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Found 477 results

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. Subcompact crossovers are the hot thing at the moment and automakers are trying to make their models stand out. Whether it is using sleek styling, sporty driving dynamics, or value for money, every automaker is trying their best to get their vehicle noticed. For Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, they’re going for a two-prong attack in the class with models from Fiat and Jeep. The Jeep Renegade is aimed at those who want a subcompact that can tackle a trail, and the Fiat 500X provides some chicness for the class. We spent some time in both models to see if they can make some end roads in this growing class. While the 500X and Renegade may share a fair amount of mechanicals, the design of the two is worlds apart. The Renegade is classic Jeep with a square body, seven-slot grille, and a set of large headlights. The Renegade also features a fair number of Easter eggs throughout the exterior. The head and taillights feature little Jeep grille-and-headlights logos, and a small Willys MB on the bottom of the windshield. This is basically the vehicle equivalent of a hidden object puzzle you might have done back in school. Remember the first commercial for the Fiat 500X where a blue pill falls into the fuel filler of a standard 500. The owner turns around and somehow his vehicle has engorged into something bigger. That’s how you can summarize the design of the 500X. Compared to your standard 500, the 500X is 28.6 inches longer and 15.6 inches wider. A lot of the design traits from the 500 such as the round headlights, long chrome bar holding the emblem, and rectangular taillights are present on this crossover. Moving inside, the Renegade takes some inspiration from the Wrangler with a rugged dash design and a grab bar for the passenger. Higher trims such as our Limited tester feature a decent amount of soft-touch materials. Like the exterior, the Renegade’s interior has Easter eggs strewn about. The tachometer with has a splash of mud to illustrate the redline, a seven-slot grille design for the speaker grilles, and the frame around the radio having ‘Since 1941’ stamped. The only complaint we have with the Renegade’s dash is the placement of the climate controls. They are mounted a bit too low to reach easily. The 500X’s interior is Fiat’s best effort to date. The overall look has some traits of the standard 500 such as a retro design for the dash. But where the 500X stands out is in the material choices. Fiat went all out with adding soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels to help make the model feel very premium. Our Trekking Plus tester came upholstered in brown leather that added a touch of class that’s nonexistent in other competitors. Both models offer plenty of head and legroom for passengers sitting up front. In the back, headroom is decent for most passengers even with the optional sunroof fitted. Legroom ranges from decent for most folks to almost nonexistent depending on how tall the person sitting up front is. The seats themselves are lacking sufficient support for long trips. If cargo capacity is a priority, then consider the Renegade as it offers 18.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up. The 500X is towards the bottom of the class with only 12.2 cubic feet mostly due to the design of the vehicle. For your infotainment needs, Fiat and Jeep offer a lineup of Uconnect systems from three to 6.5 inches. Our test vehicles featured the optional 6.5-inch system. Uconnect is still one of the easiest systems to use thanks to a simple interface and very fast performance. We hope FCA considers adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in the future. In terms of engines, both the 500X and Renegade come standard with a turbocharged 1.4L with 160 horsepower. The downside to this engine is that it is only available with a six-speed manual. If you want an automatic, then you’ll need to get the engine found under the hood of our test models; a 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. We’re not fans of the 2.4L in the any of the FCA vehicles we have driven and this trend continues with the 500X and Renegade. Leaving a stop, there is plenty of oomph to get up to speed in urban environments. Out on the rural roads and highways, the 2.4L struggles to get up to speed at a decent clip. Not helping matters is the engine sounding unrefined. The engine noise during hard acceleration could actually drown out the radio. The one bright spot for the powertrain is the nine-speed automatic. This transmission has been a sore point in a number of FCA vehicles for sluggish shifting and not feeling refined. With the 500X and Renegade, it seems FCA has been able to fix many of the wrongs of the nine-speed. Gear changes are much faster and smoother than in previous models. Both models can be equipped with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Both models came equipped with all-wheel drive. This system primarily works in front-wheel drive to help improve fuel economy. But if the system detects slip, it will hook up the rear axle and start sending power for better traction. The Renegade has the more advanced all-wheel drive system known as Jeep Active Drive. This system gives the driver the choice of various drive modes (Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud) that adjusts the all-wheel drive, steering, and transmission to provide the best settings for the conditions at hand. There’s also a 4WD lock that splits power 50:50 to provide added traction. Thanks to a freak snow storm in April, I was able to put the system to the test. Driving on some snowy roads, the system was able to keep the Renegade moving without the tires spinning. The Renegade Trailhawk takes the system a step further with Active Drive Low. As the name suggests, this system features low range via a two-speed transfer case. This allows the Trailhawk to tackle more difficult obstacles such as rocks. Fuel economy is terrible for the class. The Fiat 500X is rated at 21 City/30 Highway/24 Combined. The Renegade matches the 500X in city and combined fuel figures but is only rated at 29 for the highway. Our average for the week was a very disappointing 22.1 MPG in both vehicles. This is a figure you would expect in a larger crossover, not a subcompact. The ride in both vehicles is on the firm and harsh side. You’ll be able to tell how bad the roads around you are as bumps and road imperfections are transmitted to the seats. Interestingly, both the 500X and Renegade are quite fun around corners. The vehicles feel agile and the steering has some decent weight. But as the Mazda CX-3 has shown, you can have excellent handling characteristics and a decent ride in a crossover. On the highway, the Renegade is the noisier of the two with a large amount of wind noise coming inside. As for pricing, the 500X and Renegade get off to a good start. The Renegade starts at $17,995 and the 500X comes in at $20,000. Where it falls apart comes in the higher trims. Our two testers had price tags of just under $32,000 - $31,695 for the Renegade Limited and $31,800 for the 500X Trekking Plus. For that same amount of money, you can get into a well-equipped or even a loaded compact crossover. Neither one of these models is worth their high price tags. The subcompact crossover class has become a hotly contested class in only a couple of years and you have to show up with your a-game if you want to make an impact. In the case the 500X and Renegade, FCA dropped the ball. The larger four-cylinder engine should be shown the door for its issues in terms of refinement and fuel economy. The ride characteristics need a rethink and the value for money argument is tough when dealing with the higher trim models. This is very disappointing as the two models have some characteristics that should put them a bit higher in the class. The Fiat 500X’s interior looks and feels like something you would find in a luxury model. The Jeep Renegade can go into places that other subcompact crossovers not even dare try thanks to a clever all-wheel drive system and Jeep’s off-road know-how. But these positive points cannot overcome the numerous issues both of the vehicles have. It would be best to avoid them. Cheers: Off-Road Ability (Renegade), Interior Styling and Features (500X), Nine-Speed Automatic Is Much Better Jeers: 2.4L Is Terrible, Rough Ride, Pricing for Higher Trims Disclaimer: FCA Provided the 500X and Renegade; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Fiat Model: 500X Trim: Trekking Plus AWD Engine: 2.4L Multi-Air Four-Cylinder Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 175 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/30/24 Curb Weight: 3,278 lbs Location of Manufacture: Melfi, Italy Base Price: $29,000 As Tested Price: $31,800 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Trekking Plus Collection 1 - $1,900 Year: 2016 Make: Jeep Model: Renegade Trim: Limited 4X4 Engine: 2.4L Multi-Air Four-Cylinder Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 175 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/29/24 Curb Weight: 3,348 lbs Location of Manufacture: Melfi, Italy Base Price: $26,995 As Tested Price: $31,695 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 6.5-inch Navigation Group with Uconnect - $1,245 Advanced Technology Group - $995 Beats Premium Audio System - $695 Safety and Security Group - $645 Passive Entry Keyless Enter n' Go Package - $125
  18. Subcompact crossovers are the hot thing at the moment and automakers are trying to make their models stand out. Whether it is using sleek styling, sporty driving dynamics, or value for money, every automaker is trying their best to get their vehicle noticed. For Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, they’re going for a two-prong attack in the class with models from Fiat and Jeep. The Jeep Renegade is aimed at those who want a subcompact that can tackle a trail, and the Fiat 500X provides some chicness for the class. We spent some time in both models to see if they can make some end roads in this growing class. While the 500X and Renegade may share a fair amount of mechanicals, the design of the two is worlds apart. The Renegade is classic Jeep with a square body, seven-slot grille, and a set of large headlights. The Renegade also features a fair number of Easter eggs throughout the exterior. The head and taillights feature little Jeep grille-and-headlights logos, and a small Willys MB on the bottom of the windshield. This is basically the vehicle equivalent of a hidden object puzzle you might have done back in school. Remember the first commercial for the Fiat 500X where a blue pill falls into the fuel filler of a standard 500. The owner turns around and somehow his vehicle has engorged into something bigger. That’s how you can summarize the design of the 500X. Compared to your standard 500, the 500X is 28.6 inches longer and 15.6 inches wider. A lot of the design traits from the 500 such as the round headlights, long chrome bar holding the emblem, and rectangular taillights are present on this crossover. Moving inside, the Renegade takes some inspiration from the Wrangler with a rugged dash design and a grab bar for the passenger. Higher trims such as our Limited tester feature a decent amount of soft-touch materials. Like the exterior, the Renegade’s interior has Easter eggs strewn about. The tachometer with has a splash of mud to illustrate the redline, a seven-slot grille design for the speaker grilles, and the frame around the radio having ‘Since 1941’ stamped. The only complaint we have with the Renegade’s dash is the placement of the climate controls. They are mounted a bit too low to reach easily. The 500X’s interior is Fiat’s best effort to date. The overall look has some traits of the standard 500 such as a retro design for the dash. But where the 500X stands out is in the material choices. Fiat went all out with adding soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels to help make the model feel very premium. Our Trekking Plus tester came upholstered in brown leather that added a touch of class that’s nonexistent in other competitors. Both models offer plenty of head and legroom for passengers sitting up front. In the back, headroom is decent for most passengers even with the optional sunroof fitted. Legroom ranges from decent for most folks to almost nonexistent depending on how tall the person sitting up front is. The seats themselves are lacking sufficient support for long trips. If cargo capacity is a priority, then consider the Renegade as it offers 18.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up. The 500X is towards the bottom of the class with only 12.2 cubic feet mostly due to the design of the vehicle. For your infotainment needs, Fiat and Jeep offer a lineup of Uconnect systems from three to 6.5 inches. Our test vehicles featured the optional 6.5-inch system. Uconnect is still one of the easiest systems to use thanks to a simple interface and very fast performance. We hope FCA considers adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in the future. In terms of engines, both the 500X and Renegade come standard with a turbocharged 1.4L with 160 horsepower. The downside to this engine is that it is only available with a six-speed manual. If you want an automatic, then you’ll need to get the engine found under the hood of our test models; a 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. We’re not fans of the 2.4L in the any of the FCA vehicles we have driven and this trend continues with the 500X and Renegade. Leaving a stop, there is plenty of oomph to get up to speed in urban environments. Out on the rural roads and highways, the 2.4L struggles to get up to speed at a decent clip. Not helping matters is the engine sounding unrefined. The engine noise during hard acceleration could actually drown out the radio. The one bright spot for the powertrain is the nine-speed automatic. This transmission has been a sore point in a number of FCA vehicles for sluggish shifting and not feeling refined. With the 500X and Renegade, it seems FCA has been able to fix many of the wrongs of the nine-speed. Gear changes are much faster and smoother than in previous models. Both models can be equipped with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Both models came equipped with all-wheel drive. This system primarily works in front-wheel drive to help improve fuel economy. But if the system detects slip, it will hook up the rear axle and start sending power for better traction. The Renegade has the more advanced all-wheel drive system known as Jeep Active Drive. This system gives the driver the choice of various drive modes (Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud) that adjusts the all-wheel drive, steering, and transmission to provide the best settings for the conditions at hand. There’s also a 4WD lock that splits power 50:50 to provide added traction. Thanks to a freak snow storm in April, I was able to put the system to the test. Driving on some snowy roads, the system was able to keep the Renegade moving without the tires spinning. The Renegade Trailhawk takes the system a step further with Active Drive Low. As the name suggests, this system features low range via a two-speed transfer case. This allows the Trailhawk to tackle more difficult obstacles such as rocks. Fuel economy is terrible for the class. The Fiat 500X is rated at 21 City/30 Highway/24 Combined. The Renegade matches the 500X in city and combined fuel figures but is only rated at 29 for the highway. Our average for the week was a very disappointing 22.1 MPG in both vehicles. This is a figure you would expect in a larger crossover, not a subcompact. The ride in both vehicles is on the firm and harsh side. You’ll be able to tell how bad the roads around you are as bumps and road imperfections are transmitted to the seats. Interestingly, both the 500X and Renegade are quite fun around corners. The vehicles feel agile and the steering has some decent weight. But as the Mazda CX-3 has shown, you can have excellent handling characteristics and a decent ride in a crossover. On the highway, the Renegade is the noisier of the two with a large amount of wind noise coming inside. As for pricing, the 500X and Renegade get off to a good start. The Renegade starts at $17,995 and the 500X comes in at $20,000. Where it falls apart comes in the higher trims. Our two testers had price tags of just under $32,000 - $31,695 for the Renegade Limited and $31,800 for the 500X Trekking Plus. For that same amount of money, you can get into a well-equipped or even a loaded compact crossover. Neither one of these models is worth their high price tags. The subcompact crossover class has become a hotly contested class in only a couple of years and you have to show up with your a-game if you want to make an impact. In the case the 500X and Renegade, FCA dropped the ball. The larger four-cylinder engine should be shown the door for its issues in terms of refinement and fuel economy. The ride characteristics need a rethink and the value for money argument is tough when dealing with the higher trim models. This is very disappointing as the two models have some characteristics that should put them a bit higher in the class. The Fiat 500X’s interior looks and feels like something you would find in a luxury model. The Jeep Renegade can go into places that other subcompact crossovers not even dare try thanks to a clever all-wheel drive system and Jeep’s off-road know-how. But these positive points cannot overcome the numerous issues both of the vehicles have. It would be best to avoid them. Cheers: Off-Road Ability (Renegade), Interior Styling and Features (500X), Nine-Speed Automatic Is Much Better Jeers: 2.4L Is Terrible, Rough Ride, Pricing for Higher Trims Disclaimer: FCA Provided the 500X and Renegade; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Fiat Model: 500X Trim: Trekking Plus AWD Engine: 2.4L Multi-Air Four-Cylinder Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 175 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/30/24 Curb Weight: 3,278 lbs Location of Manufacture: Melfi, Italy Base Price: $29,000 As Tested Price: $31,800 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Trekking Plus Collection 1 - $1,900 Year: 2016 Make: Jeep Model: Renegade Trim: Limited 4X4 Engine: 2.4L Multi-Air Four-Cylinder Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 175 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/29/24 Curb Weight: 3,348 lbs Location of Manufacture: Melfi, Italy Base Price: $26,995 As Tested Price: $31,695 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 6.5-inch Navigation Group with Uconnect - $1,245 Advanced Technology Group - $995 Beats Premium Audio System - $695 Safety and Security Group - $645 Passive Entry Keyless Enter n' Go Package - $125 View full article
  19. The Dodge Charger is a mean and potent machine when equipped with one of three HEMI V8s available. But is the same true when the Charger is equipped with the 3.6L V6? The answer we found after spending a week with an SXT AWD model is it depends. Dodge updated the Charger back in 2015 with new front and rear end treatments. I’m not too fond of the new front with a wider crosshair grille, reshaped headlights with LEDs, and new hood just looks somewhat awkward. On the upside, the revised trundled with the long taillights works very well. Our test vehicle came equipped with the Blacktop Appearance Group which adds a gloss black fascia, a spoiler finished in satin black, and 19-inch wheels finished in black. Yes, our vehicle is missing the wheels and we don’t know why. But even without the wheels, the Blacktop package makes the Charger look even more menacing. Time has not been so kind to the Charger’s interior as it is looking even more dated since the last time we drove one. The black interior isn’t pleasant to spend a lot of time and makes the vehicle feel somewhat claustrophobic. Not helping are the materials which are either hard plastic or have a rubbery feeling. There is some good news concerning the Charger’s interior. For 2017, FCA has installed the latest version of UConnect which brings a number of improvements. I’ve praised this system in the 2017 Pacifica and will do the same here. Performance is noticeably improved thanks to various tweaks made to the system. FCA also gave the interface a fresh coat of paint that helps bring the UConnect into the current century. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are present and work flawlessly. Under the hood is the familiar 3.6L V6 that powers a number of FCA vehicles. For the Charger, the V6 produces 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed through an eight-speed automatic to either the rear-wheels or in our tester, all four wheels. Sufficient is the best word to describe the performance of the V6 as it gets the Charger up to speed at a decent rate. We will admit that the extra weight of the all-wheel drive does zap some of V6’s power, making it feel slightly slower. Fuel economy doesn’t take as much of a hit as you might think when going with AWD. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined. The rear-drive Charger V6 returns 19/30/23. During my week, I saw an average 20.7 in mostly city driving. Compared to its V8 brethren, the Charger V6 has a much softer suspension tune. This does mean the Charger does not like being pushed around corners. You can order the Rallye package that brings a sport-tuned suspension which makes for a very entertaining vehicle. The benefit to the softer suspension is the Charger glides over bumps with no issue. Some road and wind noise makes its way into the cabin, but it is quite acceptable for most buyers. The Charger is quite the brash vehicle to look at no matter which variant you choose. When it comes to engines, the V6 can be a surprisingly good drive if you order the Rally package. Otherwise, the Charger V6 is a mean looker of a full-size sedan that can provide a comfortable ride. Though, if you really have your heart set on one, we would point you in the direction of the Chrysler 300 which offers most of the plus points of the Charger with a much nicer interior. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Dodge Model: Charger Trim: SXT AWD Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 292 @ 6,350 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/27/21 Curb Weight: 4,233 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $31,995 As Tested Price: $36,165 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation and Travel Group - $1,095.00 Driver Confidence Group - $795.00 Redline Tri-Coat Exterior Paint - $595.00 Blacktop Appearance Group - $495.00 Premium Cloth Seats - $95.00
  20. The Dodge Charger is a mean and potent machine when equipped with one of three HEMI V8s available. But is the same true when the Charger is equipped with the 3.6L V6? The answer we found after spending a week with an SXT AWD model is it depends. Dodge updated the Charger back in 2015 with new front and rear end treatments. I’m not too fond of the new front with a wider crosshair grille, reshaped headlights with LEDs, and new hood just looks somewhat awkward. On the upside, the revised trundled with the long taillights works very well. Our test vehicle came equipped with the Blacktop Appearance Group which adds a gloss black fascia, a spoiler finished in satin black, and 19-inch wheels finished in black. Yes, our vehicle is missing the wheels and we don’t know why. But even without the wheels, the Blacktop package makes the Charger look even more menacing. Time has not been so kind to the Charger’s interior as it is looking even more dated since the last time we drove one. The black interior isn’t pleasant to spend a lot of time and makes the vehicle feel somewhat claustrophobic. Not helping are the materials which are either hard plastic or have a rubbery feeling. There is some good news concerning the Charger’s interior. For 2017, FCA has installed the latest version of UConnect which brings a number of improvements. I’ve praised this system in the 2017 Pacifica and will do the same here. Performance is noticeably improved thanks to various tweaks made to the system. FCA also gave the interface a fresh coat of paint that helps bring the UConnect into the current century. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are present and work flawlessly. Under the hood is the familiar 3.6L V6 that powers a number of FCA vehicles. For the Charger, the V6 produces 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed through an eight-speed automatic to either the rear-wheels or in our tester, all four wheels. Sufficient is the best word to describe the performance of the V6 as it gets the Charger up to speed at a decent rate. We will admit that the extra weight of the all-wheel drive does zap some of V6’s power, making it feel slightly slower. Fuel economy doesn’t take as much of a hit as you might think when going with AWD. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined. The rear-drive Charger V6 returns 19/30/23. During my week, I saw an average 20.7 in mostly city driving. Compared to its V8 brethren, the Charger V6 has a much softer suspension tune. This does mean the Charger does not like being pushed around corners. You can order the Rallye package that brings a sport-tuned suspension which makes for a very entertaining vehicle. The benefit to the softer suspension is the Charger glides over bumps with no issue. Some road and wind noise makes its way into the cabin, but it is quite acceptable for most buyers. The Charger is quite the brash vehicle to look at no matter which variant you choose. When it comes to engines, the V6 can be a surprisingly good drive if you order the Rally package. Otherwise, the Charger V6 is a mean looker of a full-size sedan that can provide a comfortable ride. Though, if you really have your heart set on one, we would point you in the direction of the Chrysler 300 which offers most of the plus points of the Charger with a much nicer interior. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Dodge Model: Charger Trim: SXT AWD Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 292 @ 6,350 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/27/21 Curb Weight: 4,233 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $31,995 As Tested Price: $36,165 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation and Travel Group - $1,095.00 Driver Confidence Group - $795.00 Redline Tri-Coat Exterior Paint - $595.00 Blacktop Appearance Group - $495.00 Premium Cloth Seats - $95.00 View full article
  21. Trucks are a big deal in the U.S. Last year alone, 15 percent of the more than 17 million vehicles sold were some sort of truck. Case in point is the Chevrolet Silverado. So far in 2017, Chevrolet has sold 212,425 Silverado trucks. So what is it about the Silverado that makes it one of Chevrolet popular models? A key reason might be the large number of configurations on offer. The Silverado offers five bed and cab configurations, eight trims, three engines, and two drivetrain choices. That’s before you start looking at the long list of options. Our test truck is a prime example of what you might find a dealer - an LTZ crew cab with the short bed (5-foot). We’re not kidding on the long options list. Our truck features over $11,000 in options including a 6.2L V8 engine, 20-inch chrome wheels, power-assist steps, heated and ventilated seats; Bose sound system, navigation, max trailering package, and chrome mirrors. GM updated the exteriors of their half-ton trucks last year with revised front ends. I’m not so keen on the new front end as it doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the truck’s design. At least the chrome grille seen here looks slightly better than the one you get if you order the Z71 package which has a body-colored center and different inner. Otherwise, the Silverado looks much the same as the one we drove back in 2014 with a boxy, muscular shape. The LTZ is the middle ground in the Silverado lineup between blue-collar LT and luxurious High Country trims, and that puts it in a tough spot. You can see this in the interior as GM tries to straddle the middle and ultimately fails. The faux leather upholstery isn’t nice to sit on due to a waxy feel. The trim pieces may look nice at first glance, but look closer and you can easily tell they are plastic. I would be willing to give this a pass, but not when said truck is a hair over $60,000. General Motors does earn some points back when it comes to their half-ton’s interior layout. With large buttons and knobs placed in logical places, GM knows keep keeping it simple earns big points from truck buyers. The same is true for Chevrolet’s Intellilink infotainment system with an easy to navigate menu system, legible graphics, and redundant controls for common controls. As mentioned, our Silverado came with the big 6.2L V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It comes hooked up to an eight-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. Two-wheel drive comes standard. The 6.2L V8 engine is the biggest ace up the Silverado’s sleeve. Not only does it provide some impressive towing numbers - 11,700 with the max trailering package, but it also moves this truck like it was something smaller. 0-60 mph is said to take around six seconds which is quite impressive. Plus, it makes the right noises when you step on the accelerator. Fuel economy for the 6.2L V8 is the same as the 5.3L V8 when equipped similarly (eight-speed automatic and 4WD) - 15 City/20 Highway/17 Combined. We saw an average of 16.2 mpg for our short test period in mostly city driving. The only downside to the 6.2L V8? You can only get it on the LTZ and High Country trims. It would be nice if Chevrolet made it optional on lower LT trim. We’ve considered General Motors’ half-tons to run a close second to the Ram 1500 in terms of ride quality. Despite sticking with leaf-springs in the rear, GM somehow tuned the suspension to provide a compliant ride over any surface. It needs to be noted that the Max Trailering package does ride somewhat firmer due to a new suspension package which brings heavy-duty springs and revised shock tuning. We now need to talk about price. As we mentioned, the as-tested price of our Silverado 1500 LTZ tester came in at $60,020 mostly due to the large amount of options equipped. If I were buying an LTZ, I would skip the power assist steps, 20-inch chrome wheels, Siren Red paint, and max trailering package. to help bring the price to around $55,500 or so. It is still an expensive proposition, but it becomes slightly easier to swallow. Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Silverado, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chevrolet Model: Silverado 1500 Trim: LTZ Crew Cab Engine: 6.2L VVT DI with Active Fuel Management V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5600 Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/20/17 Curb Weight: 5,299 lbs* Location of Manufacture: Silao, GJ, Mexico Base Price: $47,175 As Tested Price: $60,020 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge) *Curb weight of a base Silverado 4WD crew cab. Options: 6.2L V8 w/Eight-Speed Automatic - $2,695.00 Power and Articulating Assist Steps - $1,695.00 20-Inch Chrome Wheels - $1,495.00 Enhanced Driver Package - $945.00 Max Trailering Package - $925.00 LTZ Plus Package - $770.00 Heated & Ventilated Front Seats - $650.00 Leather Appointed Buckets with Center Console - $510.00 8-inch MyLink with Navigation - $495.00 Siren Red Tintcoat- $495.00 Spray-On Bedliner - $495.00 Chrome Trailering Mirrors with Power Folding - $295.00 Cargo Box with LED Lighting - $125.00 Moveable Upper Tie Dows - $60.00
  22. Trucks are a big deal in the U.S. Last year alone, 15 percent of the more than 17 million vehicles sold were some sort of truck. Case in point is the Chevrolet Silverado. So far in 2017, Chevrolet has sold 212,425 Silverado trucks. So what is it about the Silverado that makes it one of Chevrolet popular models? A key reason might be the large number of configurations on offer. The Silverado offers five bed and cab configurations, eight trims, three engines, and two drivetrain choices. That’s before you start looking at the long list of options. Our test truck is a prime example of what you might find a dealer - an LTZ crew cab with the short bed (5-foot). We’re not kidding on the long options list. Our truck features over $11,000 in options including a 6.2L V8 engine, 20-inch chrome wheels, power-assist steps, heated and ventilated seats; Bose sound system, navigation, max trailering package, and chrome mirrors. GM updated the exteriors of their half-ton trucks last year with revised front ends. I’m not so keen on the new front end as it doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the truck’s design. At least the chrome grille seen here looks slightly better than the one you get if you order the Z71 package which has a body-colored center and different inner. Otherwise, the Silverado looks much the same as the one we drove back in 2014 with a boxy, muscular shape. The LTZ is the middle ground in the Silverado lineup between blue-collar LT and luxurious High Country trims, and that puts it in a tough spot. You can see this in the interior as GM tries to straddle the middle and ultimately fails. The faux leather upholstery isn’t nice to sit on due to a waxy feel. The trim pieces may look nice at first glance, but look closer and you can easily tell they are plastic. I would be willing to give this a pass, but not when said truck is a hair over $60,000. General Motors does earn some points back when it comes to their half-ton’s interior layout. With large buttons and knobs placed in logical places, GM knows keep keeping it simple earns big points from truck buyers. The same is true for Chevrolet’s Intellilink infotainment system with an easy to navigate menu system, legible graphics, and redundant controls for common controls. As mentioned, our Silverado came with the big 6.2L V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It comes hooked up to an eight-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. Two-wheel drive comes standard. The 6.2L V8 engine is the biggest ace up the Silverado’s sleeve. Not only does it provide some impressive towing numbers - 11,700 with the max trailering package, but it also moves this truck like it was something smaller. 0-60 mph is said to take around six seconds which is quite impressive. Plus, it makes the right noises when you step on the accelerator. Fuel economy for the 6.2L V8 is the same as the 5.3L V8 when equipped similarly (eight-speed automatic and 4WD) - 15 City/20 Highway/17 Combined. We saw an average of 16.2 mpg for our short test period in mostly city driving. The only downside to the 6.2L V8? You can only get it on the LTZ and High Country trims. It would be nice if Chevrolet made it optional on lower LT trim. We’ve considered General Motors’ half-tons to run a close second to the Ram 1500 in terms of ride quality. Despite sticking with leaf-springs in the rear, GM somehow tuned the suspension to provide a compliant ride over any surface. It needs to be noted that the Max Trailering package does ride somewhat firmer due to a new suspension package which brings heavy-duty springs and revised shock tuning. We now need to talk about price. As we mentioned, the as-tested price of our Silverado 1500 LTZ tester came in at $60,020 mostly due to the large amount of options equipped. If I were buying an LTZ, I would skip the power assist steps, 20-inch chrome wheels, Siren Red paint, and max trailering package. to help bring the price to around $55,500 or so. It is still an expensive proposition, but it becomes slightly easier to swallow. Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Silverado, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chevrolet Model: Silverado 1500 Trim: LTZ Crew Cab Engine: 6.2L VVT DI with Active Fuel Management V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5600 Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/20/17 Curb Weight: 5,299 lbs* Location of Manufacture: Silao, GJ, Mexico Base Price: $47,175 As Tested Price: $60,020 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge) *Curb weight of a base Silverado 4WD crew cab. Options: 6.2L V8 w/Eight-Speed Automatic - $2,695.00 Power and Articulating Assist Steps - $1,695.00 20-Inch Chrome Wheels - $1,495.00 Enhanced Driver Package - $945.00 Max Trailering Package - $925.00 LTZ Plus Package - $770.00 Heated & Ventilated Front Seats - $650.00 Leather Appointed Buckets with Center Console - $510.00 8-inch MyLink with Navigation - $495.00 Siren Red Tintcoat- $495.00 Spray-On Bedliner - $495.00 Chrome Trailering Mirrors with Power Folding - $295.00 Cargo Box with LED Lighting - $125.00 Moveable Upper Tie Dows - $60.00 View full article
  23. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 24, 2012 Back in August, I had the chance to drive the new 2013 Mazda CX-5 for a week. The CX-5 featured the whole suite of Mazda’s SKYACTIV tech; engine, transmission, and lightweight construction. But what happens when you only take two out of the three parts of SKYACTIV? Well, you get the 2012 Mazda3i which comes equipped with the SKYACTIV engine and transmission. Does having two parts of SKYACTIV make the 3i a competent compact car or not? The 3’s exterior looks pretty much the same as it was introduced back in 2009, a design that doesn’t go for the cliché of the month. Up front, the big grin grille has been toned down a little and the front headlights now have blue accent rings, quietly signifying that you’re driving a SKYACTIV model. Along the side, Mazda designers have embellished the front fenders and placed a set of sixteen-inch alloy wheels into the wheel wells. Inside the 3, the same story applies. The interior is draped in black trim and seats. Thankfully, Mazda has added some other colors to give some variation. This included some silver trim along the dash and adding variety of colors for the illumination of the gauges and center stack (blue, red, and white). Materials range from hard plastics on the dash to soft touch materials on the door rests. All of the materials feel like they should belong in a $25,000 vehicle. As for build quality, the 3i Hatchback passed with flying colors with no apparent gaps or loose pieces. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide a good amount of adjustments for both driver and passenger. Back-seat passengers will find a decent amount of headroom and legroom. Be forewarned though; the seats are really firm, meaning this isn’t really a good choice for long trips. Cargo space for the Mazda3 hatchback measures out to be 17.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats up and 42.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats down. This puts the 3 hatchback on the smallish side when compared with the Ford Focus Hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT. The 3 I had in for review was the top of the line Grand Touring trim that comes equipped with heated leather seats, power driver’s seat, Bluetooth, sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 265-watt Bose CenterPoint audio system, color Multi-Information Display, and navigation. My biggest complaint with the 3’s interior deals with the screens on the dash and the navigation. For starters, the Mazda3i comes with two screens. The screen the left is where trip computer, information about what you’re listening to, and navigation. To the right is where another screen displays what input you’re listening to. I feel this layout is just somewhat redundant and confusing. Also, the left screen is on the smallish side. Taking a quick glance at the screen is somewhat of a joke. Then there is the navigation system, which resides in the left screen, meaning you have to deal with smallness. Plus, if you want to enter an address or destination, you have to you use controls on the steering wheel to do it. This is slow way to input a destination and made me wish for a touchscreen. Hopefully with the next-generation 3, Mazda condenses the two screens into one. Next: Power, Ride, and Verdict Powering the 3i is Mazda’s 2.0L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder producing 155 HP (@ 6000 RPM) and 148 lb-ft (@ 4100 RPM). If you decide to get a 3i Grand Touring model, you can only equip it with a six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic. Want a manual? You’ll have to drop to the 3i Touring model. Compared to the CX-5 with the same powertrain, the 3i's difference is night and day.The sluggishness and need to rev the engine in the CX-5 is non-existent in the 3. Instead, the SKYACTIV-G is very spritely and willing to get you up to speed quickly. The six-speed automatic delivered smooth and quick shifts. Also, I found the transmission to downshift much quicker than in the CX-5. What’s the reason for different engine behavior in the two vehicles? Weight. The CX-5 FWD Touring I had back August tipped the scales at 3,272 lbs. The Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback tips the scales at 2,969 lbs. That’s a difference of 303 lbs. The EPA rates the Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback at 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was a surprising 34 MPG on mostly rural and suburban roads. On the freeway, I averaged 40 MPG. Mazda’s are known for their fun to drive aspect in their vehicles and the 3 is no exception to this. Mazda employs Macpherson struts up front; a multi-link setup in the back, stabilizer bars, and a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. All of these components make the 3 a joy to drive on your favorite road. The suspension keeps the vehicle in check and controllable when going into the turns. The steering is weighted just right and provides the right amount of road feel. With the 3 being lively on a fun road, it does fall short when on a day to day basis. The suspension doesn’t cope well with minimizing the impacts of bumps and imperfections on the road. There is also a good amount of road noise, meaning you’ll have to speak a little bit louder to your passengers. Going back to the question I asked in the first paragraph: Does having two out of three parts of SKYACTIV make the Mazda3i a competent compact car or not? The answer is a resounding yes. By adding the SKYACTIV powertrain package, Mazda has revitalized the 3 to better compete with the current crop of compact cars with improved gas mileage and some very impressive handling. There are some shortfalls with the Mazda3i which include a rough ride for day to day driving, a surprising amount of road noise, confusing screens, and some uncomfortable seats. But if you can overlook the problems, the Mazda3i Hatchback is possibly the best balance of fun and efficiency in the compact car class. Cheers: Fuel Economy SKYACTIV-G Engine Much More Lively Quick and Smooth Automatic Unique Styling Sporty Ride Jeers: The Two Screens on the Dash Seats Becoming Uncomfortable After Awhile Interior Cargo Space On Small Side Sporty Ride Not Pleasant on Rough Roads Road Noise Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2012 Make – Mazda Model – 3 Trim – i Grand Touring Hatchback Engine – 2.0L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, SKYACTIV-Drive Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 155 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 148 lb-ft (@ 4,100 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32 Curb Weight – 2,969 lbs Location of Manufacture – Houfu, Japan Base Price - $23,150.00 As Tested Price - $25,345.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  24. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 24, 2012 Back in August, I had the chance to drive the new 2013 Mazda CX-5 for a week. The CX-5 featured the whole suite of Mazda’s SKYACTIV tech; engine, transmission, and lightweight construction. But what happens when you only take two out of the three parts of SKYACTIV? Well, you get the 2012 Mazda3i which comes equipped with the SKYACTIV engine and transmission. Does having two parts of SKYACTIV make the 3i a competent compact car or not? The 3’s exterior looks pretty much the same as it was introduced back in 2009, a design that doesn’t go for the cliché of the month. Up front, the big grin grille has been toned down a little and the front headlights now have blue accent rings, quietly signifying that you’re driving a SKYACTIV model. Along the side, Mazda designers have embellished the front fenders and placed a set of sixteen-inch alloy wheels into the wheel wells. Inside the 3, the same story applies. The interior is draped in black trim and seats. Thankfully, Mazda has added some other colors to give some variation. This included some silver trim along the dash and adding variety of colors for the illumination of the gauges and center stack (blue, red, and white). Materials range from hard plastics on the dash to soft touch materials on the door rests. All of the materials feel like they should belong in a $25,000 vehicle. As for build quality, the 3i Hatchback passed with flying colors with no apparent gaps or loose pieces. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide a good amount of adjustments for both driver and passenger. Back-seat passengers will find a decent amount of headroom and legroom. Be forewarned though; the seats are really firm, meaning this isn’t really a good choice for long trips. Cargo space for the Mazda3 hatchback measures out to be 17.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats up and 42.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats down. This puts the 3 hatchback on the smallish side when compared with the Ford Focus Hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT. The 3 I had in for review was the top of the line Grand Touring trim that comes equipped with heated leather seats, power driver’s seat, Bluetooth, sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 265-watt Bose CenterPoint audio system, color Multi-Information Display, and navigation. My biggest complaint with the 3’s interior deals with the screens on the dash and the navigation. For starters, the Mazda3i comes with two screens. The screen the left is where trip computer, information about what you’re listening to, and navigation. To the right is where another screen displays what input you’re listening to. I feel this layout is just somewhat redundant and confusing. Also, the left screen is on the smallish side. Taking a quick glance at the screen is somewhat of a joke. Then there is the navigation system, which resides in the left screen, meaning you have to deal with smallness. Plus, if you want to enter an address or destination, you have to you use controls on the steering wheel to do it. This is slow way to input a destination and made me wish for a touchscreen. Hopefully with the next-generation 3, Mazda condenses the two screens into one. Next: Power, Ride, and Verdict Powering the 3i is Mazda’s 2.0L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder producing 155 HP (@ 6000 RPM) and 148 lb-ft (@ 4100 RPM). If you decide to get a 3i Grand Touring model, you can only equip it with a six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic. Want a manual? You’ll have to drop to the 3i Touring model. Compared to the CX-5 with the same powertrain, the 3i's difference is night and day.The sluggishness and need to rev the engine in the CX-5 is non-existent in the 3. Instead, the SKYACTIV-G is very spritely and willing to get you up to speed quickly. The six-speed automatic delivered smooth and quick shifts. Also, I found the transmission to downshift much quicker than in the CX-5. What’s the reason for different engine behavior in the two vehicles? Weight. The CX-5 FWD Touring I had back August tipped the scales at 3,272 lbs. The Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback tips the scales at 2,969 lbs. That’s a difference of 303 lbs. The EPA rates the Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback at 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was a surprising 34 MPG on mostly rural and suburban roads. On the freeway, I averaged 40 MPG. Mazda’s are known for their fun to drive aspect in their vehicles and the 3 is no exception to this. Mazda employs Macpherson struts up front; a multi-link setup in the back, stabilizer bars, and a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. All of these components make the 3 a joy to drive on your favorite road. The suspension keeps the vehicle in check and controllable when going into the turns. The steering is weighted just right and provides the right amount of road feel. With the 3 being lively on a fun road, it does fall short when on a day to day basis. The suspension doesn’t cope well with minimizing the impacts of bumps and imperfections on the road. There is also a good amount of road noise, meaning you’ll have to speak a little bit louder to your passengers. Going back to the question I asked in the first paragraph: Does having two out of three parts of SKYACTIV make the Mazda3i a competent compact car or not? The answer is a resounding yes. By adding the SKYACTIV powertrain package, Mazda has revitalized the 3 to better compete with the current crop of compact cars with improved gas mileage and some very impressive handling. There are some shortfalls with the Mazda3i which include a rough ride for day to day driving, a surprising amount of road noise, confusing screens, and some uncomfortable seats. But if you can overlook the problems, the Mazda3i Hatchback is possibly the best balance of fun and efficiency in the compact car class. Cheers: Fuel Economy SKYACTIV-G Engine Much More Lively Quick and Smooth Automatic Unique Styling Sporty Ride Jeers: The Two Screens on the Dash Seats Becoming Uncomfortable After Awhile Interior Cargo Space On Small Side Sporty Ride Not Pleasant on Rough Roads Road Noise Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2012 Make – Mazda Model – 3 Trim – i Grand Touring Hatchback Engine – 2.0L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, SKYACTIV-Drive Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 155 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 148 lb-ft (@ 4,100 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32 Curb Weight – 2,969 lbs Location of Manufacture – Houfu, Japan Base Price - $23,150.00 As Tested Price - $25,345.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  25. Kia’s second attempt at a full-size sedan, the Cadenza wasn’t a big success for the company. Over the course of four years, less than 30,000 Cadenzas were sold. This might make you think Kia would get out of this segment. Not so. Last year, Kia introduced an all-new Cadenza with various improvements to try and improve the fortunes of it. Let us see if they make a difference. The previous-generation Cadenza didn’t really stand out in terms of design. The only distinctive item you could point out was the tiger nose grille. Otherwise, it was 195.7-inches of car. This has been addressed with the redesign of the Cadenza and it looks quite sharp. Up front, Kia has widened and added a concave shape to the tiger nose grille The front LED headlights feature a unique Z-strand to provide some eye candy. Move towards the side and it looks like an Audi A7 in profile with the hatchback-esq sloping roofline. Kia has made some noticeable improvements to the Cadenza to look and feel more premium. There is abundance of soft-touch materials used on the dashboard and door panels, along with surprising touches such as the dark wood trim and quilted leather on the seat bolsters. The center stack has been slightly tweaked with a revised layout that makes it easier to find the various functions. In terms of tech, the Cadenza Limited features an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. We like UVO as its interface is simple to understand and is quite fast in terms of performance. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto add another plus point for this system. The Limited also comes with a heads-up display which can display speed, navigation, and other details. In our test car, the display was quite blurry and you had to really focus on it to make out what it was showing. Hopefully, this issue was only limited to this particular vehicle. Those sitting the back will appreciate the large amount of legroom available. Headroom is quite tight for taller passengers due to the roofline and optional panoramic sunroof. Power comes from a 3.3L V6 offering up 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. This is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic. Compared to the last Cadenza we drove back in 2013, the new model feels slightly quicker. Part of that can be attributed to the new automatic that helps keep the engine in the sweet spot of power. However, the Cadenza does lose out to competitors in terms of acceleration. Those who timed the Cadenza to 60 mph said it takes between 6.5 to 6.8 seconds, which puts it on the slow end of the full-size sedan class. Fuel economy also falls behind competitors with EPA figures of 20 City/28 Highway/23 Combined. I saw an average of 22.1 mpg for the week with mostly city driving. Kia has done a great job of giving the Cadenza one of the smoothest rides in the class. Even roads ladened with potholes are mostly ironed out. Road and wind noises are kept to very acceptable levels. This does mean the Cadenza shows a fair amount of body roll when cornering. Passengers will be bracing themselves if you decide to take a corner a bit too fast. For most buyers, this isn’t a huge deal. Our test Cadenza Limited rung in at $45,290 with destination, which is a lot of cash to drop on a big sedan. It is a nice sedan and can justify the large price tag, but will people be willing to spend that much for a Kia? Personally, I would get the Technology as that gets you everything you need and comes in under $39,000. It seems odd that Kia is competing in a class where their previous attempts didn’t really make a dent. But the second-generation Cadenza shows Kia isn’t willing to give up in a certain class. While the full-size sedan class is venturing into the sunset, it is nice to see automakers give it their all to produce models that stand out. The Cadenza is a prime example of this. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Cadenza, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Cadenza Trim: Limited Engine: 3.3L DOHC 24-Valve GDI V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 253 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/28/23 Curb Weight: 3,770 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hwaseong, South Korea Base Price: $44,390.00 As Tested Price: $45,290.00 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article

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