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Found 30 results

  1. A few weeks back, I attended an event at Hyundai’s technical center which resides outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The reason for my visit was to get a preview of what they’ll be showing at the LA Auto Show (which I’ll be able to talk about later today once the NDA lifts). But Hyundai also offered the chance to drive some of their latest products on a small drive route. I had the chance to drive three models; the Santa Fe, Kona, and Veloster. A quick note about this first drive report. You will not get any impressions on the handling of the three models. The short drive was mostly made up of straight roads around the technical center. You’ll need to wait until I can my hands on the vehicles for a week-long evaluation to see how they fare in the bends. First up is the Santa Fe. I’m quite impressed with the work done on the Santa Fe’s exterior as it has much more presence on the road than the Santa Fe Sport it replaces. The square shape is accentuated by a more aggressive grille and a more upright rear end. One downside to the new look is the raised belt line, which reduces the overall glass area and makes the interior feel slightly cramped. Step inside and Hyundai has taken a huge leap forward here. A lot of their current interiors tend to focus more on utility and having controls in easy reach. The Santa Fe adds a bit of style with rounded edges, sculpted sides for the driver and passenger, and brushed metal accents. One nice touch in the Ultimate is a contrasting roofline that looks and feels like a piece of soft linen. One item that hasn’t changed is the controls. They are still easy to find and operate. The front seats are quite comfortable and offer a number of power adjustments to help dial in the perfect position. The rear seat is massive with loads of head and legroom, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. A 2.4L four-cylinder with 185 horsepower serves as the base engine, while a more powerful 2.0L turbo-four pumping out 235 horsepower is available on the higher-end Limited and Ultimate. An eight-speed automatic is standard on either engine, and you do have the choice of either front or Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system. I drove the turbo-four with AWD and found it to be a bit underwhelming. The issue is the noticeable delay with power delivery when leaving from a stop or accelerating suddenly from a low cruising speed. I can’t fully tell if this due to the tuning of the engine, transmission, or combination of the two. It is quite the shame because the engine really shows it has punch when making a pass. Ride quality is towards the top of the class as the suspension is able to smooth out most rough road surfaces. Road and wind noise are well-muted. There’s a lot to like about the 2019 Santa Fe with its new look inside and out; spacious interior, and smooth ride. The turbo engine does sour my initial impression and has me wondering if you should wait a year until picking the turbo engine. Those who have driven the 2.4L say the engine is slightly sluggish, but I would take that over the mess that is the turbo-four. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided Breakfast, Lunch, and the Santa Fe for this Event. Gallery: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Year: 2019 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Engine: 2.4L 16-Valve DOHC GDI Four-Cylinder or Turbocharged 2.0L CVVT DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front or All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 (2.4); 235 @ 6,000 (2.0T) Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 (2.4); 260 @ 1,450-3,500 (2.0T) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/29/25 (2.4 FWD), 21/27/23 (2.4 AWD), 20/25/22 (2.0T FWD), 19/24/21 (2.0T AWD) Curb Weight: 3,591 - 4,085 lbs Base Price: $24,750 - $38,800
  2. A few weeks back, I attended an event at Hyundai’s technical center which resides outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The reason for my visit was to get a preview of what they’ll be showing at the LA Auto Show (which I’ll be able to talk about later today once the NDA lifts). But Hyundai also offered the chance to drive some of their latest products on a small drive route. I had the chance to drive three models; the Santa Fe, Kona, and Veloster. A quick note about this first drive report. You will not get any impressions on the handling of the three models. The short drive was mostly made up of straight roads around the technical center. You’ll need to wait until I can my hands on the vehicles for a week-long evaluation to see how they fare in the bends. First up is the Santa Fe. I’m quite impressed with the work done on the Santa Fe’s exterior as it has much more presence on the road than the Santa Fe Sport it replaces. The square shape is accentuated by a more aggressive grille and a more upright rear end. One downside to the new look is the raised belt line, which reduces the overall glass area and makes the interior feel slightly cramped. Step inside and Hyundai has taken a huge leap forward here. A lot of their current interiors tend to focus more on utility and having controls in easy reach. The Santa Fe adds a bit of style with rounded edges, sculpted sides for the driver and passenger, and brushed metal accents. One nice touch in the Ultimate is a contrasting roofline that looks and feels like a piece of soft linen. One item that hasn’t changed is the controls. They are still easy to find and operate. The front seats are quite comfortable and offer a number of power adjustments to help dial in the perfect position. The rear seat is massive with loads of head and legroom, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. A 2.4L four-cylinder with 185 horsepower serves as the base engine, while a more powerful 2.0L turbo-four pumping out 235 horsepower is available on the higher-end Limited and Ultimate. An eight-speed automatic is standard on either engine, and you do have the choice of either front or Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system. I drove the turbo-four with AWD and found it to be a bit underwhelming. The issue is the noticeable delay with power delivery when leaving from a stop or accelerating suddenly from a low cruising speed. I can’t fully tell if this due to the tuning of the engine, transmission, or combination of the two. It is quite the shame because the engine really shows it has punch when making a pass. Ride quality is towards the top of the class as the suspension is able to smooth out most rough road surfaces. Road and wind noise are well-muted. There’s a lot to like about the 2019 Santa Fe with its new look inside and out; spacious interior, and smooth ride. The turbo engine does sour my initial impression and has me wondering if you should wait a year until picking the turbo engine. Those who have driven the 2.4L say the engine is slightly sluggish, but I would take that over the mess that is the turbo-four. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided Breakfast, Lunch, and the Santa Fe for this Event. Gallery: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Year: 2019 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Engine: 2.4L 16-Valve DOHC GDI Four-Cylinder or Turbocharged 2.0L CVVT DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front or All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 (2.4); 235 @ 6,000 (2.0T) Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 (2.4); 260 @ 1,450-3,500 (2.0T) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/29/25 (2.4 FWD), 21/27/23 (2.4 AWD), 20/25/22 (2.0T FWD), 19/24/21 (2.0T AWD) Curb Weight: 3,591 - 4,085 lbs Base Price: $24,750 - $38,800 View full article
  3. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was originally supposed to arrive in the U.S. a few years back. But the launch would be pushed back as the model would prove to be quite popular in Europe, causing Mitsubishi to reallocate supplies. Now, Mitsubishi has finally started selling the Outlander PHEV in the U.S. Was it worth the wait? Much like the Eclipse Cross I posted a couple of weeks back, this first drive of the Outlander PHEV was quite brief. I only had about 15 to 20 miles of driving under my belt, while the rest saw me sitting in the passenger seat. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll be able to spend some more time to give an overall impression. The Outlander PHEV wants everyone to know that it is a plug-in hybrid vehicle with PHEV decals on the rear doors and badges on the front fenders. Most people will find it to be a bit much. Otherwise, I like the Outlander’s shape with a boxy profile and slightly bold front end. The interior design is a bit plain, but most controls are within easy reach. The top-line GT I drove featured leather surfaces and plenty of soft-touch materials. I would have liked to see less piano black plastic used throughout as it becomes a fingerprint magnet. One issue with the Outlander PHEV’s interior is the placement of the Park button. Due to the location of the gear selector, it isn’t easy to find the button. My drive partner spent a few moments wondering where the button was before I pointed it out. Not the most user-friendly setup. Unlike the standard Outlander which offers three-rows of seating, the PHEV makes do with two. This is due to the placement of the battery pack in the back. I’m ok with this sacrifice as the third-row in the regular Outlander should only be used for emergencies due to the limited amount of space and uncomfortable seats. Powering the Outlander PHEV are two 80 horsepower electric motors. The one on the front axle produces 101 pound-feet and the one on the rear makes 144 pound-feet. A 2.0L DOHC four-cylinder with 117 horsepower and 137 lb-ft acts as the generator. There are three different driving modes on the Outlander PHEV: EV Mode, Series Hybrid mode (gas engine provides energy for electric motors for extra power and charges the battery), and Parallel Hybrid mode (gas engine power the wheels and electric motors). The plug-in hybrid system is very responsive in EV mode thanks to the instantaneous torque available from the two electric motors. In the Series Hybrid mode, the gas engine, for the most part, is muted and doesn’t intrude. Only during hard acceleration does the engine begin to make some racket. Transitions between the electric to the hybrid powertrain is very seamless. One disappointment is the range. Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV can travel up to 22 miles on a full charge. Chrysler’s bigger Pacifica Hybrid can go 32 miles on a full charge. A lot of this comes down to the Pacifica using a larger battery pack. Mitsubishi has introduced an updated Outlander PHEV for Japan and Europe that introduces larger battery pack and engine. The overall electric range has increased to 28 miles on the WLTP testing cycle. We’re wondering when this updated powertrain will arrive in the U.S. (2020?) Mitsubishi offers three different charging options for the Outlander PHEV - 120V, 240V, and a DC fast-charging through a CHAdeMO port. Charging times are eight hours with the 120V charger, 3.5 hours on the 240V, and 25 minutes for an 80 percent charge on the DC fast-charger. Six-levels of regenerative braking from B0 to B5 can be selected through a pair of paddles behind the wheel. I left the vehicle in B3 and found it to be a nice balance of regeneration without slowing the vehicle down too much. Handling is about what you might expect with a crossover. There is a fair amount of body roll when cornering and the steering feels somewhat light. Ride quality is quite nice as most bumps and imperfections are ironed out. The 2018 Outlander PHEV begins at $34,595 for the SEL S-AWC and $40,295 for the GT S-AWC. There is a tax credit available for the model, but be aware that only comes into play when you do your taxes. You cannot use it to help drop the price of the Outlander PHEV. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi provided breakfast, a quick snack, and the Outlander PHEV for this first drive event. Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander PHEV Engine: 2.0L MIVEC DOHC, 16-valve Inline-Four (Gas Generator); Twin AC synchronous permanent magnetic motors Driveline: Single-Speed Transmission, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 117 @ 4,500 (Gas); 80 @ 0 (Electric Motors) Torque @ RPM: 137 @ 4,500 (Gas); 101 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor); 144 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor) Fuel Economy: Gas+Electric Combined/Combined - 74/25 Curb Weight: 4,178 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $34,595 (SEL S-AWC), $40,295 (GT S-AWC) View full article
  4. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was originally supposed to arrive in the U.S. a few years back. But the launch would be pushed back as the model would prove to be quite popular in Europe, causing Mitsubishi to reallocate supplies. Now, Mitsubishi has finally started selling the Outlander PHEV in the U.S. Was it worth the wait? Much like the Eclipse Cross I posted a couple of weeks back, this first drive of the Outlander PHEV was quite brief. I only had about 15 to 20 miles of driving under my belt, while the rest saw me sitting in the passenger seat. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll be able to spend some more time to give an overall impression. The Outlander PHEV wants everyone to know that it is a plug-in hybrid vehicle with PHEV decals on the rear doors and badges on the front fenders. Most people will find it to be a bit much. Otherwise, I like the Outlander’s shape with a boxy profile and slightly bold front end. The interior design is a bit plain, but most controls are within easy reach. The top-line GT I drove featured leather surfaces and plenty of soft-touch materials. I would have liked to see less piano black plastic used throughout as it becomes a fingerprint magnet. One issue with the Outlander PHEV’s interior is the placement of the Park button. Due to the location of the gear selector, it isn’t easy to find the button. My drive partner spent a few moments wondering where the button was before I pointed it out. Not the most user-friendly setup. Unlike the standard Outlander which offers three-rows of seating, the PHEV makes do with two. This is due to the placement of the battery pack in the back. I’m ok with this sacrifice as the third-row in the regular Outlander should only be used for emergencies due to the limited amount of space and uncomfortable seats. Powering the Outlander PHEV are two 80 horsepower electric motors. The one on the front axle produces 101 pound-feet and the one on the rear makes 144 pound-feet. A 2.0L DOHC four-cylinder with 117 horsepower and 137 lb-ft acts as the generator. There are three different driving modes on the Outlander PHEV: EV Mode, Series Hybrid mode (gas engine provides energy for electric motors for extra power and charges the battery), and Parallel Hybrid mode (gas engine power the wheels and electric motors). The plug-in hybrid system is very responsive in EV mode thanks to the instantaneous torque available from the two electric motors. In the Series Hybrid mode, the gas engine, for the most part, is muted and doesn’t intrude. Only during hard acceleration does the engine begin to make some racket. Transitions between the electric to the hybrid powertrain is very seamless. One disappointment is the range. Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV can travel up to 22 miles on a full charge. Chrysler’s bigger Pacifica Hybrid can go 32 miles on a full charge. A lot of this comes down to the Pacifica using a larger battery pack. Mitsubishi has introduced an updated Outlander PHEV for Japan and Europe that introduces larger battery pack and engine. The overall electric range has increased to 28 miles on the WLTP testing cycle. We’re wondering when this updated powertrain will arrive in the U.S. (2020?) Mitsubishi offers three different charging options for the Outlander PHEV - 120V, 240V, and a DC fast-charging through a CHAdeMO port. Charging times are eight hours with the 120V charger, 3.5 hours on the 240V, and 25 minutes for an 80 percent charge on the DC fast-charger. Six-levels of regenerative braking from B0 to B5 can be selected through a pair of paddles behind the wheel. I left the vehicle in B3 and found it to be a nice balance of regeneration without slowing the vehicle down too much. Handling is about what you might expect with a crossover. There is a fair amount of body roll when cornering and the steering feels somewhat light. Ride quality is quite nice as most bumps and imperfections are ironed out. The 2018 Outlander PHEV begins at $34,595 for the SEL S-AWC and $40,295 for the GT S-AWC. There is a tax credit available for the model, but be aware that only comes into play when you do your taxes. You cannot use it to help drop the price of the Outlander PHEV. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi provided breakfast, a quick snack, and the Outlander PHEV for this first drive event. Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander PHEV Engine: 2.0L MIVEC DOHC, 16-valve Inline-Four (Gas Generator); Twin AC synchronous permanent magnetic motors Driveline: Single-Speed Transmission, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 117 @ 4,500 (Gas); 80 @ 0 (Electric Motors) Torque @ RPM: 137 @ 4,500 (Gas); 101 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor); 144 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor) Fuel Economy: Gas+Electric Combined/Combined - 74/25 Curb Weight: 4,178 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $34,595 (SEL S-AWC), $40,295 (GT S-AWC)
  5. As we got off the on-ramp to I-94, my driving partner realized something. “We’re going the wrong direction.” Instead of going westbound, we were traveling eastbound. We had misread the directions only a few hundred yards from the starting point. Once realizing this, I drove towards the next exit to turn around. A few extra miles wouldn’t hurt either in the vehicle that I was piloting. Mitsubishi had invited a small number of Detroit-based automotive writers to drive the new Eclipse Cross and Outlander PHEV. Which is how I found myself behind the wheel of the Eclipse Cross to begin the drive. This is Mitsubishi’s contender in the hotly contested compact crossover marketplace. The company is hoping the combination of a distinctive design, turbocharged engine, and other features will bring in people into the showroom. My first impression shows some good signs, but there are some quirks that may put off some people. I should note this isn’t going to be a full-blown first drive. I only had about 15 to 20 miles of driving under my belt, while the rest saw me sitting in the passenger seat, proving directions to my partner and exploring various bits of the vehicle. Think of this as the appetizer to hopefully a full review sometime in the future. Mitsubishi’s design team went slightly overboard with the Eclipse Cross’ exterior. Busy would be an understatement considering the various details on display with sharp angles, a fair amount of chrome for the front, and a split-window tailgate. The color really plays a key role in emphasizing the various details. My particular vehicle was finished in white, which helped tone down some of the design. I will give Mitsubishi credit for designing something that stands out from what is becoming a very crowded field. A slight disappointment is the lack of the design flair for the interior. It looks somewhat stale and plain. But Mitsubishi has made an effort to fix some of the weaknesses I highlighted in my Outlander Sport review. Material quality is noticeably better with Mitsubishi using more solid feeling plastics throughout. There are some spots where some soft-touch plastics are used such on the door panels. Build quality is improved with solid thunk when the doors close and tight gaps. One item I sadly did not get the chance to try fully is the 7-inch infotainment system. The base model has the screen integrated into the dash, while LE models and above have the screen sitting above the dash. LE and above also get a touchpad controller to move around the system. I have concerns about the touchpad considering how many problems I have with something similar used in Lexus models. But those who have tried the touchpad say it works very well with quick responses. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder punching out 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet. This is connected to a CVT and routes power to either the front-wheels (only available on the ES) or Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control. The engine feels quite adequate as it provides decent oomph when leaving a stop or needing to getting up to speed with traffic. One item I did find odd was the slight delay of the powertrain responding after suddenly stepping on the accelerator hard. Not sure if this is an engine programming issue or something to do with the CVT. The suspension does a surprising job of ironing out most bumps and imperfections. There is a tradeoff as the Eclipse Cross has some significant body roll when cornering. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi provided breakfast, a quick snack, and the Eclipse Cross for this first drive event. Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Eclipse Cross Engine: Turbocharged 1.5L MIVEC Direct-Injected Inline-Four Driveline: Front or All-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 152 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/29/27 (ES FWD), 25/26/28 (ES S-AWC), 25/26/25 (LE, SE, and SEL S-AWC) Curb Weight: 3,307 - 3,516 lbs Location of Manufacture: Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan Base Price: $23,295 - $30,395 (Doesn't include a $995 destination charge)
  6. As we got off the on-ramp to I-94, my driving partner realized something. “We’re going the wrong direction.” Instead of going westbound, we were traveling eastbound. We had misread the directions only a few hundred yards from the starting point. Once realizing this, I drove towards the next exit to turn around. A few extra miles wouldn’t hurt either in the vehicle that I was piloting. Mitsubishi had invited a small number of Detroit-based automotive writers to drive the new Eclipse Cross and Outlander PHEV. Which is how I found myself behind the wheel of the Eclipse Cross to begin the drive. This is Mitsubishi’s contender in the hotly contested compact crossover marketplace. The company is hoping the combination of a distinctive design, turbocharged engine, and other features will bring in people into the showroom. My first impression shows some good signs, but there are some quirks that may put off some people. I should note this isn’t going to be a full-blown first drive. I only had about 15 to 20 miles of driving under my belt, while the rest saw me sitting in the passenger seat, proving directions to my partner and exploring various bits of the vehicle. Think of this as the appetizer to hopefully a full review sometime in the future. Mitsubishi’s design team went slightly overboard with the Eclipse Cross’ exterior. Busy would be an understatement considering the various details on display with sharp angles, a fair amount of chrome for the front, and a split-window tailgate. The color really plays a key role in emphasizing the various details. My particular vehicle was finished in white, which helped tone down some of the design. I will give Mitsubishi credit for designing something that stands out from what is becoming a very crowded field. A slight disappointment is the lack of the design flair for the interior. It looks somewhat stale and plain. But Mitsubishi has made an effort to fix some of the weaknesses I highlighted in my Outlander Sport review. Material quality is noticeably better with Mitsubishi using more solid feeling plastics throughout. There are some spots where some soft-touch plastics are used such on the door panels. Build quality is improved with solid thunk when the doors close and tight gaps. One item I sadly did not get the chance to try fully is the 7-inch infotainment system. The base model has the screen integrated into the dash, while LE models and above have the screen sitting above the dash. LE and above also get a touchpad controller to move around the system. I have concerns about the touchpad considering how many problems I have with something similar used in Lexus models. But those who have tried the touchpad say it works very well with quick responses. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder punching out 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet. This is connected to a CVT and routes power to either the front-wheels (only available on the ES) or Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control. The engine feels quite adequate as it provides decent oomph when leaving a stop or needing to getting up to speed with traffic. One item I did find odd was the slight delay of the powertrain responding after suddenly stepping on the accelerator hard. Not sure if this is an engine programming issue or something to do with the CVT. The suspension does a surprising job of ironing out most bumps and imperfections. There is a tradeoff as the Eclipse Cross has some significant body roll when cornering. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi provided breakfast, a quick snack, and the Eclipse Cross for this first drive event. Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Eclipse Cross Engine: Turbocharged 1.5L MIVEC Direct-Injected Inline-Four Driveline: Front or All-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 152 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/29/27 (ES FWD), 25/26/28 (ES S-AWC), 25/26/25 (LE, SE, and SEL S-AWC) Curb Weight: 3,307 - 3,516 lbs Location of Manufacture: Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan Base Price: $23,295 - $30,395 (Doesn't include a $995 destination charge) View full article
  7. At the end of my review of the 2013 Nissan Maxima, I said “The 2013 Nissan Maxima is a very special car, but it's time for this 'four-door sports car' to take its final curtain call and have a new model ready in the wings.” Little did anyone know outside at Nissan that the current Maxima was possibly going to be its last. A recent report says that a next-generation Maxima wasn’t on the table due to the recession and Nissan focusing on fuel-efficient vehicles. But with a bit of convincing due to Nissan’s vice president of product planning, the Maxima was able to live on. This brings us nicely to the eighth-generation Maxima which debuted at the New York Auto Show in April. The new model is quite the departure from the last-generation Maxima in terms of looks and features available. Nissan says the 4-Door sports car is back. Well, is it? To find out, I drove two versions of the 2016 Maxima at a first drive event in Detroit. Lets begin with the elephant in room of the Maxima - the design. Compared to past Maximas, the new one is very much a shock. Nissan graced the 2016 Maxima with the design from the Sport Sedan Concept shown at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Such cues as the V-Motion grille, boomerang headlights, blacked-out pillars, kicked-up belt line and a floating roof are present on the production model. A set of wheels ranging from 18 to 19-inches finish off the look. The new Maxima is very much a polarizing vehicle with a number of people who either like it or hate it. Personally, I fall into former as it gives the Maxima the ability to standout not only in the full-size sedan class, but also in Nissan’s crowded lineup. The interior also got a major revamp. During the briefing, Nissan explained the development team went down to where the Blue Angels are stationed and studied the cockpit of their jets. What they took away was how the controls and information were in easy sight and reach of the pilot. Nissan took this and some design ideas from the GT-R and placed them into the Maxima. Sitting in the driver’s seat, you find that you are surrounded by a new instrument cluster with a 7-inch color screen and a center console that is angle towards the driver - that idea comes from the GT-R. The layout makes you feel that you are one with the car. Nissan also worked making the Maxima feel more premium - an issue I had with the previous Maxima. Better quality materials such as machined-look wood and aluminum trim, more soft-touch plastics, and contrasting stitching. The base S trim gets cloth, while higher trim levels get leather or a combination of leather and real Alcantara. The use of these materials really help move the Maxima up in the full-size class. As for the seats, they are the Zero-Gravity variety found on the Altima. They come with a little bit more bolstering to keep up the Maxima’s sporting intentions. I found the seats to be quite comfortable and provided good support for the route Nissan has us drive on. The back seat is also a little bit more roomy than the last Maxima thanks to increase in overall length - about 2.2 inches. The center stack boasts a new 8-inch touchscreen with navigation which comes as standard on all Maximas. It comes with a new interface which brings Nissan into the current century with a bright screen and more modern looking graphics. Nissan also falls into the pit of trying to mimic smartphones and tablets with the ability to swipe from screen to screen, and pinch and zoom on the navigation. I was worried that they system would fall apart as it would either not respond or respond slowly. The system did pretty well when it came to the swipe as the transition was very fluid and I saw no performance issues. Trying the pinch-and-zoom was another matter as it didn’t respond at all when I did the motion. There’s also a control knob near the driver which allows the driver to access more functions of the system. Power comes 3.5L VQ V6 with 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the older 3.5, the one found in the 2016 Maxima features around 61 percent of new parts including a new cylinder head, intake manifold, and sodium filled exhaust valves to pull heat away from the combustion chamber. Nissan also quick to point that per liter, the 3.5 in the Maxima is best in class with 85.7 horsepower. The V6 paired up to Nissan’s XTronic CVT which has been altered with a wider range of ratios, new shift logic to provide ‘shifts’ when driving exuberantly, and sport tuning. Under the skin is a redesigned platform with a lot of high-strength steel. Nissan claims that with this new platform, the 2016 Maxima is about 82 pounds lighter and 25 percent more rigid. The suspension has also been given the once-over with new rear dampers and some special goodies for the sporty SR trim. Lets move onto the drive shall we? The first Maxima I took out was the SR. Nissan is positioning the SR as the enthusiast’s choice with a number of changes in the suspension and interior. The Maxima SR’s suspension gets a set of retuned dampers, springs and stabilizer bar. There’s also a set of Goodyear F1 Eagle tires to improve grip and steering response. Inside, SR models get leather and Alcantara on the seats and the steering wheel. You’ll also notice a set of paddles to control the transmission in sporting situations. Taking it out on the route for our drive, I was impressed how the Maxima SR drove. Put the SR into the sport mode, and it becomes a ‘sports car’. The V6 accelerates harder while the CVT enters a mode to allow for stepped shifts. I was impressed with how the V6 never felt like it was out breath no matter where it was on the RPM range. In corners, the SR’s suspension hunkered down and provided excellent stability. Steering provided good weight and feel during the enthusiastic driving period. Also impressive were the seats which were able to hold me when I put it through it paces. Putting the Maxima SR back into normal, I found that it rode smooth for the most part. I could tell that a few bumps and imperfections were making their way into the interior, but its not to the point where it will become a concern to anyone. Wind and road noise were kept to acceptable levels. As for the CVT, I found it to be ok. There was none of CVT whine that has been accustomed to previous CVTs. The stepped shifts appeared when I was making a pass on the freeway, a nice touch. After driving the SR, I took out the top of line Maxima Platinum to see how it compared. Now the Platinum is quite a luxurious model with such appointments as quilted leather, wood trim, and the contrasting stitching. Out on the road, the Platinum felt slightly more comfortable than SR as bumps and road imperfections were kept at bay. On the curvy bits, the Maxima Platinum didn’t feel out of place when compared to SR. The steering still boasts the good weight and feel in the corners. The only real difference is in the suspension where the Platinum felt a little bit softer, which does let in some body roll. But if you’re not looking for it, then you’ll really won’t notice a difference. The Maxima lineup begins at $33,235 for the base S trim and climbs to $40,865 for the top-of-the-line Platinum - prices include a $825 destination charge. Interestingly, Nissan isn’t offering any options on the Maxima. Instead, the Maxima will be offered in five different trim levels with additional features on higher trims. Here’s a basic outline of how it will work. S - Base SV - Leather SL - Panoramic Roof SR - Sport Suspension and 19-inch Wheels Platinum - Quilted Leather So is the 4-Door Sports Car back? In short, Yes. Nissan has put a lot of work in the Maxima to it bring back into the spotlight and make it a contender in the full-size sedan class. Whether this helps the Maxima in the long run remains to be seen. Disclaimer: Nissan Invited Cheers & Gears to a Local Drive Event Year: 2016 Make: Nissan Model: Maxima Trim: SR, Platinum Engine: 3.5L VQ V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 300 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 261 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,488 to 3,593 lbs Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN Base Price: $32,410 (S) As Tested Price: $38,495 (SR), $40,865 (Platinum) (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) View full article
  8. At the end of my review of the 2013 Nissan Maxima, I said “The 2013 Nissan Maxima is a very special car, but it's time for this 'four-door sports car' to take its final curtain call and have a new model ready in the wings.” Little did anyone know outside at Nissan that the current Maxima was possibly going to be its last. A recent report says that a next-generation Maxima wasn’t on the table due to the recession and Nissan focusing on fuel-efficient vehicles. But with a bit of convincing due to Nissan’s vice president of product planning, the Maxima was able to live on. This brings us nicely to the eighth-generation Maxima which debuted at the New York Auto Show in April. The new model is quite the departure from the last-generation Maxima in terms of looks and features available. Nissan says the 4-Door sports car is back. Well, is it? To find out, I drove two versions of the 2016 Maxima at a first drive event in Detroit. Lets begin with the elephant in room of the Maxima - the design. Compared to past Maximas, the new one is very much a shock. Nissan graced the 2016 Maxima with the design from the Sport Sedan Concept shown at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Such cues as the V-Motion grille, boomerang headlights, blacked-out pillars, kicked-up belt line and a floating roof are present on the production model. A set of wheels ranging from 18 to 19-inches finish off the look. The new Maxima is very much a polarizing vehicle with a number of people who either like it or hate it. Personally, I fall into former as it gives the Maxima the ability to standout not only in the full-size sedan class, but also in Nissan’s crowded lineup. The interior also got a major revamp. During the briefing, Nissan explained the development team went down to where the Blue Angels are stationed and studied the cockpit of their jets. What they took away was how the controls and information were in easy sight and reach of the pilot. Nissan took this and some design ideas from the GT-R and placed them into the Maxima. Sitting in the driver’s seat, you find that you are surrounded by a new instrument cluster with a 7-inch color screen and a center console that is angle towards the driver - that idea comes from the GT-R. The layout makes you feel that you are one with the car. Nissan also worked making the Maxima feel more premium - an issue I had with the previous Maxima. Better quality materials such as machined-look wood and aluminum trim, more soft-touch plastics, and contrasting stitching. The base S trim gets cloth, while higher trim levels get leather or a combination of leather and real Alcantara. The use of these materials really help move the Maxima up in the full-size class. As for the seats, they are the Zero-Gravity variety found on the Altima. They come with a little bit more bolstering to keep up the Maxima’s sporting intentions. I found the seats to be quite comfortable and provided good support for the route Nissan has us drive on. The back seat is also a little bit more roomy than the last Maxima thanks to increase in overall length - about 2.2 inches. The center stack boasts a new 8-inch touchscreen with navigation which comes as standard on all Maximas. It comes with a new interface which brings Nissan into the current century with a bright screen and more modern looking graphics. Nissan also falls into the pit of trying to mimic smartphones and tablets with the ability to swipe from screen to screen, and pinch and zoom on the navigation. I was worried that they system would fall apart as it would either not respond or respond slowly. The system did pretty well when it came to the swipe as the transition was very fluid and I saw no performance issues. Trying the pinch-and-zoom was another matter as it didn’t respond at all when I did the motion. There’s also a control knob near the driver which allows the driver to access more functions of the system. Power comes 3.5L VQ V6 with 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the older 3.5, the one found in the 2016 Maxima features around 61 percent of new parts including a new cylinder head, intake manifold, and sodium filled exhaust valves to pull heat away from the combustion chamber. Nissan also quick to point that per liter, the 3.5 in the Maxima is best in class with 85.7 horsepower. The V6 paired up to Nissan’s XTronic CVT which has been altered with a wider range of ratios, new shift logic to provide ‘shifts’ when driving exuberantly, and sport tuning. Under the skin is a redesigned platform with a lot of high-strength steel. Nissan claims that with this new platform, the 2016 Maxima is about 82 pounds lighter and 25 percent more rigid. The suspension has also been given the once-over with new rear dampers and some special goodies for the sporty SR trim. Lets move onto the drive shall we? The first Maxima I took out was the SR. Nissan is positioning the SR as the enthusiast’s choice with a number of changes in the suspension and interior. The Maxima SR’s suspension gets a set of retuned dampers, springs and stabilizer bar. There’s also a set of Goodyear F1 Eagle tires to improve grip and steering response. Inside, SR models get leather and Alcantara on the seats and the steering wheel. You’ll also notice a set of paddles to control the transmission in sporting situations. Taking it out on the route for our drive, I was impressed how the Maxima SR drove. Put the SR into the sport mode, and it becomes a ‘sports car’. The V6 accelerates harder while the CVT enters a mode to allow for stepped shifts. I was impressed with how the V6 never felt like it was out breath no matter where it was on the RPM range. In corners, the SR’s suspension hunkered down and provided excellent stability. Steering provided good weight and feel during the enthusiastic driving period. Also impressive were the seats which were able to hold me when I put it through it paces. Putting the Maxima SR back into normal, I found that it rode smooth for the most part. I could tell that a few bumps and imperfections were making their way into the interior, but its not to the point where it will become a concern to anyone. Wind and road noise were kept to acceptable levels. As for the CVT, I found it to be ok. There was none of CVT whine that has been accustomed to previous CVTs. The stepped shifts appeared when I was making a pass on the freeway, a nice touch. After driving the SR, I took out the top of line Maxima Platinum to see how it compared. Now the Platinum is quite a luxurious model with such appointments as quilted leather, wood trim, and the contrasting stitching. Out on the road, the Platinum felt slightly more comfortable than SR as bumps and road imperfections were kept at bay. On the curvy bits, the Maxima Platinum didn’t feel out of place when compared to SR. The steering still boasts the good weight and feel in the corners. The only real difference is in the suspension where the Platinum felt a little bit softer, which does let in some body roll. But if you’re not looking for it, then you’ll really won’t notice a difference. The Maxima lineup begins at $33,235 for the base S trim and climbs to $40,865 for the top-of-the-line Platinum - prices include a $825 destination charge. Interestingly, Nissan isn’t offering any options on the Maxima. Instead, the Maxima will be offered in five different trim levels with additional features on higher trims. Here’s a basic outline of how it will work. S - Base SV - Leather SL - Panoramic Roof SR - Sport Suspension and 19-inch Wheels Platinum - Quilted Leather So is the 4-Door Sports Car back? In short, Yes. Nissan has put a lot of work in the Maxima to it bring back into the spotlight and make it a contender in the full-size sedan class. Whether this helps the Maxima in the long run remains to be seen. Disclaimer: Nissan Invited Cheers & Gears to a Local Drive Event Year: 2016 Make: Nissan Model: Maxima Trim: SR, Platinum Engine: 3.5L VQ V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 300 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 261 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,488 to 3,593 lbs Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN Base Price: $32,410 (S) As Tested Price: $38,495 (SR), $40,865 (Platinum) (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
  9. Last week, I spent the morning with Nissan to check out the redesigned Armada SUV, refreshed Pathfinder crossover, and the all-new Titan half-ton pickup. Nissan says this year is the year of the truck. Considering last year was the year of the sedan and the mixed reaction we had to it, we’re somewhat worried how this ‘year of the truck’ would land. A brief note before we dive into our impressions of the three vehicles. I only got about 30 minutes with each vehicle, so I can’t give you a definitive opinion. What I can do is give my first thoughts on them. Let’s dive in. 2017 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan worked on making the 2017 Pathfinder look a bit more SUV-like. The front end gets a new hood and bumper to make it look somewhat wider. Around back, the tailgate and taillights have been reshaped. Here is the thing, you’ll have to look closely to spot the changes. If you were to park a 2016 and 2017 Pathfinder next to each other and ask someone to point out the differences, the only thing they would likely spot is the new grille. The Pathfinder’s interior hasn’t changed much and that isn’t a bad thing. Materials used in the Platinum are for the most part very good for the class. There is plenty of soft-touch materials on the door panels and console. But Nissan loses some points for the materials used for the dashboard and the surround for center stack. It might look like something soft. But it is hard when pressed. This would be ok if it was the SL and lower trims, not in the top Platinum trim. The center stack is very easy to understand thanks to a simple layout and the use of buttons and knobs. Glad to see Nissan has added their latest version of NissanConnect to the Pathfinder. I really liked this system when I drove the Murano and Maxima last year with a modern interface and being very easy to use. Second-row seating is towards the top of the class with a large amount of head and legroom. Also, the second-row seat is very flexible. The seat can tip forward to allow for easy access to the third row. If you’re wondering, the third row is best reserved for small kids. The 3.5L V6 has been tweaked to produce 284 horsepower (up 24) and 259 pound-feet of torque (up 19). The improvements in power do make a big difference. Compared to the last Pathfinder I drove back in 2013, the updated V6 feels a bit more energetic to get up to speed. Although, the V6 does sound somewhat unrefined when you step on it. Nissan made some changes to the chassis to improve body control and ride. Such changes include revised spring rates, stiffer shocks, and improved steering system. The changes make the Pathfinder feel more stable on stable on the road, especially in corners. At the event, Nissan announced pricing for the 2017 Pathfinder. The base S two-wheel drive begins at $30,890 and climbs to $44,460 for the Platinum 4WD. (Prices include a $900 destination charge) Nissan has made some noticeable improvements for the Pathfinder. But even with these improvements, I can’t think of a reason of why I would pick the Pathfinder over the Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. The Pathfinder is good, but competitors at the moment do it better. 2017 Nissan Armada There isn’t really much difference between the new Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX80 aside from different front ends. Both are very polarizing in terms of their overall looks, but I would say the Armada is slightly more tasteful. The interior is a huge improvement over the old Armada. A new dashboard, noticeable improvements in terms of materials, and bits of style strewed about make for a pleasant experience. Yes, there are a fair amount of interior bits from the QX80 in the Armada’s interior, but it doesn’t feel out of place. Most Armadas will feature seating for eight people. The Platinum which was the model I drove features seating for seven (captain chairs in the second row). Sitting in the second row is quite comfortable with a large amount of head and legroom. The Platinum’s second row also features a removable center console that adds more storage. The third-row seat is best left for small kids. Adults will complain that they don’t have any legroom. The standard equipment list is quite generous with all models featuring push-button start, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and navigation. Speaking about the navigation, I think Nissan made a massive oversight. Unlike the Pathfinder which boasts the latest generation of Nissan Connect, the Armada features a system from the late-oughts. The graphics look quite dated and it doesn’t feature any of Nissan’s latest technologies such as the NissanConnect telematic services. Power comes from a new 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The V8 has more than enough grunt to leave a stop light in decent time and makes a passing a breeze. It doesn’t hurt the V8 has a nice growl during acceleration. The automatic seems quite smart with shift points and gear changes are very smooth. One item we’ll be looking at closely whenever we get in an Armada for testing is fuel economy. The Armada Platinum AWD is rated at 13 City/18 Highway/15 Combined. The last Armada we drove in 2014 only got an average of 12 mpg. The ride is very pleasant with bumps being smothered. This is impressive when you consider the Platinum is riding on 20-inch wheels. Nissan also worked on the Armada very quiet. On the freeway, barely any wind noise came in. Some road noise made its way inside, but that is likely due to the large wheels. Somewhat surprising is how the Armada felt in the corners. There was little body roll which is impressive for a seven-seat SUV. Not so impressive is the steering; it feels quite light when turning and there isn’t any feel. The Armada starts at $45,395 for the base SV 2WD and climbs to $60,985 for the Platinum AWD Think of the 2017 Nissan Armada as an Infiniti QX80 with a significant price cut. There are a lot of improvements for this SUV that might make it an interesting alternative to the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition. 2017 Nissan Titan Finally! Nissan has brought out the half-ton Titan. There isn’t any difference in terms of looks between the standard Titan and the Titan XD. The only real difference comes in size: Titan is about 14.7 inches shorter in terms of overall length and its wheelbase is about a foot shorter. Still looks like an older F-150 to me in the front. Everywhere else, the Titan does have some unique touches such black and silver wheels for the Pro-4X, and a large chrome bar on the tailgate of the top Platinum Reserve. The Titan will be offered in regular and king (Nissan-speak for extended) cabs. Sadly, Nissan didn’t have a regular cab Titan to look at in person. The interior might not be anything special in terms of looks, but build and material quality are excellent. Dash layout is a bit button-heavy, but most controls are arranged in a logical fashion. All Titans feature a touchscreen infotainment system, either 5 or 7-inches. The trucks available for us to drive came with a larger 7-inch screen. I’m not a fan of the NissanConnect system used in the Titan and Titan XD for a number of reasons: the interface is looking somewhat old despite being one of the newer systems on the market and having issues with devices plugged in via USB. One area that the Titan shares with the XD is comfort. The front bucket seats provide excellent levels of comfort and support. The backseat is quite spacious with plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. A storage bin under the back seats provides a handy space for storing tool and other random bits. A clever trick that the bins offer is the ability for the lid to flip out and provide a flat surface for carrying large items in the back. Powering the Titan for the time-being is a 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. A V6 is coming, but Nissan isn’t talking details about it at the moment. The V8 moves the Titan with authority, although it takes a moment for the throttle to realize that your foot is on the gas before anything happens. Provides a nice growl during acceleration and doesn’t show any signs of harshness. The seven-speed automatic provides smooth gear changes, although it does take its sweet time to downshift in certain maneuvers such as passing. During the short drive loop, the Titan provided a smooth and relaxing ride. One area that Nissan might want to do some more work is in noise isolation. I found a fair amount of road noise coming into the cabin. Handling is quite surprising for a truck. The Titan felt planted around corners and showed no sign of body roll. Steering is where the Titan really shined as it felt connected to the road and had the right amount of heft. This is due to Nissan using a rack-and-pinion setup, not a recirculating ball steering system in the XD. Pricing for the Titan starts at $35,975 for the base S 2WD Crew to $56,595 for the Platinum Reserve 4WD. Prices for the crew cabs are on the high side and that is making us wonder how much the regular and king cabs will start at. Nissan is making progress with the 2017 Titan in a number of key areas. But we have to wonder if the slow rollout that Nissan is doing with the Titan is actually hurting them. Consider that when other truck manufacturers launch a pickup, they have a number of cab and bed variants ready to go, along with a range of engines. The Titan only has one cab, bed, and engine at the moment. The regular cab goes on sale this fall, but the King Cab and V6 aren’t due till later. This could put Nissan and the Titan in a difficult spot. Author's Note: Cheers & Gears would like to thank Nissan for inviting us to this first drive event.
  10. Last week, I spent the morning with Nissan to check out the redesigned Armada SUV, refreshed Pathfinder crossover, and the all-new Titan half-ton pickup. Nissan says this year is the year of the truck. Considering last year was the year of the sedan and the mixed reaction we had to it, we’re somewhat worried how this ‘year of the truck’ would land. A brief note before we dive into our impressions of the three vehicles. I only got about 30 minutes with each vehicle, so I can’t give you a definitive opinion. What I can do is give my first thoughts on them. Let’s dive in. 2017 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan worked on making the 2017 Pathfinder look a bit more SUV-like. The front end gets a new hood and bumper to make it look somewhat wider. Around back, the tailgate and taillights have been reshaped. Here is the thing, you’ll have to look closely to spot the changes. If you were to park a 2016 and 2017 Pathfinder next to each other and ask someone to point out the differences, the only thing they would likely spot is the new grille. The Pathfinder’s interior hasn’t changed much and that isn’t a bad thing. Materials used in the Platinum are for the most part very good for the class. There is plenty of soft-touch materials on the door panels and console. But Nissan loses some points for the materials used for the dashboard and the surround for center stack. It might look like something soft. But it is hard when pressed. This would be ok if it was the SL and lower trims, not in the top Platinum trim. The center stack is very easy to understand thanks to a simple layout and the use of buttons and knobs. Glad to see Nissan has added their latest version of NissanConnect to the Pathfinder. I really liked this system when I drove the Murano and Maxima last year with a modern interface and being very easy to use. Second-row seating is towards the top of the class with a large amount of head and legroom. Also, the second-row seat is very flexible. The seat can tip forward to allow for easy access to the third row. If you’re wondering, the third row is best reserved for small kids. The 3.5L V6 has been tweaked to produce 284 horsepower (up 24) and 259 pound-feet of torque (up 19). The improvements in power do make a big difference. Compared to the last Pathfinder I drove back in 2013, the updated V6 feels a bit more energetic to get up to speed. Although, the V6 does sound somewhat unrefined when you step on it. Nissan made some changes to the chassis to improve body control and ride. Such changes include revised spring rates, stiffer shocks, and improved steering system. The changes make the Pathfinder feel more stable on stable on the road, especially in corners. At the event, Nissan announced pricing for the 2017 Pathfinder. The base S two-wheel drive begins at $30,890 and climbs to $44,460 for the Platinum 4WD. (Prices include a $900 destination charge) Nissan has made some noticeable improvements for the Pathfinder. But even with these improvements, I can’t think of a reason of why I would pick the Pathfinder over the Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. The Pathfinder is good, but competitors at the moment do it better. 2017 Nissan Armada There isn’t really much difference between the new Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX80 aside from different front ends. Both are very polarizing in terms of their overall looks, but I would say the Armada is slightly more tasteful. The interior is a huge improvement over the old Armada. A new dashboard, noticeable improvements in terms of materials, and bits of style strewed about make for a pleasant experience. Yes, there are a fair amount of interior bits from the QX80 in the Armada’s interior, but it doesn’t feel out of place. Most Armadas will feature seating for eight people. The Platinum which was the model I drove features seating for seven (captain chairs in the second row). Sitting in the second row is quite comfortable with a large amount of head and legroom. The Platinum’s second row also features a removable center console that adds more storage. The third-row seat is best left for small kids. Adults will complain that they don’t have any legroom. The standard equipment list is quite generous with all models featuring push-button start, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and navigation. Speaking about the navigation, I think Nissan made a massive oversight. Unlike the Pathfinder which boasts the latest generation of Nissan Connect, the Armada features a system from the late-oughts. The graphics look quite dated and it doesn’t feature any of Nissan’s latest technologies such as the NissanConnect telematic services. Power comes from a new 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The V8 has more than enough grunt to leave a stop light in decent time and makes a passing a breeze. It doesn’t hurt the V8 has a nice growl during acceleration. The automatic seems quite smart with shift points and gear changes are very smooth. One item we’ll be looking at closely whenever we get in an Armada for testing is fuel economy. The Armada Platinum AWD is rated at 13 City/18 Highway/15 Combined. The last Armada we drove in 2014 only got an average of 12 mpg. The ride is very pleasant with bumps being smothered. This is impressive when you consider the Platinum is riding on 20-inch wheels. Nissan also worked on the Armada very quiet. On the freeway, barely any wind noise came in. Some road noise made its way inside, but that is likely due to the large wheels. Somewhat surprising is how the Armada felt in the corners. There was little body roll which is impressive for a seven-seat SUV. Not so impressive is the steering; it feels quite light when turning and there isn’t any feel. The Armada starts at $45,395 for the base SV 2WD and climbs to $60,985 for the Platinum AWD Think of the 2017 Nissan Armada as an Infiniti QX80 with a significant price cut. There are a lot of improvements for this SUV that might make it an interesting alternative to the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition. 2017 Nissan Titan Finally! Nissan has brought out the half-ton Titan. There isn’t any difference in terms of looks between the standard Titan and the Titan XD. The only real difference comes in size: Titan is about 14.7 inches shorter in terms of overall length and its wheelbase is about a foot shorter. Still looks like an older F-150 to me in the front. Everywhere else, the Titan does have some unique touches such black and silver wheels for the Pro-4X, and a large chrome bar on the tailgate of the top Platinum Reserve. The Titan will be offered in regular and king (Nissan-speak for extended) cabs. Sadly, Nissan didn’t have a regular cab Titan to look at in person. The interior might not be anything special in terms of looks, but build and material quality are excellent. Dash layout is a bit button-heavy, but most controls are arranged in a logical fashion. All Titans feature a touchscreen infotainment system, either 5 or 7-inches. The trucks available for us to drive came with a larger 7-inch screen. I’m not a fan of the NissanConnect system used in the Titan and Titan XD for a number of reasons: the interface is looking somewhat old despite being one of the newer systems on the market and having issues with devices plugged in via USB. One area that the Titan shares with the XD is comfort. The front bucket seats provide excellent levels of comfort and support. The backseat is quite spacious with plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. A storage bin under the back seats provides a handy space for storing tool and other random bits. A clever trick that the bins offer is the ability for the lid to flip out and provide a flat surface for carrying large items in the back. Powering the Titan for the time-being is a 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. A V6 is coming, but Nissan isn’t talking details about it at the moment. The V8 moves the Titan with authority, although it takes a moment for the throttle to realize that your foot is on the gas before anything happens. Provides a nice growl during acceleration and doesn’t show any signs of harshness. The seven-speed automatic provides smooth gear changes, although it does take its sweet time to downshift in certain maneuvers such as passing. During the short drive loop, the Titan provided a smooth and relaxing ride. One area that Nissan might want to do some more work is in noise isolation. I found a fair amount of road noise coming into the cabin. Handling is quite surprising for a truck. The Titan felt planted around corners and showed no sign of body roll. Steering is where the Titan really shined as it felt connected to the road and had the right amount of heft. This is due to Nissan using a rack-and-pinion setup, not a recirculating ball steering system in the XD. Pricing for the Titan starts at $35,975 for the base S 2WD Crew to $56,595 for the Platinum Reserve 4WD. Prices for the crew cabs are on the high side and that is making us wonder how much the regular and king cabs will start at. Nissan is making progress with the 2017 Titan in a number of key areas. But we have to wonder if the slow rollout that Nissan is doing with the Titan is actually hurting them. Consider that when other truck manufacturers launch a pickup, they have a number of cab and bed variants ready to go, along with a range of engines. The Titan only has one cab, bed, and engine at the moment. The regular cab goes on sale this fall, but the King Cab and V6 aren’t due till later. This could put Nissan and the Titan in a difficult spot. Author's Note: Cheers & Gears would like to thank Nissan for inviting us to this first drive event. View full article
  11. Last week, we introduced to the Scion iA. This model is part of a two-prong attack for Scion to get themselves out of the dark hole they currently find themselves in. The second prong to this attack is the Scion iM. Like the Scion iA, Scion turned to another maker - in this case Toyota - to see about using a current model to help revitalize their lineup. What they got was the European-market Toyota Auris hatchback as a replacement for the boxy xB. We came away impressed with the iA, will the iM be the same? The only real difference between the Auris sold around the world and the iM that will be sold in the states is the change from Toyota to Scion badging. Otherwise, the iM is one of the best-looking vehicles that Scion, let alone Toyota has brought out in a while. Such details as a narrow grille, 17-inch wheels with a black outline, and distinctive side sculpting give the iM a sleek look in a class that tends to play it safe. Moving inside, the iM isn’t going to set the world on fire in terms of looks. The dashboard is a simple design with a mix of hard and soft touch materials. Scion did a couple of things to the interior to make it look somewhat premium. Along the bottom edge of the dashboard on the passenger side and center stack, there is a piece of soft-touch plastic with stitching. Also, the center stack is finished with piano black plastic. Interior space is average for the class with the iM offering 90.4 cubic feet of passenger volume and 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space. What that means is that you and a few your friends will be comfortable no matter where they sit and be able to carry all of their stuff. You’ll also be able to expand that space with a set of 60/40 split folding seats. Standard equipment is quite generous on the iM with automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors, 4.2-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster, six-speaker audio system, and a 7-inch touchscreen. The touchscreen is easy to use thanks to a simple interface and clear graphics, but Toyota’s infotainment system could use an update to make it slightly modern. Power comes from the Corolla Eco’s 1.8L four-cylinder 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either a six-speed manual or a CVT. For fuel economy, the iM is rated at 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined for the manual, and 28 City/37 Highway/32 Combined for the CVT. The 1.8L has to be worked to get to its power zone. Now this would be great if the engine wanting to be worked with a nice engine note. This isn't happening in the iM as the engine sounds very unpleasant, telling you that you don't want to push the engine at all. Not helping matters is the standard six-speed manual transmission which has long throws and doesn’t feel precise when you put it into gear. Some people we talked to after the event said the CVT was the better as it seems more in tune with the engine’s behavior. We should state here that the particular iM we drove was equipped with some TRD parts - lowering springs and strut bar. This means we have some different ride impressions of this iM than other iMs available at the event. We’ll have some thoughts on the ride of the standard iM when we get one in for review in the future. On some back roads, the iM felt planted and showed little sign of body roll. However, the iM’s steering felt rubbery and didn’t have much feel. But for most owners, this isn’t such a big deal. In city and highway driving, the iM did a mostly decent job of dealing with bumps and imperfections. Some bumps did make it into the cabin, mostly due to the TRD suspension components fitted on our iM. Road and wind noise were about average for the class. The iM follows Scion’s ‘Mono spec’ mantra. That means every iA will come equipped with automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, and a number of other features. The only real choices for a buyer are color, transmission, and if they want to spring for navigation. Pricing for the Scion iM starts at $19,255 for the manual, and $19,995 for the CVT. The prices put the iM in a good spot as many competitors such as the Mazda and Ford Focus are a bit more to match the iM in terms of features. After spending some time with the iM, we came away somewhat mixed. While Scion has done a lot in terms of filling the iM with a lot a value, the powertrain doesn’t seem quite in tune with the vehicle. Now a lot this comes down to the manual transmission which isn’t a good fit. Pair this with the TRD parts which tended to make the ride a little bit worse, and it has left us confused about our feelings. We’ll admit that Scion is on the right track with iM with trying to reach a more mainstream audience, but we need some more drive time with it before we say whether or not it's a good fit for Scion. Disclaimer: Scion Invited Cheers & Gears to a Two-Day Driving Event In Grand Rapids Year: 2016 Make: Scion Model: iM Trim: N/A Engine: 1.8L DOHC, VALVEMATIC, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive; Six-Speed Manual, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 137 @ 6100 Torque @ RPM: 126 @ 4000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31 (Manual), 28/37/32 (Automatic) Curb Weight: 2,943 lbs (Manual), 3,031 lbs (Automatic) Prices: $19,255 (Manual), $19,995 (Automatic) - Prices includes a $795 Destination Charge On Sale: September 1st
  12. Last week, we introduced to the Scion iA. This model is part of a two-prong attack for Scion to get themselves out of the dark hole they currently find themselves in. The second prong to this attack is the Scion iM. Like the Scion iA, Scion turned to another maker - in this case Toyota - to see about using a current model to help revitalize their lineup. What they got was the European-market Toyota Auris hatchback as a replacement for the boxy xB. We came away impressed with the iA, will the iM be the same? The only real difference between the Auris sold around the world and the iM that will be sold in the states is the change from Toyota to Scion badging. Otherwise, the iM is one of the best-looking vehicles that Scion, let alone Toyota has brought out in a while. Such details as a narrow grille, 17-inch wheels with a black outline, and distinctive side sculpting give the iM a sleek look in a class that tends to play it safe. Moving inside, the iM isn’t going to set the world on fire in terms of looks. The dashboard is a simple design with a mix of hard and soft touch materials. Scion did a couple of things to the interior to make it look somewhat premium. Along the bottom edge of the dashboard on the passenger side and center stack, there is a piece of soft-touch plastic with stitching. Also, the center stack is finished with piano black plastic. Interior space is average for the class with the iM offering 90.4 cubic feet of passenger volume and 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space. What that means is that you and a few your friends will be comfortable no matter where they sit and be able to carry all of their stuff. You’ll also be able to expand that space with a set of 60/40 split folding seats. Standard equipment is quite generous on the iM with automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors, 4.2-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster, six-speaker audio system, and a 7-inch touchscreen. The touchscreen is easy to use thanks to a simple interface and clear graphics, but Toyota’s infotainment system could use an update to make it slightly modern. Power comes from the Corolla Eco’s 1.8L four-cylinder 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either a six-speed manual or a CVT. For fuel economy, the iM is rated at 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined for the manual, and 28 City/37 Highway/32 Combined for the CVT. The 1.8L has to be worked to get to its power zone. Now this would be great if the engine wanting to be worked with a nice engine note. This isn't happening in the iM as the engine sounds very unpleasant, telling you that you don't want to push the engine at all. Not helping matters is the standard six-speed manual transmission which has long throws and doesn’t feel precise when you put it into gear. Some people we talked to after the event said the CVT was the better as it seems more in tune with the engine’s behavior. We should state here that the particular iM we drove was equipped with some TRD parts - lowering springs and strut bar. This means we have some different ride impressions of this iM than other iMs available at the event. We’ll have some thoughts on the ride of the standard iM when we get one in for review in the future. On some back roads, the iM felt planted and showed little sign of body roll. However, the iM’s steering felt rubbery and didn’t have much feel. But for most owners, this isn’t such a big deal. In city and highway driving, the iM did a mostly decent job of dealing with bumps and imperfections. Some bumps did make it into the cabin, mostly due to the TRD suspension components fitted on our iM. Road and wind noise were about average for the class. The iM follows Scion’s ‘Mono spec’ mantra. That means every iA will come equipped with automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, and a number of other features. The only real choices for a buyer are color, transmission, and if they want to spring for navigation. Pricing for the Scion iM starts at $19,255 for the manual, and $19,995 for the CVT. The prices put the iM in a good spot as many competitors such as the Mazda and Ford Focus are a bit more to match the iM in terms of features. After spending some time with the iM, we came away somewhat mixed. While Scion has done a lot in terms of filling the iM with a lot a value, the powertrain doesn’t seem quite in tune with the vehicle. Now a lot this comes down to the manual transmission which isn’t a good fit. Pair this with the TRD parts which tended to make the ride a little bit worse, and it has left us confused about our feelings. We’ll admit that Scion is on the right track with iM with trying to reach a more mainstream audience, but we need some more drive time with it before we say whether or not it's a good fit for Scion. Disclaimer: Scion Invited Cheers & Gears to a Two-Day Driving Event In Grand Rapids Year: 2016 Make: Scion Model: iM Trim: N/A Engine: 1.8L DOHC, VALVEMATIC, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive; Six-Speed Manual, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 137 @ 6100 Torque @ RPM: 126 @ 4000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31 (Manual), 28/37/32 (Automatic) Curb Weight: 2,943 lbs (Manual), 3,031 lbs (Automatic) Prices: $19,255 (Manual), $19,995 (Automatic) - Prices includes a $795 Destination Charge On Sale: September 1st View full article
  13. Scion appears to be growing up. The brand which launched in 2003 with non-mainstream vehicles, a unique buying process, and a marketing campaign aimed at young buyers was a breath of fresh air. But the industry collapse back in 2008 and an aging lineup has seen Scion lose their key audience and drift into obscurity. So what does a brand aimed at young people that is treading water do? For Scion, it was time to get creative and work somewhat outside the box. Thus at New York, Scion introduced the iA and iM. What makes both of these vehicles different is they are actually rebadged version of other models. The iA is the sedan version of the new Mazda2, while the iM is the European Toyota Auris. So how do both of these new models stack up? First up is the 2016 Scion iA. For the most part, the iA is quite the sleek looking vehicle with sharp lines and a distinctive profile. This is due to the Scion iA being a slightly restyled Mazda2, which itself is quite the good looking subcompact. The one part where Scion had responsibility in the design was creating a unique front fascia. It looks like Scion squished the tC's front clip into the space for the front fascia. Many journalists who saw the iA thought it was ugly. But Scion explained they wanted something that was polarizing to stand out in a somewhat crowded class. They got that with the Scion iA for better or worse. Inside, the Scion iA is pure Mazda. This means we’re treated to a simple dashboard design with a fine mix of hard plastics, paired with soft-touch materials and stitching on the dashboard.. Also, the iA gets Mazda’s latest seven-inch infotainment system with a screen on top of the dash and set of controls on the center console. This system is easy to use and simple to navigate around. In terms of seating, the front passengers get a set of supportive bucket seats. The back seat is standard for the class with enough head and legroom for most passengers. However, you should tell your passengers to put the seat rests up Otherwise, they’ll be wondering why the backseat is trying to eat their back. Power comes from a 1.5L four-cylinder with 106 horsepower and 101 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either six-speed manual or automatic. In terms of fuel economy, the iA is rated by the EPA at 31 City/41 Highway/35 Combined for the manual, and 33 City/42 Highway/37 Combined for the automatic. For the suspension, the iA employs a McPherson strut front suspension and a torsion-beam axle in the rear. As for braking, the iA uses disc brakes around. On to the drive! The Scion iA seems perfectly suited for the city as the 1.5L engine is more than capable of getting up speed at a decent rate. On the expressway and country roads, the engine struggles to get up to speed. This is somewhat surprising when you take into account the iA's curb weight of 2,416 pounds for the automatic. At least the six-speed automatic is smooth and quick. But the iA begins to redeem itself when it comes to ride and handling. Ride quality was very composed and was rarely unsettled by any potholes or bumps. Handling reveals a bit of Mazda influence with iA feeling planted when pushed. The steering has a good feel and weight when you are hustling around. Like other Scions, the iA will be offered in what the brand calls ‘Mono spec’ - which means there is one configuration that boasts a lot of standard equipment including air conditioning, Bluetooth, the seven-inch infotainment system, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a low-speed pre-collision system. The only things a buyer needs to pick is whether to go with the manual or automatic transmission, color, and whether or not to go for the optional navigation system. Pricing starts at $16,495 for the manual, and $17,595 for the automatic (prices include a $795 destination charge). Scion appears to be going in gracefully with maturing if the 2016 iA is any indication. Teaming up with Mazda to build this subcompact sedan proved to be right call since a lot this vehicle just works and drives pretty well. If you can get over the front end, then the Scion iA is worth a look. Disclaimer: Scion Invited Cheers & Gears to a Two-Day Driving Event In Grand Rapids Year: 2016 Make: Scion Model: iA Trim: N/A Engine: 1.5L DOHC, Direct-Injected, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive; Six-Speed Manual, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 106 @ 6000 Torque @ RPM: 103 @ 4000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 31/41/35 (Manual), 33/42/37 (Automatic) Curb Weight: 2,385 lbs (Manual), 2,416 lbs (Automatic) Prices: $16,495 (Manual), $17,595 (Automatic) - Prices includes a $795 Destination Charge On Sale: September 1st View full article
  14. Scion appears to be growing up. The brand which launched in 2003 with non-mainstream vehicles, a unique buying process, and a marketing campaign aimed at young buyers was a breath of fresh air. But the industry collapse back in 2008 and an aging lineup has seen Scion lose their key audience and drift into obscurity. So what does a brand aimed at young people that is treading water do? For Scion, it was time to get creative and work somewhat outside the box. Thus at New York, Scion introduced the iA and iM. What makes both of these vehicles different is they are actually rebadged version of other models. The iA is the sedan version of the new Mazda2, while the iM is the European Toyota Auris. So how do both of these new models stack up? First up is the 2016 Scion iA. For the most part, the iA is quite the sleek looking vehicle with sharp lines and a distinctive profile. This is due to the Scion iA being a slightly restyled Mazda2, which itself is quite the good looking subcompact. The one part where Scion had responsibility in the design was creating a unique front fascia. It looks like Scion squished the tC's front clip into the space for the front fascia. Many journalists who saw the iA thought it was ugly. But Scion explained they wanted something that was polarizing to stand out in a somewhat crowded class. They got that with the Scion iA for better or worse. Inside, the Scion iA is pure Mazda. This means we’re treated to a simple dashboard design with a fine mix of hard plastics, paired with soft-touch materials and stitching on the dashboard.. Also, the iA gets Mazda’s latest seven-inch infotainment system with a screen on top of the dash and set of controls on the center console. This system is easy to use and simple to navigate around. In terms of seating, the front passengers get a set of supportive bucket seats. The back seat is standard for the class with enough head and legroom for most passengers. However, you should tell your passengers to put the seat rests up Otherwise, they’ll be wondering why the backseat is trying to eat their back. Power comes from a 1.5L four-cylinder with 106 horsepower and 101 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either six-speed manual or automatic. In terms of fuel economy, the iA is rated by the EPA at 31 City/41 Highway/35 Combined for the manual, and 33 City/42 Highway/37 Combined for the automatic. For the suspension, the iA employs a McPherson strut front suspension and a torsion-beam axle in the rear. As for braking, the iA uses disc brakes around. On to the drive! The Scion iA seems perfectly suited for the city as the 1.5L engine is more than capable of getting up speed at a decent rate. On the expressway and country roads, the engine struggles to get up to speed. This is somewhat surprising when you take into account the iA's curb weight of 2,416 pounds for the automatic. At least the six-speed automatic is smooth and quick. But the iA begins to redeem itself when it comes to ride and handling. Ride quality was very composed and was rarely unsettled by any potholes or bumps. Handling reveals a bit of Mazda influence with iA feeling planted when pushed. The steering has a good feel and weight when you are hustling around. Like other Scions, the iA will be offered in what the brand calls ‘Mono spec’ - which means there is one configuration that boasts a lot of standard equipment including air conditioning, Bluetooth, the seven-inch infotainment system, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a low-speed pre-collision system. The only things a buyer needs to pick is whether to go with the manual or automatic transmission, color, and whether or not to go for the optional navigation system. Pricing starts at $16,495 for the manual, and $17,595 for the automatic (prices include a $795 destination charge). Scion appears to be going in gracefully with maturing if the 2016 iA is any indication. Teaming up with Mazda to build this subcompact sedan proved to be right call since a lot this vehicle just works and drives pretty well. If you can get over the front end, then the Scion iA is worth a look. Disclaimer: Scion Invited Cheers & Gears to a Two-Day Driving Event In Grand Rapids Year: 2016 Make: Scion Model: iA Trim: N/A Engine: 1.5L DOHC, Direct-Injected, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive; Six-Speed Manual, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 106 @ 6000 Torque @ RPM: 103 @ 4000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 31/41/35 (Manual), 33/42/37 (Automatic) Curb Weight: 2,385 lbs (Manual), 2,416 lbs (Automatic) Prices: $16,495 (Manual), $17,595 (Automatic) - Prices includes a $795 Destination Charge On Sale: September 1st
  15. Americans can’t seem to get enough crossovers. A study done by IHS Automotive showed that one out of every three vehicles sold in the U.S. is a crossover of some various size. Hence why it seems a week doesn’t go by without an announcement of a new crossover from ‘x’ automaker. One area that seems to have new or redesigned models coming fast and furious is the compact crossover class. New models are wanting to take a nice chunk of sales from the stalwarts such as the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. Whether it's with impressive handling characteristics (Mazda CX-5) or the availability to have three rows (Nissan Rogue), new models are beginning to take a stand on the sales chart. Hyundai is the latest automaker to ready an attack on the old guard with the third-generation Tucson. The Korean automaker hopes the formula it has seemingly perfected over the past few years of great looks, an impressive feature set, and a low price tag can make the Tucson a contender in the class. I recently spent some time in Minneapolis and parts of Wisconsin driving the new Tucson to see if the model has a chance. One of the key focuses for Hyundai on the 2016 Tucson was style. How do you make your model stand out in a crowded class? Hyundai decided to grace the 2016 Tucson with its Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language complete with sharp lines, hexagonal grille, and a set of slimmer head and taillights. One key design item Hyundai pointed out during the briefing was how the wheel arches were raked forward to promote the feeling of movement. I have to admit that Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 has been hit and miss on some of the Hyundai models. I think it works great on the Genesis as it gives it an identity, while it makes the Sonata quite boring. For the Tucson, it works very well. The model is very striking and at certain angles, reminds me of the Mazda CX-5. The interior doesn’t have quite the same flair as the exterior, which is kind of a shame. But that doesn’t mean Hyundai left the interior as an afterthought. The design is simple with a wraparound dashboard and the use of contrasting materials. There is an equal mix of hard and soft-touch materials throughout, common for the class. Higher trims get a bit more soft-touch materials to make it feel more premium. In terms of standard equipment, the Tucson comes loaded. The base model boasts spilt-folding rear seats, a five-inch touchscreen radio, backup camera, and Bluetooth. Climb up to higher trims and features such as an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled front seats, and leather seats become available. In terms of comfort, the Tucson scores well when it comes to passengers. The front seats have a fair amount of adjustment to get you into the right position, and also provide enough support for short and long trips. Back seat passengers will find a fair amount of head and legroom. The only disappointment in the Tucson’s interior is cargo space. Compared to the best-selling CR-V, the Tucson is 4.2 cubic feet smaller with the seats up (31 vs. 35.2) and 9 cubic feet smaller with the seats down (61.9 vs. 70.9). For power, the Tucson comes with two engines. The base SE model uses the 2.0L GDI four-cylinder from the Elantra with 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This paired to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive comes standard, though if you want all-wheel drive, you’ll need to order the SE Popular package. Eco and trims above it come with the turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder found in the Sonata Eco. The 1.6 makes 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. Fuel economy numbers for both engines are as followed: 2.0L FWD: 21 City/31 Highway/26 Combined 2.0L AWD: 21 City/26 Highway/ 23 Combined 1.6T FWD Eco: 26 City/33 Highway/29 Combined 1.6T AWD Eco: 25 City/31 Highway/27 Combined 1.6T FWD Sport/Limited: 25 City/30 Highway/27 Combined 1.6T AWD Sport/Limited: 24 City/28 Highway/26 Combined Now the slight difference in fuel economy numbers between the Eco and Sport/Limited models mostly comes down to wheel size. The Eco comes with 17-inch wheels, while the Sport and Limited use 19-inch wheels. Let’s move on to the drive. Now before we dive into my impressions of the 2016 Tucson, I need to make note of something important. I didn’t get the chance to get behind the wheel of the Tucson equipped with the 2.0L engine. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to provide some impressions on that model. Getting behind the wheel of the 1.6T, I found it to be a very potent engine. This is thanks in part to the 195 pound-feet of torque that arrives at 1,500 rpm and continues to 4,000 rpm. No matter when I needed to make a pass or merge onto the expressway, the engine was ready to get moving. Hyundai also deserves some credit for making the engine very quiet at idle. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic did cause me some worry as I had an unpleasant experience in a Sonata Eco I drove a couple months back. The transmission in the Eco was very sloppy in its shift and seemed to be confused with the 1-2 shift. For the Tucson, Hyundai has made a number of improvements to the transmission to make the shifts much smoother. The difference is very apparent with the transmission delivering smooth and quick shifts. As for ride and handling, the Tucson strikes a balance between sport and comfort. Hyundai has put a bit work into the suspension with a multi-link rear setup coming to all models - the last-generation Tucson used a single-link rear setup on the front-wheel drive model. The Tucson’s structure has also seen some improvements, with the body seeing a 48 percent bump in rigidity thanks to increasing the use of high-strength steel. Driving on a wide range of roads, the Tucson impressed in how it managed all manner of bumps and imperfections. The suspension was able to keep the impacts from reaching the passengers inside. More impressive was how quiet the Tucson was. Even on rough, gravel roads, the Tucson was able to keep road noise at a minimum. The Tucson’s handling may be Hyundai’s best effort yet. The crossover feels planted and shows no sign of body roll when being pushed. The only downside is the steering has a dead-zone when you begin to turn the wheel. Some resistance does appear when you turn the wheel further. This will annoy some people, but many will not even notice it. Pricing for the new the 2016 Hyundai Tucson begins at $23,595 for the base SE front-wheel drive (includes an $895 destination charge) and climbs to $34,945 for the Limited all-wheel drive equipped with the Ultimate package. Considering the amount of standard equipment for each trim level, the Tucson is quite the value. The third-generation Hyundai Tucson looks be the model to take on the old-guard in the compact crossover class. The new Tucson does mostly everything a crossover should do, along with impressive exterior design, an extensive feature set, and a turbocharged engine that is punchy. It may be that the 2016 Hyundai Tucson can be considered one of the best in its class. Disclaimer: Hyundai Invited Cheers & Gears To A National Launch for the Tucson. Year: 2016 Make: Hyundai Model: Tucson Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC Four-Cylinder, Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive: Six-Speed Automatic, Seven-Speed Dual Clutch Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 6,200 (2.0L); 175 @ 5,500 (1.6T) Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 (2.0L); 195 @ 1,500-4,500 (1.6T) Curb Weight: 3,325 to 3,710 lbs Prices: $23,595 to $34,595 (Includes $895 destination charge) View full article
  16. Americans can’t seem to get enough crossovers. A study done by IHS Automotive showed that one out of every three vehicles sold in the U.S. is a crossover of some various size. Hence why it seems a week doesn’t go by without an announcement of a new crossover from ‘x’ automaker. One area that seems to have new or redesigned models coming fast and furious is the compact crossover class. New models are wanting to take a nice chunk of sales from the stalwarts such as the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. Whether it's with impressive handling characteristics (Mazda CX-5) or the availability to have three rows (Nissan Rogue), new models are beginning to take a stand on the sales chart. Hyundai is the latest automaker to ready an attack on the old guard with the third-generation Tucson. The Korean automaker hopes the formula it has seemingly perfected over the past few years of great looks, an impressive feature set, and a low price tag can make the Tucson a contender in the class. I recently spent some time in Minneapolis and parts of Wisconsin driving the new Tucson to see if the model has a chance. One of the key focuses for Hyundai on the 2016 Tucson was style. How do you make your model stand out in a crowded class? Hyundai decided to grace the 2016 Tucson with its Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language complete with sharp lines, hexagonal grille, and a set of slimmer head and taillights. One key design item Hyundai pointed out during the briefing was how the wheel arches were raked forward to promote the feeling of movement. I have to admit that Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 has been hit and miss on some of the Hyundai models. I think it works great on the Genesis as it gives it an identity, while it makes the Sonata quite boring. For the Tucson, it works very well. The model is very striking and at certain angles, reminds me of the Mazda CX-5. The interior doesn’t have quite the same flair as the exterior, which is kind of a shame. But that doesn’t mean Hyundai left the interior as an afterthought. The design is simple with a wraparound dashboard and the use of contrasting materials. There is an equal mix of hard and soft-touch materials throughout, common for the class. Higher trims get a bit more soft-touch materials to make it feel more premium. In terms of standard equipment, the Tucson comes loaded. The base model boasts spilt-folding rear seats, a five-inch touchscreen radio, backup camera, and Bluetooth. Climb up to higher trims and features such as an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled front seats, and leather seats become available. In terms of comfort, the Tucson scores well when it comes to passengers. The front seats have a fair amount of adjustment to get you into the right position, and also provide enough support for short and long trips. Back seat passengers will find a fair amount of head and legroom. The only disappointment in the Tucson’s interior is cargo space. Compared to the best-selling CR-V, the Tucson is 4.2 cubic feet smaller with the seats up (31 vs. 35.2) and 9 cubic feet smaller with the seats down (61.9 vs. 70.9). For power, the Tucson comes with two engines. The base SE model uses the 2.0L GDI four-cylinder from the Elantra with 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This paired to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive comes standard, though if you want all-wheel drive, you’ll need to order the SE Popular package. Eco and trims above it come with the turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder found in the Sonata Eco. The 1.6 makes 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. Fuel economy numbers for both engines are as followed: 2.0L FWD: 21 City/31 Highway/26 Combined 2.0L AWD: 21 City/26 Highway/ 23 Combined 1.6T FWD Eco: 26 City/33 Highway/29 Combined 1.6T AWD Eco: 25 City/31 Highway/27 Combined 1.6T FWD Sport/Limited: 25 City/30 Highway/27 Combined 1.6T AWD Sport/Limited: 24 City/28 Highway/26 Combined Now the slight difference in fuel economy numbers between the Eco and Sport/Limited models mostly comes down to wheel size. The Eco comes with 17-inch wheels, while the Sport and Limited use 19-inch wheels. Let’s move on to the drive. Now before we dive into my impressions of the 2016 Tucson, I need to make note of something important. I didn’t get the chance to get behind the wheel of the Tucson equipped with the 2.0L engine. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to provide some impressions on that model. Getting behind the wheel of the 1.6T, I found it to be a very potent engine. This is thanks in part to the 195 pound-feet of torque that arrives at 1,500 rpm and continues to 4,000 rpm. No matter when I needed to make a pass or merge onto the expressway, the engine was ready to get moving. Hyundai also deserves some credit for making the engine very quiet at idle. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic did cause me some worry as I had an unpleasant experience in a Sonata Eco I drove a couple months back. The transmission in the Eco was very sloppy in its shift and seemed to be confused with the 1-2 shift. For the Tucson, Hyundai has made a number of improvements to the transmission to make the shifts much smoother. The difference is very apparent with the transmission delivering smooth and quick shifts. As for ride and handling, the Tucson strikes a balance between sport and comfort. Hyundai has put a bit work into the suspension with a multi-link rear setup coming to all models - the last-generation Tucson used a single-link rear setup on the front-wheel drive model. The Tucson’s structure has also seen some improvements, with the body seeing a 48 percent bump in rigidity thanks to increasing the use of high-strength steel. Driving on a wide range of roads, the Tucson impressed in how it managed all manner of bumps and imperfections. The suspension was able to keep the impacts from reaching the passengers inside. More impressive was how quiet the Tucson was. Even on rough, gravel roads, the Tucson was able to keep road noise at a minimum. The Tucson’s handling may be Hyundai’s best effort yet. The crossover feels planted and shows no sign of body roll when being pushed. The only downside is the steering has a dead-zone when you begin to turn the wheel. Some resistance does appear when you turn the wheel further. This will annoy some people, but many will not even notice it. Pricing for the new the 2016 Hyundai Tucson begins at $23,595 for the base SE front-wheel drive (includes an $895 destination charge) and climbs to $34,945 for the Limited all-wheel drive equipped with the Ultimate package. Considering the amount of standard equipment for each trim level, the Tucson is quite the value. The third-generation Hyundai Tucson looks be the model to take on the old-guard in the compact crossover class. The new Tucson does mostly everything a crossover should do, along with impressive exterior design, an extensive feature set, and a turbocharged engine that is punchy. It may be that the 2016 Hyundai Tucson can be considered one of the best in its class. Disclaimer: Hyundai Invited Cheers & Gears To A National Launch for the Tucson. Year: 2016 Make: Hyundai Model: Tucson Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC Four-Cylinder, Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive: Six-Speed Automatic, Seven-Speed Dual Clutch Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 6,200 (2.0L); 175 @ 5,500 (1.6T) Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 (2.0L); 195 @ 1,500-4,500 (1.6T) Curb Weight: 3,325 to 3,710 lbs Prices: $23,595 to $34,595 (Includes $895 destination charge)
  17. Nissan debuted their 2016 Nissan Maxima at the New York Auto Show on April 2nd, and I was among the first to get to tag along for a drive in a pre-production model later that evening. I will get to the ride along later, but first some background. Going on sale in the summer, the new Maxima ups the ante over the outgoing model with very bold styling. No longer the conservative, big brother to the Nissan Altima, the new Maxima sports the new "V-Motion" style grille that first debuted on the 2015 Nissan Murano. The Maxima, once nearly a legend in its segment, has been in the doldrums lately. One of the problems with the current Maxima is that it is really no larger than the Altima yet costs substantially more money. Customers comparing a base V6 Maxima and a base V6 Altima could see up to a $4,800 difference in sticker price, and a loaded V6 Altima SL with all the options checked has a sticker price virtually identical to that of the base Maxima. With a value equation like that, it is not hard to see why Maxima sales were still one of the dark spots in the Nissan lineup, despite Nissan having a record breaking year in 2014 with an 11% sales increase. Related: Review - 2013 Nissan Maxima SV With the 2016 Maxima, Nissan hopes to change the value proposition. As is the trend across the industry lately, the Maxima is larger while dropping weight. Horsepower has increased to an even 300, up 10hp over the outgoing model and torque remains at 261 lb-ft. The only transmission will be a new version of Nissan's front-wheel drive CVT which features a wider range of ratios to allow for quicker starts and lower RPM cruising speeds. During aggressive driving, the CVT can “down-shift” more rapidly than before and will hold engine RPM when it detects high-G cornering to improve acceleration out of a turn. Click to Enlarge Up Next – The Ride Along On the final evening of the 2015 New York Auto Show, I was invited on a ride-along in a pre-production 2016 Nissan Maxima SR. This, the third highest trim the Maxima will be offered in, is also the sportiest. The SR trim will come with a sport-tuned suspension, 19” wheels, paddle shifters for CVT control, a more aggressive CVT sport mode, front chassis performance damper, and a larger front stabilizer bar. Arguably the most important change to the Maxima is with the interior. I described the inside of the 2012 Nissan Maxima during my review as “Modern minimalist”. In 2012, I was being polite. By 2015, the interior is decidedly dated. For 2016, the conservative interior is replaced with a bold and luxurious feeling design. Related: Road Masters - 2012 Nissan Maxima Review While this was a pre-production car, materials and fit appeared to be excellent. There is a deep, useful center console with contrast stitched rails on either side, an attractive departure from industry norm. The controls here feel more up-market than the brand suggests. Nissan has moved away from the push button seat temperature controls to the dial type found on the Nissan pathfinder. As this was an SR, the seats come with a faux-suede seat trim stitched in a triangle pattern. The front seats are Nissan's Zero-Gravity type up front, though they didn't feel quite as comfortable as those I have sampled in the Nissan Altima. The flat-bottom steering wheel rim is thicker than what is typical with sumptuous feeling materials including perforated leather. The steering wheel even features a homage to the V-Motion front grille. Click to Enlarge During our ride through Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, one of the first things that stood out to me was how much quieter the Maxima was over its predecessor; likely a product of the new chassis and active noise control which not only quiets ambient noise, but also pumps select engine sounds into the passenger cabin. Most of the ride was spent in the SR's sport-mode. In city traffic, this made the Maxima feel stiff and throttle response feel jumpy even to those of us not behind the wheel. I will need more time in the car, and behind the wheel, to get an accurate perception of the Maxima's performance characteristics. Standard on all Maximas is Nissan's next generation NissanConnect with Navigation. It features an 8.0 inch color display with multi-touch. With the multi-touch feature, users will have familiar smart-phone like controls such a pinch-to-zoom and swiping for easier use. While I did not get to get deep into the system, I found it to be crisply responsive to commands and generally easy to find my way around. Unlike some of the Maxima's competitors, Nissan wisely decided to stick with real buttons instead of capacitive touch controls. The Platinum trim will offer a whole host of additional tech features including a drowsy driver alert. The 2016 Maxima will have a limited option list and instead be offered in five trims. The base Maxima S starts at $33,235, putting it about $1,000 more than the base 2015 model. That also makes the 2016 Maxima about $1,000 more than a base 2015 Toyota Avalon XLE and about $1800 more than a base 2015 Chrysler 300 Limited, both of which will be recently refreshed by the time the 2016 Maxima goes on sale. You can read about the entire list of features and options in our New York Auto Show: 2016 Nissan Maxima article. Related: Chicago Auto Show: 2016 Toyota Avalon, LA Auto Show: 2015 Chrysler 300 The original Maxima was considered one of the best family sedans on the market in its day, but it then faded into the background and has been largely unchanged and ignored since 2009. Do you think this bold new styling will allow the former king to regain his crown? Sound off below. The Live Shots Album has been updated with additional pictures since its original publication. Disclaimer: The Pre-Production 2016 Nissan Maxima was provided by Nissan to an event I attended after the 2015 New York Auto Show Press Days View full article
  18. Nissan debuted their 2016 Nissan Maxima at the New York Auto Show on April 2nd, and I was among the first to get to tag along for a drive in a pre-production model later that evening. I will get to the ride along later, but first some background. Going on sale in the summer, the new Maxima ups the ante over the outgoing model with very bold styling. No longer the conservative, big brother to the Nissan Altima, the new Maxima sports the new "V-Motion" style grille that first debuted on the 2015 Nissan Murano. The Maxima, once nearly a legend in its segment, has been in the doldrums lately. One of the problems with the current Maxima is that it is really no larger than the Altima yet costs substantially more money. Customers comparing a base V6 Maxima and a base V6 Altima could see up to a $4,800 difference in sticker price, and a loaded V6 Altima SL with all the options checked has a sticker price virtually identical to that of the base Maxima. With a value equation like that, it is not hard to see why Maxima sales were still one of the dark spots in the Nissan lineup, despite Nissan having a record breaking year in 2014 with an 11% sales increase. Related: Review - 2013 Nissan Maxima SV With the 2016 Maxima, Nissan hopes to change the value proposition. As is the trend across the industry lately, the Maxima is larger while dropping weight. Horsepower has increased to an even 300, up 10hp over the outgoing model and torque remains at 261 lb-ft. The only transmission will be a new version of Nissan's front-wheel drive CVT which features a wider range of ratios to allow for quicker starts and lower RPM cruising speeds. During aggressive driving, the CVT can “down-shift” more rapidly than before and will hold engine RPM when it detects high-G cornering to improve acceleration out of a turn. Click to Enlarge Up Next – The Ride Along On the final evening of the 2015 New York Auto Show, I was invited on a ride-along in a pre-production 2016 Nissan Maxima SR. This, the third highest trim the Maxima will be offered in, is also the sportiest. The SR trim will come with a sport-tuned suspension, 19” wheels, paddle shifters for CVT control, a more aggressive CVT sport mode, front chassis performance damper, and a larger front stabilizer bar. Arguably the most important change to the Maxima is with the interior. I described the inside of the 2012 Nissan Maxima during my review as “Modern minimalist”. In 2012, I was being polite. By 2015, the interior is decidedly dated. For 2016, the conservative interior is replaced with a bold and luxurious feeling design. Related: Road Masters - 2012 Nissan Maxima Review While this was a pre-production car, materials and fit appeared to be excellent. There is a deep, useful center console with contrast stitched rails on either side, an attractive departure from industry norm. The controls here feel more up-market than the brand suggests. Nissan has moved away from the push button seat temperature controls to the dial type found on the Nissan pathfinder. As this was an SR, the seats come with a faux-suede seat trim stitched in a triangle pattern. The front seats are Nissan's Zero-Gravity type up front, though they didn't feel quite as comfortable as those I have sampled in the Nissan Altima. The flat-bottom steering wheel rim is thicker than what is typical with sumptuous feeling materials including perforated leather. The steering wheel even features a homage to the V-Motion front grille. Click to Enlarge During our ride through Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, one of the first things that stood out to me was how much quieter the Maxima was over its predecessor; likely a product of the new chassis and active noise control which not only quiets ambient noise, but also pumps select engine sounds into the passenger cabin. Most of the ride was spent in the SR's sport-mode. In city traffic, this made the Maxima feel stiff and throttle response feel jumpy even to those of us not behind the wheel. I will need more time in the car, and behind the wheel, to get an accurate perception of the Maxima's performance characteristics. Standard on all Maximas is Nissan's next generation NissanConnect with Navigation. It features an 8.0 inch color display with multi-touch. With the multi-touch feature, users will have familiar smart-phone like controls such a pinch-to-zoom and swiping for easier use. While I did not get to get deep into the system, I found it to be crisply responsive to commands and generally easy to find my way around. Unlike some of the Maxima's competitors, Nissan wisely decided to stick with real buttons instead of capacitive touch controls. The Platinum trim will offer a whole host of additional tech features including a drowsy driver alert. The 2016 Maxima will have a limited option list and instead be offered in five trims. The base Maxima S starts at $33,235, putting it about $1,000 more than the base 2015 model. That also makes the 2016 Maxima about $1,000 more than a base 2015 Toyota Avalon XLE and about $1800 more than a base 2015 Chrysler 300 Limited, both of which will be recently refreshed by the time the 2016 Maxima goes on sale. You can read about the entire list of features and options in our New York Auto Show: 2016 Nissan Maxima article. Related: Chicago Auto Show: 2016 Toyota Avalon, LA Auto Show: 2015 Chrysler 300 The original Maxima was considered one of the best family sedans on the market in its day, but it then faded into the background and has been largely unchanged and ignored since 2009. Do you think this bold new styling will allow the former king to regain his crown? Sound off below. The Live Shots Album has been updated with additional pictures since its original publication. Disclaimer: The Pre-Production 2016 Nissan Maxima was provided by Nissan to an event I attended after the 2015 New York Auto Show Press Days
  19. Let us go back in time to October 2013 and my review of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T. This is how I ended the review, “The current Sonata started a revolution in the midsize sedan and the fact it's still selling so well means the next-generation model has a tough act to follow.” Well the Korean automaker revealed the next act of the Sonata at the New York Auto Show back in April and it seemed that something was amiss. It was named Sonata, had the Hyundai badges, and was powered by a selection of four-cylinder engines. But it didn’t look like a Sonata. The new model had lost that stylistic edge that the previous one had. Not a good sign considering that most people correlate the Sonata with the Hyundai brand. Was Hyundai going backwards? This past week, I had the chance to check out the 2015 Sonata lineup to see if any of those fears I had were true. The 2015 Sonata features Hyundai’s latest design language called Fludic Sculpture 2.0. The new language is an evolution and provides a more mature look for Hyundai’s midsize model. The front end features a wider grille, reshaped headlights, and a new bumper. The side profile features a toned-down version of the coupe roofline and distinctive character line running from the front fender to the rear. Hyundai designers also increased the window space along the side to improve the feeling of interior space. The back has a reshaped trunk lid and taillights. New for this generation is the introduction of a Sport model which adds a more aggressive front grille and bumper; side skirts, eighteen-inch alloys, and quad exhaust pipes. I’m not sure toning down the Sonata’s look is a good decision. When the last-generation Sonata debuted, it stood out in the plain and bland midsize class. Now with the new one, it kind of blends in with everyone else. Sure, you can tell there are design cues that come from the previous model and the Sport models does add some aggression. I just think Hyundai is going a little bit backwards here. Moving inside, the 2015 Sonata feels much more spacious and high-quality than the last-generation. The waterfall center stack and dual-cockpit front seat layout has been put out to pasture. In its place is a wider center stack which not only improves the feeling of spaciousness, it also improves the control layout. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with the lineup getting soft-touch materials and different trim pieces dependent on the model (Limited: Wood trim, Sport: Aluminum and faux Carbon Fiber). Back-seat passengers will see and feel a noticeable improvement in head and legroom. Equipment is generous across the lineup with all Sonatas getting alloy wheels ranging from sixteen to eighteen-inches, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, premium cloth upholstery, and 60/40 split-fold rear seats. For your entrainment needs, the base Sonata gets a standard radio with iPod/USB/AUX inputs, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth. Next up is a five-inch touchscreen radio, followed by an eight-inch touchscreen with the latest version of the automaker’s infotainment system. Coming soon to the Sonata will be Apple CarPlay and Android Car integration. On the powertrain front, the 2015 Sonata has three different engines to choose from. The base is the 2.4L Theta II GDI four-cylinder engine. Standard on the SE, Limited, and Sport models, the 2.4 makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque (slightly down from the 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet from the previous model). Next is the turbocharged 2.0L Theta II GDI four-cylinder with (down from 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque). The reason for the decrease in power is due to both engines getting Electronic Intake Continuously Variable Valve Timing (E-CVVT) and the turbo engine getting a smaller turbocharger to improve responsiveness and drivability. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission. New for the 2015 Sonata is the turbocharged 1.6L inline-four which is standard on the new Eco model. The 1.6L makes 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. To get all of the power to the road, Hyundai fitted a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The suspension setup is mainly the same with MacPherson struts up front and a multilink system in the rear. Sport models gain aggressively tuned dampers and springs. For steering, Hyundai employs two different steering systems. Most Sonatas use a column-mounted electric power-assist system, while the Sport 2.0T gets a rack-mounted setup which is said to improve responsiveness. Alright, enough information about the 2015 Sonata. Time to take it for a spin. See The Next Page For Drive Impressions. Before I dive into my impressions, I should say I didn’t get the chance to take a spin in the Sonata Eco. I hope to rectify that when I get a Sonata in for review in the coming months. First up was the Sonata Limited with the 2.4L engine. The 2.4L gets up to speed quickly when driving in the city limits, but begins to lose some steam as you climb higher in speed. I wasn’t sure if the power band dropped off at a certain point or if the gearing was tuned more for economy. As for the engine itself, it was very refined with minimal NVH levels. The automatic transmission goes about its business without making itself noticed at all. Ride quality is improved with a smooth ride and making imperfections seem like they don’t exist. Body monitions are kept in check when taken around corners. Steering is somewhat numb, but provides good weight. In other words, its pretty much par for the course in the midsize sedan class. Then I hopped into the Sonata Sport 2.0T. The 2.0T in the 2015 Sonata doesn’t quite feel as fast as the one in 2013 Sonata I drove last year. What has been improved is acceleration when leaving a stop. In the old Sonata, it felt like the turbocharger took a few seconds to spool up before delivering that punch. In the 2015 model with the smaller turbocharger, the response is improved and makes it feel a bit more punchy. Like in the standard Sonata, the automatic transmission does a fine job without bringing any attention to itself. Ride and handling is pretty much the same as the standard model which is surprising considering this is the Sport model. Steering oddly feels the same as the standard Sonata, despite a different steering system. Something tells me that I need to spend some more time with the Sport to see if there is really a difference, As for pricing, the 2015 Sonata lineup starts at $21,150 for the base SE model. Compared to the outgoing Sonata, the new model costs about $300 less. But don’t expect the removal of features. The base SE gets such items as LED daytime running lights, a driver knee airbag, blind spot mirror for the driver, and a rear lip spoiler as standard equipment. From there, the Sonata lineup climbs to $33,525 for the Sport 2.0T with the Ultimate Package. While the 2015 Hyundai Sonata has lost some of the edginess that made the previous-generation a standout in the midsize class, the 2015 model shows that Hyundai wants to move up and provide a vehicle that is seemingly well-rounded. The 2015 Sonata should be able to do something that the last-generation model started, bringing more buyers into Hyundai showrooms. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Refreshments, and Lunch For This First Drive Event Year: 2015 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Engines: 2.4L DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (SE, Sport, Limited) 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Sport 2.0T) 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Eco) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic (2.4 and 2.0T) Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic (Eco) Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 (2.4) 245 @ 6,000 (2.0T) 177 @ 5,500 (Eco) Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 (2.4) 260 @ 1,350 – 4,000 (2.0T) 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 (Eco) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined 25/37/29 (SE 2.4) 24/35/28 (Sport and Limited 2.4) 23/32/26 (Sport 2.0T) 28/38/32 (Eco) Curb Weight: 3,252 – 3,466 lbs (Models equipped with the 2.4) 3,505 – 3,616 lbs (Sport 2.0T) 3,270 – 3,298 lbs (Eco) Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama Pricing: SE: $21,960 - $23,160 Sport: $23,985 - $27,435 Eco: $24,085 - $28,185 Limited: $27,335 - $32,385 Sport 2.0T: $29,385 - $34,355 (Note: All prices include $810 destination charge.) 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
  20. Let us go back in time to October 2013 and my review of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T. This is how I ended the review, “The current Sonata started a revolution in the midsize sedan and the fact it's still selling so well means the next-generation model has a tough act to follow.” Well the Korean automaker revealed the next act of the Sonata at the New York Auto Show back in April and it seemed that something was amiss. It was named Sonata, had the Hyundai badges, and was powered by a selection of four-cylinder engines. But it didn’t look like a Sonata. The new model had lost that stylistic edge that the previous one had. Not a good sign considering that most people correlate the Sonata with the Hyundai brand. Was Hyundai going backwards? This past week, I had the chance to check out the 2015 Sonata lineup to see if any of those fears I had were true. The 2015 Sonata features Hyundai’s latest design language called Fludic Sculpture 2.0. The new language is an evolution and provides a more mature look for Hyundai’s midsize model. The front end features a wider grille, reshaped headlights, and a new bumper. The side profile features a toned-down version of the coupe roofline and distinctive character line running from the front fender to the rear. Hyundai designers also increased the window space along the side to improve the feeling of interior space. The back has a reshaped trunk lid and taillights. New for this generation is the introduction of a Sport model which adds a more aggressive front grille and bumper; side skirts, eighteen-inch alloys, and quad exhaust pipes. I’m not sure toning down the Sonata’s look is a good decision. When the last-generation Sonata debuted, it stood out in the plain and bland midsize class. Now with the new one, it kind of blends in with everyone else. Sure, you can tell there are design cues that come from the previous model and the Sport models does add some aggression. I just think Hyundai is going a little bit backwards here. Moving inside, the 2015 Sonata feels much more spacious and high-quality than the last-generation. The waterfall center stack and dual-cockpit front seat layout has been put out to pasture. In its place is a wider center stack which not only improves the feeling of spaciousness, it also improves the control layout. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with the lineup getting soft-touch materials and different trim pieces dependent on the model (Limited: Wood trim, Sport: Aluminum and faux Carbon Fiber). Back-seat passengers will see and feel a noticeable improvement in head and legroom. Equipment is generous across the lineup with all Sonatas getting alloy wheels ranging from sixteen to eighteen-inches, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, premium cloth upholstery, and 60/40 split-fold rear seats. For your entrainment needs, the base Sonata gets a standard radio with iPod/USB/AUX inputs, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth. Next up is a five-inch touchscreen radio, followed by an eight-inch touchscreen with the latest version of the automaker’s infotainment system. Coming soon to the Sonata will be Apple CarPlay and Android Car integration. On the powertrain front, the 2015 Sonata has three different engines to choose from. The base is the 2.4L Theta II GDI four-cylinder engine. Standard on the SE, Limited, and Sport models, the 2.4 makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque (slightly down from the 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet from the previous model). Next is the turbocharged 2.0L Theta II GDI four-cylinder with (down from 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque). The reason for the decrease in power is due to both engines getting Electronic Intake Continuously Variable Valve Timing (E-CVVT) and the turbo engine getting a smaller turbocharger to improve responsiveness and drivability. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission. New for the 2015 Sonata is the turbocharged 1.6L inline-four which is standard on the new Eco model. The 1.6L makes 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. To get all of the power to the road, Hyundai fitted a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The suspension setup is mainly the same with MacPherson struts up front and a multilink system in the rear. Sport models gain aggressively tuned dampers and springs. For steering, Hyundai employs two different steering systems. Most Sonatas use a column-mounted electric power-assist system, while the Sport 2.0T gets a rack-mounted setup which is said to improve responsiveness. Alright, enough information about the 2015 Sonata. Time to take it for a spin. See The Next Page For Drive Impressions. Before I dive into my impressions, I should say I didn’t get the chance to take a spin in the Sonata Eco. I hope to rectify that when I get a Sonata in for review in the coming months. First up was the Sonata Limited with the 2.4L engine. The 2.4L gets up to speed quickly when driving in the city limits, but begins to lose some steam as you climb higher in speed. I wasn’t sure if the power band dropped off at a certain point or if the gearing was tuned more for economy. As for the engine itself, it was very refined with minimal NVH levels. The automatic transmission goes about its business without making itself noticed at all. Ride quality is improved with a smooth ride and making imperfections seem like they don’t exist. Body monitions are kept in check when taken around corners. Steering is somewhat numb, but provides good weight. In other words, its pretty much par for the course in the midsize sedan class. Then I hopped into the Sonata Sport 2.0T. The 2.0T in the 2015 Sonata doesn’t quite feel as fast as the one in 2013 Sonata I drove last year. What has been improved is acceleration when leaving a stop. In the old Sonata, it felt like the turbocharger took a few seconds to spool up before delivering that punch. In the 2015 model with the smaller turbocharger, the response is improved and makes it feel a bit more punchy. Like in the standard Sonata, the automatic transmission does a fine job without bringing any attention to itself. Ride and handling is pretty much the same as the standard model which is surprising considering this is the Sport model. Steering oddly feels the same as the standard Sonata, despite a different steering system. Something tells me that I need to spend some more time with the Sport to see if there is really a difference, As for pricing, the 2015 Sonata lineup starts at $21,150 for the base SE model. Compared to the outgoing Sonata, the new model costs about $300 less. But don’t expect the removal of features. The base SE gets such items as LED daytime running lights, a driver knee airbag, blind spot mirror for the driver, and a rear lip spoiler as standard equipment. From there, the Sonata lineup climbs to $33,525 for the Sport 2.0T with the Ultimate Package. While the 2015 Hyundai Sonata has lost some of the edginess that made the previous-generation a standout in the midsize class, the 2015 model shows that Hyundai wants to move up and provide a vehicle that is seemingly well-rounded. The 2015 Sonata should be able to do something that the last-generation model started, bringing more buyers into Hyundai showrooms. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Refreshments, and Lunch For This First Drive Event Year: 2015 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Engines: 2.4L DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (SE, Sport, Limited) 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Sport 2.0T) 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Eco) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic (2.4 and 2.0T) Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic (Eco) Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 (2.4) 245 @ 6,000 (2.0T) 177 @ 5,500 (Eco) Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 (2.4) 260 @ 1,350 – 4,000 (2.0T) 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 (Eco) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined 25/37/29 (SE 2.4) 24/35/28 (Sport and Limited 2.4) 23/32/26 (Sport 2.0T) 28/38/32 (Eco) Curb Weight: 3,252 – 3,466 lbs (Models equipped with the 2.4) 3,505 – 3,616 lbs (Sport 2.0T) 3,270 – 3,298 lbs (Eco) Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama Pricing: SE: $21,960 - $23,160 Sport: $23,985 - $27,435 Eco: $24,085 - $28,185 Limited: $27,335 - $32,385 Sport 2.0T: $29,385 - $34,355 (Note: All prices include $810 destination charge.) 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.
  21. To say Hyundai grabbed everyone’s attention when they launched the Genesis at the 2008 North American International Auto Show is a true understatement. Here was a model that came with rear-wheel drive, a choice of either a V6 or V8 engine, many luxury appointments and features, and the value the company was known for. The Genesis left many wondering what the devil the company was doing, but Hyundai had a plan. The Genesis was a model they thought would not only bring new people into the Hyundai fold; it would raise the allure of the brand. That’s just what the model did. Consider this: In 2009 when Genesis was on sale for a full year, Hyundai sold 13,604 Genesis models. In 2013, that number rose to 19,804, an increase of 46 percent. Now enter the 2015 Genesis. The second-generation models builds on what the first has done with improvements to theinterior, powertrain, chassis, and refinement. But Hyundai also has bigger ambitions as well with this model. During the presentation at the Detroit Media Preview, Hyundai named the likes of the BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class as competitors to the Genesis. Big names to say in the least. Does the Genesis have what it takes? Read on. The 2015 Genesis is the first model in Hyundai’s lineup to introduce their latest design language named Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 which basically boils down to the design being a bit more restrained and losing a bit of the curvy-ness that the company was known for. Despite the loss in curves, the 2015 Genesis still seems to stand out. Cues such as the large, hexagonal grille up front; a choice of eighteen or nineteen-inch wheels, LED lighting along the outer edges of the headlights, and chrome exhaust tips give the 2015 model an identity. The same cannot be said for the first-generation Genesis. Overall length has increased to 196.5 inches, which allowed Hyundai’s designers to give the model a bit more aggressiveness by sharply raking the roofline at the rear to give a somewhat of a fastback shape. After seeing the Genesis in person, I can say for the most part that I like the design. My only problem is the front with the large grille. It makes the Genesis look too comical. Moving inside, the 2015 Genesis’ interior has been fully changed. The dash is logically laid out and controls are within easy reach of the driver and passenger. Materials are top notch with leather on the seats, an abundance of soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels, and real aluminum and wood trim. Seats offer a nice balance of comfort and support, along with twelve-way power adjustments. The seats were so comfortable in fact, my drive partner was falling asleep during the drive. Back seat passengers will be impressed by the amount of head and legroom on offer. Hyundai says the Genesis has more cubic feet of interior room than just about anything in the class. On the technology front, all Genesis models come with eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 4.3-inch color screen in the instrument cluster providing trip computer info, BlueLink telematics, and what the company calls Smart Trunk. Smart Trunk is where you stand near the back of the vehicle with the proximity key on you and within three seconds, the trunk will automatically open. Now before you think that the trunk will open up whenever you are near the vehicle, Hyundai says you have to have the vehicle locked and away from it for fifteen seconds before you can use this feature. Options include a 9.2 HD touchscreen, head-up display, and a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system.Powertrains carry over from the last-generation model, but have received a number of tweaks to improve drivability. The 3.8 V6 now makes 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque, while the 5.0L V8 makes 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. An updated eight-speed automatic is the sole transmission for both engines. New for this generation is HTRAC all-wheel drive. The system which was developed in-house by Hyundai utilizes an electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between both the front and rear axles. The system normally operates at a 40/60 split, but can send up to 90 percent of power to either the front or rear axle. The system is available on the V6 only. Alright, enough about the details on the 2015 Genesis. Lets take a drive. Even though the 2015 Genesis weighs more than the outgoing model (4,138 lbs for the V6, 4,295 lbs for the V6 HTRAC, and 4,541 lbs for the V8), both engines are up to task of moving the vehicle at a brisk rate. The V8 produces a nice growl when you step on it and power comes very effortlessly. However the V6 engine is the sweet spot as feels just as powerful as the eight and gets better fuel economy overall. During the drive loops, I recorded an average 22 MPG in the V8, while the V6 with HTRAC AWD system got 25 MPG. The eight-speed showed the same characteristics as in theEquus I drove last year; smooth and quick shifts up and down the eight speeds. As for the all-wheel drive system, I couldn’t say if it improved handling or not. I’ll need to spend some more time with a Genesis to find out. Under the skin is a stronger structure with high-strength steel used throughout, revised multilink suspension front and rear, new variable-ratio, electric power-assist steering, and an optional continuous damping control system on the V8. What this means is that the Genesis is one of the first Hyundai models that actually drives pretty well. Both models showed no body roll and stability when pushed into corners, while steering provided good feel and weight. Now I can’t say whether it's as good to drive as a BMW 5-Series or Cadillac CTS till I drive either one. What I can say is compared to past Hyundais, the Genesis shows signs of improvement. Now all of those changes I talked about which improving the driving dynamics also help in thecomfort and quiet department. The Genesis’ suspension setup was able to soak up potholes and imperfections like they were nothing. Wind and road noise were kept to a minimum. Now onto the price tag. Hyundai has bumped the price of the 2015 Genesis by $2,500. So the base Genesis with the 3.8 V6 will now cost $38,000 (not including a $950 destination charge). That price increase nets you more standard features such as navigation, backup camera, Hyundai’s BlueLink Telematics, power folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers, and much more. With the first-generation Genesis, Hyundai made a statement of intent. The brand who was known for the Pony and the 10 Year/100,000 Mile warranty wanted to show that it could reach higher and become something to aspire to. With the second-generation Genesis, Hyundai begins to solidify that. Disclaimer: Hyundai provided the vehicles and a lunch during this first drive event. Year: 2015 Make: Hyundai Model: Genesis Engines: 3.8L V6 (311 Horsepower, 293 Pound-Feet of Torque), 5.0L V8 (420 Horsepower, 383 Pound-Feet of Torque) Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/29/22 (3.8L V6 RWD), 16/25/19 (3.8L V6 AWD), 15/23/18 (5.0L V8 RWD) Curb Weight: 4,138 lbs (3.8L V6 RWD), 4,295 (3.8L V6 AWD), 4,541 lbs (5.0L V8 RWD) Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $38,950 (3.8L V6 RWD), $41,450 (3.8L V6 AWD), $52,450 (5.0L V8 RWD) (Includes a $950 destination charge) 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
  22. To say Hyundai grabbed everyone’s attention when they launched the Genesis at the 2008 North American International Auto Show is a true understatement. Here was a model that came with rear-wheel drive, a choice of either a V6 or V8 engine, many luxury appointments and features, and the value the company was known for. The Genesis left many wondering what the devil the company was doing, but Hyundai had a plan. The Genesis was a model they thought would not only bring new people into the Hyundai fold; it would raise the allure of the brand. That’s just what the model did. Consider this: In 2009 when Genesis was on sale for a full year, Hyundai sold 13,604 Genesis models. In 2013, that number rose to 19,804, an increase of 46 percent. Now enter the 2015 Genesis. The second-generation models builds on what the first has done with improvements to theinterior, powertrain, chassis, and refinement. But Hyundai also has bigger ambitions as well with this model. During the presentation at the Detroit Media Preview, Hyundai named the likes of the BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class as competitors to the Genesis. Big names to say in the least. Does the Genesis have what it takes? Read on. The 2015 Genesis is the first model in Hyundai’s lineup to introduce their latest design language named Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 which basically boils down to the design being a bit more restrained and losing a bit of the curvy-ness that the company was known for. Despite the loss in curves, the 2015 Genesis still seems to stand out. Cues such as the large, hexagonal grille up front; a choice of eighteen or nineteen-inch wheels, LED lighting along the outer edges of the headlights, and chrome exhaust tips give the 2015 model an identity. The same cannot be said for the first-generation Genesis. Overall length has increased to 196.5 inches, which allowed Hyundai’s designers to give the model a bit more aggressiveness by sharply raking the roofline at the rear to give a somewhat of a fastback shape. After seeing the Genesis in person, I can say for the most part that I like the design. My only problem is the front with the large grille. It makes the Genesis look too comical. Moving inside, the 2015 Genesis’ interior has been fully changed. The dash is logically laid out and controls are within easy reach of the driver and passenger. Materials are top notch with leather on the seats, an abundance of soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels, and real aluminum and wood trim. Seats offer a nice balance of comfort and support, along with twelve-way power adjustments. The seats were so comfortable in fact, my drive partner was falling asleep during the drive. Back seat passengers will be impressed by the amount of head and legroom on offer. Hyundai says the Genesis has more cubic feet of interior room than just about anything in the class. On the technology front, all Genesis models come with eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 4.3-inch color screen in the instrument cluster providing trip computer info, BlueLink telematics, and what the company calls Smart Trunk. Smart Trunk is where you stand near the back of the vehicle with the proximity key on you and within three seconds, the trunk will automatically open. Now before you think that the trunk will open up whenever you are near the vehicle, Hyundai says you have to have the vehicle locked and away from it for fifteen seconds before you can use this feature. Options include a 9.2 HD touchscreen, head-up display, and a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system.Powertrains carry over from the last-generation model, but have received a number of tweaks to improve drivability. The 3.8 V6 now makes 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque, while the 5.0L V8 makes 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. An updated eight-speed automatic is the sole transmission for both engines. New for this generation is HTRAC all-wheel drive. The system which was developed in-house by Hyundai utilizes an electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between both the front and rear axles. The system normally operates at a 40/60 split, but can send up to 90 percent of power to either the front or rear axle. The system is available on the V6 only. Alright, enough about the details on the 2015 Genesis. Lets take a drive. Even though the 2015 Genesis weighs more than the outgoing model (4,138 lbs for the V6, 4,295 lbs for the V6 HTRAC, and 4,541 lbs for the V8), both engines are up to task of moving the vehicle at a brisk rate. The V8 produces a nice growl when you step on it and power comes very effortlessly. However the V6 engine is the sweet spot as feels just as powerful as the eight and gets better fuel economy overall. During the drive loops, I recorded an average 22 MPG in the V8, while the V6 with HTRAC AWD system got 25 MPG. The eight-speed showed the same characteristics as in theEquus I drove last year; smooth and quick shifts up and down the eight speeds. As for the all-wheel drive system, I couldn’t say if it improved handling or not. I’ll need to spend some more time with a Genesis to find out. Under the skin is a stronger structure with high-strength steel used throughout, revised multilink suspension front and rear, new variable-ratio, electric power-assist steering, and an optional continuous damping control system on the V8. What this means is that the Genesis is one of the first Hyundai models that actually drives pretty well. Both models showed no body roll and stability when pushed into corners, while steering provided good feel and weight. Now I can’t say whether it's as good to drive as a BMW 5-Series or Cadillac CTS till I drive either one. What I can say is compared to past Hyundais, the Genesis shows signs of improvement. Now all of those changes I talked about which improving the driving dynamics also help in thecomfort and quiet department. The Genesis’ suspension setup was able to soak up potholes and imperfections like they were nothing. Wind and road noise were kept to a minimum. Now onto the price tag. Hyundai has bumped the price of the 2015 Genesis by $2,500. So the base Genesis with the 3.8 V6 will now cost $38,000 (not including a $950 destination charge). That price increase nets you more standard features such as navigation, backup camera, Hyundai’s BlueLink Telematics, power folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers, and much more. With the first-generation Genesis, Hyundai made a statement of intent. The brand who was known for the Pony and the 10 Year/100,000 Mile warranty wanted to show that it could reach higher and become something to aspire to. With the second-generation Genesis, Hyundai begins to solidify that. Disclaimer: Hyundai provided the vehicles and a lunch during this first drive event. Year: 2015 Make: Hyundai Model: Genesis Engines: 3.8L V6 (311 Horsepower, 293 Pound-Feet of Torque), 5.0L V8 (420 Horsepower, 383 Pound-Feet of Torque) Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/29/22 (3.8L V6 RWD), 16/25/19 (3.8L V6 AWD), 15/23/18 (5.0L V8 RWD) Curb Weight: 4,138 lbs (3.8L V6 RWD), 4,295 (3.8L V6 AWD), 4,541 lbs (5.0L V8 RWD) Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $38,950 (3.8L V6 RWD), $41,450 (3.8L V6 AWD), $52,450 (5.0L V8 RWD) (Includes a $950 destination charge) 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.
  23. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 9, 2013 While Toyota gets most the of spotlight when talking about hybrid vehicles, it is Honda that deserves a lot of credit for introducing hybrids to North America. In 1999, the Japanese brand introduced a weird looking two-seater vehicle called the Insight. The egg-shaped vehicle hid a very unique powertrain for the time; a gas engine paired with electric motor and a set of batteries. This combination helped the Insight get amazing fuel economy numbers. But since the first-generation Insight, Honda has played second-fiddle to Toyota in the hybrid marketplace. It isn't due to Honda sleeping on the job. It's more due to the majority of vehicles being flops. There was the 2004 to 2007 Accord Hybrid which put performance as the big priority and not fuel economy. There's also the second-generation Insight which looks very much like the Toyota Prius, but doesn't get the same or better fuel economy. Finally, we have the CR-Z which caused outrage because it wasn't anything like the original CR-X. The only real success since the first-generation Insight has been the Civic Hybrid which does decently in fuel economy and sales. But that isn't stopping Honda at all. Last year, the company announced two new hybrids for the Accord lineup; an Accord Plug-In Hybrid that would compete with the Ford Fusion Energi and a return of the Accord Hybrid. This time, the Accord Hybrid's main focus is fuel economy. Can the Accord Hybrid help boost Honda's credibility in the hybrid marketplace? To find out, Honda flew me down to Columbus, Ohio to investigate. Honda is making a big break with their past on the 2014 Accord Hybrid; you will not find the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system found in many of their hybrid vehicles. Instead, the Accord Hybrid gets the new Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system that made its debut in the Accord Plug-In Hybrid. Sport Hybrid i-MMD is comprised of five different components: 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 These five pieces help the Accord Hybrid produce a total output of 196 horsepower and EPA fuel economy ratings of 50 City/45 Highway/47 Combined. To pull those numbers off, the Accord Hybrid has three different drive modes: EV Drive Mode: Uses the electric motor to power the vehicle in light acceleration and cruising. The gas engine is decoupled from the drivetrain via a clutch to help reduce friction and increase fuel economy. Hybrid Drive Mode: Electric motor and gas engine work together to provide power. Engine Drive Mode: Engine is coupled back up to the drivetrain via a clutch and helps provide power during heavy acceleration and high speeds. You can also put the Accord Hybrid into a EV mode via a button on the center console. Once the battery is depleted to a certain point or the vehicle reaches a certain speed, the hybrid system will kick back on and charge the battery. Even with all of this technology, the Accord Hybrid is still very much an Accord in its design. You'll find blue accents on the grille and headlights for the Accord Hybrid. You also have a unique set of seventeen-inch wheels and hybrid badges on the front fenders and trunk lid to help it stand out from other Accords. Inside, the Accord Hybrid is almost the same as the standard model. The only difference between the Hybrid and the standard model is a new gauge cluster that displays information about the battery and other information about the system. Otherwise, the Accord Hybrid has the same nicely appointed interior with soft touch materials and wood trim. The front seats were comfy with a fair number of power adjustments on EX-L and Touring models. The back seats provided excellent head and legroom. Controls are somewhat of a mixed bag. The steering wheel controls and climate control system are easy to understand and use. Then there is Honda's i-MID infotainment system. It begins with a large, eight-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the base model, you have a set of large buttons and a knob sitting just below the screen to move around. EX-L and Touring models push the buttons and knob towards the bottom of the center stack. In its place is a small screen that controls the radio presets and hands-free calling. My first impression with this system wasn't good. It took me a few moments to find the button to move from the radio to hybrid information. Trying to get those controls is a bit of a reach as well. Then there is the touchscreen which is not always the fastest nor most responsive when changing stations. If I had more time to play with the system, maybe my tune would change. Now that I have given you a lesson on the Accord Hybrid, it's time to see how it works on the road. During my time behind the wheel, I was impressed by how seamless the system would transition between the three different modes. Unless I was paying attention to the gauge cluster, I wouldn't notice the change of drive modes. That is less true under hard acceleration or when EV recharge mode is needed. One worry I did have is that engine was very loud when it turned on. I hoping this is an oddity with the pre-production models we're driving. Aside from this, the hybrid powertrain is able to get up to speed at a very decent clip. Leaving a stop or merging onto some of Ohio's highways, I found that I wasn't wanting to more power. The Accord Hybrid had enough to keep up with traffic. Fuel economy wise, the Accord Hybrid was able to meet the EPA fuel economy ratings. During my time behind the wheel, I saw an average of 48 MPG. Out on the highway, I was able to see 50 MPG. 50 MPG out a midsize sedan?! Yeah, I was pretty impressed. The Accord Hybrid's ride was on the comfortable side with expansion joints and potholes being mostly ironed out. Wind noise is kept down, but the same cannot be said for road noise. Driving on rural roads or the highway, there was a noticeable amount of tire noise coming inside. Steering in the Accord Hybrid provided good weight and feel. One other feature I should point out is Honda LaneWatch. Mounted on the bottom edge of passenger's side view mirror is a camera that give you a view of what's to the right of you. You can activate LaneWatch by either pressing a button on the turn stalk or by signaling right. The system will pop up on the screen with a shot the road to let you know if its safe to pass or not. Its a creative solution, but I'm wondering why Honda doesn't also add a blind spot system to go with it as well. As for pricing, the Accord Hybrid sits between the Accord and Accord Plug-In Hybrid. The base Accord Hybrid starts at $29,945 (includes $790 destination charge) and will come with dual-zone climate control, power locks and windows, LaneWatch, and Bluetooth. Next is the Accord Hybrid EX-L which starts at $32,695 and comes with leather, upgraded audio system with a subwoofer, moonroof, backup camera, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. Finishing off the Accord Hybrid lineup is the Touring which begins at $35,695 and includes navigation and adaptive cruise control. After spending some time with the Accord Hybrid, I think Honda has a very credible contender in the class. It has the performance and fuel economy that either matches or beats all of the competitors in the class. Plus, the value for the money equation is very strong here. But this is a big question looming for the Accord Hybrid: Can it be the model to put Honda as one the front runners in the hybrid class once again? We'll have to wait and see on that. Disclaimer: Cheers & Gears was invited to a first drive event by American Honda and provided the travel, vehicles, breakfast, and lunch for the event. Year - 2014 Make – Honda Model – Accord Hybrid Engine – Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD): 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine, two 124 kW electric motors, Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT) Horsepower @ RPM – 141 @ 6200 (Gas Engine), 124 kW @ N/A (Electric Motor), 196 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM – 141 @ 6200 (Gas Engine), N/A (Electric Motor), N/A (Total Output) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 50/45/47 Curb Weight – 3,550 lbs (Accord Hybrid), 3,595 lbs (EX-L), 3,602 lbs (Touring) 2014 Accord Hybrid Pricing*: Accord Hybrid - $29,945 Accord Hybrid EX-L - $32,695 Accord Hybrid Touring - $35,695 *Includes $790 Destination Charge 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
  24. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 9, 2013 While Toyota gets most the of spotlight when talking about hybrid vehicles, it is Honda that deserves a lot of credit for introducing hybrids to North America. In 1999, the Japanese brand introduced a weird looking two-seater vehicle called the Insight. The egg-shaped vehicle hid a very unique powertrain for the time; a gas engine paired with electric motor and a set of batteries. This combination helped the Insight get amazing fuel economy numbers. But since the first-generation Insight, Honda has played second-fiddle to Toyota in the hybrid marketplace. It isn't due to Honda sleeping on the job. It's more due to the majority of vehicles being flops. There was the 2004 to 2007 Accord Hybrid which put performance as the big priority and not fuel economy. There's also the second-generation Insight which looks very much like the Toyota Prius, but doesn't get the same or better fuel economy. Finally, we have the CR-Z which caused outrage because it wasn't anything like the original CR-X. The only real success since the first-generation Insight has been the Civic Hybrid which does decently in fuel economy and sales. But that isn't stopping Honda at all. Last year, the company announced two new hybrids for the Accord lineup; an Accord Plug-In Hybrid that would compete with the Ford Fusion Energi and a return of the Accord Hybrid. This time, the Accord Hybrid's main focus is fuel economy. Can the Accord Hybrid help boost Honda's credibility in the hybrid marketplace? To find out, Honda flew me down to Columbus, Ohio to investigate. Honda is making a big break with their past on the 2014 Accord Hybrid; you will not find the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system found in many of their hybrid vehicles. Instead, the Accord Hybrid gets the new Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system that made its debut in the Accord Plug-In Hybrid. Sport Hybrid i-MMD is comprised of five different components: 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 These five pieces help the Accord Hybrid produce a total output of 196 horsepower and EPA fuel economy ratings of 50 City/45 Highway/47 Combined. To pull those numbers off, the Accord Hybrid has three different drive modes: EV Drive Mode: Uses the electric motor to power the vehicle in light acceleration and cruising. The gas engine is decoupled from the drivetrain via a clutch to help reduce friction and increase fuel economy. Hybrid Drive Mode: Electric motor and gas engine work together to provide power. Engine Drive Mode: Engine is coupled back up to the drivetrain via a clutch and helps provide power during heavy acceleration and high speeds. You can also put the Accord Hybrid into a EV mode via a button on the center console. Once the battery is depleted to a certain point or the vehicle reaches a certain speed, the hybrid system will kick back on and charge the battery. Even with all of this technology, the Accord Hybrid is still very much an Accord in its design. You'll find blue accents on the grille and headlights for the Accord Hybrid. You also have a unique set of seventeen-inch wheels and hybrid badges on the front fenders and trunk lid to help it stand out from other Accords. Inside, the Accord Hybrid is almost the same as the standard model. The only difference between the Hybrid and the standard model is a new gauge cluster that displays information about the battery and other information about the system. Otherwise, the Accord Hybrid has the same nicely appointed interior with soft touch materials and wood trim. The front seats were comfy with a fair number of power adjustments on EX-L and Touring models. The back seats provided excellent head and legroom. Controls are somewhat of a mixed bag. The steering wheel controls and climate control system are easy to understand and use. Then there is Honda's i-MID infotainment system. It begins with a large, eight-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the base model, you have a set of large buttons and a knob sitting just below the screen to move around. EX-L and Touring models push the buttons and knob towards the bottom of the center stack. In its place is a small screen that controls the radio presets and hands-free calling. My first impression with this system wasn't good. It took me a few moments to find the button to move from the radio to hybrid information. Trying to get those controls is a bit of a reach as well. Then there is the touchscreen which is not always the fastest nor most responsive when changing stations. If I had more time to play with the system, maybe my tune would change. Now that I have given you a lesson on the Accord Hybrid, it's time to see how it works on the road. During my time behind the wheel, I was impressed by how seamless the system would transition between the three different modes. Unless I was paying attention to the gauge cluster, I wouldn't notice the change of drive modes. That is less true under hard acceleration or when EV recharge mode is needed. One worry I did have is that engine was very loud when it turned on. I hoping this is an oddity with the pre-production models we're driving. Aside from this, the hybrid powertrain is able to get up to speed at a very decent clip. Leaving a stop or merging onto some of Ohio's highways, I found that I wasn't wanting to more power. The Accord Hybrid had enough to keep up with traffic. Fuel economy wise, the Accord Hybrid was able to meet the EPA fuel economy ratings. During my time behind the wheel, I saw an average of 48 MPG. Out on the highway, I was able to see 50 MPG. 50 MPG out a midsize sedan?! Yeah, I was pretty impressed. The Accord Hybrid's ride was on the comfortable side with expansion joints and potholes being mostly ironed out. Wind noise is kept down, but the same cannot be said for road noise. Driving on rural roads or the highway, there was a noticeable amount of tire noise coming inside. Steering in the Accord Hybrid provided good weight and feel. One other feature I should point out is Honda LaneWatch. Mounted on the bottom edge of passenger's side view mirror is a camera that give you a view of what's to the right of you. You can activate LaneWatch by either pressing a button on the turn stalk or by signaling right. The system will pop up on the screen with a shot the road to let you know if its safe to pass or not. Its a creative solution, but I'm wondering why Honda doesn't also add a blind spot system to go with it as well. As for pricing, the Accord Hybrid sits between the Accord and Accord Plug-In Hybrid. The base Accord Hybrid starts at $29,945 (includes $790 destination charge) and will come with dual-zone climate control, power locks and windows, LaneWatch, and Bluetooth. Next is the Accord Hybrid EX-L which starts at $32,695 and comes with leather, upgraded audio system with a subwoofer, moonroof, backup camera, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. Finishing off the Accord Hybrid lineup is the Touring which begins at $35,695 and includes navigation and adaptive cruise control. After spending some time with the Accord Hybrid, I think Honda has a very credible contender in the class. It has the performance and fuel economy that either matches or beats all of the competitors in the class. Plus, the value for the money equation is very strong here. But this is a big question looming for the Accord Hybrid: Can it be the model to put Honda as one the front runners in the hybrid class once again? We'll have to wait and see on that. Disclaimer: Cheers & Gears was invited to a first drive event by American Honda and provided the travel, vehicles, breakfast, and lunch for the event. Year - 2014 Make – Honda Model – Accord Hybrid Engine – Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD): 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine, two 124 kW electric motors, Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT) Horsepower @ RPM – 141 @ 6200 (Gas Engine), 124 kW @ N/A (Electric Motor), 196 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM – 141 @ 6200 (Gas Engine), N/A (Electric Motor), N/A (Total Output) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 50/45/47 Curb Weight – 3,550 lbs (Accord Hybrid), 3,595 lbs (EX-L), 3,602 lbs (Touring) 2014 Accord Hybrid Pricing*: Accord Hybrid - $29,945 Accord Hybrid EX-L - $32,695 Accord Hybrid Touring - $35,695 *Includes $790 Destination Charge 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.
  25. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com July 18, 2013 Hyundai is building a competitor to the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class? That was my first thought when the Korean automaker announced their luxury flagship, the Equus was coming to the U.S. a few years ago. I was wondering if Hyundai was bitting off a bit more than they could chew. Going after the stalwarts of the luxury flagship was not an easy task, just ask the Volkswagen Phaeton. However the Equus has turned out to be more of a Lexus LS than Volkswagen Phaeton. Sales of the model last year are seven percent of the total luxury flagship market and is stealing customers away from the likes of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. Why? Hyundai focused on its major strength on offering a whole lot car of for the money with the Equus, a formula employed by both Lexus and Volkswagen with different results. With a base price of $61,900, the Equus undercuts many of its competitors by an average of around $15,000. Now entering its third year in the U.S. marketplace, Hyundai is doing a mid-cycle refresh to keep the Equus fresh in light of new and refreshed models on the marketplace. How does it fare? I recently found out this past week at Hyundai's Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan as Hyundai invited us to take a first drive in the 2014 Equus. The 2014 Equus mostly looks the same as the model that was introduced back in 2011; a conservative, yet handsome luxury sedan. The most obvious change in the design is up front where Hyundai designers changed the grille and bumper, added a set of fog lamps, and dropped the chrome accents on the bumper. The other change of note is a set of nineteen-inch turbine wheels that add a touch of class. The Equus' interior also saw a number of changes for 2014. Starting up front, the 2014 Equus gets a redesigned dashboard and center stack that gives off a more premium feel. There is a larger 9.2 inch screen for the infotainment system and new seven-inch screen in the instrument cluster. Equus Ultimate models get a 12.3 TFT screen in the instrument cluster, a heads-up display system, and a haptic feedback dial on the steering wheel. Moving to the back seat, Hyundai dropped the reclining back seat with the footrest and is just offering reclining for both back seats. There is also a new rear console that folds down and provides controls for the rear climate control and audio system. Seated in the back, I found myself being very comfortable and having more than enough head and legroom, even with the seat reclined. Those looking for more backseat luxuries should look at the Equus Ultimate, since it adds dual 9.2 inch screens and power door closure. Taking off from the technical center to begin the drive, I found the Equus to be very spritely. Leaving a stoplight, the Equus moves with authority like any luxury car should. Making a pass or merging onto a freeway was no sweat. This is thanks to the Equus' 5.0L Tau V8 with 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed transmission is paired with V8 and sends the power to the rear wheels. The eight-speed is very smooth and seamless, what you expect in a big sedan. The shift logic worked brilliantly. Whether I buried my foot into the throttle or lightly touched it, the transmission went about its way with no sweat. The ride is up to par in the luxury flagship class. A revised air suspension system and bushings help make you and your passengers feel like you're driving on glass. Also, the Equus is eerily quiet at speed. Those who are hoping for a sporty drive with those revisions will be disappointed. The Equus leans when cornered and the steering really isn't set up for it. If handling is at the top of your priorities, you should be looking at the Germans. As for safety, the Equus has the usual assortment of features; nine airbags, stability control, traction control, brake assist, lane departure warning, and pre-collision warning. The Equus also comes with blind-spot warning with rear-cross traffic alert as standard equipment. Hyundai says the Equus is the only car in its class with this feature standard. Also standard in the Equus only is Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start. The system uses radar to monitor what is in front and bring it to a full stop if it detects the vehicle in front is coming to a stop. Once the vehicle is moving, the system will accelerate the Equus back to its set speed. I can attest this system works very well as the Equus was able to stop to start back up with no problems at all. The price? Much lower than you think. $61,920 will get you into the base Equus Signature and $68,920 for the upper level Equus Ultimate. Those prices include three years of no-cost maintenance with someone picking up the Equus and leaving you with a loaner till your vehicle is done, and three years of Hyundai's BlueLink Assurance Connected Care. At first, you might have laughed at the notion of a Hyundai luxury vehicle. But after driving the 2014 Equus, I can say it's the real deal. While it might not be most distinctive nor the sportiest luxury sedan, Hyundai nailed the basics; smooth ride, powerful engine, number of luxury appointments and features, and value for money. The big question remains: Will the Equus take a place in history along side the Lexus LS by moving the barometer of what a flagship luxury sedan can be or will it suffer the same fate as the Volkswagen Phaeton; a capable entry into the marketplace but ignored due to it not having the brand equity needed to command the premium price? Disclaimer: Cheers & Gears was invited to a first drive event by Hyundai Motor America and provided the vehicles, breakfast, and lunch for the event. Year - 2014 Make – Hyundai Model – Equus Engine – 5.0L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Tau V8 Driveline – Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 429 HP (Premium Fuel)/421 HP (Regular Fuel) (@ 6,400 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 376 lb-ft (Premium Fuel)/365 lb-ft (Regular Fuel) (@ 5,000 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/23/18 Curb Weight – N/A 2014 Equus Pricing: Equus Signature - $61,920 Equus Ultimate - $68,920 Includes $920 Destination Charge William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article

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