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Found 394 results

  1. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2014 Lexus RX 450h

    Time for a pop quiz everyone. Your question: What was the first luxury crossover that was offered with a hybrid powertrain? Time is up! The answer is the Lexus RX. The first hybrid RX was introduced back 2004 and has gone through a number of revisions up to the model seen here; the 2014 Lexus RX 450h. Is it worth the almost $7,000 more over the standard RX 350 to save some gas? Like the last RX I drove last year, the RX 450h has gotten some design tweaks. The most noticeable change is up front with the addition of the spindle grille and new headlights. Like the previous RX, I found myself wondering if the spindle grille works on the RX. After a week, I found myself saying no. The RX 450h comes with Lexus' Hybrid Drive system which pairs a 3.5L DOHC V6 and three electric motors on all-wheel drive models. Front-wheel drive models feature two. This produces a total output of 295 horsepower. The powertrain provided adequate power no matter the situation, putting it in the midpack of luxury crossovers when talking about crossovers. There are four different drive modes available in the RX. First is Eco which increases throttle resistance and reduces power from the climate control system to improve efficiency. I ran this mode for most of the week and didn't noticed that the throttle had more resistance whenever I put my foot down. Next is Sport which tweaks the throttle to make it a bit ore lively. I drove with this mode briefly, but I couldn't tell any difference in the throttle when it was in this mode or normal. EV mode is next which allows the vehicle to run on electric power alone. I found this to be more of a gimmick than an actual feature as it only let me drive a limited distance and below 25. Wrapping up the modes is Normal which offers a nice balance between Eco and Sport. The transmission is a CVT and for the most part, the transmission does its job well. You don't notice it's a CVT till you put your foot to the floor and CVT groan makes an appearance. Keep your foot off the floor and CVT keeps to itself. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined. My week in the RX hybrid netted me 26.9 MPG. Somewhat disappointing as I had the vehicle in Eco mode for most of the week. As for the RX 450h's ride, I was confused. I was expecting a comfortable and smooth riding crossover. But instead, I got a firm riding crossover. The ride was a bit bouncy and I could feel most bumps. As I wrote in my notes, 'I think Lexus' ride engineers mixed up the suspension settings for the RX 350 F-Sport and RX 450h'. The steering also felt a bit off. It wasn't too light or heavy, but felt like there was a lot of resistance when I was turning the wheel. After spending a week with the RX 450h and reading through my notes, I can say that you are better off passing on the RX 450h. The added cost for the hybrid does give you slightly better fuel economy, but offers a worse ride and steering than the standard RX. You're better off sticking with the regular RX 350. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 450h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: RX Trim: 450h Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-i, Three 650V Electric Motors Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000 (3.5L V6), 155 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor), 67 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor), 295 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 234 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/28/29 Curb Weight: 4,520 lbs Location of Manufacture: Cambridge, Ontario Base Price: $47,810 As Tested Price: $55,550 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Package - $3,060 Navigation System w/Voice Command - $2,275 Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound - $995 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  2. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2014 Lexus RX 450h

    Time for a pop quiz everyone. Your question: What was the first luxury crossover that was offered with a hybrid powertrain? Time is up! The answer is the Lexus RX. The first hybrid RX was introduced back 2004 and has gone through a number of revisions up to the model seen here; the 2014 Lexus RX 450h. Is it worth the almost $7,000 more over the standard RX 350 to save some gas? Like the last RX I drove last year, the RX 450h has gotten some design tweaks. The most noticeable change is up front with the addition of the spindle grille and new headlights. Like the previous RX, I found myself wondering if the spindle grille works on the RX. After a week, I found myself saying no. The RX 450h comes with Lexus' Hybrid Drive system which pairs a 3.5L DOHC V6 and three electric motors on all-wheel drive models. Front-wheel drive models feature two. This produces a total output of 295 horsepower. The powertrain provided adequate power no matter the situation, putting it in the midpack of luxury crossovers when talking about crossovers. There are four different drive modes available in the RX. First is Eco which increases throttle resistance and reduces power from the climate control system to improve efficiency. I ran this mode for most of the week and didn't noticed that the throttle had more resistance whenever I put my foot down. Next is Sport which tweaks the throttle to make it a bit ore lively. I drove with this mode briefly, but I couldn't tell any difference in the throttle when it was in this mode or normal. EV mode is next which allows the vehicle to run on electric power alone. I found this to be more of a gimmick than an actual feature as it only let me drive a limited distance and below 25. Wrapping up the modes is Normal which offers a nice balance between Eco and Sport. The transmission is a CVT and for the most part, the transmission does its job well. You don't notice it's a CVT till you put your foot to the floor and CVT groan makes an appearance. Keep your foot off the floor and CVT keeps to itself. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined. My week in the RX hybrid netted me 26.9 MPG. Somewhat disappointing as I had the vehicle in Eco mode for most of the week. As for the RX 450h's ride, I was confused. I was expecting a comfortable and smooth riding crossover. But instead, I got a firm riding crossover. The ride was a bit bouncy and I could feel most bumps. As I wrote in my notes, 'I think Lexus' ride engineers mixed up the suspension settings for the RX 350 F-Sport and RX 450h'. The steering also felt a bit off. It wasn't too light or heavy, but felt like there was a lot of resistance when I was turning the wheel. After spending a week with the RX 450h and reading through my notes, I can say that you are better off passing on the RX 450h. The added cost for the hybrid does give you slightly better fuel economy, but offers a worse ride and steering than the standard RX. You're better off sticking with the regular RX 350. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 450h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: RX Trim: 450h Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-i, Three 650V Electric Motors Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000 (3.5L V6), 155 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor), 67 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor), 295 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 234 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/28/29 Curb Weight: 4,520 lbs Location of Manufacture: Cambridge, Ontario Base Price: $47,810 As Tested Price: $55,550 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Package - $3,060 Navigation System w/Voice Command - $2,275 Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound - $995 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  3. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com February 7, 2013 For the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan decided to show their performance wares. 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO First up is the 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO which features many modifications to give it more oomph. The exterior is more aerodynamic than the standard Juke and features red painted exterior rearview mirrors, smoked headlights, eighteen-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and blacked out B-Pillars. Under the skin, the 1.6L DOHC turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been reworked to increase horsepower and torque to 197 and 184. The suspension has been lowered to improve aerodynamics and tweaked to improve traction. A six-speed manual is available on front-wheel models while all-wheel drive models get a continuously variable transmission. Stepping inside the Juke NISMO, Nissan has fitted new seats that offers more lateral support and a alcantara steering wheel. Interested? You can pickup a Juke NISMO at your local Nissan dealer in March. 2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO Next up is the 2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO which still retains a 350 horsepower 3.7L V6 and six-speed manual. Other performance tweaks include a more aerodynamic front fascia and rear spoiler, nineteen-inch wheels with a sport suspension and a strut tower brace. The exterior gets new gray accents and red striping on the front and rear fascias, lower side sills, side mirrors and rear spoiler. Inside the 370Z NISMO, there is a Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and a new red Nismo tachometer. The 370Z NISMO arrives in the summer. 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition Rounding out the performance showings at the Chicago was the 2014 GT-R Track Edition. The Track Edition integrates a specially tuned suspension that features Bilstein DampTronic gas pressure shocks and higher spring rates, unique brake cooling system, a front spoiler with carbon-fiber air ducts, carbon-fiber rear spoiler, and new fuel injectors. The GT-R Track Edition's interior features blue-trimmed, high-grip leather and fabric front seats. The back seats found in other GT-R's has been removed and in its place is a lightweight quilted cloth mat. Only 150 GT-R Track Edition will be coming to the states and will be available in May. Album: 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo 6 images 0 comments Album: 2014 Nissan 370Z Nismo 5 images 0 comments Album: 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition 8 images 0 comments Album: Nissan's NISMO Showing At The 2013 Chicago Auto Show 8 images 0 comments Press Releases are on Pages 2, 3, 4 2013 JUKE NISMO OFFERS UNIQUE STYLE, ATTAINABLE PERFORMANCE BORN FROM MOTORSPORTS – Nissan Expands NISMO Line-up in the United States with Addition of New JUKE NISMO – • Kicks off new strategy to expand NISMO's presence in key markets • Race-inspired exterior provides enhanced aerodynamic performance • NISMO-tuned suspension, steering and transmission help deliver engaging driving dynamics • Fourth model in popular Nissan JUKE line-up, available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive NISMO, its vision and name derived from NISsan MOtorsports, is embarking on an aggressive journey to expand its presence beyond the racetrack in key markets around the world. Already a legendary brand among professional and grassroots racers, as well as performance enthusiasts everywhere, NISMO now is applying its near-50 years of engineering experience and expertise to an expanding range of affordable production vehicles such as the new 2013 JUKE NISMO model. The new JUKE NISMO, with its track-derived design, enhanced performance and engaging handling, gives JUKE buyers a distinct choice among the affordable S, well-equipped SV and premium SL grades of the popular crossover. Two configurations – front-wheel drive with a 6-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive with sport-tuned Xtronic CVT® – are available. Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan North America, Inc. said: "NISMO's unique motorsports DNA adds a new dimension to the pioneering JUKE's long list of attributes. With nearly 100 separate performance, exterior and interior modifications and solid functionality behind every element, JUKE NISMO adds a whole new dimension of sporty style and driving exhilaration – all within reach of performance buyers' budgets." Ultimate Sports Styling Far from being purely cosmetic, the modifications to the JUKE exterior are designed to enhance the JUKE NISMO's aerodynamics, resulting in a 37-percent improvement in downforce (versus non-NISMO models). Many of the aggressive sports-cross styling elements were influenced by NISMO's motorsport expertise, in particular using lessons learned from the styling and engineering of the Nissan GT-R racers that compete in the Super GT series in Japan. Compared to the standard Nissan JUKE, the most obvious visual change is to the front fascia and grille, which have been modified to better control airflow to the engine. The new front end features a lower and more aggressive design. JUKE's familiar integrated fog lights have been replaced by thin-strip LED accent lights, positioned at the top edge of new small vents to the side of the larger grille. On front-wheel drive versions these are blanked, but on all-wheel drive models the left-hand side vent allows air into the engine bay for the CVT oil cooler and the right-hand vent is styled to match. The prominent upper edge of the large lower grille features a red pinstripe, which drops dramatically to curve around the smaller vents and continues all the way to the front wheel arches. This distinctive NISMO cue gives the nose a visual width and presence while emphasising the Juke NISMO's athletic stance on the road. The signature Nissan V-strut grille is finished in a darker shade than other JUKE models. To the right of the grille is a NISMO badge with a red "O," stamping NISMO's distinctive motorsport heritage on JUKE for first time. The distinctive JUKE combination lights are smoked as part of the NISMO appearance treatment. The red pinstripe continues on the flanks of the car at the base of the doors. The sculpted side skirts have been reworked to enhance aerodynamic performance, directing airflow around the rear wheels and away from the car as quickly and efficiently as possible. To increase the JUKE NISMO's visual stance, the wheel arches are more muscular and are now finished entirely in the body color to give a truly premium feel. The door mirrors have been painted red to give a visual indication to the casual observer that this is not a standard Nissan JUKE. The B-pillars are now finished in gloss "piano black," also promoting a sleek and sporty image. In the rear, the bumper is deeper than on non-NISMO models and the red pinstripe is also visible on the black sill. A redesigned body-colored liftgate spoiler and rear fascia diffuser complete the body modifications. Also part of the stunning JUKE NISMO exterior appearance are the new 18-inch lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/45R18 Continental ContiSportContact5 summer tires, which help give drivers additional grip during cornering and further boost the JUKE NISMO's on-road presence. One inch larger than the standard JUKE wheels, the diamond-cut alloys feature a 10 twin-spoke design and are finished in dark anthracite. The 2013 Nissan JUKE NISMO is available in three exterior colors – Sapphire Black, Brilliant Silver and Pearl White. All come equipped with red outside door mirrors and the matching pinstripe around base of the vehicle. Sporty Interior Styling Focused on the Driver NISMO's core belief is that everything should be focused on the driver. It's about enhancing their experience, pure and simple. So the JUKE NISMO's seats, instrumentation, steering wheel, gear knob, pedals and door trims have all been redesigned to boost driver enjoyment by creating a more performance-oriented environment. The front seats have been redesigned to offer additional lateral support. Trimmed in suede, they sport vibrant red stitching – picking up the detail introduced by the red bodywork pinstripe. Red is also used as a background to the tachometer and also appears on the steering wheel stitching, which is finished in Alcantara and leather. The tactile steering wheel now includes a red marker to indicate "top dead center," another feature derived directly from racing. The rear seats also feature red stitching. Dark Smoke coloring is used throughout the interior to help allow the driver to focus entirely on the elements that are most important – the gauges, switchgear and controls. Consequently the headliner is black (no moonroof is available with the JUKE NISMO) and there is a gloss "piano black" finish around the ventilation and audio controls. There is also new smoked grey trim around the gear selector. In the footwell, the standard black rubber pedals have been upgraded to a metallic finish, and there is a NISMO badge visible on the dead pedal. The NISMO logo has also been precision-stitched into the seatbacks. Other standard content includes privacy glass, Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start and the I-CON (Integrated Control) system with automatic air conditioning. Revised Powertrain for Improved Dynamics NISMO's spirit of innovation and determination, born on the racetrack in 1984, remains at the heart of the performance brand today. This DNA has been injected into the JUKE NISMO in the form of a reworked version of Nissan's advanced inline 4-cylinder 1.6-liter DOHC aluminium-alloy Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbocharged engine. Direct injection helps improve combustion, enhancing power, torque, economy and emissions. The use of the turbocharger and intercooler also help boost power, while the variable timing control for both intake and exhaust cycles improves low-end engine response. For use in the JUKE NISMO, both power and torque have been increased without compromising emissions and efficiency. The JUKE NISMO is rated at 197 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, versus the standard JUKE's 188-horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. The front-wheel drive JUKE NISMO is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, while the all-wheel drive version comes with a sport-tuned version of Nissan's advanced Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission) with manual mode. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg City (est.) and 32 mpg Highway (est.) for JUKE NISMO FWD (6MT) model and 25 mpg City (est.) and 30 mpg Highway (est.) for JUKE NISMO AWD (CVT). Improved engine performance is only one element of Juke NISMO's dynamic enhancements. The suspension settings have been completely revised, leading to greater traction and improved body response and roll control. The suspension has also been lowered slightly versus non-NISMO JUKE settings, reducing the gap between the tires and wheelwells for a cleaner appearance and improved aerodynamics. An independent MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension is utilized on FWD models, while JUKE NISMO AWD model offers a multi-link rear suspension design. A cradle-type front subframe enhances lateral stiffness of the assembly. Front and rear stabilizer bars are standard on all models. The JUKE NISMO's vehicle-speed-sensing electric power-assisted steering has been reworked for sportier and more direct handling. Thanks to increased resistance at the wheel, more feedback is evident at medium and high speeds. Braking is supplied by power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. Advanced Torque Vectoring AWD The JUKE NISMO's advanced torque vectoring AWD system – standard in all 2013 JUKE AWD models – offers performance technology often reserved for premium vehicles. The torque vectoring system is designed to limit understeer by increasing torque to the outside rear wheel, helping the car follow its intended course. It also enhances agility, giving the JUKE NISMO exceptional ride comfort and handling in spite of its higher ground clearance when compared to other compact cars. As well as splitting torque front to rear – up to a maximum of 50:50 – the torque can also be shifted from side-to-side across the rear axle. In total, up to 50 percent of the total available engine torque can be sent to either rear wheel. Information collected by various sources (measuring wheel speed, steering angle, yaw rate and lateral G-force) is interpreted to anticipate the driver's intention. System actions are relayed to the driver via a real-time graphic display on the instrument panel depicting the torque distribution under all conditions. Both FWD and AWD JUKE NISMO models include another example of advanced Nissan technology – the innovative Integrated Control (I-CON) system that combines control of the automatic A/C and the three-mode drive selector – Normal for everyday driving; Sport for a more intense performance feel; and Eco for maximum efficiency – adjusting throttle, transmission (CVT) and steering feel. The centrally mounted I-CON digital screen changes display, color and functions depending on the mode selected by the driver. Settings alter throttle maps, steering effort and CVT shift schedules on the AWD models. In the D-Mode Sport setting, the throttle map is retuned to deliver higher engine revs and sharper responses, while in the Eco setting, engine revs are reduced for more gentle progress. In the M-CVT version (AWD only), the Sport setting even introduces a "rhythmic" auto upshift that simulates manual gear changes at redline. In addition, steering effort in Sport is firmer and more responsive, while in Normal it's lighter and more linear. In the Eco setting, the quantity of cold air circulating in the cabin is optimized, reducing the load on the climate control and lowering the system's power consumption. Real time trip information can also be displayed giving average speed, fuel economy, journey times and engine torque and turbo boost as well as a daily fuel consumption history. The I-CON system even incorporates a G-Force indicator. Said Loing: "For a vehicle of its compact size and attainable price, JUKE NISMO packs a huge amount of advanced performance technology." A Range of Available Features and Amenities The 2013 JUKE NISMO is offered with a range of features that add a level of convenience equal to its sporty style, including an available Nissan Navigation System with 5-inch color touch screen display and NavTraffic capability (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately), Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH™ audio system, USB interface (iPod® compatible) and RearView Monitor. Standard features include dual front and rear beverage holders, speed-sensitive automatic door locks, storage under the rear cargo floor (FWD models only), Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, Interface System for iPod®, and AM/FM/CD audio system with steering wheel controls. In the rear, a fold-down 60/40-split bench seat and flat load floor provide passenger and cargo hauling flexibility. Every JUKE NISMO comes equipped with the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage, dual-threshold front air bags and seat belt and occupant classification sensors, roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags for front and rear outboard occupant head protection, seat-mounted driver and front passenger side-impact supplemental air bags and front-seat Active Head Restraints. Other standard equipment includes LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system, Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer System, Vehicle Security System (VSS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS). Said Loing: "The JUKE NISMO combines distinctive style, advanced technology and a fun-to-drive factor that is unlike anything in the segment – all at an attainable price. It optimizes the already innovative JUKE design, re-engineering it to NISMO standards and sets the stage for future NISMO-branded models to come." 2014 model previewed at the Chicago Auto Show Features new exterior color with dark grey accents and red stripes Continues to offer 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, sport-tuned suspension and brakes and 19-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels Joins new JUKE NISMO in Nissan showrooms this summer In conjunction with the U.S. debut of the new 2013 Nissan JUKE NISMO – and the ongoing expansion of the NISMO brand worldwide – Nissan is giving attendees at the Chicago Auto Show a preview of the 2014 370Z NISMO. Set to go on sale at Nissan dealers nationwide this summer, the 370Z NISMO follows the new NISMO design theme with distinctive new exterior and interior accents. Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan Americas said: "The 370Z NISMO, since its introduction as part of the original Nissan 350Z lineup, has embodied the spirit of NISMO – race-proven engineering that is attainable. With the enhancements for the 2014 model year and the addition of the new JUKE NISMO, we're unifying the look and feel of these distinctive NISMO models and paving the way for additional NISMO vehicles to follow." With the current 370Z NISMO setting the bar as a tuner-Z® enthusiast's dream straight from the factory and fully warranted – offering 350 horsepower, racing-inspired exterior and interior styling, a specially tuned suspension and unique super-lightweight forged alloy wheels – the enhancements for 2014 are designed to up the car's already strong visual impact. On the exterior, new dark gray coloring is added to the front and rear fascias, lower side sills, side mirrors and NISMO rear spoiler, with each element (except side sills) featuring NISMO-style red pinstripe accents. In addition, Solid Red replaces the previous Magma Red as one of four 370Z NISMO exterior color choices. Interior enhancements include the addition of a new steering wheel with Alcantara appointments and red accents, and a red NISMO tachometer. The 370Z NISMO's outstanding performance is anchored by an advanced Nissan FM (Front Midship) platform, refined 4-wheel independent suspension and 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL) rated at 350 hp @ 7,400 rpm and 276 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm. The VVEL system helps optimize intake valve open/close movements, allowing the needed air to be sent promptly to the combustion chamber at the precisely optimized time. The 370Z NISMO's enhanced engine power and acceleration (versus non-NISMO 370Zs) is provided through use of an exclusive H-configured exhaust system design and muffler tuning, along with optimized ECM (Engine Control Module) calibration. Just one transmission is offered, a close-ratio 6-speed manual with Nissan's SynchroRev Match® synchronized downshift rev matching system. The SynchroRev Match® function automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the speed of the next gear position, essentially "blipping" the throttle to smooth out any up/down shifts. This not only allows the driver to focus more on braking and steering, it improves the smoothness of gear shifts by reducing the typical "shock" when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated with a button next to the shifter for drivers who prefer to shift on their own. The 370Z NISMO also features a tight, rigid body structure with a strut tower bar brace and a pair of performance dampers, which quickly and efficiently react to help control body vibrations from road input via the tires, contributing to the 370Z NISMO's outstanding handling and performance feel. The 370Z NISMO's double-wishbone front/4-link rear suspension design suspension is specially tuned for exceptional handling, including higher spring and stabilizer bar rates and increased roll stiffness and front and rear damping factors (compared to non-NISMO models). The 2014 370Z NISMO rides on unique 5-spoke Nissan-branded 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum-alloy wheels (19x9.5-inch front, 19x10.5-inch rear) with a Gun Metallic finish. The wheels are mounted with Bridgestone Potenza S001 Y-rated high-performance tires (245/40ZR19 front, 285/35ZR19 rear). Braking is provided by NISMO Sport Brakes with large diameter 14.0-inch front and 13.8-inch rear vented rotors with 4-piston front and 2-¬piston rear aluminum calipers. The braking system includes a variable ratio brake pedal, high-rigidity brake hoses, R35 Special II fluid and red-finish calipers. Along with the new color treatments, the 2014 370Z NISMO exterior includes an extended front nose design and a fully integrated chin spoiler – providing a sense of dynamic movement while enhancing airflow and downforce for enhanced aerodynamic performance. The 370Z NISMO is 6.2 inches longer than the standard 370Z Coupe. Special side sills and a unique rear bumper help control airflow under the vehicle, while the functional rear spoiler increases downforce. Four exterior colors are offered: Pearl White, Magnetic Black, Gun Metallic and Solid Red. Inside, the 370Z NISMO's driver-centric interior includes NISMO logo seats with black and red fabric and red stitching, a NISMO tachometer, steering wheel with Alcantara wrap and red parallel stitching, smooth leather-wrapped shift knob and aluminum-trimmed pedals. A special serialized plaque of authenticity, located on the vertical panel above the floor-mounted console, is matched to each 370Z NISMO identifying its unique serial and model year designation. The sporty woven cloth seats feature standard 8-way driver's/4-way passenger manual adjustments and adjustable front seat Active Head Restraints. Standard interior comfort and convenience features include Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start, power windows with one-touch auto up/down feature, power door locks with auto-lock feature and automatic climate control. An AM/FM/CD/AUX 4-speaker audio system is standard. Also available is a Bose® Package featuring an in-dash 6CD changer, two additional speakers (six total), two subwoofers, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, auto-dimming inside mirror and HomeLink® Universal Transceiver. There are no other options offered. Said Loing: "The great thing about the 370Z NISMO, like the JUKE NISMO, is that there is solid functionality behind every element – race-inspired but ready for the street – and with pure NISMO style." Along with the 370Z NISMO, the Nissan 370Z is available in 370Z Coupe and 370Z Roadster models. 2014 NISSAN GT-R ADDS NEW "TRACK EDITION" TO U.S. LINEUP; EXCLUSIVE TWO-SEAT SUPERCAR'S SALES BEGIN IN MAY • New Track Edition joins Premium and Black Edition models, allowing buyers to further specify their GT-R performance and equipment levels • Specialized Track Edition suspension developed at famed Nürburgring Circuit by GT-R development driver Toshio Suzuki • Driver-oriented interior features high-grip seating surfaces, deletion of rear seat • Body features include front spoiler with carbon fiber air ducts, brake cooling air guides The new Nissan GT-R Track Edition, which makes its U.S. debut at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, is the third and most exclusive model in the 2014 GT-R lineup. Designed to take Nissan's legendary 545-horsepower street supercar even closer to a pure motorsports competition machine, it features a specially tuned suspension, special brake cooling guides, front spoiler with carbon fiber air ducts and a lightweight quilted cloth mat where the rear seats usually reside. It is set to go on sale at select GT-R certified Nissan dealerships nationwide beginning in May 2013. Production will be limited to 150 cars for the U.S. market. Said Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan Americas: "The concept behind the GT-R Track Edition is to enable drivers who enjoy even more demanding high-performance driving than the GT-R Premium and Black Edition models' extreme performance, the chance to come closer to a competition spec vehicle – no back seat, stiffer suspension, higher grip seats, additional brake cooling – the works." Changes to the GT-R's sophisticated 4-wheel independent suspension for the Track Edition include specialized Bilstein DampTronic gas pressure shock absorbers and higher spring rates. Much of the 2014 GT-R's suspension development took place on the Nürburgring, one of the world's most challenging racing circuits, where the Track Edition damping force and handling benchmarks were further refined by GT-R development driver Toshio Suzuki. The Track Edition's air guides for the front and rear brakes were also refined through rigorous track testing. The Track Edition's performance enhancements are added to a significant number of upgrades to the GT-R for the 2014 model year, ranging from the adoption of new fuel injectors for enhanced torque response in the 4,500 – 6,000 rpm range and improved throttle and acceleration feel at mid- and high-rpm ranges, to the addition of an oil pan baffle to stabilize oil turbulence and oil pressure under high performance driving conditions. An aluminum nameplate is now added to each hand-assembled engine bearing the name of the specially trained "Takumi" craftsman who built that individual engine. In addition to developing 545 horsepower, the GT-R's standard VR38DETT V6 produces 463 lb-ft of torque. The engine is backed by an advanced paddle-shifted sequential 6-speed dual clutch transmission, which can be driver selected to shift at race car-like speeds (0.15 seconds). The sequential-shifting transaxle features separate wet clutches for the odd (1,3,5) and even (2,4,6) gears and pre-selects the next highest and next lowest gear for quick shifts. It also features Hill Start Assist for easy starts on uphill inclines. High performance differential oil, used in GT-R motorsports competition, is standard. The Nissan GT-R's unique Premium Midship platform, created expressly for use with the GT-R, enables the use of a world's first independent rear transaxle ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system, which optimizes weight distribution and handling capability. The rear drive-biased system can vary torque split from 0:100 to 50:50 depending on speed, lateral acceleration, steering angles, tire slip, road surface and yaw rate. In the interior, the new GT-R Track Edition includes special blue-trimmed high-grip front seats that use a special leather and fabric appointments. And, like all 2014 GT-Rs, the Track Edition's interior offers a cockpit-style instrument panel with a large center-mounted tachometer, a large metallic-framed center console with ergonomically designed shift lever, a red "engine start" button and carbon fiber interior trim. The centerpiece of the instrument panel is a video game-inspired multi-function display with 11 pages of available information, including mechanical and driving information, acceleration, brake pedal pressure, steering angle and a recording function with playback. Additional on-screen information includes a Navigation system and Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System. The navigation system includes NavTraffic Real-Time Traffic Information and NavWeather capabilities (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately). All 2014 GT-R models include a specially designed 11-speaker Bose® audio system that features two forward-facing woofers in the rear center armrest area. Rigid aluminum die cast panel-mounting of all speakers allowed Bose® engineers to perfect the acoustical performance of the GT-R sound system. Streaming Audio via Bluetooth® is also standard. Finishing off the GT-R Track Edition's special features are a handmade, lightweight dry carbon fiber rear spoiler and special metallic black six-spoke RAYS® forged lightweight wheels mounted with Dunlop® SP Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST CTT ultra high performance run-flat nitrogen-filled tires. (Both the wheels and spoiler are also offered on the Black Edition.) The rear spoiler's lightweight GT-R specific dry carbon fiber material* is also incredibly strong, contributing to increased aerodynamic downforce. The GT-R Track Edition is offered in five exterior colors: Deep Blue Pearl, Jet Black, Solid Red, Gun Metallic and Pearl White. Concluded Loing: "The new Track Edition sends the message that when it come to Nissan GT-R performance, there is no endpoint. We will continue to push its development and keep the competition in the rearview mirror. The legend continues." *Dry carbon fiber requires specific maintenance. Please see Owner's Manual for details.
  4. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com February 7, 2013 For the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan decided to show their performance wares. 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO First up is the 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO which features many modifications to give it more oomph. The exterior is more aerodynamic than the standard Juke and features red painted exterior rearview mirrors, smoked headlights, eighteen-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and blacked out B-Pillars. Under the skin, the 1.6L DOHC turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been reworked to increase horsepower and torque to 197 and 184. The suspension has been lowered to improve aerodynamics and tweaked to improve traction. A six-speed manual is available on front-wheel models while all-wheel drive models get a continuously variable transmission. Stepping inside the Juke NISMO, Nissan has fitted new seats that offers more lateral support and a alcantara steering wheel. Interested? You can pickup a Juke NISMO at your local Nissan dealer in March. 2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO Next up is the 2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO which still retains a 350 horsepower 3.7L V6 and six-speed manual. Other performance tweaks include a more aerodynamic front fascia and rear spoiler, nineteen-inch wheels with a sport suspension and a strut tower brace. The exterior gets new gray accents and red striping on the front and rear fascias, lower side sills, side mirrors and rear spoiler. Inside the 370Z NISMO, there is a Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and a new red Nismo tachometer. The 370Z NISMO arrives in the summer. 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition Rounding out the performance showings at the Chicago was the 2014 GT-R Track Edition. The Track Edition integrates a specially tuned suspension that features Bilstein DampTronic gas pressure shocks and higher spring rates, unique brake cooling system, a front spoiler with carbon-fiber air ducts, carbon-fiber rear spoiler, and new fuel injectors. The GT-R Track Edition's interior features blue-trimmed, high-grip leather and fabric front seats. The back seats found in other GT-R's has been removed and in its place is a lightweight quilted cloth mat. Only 150 GT-R Track Edition will be coming to the states and will be available in May. Album: 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo 6 images 0 comments Album: 2014 Nissan 370Z Nismo 5 images 0 comments Album: 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition 8 images 0 comments Album: Nissan's NISMO Showing At The 2013 Chicago Auto Show 8 images 0 comments Press Releases are on Pages 2, 3, 4 2013 JUKE NISMO OFFERS UNIQUE STYLE, ATTAINABLE PERFORMANCE BORN FROM MOTORSPORTS – Nissan Expands NISMO Line-up in the United States with Addition of New JUKE NISMO – • Kicks off new strategy to expand NISMO's presence in key markets • Race-inspired exterior provides enhanced aerodynamic performance • NISMO-tuned suspension, steering and transmission help deliver engaging driving dynamics • Fourth model in popular Nissan JUKE line-up, available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive NISMO, its vision and name derived from NISsan MOtorsports, is embarking on an aggressive journey to expand its presence beyond the racetrack in key markets around the world. Already a legendary brand among professional and grassroots racers, as well as performance enthusiasts everywhere, NISMO now is applying its near-50 years of engineering experience and expertise to an expanding range of affordable production vehicles such as the new 2013 JUKE NISMO model. The new JUKE NISMO, with its track-derived design, enhanced performance and engaging handling, gives JUKE buyers a distinct choice among the affordable S, well-equipped SV and premium SL grades of the popular crossover. Two configurations – front-wheel drive with a 6-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive with sport-tuned Xtronic CVT® – are available. Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan North America, Inc. said: "NISMO's unique motorsports DNA adds a new dimension to the pioneering JUKE's long list of attributes. With nearly 100 separate performance, exterior and interior modifications and solid functionality behind every element, JUKE NISMO adds a whole new dimension of sporty style and driving exhilaration – all within reach of performance buyers' budgets." Ultimate Sports Styling Far from being purely cosmetic, the modifications to the JUKE exterior are designed to enhance the JUKE NISMO's aerodynamics, resulting in a 37-percent improvement in downforce (versus non-NISMO models). Many of the aggressive sports-cross styling elements were influenced by NISMO's motorsport expertise, in particular using lessons learned from the styling and engineering of the Nissan GT-R racers that compete in the Super GT series in Japan. Compared to the standard Nissan JUKE, the most obvious visual change is to the front fascia and grille, which have been modified to better control airflow to the engine. The new front end features a lower and more aggressive design. JUKE's familiar integrated fog lights have been replaced by thin-strip LED accent lights, positioned at the top edge of new small vents to the side of the larger grille. On front-wheel drive versions these are blanked, but on all-wheel drive models the left-hand side vent allows air into the engine bay for the CVT oil cooler and the right-hand vent is styled to match. The prominent upper edge of the large lower grille features a red pinstripe, which drops dramatically to curve around the smaller vents and continues all the way to the front wheel arches. This distinctive NISMO cue gives the nose a visual width and presence while emphasising the Juke NISMO's athletic stance on the road. The signature Nissan V-strut grille is finished in a darker shade than other JUKE models. To the right of the grille is a NISMO badge with a red "O," stamping NISMO's distinctive motorsport heritage on JUKE for first time. The distinctive JUKE combination lights are smoked as part of the NISMO appearance treatment. The red pinstripe continues on the flanks of the car at the base of the doors. The sculpted side skirts have been reworked to enhance aerodynamic performance, directing airflow around the rear wheels and away from the car as quickly and efficiently as possible. To increase the JUKE NISMO's visual stance, the wheel arches are more muscular and are now finished entirely in the body color to give a truly premium feel. The door mirrors have been painted red to give a visual indication to the casual observer that this is not a standard Nissan JUKE. The B-pillars are now finished in gloss "piano black," also promoting a sleek and sporty image. In the rear, the bumper is deeper than on non-NISMO models and the red pinstripe is also visible on the black sill. A redesigned body-colored liftgate spoiler and rear fascia diffuser complete the body modifications. Also part of the stunning JUKE NISMO exterior appearance are the new 18-inch lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/45R18 Continental ContiSportContact5 summer tires, which help give drivers additional grip during cornering and further boost the JUKE NISMO's on-road presence. One inch larger than the standard JUKE wheels, the diamond-cut alloys feature a 10 twin-spoke design and are finished in dark anthracite. The 2013 Nissan JUKE NISMO is available in three exterior colors – Sapphire Black, Brilliant Silver and Pearl White. All come equipped with red outside door mirrors and the matching pinstripe around base of the vehicle. Sporty Interior Styling Focused on the Driver NISMO's core belief is that everything should be focused on the driver. It's about enhancing their experience, pure and simple. So the JUKE NISMO's seats, instrumentation, steering wheel, gear knob, pedals and door trims have all been redesigned to boost driver enjoyment by creating a more performance-oriented environment. The front seats have been redesigned to offer additional lateral support. Trimmed in suede, they sport vibrant red stitching – picking up the detail introduced by the red bodywork pinstripe. Red is also used as a background to the tachometer and also appears on the steering wheel stitching, which is finished in Alcantara and leather. The tactile steering wheel now includes a red marker to indicate "top dead center," another feature derived directly from racing. The rear seats also feature red stitching. Dark Smoke coloring is used throughout the interior to help allow the driver to focus entirely on the elements that are most important – the gauges, switchgear and controls. Consequently the headliner is black (no moonroof is available with the JUKE NISMO) and there is a gloss "piano black" finish around the ventilation and audio controls. There is also new smoked grey trim around the gear selector. In the footwell, the standard black rubber pedals have been upgraded to a metallic finish, and there is a NISMO badge visible on the dead pedal. The NISMO logo has also been precision-stitched into the seatbacks. Other standard content includes privacy glass, Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start and the I-CON (Integrated Control) system with automatic air conditioning. Revised Powertrain for Improved Dynamics NISMO's spirit of innovation and determination, born on the racetrack in 1984, remains at the heart of the performance brand today. This DNA has been injected into the JUKE NISMO in the form of a reworked version of Nissan's advanced inline 4-cylinder 1.6-liter DOHC aluminium-alloy Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbocharged engine. Direct injection helps improve combustion, enhancing power, torque, economy and emissions. The use of the turbocharger and intercooler also help boost power, while the variable timing control for both intake and exhaust cycles improves low-end engine response. For use in the JUKE NISMO, both power and torque have been increased without compromising emissions and efficiency. The JUKE NISMO is rated at 197 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, versus the standard JUKE's 188-horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. The front-wheel drive JUKE NISMO is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, while the all-wheel drive version comes with a sport-tuned version of Nissan's advanced Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission) with manual mode. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg City (est.) and 32 mpg Highway (est.) for JUKE NISMO FWD (6MT) model and 25 mpg City (est.) and 30 mpg Highway (est.) for JUKE NISMO AWD (CVT). Improved engine performance is only one element of Juke NISMO's dynamic enhancements. The suspension settings have been completely revised, leading to greater traction and improved body response and roll control. The suspension has also been lowered slightly versus non-NISMO JUKE settings, reducing the gap between the tires and wheelwells for a cleaner appearance and improved aerodynamics. An independent MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension is utilized on FWD models, while JUKE NISMO AWD model offers a multi-link rear suspension design. A cradle-type front subframe enhances lateral stiffness of the assembly. Front and rear stabilizer bars are standard on all models. The JUKE NISMO's vehicle-speed-sensing electric power-assisted steering has been reworked for sportier and more direct handling. Thanks to increased resistance at the wheel, more feedback is evident at medium and high speeds. Braking is supplied by power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. Advanced Torque Vectoring AWD The JUKE NISMO's advanced torque vectoring AWD system – standard in all 2013 JUKE AWD models – offers performance technology often reserved for premium vehicles. The torque vectoring system is designed to limit understeer by increasing torque to the outside rear wheel, helping the car follow its intended course. It also enhances agility, giving the JUKE NISMO exceptional ride comfort and handling in spite of its higher ground clearance when compared to other compact cars. As well as splitting torque front to rear – up to a maximum of 50:50 – the torque can also be shifted from side-to-side across the rear axle. In total, up to 50 percent of the total available engine torque can be sent to either rear wheel. Information collected by various sources (measuring wheel speed, steering angle, yaw rate and lateral G-force) is interpreted to anticipate the driver's intention. System actions are relayed to the driver via a real-time graphic display on the instrument panel depicting the torque distribution under all conditions. Both FWD and AWD JUKE NISMO models include another example of advanced Nissan technology – the innovative Integrated Control (I-CON) system that combines control of the automatic A/C and the three-mode drive selector – Normal for everyday driving; Sport for a more intense performance feel; and Eco for maximum efficiency – adjusting throttle, transmission (CVT) and steering feel. The centrally mounted I-CON digital screen changes display, color and functions depending on the mode selected by the driver. Settings alter throttle maps, steering effort and CVT shift schedules on the AWD models. In the D-Mode Sport setting, the throttle map is retuned to deliver higher engine revs and sharper responses, while in the Eco setting, engine revs are reduced for more gentle progress. In the M-CVT version (AWD only), the Sport setting even introduces a "rhythmic" auto upshift that simulates manual gear changes at redline. In addition, steering effort in Sport is firmer and more responsive, while in Normal it's lighter and more linear. In the Eco setting, the quantity of cold air circulating in the cabin is optimized, reducing the load on the climate control and lowering the system's power consumption. Real time trip information can also be displayed giving average speed, fuel economy, journey times and engine torque and turbo boost as well as a daily fuel consumption history. The I-CON system even incorporates a G-Force indicator. Said Loing: "For a vehicle of its compact size and attainable price, JUKE NISMO packs a huge amount of advanced performance technology." A Range of Available Features and Amenities The 2013 JUKE NISMO is offered with a range of features that add a level of convenience equal to its sporty style, including an available Nissan Navigation System with 5-inch color touch screen display and NavTraffic capability (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately), Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH™ audio system, USB interface (iPod® compatible) and RearView Monitor. Standard features include dual front and rear beverage holders, speed-sensitive automatic door locks, storage under the rear cargo floor (FWD models only), Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, Interface System for iPod®, and AM/FM/CD audio system with steering wheel controls. In the rear, a fold-down 60/40-split bench seat and flat load floor provide passenger and cargo hauling flexibility. Every JUKE NISMO comes equipped with the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage, dual-threshold front air bags and seat belt and occupant classification sensors, roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags for front and rear outboard occupant head protection, seat-mounted driver and front passenger side-impact supplemental air bags and front-seat Active Head Restraints. Other standard equipment includes LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system, Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer System, Vehicle Security System (VSS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS). Said Loing: "The JUKE NISMO combines distinctive style, advanced technology and a fun-to-drive factor that is unlike anything in the segment – all at an attainable price. It optimizes the already innovative JUKE design, re-engineering it to NISMO standards and sets the stage for future NISMO-branded models to come." 2014 model previewed at the Chicago Auto Show Features new exterior color with dark grey accents and red stripes Continues to offer 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, sport-tuned suspension and brakes and 19-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels Joins new JUKE NISMO in Nissan showrooms this summer In conjunction with the U.S. debut of the new 2013 Nissan JUKE NISMO – and the ongoing expansion of the NISMO brand worldwide – Nissan is giving attendees at the Chicago Auto Show a preview of the 2014 370Z NISMO. Set to go on sale at Nissan dealers nationwide this summer, the 370Z NISMO follows the new NISMO design theme with distinctive new exterior and interior accents. Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan Americas said: "The 370Z NISMO, since its introduction as part of the original Nissan 350Z lineup, has embodied the spirit of NISMO – race-proven engineering that is attainable. With the enhancements for the 2014 model year and the addition of the new JUKE NISMO, we're unifying the look and feel of these distinctive NISMO models and paving the way for additional NISMO vehicles to follow." With the current 370Z NISMO setting the bar as a tuner-Z® enthusiast's dream straight from the factory and fully warranted – offering 350 horsepower, racing-inspired exterior and interior styling, a specially tuned suspension and unique super-lightweight forged alloy wheels – the enhancements for 2014 are designed to up the car's already strong visual impact. On the exterior, new dark gray coloring is added to the front and rear fascias, lower side sills, side mirrors and NISMO rear spoiler, with each element (except side sills) featuring NISMO-style red pinstripe accents. In addition, Solid Red replaces the previous Magma Red as one of four 370Z NISMO exterior color choices. Interior enhancements include the addition of a new steering wheel with Alcantara appointments and red accents, and a red NISMO tachometer. The 370Z NISMO's outstanding performance is anchored by an advanced Nissan FM (Front Midship) platform, refined 4-wheel independent suspension and 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL) rated at 350 hp @ 7,400 rpm and 276 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm. The VVEL system helps optimize intake valve open/close movements, allowing the needed air to be sent promptly to the combustion chamber at the precisely optimized time. The 370Z NISMO's enhanced engine power and acceleration (versus non-NISMO 370Zs) is provided through use of an exclusive H-configured exhaust system design and muffler tuning, along with optimized ECM (Engine Control Module) calibration. Just one transmission is offered, a close-ratio 6-speed manual with Nissan's SynchroRev Match® synchronized downshift rev matching system. The SynchroRev Match® function automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the speed of the next gear position, essentially "blipping" the throttle to smooth out any up/down shifts. This not only allows the driver to focus more on braking and steering, it improves the smoothness of gear shifts by reducing the typical "shock" when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated with a button next to the shifter for drivers who prefer to shift on their own. The 370Z NISMO also features a tight, rigid body structure with a strut tower bar brace and a pair of performance dampers, which quickly and efficiently react to help control body vibrations from road input via the tires, contributing to the 370Z NISMO's outstanding handling and performance feel. The 370Z NISMO's double-wishbone front/4-link rear suspension design suspension is specially tuned for exceptional handling, including higher spring and stabilizer bar rates and increased roll stiffness and front and rear damping factors (compared to non-NISMO models). The 2014 370Z NISMO rides on unique 5-spoke Nissan-branded 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum-alloy wheels (19x9.5-inch front, 19x10.5-inch rear) with a Gun Metallic finish. The wheels are mounted with Bridgestone Potenza S001 Y-rated high-performance tires (245/40ZR19 front, 285/35ZR19 rear). Braking is provided by NISMO Sport Brakes with large diameter 14.0-inch front and 13.8-inch rear vented rotors with 4-piston front and 2-¬piston rear aluminum calipers. The braking system includes a variable ratio brake pedal, high-rigidity brake hoses, R35 Special II fluid and red-finish calipers. Along with the new color treatments, the 2014 370Z NISMO exterior includes an extended front nose design and a fully integrated chin spoiler – providing a sense of dynamic movement while enhancing airflow and downforce for enhanced aerodynamic performance. The 370Z NISMO is 6.2 inches longer than the standard 370Z Coupe. Special side sills and a unique rear bumper help control airflow under the vehicle, while the functional rear spoiler increases downforce. Four exterior colors are offered: Pearl White, Magnetic Black, Gun Metallic and Solid Red. Inside, the 370Z NISMO's driver-centric interior includes NISMO logo seats with black and red fabric and red stitching, a NISMO tachometer, steering wheel with Alcantara wrap and red parallel stitching, smooth leather-wrapped shift knob and aluminum-trimmed pedals. A special serialized plaque of authenticity, located on the vertical panel above the floor-mounted console, is matched to each 370Z NISMO identifying its unique serial and model year designation. The sporty woven cloth seats feature standard 8-way driver's/4-way passenger manual adjustments and adjustable front seat Active Head Restraints. Standard interior comfort and convenience features include Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start, power windows with one-touch auto up/down feature, power door locks with auto-lock feature and automatic climate control. An AM/FM/CD/AUX 4-speaker audio system is standard. Also available is a Bose® Package featuring an in-dash 6CD changer, two additional speakers (six total), two subwoofers, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, auto-dimming inside mirror and HomeLink® Universal Transceiver. There are no other options offered. Said Loing: "The great thing about the 370Z NISMO, like the JUKE NISMO, is that there is solid functionality behind every element – race-inspired but ready for the street – and with pure NISMO style." Along with the 370Z NISMO, the Nissan 370Z is available in 370Z Coupe and 370Z Roadster models. 2014 NISSAN GT-R ADDS NEW "TRACK EDITION" TO U.S. LINEUP; EXCLUSIVE TWO-SEAT SUPERCAR'S SALES BEGIN IN MAY • New Track Edition joins Premium and Black Edition models, allowing buyers to further specify their GT-R performance and equipment levels • Specialized Track Edition suspension developed at famed Nürburgring Circuit by GT-R development driver Toshio Suzuki • Driver-oriented interior features high-grip seating surfaces, deletion of rear seat • Body features include front spoiler with carbon fiber air ducts, brake cooling air guides The new Nissan GT-R Track Edition, which makes its U.S. debut at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, is the third and most exclusive model in the 2014 GT-R lineup. Designed to take Nissan's legendary 545-horsepower street supercar even closer to a pure motorsports competition machine, it features a specially tuned suspension, special brake cooling guides, front spoiler with carbon fiber air ducts and a lightweight quilted cloth mat where the rear seats usually reside. It is set to go on sale at select GT-R certified Nissan dealerships nationwide beginning in May 2013. Production will be limited to 150 cars for the U.S. market. Said Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan Americas: "The concept behind the GT-R Track Edition is to enable drivers who enjoy even more demanding high-performance driving than the GT-R Premium and Black Edition models' extreme performance, the chance to come closer to a competition spec vehicle – no back seat, stiffer suspension, higher grip seats, additional brake cooling – the works." Changes to the GT-R's sophisticated 4-wheel independent suspension for the Track Edition include specialized Bilstein DampTronic gas pressure shock absorbers and higher spring rates. Much of the 2014 GT-R's suspension development took place on the Nürburgring, one of the world's most challenging racing circuits, where the Track Edition damping force and handling benchmarks were further refined by GT-R development driver Toshio Suzuki. The Track Edition's air guides for the front and rear brakes were also refined through rigorous track testing. The Track Edition's performance enhancements are added to a significant number of upgrades to the GT-R for the 2014 model year, ranging from the adoption of new fuel injectors for enhanced torque response in the 4,500 – 6,000 rpm range and improved throttle and acceleration feel at mid- and high-rpm ranges, to the addition of an oil pan baffle to stabilize oil turbulence and oil pressure under high performance driving conditions. An aluminum nameplate is now added to each hand-assembled engine bearing the name of the specially trained "Takumi" craftsman who built that individual engine. In addition to developing 545 horsepower, the GT-R's standard VR38DETT V6 produces 463 lb-ft of torque. The engine is backed by an advanced paddle-shifted sequential 6-speed dual clutch transmission, which can be driver selected to shift at race car-like speeds (0.15 seconds). The sequential-shifting transaxle features separate wet clutches for the odd (1,3,5) and even (2,4,6) gears and pre-selects the next highest and next lowest gear for quick shifts. It also features Hill Start Assist for easy starts on uphill inclines. High performance differential oil, used in GT-R motorsports competition, is standard. The Nissan GT-R's unique Premium Midship platform, created expressly for use with the GT-R, enables the use of a world's first independent rear transaxle ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system, which optimizes weight distribution and handling capability. The rear drive-biased system can vary torque split from 0:100 to 50:50 depending on speed, lateral acceleration, steering angles, tire slip, road surface and yaw rate. In the interior, the new GT-R Track Edition includes special blue-trimmed high-grip front seats that use a special leather and fabric appointments. And, like all 2014 GT-Rs, the Track Edition's interior offers a cockpit-style instrument panel with a large center-mounted tachometer, a large metallic-framed center console with ergonomically designed shift lever, a red "engine start" button and carbon fiber interior trim. The centerpiece of the instrument panel is a video game-inspired multi-function display with 11 pages of available information, including mechanical and driving information, acceleration, brake pedal pressure, steering angle and a recording function with playback. Additional on-screen information includes a Navigation system and Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System. The navigation system includes NavTraffic Real-Time Traffic Information and NavWeather capabilities (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately). All 2014 GT-R models include a specially designed 11-speaker Bose® audio system that features two forward-facing woofers in the rear center armrest area. Rigid aluminum die cast panel-mounting of all speakers allowed Bose® engineers to perfect the acoustical performance of the GT-R sound system. Streaming Audio via Bluetooth® is also standard. Finishing off the GT-R Track Edition's special features are a handmade, lightweight dry carbon fiber rear spoiler and special metallic black six-spoke RAYS® forged lightweight wheels mounted with Dunlop® SP Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST CTT ultra high performance run-flat nitrogen-filled tires. (Both the wheels and spoiler are also offered on the Black Edition.) The rear spoiler's lightweight GT-R specific dry carbon fiber material* is also incredibly strong, contributing to increased aerodynamic downforce. The GT-R Track Edition is offered in five exterior colors: Deep Blue Pearl, Jet Black, Solid Red, Gun Metallic and Pearl White. Concluded Loing: "The new Track Edition sends the message that when it come to Nissan GT-R performance, there is no endpoint. We will continue to push its development and keep the competition in the rearview mirror. The legend continues." *Dry carbon fiber requires specific maintenance. Please see Owner's Manual for details. View full article
  5. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 10, 2013 Yesterday, we introduced you to most of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup. We didn't mention one model though, the new E63 AMG since Mercedes didn't release any information. Till today when Mercedes-Benz let loose the information and pictures of the new E63 AMG Sedan and Wagon. Outside, the E63 AMG sedan and wagon carry many of the changes seen on the new E-Class sedan and wagon. There is a set of full LED headlights, a twin-blade grille, 10-spoke, 19-inch titanium gray alloys, and what Mercedes-Benz calls 'A-Wing' air intakes under the bumpers. There's also a new S-Model which adds high-sheen rim flanges, red brake calipers, high-gloss treatment on the A-wing, and "S" badge on the trunk. Inside, there is black interior with contrasting gray stitching, silver seat belts, a flat-topped and flat-bottomed Nappa leather steering wheel with Alcantara inserts, and a 1,200-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo. Under the hood lies a twin-turbocharged 5.5L V8 producing either 550 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque on the standard model, and 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque on the S. All of that power is sent to a seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT dual-clutch transmission with four different drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Manual) and to a permanent "performance-oriented" all-wheel drive system that's biased 33/67 front-to-rear. The AWD system addsaround 154 pounds to the car's weight. There's also AMG adaptive sports suspension (front has steel, while the back uses an air suspension) and electronically controlled damping and Torque Vectoring Brake system. S-Model gets a limited-slip rear differential. Performance figures are staggering. 0-60 MPH takes 3.6 seconds on the standard E63 and 3.5 seconds with the S. Top speed is 155 MPH (electronically limited) or 186 MPH when equipped with the AMG Performance Package. The E63 AMG sedan and wagon arrives later in the summer. Source: Mercedes-Benz Album: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 12 images 0 comments William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 New benchmark for performance, dynamic purpose and efficiency The new E63 AMG 4MATIC and S-Model MONTVALE, NJ - Mercedes-AMG continues to emphasize performance, dynamic purpose and efficiency: The new 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC now features a redesigned, performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment and is also available as an especially powerful S Model with output of 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. The 5.5-liter AMG V8 Biturbo continues to be the benchmark of efficiency: No other competitor in this segment offers this combination of maximum performance and low fuel consumption. Permanent all-wheel drive is standard on all U.S. models – which also feature a power increase from 518 hp to 550 hp with a peak torque of 531 lb-ft. With this step Mercedes-AMG now for the first time offers powerful passenger cars with an all-wheel-drive system designed for vehicle dynamics. The 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC goes on-sale in the U.S. this summer. With the introduction of the new custom-tailored models, Mercedes-AMG offers its customers even more individuality than before. The 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC is more powerful and sports a more dynamic outfit than all its predecessors: Even at first glance the new AMG design philosophy is immediately apparent. The new "twin blade" radiator grille and a new "A-wing" in the AMG front fascia define the exclusive appearance. As before, the top-of-the-line E-Class AMG model is available as a sedan and wagon. Also adding significantly to the new models' appeal is the marked improvement in the price-performance ratio: E63 AMG 4MATIC customers now get even more power, better vehicle dynamics and a more extensive list of standard equipment. The new product logic also benefits the CLS63 AMG: Like the E63 AMG 4MATIC, the CLS63 AMG is available as an S-Model and with the performance oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC as standard. The addition of the E63 AMG and the CLS63 AMG means there are now also two all-wheel-drive passenger car models available from Mercedes-AMG besides the successful ML63 AMG, GL63 AMG, and G63 AMG SUV's. Additional models equipped with the performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC such as the CLA45 AMG will follow this year. Ola Källenius, CEO Mercedes-AMG GmbH: "The philosophy of Mercedes-AMG is driving performance. With the new model variants of the E63 AMG 4MATIC and CLS63 AMG 4MATIC it is also becoming clear that we offer our customers even more individuality than before. In particular the S-Models represent the most attractive offer in the competitive segment and score decisive points with a significant improvement in their price-performance ratio: The most power and the highest torque in the segment, the new performance-oriented AMG all wheel-drive system, the new design and a significantly more extensive standard-equipment package are among the outstanding strengths of the new high-performance automobiles from Affalterbach. With the innovative all wheel-drive S-Models we will reach new customers and markets." Tobias Moers, head of overall vehicle development and member of the management board of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: "We have significantly honed the dynamic profile of the 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC and the CLS63 AMG 4MATIC with the exclusive S-Models. Only AMG offers customers power and torque figures of such magnitude. Our AMG 5.5-liter V8 engine is still the world's most efficient V8 built in series production. With the newly developed performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC we not only deliver the best acceleration figures in the competitive segment, we also offer our customers markedly better vehicle dynamics than ever before." With an acceleration time of 3.5 seconds for the sprint from rest to 60 mph, the S-Model of the E63 AMG 4MATIC holds an undisputed top position in the competitive environment; the electronically limited top speed is 186 mph. In addition to the power increase, the performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC with a power distribution of 33 to 67 percent (front/rear axle) is also a major factor. Perfect traction during acceleration effectively prevents any losses due to wheel slip. On the new S-Model the AMG 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo engine produces a peak power output of 577 hp and delivers a peak torque of 590 lb-ft – an increase by 27 hp over the previously available AMG Performance package option. The increase in performance and power is made possible by modifications to the engine management system, an increase in the peak injection pressure and a hike in maximum boost pressure from 13.0 to 14.5 psi. The base model also adds 32 hp and 15 lb􀀐ft and now produces 550 hp of power and a peak torque of 531 lb-ft. Despite the added power and improved performance all E63 AMG 4MATIC models deliver high efficiency, low fuel consumption and low emissions. The AMG 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo engine is still the most efficient series-production V8 engine in its performance segment – and that with significantly more displacement than the direct competitors. AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission for a personal setup Maximum individuality and custom-tailored dynamics are the strengths of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission. Four drive programs, "C" (Controlled Efficiency), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport plus) and "M" (Manual), provide each driver with a personal setup. In "C" mode the ECO start/stop function is active and shuts off the eight-cylinder engine when the car is at a standstill. In addition, the driver experiences smooth transmission characteristics with comfortable and early gearshifts. In "C" mode the car generally starts in second gear. In the "S", "S+" and "M" transmission modes the engine and transmission are significantly more agile and the ECO start/stop function is deactivated. Perfectly tailored to a spirited driving style is the partial suppression of the cylinders. A brief and precisely defined retardation of ignition and injection under open throttle results in even faster gearshifts and a more aggressive exhaust note. An automatic rev-matching function for downshifts and the RACE START function are also part of the standard features of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission. Performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC for maximum dynamics The performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system sends 33 percent of the engine torque to the front and 67 percent to the rear axle. The rear-biased torque split ensures the high level of vehicle dynamics typical of AMG and maximum driving pleasure. The three-stage ESP® system is specifically calibrated to the permanent all-wheel-drive system. In "Sport Handling" mode the Torque Vectoring Brake applies the brakes to selected wheels in the interest of supreme agility: As a result, unwelcome understeer is prevented. During cornering a targeted brief brake intervention on the inside rear wheel affects a defined turn-in of the vehicle. The standard AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC improves road safety and traction on wet or wintery roads. Optimal traction is ensured by a multi-plate clutch with a locking force of 37 lb-ft, which increases road adhesion particularly on ice and snow. The technical basis is a transfer case for the additional power take-off to the driven front axle. It is integrated into the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission with minimum additional space requirements. The torque is transferred by the power take-off to the front axle via a drive shaft. The power from the front differential is transferred to the left half shaft by an intermediate shaft that runs in a sealed shaft tunnel in the engine oil pan. This compact and weight-optimized design results in a comparatively low added weight of just 154 lbs for the all-wheel-drive components. E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC with limited-slip rear differential Mercedes-AMG goes even one step further on the E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC. In keeping with its philosophy of "Driving Performance" the most powerful E-Class is equipped with a limited-slip rear differential. This high-tech package increases traction even further. The effect: Even better vehicle dynamics and more driving pleasure, in particular on the racetrack. All 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC models are equipped with the AMG Adaptive sports suspension with electronically controlled damping system. The front axle features a steel suspension, the rear axle an all-air suspension system. A push of the button with the shock absorber symbol in the AMG DRIVE UNIT is all it takes to switch the electronics from "Comfort" to "Sport" or "Sport plus." In conjunction with newly developed aluminum axle components this results in significantly more grip and agility while maintaining the vehicle's neutral handling during fast cornering. The S-Model's elastokinematics were perfectly tuned for performance and offer the driver optimal neutral handling at the limit as well as better feedback and grip. The E63 AMG 4MATIC's track on the front axle is 1.9 inches wider than the standard E-Class sedan and offers significantly better stability at high cornering speeds and better road feel. A more negative camber on both axles additionally improves lateral dynamics. The perfect complement is the electromechanical AMG sports speed-sensitive steering. In conjunction with the variable power assist dependent on the selected suspension mode, the direct steering ratio of 14 : 1 provides particularly agile cornering capabilities. The 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC features high-sheen 10-spoke AMG alloys painted titanium gray as standard. The front axle features tires in size 255/35 R 19 (front) and 285/30 R 19 (rear) on AMG alloys in size 9.0 x 19 and 9.5 x 19. Only the powerful S-Model comes with 10-spoke alloys painted in matte titanium gray with high-sheen rim flanges. AMG carbon ceramic high-performance braking system available as an option As of course with all AMG cars, the 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC also comes with an ultra-powerful AMG high-performance brake system. Vented and cross-drilled brake discs with a generous 14.2 in􀀑 diameter are fitted front and rear. Because of the special stresses they face, the front discs feature compound (two-piece) technology that has been tried and tested in motor racing. Brake calipers painted silver with white AMG lettering and six pistons (front) and four pistons (rear) provide responsive, fade-resistant deceleration and shortest stopping distances. The S-Model can be additionally identified by red brake calipers. AMG carbon ceramic high-performance brakes are available as an option exclusively on the S-Model – recognizable thanks to even bigger brake discs with a diameter of 15.8 in􀀑 and the "AMG Carbon Ceramic" logo on the specially painted brake calipers. Their advantages: The discs are 40 percent lighter, reducing the unsprung masses and improving vehicle dynamics, agility and ride comfort. The ceramic discs are also much harder, resulting in an extended service life and in increased resistance to extreme loads and heat. Unmistakable design with even more dynamic purpose and exclusivity Dynamic purpose and performance are not only the focus of the fascinating technology of the new E63 AMG 4MATIC; the design also consistently transports these defining characteristics. Visually the AMG high-performance automobile sets new trends as the first AMG model to show off the new AMG design philosophy. Dominating elements are the silver-chrome AMG "twin blade" radiator grille and the so-called "A-wing." The new three-dimensional air control element extends across the entire width of the AMG front fascia and sports the stylized "A" distinctive of AMG vehicles. The "A-wing" painted in body color with silver-chrome trim strip frames the three generously dimensioned cooling-air inlets. Black flics on the side air inlets ensure optimal airflow to the cooling modules; on the bottom a front splitter painted in body color contributes to increasing downforce. Convex and concave surfaces join the new, sculptured front end of the E63 AMG 4MATIC to the distinctive widened fenders, on which the "V8 BITURBO" lettering provides an indication of the superior engine power. The side air outlets, the black mesh and the two chrome-plated dual tailpipes of the AMG sports exhaust system emphasize the width of the vehicle in the rear. The black diffuser insert with pronounced fins lends the rear of the E63 AMG 4MATIC a strong touch of racetrack ambiance. S-Model with even more striking design features The 2014 E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC differs from the base model in numerous restyled and even more striking design features. The "A-wing" in the front has a black high-gloss finish; the front splitter and the striking three-dimensional inserts of the side skirts sport a silver-chrome design. The silver-chrome trim strip and the two unmistakable dual tailpipes of the AMG sport exhaust system provide a powerful effect in the rear. The AMG separation edge painted in body color (sedan only) reduces lift at high speeds. The 10-spoke AMG alloys, painted matte titanium gray and featuring high sheen rim flanges, and the large tires in sizes 255/35 R 19 in front and 285/30 R 19 in the rear fill out the wheel wells perfectly. Red brake calipers and an AMG logo with contrasting black "S" on the trunk lid are further features of the S-Models. Interior with dynamic-exclusive interior The interior of the E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC comes with – depending on customer preferences – gray contrasting seams on the AMG sports seats, the door center panels, the armrests of the doors and the center console. The interior also features silver-colored seat belts in conjunction with a black interior. The grip areas of the black Nappa leather steering wheel rim with flattened top and bottom is finished in Alcantara® with gray contrasting seams. The front head restraints of the AMG sports seats are embossed with AMG crests. The redesigned AMG instrument cluster carries an "S AMG" logo on the 200 mph speedometer with red needles. The standard equipment also includes AMG door sill panels backlit in white, power rear roller blinds (sedan only) in addition to many other details. Distinctive to all E63 AMG 4MATIC models are highest quality materials, excellent workmanship and the exclusive ambiance. The new AMG-specific analog clock in IWC design between the two central ventilation outlets serves as an appealing focal point. Highlights of standard equipment on all E63 AMG 4MATIC models also include: • AMG door sill panels • AMG sports pedals made from brushed stainless steel with rubber studs • ATTENTION ASSIST • COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST • Metallic paintwork • All-LED headlights The following styling and trim options are available: • AMG Carbon-Fiber Exterior Styling package • AMG Night package (A-wing with trim strip, front splitter, inserts of the door sill panels, exterior mirror housings and rear fascia trim strips in high-gloss black, dual exhaust embellishers black chrome-plated) • AMG carbon-fiber engine cover • AMG high-sheen forged wheels with 5-twin-spoke wheel bolt cover, painted titanium gray • AMG trim elements carbon-fiber/piano lacquer finish • designo styling elements Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end surround-sound system A particular highlight in the selection of optional equipment for the E-Class Sedan and Wagon is the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end surround sound system. Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG have created this high-end sound system together with renowned Danish audio specialist Bang & Olufsen. The sound system is of course capable of Dolby Digital 5.1 playback and provides an exclusive music experience with unparalleled sound. The basis for this is not only the 1,200 watt amplifier and the 14 high-end speakers with neodymium drivers, but also the distribution of the music signals that is precisely controlled by the sound processor. This integrated digital sound processor (DSP) provides drivers with the option of selecting a special B&O sound menu on the COMAND system. In True Image™ mode individual sound settings for the front, center and rear can be selected. The effect: A realistic sound experience at the selected listening position. The "Sound Mode" menu also has various preset sound modes that allow choosing between a high-end "Reference" studio sound and a spacious surround sound. While "Reference" puts the focus on the sound presentation of the artist, the special surround sound mode delivers a spacious surround-sound experience. In particular live recordings or concertos result in a unique panoramic sound in the vehicle without altering the naturalness of the recording. 50-watt illuminated tweeters with acoustic lens technology arranged in the mirror triangle add special highlights. High-end Bang & Olufsen aluminum speaker covers in silver chrome with Bang & Olufsen logo additionally signal the exceptional position of the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end surround-sound system. The U.S. market launch of the new all-wheel-drive E63 AMG 4MATIC and the E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC will begin in the Summer of 2013. Quick Reference: Availability: Summer 2013 Models/Performance: • E63 AMG 4MATIC Sedan: AMG biturbo 5.5-liter V8 (550 hp, 531 lb-ft) • E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC Sedan: AMG biturbo 5.5-liter V8 (577 hp, 590 lb-ft) • E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC Wagon: AMG biturbo 5.5-liter V8 (577 hp, 590 lb-ft) New Standard Feature Highlights: • Performance-oriented 4MATIC all-wheel-drive (33/67 power distribution) • Power Increase (+32 hp, +15 lb-ft) • Redesigned exterior with integrated star and AMG twin-blade radiator grille • All-LED Headlights • COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST • ATTENTION ASSIST 2.0 New Optional Feature Highlights: • S-Model Configuration • Power Increase (+27 hp, +59 lb-ft) • Limited slip rear differential • 10-Spoke AMG Matte Titanium Grey alloy wheels with high-sheen rim flanges • High-gloss black "A-wing" • Red Brake Calipers • Contrast stitching on seats, door trim, armrests and center console • Silver seat belts (black interior only) • Alcantara steering wheel grips • 'S' badging on trunk and speedometer • AMG Carbon Fiber Engine Cover • Carbon Fiber Exterior Styling Package • Forged twin 5-spoke 19" wheel • Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG High-End Surround-Sound System View full article
  6. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 10, 2013 Yesterday, we introduced you to most of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup. We didn't mention one model though, the new E63 AMG since Mercedes didn't release any information. Till today when Mercedes-Benz let loose the information and pictures of the new E63 AMG Sedan and Wagon. Outside, the E63 AMG sedan and wagon carry many of the changes seen on the new E-Class sedan and wagon. There is a set of full LED headlights, a twin-blade grille, 10-spoke, 19-inch titanium gray alloys, and what Mercedes-Benz calls 'A-Wing' air intakes under the bumpers. There's also a new S-Model which adds high-sheen rim flanges, red brake calipers, high-gloss treatment on the A-wing, and "S" badge on the trunk. Inside, there is black interior with contrasting gray stitching, silver seat belts, a flat-topped and flat-bottomed Nappa leather steering wheel with Alcantara inserts, and a 1,200-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo. Under the hood lies a twin-turbocharged 5.5L V8 producing either 550 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque on the standard model, and 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque on the S. All of that power is sent to a seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT dual-clutch transmission with four different drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Manual) and to a permanent "performance-oriented" all-wheel drive system that's biased 33/67 front-to-rear. The AWD system addsaround 154 pounds to the car's weight. There's also AMG adaptive sports suspension (front has steel, while the back uses an air suspension) and electronically controlled damping and Torque Vectoring Brake system. S-Model gets a limited-slip rear differential. Performance figures are staggering. 0-60 MPH takes 3.6 seconds on the standard E63 and 3.5 seconds with the S. Top speed is 155 MPH (electronically limited) or 186 MPH when equipped with the AMG Performance Package. The E63 AMG sedan and wagon arrives later in the summer. Source: Mercedes-Benz Album: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 12 images 0 comments William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 New benchmark for performance, dynamic purpose and efficiency The new E63 AMG 4MATIC and S-Model MONTVALE, NJ - Mercedes-AMG continues to emphasize performance, dynamic purpose and efficiency: The new 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC now features a redesigned, performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment and is also available as an especially powerful S Model with output of 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. The 5.5-liter AMG V8 Biturbo continues to be the benchmark of efficiency: No other competitor in this segment offers this combination of maximum performance and low fuel consumption. Permanent all-wheel drive is standard on all U.S. models – which also feature a power increase from 518 hp to 550 hp with a peak torque of 531 lb-ft. With this step Mercedes-AMG now for the first time offers powerful passenger cars with an all-wheel-drive system designed for vehicle dynamics. The 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC goes on-sale in the U.S. this summer. With the introduction of the new custom-tailored models, Mercedes-AMG offers its customers even more individuality than before. The 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC is more powerful and sports a more dynamic outfit than all its predecessors: Even at first glance the new AMG design philosophy is immediately apparent. The new "twin blade" radiator grille and a new "A-wing" in the AMG front fascia define the exclusive appearance. As before, the top-of-the-line E-Class AMG model is available as a sedan and wagon. Also adding significantly to the new models' appeal is the marked improvement in the price-performance ratio: E63 AMG 4MATIC customers now get even more power, better vehicle dynamics and a more extensive list of standard equipment. The new product logic also benefits the CLS63 AMG: Like the E63 AMG 4MATIC, the CLS63 AMG is available as an S-Model and with the performance oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC as standard. The addition of the E63 AMG and the CLS63 AMG means there are now also two all-wheel-drive passenger car models available from Mercedes-AMG besides the successful ML63 AMG, GL63 AMG, and G63 AMG SUV's. Additional models equipped with the performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC such as the CLA45 AMG will follow this year. Ola Källenius, CEO Mercedes-AMG GmbH: "The philosophy of Mercedes-AMG is driving performance. With the new model variants of the E63 AMG 4MATIC and CLS63 AMG 4MATIC it is also becoming clear that we offer our customers even more individuality than before. In particular the S-Models represent the most attractive offer in the competitive segment and score decisive points with a significant improvement in their price-performance ratio: The most power and the highest torque in the segment, the new performance-oriented AMG all wheel-drive system, the new design and a significantly more extensive standard-equipment package are among the outstanding strengths of the new high-performance automobiles from Affalterbach. With the innovative all wheel-drive S-Models we will reach new customers and markets." Tobias Moers, head of overall vehicle development and member of the management board of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: "We have significantly honed the dynamic profile of the 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC and the CLS63 AMG 4MATIC with the exclusive S-Models. Only AMG offers customers power and torque figures of such magnitude. Our AMG 5.5-liter V8 engine is still the world's most efficient V8 built in series production. With the newly developed performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC we not only deliver the best acceleration figures in the competitive segment, we also offer our customers markedly better vehicle dynamics than ever before." With an acceleration time of 3.5 seconds for the sprint from rest to 60 mph, the S-Model of the E63 AMG 4MATIC holds an undisputed top position in the competitive environment; the electronically limited top speed is 186 mph. In addition to the power increase, the performance-oriented AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC with a power distribution of 33 to 67 percent (front/rear axle) is also a major factor. Perfect traction during acceleration effectively prevents any losses due to wheel slip. On the new S-Model the AMG 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo engine produces a peak power output of 577 hp and delivers a peak torque of 590 lb-ft – an increase by 27 hp over the previously available AMG Performance package option. The increase in performance and power is made possible by modifications to the engine management system, an increase in the peak injection pressure and a hike in maximum boost pressure from 13.0 to 14.5 psi. The base model also adds 32 hp and 15 lb􀀐ft and now produces 550 hp of power and a peak torque of 531 lb-ft. Despite the added power and improved performance all E63 AMG 4MATIC models deliver high efficiency, low fuel consumption and low emissions. The AMG 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo engine is still the most efficient series-production V8 engine in its performance segment – and that with significantly more displacement than the direct competitors. AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission for a personal setup Maximum individuality and custom-tailored dynamics are the strengths of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission. Four drive programs, "C" (Controlled Efficiency), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport plus) and "M" (Manual), provide each driver with a personal setup. In "C" mode the ECO start/stop function is active and shuts off the eight-cylinder engine when the car is at a standstill. In addition, the driver experiences smooth transmission characteristics with comfortable and early gearshifts. In "C" mode the car generally starts in second gear. In the "S", "S+" and "M" transmission modes the engine and transmission are significantly more agile and the ECO start/stop function is deactivated. Perfectly tailored to a spirited driving style is the partial suppression of the cylinders. A brief and precisely defined retardation of ignition and injection under open throttle results in even faster gearshifts and a more aggressive exhaust note. An automatic rev-matching function for downshifts and the RACE START function are also part of the standard features of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission. Performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC for maximum dynamics The performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system sends 33 percent of the engine torque to the front and 67 percent to the rear axle. The rear-biased torque split ensures the high level of vehicle dynamics typical of AMG and maximum driving pleasure. The three-stage ESP® system is specifically calibrated to the permanent all-wheel-drive system. In "Sport Handling" mode the Torque Vectoring Brake applies the brakes to selected wheels in the interest of supreme agility: As a result, unwelcome understeer is prevented. During cornering a targeted brief brake intervention on the inside rear wheel affects a defined turn-in of the vehicle. The standard AMG all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC improves road safety and traction on wet or wintery roads. Optimal traction is ensured by a multi-plate clutch with a locking force of 37 lb-ft, which increases road adhesion particularly on ice and snow. The technical basis is a transfer case for the additional power take-off to the driven front axle. It is integrated into the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission with minimum additional space requirements. The torque is transferred by the power take-off to the front axle via a drive shaft. The power from the front differential is transferred to the left half shaft by an intermediate shaft that runs in a sealed shaft tunnel in the engine oil pan. This compact and weight-optimized design results in a comparatively low added weight of just 154 lbs for the all-wheel-drive components. E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC with limited-slip rear differential Mercedes-AMG goes even one step further on the E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC. In keeping with its philosophy of "Driving Performance" the most powerful E-Class is equipped with a limited-slip rear differential. This high-tech package increases traction even further. The effect: Even better vehicle dynamics and more driving pleasure, in particular on the racetrack. All 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC models are equipped with the AMG Adaptive sports suspension with electronically controlled damping system. The front axle features a steel suspension, the rear axle an all-air suspension system. A push of the button with the shock absorber symbol in the AMG DRIVE UNIT is all it takes to switch the electronics from "Comfort" to "Sport" or "Sport plus." In conjunction with newly developed aluminum axle components this results in significantly more grip and agility while maintaining the vehicle's neutral handling during fast cornering. The S-Model's elastokinematics were perfectly tuned for performance and offer the driver optimal neutral handling at the limit as well as better feedback and grip. The E63 AMG 4MATIC's track on the front axle is 1.9 inches wider than the standard E-Class sedan and offers significantly better stability at high cornering speeds and better road feel. A more negative camber on both axles additionally improves lateral dynamics. The perfect complement is the electromechanical AMG sports speed-sensitive steering. In conjunction with the variable power assist dependent on the selected suspension mode, the direct steering ratio of 14 : 1 provides particularly agile cornering capabilities. The 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC features high-sheen 10-spoke AMG alloys painted titanium gray as standard. The front axle features tires in size 255/35 R 19 (front) and 285/30 R 19 (rear) on AMG alloys in size 9.0 x 19 and 9.5 x 19. Only the powerful S-Model comes with 10-spoke alloys painted in matte titanium gray with high-sheen rim flanges. AMG carbon ceramic high-performance braking system available as an option As of course with all AMG cars, the 2014 E63 AMG 4MATIC also comes with an ultra-powerful AMG high-performance brake system. Vented and cross-drilled brake discs with a generous 14.2 in􀀑 diameter are fitted front and rear. Because of the special stresses they face, the front discs feature compound (two-piece) technology that has been tried and tested in motor racing. Brake calipers painted silver with white AMG lettering and six pistons (front) and four pistons (rear) provide responsive, fade-resistant deceleration and shortest stopping distances. The S-Model can be additionally identified by red brake calipers. AMG carbon ceramic high-performance brakes are available as an option exclusively on the S-Model – recognizable thanks to even bigger brake discs with a diameter of 15.8 in􀀑 and the "AMG Carbon Ceramic" logo on the specially painted brake calipers. Their advantages: The discs are 40 percent lighter, reducing the unsprung masses and improving vehicle dynamics, agility and ride comfort. The ceramic discs are also much harder, resulting in an extended service life and in increased resistance to extreme loads and heat. Unmistakable design with even more dynamic purpose and exclusivity Dynamic purpose and performance are not only the focus of the fascinating technology of the new E63 AMG 4MATIC; the design also consistently transports these defining characteristics. Visually the AMG high-performance automobile sets new trends as the first AMG model to show off the new AMG design philosophy. Dominating elements are the silver-chrome AMG "twin blade" radiator grille and the so-called "A-wing." The new three-dimensional air control element extends across the entire width of the AMG front fascia and sports the stylized "A" distinctive of AMG vehicles. The "A-wing" painted in body color with silver-chrome trim strip frames the three generously dimensioned cooling-air inlets. Black flics on the side air inlets ensure optimal airflow to the cooling modules; on the bottom a front splitter painted in body color contributes to increasing downforce. Convex and concave surfaces join the new, sculptured front end of the E63 AMG 4MATIC to the distinctive widened fenders, on which the "V8 BITURBO" lettering provides an indication of the superior engine power. The side air outlets, the black mesh and the two chrome-plated dual tailpipes of the AMG sports exhaust system emphasize the width of the vehicle in the rear. The black diffuser insert with pronounced fins lends the rear of the E63 AMG 4MATIC a strong touch of racetrack ambiance. S-Model with even more striking design features The 2014 E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC differs from the base model in numerous restyled and even more striking design features. The "A-wing" in the front has a black high-gloss finish; the front splitter and the striking three-dimensional inserts of the side skirts sport a silver-chrome design. The silver-chrome trim strip and the two unmistakable dual tailpipes of the AMG sport exhaust system provide a powerful effect in the rear. The AMG separation edge painted in body color (sedan only) reduces lift at high speeds. The 10-spoke AMG alloys, painted matte titanium gray and featuring high sheen rim flanges, and the large tires in sizes 255/35 R 19 in front and 285/30 R 19 in the rear fill out the wheel wells perfectly. Red brake calipers and an AMG logo with contrasting black "S" on the trunk lid are further features of the S-Models. Interior with dynamic-exclusive interior The interior of the E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC comes with – depending on customer preferences – gray contrasting seams on the AMG sports seats, the door center panels, the armrests of the doors and the center console. The interior also features silver-colored seat belts in conjunction with a black interior. The grip areas of the black Nappa leather steering wheel rim with flattened top and bottom is finished in Alcantara® with gray contrasting seams. The front head restraints of the AMG sports seats are embossed with AMG crests. The redesigned AMG instrument cluster carries an "S AMG" logo on the 200 mph speedometer with red needles. The standard equipment also includes AMG door sill panels backlit in white, power rear roller blinds (sedan only) in addition to many other details. Distinctive to all E63 AMG 4MATIC models are highest quality materials, excellent workmanship and the exclusive ambiance. The new AMG-specific analog clock in IWC design between the two central ventilation outlets serves as an appealing focal point. Highlights of standard equipment on all E63 AMG 4MATIC models also include: • AMG door sill panels • AMG sports pedals made from brushed stainless steel with rubber studs • ATTENTION ASSIST • COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST • Metallic paintwork • All-LED headlights The following styling and trim options are available: • AMG Carbon-Fiber Exterior Styling package • AMG Night package (A-wing with trim strip, front splitter, inserts of the door sill panels, exterior mirror housings and rear fascia trim strips in high-gloss black, dual exhaust embellishers black chrome-plated) • AMG carbon-fiber engine cover • AMG high-sheen forged wheels with 5-twin-spoke wheel bolt cover, painted titanium gray • AMG trim elements carbon-fiber/piano lacquer finish • designo styling elements Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end surround-sound system A particular highlight in the selection of optional equipment for the E-Class Sedan and Wagon is the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end surround sound system. Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG have created this high-end sound system together with renowned Danish audio specialist Bang & Olufsen. The sound system is of course capable of Dolby Digital 5.1 playback and provides an exclusive music experience with unparalleled sound. The basis for this is not only the 1,200 watt amplifier and the 14 high-end speakers with neodymium drivers, but also the distribution of the music signals that is precisely controlled by the sound processor. This integrated digital sound processor (DSP) provides drivers with the option of selecting a special B&O sound menu on the COMAND system. In True Image™ mode individual sound settings for the front, center and rear can be selected. The effect: A realistic sound experience at the selected listening position. The "Sound Mode" menu also has various preset sound modes that allow choosing between a high-end "Reference" studio sound and a spacious surround sound. While "Reference" puts the focus on the sound presentation of the artist, the special surround sound mode delivers a spacious surround-sound experience. In particular live recordings or concertos result in a unique panoramic sound in the vehicle without altering the naturalness of the recording. 50-watt illuminated tweeters with acoustic lens technology arranged in the mirror triangle add special highlights. High-end Bang & Olufsen aluminum speaker covers in silver chrome with Bang & Olufsen logo additionally signal the exceptional position of the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end surround-sound system. The U.S. market launch of the new all-wheel-drive E63 AMG 4MATIC and the E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC will begin in the Summer of 2013. Quick Reference: Availability: Summer 2013 Models/Performance: • E63 AMG 4MATIC Sedan: AMG biturbo 5.5-liter V8 (550 hp, 531 lb-ft) • E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC Sedan: AMG biturbo 5.5-liter V8 (577 hp, 590 lb-ft) • E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC Wagon: AMG biturbo 5.5-liter V8 (577 hp, 590 lb-ft) New Standard Feature Highlights: • Performance-oriented 4MATIC all-wheel-drive (33/67 power distribution) • Power Increase (+32 hp, +15 lb-ft) • Redesigned exterior with integrated star and AMG twin-blade radiator grille • All-LED Headlights • COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST • ATTENTION ASSIST 2.0 New Optional Feature Highlights: • S-Model Configuration • Power Increase (+27 hp, +59 lb-ft) • Limited slip rear differential • 10-Spoke AMG Matte Titanium Grey alloy wheels with high-sheen rim flanges • High-gloss black "A-wing" • Red Brake Calipers • Contrast stitching on seats, door trim, armrests and center console • Silver seat belts (black interior only) • Alcantara steering wheel grips • 'S' badging on trunk and speedometer • AMG Carbon Fiber Engine Cover • Carbon Fiber Exterior Styling Package • Forged twin 5-spoke 19" wheel • Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG High-End Surround-Sound System
  7. William Maley

    2014 Kia Cadenza

    William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 18, 2013 Remember the Kia Amanti? No? Well to be fair, not many people remember at all either. The Amanti was Kia's first attempt at a full-size sedan that was introduced back in 2003 as a 2004 model. The car was a flop; weird styling cues, poor performance, and Kia's not so sterling reputation at the time sealed the Amanti's fate and in 2009, it was gone. Four years on, Kia is giving the full-size sedan another chance with the 2014 Cadenza. With a more powerful engine, better styling, long list of features, and more, Kia hopes that the second time is the charm. Is it? I spent some time with the Cadenza to find out. The Cadenza's design is, well, kind of boring. This is from Kia, a brand that has produced some very stylish and distinctive vehicles; the Optima, Sportage, new Forte, and Soul. The Cadenza's shape is playing it safe, which I can understand. But with the likes of the new Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300, and Hyundai Azera, the Cadenza looks very plain. The overall profile reminds me of the current BMW 5-Series, especially in the back where two models have a similar design. The front end has Kia's tiger grille and distinctively shaped headlights. The side has a bold door crease and a set of nineteen-inch wheels. Moving inside, the Cadenza shows that Kia has learned lot about doing a luxurious interior. You'll find plenty of stitched leather, soft-touch material, and wood trim lining the dashboard and door panels. Even the key for the Cadenza was done with a piano black finish. The one part I wished Kia could have done somewhat better is the center stack button layout. All of the buttons are similar to each other in shape and size, and you have to look to figure which button takes you to XM and not the CD player. Not a fun experience when you're on the move.Comfort is hit and miss with Cadenza. Passengers will find a pleasant amount of head and legroom, and heated seats for all. The driver gets a ten-way power adjustable seat with three-level heating and ventilation. The passenger only gets two-level heating and a four-way power seat with no height adjustment (not even manual adjustment). Both features I would expect in a vehicle that carries a pricetag of $41,900. It gets worse when you consider the 2014 Chevrolet Impala I had a few weeks back came with two-level heated and ventilated seat and height adjustment for the passenger. Add in the fact that Impala came with a pricetag that $2,490 less than the Cadenza and it's not looking that good. As for tech, the Cadenza starts off with a configurable center gauge display. It's a bit interesting Kia decided to with this instead of a large trip computer screen and a analog speedometer since it looks a little out of place. Still, the screen was vibrant and able to show key information clearly. There is also Kia's next-generation UVO infotainment system. I'll be diving more into this in a separate review. That's it for the software, how is the hardware? On to page two! Powering the Cadenza is the same engine you'll find under the Hyundai Azera; a 3.3L direct-injected V6 with 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is very lively engine and moves the 3,792 pound vehicle with no sweat. The six-speed automatic is very refined with smooth and quick shifts. I wished Kia did not put in paddle shifters in the Cadenza since it feels out of place. Fuel economy numbers for the 19 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. My week's average in the Cadenza was around 21.2 MPG. The Cadenza ride and handling are somewhat surprising for a full size sedan. Driving around town, on the freeway, or on the back roads, the Cadenza provided a very refined ride. Also refined is the Cadenza's quietness. Kia used a lot of sound deadening throughout the vehicle and you can hear difference. As I wrote in my notes, the Cadenza is as quiet or even quieter than the Impala I had a few weeks back.Show the Cadenza a curvy road and this is where things get interesting. The suspension provide firmness and a limited amount of body roll. Steering is light, but provided good feel. I would say the Cadenza is about the same as the Impala in driving fun, but I would put the Impala somewhat higher as I felt more confident in it, mostly due to the Impala's heavier steering feel. One other feature I should mention is the Cadenza's Advance Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) which comes part of the Technology Package. The Advance Smart Cruise Control was one of the smoothest systems I have come across. Keeping up with the flow of traffic was no problem as the system was able to smoothly speed up and slow down. Even when a car cut in front the Cadenza, the system was able to slow down the vehicle and keep a safe distance.Kia almost has a real winner with the 2014 Cadenza. They learned from their past mistakes with the Amanti and produced a vehicle that is close to a very worthy option. The only items that gives me pause are missing items on a vehicle with an almost $42,000 pricetag and a confusing center stack layout. If Kia can remedy those two items, then we'll have a real contender on our hands. Disclaimer: Kia provided the Cadenza, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2014 Make: Kia Model: Cadenza Trim: N/A Engine: 3.3L GDI DOHC V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 293 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 255 lb-ft @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/28/22 Curb Weight: 3,792 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hwasung, South Korea Base Price: $35,100.00 As Tested Price: $41,900.00* (Includes $800.00 destination charge) Options: Technology Package - $3,000 Luxury Package - $3,000 White Interior Package - $0.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  8. William Maley

    2014 Kia Cadenza

    William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 18, 2013 Remember the Kia Amanti? No? Well to be fair, not many people remember at all either. The Amanti was Kia's first attempt at a full-size sedan that was introduced back in 2003 as a 2004 model. The car was a flop; weird styling cues, poor performance, and Kia's not so sterling reputation at the time sealed the Amanti's fate and in 2009, it was gone. Four years on, Kia is giving the full-size sedan another chance with the 2014 Cadenza. With a more powerful engine, better styling, long list of features, and more, Kia hopes that the second time is the charm. Is it? I spent some time with the Cadenza to find out. The Cadenza's design is, well, kind of boring. This is from Kia, a brand that has produced some very stylish and distinctive vehicles; the Optima, Sportage, new Forte, and Soul. The Cadenza's shape is playing it safe, which I can understand. But with the likes of the new Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300, and Hyundai Azera, the Cadenza looks very plain. The overall profile reminds me of the current BMW 5-Series, especially in the back where two models have a similar design. The front end has Kia's tiger grille and distinctively shaped headlights. The side has a bold door crease and a set of nineteen-inch wheels. Moving inside, the Cadenza shows that Kia has learned lot about doing a luxurious interior. You'll find plenty of stitched leather, soft-touch material, and wood trim lining the dashboard and door panels. Even the key for the Cadenza was done with a piano black finish. The one part I wished Kia could have done somewhat better is the center stack button layout. All of the buttons are similar to each other in shape and size, and you have to look to figure which button takes you to XM and not the CD player. Not a fun experience when you're on the move.Comfort is hit and miss with Cadenza. Passengers will find a pleasant amount of head and legroom, and heated seats for all. The driver gets a ten-way power adjustable seat with three-level heating and ventilation. The passenger only gets two-level heating and a four-way power seat with no height adjustment (not even manual adjustment). Both features I would expect in a vehicle that carries a pricetag of $41,900. It gets worse when you consider the 2014 Chevrolet Impala I had a few weeks back came with two-level heated and ventilated seat and height adjustment for the passenger. Add in the fact that Impala came with a pricetag that $2,490 less than the Cadenza and it's not looking that good. As for tech, the Cadenza starts off with a configurable center gauge display. It's a bit interesting Kia decided to with this instead of a large trip computer screen and a analog speedometer since it looks a little out of place. Still, the screen was vibrant and able to show key information clearly. There is also Kia's next-generation UVO infotainment system. I'll be diving more into this in a separate review. That's it for the software, how is the hardware? On to page two! Powering the Cadenza is the same engine you'll find under the Hyundai Azera; a 3.3L direct-injected V6 with 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is very lively engine and moves the 3,792 pound vehicle with no sweat. The six-speed automatic is very refined with smooth and quick shifts. I wished Kia did not put in paddle shifters in the Cadenza since it feels out of place. Fuel economy numbers for the 19 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. My week's average in the Cadenza was around 21.2 MPG. The Cadenza ride and handling are somewhat surprising for a full size sedan. Driving around town, on the freeway, or on the back roads, the Cadenza provided a very refined ride. Also refined is the Cadenza's quietness. Kia used a lot of sound deadening throughout the vehicle and you can hear difference. As I wrote in my notes, the Cadenza is as quiet or even quieter than the Impala I had a few weeks back.Show the Cadenza a curvy road and this is where things get interesting. The suspension provide firmness and a limited amount of body roll. Steering is light, but provided good feel. I would say the Cadenza is about the same as the Impala in driving fun, but I would put the Impala somewhat higher as I felt more confident in it, mostly due to the Impala's heavier steering feel. One other feature I should mention is the Cadenza's Advance Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) which comes part of the Technology Package. The Advance Smart Cruise Control was one of the smoothest systems I have come across. Keeping up with the flow of traffic was no problem as the system was able to smoothly speed up and slow down. Even when a car cut in front the Cadenza, the system was able to slow down the vehicle and keep a safe distance.Kia almost has a real winner with the 2014 Cadenza. They learned from their past mistakes with the Amanti and produced a vehicle that is close to a very worthy option. The only items that gives me pause are missing items on a vehicle with an almost $42,000 pricetag and a confusing center stack layout. If Kia can remedy those two items, then we'll have a real contender on our hands. Disclaimer: Kia provided the Cadenza, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2014 Make: Kia Model: Cadenza Trim: N/A Engine: 3.3L GDI DOHC V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 293 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 255 lb-ft @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/28/22 Curb Weight: 3,792 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hwasung, South Korea Base Price: $35,100.00 As Tested Price: $41,900.00* (Includes $800.00 destination charge) Options: Technology Package - $3,000 Luxury Package - $3,000 White Interior Package - $0.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  9. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2014 Cadillac XTS VSport Premium

    One of my favorite vehicles I drove last year was the 2013 Cadillac XTS. I loved the looks, luxury appointments, and the ride characteristics of the big sedan. What I wasn’t too keen on was the 3.6L DI V6. As I said in my review, the 3.6 had to be worked to get it moving. Not something that is very characteristic of a big Cadillac sedan. Well the brand has introduced a new variant of the XTS called the XTS VSport with a new turbocharged V6 engine. Is the fix that the XTS needed? The turbocharged V6 in question is the 3.6L Twin-Turbo V6 from the CTS VSport. For the XTS VSport, it has been slightly detuned from 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet to 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to an six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system. The engine makes a massive difference in how the XTS drives. Instead of working the throttle to get the XTS moving at a somewhat decent clip, the TT 3.6 is able to get this 4,200 pound vehicle moving at a fast clip with no problem at all. Power is seemingly available throughout the rev range. So no matter whether you are leaving a stop or making a pass, power is right there. That isn’t the only change made the XTS VSport. Cadillac also retuned the XTS’ suspension to give it a more sporting character. Down on one of the roads I use for evaluation, I noticed that the VSport does minimize the amount of body roll that was on the standard XTS. But don’t expect much more than that. Steering has a little more heft, but no more feel than the standard model. For most buyers of the XTS VSport, this won’t be a big deal. Besides the new engine, the VSport is mostly the same as the standard XTS. The key items on the exterior that show its true nature aside from the V badge on the trunk is a new front clip and a set of nineteen-inch wheels. Our XTS VSport tester rings at $65,415 and for the improvement of the TT 3.6 V6, it's worth it. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the XTS VSport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Cadillac Model: XTS Trim: VSport Premium Engine: 3.6L V6 Twin-Turbo VVT DI Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 410 @ 6000 Torque @ RPM: 369 @ 1900-5600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,215 lbs Location of Manufacture: Oshawa, Ontario Base Price: $62,095 As Tested Price: $65,415 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Package - $2,395.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  10. One of my favorite vehicles I drove last year was the 2013 Cadillac XTS. I loved the looks, luxury appointments, and the ride characteristics of the big sedan. What I wasn’t too keen on was the 3.6L DI V6. As I said in my review, the 3.6 had to be worked to get it moving. Not something that is very characteristic of a big Cadillac sedan. Well the brand has introduced a new variant of the XTS called the XTS VSport with a new turbocharged V6 engine. Is the fix that the XTS needed? The turbocharged V6 in question is the 3.6L Twin-Turbo V6 from the CTS VSport. For the XTS VSport, it has been slightly detuned from 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet to 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to an six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system. The engine makes a massive difference in how the XTS drives. Instead of working the throttle to get the XTS moving at a somewhat decent clip, the TT 3.6 is able to get this 4,200 pound vehicle moving at a fast clip with no problem at all. Power is seemingly available throughout the rev range. So no matter whether you are leaving a stop or making a pass, power is right there. That isn’t the only change made the XTS VSport. Cadillac also retuned the XTS’ suspension to give it a more sporting character. Down on one of the roads I use for evaluation, I noticed that the VSport does minimize the amount of body roll that was on the standard XTS. But don’t expect much more than that. Steering has a little more heft, but no more feel than the standard model. For most buyers of the XTS VSport, this won’t be a big deal. Besides the new engine, the VSport is mostly the same as the standard XTS. The key items on the exterior that show its true nature aside from the V badge on the trunk is a new front clip and a set of nineteen-inch wheels. Our XTS VSport tester rings at $65,415 and for the improvement of the TT 3.6 V6, it's worth it. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the XTS VSport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Cadillac Model: XTS Trim: VSport Premium Engine: 3.6L V6 Twin-Turbo VVT DI Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 410 @ 6000 Torque @ RPM: 369 @ 1900-5600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,215 lbs Location of Manufacture: Oshawa, Ontario Base Price: $62,095 As Tested Price: $65,415 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Package - $2,395.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  11. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been the shining star in Jeep’s lineup since its introduction back in 1993. It was the company’s vehicle to take on the world’s best. During its 20-or-so year life, it's had a mixed record on trying to accomplish this mission. But at the Detroit Auto Show this year, the off-road brand showed it meant business. Thanks to a reinvigorated Chrysler and a bit of help from Fiat, Jeep showed off a refreshed Grand Cherokee and made its intent very clear; we’re going to take on the world’s best. To see if the Grand Cherokee can handle this mission, I went back to back with two Grand Cherokees; an Altitude equipped with the 3.6L V6 and a Overland equipped with the new 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. The Grand Cherokee’s shape hasn’t strayed far from the first-generation model shape. Sure the fourth-generation model has a few more angles and a new rear tailgate design, but park the current Grand Cherokee alongside the first-generation model and it's plain to see a family resemblance. From the iconic seven slot grille up front to the square-shaped rear-end, Jeep designers were able to make new Grand Cherokee stand out, but retain a bit of the DNA from the first-generation model. Dependent on which trim level you go for, Jeep has made sure each one is different. The Grand Cherokee Altitude I got first follows the same treatment as the Cherokee Altitude a reviewed a few weeks back. There is a blacked-out grille and a set of twenty-inch wheels wearing a coat of black paint. Contrasting the red paint on my tester, I found myself really liking the looks of the Altitude. Then there is the Overland which adds a chrome grille, HID headlights, twenty-inch chrome wheels, and LED taillights. All of the changes make the Grand Cherokee Overland comparable to a Range Rover in looks.Inside the Grand Cherokee, Jeep has made some big changes. The interior now follows the ideals set by the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger with better materials used throughout the cabin, a screen placed in the middle of the instrument cluster to provide speed and trip computer information, an eight-inch touchscreen with UConnect, and the love it/hate it lever control for the automatic transmission. People sitting the rear seat will find a decent amount of leg and headroom. Again, each trim level has their own take on interior treatment. The Altitude came with black-suede seats which I found to very comfortable and brushed faux-aluminum trim around the dashboard. Like the Cherokee Altitude, the Grand Cherokee Altitude comes with the UConnect system minus the navigation. The system is very easy to move around and navigate, plus you can get navigation from your local Chrysler dealer for a few hundred dollars extra. The Overland fills the Grand Cherokee with a number of luxury appointments such as leather seats with the Overland logo embroidered in the front, heated and ventilated front seats; wood trim, and a premium sound system. Stepping out of the Altitude and into the Overland, I was surprised how much the Grand Cherokee changed. From the sporty feeling I got from the Altitude to luxury in the Overland, I have to say Jeep really nailed making each trim level look and feel different from one another. The Grand Cherokee Altitude came equipped with the 3.6L V6 producing 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. I have written a lot about 3.6L in previous Chrysler vehicles, praising it for being one of the smoothest V6 engines on sale today and being able to move any vehicle with authority after reaching a certain point in the rev range. The story is very much the same in the Grand Cherokee as the V6 is able to move 4,545 pound vehicle with no problem at all. The eight-speed is smooth and provides smart shifts to keep the vehicle in motion. Fuel economy is rated at 17 City/24 Highway/19 Combined for the V6 equipped with four-wheel drive. My average landed around 22.1 MPG. But the big story lies under the Overland. It came with the optional 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. All of the torque is available at 2,000 rpm which means the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel moves very swift. Whether leaving a stop-light, or making the run onto the expressway, the 3.0L EcoDiesel is able to provide the power when needed. The eight-speed automatic helps keep the diesel engine right in the sweet spot of torquey-goodness. The most surprising part of the EcoDiesel is NVH levels. Step outside the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel when its idling and you can barely tell its running. The clatter usually associated with diesel engines is not apparent. On the fuel economy front, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is rated at 21 City/28 Highway/24 Combined. I got an average of 24.2 MPG.As for suspension, the Altitude goes with a coil spring setup, while the Overland comes with an air suspension setup. The air suspension setup allows the Grand Cherokee to raise and lower its ride height to provide better aerodynamics out on the expressway and get through some of the roughest off-road trails. Both suspension setups provided excellent ride qualities on even some the roughest surfaces Metro Detroit had to offer. On the curvy bits, both suspensions kept the Grand Cherokee in check by minimizing body roll and lean. That doesn’t mean the Grand Cherokee is sporty as the weight of the vehicle puts that idea out to pasture. If you want sport, then you want the Grand Cherokee SRT. It should be noted that I didn’t get the chance to take either Grand Cherokee off the beaten path. That is something I hope to change whenever I get another Grand Cherokee. After spending two weeks and putting a number of miles on the Grand Cherokees, I came away very impressed. Jeep has built possibly one of the best all-rounders in the midsize class. Taking the 2011 Grand Cherokee redesign, Jeep made a number of changes that fix a number of problems of past Grand Cherokees. But those changes allowed Jeep to pull off a big feat with Grand Cherokee; the wide range of trims that make each one feel like they can take on a different part of the midsize SUV class. There’s the Altitude which provides a stylish alternative to those looking at crossovers, while the Overland gives a formidable challenge to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz ML, BMW X5, and Land Rover LR4. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee sets a new bar for excellence in the SUV class. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Grand Cherokees, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas and Diesel Year: 2014 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: Altitude 4X4 Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,677 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $31,195 As Tested Price: $38,485 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Customer Preferred Package 23Z - $5,100 Power Sunroof - $995.00 Year: 2014 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: Overland 4X4 Engine: 3.0L DOHC Diesel V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600 Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/24 Curb Weight: 5,393 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $46,195 As Tested Price: $55,680 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $4,500 Advance Technology Group - $1,995 Rear Blu-Ray Entertainment System - $1,995 View full article
  12. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been the shining star in Jeep’s lineup since its introduction back in 1993. It was the company’s vehicle to take on the world’s best. During its 20-or-so year life, it's had a mixed record on trying to accomplish this mission. But at the Detroit Auto Show this year, the off-road brand showed it meant business. Thanks to a reinvigorated Chrysler and a bit of help from Fiat, Jeep showed off a refreshed Grand Cherokee and made its intent very clear; we’re going to take on the world’s best. To see if the Grand Cherokee can handle this mission, I went back to back with two Grand Cherokees; an Altitude equipped with the 3.6L V6 and a Overland equipped with the new 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. The Grand Cherokee’s shape hasn’t strayed far from the first-generation model shape. Sure the fourth-generation model has a few more angles and a new rear tailgate design, but park the current Grand Cherokee alongside the first-generation model and it's plain to see a family resemblance. From the iconic seven slot grille up front to the square-shaped rear-end, Jeep designers were able to make new Grand Cherokee stand out, but retain a bit of the DNA from the first-generation model. Dependent on which trim level you go for, Jeep has made sure each one is different. The Grand Cherokee Altitude I got first follows the same treatment as the Cherokee Altitude a reviewed a few weeks back. There is a blacked-out grille and a set of twenty-inch wheels wearing a coat of black paint. Contrasting the red paint on my tester, I found myself really liking the looks of the Altitude. Then there is the Overland which adds a chrome grille, HID headlights, twenty-inch chrome wheels, and LED taillights. All of the changes make the Grand Cherokee Overland comparable to a Range Rover in looks.Inside the Grand Cherokee, Jeep has made some big changes. The interior now follows the ideals set by the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger with better materials used throughout the cabin, a screen placed in the middle of the instrument cluster to provide speed and trip computer information, an eight-inch touchscreen with UConnect, and the love it/hate it lever control for the automatic transmission. People sitting the rear seat will find a decent amount of leg and headroom. Again, each trim level has their own take on interior treatment. The Altitude came with black-suede seats which I found to very comfortable and brushed faux-aluminum trim around the dashboard. Like the Cherokee Altitude, the Grand Cherokee Altitude comes with the UConnect system minus the navigation. The system is very easy to move around and navigate, plus you can get navigation from your local Chrysler dealer for a few hundred dollars extra. The Overland fills the Grand Cherokee with a number of luxury appointments such as leather seats with the Overland logo embroidered in the front, heated and ventilated front seats; wood trim, and a premium sound system. Stepping out of the Altitude and into the Overland, I was surprised how much the Grand Cherokee changed. From the sporty feeling I got from the Altitude to luxury in the Overland, I have to say Jeep really nailed making each trim level look and feel different from one another. The Grand Cherokee Altitude came equipped with the 3.6L V6 producing 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. I have written a lot about 3.6L in previous Chrysler vehicles, praising it for being one of the smoothest V6 engines on sale today and being able to move any vehicle with authority after reaching a certain point in the rev range. The story is very much the same in the Grand Cherokee as the V6 is able to move 4,545 pound vehicle with no problem at all. The eight-speed is smooth and provides smart shifts to keep the vehicle in motion. Fuel economy is rated at 17 City/24 Highway/19 Combined for the V6 equipped with four-wheel drive. My average landed around 22.1 MPG. But the big story lies under the Overland. It came with the optional 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. All of the torque is available at 2,000 rpm which means the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel moves very swift. Whether leaving a stop-light, or making the run onto the expressway, the 3.0L EcoDiesel is able to provide the power when needed. The eight-speed automatic helps keep the diesel engine right in the sweet spot of torquey-goodness. The most surprising part of the EcoDiesel is NVH levels. Step outside the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel when its idling and you can barely tell its running. The clatter usually associated with diesel engines is not apparent. On the fuel economy front, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is rated at 21 City/28 Highway/24 Combined. I got an average of 24.2 MPG.As for suspension, the Altitude goes with a coil spring setup, while the Overland comes with an air suspension setup. The air suspension setup allows the Grand Cherokee to raise and lower its ride height to provide better aerodynamics out on the expressway and get through some of the roughest off-road trails. Both suspension setups provided excellent ride qualities on even some the roughest surfaces Metro Detroit had to offer. On the curvy bits, both suspensions kept the Grand Cherokee in check by minimizing body roll and lean. That doesn’t mean the Grand Cherokee is sporty as the weight of the vehicle puts that idea out to pasture. If you want sport, then you want the Grand Cherokee SRT. It should be noted that I didn’t get the chance to take either Grand Cherokee off the beaten path. That is something I hope to change whenever I get another Grand Cherokee. After spending two weeks and putting a number of miles on the Grand Cherokees, I came away very impressed. Jeep has built possibly one of the best all-rounders in the midsize class. Taking the 2011 Grand Cherokee redesign, Jeep made a number of changes that fix a number of problems of past Grand Cherokees. But those changes allowed Jeep to pull off a big feat with Grand Cherokee; the wide range of trims that make each one feel like they can take on a different part of the midsize SUV class. There’s the Altitude which provides a stylish alternative to those looking at crossovers, while the Overland gives a formidable challenge to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz ML, BMW X5, and Land Rover LR4. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee sets a new bar for excellence in the SUV class. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Grand Cherokees, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas and Diesel Year: 2014 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: Altitude 4X4 Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,677 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $31,195 As Tested Price: $38,485 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Customer Preferred Package 23Z - $5,100 Power Sunroof - $995.00 Year: 2014 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: Overland 4X4 Engine: 3.0L DOHC Diesel V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600 Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/24 Curb Weight: 5,393 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $46,195 As Tested Price: $55,680 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $4,500 Advance Technology Group - $1,995 Rear Blu-Ray Entertainment System - $1,995
  13. G. David Felt Alternative Fuels & Propulsion writer www.CheersandGears.com Top 10 Least Reliable Cars Consumers Report published their annual best and worst reliable cars. If your wanting to look at the best go here Reliable Cars. For this story, you could watch the videos and dive through the mountain of spreadsheets that consumers reports has for their data, but MSN Auto helped out by focusing on the top 10 least reliable cars and here is their list. The predicted reliability score was 125% below that of the average car. #1 - Scion xB 125% below the average auto #2 - Mercedes-Benz S-Class 127% below average #3 - Infiniti Q50 127% below average #4 - Jeep Grand Cherokee (Diesel) 134% below average #5 - Dodge Dart 140% below average #6 - Chevrolet Cruze 1.4T 143% below average #7 - Nissan Pathfinder 154% below average #8 - Ford Fiesta 162% below average #9 - Jeep Cherokee (4-cyl) 176% below average #10 - Fiat 500L 219% below average The issues seem to be focused on either the power train, suspension such as the active system in the S-Class from Mercedes-Benz or electrical. The one area that no car seemed to really have issues with is the body / paint jobs. So the question to be asked here is as follows: Are we building auto's to complex for our own good? Do we really need all these electronics in an auto? Do we really need all the sophisticated power train variables? Would it be better to focus on a more radical jump in autos by setting a dead line to move away from fossil fuel auto's to EV or Hydrogen? The questions can be endless and I hope this gets you to start thinking about what is important to you. One thing is for sure, some of these auto's will not be on my list for shopping, others would be such as the Cheverolet Cruze which got knocked for drive shaft / axel seals and GM has addressed this according to GM's web site. What are your thoughts on this list? Is it right or is Consumers reports to critical?
  14. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up; 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE

    Oh Toyota. I’m not sure who was it at the company who decided to market the Sienna with ‘Swagger Wagon’ tagline, because at first I thought it was kind of crazy. The tagline first appeared in an ad featuring the van and two parents rapping. At first I thought someone at the marketing department was having a YOLO moment. But the crazy thing was it worked. People took notice of the Sienna and began to put on their list of vehicles to look at. So when a Sienna XLE came in for week’s review, I wondered if there was something to this van or if the tagline Toyota had created was only promoting something mediocre. You can’t miss the Sienna due to how big it it. With measurements of 200.2 inches for overall length and 78.2 inches for overall width, the Sienna has to be the biggest minivan on sale. It also looks like Toyota did some rummaging from other vehicles in their lineup as the front grille looks to come from the Venza crossover, while the rear tailgate appears to come from one of Toyota’s large SUVs. The Sienna isn’t the the ugliest minivan on sale, but it isn’t the best looking either. Heading inside and its apparent Toyota has done a lot to make the Sienna feel more like a luxury car than a minivan. My XLE tester featured a leather interior with heated seats for the front passengers; Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, tri-zone climate control, backup camera, and a rear infotainment system. Controls are within easy reach for the radio and climate control, though I had to remind myself to look at the top of dash to the trip computer to see where I set the temperature and fan speed. Bit of an odd choice to put it there and not on the infotainment screen. Second row passengers get captain chairs with the ability to recline with a foot rest. My brother named the seats the ‘kickass seats’ and the idea of them are kickass. In practice, the idea falls short as you won’t be able to fully recline with the footrest because there isn’t enough space in the van to pull this off. Even with the seat fully back, there isn’t enough space. If Toyota was to do a Sienna XL or Grand version which adds a few more inches to the length, it might be plausible. At least head and legroom for both second and third row passengers are very generous. Cargo space is right in the midpack with the Sienna offering 39.1 cubic feet with all three rows up and 150 cubic feet with the third row folded and the second row removed.Power comes from Toyota’s venerable 3.5L V6 with 266 horsepower and 245 horsepower. It can be paired with front-wheel or my tester’s all-wheel drive system. Both drivetrains feature a six-speed automatic. The V6 is very much able to hold its own in the Sienna as power was abundant and was able to get the van up to speed in no problem. The six-speed automatic delivers smooth $h!s, while the optional all-wheel drive keeps the vehicle on the road with almost no hint that its working. Fuel economy for the Sienna XLE AWD is rated at 16 City/23 Highway/19 Combined. My week average landed around 18 MPG. The Sienna’s ride is what you would expect in a minivan; a suspension that has been tuned for coddling its occupants with nary a bump or road imperfection. This does mean the Sienna rolls when cornering, but then again this isn’t meant to a sports car. Noise levels are kept to a decent level in day to day driving, though freeway driving does bring in a bit more road noise than any other minivan I have driven. So while the ‘swagger wagon’ tagline may make some people scratch their heads, it does give a light to the Sienna which I think is one of the best vans I have driven yet. It has more than enough luxuries and space for you and your passengers to enjoy wherever they are going, along with a ride that makes you feel you’re in a luxury car. Win win in my book. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Sienna, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Sienna Trim: XLE AWD Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 266 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 245 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/23/19 Curb Weight: 4,735 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $36,185 As Tested Price: $40,322 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge) Options: XLE Navigation Package with Entune App Suite - $1,735.00 Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert - $500.00 XM Satellite Radio - $449.00 Carpet Floor Mats w/Door Sill Protector - $330.00 Roof Rack Cross Bars - $185.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00
  15. Oh Toyota. I’m not sure who was it at the company who decided to market the Sienna with ‘Swagger Wagon’ tagline, because at first I thought it was kind of crazy. The tagline first appeared in an ad featuring the van and two parents rapping. At first I thought someone at the marketing department was having a YOLO moment. But the crazy thing was it worked. People took notice of the Sienna and began to put on their list of vehicles to look at. So when a Sienna XLE came in for week’s review, I wondered if there was something to this van or if the tagline Toyota had created was only promoting something mediocre. You can’t miss the Sienna due to how big it it. With measurements of 200.2 inches for overall length and 78.2 inches for overall width, the Sienna has to be the biggest minivan on sale. It also looks like Toyota did some rummaging from other vehicles in their lineup as the front grille looks to come from the Venza crossover, while the rear tailgate appears to come from one of Toyota’s large SUVs. The Sienna isn’t the the ugliest minivan on sale, but it isn’t the best looking either. Heading inside and its apparent Toyota has done a lot to make the Sienna feel more like a luxury car than a minivan. My XLE tester featured a leather interior with heated seats for the front passengers; Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, tri-zone climate control, backup camera, and a rear infotainment system. Controls are within easy reach for the radio and climate control, though I had to remind myself to look at the top of dash to the trip computer to see where I set the temperature and fan speed. Bit of an odd choice to put it there and not on the infotainment screen. Second row passengers get captain chairs with the ability to recline with a foot rest. My brother named the seats the ‘kickass seats’ and the idea of them are kickass. In practice, the idea falls short as you won’t be able to fully recline with the footrest because there isn’t enough space in the van to pull this off. Even with the seat fully back, there isn’t enough space. If Toyota was to do a Sienna XL or Grand version which adds a few more inches to the length, it might be plausible. At least head and legroom for both second and third row passengers are very generous. Cargo space is right in the midpack with the Sienna offering 39.1 cubic feet with all three rows up and 150 cubic feet with the third row folded and the second row removed.Power comes from Toyota’s venerable 3.5L V6 with 266 horsepower and 245 horsepower. It can be paired with front-wheel or my tester’s all-wheel drive system. Both drivetrains feature a six-speed automatic. The V6 is very much able to hold its own in the Sienna as power was abundant and was able to get the van up to speed in no problem. The six-speed automatic delivers smooth $h!s, while the optional all-wheel drive keeps the vehicle on the road with almost no hint that its working. Fuel economy for the Sienna XLE AWD is rated at 16 City/23 Highway/19 Combined. My week average landed around 18 MPG. The Sienna’s ride is what you would expect in a minivan; a suspension that has been tuned for coddling its occupants with nary a bump or road imperfection. This does mean the Sienna rolls when cornering, but then again this isn’t meant to a sports car. Noise levels are kept to a decent level in day to day driving, though freeway driving does bring in a bit more road noise than any other minivan I have driven. So while the ‘swagger wagon’ tagline may make some people scratch their heads, it does give a light to the Sienna which I think is one of the best vans I have driven yet. It has more than enough luxuries and space for you and your passengers to enjoy wherever they are going, along with a ride that makes you feel you’re in a luxury car. Win win in my book. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Sienna, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Sienna Trim: XLE AWD Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 266 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 245 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/23/19 Curb Weight: 4,735 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $36,185 As Tested Price: $40,322 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge) Options: XLE Navigation Package with Entune App Suite - $1,735.00 Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert - $500.00 XM Satellite Radio - $449.00 Carpet Floor Mats w/Door Sill Protector - $330.00 Roof Rack Cross Bars - $185.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 View full article
  16. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been working hard on trying to fix the nagging issues with the nine-speed automatic in the Jeep Cherokee and certain Chrysler 200s with constant updates. But those updates aren't making a dent in those issues as a number of complaints of hard shifts, lunging, and unexpected disengagement of the transmission litter the 2014 Jeep Cherokee page on SaferCar.gov. Automotive News has learned that Chrysler will be issuing a new update to 2014 and 2015 model year Jeep Cherokees and certain 2015 Chrysler 200s for the nine-speed transmission. This update only applies for models equipped with the 2.4L four-cylinder. A spokeswoman from FCA says the update is "intended to keep the vehicle performing as intended, and to prevent durability issues from occurring in the future." Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  17. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been working hard on trying to fix the nagging issues with the nine-speed automatic in the Jeep Cherokee and certain Chrysler 200s with constant updates. But those updates aren't making a dent in those issues as a number of complaints of hard shifts, lunging, and unexpected disengagement of the transmission litter the 2014 Jeep Cherokee page on SaferCar.gov. Automotive News has learned that Chrysler will be issuing a new update to 2014 and 2015 model year Jeep Cherokees and certain 2015 Chrysler 200s for the nine-speed transmission. This update only applies for models equipped with the 2.4L four-cylinder. A spokeswoman from FCA says the update is "intended to keep the vehicle performing as intended, and to prevent durability issues from occurring in the future." Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required) View full article
  18. With 2014 coming to a close and your's truly still having a number of vehicles that need to have reviews written up, I thought it would be a good idea to finish up the year with the remaining vehicles from the 2014 model year. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a number of quick reviews. This will be leading up to my favorite vehicles I drove in the past year. Let's begin with the smallest vehicles that I reviewed: subcompacts and compacts. First Up: 2015 Honda Fit EX If there was one model that defined the current subcompact class, it would have to be the Honda Fit. When it was first introduced back in 2006, the Fit featured a clever back seat to increase the practicality of the vehicle; impressive driving dynamics, and sipping fuel like no other. Now the subcompact field has grown in terms of quantity and quality of vehicles. Honda has responded by introducing the third-generation Fit this year. How does the new Fit stand up to the new crowd? The Fit retains the shape it has for the past two-generations, but it gets a bit more aggressive and sleeker. The front looks like Honda’s designers watched a bit too much of Iron Man with the solid one piece grille. Other items of note on the front include larger air ducts and slimmer headlights. The side profile boasts two character lines to help give it an identity. Around back are a set of tall taillights and a set of faux vents in the bumper. Stepping inside the Fit, Honda has reworked the dashboard layout with controls for the radio and climate control system angled towards the driver. Material quality has seen a noticeable improvement with soft-touch materials and faux aluminum trim used throughout. The touchscreen radio is easy to use and quick to respond. The big downside is Honda deciding use capacitive-touch buttons for volume and home. There were times when I had to hit the volume button more than once to get it to respond. Honda, please go back to normal buttons and knobs.Even though the new Fit is about 1.6 inches shorter than the previous model, Honda was able to increase passenger space by 4.9 cubic feet. This is due to a longer wheelbase and a thinner, center-mounted gas tank. Sitting in the back. I found more than enough head and legroom. Now the increase in passenger space means cargo space has dropped by about 4 cubic feet. Still, the Fit cargo’s space is impressive with 17 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 53 cubic feet with the seats down. The back seat is also one of the most versatile I have ever come across in a vehicle. The Fit’s ‘Magic’ seat can be set up in four different ways to provide added functionality. Those include: Folding the rear seats down to create more space Folding one part of rear seats (60/40 split) to make room for cargo, while retaining some seat space for a passenger Folding the seat bottoms up to carry tall items Folding the front seats back to create a sudo-bed Power comes from a 1.5L EarthDreams four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. In my tester, the engine was paired up to a CVT. The engine has to be worked to get up to speed which is normal for this type of car. What I’m not so happy with is the amount of buzzy-ness that is coming from the engine. Honda has said they have worked on trying to improve NVH levels in the Fit, though I find that hard to believe due to the amount of engine noise in the cabin. Thankfully, the powertrain does quiet down when you settle into speed. The CVT does behave nicely and doesn’t have the whine that most transmissions of this type are known for till you get higher in the revs. Fuel economy wise, the Fit with the CVT is rated by the EPA at 33 City/41 Highway/36 Combined. My week saw an overall average of 38 MPG. I should note that I did see 40 MPG when I took the Fit on a trip to Northern Michigan. The Fit earned a reputation for being a fun to drive subcompact, and for the most part that still holds true. It feels playful when going through the curvy bits and the chassis keeps the car grounded. The steering is a bit too light, and it doesn’t have quite the feel that the last generation model was known for. But what surprised me is how Fit did on a long drive. Being a subcompact, I thought the Fit would be uncomfortable due to its short wheelbase. But Honda has made some improvements to the suspension to make it more comfortable for long trips. This means the Fit was able to deal with bumps and imperfections without having any of the passengers feeling it. After doing a drive to Northern Michigan, I had no aches or pain when I got out of the Fit. The Honda Fit still stands tall in the subcompact class with its impressive versatility, fuel economy, and driving dynamics. Hopefully Honda has plans in the works for improving the NVH levels in the engine. Otherwise, the Fit is worth a look if you’re shopping for a new subcompact. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Fit EX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Honda Model: Fit Trim: EX Engine: 1.5L 16-Valve DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6600 Torque @ RPM: 114 @ 4600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 33/41/36 Curb Weight: 2,630 lbs Location of Manufacture: Yorii, Japan Base Price: $17,560 As Tested Price: $19,180 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next Page: 2014 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim) The automotive marketplace is known sometimes for being the arbiters of fads. Consider such models as Mazda Miata and the clones that followed soon after; or the Chrysler PT Cruiser. The most recent fad that we went through were the box cars, started by the likes of the Nissan Cube and Scion xB. These two models enjoyed some success in sales. Kia would become the third entrant in the box class, with the Soul. Like the Cube and xB, the should would become a decent seller. But in recent years, sales began to wane on the Cube and xB, while Soul continued to rise in sales. So what is it about the Soul that makes it a shining star, while its competitors dim out? The Soul’s overall design hasn’t gone through a major transformation. The reason for that is Kia moving 112,000 Souls last year and the thought of a dramatic change could spell doom for sales. But that doesn’t mean Kia hasn’t made any changes. The front end now features a new lower fascia with a trapezoidal grille and a set of fog lights sitting on either side. The back takes some ideas from the 2012 Soul Trackster concept with a new rear tailgate design and large, wrap-around taillights. Those sharp looking eighteen-inch wheels come as part of the Exclaim (!) model. Moving inside, the Soul underwent a massive change. The interior looks and feels more mature with improved materials and layout. My top-of-line tester came equipped with a number features such as heated and cooled seats, panoramic sunroof, a color LCD in the instrument cluster, automatic climate control, and the latest version of Kia’s UVO infotainment system which uses Google’s Android operating system. Getting myself situated in the Soul was easy enough thanks to the power adjustments on the seat and tilt-telescoping wheel. Back seat passengers might find legroom being a little bit tight, but headroom is very much in abundance thanks to the boxy shape.Power comes in the form of two engines. The base is a 1.6L four-cylinder, while my tester featured the 2.0L GDI four-cylinder. The 2.0L produces 164 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission choice. The 2.0L engine can be classified as being adequate as it seems to produce the same amount power as it does in noise. Stay on flat surfaces and around town duties and the engine does a fine job. But if you need to merge or tackle a steep hill, you’ll need to put the pedal to the floor and enjoy the noises coming from the engine. To be fair, the six-speed automatic does a decent job of keeping the engine right in the sweet spot of power. As fuel economy, the EPA rates the Soul Exclaim at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. I got 27.3 MPG during my week of testing. On the ride and handling front, the Soul did pretty well over some of Michigan’s ‘fantastic’ roads. Bumps and imperfections were mostly ironed over. As for the curves, the Soul’s suspension mostly keeps the vehicle planted. However, the tall shape does mean some body lean appears. The Exclaim model came equipped with the flex-steer system which varies the steering weight. I really don’t like this system as the comfort and sport settings are on the extreme ends (one is really light, while the other is too heavy). I left in normal which provided a nice balance. Much like Kia, I can’t fully explain why the Soul is doing so well. But I have a good guess. Kia has a really impressive package in the Soul with an improved interior, good ride quality, and a funky look that makes it stand out. Whatever the reason is, Kia is doing something right with the Soul. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul !, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Kia Model: Soul Trim: ! (Exclaim) Engine: 2.0L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 2,837 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $20,300 As Tested Price: $26,195 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Sun & Sound Package - $2,600 The Whole Shabang Package - $2,500 Next Page: 2014 Mazda3 Grand Touring Hatchback Its hard to believe that only a couple of years ago, Mazda was beginning to roll out its Skyacitv technologies in the last-generation Mazda3. In my review of the 3, I praised the Skyactiv powertrain for being a clever way of increasing fuel economy without resorting hybrid technologies. I also wondered how the 3 would be once it received the full suite of Skyactiv technologies. Well I had my chance when a 2014 Mazda 3s Grand Touring hatchback arrived for a week-long evaluation. Mazda has been producing some of most distinctive vehicles on the road and the 3 is no different. Armed with the Kodo design language and lovely Soul Red color, the 3 stands out in the compact car crowd. Up front is a tall grille with a slim chrome bar running from underneath the emblem into the front headlights. The side profile reveals stylish curves for the fenders and roofline. Inside, the 3 has really stepped up in terms of design and quality. Materials are top notch, even though Mazda is sticking with the blackout theme. Some contrasting colors would be nice Mazda. Despite an increase an overall size, interior space is still small. Sitting in the back, I found myself wishing for bit more leg and headroom. One big change for the 3 deals with technology. Previous Mazdas featured one of most infuriating infotainment systems I have ever come across with dated graphics, slow response times, not being able to connect phones with Bluetooth, and number of other problems. The 3 now features a new infotainment system with a seven-inch screen mounted on the dash and iDrive-like controller. This new system is easier to use and quick to respond when selecting a function. Also, it quickly connected to my phone. One other technology change deals with heads-up display. Mazda uses a screen that rises from the top of the instrument cluster and projects key information onto it. The trick is that screen is right in line of sight of the windshield which makes you think the information is being projected onto the windshield. Very clever.The Mazda3 comes with two different powertrains. i models get the 2.0L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder while s models come with the larger 2.5L. My 3 was equipped the latter which packed 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic, but you’ll be able to get a six-speed manual. The 2.5 packs quite the punch and gets the 3 moving at a quick pace. Also, Mazda deserves credit for building a four-cylinder that’s refined and smooth. The six-speed automatic is quick on shifts and provides a good pairing for the 2.5. EPA rates the Mazda 3s Grand Touring at 28 City/38 Highway/32 Combined. I saw an average of 31 MPG. The Mazda’3s handling is amazing. Along a curvy stretch of road, the 3’s chassis keeps the model flat. Meanwhile, the steering has good heft and provides a sporting driver the details of the road. It may not be a sports car, but 3 sure acts like one. Now the sports car aspirations do mean the 3 is a little bit more bouncy when dealing with potholes and bumps. Road and wind noise are kept at decent levels. There is one concern I do have with the Mazda3. As tested, my 3s Grand Touring cost $30,415. The price includes $2,500 tech package which includes blind spot monitoring and radar cruise control. It made me wonder if Mazda was asking a bit too much for the new 3. It has value to justify it, but I wonder if someone is willing to drop that much for a Mazda3. So the new Mazda3 is very much improved with the full suite Skyactiv technologies that it could be considered as best in class. The price however does give me pause from fully recommend it. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3 S Grand Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: 3 Hatchback Trim: s Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L DOHC Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/38/32 Curb Weight: 3,002 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $26,495 As Tested Price: $30,415 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: 5GT Technology Package - $2,500 Soul Red Paint - $300 View full article
  19. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up: Subcompacts and Compacts

    With 2014 coming to a close and your's truly still having a number of vehicles that need to have reviews written up, I thought it would be a good idea to finish up the year with the remaining vehicles from the 2014 model year. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a number of quick reviews. This will be leading up to my favorite vehicles I drove in the past year. Let's begin with the smallest vehicles that I reviewed: subcompacts and compacts. First Up: 2015 Honda Fit EX If there was one model that defined the current subcompact class, it would have to be the Honda Fit. When it was first introduced back in 2006, the Fit featured a clever back seat to increase the practicality of the vehicle; impressive driving dynamics, and sipping fuel like no other. Now the subcompact field has grown in terms of quantity and quality of vehicles. Honda has responded by introducing the third-generation Fit this year. How does the new Fit stand up to the new crowd? The Fit retains the shape it has for the past two-generations, but it gets a bit more aggressive and sleeker. The front looks like Honda’s designers watched a bit too much of Iron Man with the solid one piece grille. Other items of note on the front include larger air ducts and slimmer headlights. The side profile boasts two character lines to help give it an identity. Around back are a set of tall taillights and a set of faux vents in the bumper. Stepping inside the Fit, Honda has reworked the dashboard layout with controls for the radio and climate control system angled towards the driver. Material quality has seen a noticeable improvement with soft-touch materials and faux aluminum trim used throughout. The touchscreen radio is easy to use and quick to respond. The big downside is Honda deciding use capacitive-touch buttons for volume and home. There were times when I had to hit the volume button more than once to get it to respond. Honda, please go back to normal buttons and knobs.Even though the new Fit is about 1.6 inches shorter than the previous model, Honda was able to increase passenger space by 4.9 cubic feet. This is due to a longer wheelbase and a thinner, center-mounted gas tank. Sitting in the back. I found more than enough head and legroom. Now the increase in passenger space means cargo space has dropped by about 4 cubic feet. Still, the Fit cargo’s space is impressive with 17 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 53 cubic feet with the seats down. The back seat is also one of the most versatile I have ever come across in a vehicle. The Fit’s ‘Magic’ seat can be set up in four different ways to provide added functionality. Those include: Folding the rear seats down to create more space Folding one part of rear seats (60/40 split) to make room for cargo, while retaining some seat space for a passenger Folding the seat bottoms up to carry tall items Folding the front seats back to create a sudo-bed Power comes from a 1.5L EarthDreams four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. In my tester, the engine was paired up to a CVT. The engine has to be worked to get up to speed which is normal for this type of car. What I’m not so happy with is the amount of buzzy-ness that is coming from the engine. Honda has said they have worked on trying to improve NVH levels in the Fit, though I find that hard to believe due to the amount of engine noise in the cabin. Thankfully, the powertrain does quiet down when you settle into speed. The CVT does behave nicely and doesn’t have the whine that most transmissions of this type are known for till you get higher in the revs. Fuel economy wise, the Fit with the CVT is rated by the EPA at 33 City/41 Highway/36 Combined. My week saw an overall average of 38 MPG. I should note that I did see 40 MPG when I took the Fit on a trip to Northern Michigan. The Fit earned a reputation for being a fun to drive subcompact, and for the most part that still holds true. It feels playful when going through the curvy bits and the chassis keeps the car grounded. The steering is a bit too light, and it doesn’t have quite the feel that the last generation model was known for. But what surprised me is how Fit did on a long drive. Being a subcompact, I thought the Fit would be uncomfortable due to its short wheelbase. But Honda has made some improvements to the suspension to make it more comfortable for long trips. This means the Fit was able to deal with bumps and imperfections without having any of the passengers feeling it. After doing a drive to Northern Michigan, I had no aches or pain when I got out of the Fit. The Honda Fit still stands tall in the subcompact class with its impressive versatility, fuel economy, and driving dynamics. Hopefully Honda has plans in the works for improving the NVH levels in the engine. Otherwise, the Fit is worth a look if you’re shopping for a new subcompact. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Fit EX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Honda Model: Fit Trim: EX Engine: 1.5L 16-Valve DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6600 Torque @ RPM: 114 @ 4600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 33/41/36 Curb Weight: 2,630 lbs Location of Manufacture: Yorii, Japan Base Price: $17,560 As Tested Price: $19,180 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next Page: 2014 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim) The automotive marketplace is known sometimes for being the arbiters of fads. Consider such models as Mazda Miata and the clones that followed soon after; or the Chrysler PT Cruiser. The most recent fad that we went through were the box cars, started by the likes of the Nissan Cube and Scion xB. These two models enjoyed some success in sales. Kia would become the third entrant in the box class, with the Soul. Like the Cube and xB, the should would become a decent seller. But in recent years, sales began to wane on the Cube and xB, while Soul continued to rise in sales. So what is it about the Soul that makes it a shining star, while its competitors dim out? The Soul’s overall design hasn’t gone through a major transformation. The reason for that is Kia moving 112,000 Souls last year and the thought of a dramatic change could spell doom for sales. But that doesn’t mean Kia hasn’t made any changes. The front end now features a new lower fascia with a trapezoidal grille and a set of fog lights sitting on either side. The back takes some ideas from the 2012 Soul Trackster concept with a new rear tailgate design and large, wrap-around taillights. Those sharp looking eighteen-inch wheels come as part of the Exclaim (!) model. Moving inside, the Soul underwent a massive change. The interior looks and feels more mature with improved materials and layout. My top-of-line tester came equipped with a number features such as heated and cooled seats, panoramic sunroof, a color LCD in the instrument cluster, automatic climate control, and the latest version of Kia’s UVO infotainment system which uses Google’s Android operating system. Getting myself situated in the Soul was easy enough thanks to the power adjustments on the seat and tilt-telescoping wheel. Back seat passengers might find legroom being a little bit tight, but headroom is very much in abundance thanks to the boxy shape.Power comes in the form of two engines. The base is a 1.6L four-cylinder, while my tester featured the 2.0L GDI four-cylinder. The 2.0L produces 164 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission choice. The 2.0L engine can be classified as being adequate as it seems to produce the same amount power as it does in noise. Stay on flat surfaces and around town duties and the engine does a fine job. But if you need to merge or tackle a steep hill, you’ll need to put the pedal to the floor and enjoy the noises coming from the engine. To be fair, the six-speed automatic does a decent job of keeping the engine right in the sweet spot of power. As fuel economy, the EPA rates the Soul Exclaim at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. I got 27.3 MPG during my week of testing. On the ride and handling front, the Soul did pretty well over some of Michigan’s ‘fantastic’ roads. Bumps and imperfections were mostly ironed over. As for the curves, the Soul’s suspension mostly keeps the vehicle planted. However, the tall shape does mean some body lean appears. The Exclaim model came equipped with the flex-steer system which varies the steering weight. I really don’t like this system as the comfort and sport settings are on the extreme ends (one is really light, while the other is too heavy). I left in normal which provided a nice balance. Much like Kia, I can’t fully explain why the Soul is doing so well. But I have a good guess. Kia has a really impressive package in the Soul with an improved interior, good ride quality, and a funky look that makes it stand out. Whatever the reason is, Kia is doing something right with the Soul. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul !, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Kia Model: Soul Trim: ! (Exclaim) Engine: 2.0L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 2,837 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $20,300 As Tested Price: $26,195 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Sun & Sound Package - $2,600 The Whole Shabang Package - $2,500 Next Page: 2014 Mazda3 Grand Touring Hatchback Its hard to believe that only a couple of years ago, Mazda was beginning to roll out its Skyacitv technologies in the last-generation Mazda3. In my review of the 3, I praised the Skyactiv powertrain for being a clever way of increasing fuel economy without resorting hybrid technologies. I also wondered how the 3 would be once it received the full suite of Skyactiv technologies. Well I had my chance when a 2014 Mazda 3s Grand Touring hatchback arrived for a week-long evaluation. Mazda has been producing some of most distinctive vehicles on the road and the 3 is no different. Armed with the Kodo design language and lovely Soul Red color, the 3 stands out in the compact car crowd. Up front is a tall grille with a slim chrome bar running from underneath the emblem into the front headlights. The side profile reveals stylish curves for the fenders and roofline. Inside, the 3 has really stepped up in terms of design and quality. Materials are top notch, even though Mazda is sticking with the blackout theme. Some contrasting colors would be nice Mazda. Despite an increase an overall size, interior space is still small. Sitting in the back, I found myself wishing for bit more leg and headroom. One big change for the 3 deals with technology. Previous Mazdas featured one of most infuriating infotainment systems I have ever come across with dated graphics, slow response times, not being able to connect phones with Bluetooth, and number of other problems. The 3 now features a new infotainment system with a seven-inch screen mounted on the dash and iDrive-like controller. This new system is easier to use and quick to respond when selecting a function. Also, it quickly connected to my phone. One other technology change deals with heads-up display. Mazda uses a screen that rises from the top of the instrument cluster and projects key information onto it. The trick is that screen is right in line of sight of the windshield which makes you think the information is being projected onto the windshield. Very clever.The Mazda3 comes with two different powertrains. i models get the 2.0L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder while s models come with the larger 2.5L. My 3 was equipped the latter which packed 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic, but you’ll be able to get a six-speed manual. The 2.5 packs quite the punch and gets the 3 moving at a quick pace. Also, Mazda deserves credit for building a four-cylinder that’s refined and smooth. The six-speed automatic is quick on shifts and provides a good pairing for the 2.5. EPA rates the Mazda 3s Grand Touring at 28 City/38 Highway/32 Combined. I saw an average of 31 MPG. The Mazda’3s handling is amazing. Along a curvy stretch of road, the 3’s chassis keeps the model flat. Meanwhile, the steering has good heft and provides a sporting driver the details of the road. It may not be a sports car, but 3 sure acts like one. Now the sports car aspirations do mean the 3 is a little bit more bouncy when dealing with potholes and bumps. Road and wind noise are kept at decent levels. There is one concern I do have with the Mazda3. As tested, my 3s Grand Touring cost $30,415. The price includes $2,500 tech package which includes blind spot monitoring and radar cruise control. It made me wonder if Mazda was asking a bit too much for the new 3. It has value to justify it, but I wonder if someone is willing to drop that much for a Mazda3. So the new Mazda3 is very much improved with the full suite Skyactiv technologies that it could be considered as best in class. The price however does give me pause from fully recommend it. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3 S Grand Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: 3 Hatchback Trim: s Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L DOHC Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/38/32 Curb Weight: 3,002 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $26,495 As Tested Price: $30,415 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: 5GT Technology Package - $2,500 Soul Red Paint - $300
  20. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up: Sports Stuff

    Next up in the 2014 review wrap-up is sporty cars. Originally I was going to call this sports cars, but only one can be considered it. The other two happen to be sporty takes on standard models. First: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PHRT For an automobile to remain true to its mission for a quarter-of-a-century is an amazing feat. Such is the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. When it first was shown back in 1989, it promised to bring fun and sporty driving that roadsters from the fifties and sixties, but with better reliability. Throughout its three generations, the MX-5 Miata has achieved this, along with a loyal and rabid fan base. With a new MX-5 Miata coming over the horizon, I wanted to give the third-generation model a final spin. Well a 2015 MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PHRT arrived for a week to do just that. Mazda decided to stick with the shape from the first-generation MX-5 Miata and make evolutionary changes to it. I think this is a wise decision as you can tell there is a direct lineage from first model to the current one. The front end has a rounded shape and the smiling grille that has been a key part of Mazda’s last-generation designs. There is also a lip spoiler which comes as part of the Grand Touring trim level. Along the side are some the largest wheel flares I have ever come across on a vehicle. Its a nice touch as it makes the Miata that much more distinctive. Now the third-generation Miata is special because it introduced a power hardtop. The hardtop gives the Miata a coupe look when it is up and provides extra sound deadening. Putting the hardtop up or down only takes around ten seconds. One note, the hardtop when folded does take up a majority of trunk space. So pack really lightly if you decide to take a trip in one.Getting inside the Miata is a bit of an acrobatic act as the way you have enter involves folding your legs and then lowering yourself into the seat. Once you are settled in, you feel that you have become one with the vehicle thanks to the low seating position which means all controls are in easy reach. The leather bucket seats provide a multitude of adjustments so you can your find your perfect spot. The dash is nothing fancy with black plastics and aluminum trim which helps reduce distraction while driving. Standard on the Grand Touring is a Bose sound system. The system sounds great when you are puttering along in the city or along a back road. But if you decide to hit the freeway, the sound system has it work cut out as it has to try to drown out an abundance of road noise. Power comes from a 2.0L MZR four-cylinder paired with the optional six-speed automatic. This combination produces 158 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Go for the six-speed manual on the Grand Touring and it nets you an additional nine horsepower. Those numbers are somewhat worrisome when you also take into account a curb weight of 2,619 pounds for the power hardtop model. But once you slip behind the wheel and get moving, those thoughts of being underpowered wash away. The engine has to be worked to use all that power, but Mazda made sure that you enjoyed doing it by making the engine pop and rev freely, giving you the thoughts of driving a sixties roadster.. The six-speed automatic was very smooth and provided crisp shifts. Fuel economy is rated at 21 City/28 Highway/23 Combined. My week saw an average of 25.1 MPG. Of course the real story of any Miata is its handling. I heard all of the superlatives and cheers about the MX-5 Miata’s handling, and I have to say those claims are very much true. The Miata is a joy around curves as the suspension keeps the vehicle steady and makes sure no body roll makes an entrance. Steering was excellent thanks to the right amount weight and feel. This is a vehicle that wants to be pushed and it rewards you when you decide to. When you decide to drive the Miata on a daily basis, the ride does let in a few bumps. After spending a week with the MX-5 Miata, I was sad to see it go. Mazda has been able to keep the spirit of the original Miata with the third-generation model. With excellent handing characteristics, the addition of a power hardtop, and a design all its own, it shows why the Miata has been able to last as long as it has. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: MX-5 Miata Trim: Grand Touring PHRT Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 158 @ 6700 Torque @ RPM: 140 @ 5000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/23 Curb Weight: 2,619 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $30,550 As Tested Price: $32,735 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Package - $1,390 Next: Ram 1500 R/T The past ten to twenty years in the pickup truck market has seen an explosion in trims and model variations. You can get a standard work truck with the vinyl seats or go all the way for a luxury model with such amenities as heated and cool seats, and dual-zone climate control. But one area in the marketplace that has been neglected for sometime is the sports truck. Models such as the Chevrolet 454SS, Ford Lightning, and Dodge Ram SRT-10 really don’t exist anymore. But Ram wants to let you know that sport truck is still a thing and it comes in the form of 1500 R/T Regular Cab. Ram has got the basics down on the 1500 R/T. The R/T comes when you order the Sport trim level with the standard cab and 6’4” bed. Exterior changes include a blacked-out mesh grille, a new hood with faux air vents, twenty-two inch chrome wheels, and dual exhaust pars. Donning a red paint job, the R/T gives the Ram 1500 a mean look. Inside are a set of bucket seats wrapped in cloth and leather, and dash layout familiar to anyone who has been in a recent Chrysler product. This means an eight-inch screen for the UConnect infotainment system and a compressive gauge package. Getting in truck was a little bit of a hassle as its quite leap to get in. A set of step bars would be nice feature for this truck. But once inside, it was easy to get settled and understand where everything was. Power for the R/T is the 5.7L HEMI V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired up with an eight-speed automatic. Despite a curb weight of 5,106 pounds, this powertrain is able to get the Ram 1500 moving at a rapid rate. 0-60 will take you around the mid-5 second area. The eight-speed automatic provides lightning fast shifts and keeps the truck in the zone of power. I should also mention the noise of HEMI makes you want to push the go pedal that little more to enjoy the sweet sounds. Don’t expect to win any fuel economy awards though. The 1500 R/T is rated at 15 City/22 Highway/17 Combined. I got 18 MPG during my week. As for the ride, the Ram 1500 R/T has to be one of the smoothest rides I have ever experienced in a truck. Thanks a to multi-link, coil spring setup in the rear, bumps and imperfections were mostly ironed out. Even when the Ram was called in to haul a freezer and a wood lathe, the suspension was able to keep the truck level and provide a comfortable ride. Don’t expect the R/T to be a handling champ. Ram didn’t lower the suspension, which means you’ll have a bit of body roll. Also the steering is a bit slow and somewhat light in feel. But for many buyers, this isn’t a big deal. While the marketplace for sport trucks has dwindled a bit, the 2014 Ram 1500 R/T shows that you can still make a decent case for having a fun truck that can still do its fair share of work. Now if we could only convince them about stuffing the 6.4L HEMI into it… Disclaimer: Ram Provided the 1500 R/T, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Ram Model: 1500 Trim: R/T Engine: 5.7 HEMI V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 395 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 410 @ 3,950 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/22/14 Curb Weight: 5,106 lbs Location of Manufacture: Saltillo, Mexico Base Price: $35,105 As Tested Price: $38,595 (Includes $1,195 Destination Charge) Options: Uconnect 8.4N AM/FM/BT/ACCESS/NAV - $500.00 Convenience Group - $495.00 Spray-In Bedliner - $475.00 Remote Start and Security Group - $350.00 Class IV Receiver Hitch - $335.00 Rear Sliding Windows - $140.00 Next: Lexus LS 460 F-Sport Most of the luxury manufacturers have a high-performance model of their flagship sedan to entice those who want a bit of sport along with the amenities of a flagship. Mercedes-Benz is the best known with their S-Class AMG models, followed by the Audi S8 and Jaguar XJR. The latest one to join the fun is Lexus with the LS 460 F-Sport. Is it possible for a company known for producing some of the softest and most comfortable vehicles to embrace the sporty side? The LS hasn’t changed much since we last looked at it in our review of the 600h L last year. What has changed is what the F-Sport package adds. Up front, the spindle grille gets a new mesh insert and larger air intakes. A set of nineteen-inch multi-spoke wheels hide a set of large, Brembo brakes. Around back is a new bumper with chrome exhaust ports. These changes do give the LS a sporty outlook. Although, I not sure if red suits LS as it makes it look a bit gangly. White or black suits it much better. Inside is the same as the exterior. The only real changes of note are new brushed aluminum trim pieces, F-Sport embossed seats, and aluminum pedals. The LS is nice place to sit in and the controls are in easy reach. But I think its aging quite fast, especially when you compare it to like of the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Not helping matters is the Remote Touch interface which is slow to react and quite jumpy when moving around. Under the hood, you’ll find a 4.6L V8 with 386 horsepower and 367 pound-feet. Opt for the all-wheel drive model and those numbers drop to 360 and 347 respectively. Whichever way you decide to have your power sent to wheels, an eight-speed automatic is standard. Acceleration is very strong and power comes on very smoothly. However if you were expecting some theatrics from the V8 with loud noises, prepare to disappointed. The only real noticeable change from the standard LS to the F-Sport is new piping to channel some of the engine noise inside. The eight-speed automatic is barely noticeable when it shifts. On the fuel economy front, the LS 460 F-Sport RWD is rated at 16 City/24 Highway/19 Combined. I saw 18.6 MPG during my week. Now the big changes the F-Sport brings to the LS deals with the suspension. The air suspension has been lowered by 20 millimeters and has been tuned for more sporty driving. Other changes include low-profile summer tires and a limited-slip differential. I can say there is a difference when you have the LS in the Sport or Sport+ setting when compared to the LS in normal. The suspension stiffens up a bit and keeps the vehicle stable when you decide to have a bit fun in the curves. However, the steering doesn’t have the weight or feel that is needed for a sporting sedan. It veers more to the light and numbness most owners of the LS are used to. As for day to day duties, the LS 460 F-Sport handles that about as well as a standard LS with a quiet and smooth ride. So the LS 460 F-Sport has shown that Lexus is capable of building sporty flagship up to a point. If they can work on the steering, they might have a real contender on their hands. Maybe that’s for the next-generation model. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 460 F-Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 460 Engine: 4.6L DOHC 32-valve VVT-iE V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 386 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 367 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,365 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $72,140 As Tested Price: $88,080 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: F-Sport Package - $8,350.00 F-Sport Comfort Package - $1,650.00 Mark Levinson 19-Speaker Audio System - $1,580.00 Pre-Collision System - $1,500.00 LED Headlamps - $1,450.00 View full article
  21. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up: Sports Stuff

    Next up in the 2014 review wrap-up is sporty cars. Originally I was going to call this sports cars, but only one can be considered it. The other two happen to be sporty takes on standard models. First: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PHRT For an automobile to remain true to its mission for a quarter-of-a-century is an amazing feat. Such is the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. When it first was shown back in 1989, it promised to bring fun and sporty driving that roadsters from the fifties and sixties, but with better reliability. Throughout its three generations, the MX-5 Miata has achieved this, along with a loyal and rabid fan base. With a new MX-5 Miata coming over the horizon, I wanted to give the third-generation model a final spin. Well a 2015 MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PHRT arrived for a week to do just that. Mazda decided to stick with the shape from the first-generation MX-5 Miata and make evolutionary changes to it. I think this is a wise decision as you can tell there is a direct lineage from first model to the current one. The front end has a rounded shape and the smiling grille that has been a key part of Mazda’s last-generation designs. There is also a lip spoiler which comes as part of the Grand Touring trim level. Along the side are some the largest wheel flares I have ever come across on a vehicle. Its a nice touch as it makes the Miata that much more distinctive. Now the third-generation Miata is special because it introduced a power hardtop. The hardtop gives the Miata a coupe look when it is up and provides extra sound deadening. Putting the hardtop up or down only takes around ten seconds. One note, the hardtop when folded does take up a majority of trunk space. So pack really lightly if you decide to take a trip in one.Getting inside the Miata is a bit of an acrobatic act as the way you have enter involves folding your legs and then lowering yourself into the seat. Once you are settled in, you feel that you have become one with the vehicle thanks to the low seating position which means all controls are in easy reach. The leather bucket seats provide a multitude of adjustments so you can your find your perfect spot. The dash is nothing fancy with black plastics and aluminum trim which helps reduce distraction while driving. Standard on the Grand Touring is a Bose sound system. The system sounds great when you are puttering along in the city or along a back road. But if you decide to hit the freeway, the sound system has it work cut out as it has to try to drown out an abundance of road noise. Power comes from a 2.0L MZR four-cylinder paired with the optional six-speed automatic. This combination produces 158 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Go for the six-speed manual on the Grand Touring and it nets you an additional nine horsepower. Those numbers are somewhat worrisome when you also take into account a curb weight of 2,619 pounds for the power hardtop model. But once you slip behind the wheel and get moving, those thoughts of being underpowered wash away. The engine has to be worked to use all that power, but Mazda made sure that you enjoyed doing it by making the engine pop and rev freely, giving you the thoughts of driving a sixties roadster.. The six-speed automatic was very smooth and provided crisp shifts. Fuel economy is rated at 21 City/28 Highway/23 Combined. My week saw an average of 25.1 MPG. Of course the real story of any Miata is its handling. I heard all of the superlatives and cheers about the MX-5 Miata’s handling, and I have to say those claims are very much true. The Miata is a joy around curves as the suspension keeps the vehicle steady and makes sure no body roll makes an entrance. Steering was excellent thanks to the right amount weight and feel. This is a vehicle that wants to be pushed and it rewards you when you decide to. When you decide to drive the Miata on a daily basis, the ride does let in a few bumps. After spending a week with the MX-5 Miata, I was sad to see it go. Mazda has been able to keep the spirit of the original Miata with the third-generation model. With excellent handing characteristics, the addition of a power hardtop, and a design all its own, it shows why the Miata has been able to last as long as it has. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: MX-5 Miata Trim: Grand Touring PHRT Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 158 @ 6700 Torque @ RPM: 140 @ 5000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/23 Curb Weight: 2,619 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $30,550 As Tested Price: $32,735 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Package - $1,390 Next: Ram 1500 R/T The past ten to twenty years in the pickup truck market has seen an explosion in trims and model variations. You can get a standard work truck with the vinyl seats or go all the way for a luxury model with such amenities as heated and cool seats, and dual-zone climate control. But one area in the marketplace that has been neglected for sometime is the sports truck. Models such as the Chevrolet 454SS, Ford Lightning, and Dodge Ram SRT-10 really don’t exist anymore. But Ram wants to let you know that sport truck is still a thing and it comes in the form of 1500 R/T Regular Cab. Ram has got the basics down on the 1500 R/T. The R/T comes when you order the Sport trim level with the standard cab and 6’4” bed. Exterior changes include a blacked-out mesh grille, a new hood with faux air vents, twenty-two inch chrome wheels, and dual exhaust pars. Donning a red paint job, the R/T gives the Ram 1500 a mean look. Inside are a set of bucket seats wrapped in cloth and leather, and dash layout familiar to anyone who has been in a recent Chrysler product. This means an eight-inch screen for the UConnect infotainment system and a compressive gauge package. Getting in truck was a little bit of a hassle as its quite leap to get in. A set of step bars would be nice feature for this truck. But once inside, it was easy to get settled and understand where everything was. Power for the R/T is the 5.7L HEMI V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired up with an eight-speed automatic. Despite a curb weight of 5,106 pounds, this powertrain is able to get the Ram 1500 moving at a rapid rate. 0-60 will take you around the mid-5 second area. The eight-speed automatic provides lightning fast shifts and keeps the truck in the zone of power. I should also mention the noise of HEMI makes you want to push the go pedal that little more to enjoy the sweet sounds. Don’t expect to win any fuel economy awards though. The 1500 R/T is rated at 15 City/22 Highway/17 Combined. I got 18 MPG during my week. As for the ride, the Ram 1500 R/T has to be one of the smoothest rides I have ever experienced in a truck. Thanks a to multi-link, coil spring setup in the rear, bumps and imperfections were mostly ironed out. Even when the Ram was called in to haul a freezer and a wood lathe, the suspension was able to keep the truck level and provide a comfortable ride. Don’t expect the R/T to be a handling champ. Ram didn’t lower the suspension, which means you’ll have a bit of body roll. Also the steering is a bit slow and somewhat light in feel. But for many buyers, this isn’t a big deal. While the marketplace for sport trucks has dwindled a bit, the 2014 Ram 1500 R/T shows that you can still make a decent case for having a fun truck that can still do its fair share of work. Now if we could only convince them about stuffing the 6.4L HEMI into it… Disclaimer: Ram Provided the 1500 R/T, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Ram Model: 1500 Trim: R/T Engine: 5.7 HEMI V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 395 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 410 @ 3,950 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/22/14 Curb Weight: 5,106 lbs Location of Manufacture: Saltillo, Mexico Base Price: $35,105 As Tested Price: $38,595 (Includes $1,195 Destination Charge) Options: Uconnect 8.4N AM/FM/BT/ACCESS/NAV - $500.00 Convenience Group - $495.00 Spray-In Bedliner - $475.00 Remote Start and Security Group - $350.00 Class IV Receiver Hitch - $335.00 Rear Sliding Windows - $140.00 Next: Lexus LS 460 F-Sport Most of the luxury manufacturers have a high-performance model of their flagship sedan to entice those who want a bit of sport along with the amenities of a flagship. Mercedes-Benz is the best known with their S-Class AMG models, followed by the Audi S8 and Jaguar XJR. The latest one to join the fun is Lexus with the LS 460 F-Sport. Is it possible for a company known for producing some of the softest and most comfortable vehicles to embrace the sporty side? The LS hasn’t changed much since we last looked at it in our review of the 600h L last year. What has changed is what the F-Sport package adds. Up front, the spindle grille gets a new mesh insert and larger air intakes. A set of nineteen-inch multi-spoke wheels hide a set of large, Brembo brakes. Around back is a new bumper with chrome exhaust ports. These changes do give the LS a sporty outlook. Although, I not sure if red suits LS as it makes it look a bit gangly. White or black suits it much better. Inside is the same as the exterior. The only real changes of note are new brushed aluminum trim pieces, F-Sport embossed seats, and aluminum pedals. The LS is nice place to sit in and the controls are in easy reach. But I think its aging quite fast, especially when you compare it to like of the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Not helping matters is the Remote Touch interface which is slow to react and quite jumpy when moving around. Under the hood, you’ll find a 4.6L V8 with 386 horsepower and 367 pound-feet. Opt for the all-wheel drive model and those numbers drop to 360 and 347 respectively. Whichever way you decide to have your power sent to wheels, an eight-speed automatic is standard. Acceleration is very strong and power comes on very smoothly. However if you were expecting some theatrics from the V8 with loud noises, prepare to disappointed. The only real noticeable change from the standard LS to the F-Sport is new piping to channel some of the engine noise inside. The eight-speed automatic is barely noticeable when it shifts. On the fuel economy front, the LS 460 F-Sport RWD is rated at 16 City/24 Highway/19 Combined. I saw 18.6 MPG during my week. Now the big changes the F-Sport brings to the LS deals with the suspension. The air suspension has been lowered by 20 millimeters and has been tuned for more sporty driving. Other changes include low-profile summer tires and a limited-slip differential. I can say there is a difference when you have the LS in the Sport or Sport+ setting when compared to the LS in normal. The suspension stiffens up a bit and keeps the vehicle stable when you decide to have a bit fun in the curves. However, the steering doesn’t have the weight or feel that is needed for a sporting sedan. It veers more to the light and numbness most owners of the LS are used to. As for day to day duties, the LS 460 F-Sport handles that about as well as a standard LS with a quiet and smooth ride. So the LS 460 F-Sport has shown that Lexus is capable of building sporty flagship up to a point. If they can work on the steering, they might have a real contender on their hands. Maybe that’s for the next-generation model. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 460 F-Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 460 Engine: 4.6L DOHC 32-valve VVT-iE V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 386 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 367 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,365 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $72,140 As Tested Price: $88,080 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: F-Sport Package - $8,350.00 F-Sport Comfort Package - $1,650.00 Mark Levinson 19-Speaker Audio System - $1,580.00 Pre-Collision System - $1,500.00 LED Headlamps - $1,450.00
  22. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up: Going Green

    Next in the wrap-up in 2014 vehicle reviews, I take look at green vehicles. In this case they all happen to be the hybrid variety. 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring The second time is the charm? That’s the hope for Honda with the 2014 Accord Hybrid. The previous incarnation of the hybridized Accord was a sporty model that really didn’t see any improvement in fuel economy. This in turn caused it to be a flop.Honda went back to drawing board and have introduced an Accord Hybrid that promises best-in-class fuel economy. Can it right the wrong of the previous model? The Accord Hybrid looks for the most part like your standard Accord sedan with a two bar grille, large greenhouse, and a short rear end. The differences are mostly cosmetic as certain chrome pieces and the headlights have a blue tint. Theres also a set of hybrid badges on the front fenders, and a set of seventeen-inch wheels. Inside is the same story as the exterior, with the only real changes for the Accord Hybrid are a new instrument cluster to display information about the hybrid system and a EV button to put the vehicle into a fully electric mode. Getting inside, you find a nice selection of quality materials and loads of space for front and rear passengers.My Touring tester came with Honda’s dual-screen infotainment system which features an eight-inch screen sitting on top of the dash and a smaller touchscreen to change stations/tracks or whatever audio input. There’s also a set of buttons and a knob sitting right above the transmission tunnel to take you to different parts of the system. As I wrote in my first drive of the Accord Hybrid in 2013, the system is a bit of a mess. The touchscreen is slow to respond when you’re trying to change stations or switch from the radio to the USB input. Also, reaching for the controls towards the bottom is quite a reach. Honda really needs to go back to the drawing board with their infotainment system. The Accord Hybrid features Honda’s newest hybrid system called Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system. This system is comprised of, 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson-Cycle engine producing 141 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque Two 124 kW electric motors - One acting as a propulsion motor, one acting as a generator 1.3 kWh Lithium-Ion battery Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT) Power Control Unit Impressive to say in the least. It’s even better when the system is engaged. The Accord Hybrid never felt lacking in power as the electric motor and 2.0L engine worked together to provide enough thrust for whatever situation I found myself in. More impressive was the seemless transition from electric only to hybrid power. There was no sign of the change over unless I was watching the gauge cluster. Fuel economy is rated at 50 City/45 Highway/47 Combined. I got close to those numbers with an average of 42 MPG for the week. I think I could have matched or even surpassed those numbers if given another week with the Accord Hybrid.On the ride and handling front, the Accord Hybrid is very similar to the standard Accord. The suspension is able to cope with bumps and imperfections with no problem at all. On the curves, the Accord Hybrid is a joy as it keeps you grounded and provides little body roll. Steering has good heft and feel. Wind noise is kept to a decent level, but road noise is very apparent. I would put some of the blame on the low-rolling resistance tires. The Accord Hybrid puts Honda in a good position within the midsize hybrid sedan class with an impressive powertrain layout placed in the well-regarded package that is the Accord. Its going to take something big to knock off the Accord Hybrid as the best in class. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Accord Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Honda Model: Accord Hybrid Trim: Touring Engine: Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 141 @ 6200, Electric Motor - 166 @ 3857-8000 Torque @ RPM: Gas Engine - 122 @ 3500-6000, Electric Motor - 226 @ 0-3857 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 50/45/47 Curb Weight: 3,602 lbs Location of Manufacture: Marysville, Ohio Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $35,695 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In Advance There are some cars that your’s truly finds impressive and would gladly buy, but knows that he wouldn’t recommend it because of some issue. That’s the case with the 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In, a model that somehow I liked after spending a week in it, but has a key problem that makes it hard to recommend. The Prius Plug-In looks for the most part like the standard Prius. The only differences between the two is Plug-In Hybrid badging on the front fenders, new wheels, and a additional fuel filler door on the passenger side where the charging port lives (more on that in a moment). As for the interior, my tester came fully loaded with such items as leatherette, infotainment system with a JBL audio system, and heads-up display. Nice items for the most part, but I should warn that the leatherette feels very synthetic and nasty. I would go with the cloth. On the plus side, the Prius Plug-In does feature a lot of room for your passengers and cargo.Under the hood, you’ll find the almost the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain as in the the standard Prius. A 1.8L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder paired up to a 60 kW electric motor delivering a total output of 134 horsepower. The difference is in the batteries. While the standard Prius has a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery, the Plug-In gets a Lithium-Ion battery. The new battery allows the Prius Plug-In to travel up to 11 Miles on electric power alone. During my week, I found myself using the EV mode a lot as it provided decent power to get around town and was very quiet. On the range front, I was able to get around 10 to 12 miles per charge. As for the charging port I mentioned earlier, that allows the Prius Plug-In to charge in 1.5 hours when plugged into a 240V charger or 3 hours when plugged into a 120V outlet). For other situations such as the freeway, I left the vehicle in the hybrid mode. This highlights a couple problems with the Prius. First it takes a few seconds longer for it to get up to speed. Second is the amount the noise that comes up when you decide that more power is needed. It sounded like a weed-whacker was being thrashed under the hood. As for fuel economy, I got around 51 MPG for the week. On the ride and handling front, the Prius Plug-In is much the same as the standard Prius; providing a comfortable, albeit noisy ride. So while I liked the Prius Plug-In, there is a big problem; price. A base Prius Plug-In will set you back $29,990 which seems somewhat reasonable. My tester which was the Advance model and came to an as-tested price of $38,907 with options. No that is not a misprint. Now the Prius Plug-In does qualify for a few tax incentives which helps offset the price somewhat. But for around the same money, you could get into a Chevrolet Volt. You do lose some practicality, but gain more in EV range.So the Prius Plug-In is a vehicle I like, but the pricetag makes it one I would pass on.' Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius Plug-In, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Plug-In Trim: Advance Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive (1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: 95 MPGe, 50 MPG Curb Weight: 3,216 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $38,907 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $2,610 Illuminated Door Sill - $279.00 Carpeted Floor Mats & Trunk Mat - $225.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 Next: 2014 Lexus CT 200h F-Sport The Lexus CT 200h F-Sport is an intriguing idea. A luxury compact hatchback that is fuel efficient and sporty. So while the idea seems ok in theory, how does it work in the real world? The CT 200h in my eyes happens to be black sheep in Lexus family mostly because of how it looks. A five-door hatchback with a long front end and a new spindle grille which you either love or hate it. Around back is a flat rear tailgate which I think makes the CT a bit ungainly to look at. A set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels and F-Sport badging on the front fenders which come as part of the F-Sport package finish off the look. Inside is a nicely trimmed interior with supportive leather seats and handsome trim. The layout of dashboard is easy to understand and controls are in easy reach for the driver and passenger. The optional Lexus Inform infotainment system has been updated to look a bit fresher and improve user experience. However, the Lexus Remote Touch controller makes using the system a frustrating experience as it seems to be really sensitive. On the plus side, the CT 200h is spacious for back seat passengers and cargo.Power comes from Lexus Hybrid Drive which pairs a 1.8L four-cylinder and 60 kW electric motor to produce a total output of 134 horsepower. This is paired up to a CVT. Now most reviews of the CT 200h say its painfully slow, but I care to disagree. Despite a curb weight of 3,130 pounds, I found the powertrain to be adequate as it took a few ticks longer for the CT to get up to speed than other comparable models. I should warn that if you decide to slam the pedal to floor, the engine and CVT will make a horrific noise that will make you think twice of doing that. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the 2014 CT 200h at 43 City/40 Highway/42 Combined. I saw an average of 39 MPG. Now this particular CT 200h was equipped with the F-Sport package which adds a sport tuned suspension and that’s about it. Compared to other Lexus models equipped with F-Sport package, I felt the CT F-Sport was somewhat lacking as the suspension was the only real mechanical change to it. Maybe there was some limitations to it being a hybrid, but I think there is room for improvement. The revised suspension means there is a noticeable difference in how the CT handles. Body roll and lean is decreased somewhat when compared to the standard CT. Steering is decent with good weight, but those hoping for an improvement in feel will be disappointed. For day to day driving, the CT 200h F-Sport is a bit more stiff than the standard CT, but not to the point where you’ll be crying uncle.So for the most part, the CT 200h F-Sport succeeds in its mission of providing a fun to drive luxury hatchback that is also ok on fuel. I would like to like to see Lexus do some more with the F-Sport package such as adding more sport goodies to the drivetrain and suspension. Maybe that’s in store for the next-generation. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the CT 200h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: CT 200h Trim: F-Sport Engine: Lexus Hybrid Drive(1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/40/42 Curb Weight: 3,130 lbs Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan Base Price: $32,050 As Tested Price: $39,030 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation System - $3,490 F-Sport w/NuLuxe Interior - $1,180 F-Sport Premium Package - $900.00 Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00 View full article
  23. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up: Going Green

    Next in the wrap-up in 2014 vehicle reviews, I take look at green vehicles. In this case they all happen to be the hybrid variety. 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring The second time is the charm? That’s the hope for Honda with the 2014 Accord Hybrid. The previous incarnation of the hybridized Accord was a sporty model that really didn’t see any improvement in fuel economy. This in turn caused it to be a flop.Honda went back to drawing board and have introduced an Accord Hybrid that promises best-in-class fuel economy. Can it right the wrong of the previous model? The Accord Hybrid looks for the most part like your standard Accord sedan with a two bar grille, large greenhouse, and a short rear end. The differences are mostly cosmetic as certain chrome pieces and the headlights have a blue tint. Theres also a set of hybrid badges on the front fenders, and a set of seventeen-inch wheels. Inside is the same story as the exterior, with the only real changes for the Accord Hybrid are a new instrument cluster to display information about the hybrid system and a EV button to put the vehicle into a fully electric mode. Getting inside, you find a nice selection of quality materials and loads of space for front and rear passengers.My Touring tester came with Honda’s dual-screen infotainment system which features an eight-inch screen sitting on top of the dash and a smaller touchscreen to change stations/tracks or whatever audio input. There’s also a set of buttons and a knob sitting right above the transmission tunnel to take you to different parts of the system. As I wrote in my first drive of the Accord Hybrid in 2013, the system is a bit of a mess. The touchscreen is slow to respond when you’re trying to change stations or switch from the radio to the USB input. Also, reaching for the controls towards the bottom is quite a reach. Honda really needs to go back to the drawing board with their infotainment system. The Accord Hybrid features Honda’s newest hybrid system called Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system. This system is comprised of, 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson-Cycle engine producing 141 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque Two 124 kW electric motors - One acting as a propulsion motor, one acting as a generator 1.3 kWh Lithium-Ion battery Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT) Power Control Unit Impressive to say in the least. It’s even better when the system is engaged. The Accord Hybrid never felt lacking in power as the electric motor and 2.0L engine worked together to provide enough thrust for whatever situation I found myself in. More impressive was the seemless transition from electric only to hybrid power. There was no sign of the change over unless I was watching the gauge cluster. Fuel economy is rated at 50 City/45 Highway/47 Combined. I got close to those numbers with an average of 42 MPG for the week. I think I could have matched or even surpassed those numbers if given another week with the Accord Hybrid.On the ride and handling front, the Accord Hybrid is very similar to the standard Accord. The suspension is able to cope with bumps and imperfections with no problem at all. On the curves, the Accord Hybrid is a joy as it keeps you grounded and provides little body roll. Steering has good heft and feel. Wind noise is kept to a decent level, but road noise is very apparent. I would put some of the blame on the low-rolling resistance tires. The Accord Hybrid puts Honda in a good position within the midsize hybrid sedan class with an impressive powertrain layout placed in the well-regarded package that is the Accord. Its going to take something big to knock off the Accord Hybrid as the best in class. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Accord Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Honda Model: Accord Hybrid Trim: Touring Engine: Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 141 @ 6200, Electric Motor - 166 @ 3857-8000 Torque @ RPM: Gas Engine - 122 @ 3500-6000, Electric Motor - 226 @ 0-3857 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 50/45/47 Curb Weight: 3,602 lbs Location of Manufacture: Marysville, Ohio Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $35,695 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In Advance There are some cars that your’s truly finds impressive and would gladly buy, but knows that he wouldn’t recommend it because of some issue. That’s the case with the 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In, a model that somehow I liked after spending a week in it, but has a key problem that makes it hard to recommend. The Prius Plug-In looks for the most part like the standard Prius. The only differences between the two is Plug-In Hybrid badging on the front fenders, new wheels, and a additional fuel filler door on the passenger side where the charging port lives (more on that in a moment). As for the interior, my tester came fully loaded with such items as leatherette, infotainment system with a JBL audio system, and heads-up display. Nice items for the most part, but I should warn that the leatherette feels very synthetic and nasty. I would go with the cloth. On the plus side, the Prius Plug-In does feature a lot of room for your passengers and cargo.Under the hood, you’ll find the almost the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain as in the the standard Prius. A 1.8L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder paired up to a 60 kW electric motor delivering a total output of 134 horsepower. The difference is in the batteries. While the standard Prius has a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery, the Plug-In gets a Lithium-Ion battery. The new battery allows the Prius Plug-In to travel up to 11 Miles on electric power alone. During my week, I found myself using the EV mode a lot as it provided decent power to get around town and was very quiet. On the range front, I was able to get around 10 to 12 miles per charge. As for the charging port I mentioned earlier, that allows the Prius Plug-In to charge in 1.5 hours when plugged into a 240V charger or 3 hours when plugged into a 120V outlet). For other situations such as the freeway, I left the vehicle in the hybrid mode. This highlights a couple problems with the Prius. First it takes a few seconds longer for it to get up to speed. Second is the amount the noise that comes up when you decide that more power is needed. It sounded like a weed-whacker was being thrashed under the hood. As for fuel economy, I got around 51 MPG for the week. On the ride and handling front, the Prius Plug-In is much the same as the standard Prius; providing a comfortable, albeit noisy ride. So while I liked the Prius Plug-In, there is a big problem; price. A base Prius Plug-In will set you back $29,990 which seems somewhat reasonable. My tester which was the Advance model and came to an as-tested price of $38,907 with options. No that is not a misprint. Now the Prius Plug-In does qualify for a few tax incentives which helps offset the price somewhat. But for around the same money, you could get into a Chevrolet Volt. You do lose some practicality, but gain more in EV range.So the Prius Plug-In is a vehicle I like, but the pricetag makes it one I would pass on.' Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius Plug-In, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Plug-In Trim: Advance Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive (1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: 95 MPGe, 50 MPG Curb Weight: 3,216 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $38,907 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $2,610 Illuminated Door Sill - $279.00 Carpeted Floor Mats & Trunk Mat - $225.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 Next: 2014 Lexus CT 200h F-Sport The Lexus CT 200h F-Sport is an intriguing idea. A luxury compact hatchback that is fuel efficient and sporty. So while the idea seems ok in theory, how does it work in the real world? The CT 200h in my eyes happens to be black sheep in Lexus family mostly because of how it looks. A five-door hatchback with a long front end and a new spindle grille which you either love or hate it. Around back is a flat rear tailgate which I think makes the CT a bit ungainly to look at. A set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels and F-Sport badging on the front fenders which come as part of the F-Sport package finish off the look. Inside is a nicely trimmed interior with supportive leather seats and handsome trim. The layout of dashboard is easy to understand and controls are in easy reach for the driver and passenger. The optional Lexus Inform infotainment system has been updated to look a bit fresher and improve user experience. However, the Lexus Remote Touch controller makes using the system a frustrating experience as it seems to be really sensitive. On the plus side, the CT 200h is spacious for back seat passengers and cargo.Power comes from Lexus Hybrid Drive which pairs a 1.8L four-cylinder and 60 kW electric motor to produce a total output of 134 horsepower. This is paired up to a CVT. Now most reviews of the CT 200h say its painfully slow, but I care to disagree. Despite a curb weight of 3,130 pounds, I found the powertrain to be adequate as it took a few ticks longer for the CT to get up to speed than other comparable models. I should warn that if you decide to slam the pedal to floor, the engine and CVT will make a horrific noise that will make you think twice of doing that. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the 2014 CT 200h at 43 City/40 Highway/42 Combined. I saw an average of 39 MPG. Now this particular CT 200h was equipped with the F-Sport package which adds a sport tuned suspension and that’s about it. Compared to other Lexus models equipped with F-Sport package, I felt the CT F-Sport was somewhat lacking as the suspension was the only real mechanical change to it. Maybe there was some limitations to it being a hybrid, but I think there is room for improvement. The revised suspension means there is a noticeable difference in how the CT handles. Body roll and lean is decreased somewhat when compared to the standard CT. Steering is decent with good weight, but those hoping for an improvement in feel will be disappointed. For day to day driving, the CT 200h F-Sport is a bit more stiff than the standard CT, but not to the point where you’ll be crying uncle.So for the most part, the CT 200h F-Sport succeeds in its mission of providing a fun to drive luxury hatchback that is also ok on fuel. I would like to like to see Lexus do some more with the F-Sport package such as adding more sport goodies to the drivetrain and suspension. Maybe that’s in store for the next-generation. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the CT 200h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: CT 200h Trim: F-Sport Engine: Lexus Hybrid Drive(1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/40/42 Curb Weight: 3,130 lbs Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan Base Price: $32,050 As Tested Price: $39,030 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation System - $3,490 F-Sport w/NuLuxe Interior - $1,180 F-Sport Premium Package - $900.00 Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00
  24. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up: Crossovers

    We're now at the end of our 2014 review wrap-up which deals with the largest group of vehicles I dealt with this past year: Crossovers. Next: Dodge Journey Crossroad Let us go back to the most recent dark age of Chrysler. During the floundering years of DiamlerChrysler to Cerberus ownership, Chrysler produced some of the worst vehicles to ever appear. Models such as the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Caliber, Jeep Compass, and Patriot left a bad taste in buyer’s mouths and would be one of the factors that would lead the company into bankruptcy. But after going through bankruptcy and being under the guidance of Fiat, Chrysler would rise from the ashes. One of the first things Fiat did for the company was to infuse the company with some much needed funds to give some of their vehicles much needed changes. One of those vehicles was the Dodge Journey, a small five to seven seat crossover that received mixed reviews when introduced back in 2007. With the changes that Chrysler and Fiat bestowed on the Journey, is it one that you should consider? The basic shape of the Journey hasn’t really changed much since it was first introduced back in 2007, which unfortunately means that it looks like other crossovers in the marketplace. The Crossroad trim adds some ruggedness to the Journey with dark grille inserts and surrounds, off-road inspired front and rear fascias, 19-inch wheels in a dark finish, and black headlight housings. Inside is where some of the major changes happened as Dodge ripped out the old interior layout and materials and replaced it with a new dashboard with a better control layout and better materials. The excellent UConnect infotainment system with an 8.4 inch screen was in my tester and it still remains very easy to use. Seats are leather with "sport mesh" inserts which were kind of odd feeling, but providing a nice level of comfort. My Journey was a five-seater version which I think is the best way to configure the Journey as there is enough space for passengers and cargo. Jumping to seven-seat model means cramped space for passengers in the third row and barely any cargo space.The Journey has a choice of two different engines. The base is a 2.4L four-cylinder, while my tester came with the optional Pentastar 3.6L V6. The V6 produces 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. The V6 is more than capable of moving the 4,238 pound as power is very abundant throughout the rev range. The six-speed automatic showed no signs of confusions when going through the gears, although on my tester, downshifts seemed to a take a second or two longer. One downside to the V6 is fuel economy. The EPA rates the Journey V6 with AWD at 16 City/24 Highway/19 Combined. My week of driving returned an average of 18. Not bad, but not good when compared to such competitors as the Kia Sorento and Toyota Highlander. The Journey’s ride is mostly composed over smooth and somewhat rutted roads. On rougher surfaces, the suspension has its work cut out and some road jostles do make their way into the cabin. Cornering is what you expect in a crossover, a bit of lean and body roll. Steering feels somewhat rubbery, but provides some decent feel.The changes Chrysler and Fiat did to the Journey did give it a new lease on life. However, the Journey doesn’t really have anything that sets it apart except price. A base Journey will $20,295, while my somewhat optioned Journey Crossroads hits the road $31,380. If price your main concern, then give the Journey a look. Otherwise, you might be better off with another crossover. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Journey Crossroad, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Dodge Model: Journey Trim: Crossroad AWD Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 283 @ 6,350 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,238 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico Base Price: $28,395 As Tested Price: $31,380 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation and Sound Group I - $995.00 Popular Equipment Group - $995.00 Next: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T When I reviewed the Hyundai Sonata Fe Sport back in 2013, I said that it was a mostly competent crossover. The only downside was the base 2.4L four-cylinder as it felt that was under a lot of stress to get the vehicle moving. I said that 2.4 would be ok for most buyers if you decided to get the Santa Fe Sport with front-wheel drive. But if you were to go for all-wheel drive, the optional 2.0T would be a better choice. But is it? Well I had some time in a Santa Fe Sport 2.0T to find out if my original opinion was right. The turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder in the Santa Fe Sport produces 264 horsepower and 269 pound-feet torque. This comes paired up to a six-speed automatic with the choice of either front or all-wheel drive. In my tester, I had the front-wheel drive version. Compared to the somewhat out-of-breath 2.4, the 2.0T seems like the perfect match for the Santa Fe Sport. With the turbo spooled up, the Santa Fe Sport moves with authority. With torque arriving at 1,750 rpm, the Santa Fe Sport gets out of its own way and feels like power is always available. Even though this is a four-cylinder, Hyundai has done a lot of work in refinement to make it feel more like a V6. There’s barely a hint of buzzing or racket that is common to four-cylinders. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T FWD at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.1 MPG.Aside from the different engine, the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is very much the same as the model I drove back in 2013. The styling is very distinctive for the class and equipment is very generous with such features as dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats, and sun shades for the rear windows. Making this even sweeter is a base price $30,650 which for what you get makes it quite a steal for the class. So if you were considering getting a Santa Fe Sport, you might want to consider the 2.0T. It makes a good crossover into an impressive one. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Sport Trim: 2.0T Engine: 2.0L Turbo GDI DOHC 16-valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 264 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 269 @ 1,750 - 3,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22 Curb Weight: 3,569 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA Base Price: $30,650 As Tested Price: $33,385 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation Package - $1,750.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $110.00 Next: Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Within the past few years, the compact crossover market has been booming. It seems every year that a new automaker joins the group with their interpretation of a compact crossover. But what about the old guard? How do they stack up? Well I spent some time in one of them, the Volkswagen Tiguan to find out. Looking at the Volkswagen Tiguan, you can’t help but think its a smaller Touareg. The overall profile and shape make you think the Volkswagen just left their larger crossover in the wash a bit too long. Up front is Volkswagen’s two slim bar grille with large headlights and a strand of LEDs. Along the side is a lot of glass area to make the interior feel more spacious, along with body cladding and a set of eighteen-inch wheels. The back features flared haunches and a set of large taillights.Inside is a mixed bag. Let’s begin with the good points. Controls for the standard infotainment system is in easy reach for the driver and passenger. Seats came wrapped in a beige leatherette which felt fine and provided good support. Back seat space is excellent with an abundance of head and legroom. Now onto the bad points. To start, material quality is somewhat disappointing. There is some spots of soft touch material, but the majority of the interior is made up of hard plastics. This would be fine if this was a crossover around the high $20,000 mark, not one that costs $35,490. Then there is the standard infotainment system on the SEL. This is the small screen system Volkswagen uses on many of their vehicles and comes with a litany of problems. To start is the graphic interface looks it has come from the early to mid-2000s which also means the touch points are very small, making them somewhat hard to hit. Also the small screen makes it hard to look at glance, meaning you have to take your eyes off the road for a few seconds longer than looking at larger screen. Then there is the rear cargo space which measures out to 23.8 cubic feet, which makes it the smallest in the small crossover class. Powering all Tiguans is Volkswagen’s well known turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet. This is paired to a six-speed automatic and optional 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The turbo 2.0L gives the Tiguan some scoot with torque coming in 1700 rpm and it never feels that it will run out of power the higher you climb in the rev range. Plus the turbo-four is very refined with no hint the buzz that is common in four cylinders. The six-speed automatic makes the most of the power and delivers quick shifts. Fuel economy is somewhat of a disappointment with ratings of 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. I got around 22.4 MPG during my week. Some reviewers have called the Tiguan’s handling GTI-like. I thought that was a bit dubious, but I have to admit that is the best way to describe it. The suspension limits the amount of body roll, while the tires and 4Motion all-wheel drive kept the Tiguan glued to the road. Steering has good feel and weight to it. On the day to day front, the Tiguan does ok with minimizing road imperfections and bumps. It likely helps that my Tiguan was equipped with the 18-inch wheels and not the optional 19-inch wheels which make the ride unbearable.The Volkswagen Tiguan is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it has some good looks and impressive handling characteristics. On the other hand, there is a number of problems with the interior, fuel economy is a bit meh, and the price tag of $35,490 is a bit too much. You’ll be better off with looking at a Mazda CX-5 or a Subaru Forester. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Tiguan SEL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Volkswagen Model: Tiguan Trim: SEL 4Motion Engine: 2.0L TSI Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5100 Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23 Curb Weight: 3,591 lbs Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany Base Price: $34,625 As Tested Price: $35,490 (Includes $865.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: 2015 Kia Sorento SX AWD The current Kia Sorento is one of my favorite crossovers on sale as it has a nice equation of standard equipment and improvements, with similar pricing to the older model. One downside to the Sorento I drove last year was the price tag. With an as-tested price of $41,600 for the SX Limited I drove, I felt it was bit much for what you got, especially considering you could get mostly everything in the SX model for about $2,000 less. So when a 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD arrived for weeklong test, it was time to see if I could stand on that opinion. Now compared to the Sorento SX Limited I drove back last year, the SX really doesn’t have any differences on the exterior when compared to SX Limited aside from wheel finish. The SX came with nineteen-inch alloy wheels, while the Limited gets a chrome finish. Inside there are only few minor differences between the two trim levels such the SX Limited getting Napa leather and premium black trim. Otherwise there isn’t any real difference between the two trims as they both have heated and cooled seats, Kia’s UVO infotainment system, push-button start, and sunroof. So unless you really want Napa leather and chrome wheels, the SX seems like the better buy.Now not much has changed under the Sorento since we last reviewed it. The standard 3.3L GDI V6 still makes 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive. Like I said in my review of the Sorento SX Limited, the V6 is quite punchy and has no problem of getting the vehicle up to speed. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. I saw an average of 21.3 MPG. The Sorento’s ride still retains its comfortable characteristics of isolating bumps and imperfections. So after spending a week in the Sorento SX, I would stand by my opinion of going with this model than the Sorento SX Limited. It just makes more sense as it does cents. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Sorento SX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Kia Model: Sorento Trim: SX AWD Engine: 3.3L GDI V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 252 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined -18/24/20 Curb Weight: 3,894 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $38,300 As Tested Price: $39,195 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum In the talk of the seven-seat crossovers, we tend to mention the likes of the Chevrolet Traverse and its ilk; the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, and Honda Pilot. But there some models that deserve a spot in the light. Case in point is the redesigned Toyota Highlander. The Highlander retains the boxy silhouette that has been a part of the vehicle for the past two-generations. But Toyota has given the Highlander a bit more of of muscular attitude to fit it more in line with Toyota’s SUV lineup. The new model has wider haunches, a more imposing trapazodial grille, larger head and taillights, and five spoke wheels. Moving inside, the Highlander has gone under a massive change. Higher quality materials and new dash layout help make the Highlander feel more premium.The dash layout now features a shelf sitting underneath the climate control and passenger side airbag to provide a spot for your phone or any small product. My particular Highlander comes equipped with seating for seven, though you can get seating for eight. Second row passengers get an impressive amount of head and legroom, however the flip-up cupholder on the passenger side seat is a bit flimsy and I worry it could break. Third-row passengers get decent headroom, but legroom is non-existent.Power comes from Toyota’s 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. This is the powertrain I would go for instead of the base 2.7L four-cylinder as its up to the duty of moving the portly Highlander (can get up to 4,500 lbs). The V6 has enough grunt to get the Highlander moving and keep up with the flow of traffic. Engine refinement is tops with barely any noise or harshness coming from the V6. The transmission is smart enough to keep the engine in the area of power and provides smooth shifts. As for fuel economy, Toyota says the Highlander V6 AWD gets 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 21.1 MPG. Toyota must have borrowed some of Lexus’ ride engineers to work on the new Highlander because it rides like a Lexus. Driving on some of the roughest roads in Detroit, the Highlander’s suspension was able to cope and provide a very smooth ride. There has also been work done on noise isolation to make road and wind noise almost non-existent.My Highlander Limited Platinum rolled up with an as tested price of $46,156, making it one of the more expensive choices in the crossover arena. But with all of the changes and improvements, I think the Highlander can justify the price. If you are considering a seven-seat crossover, the Highlander deserves a space at the top of the list. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Trim: Limited Platinum Engine: 3.5L DOHC Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,508 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, IN Base Price: $43,590 As Tested Price: $46,156 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tow Hitch w/Wiring Harness - $699.00 Remote Start - $499.00 Glass Breakage Sensor - $299.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00
  25. William Maley

    2014 Review Wrap-Up: Crossovers

    We're now at the end of our 2014 review wrap-up which deals with the largest group of vehicles I dealt with this past year: Crossovers. Next: Dodge Journey Crossroad Let us go back to the most recent dark age of Chrysler. During the floundering years of DiamlerChrysler to Cerberus ownership, Chrysler produced some of the worst vehicles to ever appear. Models such as the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Caliber, Jeep Compass, and Patriot left a bad taste in buyer’s mouths and would be one of the factors that would lead the company into bankruptcy. But after going through bankruptcy and being under the guidance of Fiat, Chrysler would rise from the ashes. One of the first things Fiat did for the company was to infuse the company with some much needed funds to give some of their vehicles much needed changes. One of those vehicles was the Dodge Journey, a small five to seven seat crossover that received mixed reviews when introduced back in 2007. With the changes that Chrysler and Fiat bestowed on the Journey, is it one that you should consider? The basic shape of the Journey hasn’t really changed much since it was first introduced back in 2007, which unfortunately means that it looks like other crossovers in the marketplace. The Crossroad trim adds some ruggedness to the Journey with dark grille inserts and surrounds, off-road inspired front and rear fascias, 19-inch wheels in a dark finish, and black headlight housings. Inside is where some of the major changes happened as Dodge ripped out the old interior layout and materials and replaced it with a new dashboard with a better control layout and better materials. The excellent UConnect infotainment system with an 8.4 inch screen was in my tester and it still remains very easy to use. Seats are leather with "sport mesh" inserts which were kind of odd feeling, but providing a nice level of comfort. My Journey was a five-seater version which I think is the best way to configure the Journey as there is enough space for passengers and cargo. Jumping to seven-seat model means cramped space for passengers in the third row and barely any cargo space.The Journey has a choice of two different engines. The base is a 2.4L four-cylinder, while my tester came with the optional Pentastar 3.6L V6. The V6 produces 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. The V6 is more than capable of moving the 4,238 pound as power is very abundant throughout the rev range. The six-speed automatic showed no signs of confusions when going through the gears, although on my tester, downshifts seemed to a take a second or two longer. One downside to the V6 is fuel economy. The EPA rates the Journey V6 with AWD at 16 City/24 Highway/19 Combined. My week of driving returned an average of 18. Not bad, but not good when compared to such competitors as the Kia Sorento and Toyota Highlander. The Journey’s ride is mostly composed over smooth and somewhat rutted roads. On rougher surfaces, the suspension has its work cut out and some road jostles do make their way into the cabin. Cornering is what you expect in a crossover, a bit of lean and body roll. Steering feels somewhat rubbery, but provides some decent feel.The changes Chrysler and Fiat did to the Journey did give it a new lease on life. However, the Journey doesn’t really have anything that sets it apart except price. A base Journey will $20,295, while my somewhat optioned Journey Crossroads hits the road $31,380. If price your main concern, then give the Journey a look. Otherwise, you might be better off with another crossover. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Journey Crossroad, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Dodge Model: Journey Trim: Crossroad AWD Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 283 @ 6,350 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,238 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico Base Price: $28,395 As Tested Price: $31,380 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation and Sound Group I - $995.00 Popular Equipment Group - $995.00 Next: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T When I reviewed the Hyundai Sonata Fe Sport back in 2013, I said that it was a mostly competent crossover. The only downside was the base 2.4L four-cylinder as it felt that was under a lot of stress to get the vehicle moving. I said that 2.4 would be ok for most buyers if you decided to get the Santa Fe Sport with front-wheel drive. But if you were to go for all-wheel drive, the optional 2.0T would be a better choice. But is it? Well I had some time in a Santa Fe Sport 2.0T to find out if my original opinion was right. The turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder in the Santa Fe Sport produces 264 horsepower and 269 pound-feet torque. This comes paired up to a six-speed automatic with the choice of either front or all-wheel drive. In my tester, I had the front-wheel drive version. Compared to the somewhat out-of-breath 2.4, the 2.0T seems like the perfect match for the Santa Fe Sport. With the turbo spooled up, the Santa Fe Sport moves with authority. With torque arriving at 1,750 rpm, the Santa Fe Sport gets out of its own way and feels like power is always available. Even though this is a four-cylinder, Hyundai has done a lot of work in refinement to make it feel more like a V6. There’s barely a hint of buzzing or racket that is common to four-cylinders. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T FWD at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.1 MPG.Aside from the different engine, the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is very much the same as the model I drove back in 2013. The styling is very distinctive for the class and equipment is very generous with such features as dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats, and sun shades for the rear windows. Making this even sweeter is a base price $30,650 which for what you get makes it quite a steal for the class. So if you were considering getting a Santa Fe Sport, you might want to consider the 2.0T. It makes a good crossover into an impressive one. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Sport Trim: 2.0T Engine: 2.0L Turbo GDI DOHC 16-valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 264 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 269 @ 1,750 - 3,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22 Curb Weight: 3,569 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA Base Price: $30,650 As Tested Price: $33,385 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation Package - $1,750.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $110.00 Next: Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Within the past few years, the compact crossover market has been booming. It seems every year that a new automaker joins the group with their interpretation of a compact crossover. But what about the old guard? How do they stack up? Well I spent some time in one of them, the Volkswagen Tiguan to find out. Looking at the Volkswagen Tiguan, you can’t help but think its a smaller Touareg. The overall profile and shape make you think the Volkswagen just left their larger crossover in the wash a bit too long. Up front is Volkswagen’s two slim bar grille with large headlights and a strand of LEDs. Along the side is a lot of glass area to make the interior feel more spacious, along with body cladding and a set of eighteen-inch wheels. The back features flared haunches and a set of large taillights.Inside is a mixed bag. Let’s begin with the good points. Controls for the standard infotainment system is in easy reach for the driver and passenger. Seats came wrapped in a beige leatherette which felt fine and provided good support. Back seat space is excellent with an abundance of head and legroom. Now onto the bad points. To start, material quality is somewhat disappointing. There is some spots of soft touch material, but the majority of the interior is made up of hard plastics. This would be fine if this was a crossover around the high $20,000 mark, not one that costs $35,490. Then there is the standard infotainment system on the SEL. This is the small screen system Volkswagen uses on many of their vehicles and comes with a litany of problems. To start is the graphic interface looks it has come from the early to mid-2000s which also means the touch points are very small, making them somewhat hard to hit. Also the small screen makes it hard to look at glance, meaning you have to take your eyes off the road for a few seconds longer than looking at larger screen. Then there is the rear cargo space which measures out to 23.8 cubic feet, which makes it the smallest in the small crossover class. Powering all Tiguans is Volkswagen’s well known turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet. This is paired to a six-speed automatic and optional 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The turbo 2.0L gives the Tiguan some scoot with torque coming in 1700 rpm and it never feels that it will run out of power the higher you climb in the rev range. Plus the turbo-four is very refined with no hint the buzz that is common in four cylinders. The six-speed automatic makes the most of the power and delivers quick shifts. Fuel economy is somewhat of a disappointment with ratings of 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. I got around 22.4 MPG during my week. Some reviewers have called the Tiguan’s handling GTI-like. I thought that was a bit dubious, but I have to admit that is the best way to describe it. The suspension limits the amount of body roll, while the tires and 4Motion all-wheel drive kept the Tiguan glued to the road. Steering has good feel and weight to it. On the day to day front, the Tiguan does ok with minimizing road imperfections and bumps. It likely helps that my Tiguan was equipped with the 18-inch wheels and not the optional 19-inch wheels which make the ride unbearable.The Volkswagen Tiguan is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it has some good looks and impressive handling characteristics. On the other hand, there is a number of problems with the interior, fuel economy is a bit meh, and the price tag of $35,490 is a bit too much. You’ll be better off with looking at a Mazda CX-5 or a Subaru Forester. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Tiguan SEL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Volkswagen Model: Tiguan Trim: SEL 4Motion Engine: 2.0L TSI Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5100 Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23 Curb Weight: 3,591 lbs Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany Base Price: $34,625 As Tested Price: $35,490 (Includes $865.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: 2015 Kia Sorento SX AWD The current Kia Sorento is one of my favorite crossovers on sale as it has a nice equation of standard equipment and improvements, with similar pricing to the older model. One downside to the Sorento I drove last year was the price tag. With an as-tested price of $41,600 for the SX Limited I drove, I felt it was bit much for what you got, especially considering you could get mostly everything in the SX model for about $2,000 less. So when a 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD arrived for weeklong test, it was time to see if I could stand on that opinion. Now compared to the Sorento SX Limited I drove back last year, the SX really doesn’t have any differences on the exterior when compared to SX Limited aside from wheel finish. The SX came with nineteen-inch alloy wheels, while the Limited gets a chrome finish. Inside there are only few minor differences between the two trim levels such the SX Limited getting Napa leather and premium black trim. Otherwise there isn’t any real difference between the two trims as they both have heated and cooled seats, Kia’s UVO infotainment system, push-button start, and sunroof. So unless you really want Napa leather and chrome wheels, the SX seems like the better buy.Now not much has changed under the Sorento since we last reviewed it. The standard 3.3L GDI V6 still makes 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive. Like I said in my review of the Sorento SX Limited, the V6 is quite punchy and has no problem of getting the vehicle up to speed. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. I saw an average of 21.3 MPG. The Sorento’s ride still retains its comfortable characteristics of isolating bumps and imperfections. So after spending a week in the Sorento SX, I would stand by my opinion of going with this model than the Sorento SX Limited. It just makes more sense as it does cents. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Sorento SX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Kia Model: Sorento Trim: SX AWD Engine: 3.3L GDI V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 252 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined -18/24/20 Curb Weight: 3,894 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $38,300 As Tested Price: $39,195 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum In the talk of the seven-seat crossovers, we tend to mention the likes of the Chevrolet Traverse and its ilk; the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, and Honda Pilot. But there some models that deserve a spot in the light. Case in point is the redesigned Toyota Highlander. The Highlander retains the boxy silhouette that has been a part of the vehicle for the past two-generations. But Toyota has given the Highlander a bit more of of muscular attitude to fit it more in line with Toyota’s SUV lineup. The new model has wider haunches, a more imposing trapazodial grille, larger head and taillights, and five spoke wheels. Moving inside, the Highlander has gone under a massive change. Higher quality materials and new dash layout help make the Highlander feel more premium.The dash layout now features a shelf sitting underneath the climate control and passenger side airbag to provide a spot for your phone or any small product. My particular Highlander comes equipped with seating for seven, though you can get seating for eight. Second row passengers get an impressive amount of head and legroom, however the flip-up cupholder on the passenger side seat is a bit flimsy and I worry it could break. Third-row passengers get decent headroom, but legroom is non-existent.Power comes from Toyota’s 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. This is the powertrain I would go for instead of the base 2.7L four-cylinder as its up to the duty of moving the portly Highlander (can get up to 4,500 lbs). The V6 has enough grunt to get the Highlander moving and keep up with the flow of traffic. Engine refinement is tops with barely any noise or harshness coming from the V6. The transmission is smart enough to keep the engine in the area of power and provides smooth shifts. As for fuel economy, Toyota says the Highlander V6 AWD gets 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 21.1 MPG. Toyota must have borrowed some of Lexus’ ride engineers to work on the new Highlander because it rides like a Lexus. Driving on some of the roughest roads in Detroit, the Highlander’s suspension was able to cope and provide a very smooth ride. There has also been work done on noise isolation to make road and wind noise almost non-existent.My Highlander Limited Platinum rolled up with an as tested price of $46,156, making it one of the more expensive choices in the crossover arena. But with all of the changes and improvements, I think the Highlander can justify the price. If you are considering a seven-seat crossover, the Highlander deserves a space at the top of the list. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Trim: Limited Platinum Engine: 3.5L DOHC Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,508 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, IN Base Price: $43,590 As Tested Price: $46,156 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tow Hitch w/Wiring Harness - $699.00 Remote Start - $499.00 Glass Breakage Sensor - $299.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00 View full article

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