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Found 322 results

  1. Ever since Mazda launched the MX-5 Miata back in 1989, competitors have been trying their best to out-maneuver it.; whether that is through better design, handling, or more power. While all have come and gone, while the Miata is still kicking around. What do you do in this case? If you can't beat them, join 'em. That's the case with Fiat as a few years ago, they would take the place of Alfa Romeo of developing a new roadster using the Miata as a base. The end result is the 124 Spider. Fiat’s designers wanted to do a modern interpretation of the 124 Spider designed by the legendary Pininfarina design house. The problem was trying to get that design to work with the MX-5 Miata’s structure. To pull this off, designers would add five inches to the overall length of the 124 Spider. The front end features many of the design touches found on the original 124 Spider with teardrop headlights, trapezoidal grille, raised fenders, and twin-power bulges on the hood. Around back is where the design begins to fall apart. The overall shape and certain choices such as the overhanging trunk lid don't fully mesh with the front. It looks like Fiat had two design teams working on either end of the vehicle, but put a curtain between them so they couldn’t see what the other was doing. The Abarth version of the 124 Spider does get some special touches to help it stand out from the other trims. They include a darker grille opening, 17-inch alloy wheels finished in a dark gray, and a quad-tip exhaust system. The only item we would change is making the Abarth badges smaller. The large size really detracts from the iconic look Fiat is trying go for. Putting the soft top down in the 124 Spider is very easy. Simply unlatch the mechanism holding the top in place and fold it back into its little storage space. Raising the top is just as painless as you just need to pull a latch behind the seats and pull the top forward. It will only take a few tries before you’re able to put the top up and down in just a few seconds. Moving inside, the only real differences between the 124 Spider and MX-5 Miata are the Fiat badge on the steering wheel, different fonts used for the gauges, and soft-touch plastics on the top of the door panels. Otherwise, the 124 Spider features the same layout and quirks of its donor vehicle. Controls readily fall to hand for either driver or passenger. Abarth models come with a 7-inch touchscreen with the Mazda Connect infotainment as standard equipment. On the plus side, Mazda Connect is easy to grasp thanks to an intuitive interface and a simple control knob. Downsides include the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto;, and the awkward placement of the control knob. It will get in the way whenever you are shifting gears with either transmission. Snug is the keyword when describing the experience of sitting inside the 124 Spider. I’m 5’ 8” and had to set the driver’s seat almost all the way back to not feel cramped. Once I was able to find the right seat and steering positions, it felt like I was a part of the vehicle and not sitting on top of it. The passenger will complain about the lack of legroom as the transmission tunnel protrudes into the footwell. The seats themselves provide excellent support and will hold you in during an enthusiastic drive. The motivation for the 124 Spider is provided by Fiat’s turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. The Abarth produces 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The base Classica and up-level Lusso see a small decrease in horsepower to 160. The difference comes down to the Abarth featuring a different exhaust system. Our tester featured the optional six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles. A six-speed manual comes standard. Although the 124 Spider has higher power figures than the Miata, it isn’t that much faster. Reviewers who have run 0-60 tests say the Miata does it under six seconds, while the 124 Spider takes over six seconds. There are two reasons for this: First, the Miata is lighter than the 124 Spider by an average of about 120 pounds. Second is the engine has a bad case of turbo lag. The turbo doesn’t fully spool up until about 2,000 to 2,500 rpm, leaving you wondering where all of this power is when leaving a stop. Once it’s going, power is delivered in a smooth and somewhat linear fashion. The automatic transmission is another weak point of this powertrain. It loves to upshift early and leaves you without any turbo boost. This can be rectified by using the paddles on the steering wheel or throwing the automatic into the manual shift mode. The manual transmission is the better choice as it allows more flexibility with the engine. EPA fuel economy figures for the 124 Spider stand at 25 City/36 Highway/29 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 28 MPG. If there is one place that the 124 Spider Abarth can give the MX-5 Miata a run for its money, it is in the handling. The Abarth feels more athletic and confident when entering a corner with little body roll and fast transitions thanks to a sport-tuned suspension. Steering is the same as Miata with excellent road feel and quick turning. The downside to the athletic handling is a very stiff ride. Road imperfections are directly transmitted to those sitting inside. There is also an abundance of wind and road noise coming inside the 124 Spider. In some ways, the 124 Spider is better than the MX-5 Miata. The Abarth provides crisper handling and the interior is slightly nicer than what you’ll find in the Miata. But in other areas, the Miata is the better vehicle. The turbo lag from the turbocharged 1.4L saps a bit of the fun out of the vehicle and the design is somewhat unflattering. We can understand why someone would pick the 124 Spider Abarth over the Miata as it is something different. But is it the better Miata? The answer is no. Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Fiat Model: 124 Spider Trim: Abarth Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29 Curb Weight: 2,516 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $28,195 As Tested Price: $30,540 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 6-Speed AISIN Automatic RWD Transmission - $1,350.00
  2. Ever since Mazda launched the MX-5 Miata back in 1989, competitors have been trying their best to out-maneuver it.; whether that is through better design, handling, or more power. While all have come and gone, while the Miata is still kicking around. What do you do in this case? If you can't beat them, join 'em. That's the case with Fiat as a few years ago, they would take the place of Alfa Romeo of developing a new roadster using the Miata as a base. The end result is the 124 Spider. Fiat’s designers wanted to do a modern interpretation of the 124 Spider designed by the legendary Pininfarina design house. The problem was trying to get that design to work with the MX-5 Miata’s structure. To pull this off, designers would add five inches to the overall length of the 124 Spider. The front end features many of the design touches found on the original 124 Spider with teardrop headlights, trapezoidal grille, raised fenders, and twin-power bulges on the hood. Around back is where the design begins to fall apart. The overall shape and certain choices such as the overhanging trunk lid don't fully mesh with the front. It looks like Fiat had two design teams working on either end of the vehicle, but put a curtain between them so they couldn’t see what the other was doing. The Abarth version of the 124 Spider does get some special touches to help it stand out from the other trims. They include a darker grille opening, 17-inch alloy wheels finished in a dark gray, and a quad-tip exhaust system. The only item we would change is making the Abarth badges smaller. The large size really detracts from the iconic look Fiat is trying go for. Putting the soft top down in the 124 Spider is very easy. Simply unlatch the mechanism holding the top in place and fold it back into its little storage space. Raising the top is just as painless as you just need to pull a latch behind the seats and pull the top forward. It will only take a few tries before you’re able to put the top up and down in just a few seconds. Moving inside, the only real differences between the 124 Spider and MX-5 Miata are the Fiat badge on the steering wheel, different fonts used for the gauges, and soft-touch plastics on the top of the door panels. Otherwise, the 124 Spider features the same layout and quirks of its donor vehicle. Controls readily fall to hand for either driver or passenger. Abarth models come with a 7-inch touchscreen with the Mazda Connect infotainment as standard equipment. On the plus side, Mazda Connect is easy to grasp thanks to an intuitive interface and a simple control knob. Downsides include the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto;, and the awkward placement of the control knob. It will get in the way whenever you are shifting gears with either transmission. Snug is the keyword when describing the experience of sitting inside the 124 Spider. I’m 5’ 8” and had to set the driver’s seat almost all the way back to not feel cramped. Once I was able to find the right seat and steering positions, it felt like I was a part of the vehicle and not sitting on top of it. The passenger will complain about the lack of legroom as the transmission tunnel protrudes into the footwell. The seats themselves provide excellent support and will hold you in during an enthusiastic drive. The motivation for the 124 Spider is provided by Fiat’s turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. The Abarth produces 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The base Classica and up-level Lusso see a small decrease in horsepower to 160. The difference comes down to the Abarth featuring a different exhaust system. Our tester featured the optional six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles. A six-speed manual comes standard. Although the 124 Spider has higher power figures than the Miata, it isn’t that much faster. Reviewers who have run 0-60 tests say the Miata does it under six seconds, while the 124 Spider takes over six seconds. There are two reasons for this: First, the Miata is lighter than the 124 Spider by an average of about 120 pounds. Second is the engine has a bad case of turbo lag. The turbo doesn’t fully spool up until about 2,000 to 2,500 rpm, leaving you wondering where all of this power is when leaving a stop. Once it’s going, power is delivered in a smooth and somewhat linear fashion. The automatic transmission is another weak point of this powertrain. It loves to upshift early and leaves you without any turbo boost. This can be rectified by using the paddles on the steering wheel or throwing the automatic into the manual shift mode. The manual transmission is the better choice as it allows more flexibility with the engine. EPA fuel economy figures for the 124 Spider stand at 25 City/36 Highway/29 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 28 MPG. If there is one place that the 124 Spider Abarth can give the MX-5 Miata a run for its money, it is in the handling. The Abarth feels more athletic and confident when entering a corner with little body roll and fast transitions thanks to a sport-tuned suspension. Steering is the same as Miata with excellent road feel and quick turning. The downside to the athletic handling is a very stiff ride. Road imperfections are directly transmitted to those sitting inside. There is also an abundance of wind and road noise coming inside the 124 Spider. In some ways, the 124 Spider is better than the MX-5 Miata. The Abarth provides crisper handling and the interior is slightly nicer than what you’ll find in the Miata. But in other areas, the Miata is the better vehicle. The turbo lag from the turbocharged 1.4L saps a bit of the fun out of the vehicle and the design is somewhat unflattering. We can understand why someone would pick the 124 Spider Abarth over the Miata as it is something different. But is it the better Miata? The answer is no. Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Fiat Model: 124 Spider Trim: Abarth Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29 Curb Weight: 2,516 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $28,195 As Tested Price: $30,540 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 6-Speed AISIN Automatic RWD Transmission - $1,350.00 View full article
  3. There are some vehicles that leave you scratching your head, wondering why is anyone buying them. A perfect example is the previous-generation Jeep Compass. The model had a long list of negatives ranging from a very cheap interior to powertrains that could be beaten by a snail. But a number of folks bought the Compass and its sister car, the Patriot, in droves. It offered the looks and the image of owning a Jeep vehicle without the downsides of owning something that provided a rough ride or was too expensive. Almost a decade later, we have the new Compass which hopes to right the wrongs of the previous model. We spent a week in the Limited trim to see if Jeep was able to. First impressions seem promising when it comes to the exterior. There is a lot of Grand Cherokee in the Compass’ shape with similar profiles, angled front end, and rear tailgate. Our Limited tester came with 18-inch aluminum wheels and two-tone paint that helps make the model pop. Compared to the last Compass, the new model is slightly shorter (173.2 vs. 175.1-inches). A big complaint about the Compass/Patriot was their interiors. It was easy to tell they were built to the lowest cost possible with cheap plastics, a short list of standard features, and odd design decisions. The new Compass thankfully fixes many of those mistakes. Step inside and it becomes quite clear that Jeep focused on making the Compass a special place to be in. Again, there is a lot of Grand Cherokee influence with a similar dash design and the extensive use of soft-touch materials. We like the contrasting trim pieces around the vents that help make the interior not feel as dark. One thing we’re not so keen on is the low placement of HVAC and audio controls in the center stack. It is a bit of reach to adjust the temperature or change the volume. In terms of seating, you feel that you’re sitting on top of the Compass, not inside it. This is due to Jeep raising the seats to provide the high-riding experience of an SUV. The front seats provide decent support for long trips and optional power adjustments make it easier to find the right position. In the back, there is plenty of legroom for those over 6-feet. Headroom is tight for taller passengers if you get the optional panoramic sunroof. Cargo space measures out to 27 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61 cubic feet folded. Our test Compass came with the 8.4-inch UConnect system. Recently updated for the 2018 model year, the system features an updated interface and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Unlike other FCA vehicles equipped with UConnect, the system in the Compass was problematic. For starters, the system had trouble trying to pair an iPhone 7 Plus via Bluetooth. The system would try to connect to the phone for about 30 seconds and then give up. On the third attempt, UConnect froze and I had to shut off the vehicle and walk away for a minute before the system turned off. After doing some troubleshooting, I realized that I had too many UConnect pairings on my phone and deleted them all. After this, the system was able to connect to connect to my phone with no issues. Yes, this is only a problem to those of us who review a number of new cars. But other problems with this system would pop up such as the system taking a few moments to bring up certain functions, being unable to find my iPod or iPhone when plugged in, and the system crashing when I was trying to bring up navigation. I believe these most of these issues are isolated to this vehicle, but it doesn’t leave a good impression with the new version of UConnect. There is only one engine available for the Compass, a 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Our Limited came equipped with a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models have the choice between a six-speed manual or automatic. This engine has been a weak point in many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicles we have driven and the Compass is no exception. Acceleration is very anemic as the engine takes its sweet time to get up to speed. The engine is also very noisy when accelerating but thankfully quiets down when cruising at a steady speed. The nine-speed automatic is well-behaved for the most part as it smoothly and quickly upshifts to help boost fuel economy. There is some hesitation when it comes to downshifting. Fuel economy is not a strong suit for the Compass. EPA ratings for the nine-speed and AWD combination stands at 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week landed at 23 MPG. The tall height may hint that the Compass is a bit of handful when cornering, but the model is surprisingly agile. There is some lean when cornering, but the Compass feels planted and controlled. The steering feels nicely weighted and responds quickly to inputs. In terms of the ride, the Compass’ suspension is able to smooth over most bumps with no issue. We sadly didn’t get the chance to try the Compass’ off-road capability. AWD models come with Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system that offers four different driving modes that alter various settings. Those who have taken the Compass off the beaten path say it is surprisingly capable. The second-generation Jeep Compass is worlds better than the original model. A lot of the changes made to this model have been for the better with a sharp-looking exterior, pleasant interior, and surprising driving dynamics. But there are two issues that hold the Compass back from reaching greatness. First is the 2.4 four-cylinder engine which feels sluggish and fuel economy is somewhat poor. FCA really needs to come up with a replacement for the 2.4 ASAP. Second is the price. The Compass Limited starts at $28,995 and our as-tested price came to $34,955. This makes a bit of a poor value, especially when the Hyundai Tucson Limited we reviewed a few weeks ago was only $300 more. Given the choice, we would pick the Hyundai. Despite the changes made by the Jeep, the Compass is relegated to mid-pack. If they can get a new engine and work on the value argument, then the Compass could be a real threat. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Compass, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Jeep Model: Compass Trim: Limited 4X4 Engine: 2.4L MultiAir 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 175 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,327 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico Base Price: $28,995 As Tested Price: $34,955 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge) Options: 19" x 7.5" Polished Black Pocket Aluminum Wheels - $895.00 Advanced Safety & Lighting Group - $895.00 Navigation Group - $895.00 Safety and Security Group - $745.00 Beats Premium Audio System - $695.00 Power Liftgate - $495.00 Compact Spare Tire - $245.00
  4. There are some vehicles that leave you scratching your head, wondering why is anyone buying them. A perfect example is the previous-generation Jeep Compass. The model had a long list of negatives ranging from a very cheap interior to powertrains that could be beaten by a snail. But a number of folks bought the Compass and its sister car, the Patriot, in droves. It offered the looks and the image of owning a Jeep vehicle without the downsides of owning something that provided a rough ride or was too expensive. Almost a decade later, we have the new Compass which hopes to right the wrongs of the previous model. We spent a week in the Limited trim to see if Jeep was able to. First impressions seem promising when it comes to the exterior. There is a lot of Grand Cherokee in the Compass’ shape with similar profiles, angled front end, and rear tailgate. Our Limited tester came with 18-inch aluminum wheels and two-tone paint that helps make the model pop. Compared to the last Compass, the new model is slightly shorter (173.2 vs. 175.1-inches). A big complaint about the Compass/Patriot was their interiors. It was easy to tell they were built to the lowest cost possible with cheap plastics, a short list of standard features, and odd design decisions. The new Compass thankfully fixes many of those mistakes. Step inside and it becomes quite clear that Jeep focused on making the Compass a special place to be in. Again, there is a lot of Grand Cherokee influence with a similar dash design and the extensive use of soft-touch materials. We like the contrasting trim pieces around the vents that help make the interior not feel as dark. One thing we’re not so keen on is the low placement of HVAC and audio controls in the center stack. It is a bit of reach to adjust the temperature or change the volume. In terms of seating, you feel that you’re sitting on top of the Compass, not inside it. This is due to Jeep raising the seats to provide the high-riding experience of an SUV. The front seats provide decent support for long trips and optional power adjustments make it easier to find the right position. In the back, there is plenty of legroom for those over 6-feet. Headroom is tight for taller passengers if you get the optional panoramic sunroof. Cargo space measures out to 27 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61 cubic feet folded. Our test Compass came with the 8.4-inch UConnect system. Recently updated for the 2018 model year, the system features an updated interface and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Unlike other FCA vehicles equipped with UConnect, the system in the Compass was problematic. For starters, the system had trouble trying to pair an iPhone 7 Plus via Bluetooth. The system would try to connect to the phone for about 30 seconds and then give up. On the third attempt, UConnect froze and I had to shut off the vehicle and walk away for a minute before the system turned off. After doing some troubleshooting, I realized that I had too many UConnect pairings on my phone and deleted them all. After this, the system was able to connect to connect to my phone with no issues. Yes, this is only a problem to those of us who review a number of new cars. But other problems with this system would pop up such as the system taking a few moments to bring up certain functions, being unable to find my iPod or iPhone when plugged in, and the system crashing when I was trying to bring up navigation. I believe these most of these issues are isolated to this vehicle, but it doesn’t leave a good impression with the new version of UConnect. There is only one engine available for the Compass, a 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Our Limited came equipped with a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models have the choice between a six-speed manual or automatic. This engine has been a weak point in many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicles we have driven and the Compass is no exception. Acceleration is very anemic as the engine takes its sweet time to get up to speed. The engine is also very noisy when accelerating but thankfully quiets down when cruising at a steady speed. The nine-speed automatic is well-behaved for the most part as it smoothly and quickly upshifts to help boost fuel economy. There is some hesitation when it comes to downshifting. Fuel economy is not a strong suit for the Compass. EPA ratings for the nine-speed and AWD combination stands at 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week landed at 23 MPG. The tall height may hint that the Compass is a bit of handful when cornering, but the model is surprisingly agile. There is some lean when cornering, but the Compass feels planted and controlled. The steering feels nicely weighted and responds quickly to inputs. In terms of the ride, the Compass’ suspension is able to smooth over most bumps with no issue. We sadly didn’t get the chance to try the Compass’ off-road capability. AWD models come with Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system that offers four different driving modes that alter various settings. Those who have taken the Compass off the beaten path say it is surprisingly capable. The second-generation Jeep Compass is worlds better than the original model. A lot of the changes made to this model have been for the better with a sharp-looking exterior, pleasant interior, and surprising driving dynamics. But there are two issues that hold the Compass back from reaching greatness. First is the 2.4 four-cylinder engine which feels sluggish and fuel economy is somewhat poor. FCA really needs to come up with a replacement for the 2.4 ASAP. Second is the price. The Compass Limited starts at $28,995 and our as-tested price came to $34,955. This makes a bit of a poor value, especially when the Hyundai Tucson Limited we reviewed a few weeks ago was only $300 more. Given the choice, we would pick the Hyundai. Despite the changes made by the Jeep, the Compass is relegated to mid-pack. If they can get a new engine and work on the value argument, then the Compass could be a real threat. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Compass, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Jeep Model: Compass Trim: Limited 4X4 Engine: 2.4L MultiAir 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 175 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,327 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico Base Price: $28,995 As Tested Price: $34,955 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge) Options: 19" x 7.5" Polished Black Pocket Aluminum Wheels - $895.00 Advanced Safety & Lighting Group - $895.00 Navigation Group - $895.00 Safety and Security Group - $745.00 Beats Premium Audio System - $695.00 Power Liftgate - $495.00 Compact Spare Tire - $245.00 View full article
  5. Most wagon options in the U.S. fall under the slightly-lifted off-road category. The reason is quite simple as buyers like the looks and capability on offer when compared to standard wagons. Case in point is the latest member of the Golf family, the Alltrack. Volkswagen recently revealed that 75 percent of Golf SportWagens sold in the U.S. are Alltracks. We happen to be big fans of the Golf SportWagen as it builds upon many of strong points of the regular Golf by making it more practical. Can the Golf Alltrack do the same? The small changes made to the Golf Alltrack’s exterior help make it stand out somewhat. It begins with the slight 0.6-inch increase in ride height and a larger tire and wheel combination. Our SEL tester feature 18-inch wheels, while the S and SE make do with 17-inch wheels. Other exterior changes include new bumpers and lower body cladding. Volkswagen didn’t make any changes to the Alltrack’s interior which is a good thing. It retains the clean if a somewhat boring design that makes it easy to find the various controls. Build and material quality is very solid. SEL models get a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system and navigation. We like how fast the system is with switching between various functions, physical shortcut buttons, and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Car-Net loses some points for low-resolution graphics and the navigation system looking very dated. The seats are quite comfortable with excellent support and good bolstering to keep you planted when traversing down a winding road. Head and legroom are excellent in both rows of seats. A turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque provides the motivation for the Golf Alltrack. This is paired with a six-speed DSG transmission (a six-speed manual is available on the S and SE) and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Despite being about 300 pounds heavier than the SportWagen, the Alltrack doesn’t break a sweat. It feels just as fast as the SportWagen we drove last year with strong acceleration throughout the rpm band. The DSG still exhibits some sluggishness when leaving a stop, but improves when you’re up to speed with rapid and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is disappointing with EPA figures of 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. We saw an average of 25 MPG with a mix of 70 percent city and 30 percent highway driving. Ride and handling characteristics is much like the standard Golf and SportWagen. No matter the road surface, the Alltrack’s suspension was able to provide a comfortable ride. Around corners, the Alltrack does show a little bit of body roll. However, it feels as agile as the standard SportWagen and the steering is quick to respond to inputs. The Golf Alltrack begins at $25,850 for the base S with manual transmission. Our loaded SEL tester totaled $35,705 with the Driver Assistance and Light package. That’s a lot of money for a compact off-road wagon, especially considering you can get into a larger Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with the excellent EyeSight active safety system for around the same money. If we were buying a Golf Alltrack, we would drop down to the S with the DSG and order the Driver Assistance package, bring the total price to just over $28,500. The Alltrack is a worthy addition to the Golf family as it provides something a bit more capable while retaining many of the plus points of the standard Golf. We do wish the DSG was smoother during low-speed driving and fuel economy was slightly better. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf Alltrack, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf Alltrack Trim: SEL Engine: Turbocharged 1.8L TSI DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed DSG, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 199 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,351 lbs Location of Manufacture: N/A Base Price: $32,890 As Tested Price: $35,705 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Driver Assistance & Lighting Package - $1,995.00
  6. Most wagon options in the U.S. fall under the slightly-lifted off-road category. The reason is quite simple as buyers like the looks and capability on offer when compared to standard wagons. Case in point is the latest member of the Golf family, the Alltrack. Volkswagen recently revealed that 75 percent of Golf SportWagens sold in the U.S. are Alltracks. We happen to be big fans of the Golf SportWagen as it builds upon many of strong points of the regular Golf by making it more practical. Can the Golf Alltrack do the same? The small changes made to the Golf Alltrack’s exterior help make it stand out somewhat. It begins with the slight 0.6-inch increase in ride height and a larger tire and wheel combination. Our SEL tester feature 18-inch wheels, while the S and SE make do with 17-inch wheels. Other exterior changes include new bumpers and lower body cladding. Volkswagen didn’t make any changes to the Alltrack’s interior which is a good thing. It retains the clean if a somewhat boring design that makes it easy to find the various controls. Build and material quality is very solid. SEL models get a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system and navigation. We like how fast the system is with switching between various functions, physical shortcut buttons, and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Car-Net loses some points for low-resolution graphics and the navigation system looking very dated. The seats are quite comfortable with excellent support and good bolstering to keep you planted when traversing down a winding road. Head and legroom are excellent in both rows of seats. A turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque provides the motivation for the Golf Alltrack. This is paired with a six-speed DSG transmission (a six-speed manual is available on the S and SE) and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Despite being about 300 pounds heavier than the SportWagen, the Alltrack doesn’t break a sweat. It feels just as fast as the SportWagen we drove last year with strong acceleration throughout the rpm band. The DSG still exhibits some sluggishness when leaving a stop, but improves when you’re up to speed with rapid and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is disappointing with EPA figures of 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. We saw an average of 25 MPG with a mix of 70 percent city and 30 percent highway driving. Ride and handling characteristics is much like the standard Golf and SportWagen. No matter the road surface, the Alltrack’s suspension was able to provide a comfortable ride. Around corners, the Alltrack does show a little bit of body roll. However, it feels as agile as the standard SportWagen and the steering is quick to respond to inputs. The Golf Alltrack begins at $25,850 for the base S with manual transmission. Our loaded SEL tester totaled $35,705 with the Driver Assistance and Light package. That’s a lot of money for a compact off-road wagon, especially considering you can get into a larger Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with the excellent EyeSight active safety system for around the same money. If we were buying a Golf Alltrack, we would drop down to the S with the DSG and order the Driver Assistance package, bring the total price to just over $28,500. The Alltrack is a worthy addition to the Golf family as it provides something a bit more capable while retaining many of the plus points of the standard Golf. We do wish the DSG was smoother during low-speed driving and fuel economy was slightly better. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf Alltrack, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf Alltrack Trim: SEL Engine: Turbocharged 1.8L TSI DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed DSG, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 199 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,351 lbs Location of Manufacture: N/A Base Price: $32,890 As Tested Price: $35,705 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Driver Assistance & Lighting Package - $1,995.00 View full article
  7. I happen to be a big fan of the Kia Soul. Its daring looks, spacious interior, and overall value make it an interesting option in the compact class. It seems many others would agree as the Soul is one of Kia’s best selling models. To help keep it up there, Kia has introduced a new turbo engine for the top-line Exclaim (!) model along with minor changes for 2017. Let's see how these changes affect the Soul. Aside from the turbo engine, Kia made some design tweaks to the Exclaim to have it stand out from other Soul trims. This includes a new front bumper, red accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, a twin-tip exhaust, and exclusive colors like this copper color seen here. The little changes really make the Soul stand out even further than before. Moving on to the turbo engine, it is a 1.6L four-cylinder packing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is only paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. If you really want a manual with your turbo-four, Kia will gladly sell you a Forte5 SX which features the same engine. There is a brief moment of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator, but the engine comes into its own after this with power building smoothly. There are no issues with getting up to speed when merging or making a pass. The dual-clutch transmission is a bit of a mixed bag. In stop-and-go traffic, the transmission exhibits some jerkiness and lazy shifts. We also noticed the transmission was slow to respond in terms of downshifting, making us think the programming for this transmission was focused on fuel economy. At higher speeds, the transmission is better with rapid and smooth shifts. The turbo engine has the highest fuel economy fuel economy figures in the Soul lineup with an EPA rating of 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. We saw an average of 25.3 mpg during our week in mostly city driving, which is slightly disappointing. With the turbo engine and racy looks, you might think that this particular Soul is fun to drive. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case. Out on a winding road, the Soul is competent with minimal body roll and okay steering. This would be ok if it weren’t for the sporty image that is being portrayed by the exterior. We do wish that Kia had made some changes to the suspension to make it slightly sportier. The upside to not messing with the Soul’s suspension is it mostly retains the smooth and comfortable ride of other models. Mostly is the keyword as the 18-inch wheels do introduce some harshness to the Soul’s ride. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, most of this due to the Soul’s boxy shape. The Soul’s interior is still as sharp looking as it first was when the current model was launched in 2013. Little touches such as the uniquely styled air vents and orange accent stitching give the Soul a bit of whimsy. The extensive use of soft-touch materials gives off an aura of quality. Driver and passenger get power seats which make finding a comfortable position very easy. Those sitting in the back will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom, due to the Soul’s boxy shape. Our test Soul came with optional Technology Package that includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system and navigation. It is beginning to show its age in terms of the graphics, but it is still one of the most intuitive systems on sale today. A simple layout and redundant physical buttons make it breeze to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is an added bonus. The Exclaim begins at $22,650 and comes well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with UVO, Bluetooth, leather and cloth wrapped seats, push-button start with proximity key, and automatic headlights. Opt for the technology to get the 8-inch system, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated seats and steering wheel, and power folding mirrors. For only $26,995, you get a nicely equipped vehicle. Our test vehicle is slightly more expensive at $27,620 due to an optional panoramic sunroof which we would skip. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Soul Trim: ! (Exclaim) Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28 Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $22,650 As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $3,000.00 Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00 Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00 View full article
  8. We can't help but wonder if MINI is kind of missing the point of their name. This thought came up as we were looking at the details of the second-generation Countryman that will be debuting next month at the LA Auto Show. Compared to the outgoing Countryman, the 2017 model is 8.1-inches longer, 1.3-inches wider, and rides on a wheelbase that 2.9-inches longer. MINI, you're supposed to keep your vehicles small, not making them bigger. But we have to admit this growth spurt does make the Countryman look more SUV than raised-hatchback. The increase in size also allows for a larger interior. Shoulder room increases by 2-inches for both rows and rear legroom jumps by 3.8-inches. Cargo space measures 17.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 47.6 cubic feet with the seats down - up 5.6 cubic feet in both measurements. Otherwise, the interior matches up with current MINI models with such details as an improved layout for the dash and the option of a 8.8-inch screen for the infotainment system. There are three powertrains on offer. The base Cooper features a turbocharged 1.5L three-cylinder with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Cooper S models get a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Both gas engines feature the choice of a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic, along with the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. New for this generation is Cooper S E Countryman All4 - MINI's first plug-in hybrid. This pairs the 1.5L three-cylinder with an 87-horsepower electric motor and a 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Total output stands at 221 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. This makes the Cooper S E Countryman All4 the most powerful Countryman on sale (until the JCW version comes out). Electric-only range stands at 24 Miles. MINI hasn't released any details on how it takes to recharge. MINI says the 2017 Countryman will arrive in the U.S. next March. The plug-in hybrid will arrive in June. Source: MINI Press Release is on Page 2 Introducing the Biggest, Most Adventurous MINI Yet: The New MINI Countryman - First ever plug-in hybrid available on Countryman as Cooper S E ALL4 variant - World Premiere of all three variants at Los Angeles International Auto Show - Cooper and Cooper S go on sale in March 2017, while Cooper S E ALL4 plug-in hybrid goes on sale in June 2017 Woodcliff Lake, NJ – October 25, 2016 – MINI USA introduced today the biggest, most adventurous MINI ever, the all-new 2017 MINI Countryman. That’s not all. For the first time ever, a MINI model will be offered as a plug-in hybrid, combining the best of both worlds. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 will be powered by both a three- cylinder MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology gasoline engine and an electric hybrid synchronous motor. All three of the new MINI Countryman variants will make their World Premiere at the Los Angeles International Auto Show at a press conference on Wednesday, November 16th, at 11:50 am PDT. The all-new MINI Countryman has been completely redesigned and reengineered from the ground up, yet still is instantly identifiable as a MINI. Now incorporating BMW Group engine technology and vehicle architecture, the all-new MINI Countryman offers an all-turbocharged engine lineup with outstanding acceleration and the go-kart driving dynamics that MINI owners have come to know and love – especially when experienced with the added traction that comes from the latest generation of ALL4 all- wheel drive. At the same time, this new architecture delivers excellent ride quality and enables the most spacious MINI interior ever. “The new MINI Countryman is not only the largest MINI we’ve ever built, but it’s also the most technologically advanced and most versatile MINI of our product line up,” said Thomas Felbermair, Vice President MINI of the Americas. “The addition of the plug-in hybrid option is a major milestone for the brand and we look forward to bringing this exciting new vehicle into one of the top performing market segments.” Fun to drive The benefits from the BMW Group engine technology are evident across both the Cooper and Cooper S variants, with the new three-cylinder MINI TwinPower turbocharged engine on the MINI Cooper Countryman delivering 42 percent more torque than its predecessor, just shy of the outgoing Cooper S variant. The MINI Cooper Countryman can also hit 0 – 60 mph 1.6 seconds more quickly than did its predecessor, and for the first time, can be matched with ALL4 all-wheel drive. Meanwhile, with 207 ft-lbs on tap, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine on the MINI Cooper S Countryman nearly matches the torque output of the outgoing MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. As the most adventurous MINI ever built, traction and performance in all kinds of conditions, wet or dry, rugged or smooth, straight or curvy, the new MINI Countryman benefits from the all-new ALL4 all-wheel drive system. The fully automatic system seamlessly delivers power to the wheels that grip and reacts to road conditions in as little as .25 seconds, with no action required by the driver or passenger. Spacious interior The biggest MINI ever means more space for cargo, people and anything else needed for your next big adventure. Not only does the all-new MINI Countryman offer cavernous cargo space – an increase of 30 percent compared to the outgoing generation – but with sliding, folding rear seats, a high roofline, and an adjustable trunk floor, it offers an incredibly flexible, versatile one too. The new MINI Countryman now has more front and rear legroom, front and rear headroom and rear seat shoulderroom than many of the major competitors in its class. Pre-Outfitted with Premium Features Although the new MINI Countryman continues the MINI tradition of offering an incredible array of possibilities for custom configuration, some customers may find that the car is already loaded before they’ve added any options. Every MINI Countryman will come standard with: - an expansive Panorama Sunroof - Sensatec Leatherette Upholstery - Comfort Access keyless entry - MINI Connected infotainment system with 6.5-inch high-resolution display - Rear View Camera with guidelines - Rear Park Distance Control (parking sensors) - Bluetooth supporting Telephone, Audio Streaming, and Siri Eyes Free - Automatic Headlights and Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers - Fore-and-Aft Sliding Rear Seats with Reclining and 40:20:40 Split-Folding Backrests - 17-inch light alloy wheels (Cooper) or 18-inch light alloy wheels (Cooper S) Models with ALL4 all-wheel drive also come standard with heated seats. Cooper S models (with and without ALL4) come with standard LED headlights and daytime running lights, bolstered sport seats, and 18-inch light alloy wheels. In addition to the standard features highlighted above, the new MINI Countryman features a number of options to improve the overall experience for the driver and passenger using a completely new generation of technology. A Technology Package includes a new 8.8-inch touchscreen navigation system, driven by MINI Connected 5.0, a redesigned and new-generation user interface and operating system, as well as Qi wireless device charging capability and MINI Find Mate Bluetooth tags. The option to plug-in The biggest, most adventurous MINI ever built will also be the most technologically advanced MINI when the brand launches its first ever plug-in hybrid model, the new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, in June 2017. Behind the scenes, a 3-cylinder gasoline engine works in tandem with a powerful electric motor to produce a combined peak output of 221 hp, with the e-rear axle enabling all-season ALL4 traction – but for drivers, Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 simply means high-tech Motoring fun. It’s the perfect vehicle for city dwellers who wish to enjoy the benefits of purely electric mobility when commuting between home and work every day, for example, while at the same time benefiting from unlimited long-distance suitability on the weekend. #FromWhereIMINI Later this week, drone photographer Dirk Dallas (@dirka) will be taking the new MINI Countryman on a cross country adventure to its World Premiere in Los Angeles. Fellow MINI fans and adventurers can follow the action @MINIUSA as Dirk shares some of his favorite adventure spots across the country. Additionally, fans will have a chance at winning limited edition MINI Adventure Series patches by guessing Dirk’s #FromWhereIMINI location. The new MINI Countryman will go on sale in March 2017 at MINI dealers across the U.S. with the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid following in June 2017. Pricing for the U.S. market will be announced at a later date.
  9. We can't help but wonder if MINI is kind of missing the point of their name. This thought came up as we were looking at the details of the second-generation Countryman that will be debuting next month at the LA Auto Show. Compared to the outgoing Countryman, the 2017 model is 8.1-inches longer, 1.3-inches wider, and rides on a wheelbase that 2.9-inches longer. MINI, you're supposed to keep your vehicles small, not making them bigger. But we have to admit this growth spurt does make the Countryman look more SUV than raised-hatchback. The increase in size also allows for a larger interior. Shoulder room increases by 2-inches for both rows and rear legroom jumps by 3.8-inches. Cargo space measures 17.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 47.6 cubic feet with the seats down - up 5.6 cubic feet in both measurements. Otherwise, the interior matches up with current MINI models with such details as an improved layout for the dash and the option of a 8.8-inch screen for the infotainment system. There are three powertrains on offer. The base Cooper features a turbocharged 1.5L three-cylinder with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Cooper S models get a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Both gas engines feature the choice of a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic, along with the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. New for this generation is Cooper S E Countryman All4 - MINI's first plug-in hybrid. This pairs the 1.5L three-cylinder with an 87-horsepower electric motor and a 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Total output stands at 221 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. This makes the Cooper S E Countryman All4 the most powerful Countryman on sale (until the JCW version comes out). Electric-only range stands at 24 Miles. MINI hasn't released any details on how it takes to recharge. MINI says the 2017 Countryman will arrive in the U.S. next March. The plug-in hybrid will arrive in June. Source: MINI Press Release is on Page 2 Introducing the Biggest, Most Adventurous MINI Yet: The New MINI Countryman - First ever plug-in hybrid available on Countryman as Cooper S E ALL4 variant - World Premiere of all three variants at Los Angeles International Auto Show - Cooper and Cooper S go on sale in March 2017, while Cooper S E ALL4 plug-in hybrid goes on sale in June 2017 Woodcliff Lake, NJ – October 25, 2016 – MINI USA introduced today the biggest, most adventurous MINI ever, the all-new 2017 MINI Countryman. That’s not all. For the first time ever, a MINI model will be offered as a plug-in hybrid, combining the best of both worlds. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 will be powered by both a three- cylinder MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology gasoline engine and an electric hybrid synchronous motor. All three of the new MINI Countryman variants will make their World Premiere at the Los Angeles International Auto Show at a press conference on Wednesday, November 16th, at 11:50 am PDT. The all-new MINI Countryman has been completely redesigned and reengineered from the ground up, yet still is instantly identifiable as a MINI. Now incorporating BMW Group engine technology and vehicle architecture, the all-new MINI Countryman offers an all-turbocharged engine lineup with outstanding acceleration and the go-kart driving dynamics that MINI owners have come to know and love – especially when experienced with the added traction that comes from the latest generation of ALL4 all- wheel drive. At the same time, this new architecture delivers excellent ride quality and enables the most spacious MINI interior ever. “The new MINI Countryman is not only the largest MINI we’ve ever built, but it’s also the most technologically advanced and most versatile MINI of our product line up,” said Thomas Felbermair, Vice President MINI of the Americas. “The addition of the plug-in hybrid option is a major milestone for the brand and we look forward to bringing this exciting new vehicle into one of the top performing market segments.” Fun to drive The benefits from the BMW Group engine technology are evident across both the Cooper and Cooper S variants, with the new three-cylinder MINI TwinPower turbocharged engine on the MINI Cooper Countryman delivering 42 percent more torque than its predecessor, just shy of the outgoing Cooper S variant. The MINI Cooper Countryman can also hit 0 – 60 mph 1.6 seconds more quickly than did its predecessor, and for the first time, can be matched with ALL4 all-wheel drive. Meanwhile, with 207 ft-lbs on tap, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine on the MINI Cooper S Countryman nearly matches the torque output of the outgoing MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. As the most adventurous MINI ever built, traction and performance in all kinds of conditions, wet or dry, rugged or smooth, straight or curvy, the new MINI Countryman benefits from the all-new ALL4 all-wheel drive system. The fully automatic system seamlessly delivers power to the wheels that grip and reacts to road conditions in as little as .25 seconds, with no action required by the driver or passenger. Spacious interior The biggest MINI ever means more space for cargo, people and anything else needed for your next big adventure. Not only does the all-new MINI Countryman offer cavernous cargo space – an increase of 30 percent compared to the outgoing generation – but with sliding, folding rear seats, a high roofline, and an adjustable trunk floor, it offers an incredibly flexible, versatile one too. The new MINI Countryman now has more front and rear legroom, front and rear headroom and rear seat shoulderroom than many of the major competitors in its class. Pre-Outfitted with Premium Features Although the new MINI Countryman continues the MINI tradition of offering an incredible array of possibilities for custom configuration, some customers may find that the car is already loaded before they’ve added any options. Every MINI Countryman will come standard with: - an expansive Panorama Sunroof - Sensatec Leatherette Upholstery - Comfort Access keyless entry - MINI Connected infotainment system with 6.5-inch high-resolution display - Rear View Camera with guidelines - Rear Park Distance Control (parking sensors) - Bluetooth supporting Telephone, Audio Streaming, and Siri Eyes Free - Automatic Headlights and Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers - Fore-and-Aft Sliding Rear Seats with Reclining and 40:20:40 Split-Folding Backrests - 17-inch light alloy wheels (Cooper) or 18-inch light alloy wheels (Cooper S) Models with ALL4 all-wheel drive also come standard with heated seats. Cooper S models (with and without ALL4) come with standard LED headlights and daytime running lights, bolstered sport seats, and 18-inch light alloy wheels. In addition to the standard features highlighted above, the new MINI Countryman features a number of options to improve the overall experience for the driver and passenger using a completely new generation of technology. A Technology Package includes a new 8.8-inch touchscreen navigation system, driven by MINI Connected 5.0, a redesigned and new-generation user interface and operating system, as well as Qi wireless device charging capability and MINI Find Mate Bluetooth tags. The option to plug-in The biggest, most adventurous MINI ever built will also be the most technologically advanced MINI when the brand launches its first ever plug-in hybrid model, the new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, in June 2017. Behind the scenes, a 3-cylinder gasoline engine works in tandem with a powerful electric motor to produce a combined peak output of 221 hp, with the e-rear axle enabling all-season ALL4 traction – but for drivers, Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 simply means high-tech Motoring fun. It’s the perfect vehicle for city dwellers who wish to enjoy the benefits of purely electric mobility when commuting between home and work every day, for example, while at the same time benefiting from unlimited long-distance suitability on the weekend. #FromWhereIMINI Later this week, drone photographer Dirk Dallas (@dirka) will be taking the new MINI Countryman on a cross country adventure to its World Premiere in Los Angeles. Fellow MINI fans and adventurers can follow the action @MINIUSA as Dirk shares some of his favorite adventure spots across the country. Additionally, fans will have a chance at winning limited edition MINI Adventure Series patches by guessing Dirk’s #FromWhereIMINI location. The new MINI Countryman will go on sale in March 2017 at MINI dealers across the U.S. with the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid following in June 2017. Pricing for the U.S. market will be announced at a later date. View full article
  10. 2017 Cruze Hatchback Premier (1.4T/6A) Odo - 8051 mi We just took the Cruze on a 1,000 mile road trip (from Baltimore to Myrtle Beach and back) and this was my first extended, in-depth experience driving and living with the car for a week. I'll break down the review into sections if you want to skip around. Fuel Economy (EPA rated 28 city/37 highway): *Premium gas/mobil 1 oil used. Manual recommends regular gas, dexos approved synthetic oil. On our trip, we achieved 39.3 mpg leaving Baltimore and 41.0 mpg coming back, based on the gauge cluster. My wife reports that it's fairly accurate, if optimistic by an mpg. Hand calculation is pretty much out the window because we have to hit 3 different gas stations with wildly different pump shut-offs and then we burn half a tank around town for the week. Sorry, I'm just not that invested when I know we can trust the gauge cluster. We did not hypermile whatsoever, just used cruise control as much as possible. We passed slow traffic and drove aggressively when the situation called for it. No sitting behind slow traffic or drafting large trucks to fluff the numbers. We drove 7-10 over the speed limit, with most of the journey being 65 and 70 mph zones. - From what I can tell, 75 mph seems to be the 40 mpg cutoff. - 60 to 70 mph is the sweet spot for crushing the EPA highway rating. - The gauge cluster's "Best 50 mile average mpg" indicated we set a new high score of 49 mpg. Engine/Transmission 1.4T DI VVT is rated 153 hp/177 tq C&D test numbers for the premier hatchback auto: 0-60 in 7.7 sec, 1/4 mile in 16 @ 84 mph. In my experience, the direct-injected 1.4T provides more than adequate acceleration and feels peppy. The tires will peel out a bit when floored from a stop, and the engine offers strong torque for low-stress highway merging or passing even with 2 people and probably 150 lbs of luggage. I also drove with 4 adult occupants and acceleration remained adequate around town without revving hard. At full throttle, the engine starts getting out of breath above 5500 rpm. The transmission is more eco-tuned than I'd like, but the logic is a far cry from the mess of GM's first 6-speeds. Downshifting to accelerate takes a bit of prodding, but the downshift is drama free with a progressive surge of turbo torque that follows. After 6 hours on the road, we hit stop and go traffic briefly and under 25 mph the transmission tripped over itself a few times noticeably enough for my wife to point it out. Can't really be replicated on demand. Steering/Handling The electric power system in the Cruze has good heft to it, and the predictable turn-in seems to mask the electric numbness. It's easy to drive, which is a comment I found myself coming back to frequently in my thoughts behind the wheel. It's not sporty, but it nails easy driving and commuting. The tires are all-season performance firestone firehawk GTs in 225/45R17 size. They handle securely, but make a lot of road noise in an otherwise quiet car. Michelins or Continentals will make a world of difference. Brakes One of the weak points of the car is the brake pedal. It sits an inch further forward than the gas pedal, which is very awkward in use. There's also too much play between gentle slowing and heavy braking. It feels like you're pushing through the floor to stop quickly. Mechanically, the car has 4-wheel disk brakes, and they stop the car with authority. Pedal placement and feel is really the problem. Conclusion My wife and I really like the car. I keep coming back to the "easy to drive" sentiment, fun wasn't the goal here and I already have a car for that. It's very happy commuting and eating up highway miles at 40 mpg. I was comfortable in the seats for 8 hours of driving, which is very rare. The acceleration power straddles base versus optional engines of other cars like the Civic and Mazda 3 without sacrifice to maximum fuel economy, which is a good balance that hasn't left us wanting. With a set of good tires and perhaps a tune in the far future, this car will be hanging around well beyond the last payment.
  11. After nearly a year-long hiatus, 2017 Ram 1500s with the EcoDiesel option are beginning to show up on dealer lots. According to Automotive News, some dealers started seeing EcoDiesel models arriving towards the end of last month. Other dealers are still waiting for the EcoDiesel models to show up. Back in January, the EPA accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of violating emission regulations by failing to disclose eight different software programs used in the EcoDiesel. The agency alleged the software allowed Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels to produce excess pollution. Then in May, the Justice Department filed a civil suit against FCA over the software. FCA has been working with the EPA and California Air Resources Board to try and settle this dispute. The company sent new emissions control software that would be used in the 2017 models to the EPA in May. If approved, FCA would install this software on 2014 to 2016 models. In late July, the EPA gave FCA the ok to begin selling Ram 1500s and Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels with the new software. It should be noted that FCA began building Ram 1500s with the EcoDiesel back in early July in anticipation of getting the ok. Though it is unclear why FCA waited over two months before shipping them out to dealers. But this good news may be short lived. A spokeswoman for the EPA told Automotive News that the 2018 models have yet to be certified. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required) View full article
  12. After nearly a year-long hiatus, 2017 Ram 1500s with the EcoDiesel option are beginning to show up on dealer lots. According to Automotive News, some dealers started seeing EcoDiesel models arriving towards the end of last month. Other dealers are still waiting for the EcoDiesel models to show up. Back in January, the EPA accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of violating emission regulations by failing to disclose eight different software programs used in the EcoDiesel. The agency alleged the software allowed Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels to produce excess pollution. Then in May, the Justice Department filed a civil suit against FCA over the software. FCA has been working with the EPA and California Air Resources Board to try and settle this dispute. The company sent new emissions control software that would be used in the 2017 models to the EPA in May. If approved, FCA would install this software on 2014 to 2016 models. In late July, the EPA gave FCA the ok to begin selling Ram 1500s and Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels with the new software. It should be noted that FCA began building Ram 1500s with the EcoDiesel back in early July in anticipation of getting the ok. Though it is unclear why FCA waited over two months before shipping them out to dealers. But this good news may be short lived. A spokeswoman for the EPA told Automotive News that the 2018 models have yet to be certified. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  13. The Toyota Highlander may not be the flashiest or fun to drive. But it has many qualities to make it one of Toyota’s best selling models such as functional and spacious interior, long list of standard equipment, and high-reliability marks. Last year, Toyota unveiled an updated Highlander with tweaks to the exterior, revised V6, and more safety. Considering it has been a few years since we last checked out the Highlander, it seemed a revisit was in order. The 2017 Highlander boasts new front and rear fascias to give it a more SUV-appearance and we think Toyota has mostly succeeded in this regard. The only issue is the front end reminding us too much of a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica TV. Thank the new grille design for this. Move inside and the Highlander is the same as we last saw it back in 2014 when we did our original review. This is both good and bad. The good is that the controls for the various functions are easy to use. The center console features a huge storage bin that you can easily fit a large purse or a laptop computer. A shelf underneath climate controls provides a nice space to throw small items such as a smartphone. The bad is that the controls for certain functions are not in easy reach for the drive. We also not fans of the capacitive touch buttons around the 8-inch touchscreen as they didn’t always respond. There were times we found ourselves hitting the buttons two to three times to get something to happen. The infotainment system itself is beginning to look somewhat dated with an interface that looks like it comes from the Windows XP era and the screen is somewhat dim. But we cannot argue that the system is easy to use thanks to a simple layout. Passengers sitting in the front and second-row seats will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom on offer. Also, the seats themselves are padded quite nicely. We do wish the second-row was mounted slightly higher for better long-distance comfort. The third-row seat as the seats aren’t that comfortable due to the thin amount of padding. Legroom is also quite tight with only 27.7-inches of space, meaning this is a space best reserved for small kids. Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain. Toyota’s V6 engine is one our favorites as it provides impressive acceleration and a steady stream of power up to redline. This updated engine is no exception as it feels slightly quicker than the last Highlander we drove. The powertrain stumbles somewhat due to the eight-speed automatic’s programming. Toyota went for something that focuses on fuel economy which means the transmission is quick to upshift, but slow to downshift. This means you’ll be waiting for a moment or two for the transmission to get its act together when trying to merge onto a freeway. You might be fooled into thinking that you’re riding in a Lexus considering the smooth ride of the Highlander. Bumps are turned into minor ripples. Little road and wind noise that come inside. The Highlander is a vehicle you want to keep in its comfort zone when it comes to handling. Push it in a corner and you’ll experience excessive body roll. One thing Toyota deserves credit for the 2018 Highlander is having a number of active features standard across the entire Highlander lineup. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The only item we would like to see added to this list is blind spot monitoring. You can only get it on XLE models and above. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Trim: XLE AWD Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/22 Curb Weight: 4,430 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $39,980 As Tested Price: $43,184 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge) Options: Rear Seat BluRay Entertainment System - $1,810.00 Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00
  14. The Toyota Highlander may not be the flashiest or fun to drive. But it has many qualities to make it one of Toyota’s best selling models such as functional and spacious interior, long list of standard equipment, and high-reliability marks. Last year, Toyota unveiled an updated Highlander with tweaks to the exterior, revised V6, and more safety. Considering it has been a few years since we last checked out the Highlander, it seemed a revisit was in order. The 2017 Highlander boasts new front and rear fascias to give it a more SUV-appearance and we think Toyota has mostly succeeded in this regard. The only issue is the front end reminding us too much of a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica TV. Thank the new grille design for this. Move inside and the Highlander is the same as we last saw it back in 2014 when we did our original review. This is both good and bad. The good is that the controls for the various functions are easy to use. The center console features a huge storage bin that you can easily fit a large purse or a laptop computer. A shelf underneath climate controls provides a nice space to throw small items such as a smartphone. The bad is that the controls for certain functions are not in easy reach for the drive. We also not fans of the capacitive touch buttons around the 8-inch touchscreen as they didn’t always respond. There were times we found ourselves hitting the buttons two to three times to get something to happen. The infotainment system itself is beginning to look somewhat dated with an interface that looks like it comes from the Windows XP era and the screen is somewhat dim. But we cannot argue that the system is easy to use thanks to a simple layout. Passengers sitting in the front and second-row seats will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom on offer. Also, the seats themselves are padded quite nicely. We do wish the second-row was mounted slightly higher for better long-distance comfort. The third-row seat as the seats aren’t that comfortable due to the thin amount of padding. Legroom is also quite tight with only 27.7-inches of space, meaning this is a space best reserved for small kids. Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain. Toyota’s V6 engine is one our favorites as it provides impressive acceleration and a steady stream of power up to redline. This updated engine is no exception as it feels slightly quicker than the last Highlander we drove. The powertrain stumbles somewhat due to the eight-speed automatic’s programming. Toyota went for something that focuses on fuel economy which means the transmission is quick to upshift, but slow to downshift. This means you’ll be waiting for a moment or two for the transmission to get its act together when trying to merge onto a freeway. You might be fooled into thinking that you’re riding in a Lexus considering the smooth ride of the Highlander. Bumps are turned into minor ripples. Little road and wind noise that come inside. The Highlander is a vehicle you want to keep in its comfort zone when it comes to handling. Push it in a corner and you’ll experience excessive body roll. One thing Toyota deserves credit for the 2018 Highlander is having a number of active features standard across the entire Highlander lineup. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The only item we would like to see added to this list is blind spot monitoring. You can only get it on XLE models and above. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Trim: XLE AWD Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/22 Curb Weight: 4,430 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $39,980 As Tested Price: $43,184 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge) Options: Rear Seat BluRay Entertainment System - $1,810.00 Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00 View full article
  15. We had high hopes for the Hyundai Tucson when we did a first drive back in August 2015. But when we did our full review last April, we ended it by saying the model wasn’t “the slam dunk we thought it was.” This was due to some key issues such as a small cargo area, a tough value argument and a dual-clutch transmission having some hesitating issues. A year later, we find ourselves revisiting the Tucson. There has been a software update to the transmission, along with some minor changes to the infotainment system and interior. A quick refresher on the Tucson’s powertrain lineup: A 2.0L four-cylinder producing 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque is used on the base SE and SE Plus. The rest of the Tucson lineup features a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic comes standard on the 2.0L, while the turbo 1.6 gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The engine does show some turbo lag when leaving a stop, but it will soon pick up steam and move the Tucson at a pretty decent rate. The engine doesn’t feel overtaxed when you need to make a pass. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission still has issues. While Hyundai has reduced some of the hesitation issues we experienced in the last Tucson via a software update, there is still a fair amount of this when leaving from a dead stop. We also noticed some rough upshifts during our week. At least the ride and handling characteristics have not changed since our last test. The Tucson still provides one of the smoothest rides in the class, even with the Limited’s 19-inch wheels. It doesn’t flinch when going around a corner as body motions are kept in check. A Mazda CX-5 would be more fun to drive as it is quicker when transitioning from one corner to another and the steering has the right amount of weight and feel. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. The interior remains mostly unchanged except for a couple of minor things. The 8-inch touchscreen system now features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We’re impressed with how fast the system was able to find the iPhone and bring up the CarPlay interface. The other change deals with more soft-touch materials being added to various parts of the interior. There is still a fair amount of hard plastics, even on the high-end Limited model which is very disappointing. There is still a lot to like about the Tucson’s interior. Space is plentiful for those sitting in the front or rear seats, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. The list of standard equipment is quite extensive as well. Limited models get automatic headlights, power and heated front seats, an 8-speaker Infinity sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key with push-button start, and blind-spot monitoring. Cargo space still trails competitors with only 31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61.9 cubic feet when folded. The CR-V offers 35.2 and 70.9 cubic feet respectively. The Limited seen here came with a $35,210 as-tested price, which is about average for a fully-loaded crossover in this class. But the Tucson becomes a bit of a tough sell when dropping to the lower trims as you cannot get certain features. As we noted in our full review last year, “if you want navigation or dual-zone climate control on the Sport, you’re out of luck.” Despite some of the changes made for 2017, our verdict is much the same as the 2016 Tucson. There is a lot to like about the Tucson, but there are still some issues the company needs to address - smoothing out the dual-clutch and trying to make the model a better value. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Tucson, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Hyundai Model: Tucson Trim: Limited AWD Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/28/25 Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $31,175 As Tested Price: $35,201 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ultimate Package - $2,750.00 Cargo Cover - $190.00 Reversible Cargo Tray - $100.00 Rear Bumper Applique - $70.00 First Aid Kit - $30.00 View full article
  16. We had high hopes for the Hyundai Tucson when we did a first drive back in August 2015. But when we did our full review last April, we ended it by saying the model wasn’t “the slam dunk we thought it was.” This was due to some key issues such as a small cargo area, a tough value argument and a dual-clutch transmission having some hesitating issues. A year later, we find ourselves revisiting the Tucson. There has been a software update to the transmission, along with some minor changes to the infotainment system and interior. A quick refresher on the Tucson’s powertrain lineup: A 2.0L four-cylinder producing 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque is used on the base SE and SE Plus. The rest of the Tucson lineup features a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic comes standard on the 2.0L, while the turbo 1.6 gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The engine does show some turbo lag when leaving a stop, but it will soon pick up steam and move the Tucson at a pretty decent rate. The engine doesn’t feel overtaxed when you need to make a pass. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission still has issues. While Hyundai has reduced some of the hesitation issues we experienced in the last Tucson via a software update, there is still a fair amount of this when leaving from a dead stop. We also noticed some rough upshifts during our week. At least the ride and handling characteristics have not changed since our last test. The Tucson still provides one of the smoothest rides in the class, even with the Limited’s 19-inch wheels. It doesn’t flinch when going around a corner as body motions are kept in check. A Mazda CX-5 would be more fun to drive as it is quicker when transitioning from one corner to another and the steering has the right amount of weight and feel. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. The interior remains mostly unchanged except for a couple of minor things. The 8-inch touchscreen system now features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We’re impressed with how fast the system was able to find the iPhone and bring up the CarPlay interface. The other change deals with more soft-touch materials being added to various parts of the interior. There is still a fair amount of hard plastics, even on the high-end Limited model which is very disappointing. There is still a lot to like about the Tucson’s interior. Space is plentiful for those sitting in the front or rear seats, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. The list of standard equipment is quite extensive as well. Limited models get automatic headlights, power and heated front seats, an 8-speaker Infinity sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key with push-button start, and blind-spot monitoring. Cargo space still trails competitors with only 31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61.9 cubic feet when folded. The CR-V offers 35.2 and 70.9 cubic feet respectively. The Limited seen here came with a $35,210 as-tested price, which is about average for a fully-loaded crossover in this class. But the Tucson becomes a bit of a tough sell when dropping to the lower trims as you cannot get certain features. As we noted in our full review last year, “if you want navigation or dual-zone climate control on the Sport, you’re out of luck.” Despite some of the changes made for 2017, our verdict is much the same as the 2016 Tucson. There is a lot to like about the Tucson, but there are still some issues the company needs to address - smoothing out the dual-clutch and trying to make the model a better value. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Tucson, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Hyundai Model: Tucson Trim: Limited AWD Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/28/25 Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $31,175 As Tested Price: $35,201 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ultimate Package - $2,750.00 Cargo Cover - $190.00 Reversible Cargo Tray - $100.00 Rear Bumper Applique - $70.00 First Aid Kit - $30.00
  17. Chrysler isn’t the first, let alone the tenth automaker you would think of building a hybrid vehicle. Yet, they stunned the world last year as they introduced a plug-in hybrid version of the new Pacifica minivan. It currently holds the title of being the only full-size hybrid minivan sold in the world. On paper, the Pacifica Hybrid makes a good case for itself. Being able to travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone and returning a combined fuel economy figure of 83 MPGe. But how does it fare in the real world? The Pacifica Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a modified version of the 3.6L V6 that runs on the Atkinson cycle for improved efficiency; two electric motors and a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack. Total output stands at 260 horsepower. Even though the Pacifica Hybrid is about 600 pounds more than the standard model, it doesn’t feel like it. The instant torque from the electric motors moves the van at a very brisk rate when leaving a stop. The gas engine will kick on when the battery is depleted or when more power is needed such as merging onto a highway. The transition between electric and hybrid power is barely noticeable. When the gas engine is on, it has more than enough power to get you moving on your way. An odd omission from the Pacifica Hybrid is being able to switch between electric and hybrid modes like you can do in other PHEVs. The van will automatically do it. This is a bit disappointing as some drivers would like to conserve battery when driving on a highway for example. The key numbers to be aware of are 33 miles and 84 MPGe on electric power, and 32 MPG when running on hybrid power. During my week, I was able to go about 34 miles on electric power alone and saw an average of 32 MPG for the week. Considering how big and heavy this van is, these numbers are quite impressive. Recharging times for the Pacifica Hybrid are 2 hours when plugged into a 240V outlet, or 16 hours for a 120V outlet. FCA is right on the money for the 120V time as it took around 16 hours for the van to be fully recharged. There isn’t any difference between how the Pacifica Hybrid rides and handles to the standard Pacifica. Both exhibit a smooth ride, no matter the road surface. Going around a corner is not a big deal as body roll is kept very much in check. There are only a few things that separate the Pacifica Hybrid from the standard model. Aside from the charging door, the hybrid gets a different grille and wheel design. While the Pacifica Hybrid is designed to carry families, you would think differently after sitting inside. Our Platinum tester was kitted out with leather on the seats, contrasting stitching, and an abundance of soft-touch materials. This interior gives certain luxury cars a run for their money. No matter where you’re sitting in the Pacifica Hybrid, there is plenty of head and legroom on offer. Comfort is also a major plus point as all of the seats provide excellent support for long trips. One downside to the hybrid powertrain is the loss of the Stow n’ Go seats for the second row. That space is taken up by the large battery pack. At least you can remove the second-row seats, but be prepared to have another person help you as they are heavy. At least the third-row seats do fold into the floor. There isn’t anything different with the 8.4-inch UConnect system aside from the usual screens you would expect on hybrid such as a power diagram. This system is very simple to operate, but the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto leaves us slightly disappointed. Thankfully, this will be addressed with the 2018 model year as both become standard across the Pacifica lineup. We also had the chance to try out UConnect Access. This smartphone application allows you to check on how much charge is left on the battery, set up a charging schedule, trip information, remote lock and start, and vehicle location. While it is nice to have a key information within easy reach, it takes a long time for the application to pull it. We found on average that it took a good minute or two before updated information would arrive. For all of this tech, it comes at a price. The base Pacifica Hybrid Premium rings up at $41,995. Our Platinum tester came to $47,885 with an optional panoramic sunroof. That’s a lot of cash for a minivan, even one with a hybrid powertrain. But with the Platinum, you’re getting everything - navigation, rear-seat entertainment system, heated and ventilated front seats, and a ton of safety equipment. There is also the $7,500 federal tax credit and other incentives from various states that might sway some folks. But those only come into play when it comes time to do taxes. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Hybrid Trim: Platinum Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid System Driveline: eFlite EVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ N/A (Combined) Torque @ RPM: N/A Fuel Economy: Gas + Electric Combined, Gas Combined - 84 MPGe, 32 MPG Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $44,995 As Tested Price: $47,885 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tri-Pane Panaromic Sunroof - $1,795
  18. Chrysler isn’t the first, let alone the tenth automaker you would think of building a hybrid vehicle. Yet, they stunned the world last year as they introduced a plug-in hybrid version of the new Pacifica minivan. It currently holds the title of being the only full-size hybrid minivan sold in the world. On paper, the Pacifica Hybrid makes a good case for itself. Being able to travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone and returning a combined fuel economy figure of 83 MPGe. But how does it fare in the real world? The Pacifica Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a modified version of the 3.6L V6 that runs on the Atkinson cycle for improved efficiency; two electric motors and a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack. Total output stands at 260 horsepower. Even though the Pacifica Hybrid is about 600 pounds more than the standard model, it doesn’t feel like it. The instant torque from the electric motors moves the van at a very brisk rate when leaving a stop. The gas engine will kick on when the battery is depleted or when more power is needed such as merging onto a highway. The transition between electric and hybrid power is barely noticeable. When the gas engine is on, it has more than enough power to get you moving on your way. An odd omission from the Pacifica Hybrid is being able to switch between electric and hybrid modes like you can do in other PHEVs. The van will automatically do it. This is a bit disappointing as some drivers would like to conserve battery when driving on a highway for example. The key numbers to be aware of are 33 miles and 84 MPGe on electric power, and 32 MPG when running on hybrid power. During my week, I was able to go about 34 miles on electric power alone and saw an average of 32 MPG for the week. Considering how big and heavy this van is, these numbers are quite impressive. Recharging times for the Pacifica Hybrid are 2 hours when plugged into a 240V outlet, or 16 hours for a 120V outlet. FCA is right on the money for the 120V time as it took around 16 hours for the van to be fully recharged. There isn’t any difference between how the Pacifica Hybrid rides and handles to the standard Pacifica. Both exhibit a smooth ride, no matter the road surface. Going around a corner is not a big deal as body roll is kept very much in check. There are only a few things that separate the Pacifica Hybrid from the standard model. Aside from the charging door, the hybrid gets a different grille and wheel design. While the Pacifica Hybrid is designed to carry families, you would think differently after sitting inside. Our Platinum tester was kitted out with leather on the seats, contrasting stitching, and an abundance of soft-touch materials. This interior gives certain luxury cars a run for their money. No matter where you’re sitting in the Pacifica Hybrid, there is plenty of head and legroom on offer. Comfort is also a major plus point as all of the seats provide excellent support for long trips. One downside to the hybrid powertrain is the loss of the Stow n’ Go seats for the second row. That space is taken up by the large battery pack. At least you can remove the second-row seats, but be prepared to have another person help you as they are heavy. At least the third-row seats do fold into the floor. There isn’t anything different with the 8.4-inch UConnect system aside from the usual screens you would expect on hybrid such as a power diagram. This system is very simple to operate, but the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto leaves us slightly disappointed. Thankfully, this will be addressed with the 2018 model year as both become standard across the Pacifica lineup. We also had the chance to try out UConnect Access. This smartphone application allows you to check on how much charge is left on the battery, set up a charging schedule, trip information, remote lock and start, and vehicle location. While it is nice to have a key information within easy reach, it takes a long time for the application to pull it. We found on average that it took a good minute or two before updated information would arrive. For all of this tech, it comes at a price. The base Pacifica Hybrid Premium rings up at $41,995. Our Platinum tester came to $47,885 with an optional panoramic sunroof. That’s a lot of cash for a minivan, even one with a hybrid powertrain. But with the Platinum, you’re getting everything - navigation, rear-seat entertainment system, heated and ventilated front seats, and a ton of safety equipment. There is also the $7,500 federal tax credit and other incentives from various states that might sway some folks. But those only come into play when it comes time to do taxes. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Hybrid Trim: Platinum Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid System Driveline: eFlite EVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ N/A (Combined) Torque @ RPM: N/A Fuel Economy: Gas + Electric Combined, Gas Combined - 84 MPGe, 32 MPG Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $44,995 As Tested Price: $47,885 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tri-Pane Panaromic Sunroof - $1,795 View full article
  19. Lexus might not be the first choice when it comes to a compact luxury coupe. But when I drove the RC 350 F-Sport back in 2015, we found it to be a very capable coupe. Aside from the creamsicle paint color, the RC impressed me with distinctive styling, punchy V6, and sharp handling. Two years later, I find myself revisiting the RC - this time with the base 2.0L turbo-four engine. As I would find out during our week, there is a lot to like about the standard RC. But there is one glaring issue that would make me look at a competitor. The standard RC’s design somehow balances a handsome shape with extroverted details. The front features the widest version of the spindle grille, slits in the front bumper, and LED lighting under the headlights. Bulging fenders and rounded roofline make the RC stand out from the crowd. There are only two things I would change about this RC. First is the color. The silver paint on our tester makes the RC a bit dull to look at. Something more vibrant such as a red would really help out. We would also swap the 5-spoke, 18-inch wheels for the wheels found on the F-Sport package. The interior hasn’t changed since we last drove the RC and that’s both a good and bad thing. The good is that the RC still has the IS’ dash design which makes the vehicle’s sporting intentions clear. It is easy to find a comfortable position in the front seats thanks to the power adjustments on offer. The bad? It begins with the infotainment system. A 7-inch screen is nestled far back in the dash, making it hard to read at a quick glance. I wished Lexus had upgraded the screen to the 10.2-inch version found in the refreshed IS. The optional Remote Touch system is a bit frustrating to use as you have be very precise when making your selection. One slip of the finger and you’ll end up with a different selection. Don’t expect to carry passengers in the RC’s backseat as leg room is non-existent. It's better to use it as a place for cargo. What is that glaring issue I mentioned at the beginning? That would be the turbo 2.0L. It produces 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power delivery can best be described as the engine delivers enough oomph to move the vehicle from a stop, before falling off a cliff. There isn’t that rush of power throughout the rpm band that you would have in another model such as the Cadillac ATS 2.0T. On the upside, the 2.0L turbo in the RC didn’t have the horrendous turbo lag that I experienced in the IS 200t last year. The eight-speed automatic that comes standard on rear-drive models delivers smooth gear changes. I did find myself wishing the gear changes were somewhat quicker when the RC is put into the Sport mode via the drive selector. The standard RC fits the definition of a ‘Gran Tourer’. It may not handle as well as the RC 350 F-Sport in the bends - there is little bit more body roll and the steering isn’t as direct. But most people who drive it will be ok with that as it is ‘just right’. On rough roads, the RC 200t excels as bumps are smoothed over. Wind noise is mostly nonexistent, while there is a fair amount of road noise coming inside. The 2017 RC 200t begins at $40,155. With a modest amount of options such as navigation, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control, the as-tested price came to $45,234. The RC 200t is mostly show and not much go. For some folks, that’s all they want. A coupe that stands out in and tells the world to look at me. For others, save up a bit more money and go for the 350. The added performance of the V6 gives the coupe the go it deserves. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RC 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Lexus Model: RC Trim: 200t Engine: Turbo 2.0L DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-i Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650-4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/26 Curb Weight: 3,737 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $40,155 As Tested Price: $45,234 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation System - $1,470.00 Premium Package - $1,240.00 Dynamic Radar Cruise Control w/Pre-Collison - $500.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $449.00 Windshield Deicer and Headlamp Cleaner - $220.00 Door Edge Guards - $115.00 All-Weather Floormats - $110.00
  20. Lexus might not be the first choice when it comes to a compact luxury coupe. But when I drove the RC 350 F-Sport back in 2015, we found it to be a very capable coupe. Aside from the creamsicle paint color, the RC impressed me with distinctive styling, punchy V6, and sharp handling. Two years later, I find myself revisiting the RC - this time with the base 2.0L turbo-four engine. As I would find out during our week, there is a lot to like about the standard RC. But there is one glaring issue that would make me look at a competitor. The standard RC’s design somehow balances a handsome shape with extroverted details. The front features the widest version of the spindle grille, slits in the front bumper, and LED lighting under the headlights. Bulging fenders and rounded roofline make the RC stand out from the crowd. There are only two things I would change about this RC. First is the color. The silver paint on our tester makes the RC a bit dull to look at. Something more vibrant such as a red would really help out. We would also swap the 5-spoke, 18-inch wheels for the wheels found on the F-Sport package. The interior hasn’t changed since we last drove the RC and that’s both a good and bad thing. The good is that the RC still has the IS’ dash design which makes the vehicle’s sporting intentions clear. It is easy to find a comfortable position in the front seats thanks to the power adjustments on offer. The bad? It begins with the infotainment system. A 7-inch screen is nestled far back in the dash, making it hard to read at a quick glance. I wished Lexus had upgraded the screen to the 10.2-inch version found in the refreshed IS. The optional Remote Touch system is a bit frustrating to use as you have be very precise when making your selection. One slip of the finger and you’ll end up with a different selection. Don’t expect to carry passengers in the RC’s backseat as leg room is non-existent. It's better to use it as a place for cargo. What is that glaring issue I mentioned at the beginning? That would be the turbo 2.0L. It produces 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power delivery can best be described as the engine delivers enough oomph to move the vehicle from a stop, before falling off a cliff. There isn’t that rush of power throughout the rpm band that you would have in another model such as the Cadillac ATS 2.0T. On the upside, the 2.0L turbo in the RC didn’t have the horrendous turbo lag that I experienced in the IS 200t last year. The eight-speed automatic that comes standard on rear-drive models delivers smooth gear changes. I did find myself wishing the gear changes were somewhat quicker when the RC is put into the Sport mode via the drive selector. The standard RC fits the definition of a ‘Gran Tourer’. It may not handle as well as the RC 350 F-Sport in the bends - there is little bit more body roll and the steering isn’t as direct. But most people who drive it will be ok with that as it is ‘just right’. On rough roads, the RC 200t excels as bumps are smoothed over. Wind noise is mostly nonexistent, while there is a fair amount of road noise coming inside. The 2017 RC 200t begins at $40,155. With a modest amount of options such as navigation, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control, the as-tested price came to $45,234. The RC 200t is mostly show and not much go. For some folks, that’s all they want. A coupe that stands out in and tells the world to look at me. For others, save up a bit more money and go for the 350. The added performance of the V6 gives the coupe the go it deserves. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RC 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Lexus Model: RC Trim: 200t Engine: Turbo 2.0L DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-i Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650-4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/26 Curb Weight: 3,737 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $40,155 As Tested Price: $45,234 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation System - $1,470.00 Premium Package - $1,240.00 Dynamic Radar Cruise Control w/Pre-Collison - $500.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $449.00 Windshield Deicer and Headlamp Cleaner - $220.00 Door Edge Guards - $115.00 All-Weather Floormats - $110.00 View full article
  21. Sometimes, you find yourself scratching your head as you struggle to think if any more can be said about a vehicle. The two vehicles seen here, the 2017 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee have been reviewed by me numerous times - Durango has two, while the Grand Cherokee stands at three. Not much has changed on either vehicle since I last reviewed them. This puts me in a bit of quandary: What do I talk about? The answer was to delve into the trims themselves and figure out if they are worth the cash. The Grand Cherokee seen here is the top-line Summit. Jeep updated this trim last year with new front end treatment consisting of a new grille and LED fog lights. The exterior changes for the Summit do sharpen up the Grand Cherokee, a design which should be noted that has been around since 2011. One design touch we really like are the set optional 20-inch aluminum wheels as they dress up the Grand Cherokee quite nicely. The larger wheels don’t affect ride quality as the Grand Cherokee’s suspension turns bumps into light ripples. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. The interior now has the option of the “Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package” that brings a leather covering for the dash and center console, and premium leather upholstery for the seats and door panels. My test vehicle came with this package and I am not sure its worth the $4,995. The key reason comes down to the leather used for the seats. I can’t tell the difference between the leather upholstery used for this package and the one used on lesser trims. Aside from this, the Summit retains many of the plus points found on other Grand Cherokees such as a roomy interior, simple infotainment system, and excellent build quality. The Summit begins at $50,495 for two-wheel drive and $53,495 for four-wheel drive. Our test vehicle came to an as-tested price of $60,675 with the leather package, skid plates, and 20-inch wheels. The upside to the Summit is you get most everything as standard such as navigation, premium audio system, sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power liftgate. Personally, I would skip all of the options as fitted to our test vehicle and get a base Summit. Now on to the Durango. This one is the GT which can be best described as the R/T minus the V8. This means you get similar exterior tweaks such as a body color grille surround, black mesh inserts, LED daytime running lights, and 20-inch wheels finished in black. Our model came with the Brass Monkey appearance package which adds brushed bronze wheels and blacked-out badges. This makes for a mean looking crossover that doesn’t break the bank - the Brass Monkey package will only set you back $595. The GT is also quite confident in the bends with minimal body roll and nicely weighted steering. Downsides? The Durango is starting to show its age inside. Various materials and the plain design put the Durango towards the back of the pack of the current crossover crop. Also, the value equation for the Durango can go downward with the number of options you add. The test Durango seen here comes with an as-tested of $49,660 with most the option boxes ticked. Not an absurd amount for a three-row crossover, but the Durango is missing out on features that many models feature such as adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and compatibility for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the powertrain. That’s because both models feature the same 3.6L Pentastar V6 producing 295 horsepower and paired with an eight-speed automatic. I have written a lot about this powertrain on both models before and my opinion hasn’t changed. The engine offers strong low-end power and minimal NVH levels. The automatic transmission, for the most part, does a decent job of being in the right gear at the right time. Though we found the transmission to be somewhat slow to respond whenever heavy throttle was suddenly applied. Fuel economy for both models landed around 20 mpg. Both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango are still competitive in their respective classes, despite getting up there in age. Just be careful with your option selection as it can make both models very poor values. Disclaimer: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Dodge Model: Durango Trim: GT Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT with ESS Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $40,095 As Tested Price: $49,660 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Group - $2,395 Rear Entertainment System- $1,995 Safety/Security and Convenience Group - $1,195 Second-Row Captain Chairs - $995 Trailer Tow Group IV - $995 Brass Monkey Appearance Group - $595 Second-Row Console - $300 Year: 2017 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: Summit Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT with ESS Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,952 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $53,995 As Tested Price: $60,675 (Includes $995 Destination Charge) Options: Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package - $4,995 Summit California Edition - $995 Skid Plate Group - $295
  22. Sometimes, you find yourself scratching your head as you struggle to think if any more can be said about a vehicle. The two vehicles seen here, the 2017 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee have been reviewed by me numerous times - Durango has two, while the Grand Cherokee stands at three. Not much has changed on either vehicle since I last reviewed them. This puts me in a bit of quandary: What do I talk about? The answer was to delve into the trims themselves and figure out if they are worth the cash. The Grand Cherokee seen here is the top-line Summit. Jeep updated this trim last year with new front end treatment consisting of a new grille and LED fog lights. The exterior changes for the Summit do sharpen up the Grand Cherokee, a design which should be noted that has been around since 2011. One design touch we really like are the set optional 20-inch aluminum wheels as they dress up the Grand Cherokee quite nicely. The larger wheels don’t affect ride quality as the Grand Cherokee’s suspension turns bumps into light ripples. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. The interior now has the option of the “Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package” that brings a leather covering for the dash and center console, and premium leather upholstery for the seats and door panels. My test vehicle came with this package and I am not sure its worth the $4,995. The key reason comes down to the leather used for the seats. I can’t tell the difference between the leather upholstery used for this package and the one used on lesser trims. Aside from this, the Summit retains many of the plus points found on other Grand Cherokees such as a roomy interior, simple infotainment system, and excellent build quality. The Summit begins at $50,495 for two-wheel drive and $53,495 for four-wheel drive. Our test vehicle came to an as-tested price of $60,675 with the leather package, skid plates, and 20-inch wheels. The upside to the Summit is you get most everything as standard such as navigation, premium audio system, sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power liftgate. Personally, I would skip all of the options as fitted to our test vehicle and get a base Summit. Now on to the Durango. This one is the GT which can be best described as the R/T minus the V8. This means you get similar exterior tweaks such as a body color grille surround, black mesh inserts, LED daytime running lights, and 20-inch wheels finished in black. Our model came with the Brass Monkey appearance package which adds brushed bronze wheels and blacked-out badges. This makes for a mean looking crossover that doesn’t break the bank - the Brass Monkey package will only set you back $595. The GT is also quite confident in the bends with minimal body roll and nicely weighted steering. Downsides? The Durango is starting to show its age inside. Various materials and the plain design put the Durango towards the back of the pack of the current crossover crop. Also, the value equation for the Durango can go downward with the number of options you add. The test Durango seen here comes with an as-tested of $49,660 with most the option boxes ticked. Not an absurd amount for a three-row crossover, but the Durango is missing out on features that many models feature such as adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and compatibility for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the powertrain. That’s because both models feature the same 3.6L Pentastar V6 producing 295 horsepower and paired with an eight-speed automatic. I have written a lot about this powertrain on both models before and my opinion hasn’t changed. The engine offers strong low-end power and minimal NVH levels. The automatic transmission, for the most part, does a decent job of being in the right gear at the right time. Though we found the transmission to be somewhat slow to respond whenever heavy throttle was suddenly applied. Fuel economy for both models landed around 20 mpg. Both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango are still competitive in their respective classes, despite getting up there in age. Just be careful with your option selection as it can make both models very poor values. Disclaimer: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Dodge Model: Durango Trim: GT Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT with ESS Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $40,095 As Tested Price: $49,660 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Group - $2,395 Rear Entertainment System- $1,995 Safety/Security and Convenience Group - $1,195 Second-Row Captain Chairs - $995 Trailer Tow Group IV - $995 Brass Monkey Appearance Group - $595 Second-Row Console - $300 Year: 2017 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: Summit Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT with ESS Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,952 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $53,995 As Tested Price: $60,675 (Includes $995 Destination Charge) Options: Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package - $4,995 Summit California Edition - $995 Skid Plate Group - $295 View full article
  23. I’m one of the few people who actually like the current Toyota Prius - I named it one of my favorite vehicles last year. It offers excellent fuel economy and noticeable improvements to the interior and handling. So what happens when you add a plug to it? You end up with the Prius Prime which is much better than the last-generation Prius Plug-In and makes for an interesting alternative to Chevrolet Volt if you happen to be on a budget. The regular Prius was already a model that you either loved or hated the design. The Prime only exacerbates this as it comes with new front and rear styling to set it apart. The front end gets a new black treatment for the middle that makes it look like it is wearing a mask to hide its identity. A set of quad-LED headlights come from the Mirai and makes the Prime look futuristic. The back features a new tailgate design with what Toyota calls a “dual wave.” It may look ridiculous when put next to the standard Prius, but I dig it. One more thing about the rear tailgate; it happens to made out of carbon fiber to help reduce some weight out of the Prime. The weight loss is not really that impressive as the tailgate only drops 8 pounds from the curb weight. Move inside and the Prime is mostly similar to the Prius I drove last year with an abundance of soft-touch materials, color screens for the instrument cluster, and comfortable front seats. The key differences? You’ll only find seating for two in the back and cargo space is slightly smaller (19.8 vs. 24.6 cubic feet) due to the larger battery taking up some of the precious cargo space. One key item Toyota is proud of in the Prius Prime is an 11.6-inch, vertical touchscreen that controls many of the vehicle’s function such as navigation, audio, and climate control. But you may notice our test Prime doesn’t have it. That’s because the larger screen is only available on the Premium and Advanced models. The base Plus sticks with the 7-inch touchscreen with Entune. From reviews I have been reading about the Prime with the larger screen, it is a mess. The user interface is a bit of mess, performance is meh, and the screen washes out when sunlight hits it. The 7-inch system doesn’t have all of these issues - aside from the sunlight one. Entune may look a little bit dated, but the interface is easy to wrap your head around and performance is pretty snappy. The Prime’s powertrain is the same as the standard Prius; 1.8L Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors/generators producing a total output of 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. Where it differs is the battery. The Prime comes with a 95-cell, 8.8-kWh Lithium-ion battery pack. This allows for 25 miles of electric motoring - 14 miles more than the last-generation Prius Plug-In. In electric mode, the Prius Prime feels confident when leaving a stop as the electric motors provide that immediate thrust of power. This is a vehicle that will make other drivers question their thoughts about the Prius. When the Prime is put into the hybrid mode, it feels and goes like a slower Prius. A lot of this is due to extra weight brought on the larger battery - about 300 pounds. You will notice the vehicle taking a few ticks longer to get up speed, especially on hills or merging on to a freeway. How much range was I able to squeeze out of the Prime? I was able to travel between 24 to 27 miles on EV power. Average fuel economy landed around 75 mpg with mostly city driving. When I first got the Prius Prime, I had to plug it in to get the battery charged up. On a 120V outlet, it took 5 hours and 30 minutes to recharged - exactly the time listed by Toyota. If you have a 240V charger, a full recharge only takes 2 hours and 10 minutes on 240V When the battery is halfway depleted, it took about 2 hours and 30 minutes to fully recharge. The Prius was quite a shock when I drove it last year as it drove surprisingly well. It provided decent handling and the steering felt somewhat natural. The same is true for the Prime. You would think after four-generations of the Prius, Toyota would have finally figured out how to make the regenerative brakes feel like brakes in a standard car. But this isn’t the case. Like in the Prius I drove last year, the Prime exhibited brakes that felt numb and having to push further on the pedal to bring the vehicle to a stop. The Toyota Prius Prime is a huge improvement over the old the Prius Plug-In Hybrid as it offers a better EV range, short recharging time, and a much nicer interior. The exterior will put some people off and Toyota still needs to work on improving the Prius’ brakes. We have to address the elephant in the room, the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt does offer a longer range (53 miles), much better brakes, and a sharper exterior. The Prius Prime fights back with a larger interior, shorter recharging times, and low price. If I had the money, I would be picking up a Volt Premier as I think it is the slightly better vehicle. But if I only had $30,000 to spend and wanted something fuel efficient, the Prius Prime would be at the top of the list. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius Prime, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Prime Trim: Plus Engine: 1.8L DOHC, VVT-i Atkinson Cycle Four-Cylinder, Two Electric Motors Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, ECVT Horsepower @ RPM: 95 @ 5,200 (Gas), 71 @ 0 (Electric), 121 (Combined) Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 5,200 (Gas), 120 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: Electric + Gas, Hybrid City/Highway/Combined - 133 MPGe, 55/53/54 Curb Weight: 3,365 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan Base Price: $27,100 As Tested Price: $28,380 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Special Color (Hypersonic Red) - $595.00 View full article
  24. The Volkswagen Jetta is an outlier in the compact class. Whereas other automakers have been stepping up with sharper designs, more tech, and improved driving dynamics, Volkswagen went in a completely different direction by offering the biggest amount of interior space for not that much money. But to accomplish this, Volkswagen made a number of sacrifices in terms of design, materials, and mechanical bits. This put the Jetta way behind the pack of the fresh competition. But Volkswagen has been working to try and right some of the wrongs of the Jetta. A couple of years ago, Volkswagen updated the model with a new front end, new dashboard, and a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder to take place of the decrepit 2.0L. It salvages the Jetta’s reputation somewhat. The current Jetta is slightly better in terms of looks. A new front end with a larger grille and headlights with LED daytime running lights help make the model look more interesting to look at. Sadly, the rest of vehicle is as nondescript as before with nothing that jumps out at you. If you were to ask a small kid to draw a car, it would most likely look like the Jetta. If you ever wanted a master class of in how not to do an interior, the Jetta is a perfect candidate. Whereas most compact sedans show marked improvements in design and materials, the Jetta is like stepping back a decade or so. Our mid-level SE came with a large amount of cheap and hard plastics that you don’t see most compacts now - aside from the base models. The mostly black interior makes for a dreary experience. On the upside, Volkswagen has improved the dash by taking some ideas from the Golf. A new instrument cluster and revised center stack layout helps make the Jetta not feel as cheap as the previous model. It also makes for an easier time to find various controls and reading things at a quick glance. All Jettas get Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system. The base S makes do with a 5-inch touchscreen, while the SE and higher trims use a 6.3-inch screen. Car-Net is one of the best infotainment systems on sale today thanks to a sharp interface, simple layout of the various functions, and the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Space is the Jetta’s key selling point. The back seat alone dwarfs most compacts and even gives some midsize sedans a run for their money. Sitting back here, I could stretch out with no issue. The trunk is also huge, offering up 15.7 cubic feet. I do wish the front seats were a bit more comfortable. Most of the week found me constantly adjusting the seat to try and find a position that wouldn’t cause me to ache after a drive. The SE comes with a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder offering 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Our test vehicle came with the standard five-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic is available. On paper, the 1.4T should be a strong engine as it offers the same torque figure as the larger 1.8T at a lower rpm (1,400 rpm vs. 1,500 rpm). In the real world, this doesn’t happen. You’ll need to get the engine above 2,000 rpm to wake it up. At first, I thought we were dealing with a bad case of turbo lag. But further investigation revealed the five-speed manual is at fault. Volkswagen used taller gearing to make up for a missing sixth gear and improve fuel economy. I can’t help but wonder if the six-speed automatic alleviates this issue. Once you figure this out, the 1.4T is a surprising performer. Speed comes on at a rapid rate once your above 2,000 rpm. The engine is also very smooth and makes a pleasant noise when accelerating. The manual is somewhat difficult to work as the gear linkage feels somewhat stiff when moving through the gears. The clutch is light and it’s easy to find the take-off point. EPA fuel economy figures for the 1.4T manual stand at 28 City/40 Highway/33 Combined. I saw an average of 35 mpg that was a mix of 70 percent city driving and 30 percent highway driving. The automatic sees a slight drop in fuel economy to 28/38/32. One item we’re glad to see the lesser Jetta models get is a multilink rear suspension - replacing the rear beam axle of previous models. This makes a huge difference in ride and handling. On rough roads, the Jetta provides a compliant and comfortable ride. Handling is almost similar to the Golf Wolfsburg I drove earlier in the year - little body roll and excellent steering response. The SE seen here came with an as-tested price of $21,795 with destination. That includes 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, and a power sunroof. The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta is much better than the model that was launched only five years ago. But that isn’t saying a lot considering how much the compact class has moved up in this time frame. Price may be the Jetta’s ultimate strength as it offers a lot of features for the money with the 1.4T engine and interior space running slightly behind. Everywhere else, the Jetta is outmatched. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Jetta, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Jetta Trim: SE Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L 16V TSI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 5,000 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 1,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/40/33 Curb Weight: 2,939 lbs Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico Base Price: $20,895 As Tested Price: $21,715 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  25. The Volkswagen Jetta is an outlier in the compact class. Whereas other automakers have been stepping up with sharper designs, more tech, and improved driving dynamics, Volkswagen went in a completely different direction by offering the biggest amount of interior space for not that much money. But to accomplish this, Volkswagen made a number of sacrifices in terms of design, materials, and mechanical bits. This put the Jetta way behind the pack of the fresh competition. But Volkswagen has been working to try and right some of the wrongs of the Jetta. A couple of years ago, Volkswagen updated the model with a new front end, new dashboard, and a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder to take place of the decrepit 2.0L. It salvages the Jetta’s reputation somewhat. The current Jetta is slightly better in terms of looks. A new front end with a larger grille and headlights with LED daytime running lights help make the model look more interesting to look at. Sadly, the rest of vehicle is as nondescript as before with nothing that jumps out at you. If you were to ask a small kid to draw a car, it would most likely look like the Jetta. If you ever wanted a master class of in how not to do an interior, the Jetta is a perfect candidate. Whereas most compact sedans show marked improvements in design and materials, the Jetta is like stepping back a decade or so. Our mid-level SE came with a large amount of cheap and hard plastics that you don’t see most compacts now - aside from the base models. The mostly black interior makes for a dreary experience. On the upside, Volkswagen has improved the dash by taking some ideas from the Golf. A new instrument cluster and revised center stack layout helps make the Jetta not feel as cheap as the previous model. It also makes for an easier time to find various controls and reading things at a quick glance. All Jettas get Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system. The base S makes do with a 5-inch touchscreen, while the SE and higher trims use a 6.3-inch screen. Car-Net is one of the best infotainment systems on sale today thanks to a sharp interface, simple layout of the various functions, and the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Space is the Jetta’s key selling point. The back seat alone dwarfs most compacts and even gives some midsize sedans a run for their money. Sitting back here, I could stretch out with no issue. The trunk is also huge, offering up 15.7 cubic feet. I do wish the front seats were a bit more comfortable. Most of the week found me constantly adjusting the seat to try and find a position that wouldn’t cause me to ache after a drive. The SE comes with a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder offering 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Our test vehicle came with the standard five-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic is available. On paper, the 1.4T should be a strong engine as it offers the same torque figure as the larger 1.8T at a lower rpm (1,400 rpm vs. 1,500 rpm). In the real world, this doesn’t happen. You’ll need to get the engine above 2,000 rpm to wake it up. At first, I thought we were dealing with a bad case of turbo lag. But further investigation revealed the five-speed manual is at fault. Volkswagen used taller gearing to make up for a missing sixth gear and improve fuel economy. I can’t help but wonder if the six-speed automatic alleviates this issue. Once you figure this out, the 1.4T is a surprising performer. Speed comes on at a rapid rate once your above 2,000 rpm. The engine is also very smooth and makes a pleasant noise when accelerating. The manual is somewhat difficult to work as the gear linkage feels somewhat stiff when moving through the gears. The clutch is light and it’s easy to find the take-off point. EPA fuel economy figures for the 1.4T manual stand at 28 City/40 Highway/33 Combined. I saw an average of 35 mpg that was a mix of 70 percent city driving and 30 percent highway driving. The automatic sees a slight drop in fuel economy to 28/38/32. One item we’re glad to see the lesser Jetta models get is a multilink rear suspension - replacing the rear beam axle of previous models. This makes a huge difference in ride and handling. On rough roads, the Jetta provides a compliant and comfortable ride. Handling is almost similar to the Golf Wolfsburg I drove earlier in the year - little body roll and excellent steering response. The SE seen here came with an as-tested price of $21,795 with destination. That includes 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, and a power sunroof. The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta is much better than the model that was launched only five years ago. But that isn’t saying a lot considering how much the compact class has moved up in this time frame. Price may be the Jetta’s ultimate strength as it offers a lot of features for the money with the 1.4T engine and interior space running slightly behind. Everywhere else, the Jetta is outmatched. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Jetta, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Jetta Trim: SE Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L 16V TSI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 5,000 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 1,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/40/33 Curb Weight: 2,939 lbs Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico Base Price: $20,895 As Tested Price: $21,715 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A

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