cargo Net - $50.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  17. 90th Anniversary of the Seattle Auto Show. October 16 to 20, 2013 Wednesday-Thursday 1 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. http://www.seattleautoshow.com/index.php While I will have a CNG booth at this auto show, I do plan to take my DSLR and capture pictures of the hot new auto's. On the home page they list the Jeep Cheerokee as being there along with the ELR. Take a look at the web site and let me know if you want any pictures of specific Auto's. I will do my best to get them. One cool point is the Old Car Collection with a select group of cars from the worlds largest private auto collection. LeyMay Museum Tacoma Washington http://www.lemaymuseum.org/ Autoshow up all!
  18. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 30, 2013 The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder caused quite the ruckus when it was introduced at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Nissan announced that the new Pathfinder was leaving its off-road roots that it had for the majority of its life and was turning into a crossover. Of course, most everyone in the automotive world went mad and complained that Nissan was tarnishing the good name of the Pathfinder by going the crossover route. However, Nissan is having the last laugh as sales of the new Pathfinder are booming. In 2011, Nissan moved 25,935 Pathfinders. So far this year, Nissan has more than double that with 63,826 Pathfinders finding a good home. But there comes a question; with this transformation, has Nissan been able to make a crossover that deserves the Pathfinder name? When I first saw pictures of the 2013 Pathfinder, I thought it looked awkward. In person, it still looks awkward to my eyes. I think it's due to Nissan trying to mesh two design philosophies into one vehicle. Up front is the design language that Nissan uses for its trucks and SUVs. You have a trapezoidal grille and massive headlights that are surrounded with chrome trim. The side profile and back end are more reminiscent of Nissan's passenger sedans with flowing lines and a large greenhouse.The Pathfinder's interior is your standard Nissan fare with a plain looking design. Material quality ranges from soft-touch on the interior's touch points to hard materials along the bottom of the dashboard. There is wood trim along the center stack and console that adds a nice touch. Taking center stage on the center stack is a seven-inch screen. At first, I thought it was touchscreen that was broken since it wasn't responding. Then I realized Nissan pulled a bit of a bait and switch. If you want a touchscreen on your Pathfinder, you have to step up to the Platinum model which costs an extra $5,000 over the SL model. To move around the system, you have a set of buttons and a large knob below the screen. Once you get the hang of how to work the system, it becomes somewhat easier. But in the back of my head, I'm wondering why Nissan just doesn't go ahead with a touchscreen for the SL.That's not the only problem with the Pathfinder SL's tech. The other one is with the Bluetooth system. To start, you can only make phone calls with the system and not stream any audio from your phone or audio device. Nissan has rectified this with the 2014 SL by making it an option, but I think this should be standard across the Pathfinder lineup. Also trying to pair my phone was a pain in the butt ordeal. Whereas most systems have you go into the settings menu to pair your phone, the Pathfinder has you use the voice button on the steering wheel to setup your phone. The only way you know this is by either looking in the owners manual or accidentally hitting the voice button. The setup process is thankfully painless, as is answering phone calls. Trying to make a call is another story. Nissan's voice system couldn't figure out what name I was trying to say and would ask me to repeat. I just found it easier to say the number or dial from my phone and send it to the vehicle. Click images to enlarge The Pathfinder SL comes with seating for seven people. Comfort varies on where you're sitting in the vehicle. Up front, passengers will find plush seats with good support and adjustments. The second-row offers passengers an abundance of head and legroom. Sadly, I didn't find the seats as comfortable because there isn't enough seat padding and I found the second-row isn't set as high like in the GMC Acadia. The third-row is easy to get to thanks to Nissan's EZ Flex Seating System which flips up the bottom cushion and tilts the back cushion to make the seat more compact and easier to move. This system also allows the seat to be moved if there is an infant seat by only tilting the back cushion. Space in the third row is tight for legroom, while headroom is decent. For Powertrain and Ride Impressions, See The Next Page. Powering all Pathfinders is the well-known 3.5L VQ V6 with 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet torque paired with Nissan's XTronic CVT. You have the choice of either front-wheel or ALL-MODE 4x4-i. In my notes for the Pathfinder, the power delivery feels like the vehicle is climbing a hill while struggling to keep the speed prior to reaching an rpm where the power delivery becomes more immediate. The engine doesn't feel as powerful on the lower end as it does on the higher end. I'm not sure if this is an issue with the engine's computer or the CVT. Speaking of the CVT, it does a excellent job of keeping the 3.5L V6 quiet, except when you accelerate and the prolonged drone enters the cabin. The EPA rates the 2013 Pathfinder at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 22.1 MPG. My test Pathfinder came equipped with Nissan's ALL-MODE 4x4-i and it offers three different models via a knob in the center stack, 2WD: Leaves the Pathfinder in front-wheel drive Auto: All-Wheel Drive system kicks in if the system detects a loss of traction Lock: All-Wheel Drive System stays on for a certain amount of time and at certain speed before switching back to Auto. I mostly left the system in 2WD, but I switched into Auto when a nasty storm rolled through and dumped a lot of rain. The system did its job and I got to my destination safely. As for ride and handling, the Pathfinder is one of the more plush riding crossovers on sale. The suspension isolates bumps and road imperfections from passengers. Steering is light and doesn't really have that much feel, the two traits that are common in the class and are acceptable. One disappointment was how much wind noise the Pathfinder exhibited, especially around the a-pillars.The Pathfinder's transformation of being a rough and tough SUV to family friendly crossover has mostly worked out. Nissan got most of the basics right with a comfortable ride, plush interior, high fuel economy numbers, and some clever features. However, some odd decisions made with the infotainment unit, a horrid bluetooth system, and the odd behavior of the powertrain rob the Pathfinder of the best-in-class crown. If Nissan can address these problems in the near future, then we might have a real competitor to GM's Lambda family. Click image to enlarge Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Pathfinder SL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Nissan Model: Pathfinder Trim: SL i-4X4 Engine: 3.5L VQ V6 Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ 6400 Torque @ RPM: 240 @ 4400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,312 lbs Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN Base Price: $36,070 As Tested Price: $40,470 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) Options: SL Premium Package - $2,650.00 Roof Rail Cross Bars - $300.00 Illuminated Kick Plates - $275.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $200.00 Splash Guards - $175.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  19. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 30, 2013 The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder caused quite the ruckus when it was introduced at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Nissan announced that the new Pathfinder was leaving its off-road roots that it had for the majority of its life and was turning into a crossover. Of course, most everyone in the automotive world went mad and complained that Nissan was tarnishing the good name of the Pathfinder by going the crossover route. However, Nissan is having the last laugh as sales of the new Pathfinder are booming. In 2011, Nissan moved 25,935 Pathfinders. So far this year, Nissan has more than double that with 63,826 Pathfinders finding a good home. But there comes a question; with this transformation, has Nissan been able to make a crossover that deserves the Pathfinder name? When I first saw pictures of the 2013 Pathfinder, I thought it looked awkward. In person, it still looks awkward to my eyes. I think it's due to Nissan trying to mesh two design philosophies into one vehicle. Up front is the design language that Nissan uses for its trucks and SUVs. You have a trapezoidal grille and massive headlights that are surrounded with chrome trim. The side profile and back end are more reminiscent of Nissan's passenger sedans with flowing lines and a large greenhouse.The Pathfinder's interior is your standard Nissan fare with a plain looking design. Material quality ranges from soft-touch on the interior's touch points to hard materials along the bottom of the dashboard. There is wood trim along the center stack and console that adds a nice touch. Taking center stage on the center stack is a seven-inch screen. At first, I thought it was touchscreen that was broken since it wasn't responding. Then I realized Nissan pulled a bit of a bait and switch. If you want a touchscreen on your Pathfinder, you have to step up to the Platinum model which costs an extra $5,000 over the SL model. To move around the system, you have a set of buttons and a large knob below the screen. Once you get the hang of how to work the system, it becomes somewhat easier. But in the back of my head, I'm wondering why Nissan just doesn't go ahead with a touchscreen for the SL.That's not the only problem with the Pathfinder SL's tech. The other one is with the Bluetooth system. To start, you can only make phone calls with the system and not stream any audio from your phone or audio device. Nissan has rectified this with the 2014 SL by making it an option, but I think this should be standard across the Pathfinder lineup. Also trying to pair my phone was a pain in the butt ordeal. Whereas most systems have you go into the settings menu to pair your phone, the Pathfinder has you use the voice button on the steering wheel to setup your phone. The only way you know this is by either looking in the owners manual or accidentally hitting the voice button. The setup process is thankfully painless, as is answering phone calls. Trying to make a call is another story. Nissan's voice system couldn't figure out what name I was trying to say and would ask me to repeat. I just found it easier to say the number or dial from my phone and send it to the vehicle. Click images to enlarge The Pathfinder SL comes with seating for seven people. Comfort varies on where you're sitting in the vehicle. Up front, passengers will find plush seats with good support and adjustments. The second-row offers passengers an abundance of head and legroom. Sadly, I didn't find the seats as comfortable because there isn't enough seat padding and I found the second-row isn't set as high like in the GMC Acadia. The third-row is easy to get to thanks to Nissan's EZ Flex Seating System which flips up the bottom cushion and tilts the back cushion to make the seat more compact and easier to move. This system also allows the seat to be moved if there is an infant seat by only tilting the back cushion. Space in the third row is tight for legroom, while headroom is decent. For Powertrain and Ride Impressions, See The Next Page. Powering all Pathfinders is the well-known 3.5L VQ V6 with 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet torque paired with Nissan's XTronic CVT. You have the choice of either front-wheel or ALL-MODE 4x4-i. In my notes for the Pathfinder, the power delivery feels like the vehicle is climbing a hill while struggling to keep the speed prior to reaching an rpm where the power delivery becomes more immediate. The engine doesn't feel as powerful on the lower end as it does on the higher end. I'm not sure if this is an issue with the engine's computer or the CVT. Speaking of the CVT, it does a excellent job of keeping the 3.5L V6 quiet, except when you accelerate and the prolonged drone enters the cabin. The EPA rates the 2013 Pathfinder at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 22.1 MPG. My test Pathfinder came equipped with Nissan's ALL-MODE 4x4-i and it offers three different models via a knob in the center stack, 2WD: Leaves the Pathfinder in front-wheel drive Auto: All-Wheel Drive system kicks in if the system detects a loss of traction Lock: All-Wheel Drive System stays on for a certain amount of time and at certain speed before switching back to Auto. I mostly left the system in 2WD, but I switched into Auto when a nasty storm rolled through and dumped a lot of rain. The system did its job and I got to my destination safely. As for ride and handling, the Pathfinder is one of the more plush riding crossovers on sale. The suspension isolates bumps and road imperfections from passengers. Steering is light and doesn't really have that much feel, the two traits that are common in the class and are acceptable. One disappointment was how much wind noise the Pathfinder exhibited, especially around the a-pillars.The Pathfinder's transformation of being a rough and tough SUV to family friendly crossover has mostly worked out. Nissan got most of the basics right with a comfortable ride, plush interior, high fuel economy numbers, and some clever features. However, some odd decisions made with the infotainment unit, a horrid bluetooth system, and the odd behavior of the powertrain rob the Pathfinder of the best-in-class crown. If Nissan can address these problems in the near future, then we might have a real competitor to GM's Lambda family. Click image to enlarge Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Pathfinder SL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Nissan Model: Pathfinder Trim: SL i-4X4 Engine: 3.5L VQ V6 Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ 6400 Torque @ RPM: 240 @ 4400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,312 lbs Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN Base Price: $36,070 As Tested Price: $40,470 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) Options: SL Premium Package - $2,650.00 Roof Rail Cross Bars - $300.00 Illuminated Kick Plates - $275.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $200.00 Splash Guards - $175.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  20. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 23, 2013 Whether it was deserved or not, the previous Beetle earned the dubious title of 'chick car'. It's easy to see how the Beetle earned this title; a bubbly design, flower shaped wheels, and a flower vase. This wasn't helped by the addition of the Beetle Convertible which only reinforced the 'chick car' mantra.. But Volkswagen pulled something short of a miracle with this current Beetle; made it look like the classic Beetle that we know and love without giving it any details that could make it a 'chick car'. Could they pull off the same feat with the new convertible? I spent a week with the 2013 Beetle Convertible Turbo to find out. The Beetle Convertible Turbo is still a Beetle design-wise, but has been brought into the modern era. Certain elements from the New Beetle are still around in this new model with round headlights and wide fenders. Other than that, the Beetle Convertible really stands out with longer front end, a deck-lid spoiler, D-Shaped headlights, and eighteen-inch alloy wheels. Like the previous Beetle Convertible, the new model sticks with a fabric roof. I like how Volkswagen was able to keep the roofline from Beetle when making the Beetle Convertible. The top can be raised and lowered within ten seconds and up to 31 MPH. The top folds into the back of the vehicle, but doesn't go into the trunk. Instead it sits in a little space behind the back seats. That means some of the folded top sticking out from the space it sits in. Volkswagen does provide a cover to put over the top, but it's about as easy to put on as trying to wrestle a greased pig. First off, the cover is just huge. Trying pull it out of trunk kind of reminded me of how a dentist pulls a tooth out; yank and pull till it comes out. From there you have get the cover installed onto the roof by a number of clips and tucking it in. I only tried it once and then took the cover off. There has to be an easier way to do this.The Beetle Convertible's interior has been toned down somewhat when compared to the last-generation model. You don't have a funky center stack or a vase where you can stick a flower into. It's more in line with Volkswagen's lineup. That doesn't mean that interior is boring, there are some touches that make the Beetle Convertible special. For starters, you have a two-tone dashboard (Beige and Black in my case) and a separate set of gauges mounted at the top of the dash that gives you the oil temp, turbo boost, and a stopwatch. Materials throughout are mix of hard and soft-touch plastics. Click images to enlarge Front seat passengers are firmly held in with very supportive front seats. I was disappointed that for the as-tested price, the Beetle Convertible Turbo doesn't come with power seats. The back seat is just there for show since no one can actually fit there comfortably. The nice thing is that Volkswagen includes a wind deflector that you can install right over the back seat. For your entertainment, Volkswagen has installed the Fender Audio System in the Beetle convertible. Now I was impressed by the system in the Jetta Hybrid I had back in summer. In the convertible, it impressed even more. With the top down, the Fender system was able to produce a very clear sound. No matter what I threw at the system with the top up or down, the Fender system performed flawlessly. What I wasn't so impressed by was the optional navigation system. The screen is too small and the touch points on the screen are hard to hit and require you to hit them a couple times for something to happen. I'm wishing that Volkswagen makes the larger touchscreen used on the high-trim Passats available to other models. For powertrain and driving impressions, see the next page. Powering the Beetle Convertible Turbo is Volkswagen's veritable 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder. It produces 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. You have a choice of either a manual or DSG gearbox, both six-speeds. The engine really gets the Beetle Convertible moving thanks to the 207 pound-feet of torque arriving at 1,700 rpm. At no point was I thinking 'this needs more power', the 2.0T is just enough. Plus, the 2.0T makes a lovely exhaust burble when you have the top down. The DSG is somewhat mixed. In low-speed situations, the DSG acts confused and goes into a herky-jerky mode when changing gears. Put it on a open road and the DSG comes alive with lighting quick shifts. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible at 21 City/29 Highway/24 Combined. I was hoping the fuel economy numbers were better considering the size of Beetle convertible. My average for the week was around 24.1 MPG.When building a convertible, there are two problems that need to be solved. The first is excessive wind noise when the top is up and the second is the flexing of the body cause by the roof being removed. In the case of the Beetle Convertible, Volkswagen was able to minimize both to a point. With the wind noise, the convertible's top is comprised of six layers of varying materials (ranging from a fabric used on the exterior layer to an insulating fleece) in a effort to reduce it. I can say that driving around town and on the expressway, the car is quieter than I was expecting. Yes, there is some wind noise that makes its way in, but its not to the point where you need to crank the radio up. As for the body flex, the Beetle Convertible comes with a fair number for reinforcements such as a thicker bar used in the A-Pillars and more sheet metal in the lower body. This makes the Beetle Convertible 20 percent stiffer when compared to the last-generation model. Driving on some rough roads, I wasn't able to feel or notice any flex in body. Driving around in the Beetle Convertible Turbo, I was worried it was going to be too stiff with a sports suspension and eighteen-inch wheels. Thankfully Volkswagen was able to find a balance between the two. Driving around in town or out on the expressway, the suspension does a really nice job of isolating most road imperfections. Out on the curvy stuff, the Beetle Convertible Turbo is very much fun to drive at moderate speeds. The suspension keeps the vehicle in check and the steering provides excellent weight and decent feel. But like C&G's Managing Editor Drew Dowdell found out in his Beetle Turbo review back in 2012, it doesn't like to be pushed hard. The suspension isn't able to handle being pushed to its limits, becoming somewhat squirrely. Keep it at 5, 6 on the fun to drive scale and you'll do fine.There is one issue that I need to address with this particular Beetle Convertible Turbo and that is the pricetag. The Beetle Convertible Turbo is Sound/Nav model and as tested costs $33,765. Quite the chunk of change for a small convertible. That of course brings up the question of what else you could buy. Well you can step up to a Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang with their respective V6 engines or you can go down slightly and get a nicely loaded MINI Cooper Convertible or a Roadster. Now if you drop down to Beetle Convertible Turbo w/Sound, you're looking at a price of around $30,000, making this somewhat more compelling. When the Beetle Convertible Turbo drove away, I watched it and felt a little bit sad about it. Every time I put the top down, put some music on, and drove, I felt happy. This is a vehicle that can make a bad day go away. Sure there will be those who will call the Beetle Convertible Turbo a 'chick car' still. But with the new design, turbo powerplant, great lengths to the wind noise and strength, and other items help the Beetle Convertible Turbo remove the dubious honor it once held. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided The Beetle Convertible Turbo, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Volkswagen Model: Beetle Convertible Trim: Turbo Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged and Intercooled Inline Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 210 @ 5,300 Torque @ RPM: 274 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/29/24 Curb Weight: 3,272 lbs Location of Manufacture: Pubela, Mexico Base Price: $32,970.00 As Tested Price: $33,765.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: N/A William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  21. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 23, 2013 Whether it was deserved or not, the previous Beetle earned the dubious title of 'chick car'. It's easy to see how the Beetle earned this title; a bubbly design, flower shaped wheels, and a flower vase. This wasn't helped by the addition of the Beetle Convertible which only reinforced the 'chick car' mantra.. But Volkswagen pulled something short of a miracle with this current Beetle; made it look like the classic Beetle that we know and love without giving it any details that could make it a 'chick car'. Could they pull off the same feat with the new convertible? I spent a week with the 2013 Beetle Convertible Turbo to find out. The Beetle Convertible Turbo is still a Beetle design-wise, but has been brought into the modern era. Certain elements from the New Beetle are still around in this new model with round headlights and wide fenders. Other than that, the Beetle Convertible really stands out with longer front end, a deck-lid spoiler, D-Shaped headlights, and eighteen-inch alloy wheels. Like the previous Beetle Convertible, the new model sticks with a fabric roof. I like how Volkswagen was able to keep the roofline from Beetle when making the Beetle Convertible. The top can be raised and lowered within ten seconds and up to 31 MPH. The top folds into the back of the vehicle, but doesn't go into the trunk. Instead it sits in a little space behind the back seats. That means some of the folded top sticking out from the space it sits in. Volkswagen does provide a cover to put over the top, but it's about as easy to put on as trying to wrestle a greased pig. First off, the cover is just huge. Trying pull it out of trunk kind of reminded me of how a dentist pulls a tooth out; yank and pull till it comes out. From there you have get the cover installed onto the roof by a number of clips and tucking it in. I only tried it once and then took the cover off. There has to be an easier way to do this.The Beetle Convertible's interior has been toned down somewhat when compared to the last-generation model. You don't have a funky center stack or a vase where you can stick a flower into. It's more in line with Volkswagen's lineup. That doesn't mean that interior is boring, there are some touches that make the Beetle Convertible special. For starters, you have a two-tone dashboard (Beige and Black in my case) and a separate set of gauges mounted at the top of the dash that gives you the oil temp, turbo boost, and a stopwatch. Materials throughout are mix of hard and soft-touch plastics. Click images to enlarge Front seat passengers are firmly held in with very supportive front seats. I was disappointed that for the as-tested price, the Beetle Convertible Turbo doesn't come with power seats. The back seat is just there for show since no one can actually fit there comfortably. The nice thing is that Volkswagen includes a wind deflector that you can install right over the back seat. For your entertainment, Volkswagen has installed the Fender Audio System in the Beetle convertible. Now I was impressed by the system in the Jetta Hybrid I had back in summer. In the convertible, it impressed even more. With the top down, the Fender system was able to produce a very clear sound. No matter what I threw at the system with the top up or down, the Fender system performed flawlessly. What I wasn't so impressed by was the optional navigation system. The screen is too small and the touch points on the screen are hard to hit and require you to hit them a couple times for something to happen. I'm wishing that Volkswagen makes the larger touchscreen used on the high-trim Passats available to other models. For powertrain and driving impressions, see the next page. Powering the Beetle Convertible Turbo is Volkswagen's veritable 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder. It produces 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. You have a choice of either a manual or DSG gearbox, both six-speeds. The engine really gets the Beetle Convertible moving thanks to the 207 pound-feet of torque arriving at 1,700 rpm. At no point was I thinking 'this needs more power', the 2.0T is just enough. Plus, the 2.0T makes a lovely exhaust burble when you have the top down. The DSG is somewhat mixed. In low-speed situations, the DSG acts confused and goes into a herky-jerky mode when changing gears. Put it on a open road and the DSG comes alive with lighting quick shifts. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible at 21 City/29 Highway/24 Combined. I was hoping the fuel economy numbers were better considering the size of Beetle convertible. My average for the week was around 24.1 MPG.When building a convertible, there are two problems that need to be solved. The first is excessive wind noise when the top is up and the second is the flexing of the body cause by the roof being removed. In the case of the Beetle Convertible, Volkswagen was able to minimize both to a point. With the wind noise, the convertible's top is comprised of six layers of varying materials (ranging from a fabric used on the exterior layer to an insulating fleece) in a effort to reduce it. I can say that driving around town and on the expressway, the car is quieter than I was expecting. Yes, there is some wind noise that makes its way in, but its not to the point where you need to crank the radio up. As for the body flex, the Beetle Convertible comes with a fair number for reinforcements such as a thicker bar used in the A-Pillars and more sheet metal in the lower body. This makes the Beetle Convertible 20 percent stiffer when compared to the last-generation model. Driving on some rough roads, I wasn't able to feel or notice any flex in body. Driving around in the Beetle Convertible Turbo, I was worried it was going to be too stiff with a sports suspension and eighteen-inch wheels. Thankfully Volkswagen was able to find a balance between the two. Driving around in town or out on the expressway, the suspension does a really nice job of isolating most road imperfections. Out on the curvy stuff, the Beetle Convertible Turbo is very much fun to drive at moderate speeds. The suspension keeps the vehicle in check and the steering provides excellent weight and decent feel. But like C&G's Managing Editor Drew Dowdell found out in his Beetle Turbo review back in 2012, it doesn't like to be pushed hard. The suspension isn't able to handle being pushed to its limits, becoming somewhat squirrely. Keep it at 5, 6 on the fun to drive scale and you'll do fine.There is one issue that I need to address with this particular Beetle Convertible Turbo and that is the pricetag. The Beetle Convertible Turbo is Sound/Nav model and as tested costs $33,765. Quite the chunk of change for a small convertible. That of course brings up the question of what else you could buy. Well you can step up to a Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang with their respective V6 engines or you can go down slightly and get a nicely loaded MINI Cooper Convertible or a Roadster. Now if you drop down to Beetle Convertible Turbo w/Sound, you're looking at a price of around $30,000, making this somewhat more compelling. When the Beetle Convertible Turbo drove away, I watched it and felt a little bit sad about it. Every time I put the top down, put some music on, and drove, I felt happy. This is a vehicle that can make a bad day go away. Sure there will be those who will call the Beetle Convertible Turbo a 'chick car' still. But with the new design, turbo powerplant, great lengths to the wind noise and strength, and other items help the Beetle Convertible Turbo remove the dubious honor it once held. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided The Beetle Convertible Turbo, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Volkswagen Model: Beetle Convertible Trim: Turbo Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged and Intercooled Inline Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 210 @ 5,300 Torque @ RPM: 274 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/29/24 Curb Weight: 3,272 lbs Location of Manufacture: Pubela, Mexico Base Price: $32,970.00 As Tested Price: $33,765.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: N/A William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  22. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 16, 2013 Last year, I had the great fortune of going to the Midwest Automotive Media Association's Spring Rally. The rally brings automotive media and manufacturers together for a couple days of driving new vehicles. During my time there, I had the chance to slip behind the wheel of the recently launched Lexus GS 350. But this wasn't any ordinary GS 350. It happened to be the new GS 350 F-Sport model. When I wrote my wrap-up of the event, I said this about the GS: "Has Lexus created a vehicle that can give everyone in the midsize luxury sedan class something to worry about? Oh very much so." Bit of a bold proclamation. I wanted to find out if that would hold true after an extended stay on the roads I drive on and Lexus obliged by handing over a 2013 GS 350 F-Sport for a week's stay. Polarizing. That's the word I would use to describe the GS 350 F-Sport's exterior design. To start, there is Lexus' spindle grille in the front. This is either a love it or hate it relationship. Personally, I love the spindle grille on the GS, especially when it has the mesh-grille insert. There is also a set of LED daytime running lights running along the inner edge and a more aggressive front bumper with vents to feed air to the massive brakes. Along the sides are a high belt line, side skirts, and a set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels in a graphite finish. Towards the back, a rear lip spoiler and valance finish off the sporty touches. It's shock and awe in one complete package. Heading inside, the GS 350 F-Sport looks and feels like a sporty sedan. You have loads of black leather and soft-touch materials that contrast very well with the grey trim pieces used in the dash. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide a wide range of adjustments such as adjustable side bolsters and power thigh support for the driver. Heat and ventilation are included for both seats. The ventilation was much appreciated during the week as it was pretty warm. The back seat isn't as big as you might think. A large transmission tunnel means it's only really comfortable for two passengers. Also headroom comes at a premium due to a sloping roofline. Techwise, the GS 350 comes with a large 12.3-inch screen that houses Lexus' Enform infotainment system. The screen is divided up into two parts. The majority of the screen is dedicated to navigation, media selection, climate and information. The remainder of the screen is used for telling you what's playing and a overview of the climate system. I like this layout since I can have the navigation and what's playing on my iPod at the same time. Well done, Lexus! To move around the system, there is Lexus Remote Touch. The system uses a joystick to navigate around the menus and select functions. I'm not a fan of Remote Touch since the system is a bit touchy and you have to take your eyes off the road to make sure you are going into the selection you want. Enough about the design and seating arrangements, lets dive into how it drives. Powering the GS 350 F-Sport is a 3.5L V6 with 306 horsepower and 274 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is the sole choice. The 3.5L is very Lexus-like at the low end, quiet and smooth. Surprisingly, it also packs a bit of punch as well. Keep the revs climbing the 3.5L emits a very lovely engine note. The six-speed automatic never put a gear cog wrong. It somehow knew what gear the vehicle needed to be in. The GS also comes with Lexus Drive Mode Selector which offers four different configurations for the powertrain and suspension. The modes are as followed: Normal: Standard throttle mapping and suspension tuning, gearshifts tuned for comfort. Eco: Slower throttle mapping, reduced operation of the climate control Sport: Quicker throttle mapping, stiffer suspension tuning Sport+: Much quicker throttle mapping, even stiffer suspension tuning, heavier steering, number of powertrain enhancements During the week, I found myself cycling though all of the modes and using them for their respective needs. Normal worked very well in the city and in the suburbs. Eco did great on the freeway and the long rural roads of Northern Michigan. Sport and Sport+ were left to the curvy roads as the engine could be worked. The GS 350 F-Sport comes with Adaptable Variable Suspension (AVS). The suspension can be adjusted by a driver via the Drive Mode Selector to either be stiff or soft. The same is true for the steering as it can be adjusted to provide a heavier feel. Do they work? In short, yes. Flicking the Drive Mode Selector into Sport and Sport+ transforms the GS into something of a road demon. Moving along on one of the test roads I use, the GS felt much more agile than I was expecting. Body lean was kept to a minimum. Steering was excellent with good feel and weight when it was being pushed. Switching back into Normal and Eco mode, the GS 350 F-Sport becomes a very sensible luxury sedan. The suspension softens up and provides a very smooth ride. Sound deadening is excellent with wind and road noise kept to a minimum. Fuel Economy for the GS 350 F-Sport is rated at 19 City/28 Highway/23 Combined. During the week, I got an average of 26 MPG. Going back to beginning of this review, I was wondering if I could stand behind the verdict I gave to GS 350 F-Sport when I briefly drove it last year. The answer is a resounding yes. I don't how Lexus was able to pull this off, but somehow it has created a midsize luxury sedan that is very much fun to drive and provides many luxuries for its occupants. The GS 350 F-Sport should make everyone in midsize luxury sedan class a bit nervous and worried. Especially if Lexus engineers take what they learned from the GS F-Sport and applies it onto a GS-F. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided The GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Lexus Model: GS 350 Trim: F-Sport Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve VVT-i V6 Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 306 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 274 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/28/23 Curb Weight: 3,795 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $46,900.00 As Tested Price: $55,869.00* (Includes $875.00 destination charge) Options: F-Sport Package - $5,690.00 Navigation Package - $1,735.00 Blind Spot Monitor System - $500.00 Trunk Mat - $105.00 Cargo Net - $64.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  23. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 16, 2013 Last year, I had the great fortune of going to the Midwest Automotive Media Association's Spring Rally. The rally brings automotive media and manufacturers together for a couple days of driving new vehicles. During my time there, I had the chance to slip behind the wheel of the recently launched Lexus GS 350. But this wasn't any ordinary GS 350. It happened to be the new GS 350 F-Sport model. When I wrote my wrap-up of the event, I said this about the GS: "Has Lexus created a vehicle that can give everyone in the midsize luxury sedan class something to worry about? Oh very much so." Bit of a bold proclamation. I wanted to find out if that would hold true after an extended stay on the roads I drive on and Lexus obliged by handing over a 2013 GS 350 F-Sport for a week's stay. Polarizing. That's the word I would use to describe the GS 350 F-Sport's exterior design. To start, there is Lexus' spindle grille in the front. This is either a love it or hate it relationship. Personally, I love the spindle grille on the GS, especially when it has the mesh-grille insert. There is also a set of LED daytime running lights running along the inner edge and a more aggressive front bumper with vents to feed air to the massive brakes. Along the sides are a high belt line, side skirts, and a set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels in a graphite finish. Towards the back, a rear lip spoiler and valance finish off the sporty touches. It's shock and awe in one complete package. Heading inside, the GS 350 F-Sport looks and feels like a sporty sedan. You have loads of black leather and soft-touch materials that contrast very well with the grey trim pieces used in the dash. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide a wide range of adjustments such as adjustable side bolsters and power thigh support for the driver. Heat and ventilation are included for both seats. The ventilation was much appreciated during the week as it was pretty warm. The back seat isn't as big as you might think. A large transmission tunnel means it's only really comfortable for two passengers. Also headroom comes at a premium due to a sloping roofline. Techwise, the GS 350 comes with a large 12.3-inch screen that houses Lexus' Enform infotainment system. The screen is divided up into two parts. The majority of the screen is dedicated to navigation, media selection, climate and information. The remainder of the screen is used for telling you what's playing and a overview of the climate system. I like this layout since I can have the navigation and what's playing on my iPod at the same time. Well done, Lexus! To move around the system, there is Lexus Remote Touch. The system uses a joystick to navigate around the menus and select functions. I'm not a fan of Remote Touch since the system is a bit touchy and you have to take your eyes off the road to make sure you are going into the selection you want. Enough about the design and seating arrangements, lets dive into how it drives. Powering the GS 350 F-Sport is a 3.5L V6 with 306 horsepower and 274 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is the sole choice. The 3.5L is very Lexus-like at the low end, quiet and smooth. Surprisingly, it also packs a bit of punch as well. Keep the revs climbing the 3.5L emits a very lovely engine note. The six-speed automatic never put a gear cog wrong. It somehow knew what gear the vehicle needed to be in. The GS also comes with Lexus Drive Mode Selector which offers four different configurations for the powertrain and suspension. The modes are as followed: Normal: Standard throttle mapping and suspension tuning, gearshifts tuned for comfort. Eco: Slower throttle mapping, reduced operation of the climate control Sport: Quicker throttle mapping, stiffer suspension tuning Sport+: Much quicker throttle mapping, even stiffer suspension tuning, heavier steering, number of powertrain enhancements During the week, I found myself cycling though all of the modes and using them for their respective needs. Normal worked very well in the city and in the suburbs. Eco did great on the freeway and the long rural roads of Northern Michigan. Sport and Sport+ were left to the curvy roads as the engine could be worked. The GS 350 F-Sport comes with Adaptable Variable Suspension (AVS). The suspension can be adjusted by a driver via the Drive Mode Selector to either be stiff or soft. The same is true for the steering as it can be adjusted to provide a heavier feel. Do they work? In short, yes. Flicking the Drive Mode Selector into Sport and Sport+ transforms the GS into something of a road demon. Moving along on one of the test roads I use, the GS felt much more agile than I was expecting. Body lean was kept to a minimum. Steering was excellent with good feel and weight when it was being pushed. Switching back into Normal and Eco mode, the GS 350 F-Sport becomes a very sensible luxury sedan. The suspension softens up and provides a very smooth ride. Sound deadening is excellent with wind and road noise kept to a minimum. Fuel Economy for the GS 350 F-Sport is rated at 19 City/28 Highway/23 Combined. During the week, I got an average of 26 MPG. Going back to beginning of this review, I was wondering if I could stand behind the verdict I gave to GS 350 F-Sport when I briefly drove it last year. The answer is a resounding yes. I don't how Lexus was able to pull this off, but somehow it has created a midsize luxury sedan that is very much fun to drive and provides many luxuries for its occupants. The GS 350 F-Sport should make everyone in midsize luxury sedan class a bit nervous and worried. Especially if Lexus engineers take what they learned from the GS F-Sport and applies it onto a GS-F. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided The GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas. Year: 2013 Make: Lexus Model: GS 350 Trim: F-Sport Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve VVT-i V6 Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 306 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 274 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/28/23 Curb Weight: 3,795 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $46,900.00 As Tested Price: $55,869.00* (Includes $875.00 destination charge) Options: F-Sport Package - $5,690.00 Navigation Package - $1,735.00 Blind Spot Monitor System - $500.00 Trunk Mat - $105.00 Cargo Net - $64.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  24. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 25, 2013 Can a vehicle have a midlife crisis? If your answer is the "Toyota Avalon', then the answer would be yes. For the past two generations, the Avalon was positioned for older buyers who wanted to stay in the Toyota family. This plan worked for sixteen years, but it also earned the Avalon the dubious honor of the Japanese Buick. Ouch. With the third-generation Avalon, Toyota had a quandary. Do they stick with the old person's car or do they go down a different road? They went with the latter option and made the Avalon younger. Toyota turned to their U.S. branch and gave them a mission; design and build an Avalon that attracts a younger audience. 'Younger' in this case is 40 to 60 year olds. Going younger to attract a younger audience? I decided to find out if that was possible and an Avalon Hybrid was dropped off for a week. The Avalon Hybrid is one of the more striking full-size sedans on the market today. A coupe-like roofline is the major styling point of the Avalon, helping the vehicle look much more youthful. The front end utilizes a two-tier grille layout. The bottom grille is large and wide, somehow reminding me of an Aston Martin. On top is a slim chrome bar the extends the length of the front end and features Toyota's emblem. The side features sculpturing along the doors and a distinctive line running from the front door to the trunk lid. There are also a fair number of hybrid badges throughout the Avalon Hybrid's body. Moving inside, the Avalon Hybrid is very well-appointed. In the Limited trim, you get leather throughout and stitching on the dashboard and door panels. The only item I wish Toyota would fix is the wood trim since you can tell it's plastic. Build quality is excellent. The Avalon Hybrid's center stack is one of the nicest stacks I have seen and used in awhile. You have a textured material surrounding the six or seven-inch touchscreen and climate control that feels very premium. There is also Toyota's IntelliTouch controls, which is what the brand calls the capacitive buttons throughout the center stack. Toyota deserves a lot credit with their IntelliTouch controls since they don't require someone to hit them about seventeen different times to have something happen. Touch it once and an action happens. My Avalon Hybrid came equipped with the seven-inch touchscreen which brings forth the infotainment system from Lexus. I have to say this is much better than the infotainment system used on the six-inch screen since its much better to look at and use on a daily basis with a much newer interface that has larger touch points and a bit more color. Comfort is mostly excellent throughout the interior. Driver and passenger get a set of leather seats with power adjustments and the choice of either heat or ventilation. Backseat passengers get loads of legroom. Headroom can be tight for taller passengers due to the sloping roof. On the Limited trim, backseat passengers also get heated seats. Nice touch. Enough about the comfort and luxuries, lets dive into the powertrain. Under the Avalon Hybrid's hood is Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system which pairs a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle four cylinder (156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque) and an electric motor (105 kW and 199 pound-feet of torque). Total output stands at 200 horsepower. A continuously-variable transmission routes the power to the front wheels. With a curb weight that's over 3,500 pounds, the hybrid's powertrain specs seem a bit low. However, the Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain is very much up to the job. It takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed when compared to the V6, but it offers the same smoothness and refinement. The CVT doesn't make itself known to everyone unless you floor the throttle and whine of the transmission appears. You have the choice of four different drive modes on the Avalon Hybrid to alter the behavior of the engine and other bits. They include; EV Mode: Allows a vehicle to travel on electric power for a short distance Eco Mode: Increases the resistance to push down on the pedal, adjusts engine and climate control for better fuel economy. Sport Mode: Adjusts throttle and steering response Normal Mode: Balance between Eco and Sport To change from one mode to another, there is a set of buttons just behind the gear selector. For the majority of the week, I left the vehicle in Eco and found it to be ok in normal driving. There were times when I switched it back to normal or to sport to get moving and keep up with traffic as the throttle response wasn't there. The 2013 Avalon Hybrid is rated ay 40 City/39 Highway/40 Combined. During the course of a week, I averaged 40.7 MPG in mixed driving. Very impressive. As I wrote in my first drive of the Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid last November, I described the handling characteristics as being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde since it was smooth and comfortable when driven normally, but becomes surprisingly agile when pushed. I want to revisit that for a moment. Compared to the Chevrolet Impala and Kia Cadenza I recently drove, the Avalon Hybrid isn't as smooth or comfortable. I found that it would let more bumps and road imperfections into the interior. This is due to the Avalon's suspension tuning leaning more towards sport than comfort. As for driving fun, the Avalon is still tops in this class. The suspension keeps the Avalon Hybrid's body roll in check and the steering has the heft and feel that you'll find in sporty vehicles. Toyota has seemingly pulled off a fountain of youth trick with the Avalon Hybrid. A vehicle which was the equivalent of the couch you would find at your grandparent's house has undergone massive transformation into a well-done full-size sedan that offers a fine blend of fuel economy and a somewhat sporty drive. Sometimes a midlife crisis is a very good thing. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the Avalon Hybrid, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i Atkinson-Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Continuously-Variable Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 5,700; (Electric) 105 kW @ 4,500; (Combined) 200 @ N/A Torque @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 4,500; (Electric) 199 @ 0 - 1,500 rpm; (Combined) N/A Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/39/40 Curb Weight: N/A lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $41,400.00 As Tested Price: $44,853.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: Technology Package - $1,750.00 Blizzard Pearl Paint - $395.00 Floor and Trunk Mats - $225.00 Wireless Charging Capability for eBin - $200.00 Emergency Assistance Kit - $59.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  25. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 25, 2013 Can a vehicle have a midlife crisis? If your answer is the "Toyota Avalon', then the answer would be yes. For the past two generations, the Avalon was positioned for older buyers who wanted to stay in the Toyota family. This plan worked for sixteen years, but it also earned the Avalon the dubious honor of the Japanese Buick. Ouch. With the third-generation Avalon, Toyota had a quandary. Do they stick with the old person's car or do they go down a different road? They went with the latter option and made the Avalon younger. Toyota turned to their U.S. branch and gave them a mission; design and build an Avalon that attracts a younger audience. 'Younger' in this case is 40 to 60 year olds. Going younger to attract a younger audience? I decided to find out if that was possible and an Avalon Hybrid was dropped off for a week. The Avalon Hybrid is one of the more striking full-size sedans on the market today. A coupe-like roofline is the major styling point of the Avalon, helping the vehicle look much more youthful. The front end utilizes a two-tier grille layout. The bottom grille is large and wide, somehow reminding me of an Aston Martin. On top is a slim chrome bar the extends the length of the front end and features Toyota's emblem. The side features sculpturing along the doors and a distinctive line running from the front door to the trunk lid. There are also a fair number of hybrid badges throughout the Avalon Hybrid's body. Moving inside, the Avalon Hybrid is very well-appointed. In the Limited trim, you get leather throughout and stitching on the dashboard and door panels. The only item I wish Toyota would fix is the wood trim since you can tell it's plastic. Build quality is excellent. The Avalon Hybrid's center stack is one of the nicest stacks I have seen and used in awhile. You have a textured material surrounding the six or seven-inch touchscreen and climate control that feels very premium. There is also Toyota's IntelliTouch controls, which is what the brand calls the capacitive buttons throughout the center stack. Toyota deserves a lot credit with their IntelliTouch controls since they don't require someone to hit them about seventeen different times to have something happen. Touch it once and an action happens. My Avalon Hybrid came equipped with the seven-inch touchscreen which brings forth the infotainment system from Lexus. I have to say this is much better than the infotainment system used on the six-inch screen since its much better to look at and use on a daily basis with a much newer interface that has larger touch points and a bit more color. Comfort is mostly excellent throughout the interior. Driver and passenger get a set of leather seats with power adjustments and the choice of either heat or ventilation. Backseat passengers get loads of legroom. Headroom can be tight for taller passengers due to the sloping roof. On the Limited trim, backseat passengers also get heated seats. Nice touch. Enough about the comfort and luxuries, lets dive into the powertrain. Under the Avalon Hybrid's hood is Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system which pairs a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle four cylinder (156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque) and an electric motor (105 kW and 199 pound-feet of torque). Total output stands at 200 horsepower. A continuously-variable transmission routes the power to the front wheels. With a curb weight that's over 3,500 pounds, the hybrid's powertrain specs seem a bit low. However, the Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain is very much up to the job. It takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed when compared to the V6, but it offers the same smoothness and refinement. The CVT doesn't make itself known to everyone unless you floor the throttle and whine of the transmission appears. You have the choice of four different drive modes on the Avalon Hybrid to alter the behavior of the engine and other bits. They include; EV Mode: Allows a vehicle to travel on electric power for a short distance Eco Mode: Increases the resistance to push down on the pedal, adjusts engine and climate control for better fuel economy. Sport Mode: Adjusts throttle and steering response Normal Mode: Balance between Eco and Sport To change from one mode to another, there is a set of buttons just behind the gear selector. For the majority of the week, I left the vehicle in Eco and found it to be ok in normal driving. There were times when I switched it back to normal or to sport to get moving and keep up with traffic as the throttle response wasn't there. The 2013 Avalon Hybrid is rated ay 40 City/39 Highway/40 Combined. During the course of a week, I averaged 40.7 MPG in mixed driving. Very impressive. As I wrote in my first drive of the Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid last November, I described the handling characteristics as being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde since it was smooth and comfortable when driven normally, but becomes surprisingly agile when pushed. I want to revisit that for a moment. Compared to the Chevrolet Impala and Kia Cadenza I recently drove, the Avalon Hybrid isn't as smooth or comfortable. I found that it would let more bumps and road imperfections into the interior. This is due to the Avalon's suspension tuning leaning more towards sport than comfort. As for driving fun, the Avalon is still tops in this class. The suspension keeps the Avalon Hybrid's body roll in check and the steering has the heft and feel that you'll find in sporty vehicles. Toyota has seemingly pulled off a fountain of youth trick with the Avalon Hybrid. A vehicle which was the equivalent of the couch you would find at your grandparent's house has undergone massive transformation into a well-done full-size sedan that offers a fine blend of fuel economy and a somewhat sporty drive. Sometimes a midlife crisis is a very good thing. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the Avalon Hybrid, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i Atkinson-Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Continuously-Variable Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 5,700; (Electric) 105 kW @ 4,500; (Combined) 200 @ N/A Torque @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 4,500; (Electric) 199 @ 0 - 1,500 rpm; (Combined) N/A Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/39/40 Curb Weight: N/A lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $41,400.00 As Tested Price: $44,853.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: Technology Package - $1,750.00 Blizzard Pearl Paint - $395.00 Floor and Trunk Mats - $225.00 Wireless Charging Capability for eBin - $200.00 Emergency Assistance Kit - $59.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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