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Found 206 results

  1. The redesigned Corolla Hatchback brought back something that was missing in the Corolla for a number of years; being somewhat interesting. With more expressive styling and a new platform that improves driving dynamics, the model has started to shed its image of being bland. But would this continue with the redesigned Corolla sedan? To find out, I spent a week in the top-line Corolla XSE. The basic profile is unchanged from the previous Corolla sedan, but Toyota has done their best to make look a bit more exciting. On the XSE, this means a different front clip from other Corollas with the emblem moved to towards the cutline of the hood, a larger lower grille, and deep cuts for the bumper. The distinctive fang headlights are carried over from other Corollas. Around back, not much has changed aside from a new rear diffuser. The updated look does make the Corolla sedan have presence, but I prefer the hatchback in terms of overall looks. One item that is shared between the sedan and hatchback is the dashboard. As I noted in my Corolla Hatchback review, the dash features a layered design, faux stitching, and infotainment screen mounted on top - measuring either seven or eight inches depending on the trim. I like that Toyota is taking chances with the design, but also retaining the excellent ergonomics it’s known for. My particular tester came with the larger eight-inch featuring the newest version of Entune. While I wish Toyota had done more to make the interface look more modern and feature colors that weren’t various shades of grey. But I cannot deny Toyota builds a system that anyone can quickly grasp thanks to the simple interface design, physical shortcut buttons to various features, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Those with Android smartphones are left out in the cold. Those sitting up front will have no complaints about space, seat adjustment, or comfort. In the back, legroom is about average for the class. But headroom for taller passengers comes up a bit short, especially when you have the optional moonroof. Three powertrains are available in the Corolla; a 1.8L four in the L, LE, and XLE; 2.0L four for the SE and XSE; and a hybrid for the LE Hybrid. The 2.0L produces 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet. The XSE only gets a CVT transmission, while the SE has the choice between the CVT and a six-speed manual. Performance is the same as with the Corolla SE I drove last year; decent around town and leaving stoplights, but really struggles when trying to get to higher speeds. A fair amount of engine noise does make it way inside when driving on the highway. EPA fuel economy figures for the Corolla XSE are 31 City/38 City/34 Highway - lower than the Corolla SE hatchback (32/41/35). My average for the week landed around 33.4 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Handling is an improvement over the old Corolla as it feels slightly more lively with better control of body motions. But it cannot match the nimbleness of the hatchback. This likely comes down to the Corolla Hatchback being sold in the European market where a sportier ride is desired. The sedan sold in the U.S. is more attuned to providing a smooth ride. The Corolla XSE for the most part is able to smooth over most bumps and imperfections, but the 18-inch wheels does mean some bumps do make their way inside. Road and wind noise is kept to acceptable levels. There is one area that the Corolla XSE falters, value for money. With an as-tested price of $28,794, that puts you in the range of a well-equipped Mazda3 that not only offers more power, but has an interior that the Corolla cannot match. For only a couple grand less, a Kia Forte EX offers more equipment and a slightly larger back seat. Toyota has improved the Corolla sedan to a point where most of the blandness doesn’t exist. I would have liked to seen Toyota take some of the handling magic used on the hatchback and place it into the sedan. But Toyota knows most buyers don’t really care about this. By taking the strengths and wrapping it up in a package that stands out, it will mean more people may check out the Corolla. But I would recommend sticking with one of the lower trims as they offer a slightly better bang your for your buck. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Corolla, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Toyota Model: Corolla Trim: XSE Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve, Dual VVT-i Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 169 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 31/38/34 Curb Weight: 3,150 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $25,450 As Tested Price: $28,794 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL w/Clari-Fi - $1,715.00 Adaptive Front Lighting System - $450.00 Cargo Mat Package - $249.00 View full article
  2. The redesigned Corolla Hatchback brought back something that was missing in the Corolla for a number of years; being somewhat interesting. With more expressive styling and a new platform that improves driving dynamics, the model has started to shed its image of being bland. But would this continue with the redesigned Corolla sedan? To find out, I spent a week in the top-line Corolla XSE. The basic profile is unchanged from the previous Corolla sedan, but Toyota has done their best to make look a bit more exciting. On the XSE, this means a different front clip from other Corollas with the emblem moved to towards the cutline of the hood, a larger lower grille, and deep cuts for the bumper. The distinctive fang headlights are carried over from other Corollas. Around back, not much has changed aside from a new rear diffuser. The updated look does make the Corolla sedan have presence, but I prefer the hatchback in terms of overall looks. One item that is shared between the sedan and hatchback is the dashboard. As I noted in my Corolla Hatchback review, the dash features a layered design, faux stitching, and infotainment screen mounted on top - measuring either seven or eight inches depending on the trim. I like that Toyota is taking chances with the design, but also retaining the excellent ergonomics it’s known for. My particular tester came with the larger eight-inch featuring the newest version of Entune. While I wish Toyota had done more to make the interface look more modern and feature colors that weren’t various shades of grey. But I cannot deny Toyota builds a system that anyone can quickly grasp thanks to the simple interface design, physical shortcut buttons to various features, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Those with Android smartphones are left out in the cold. Those sitting up front will have no complaints about space, seat adjustment, or comfort. In the back, legroom is about average for the class. But headroom for taller passengers comes up a bit short, especially when you have the optional moonroof. Three powertrains are available in the Corolla; a 1.8L four in the L, LE, and XLE; 2.0L four for the SE and XSE; and a hybrid for the LE Hybrid. The 2.0L produces 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet. The XSE only gets a CVT transmission, while the SE has the choice between the CVT and a six-speed manual. Performance is the same as with the Corolla SE I drove last year; decent around town and leaving stoplights, but really struggles when trying to get to higher speeds. A fair amount of engine noise does make it way inside when driving on the highway. EPA fuel economy figures for the Corolla XSE are 31 City/38 City/34 Highway - lower than the Corolla SE hatchback (32/41/35). My average for the week landed around 33.4 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Handling is an improvement over the old Corolla as it feels slightly more lively with better control of body motions. But it cannot match the nimbleness of the hatchback. This likely comes down to the Corolla Hatchback being sold in the European market where a sportier ride is desired. The sedan sold in the U.S. is more attuned to providing a smooth ride. The Corolla XSE for the most part is able to smooth over most bumps and imperfections, but the 18-inch wheels does mean some bumps do make their way inside. Road and wind noise is kept to acceptable levels. There is one area that the Corolla XSE falters, value for money. With an as-tested price of $28,794, that puts you in the range of a well-equipped Mazda3 that not only offers more power, but has an interior that the Corolla cannot match. For only a couple grand less, a Kia Forte EX offers more equipment and a slightly larger back seat. Toyota has improved the Corolla sedan to a point where most of the blandness doesn’t exist. I would have liked to seen Toyota take some of the handling magic used on the hatchback and place it into the sedan. But Toyota knows most buyers don’t really care about this. By taking the strengths and wrapping it up in a package that stands out, it will mean more people may check out the Corolla. But I would recommend sticking with one of the lower trims as they offer a slightly better bang your for your buck. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Corolla, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Toyota Model: Corolla Trim: XSE Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve, Dual VVT-i Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 169 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 31/38/34 Curb Weight: 3,150 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $25,450 As Tested Price: $28,794 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL w/Clari-Fi - $1,715.00 Adaptive Front Lighting System - $450.00 Cargo Mat Package - $249.00
  3. I’ve driven my fair share of Challengers on both extremes - from the standard V6 to the high-performance SRT and Hellcat models. But I never had any time behind the wheel of the R/T with its 5.7 V8. That changed in the summer when a bright orange Charger R/T Shaker was dropped off for a week. This allowed me to ask a question that has been sitting in my head for some time: Is the R/T the best bang for your buck in the Challenger family? The Shaker sets itself apart from other Challenger models with the use of a ‘Shaker’ scoop that prominently pops up from the hood. There is also a blackout treatment on several trim pieces and wheels that make it look even more imposing on the road. Along with the scoop, the Shaker package does add a new cold-air intake seated right in front of the driver’s side corner. This addition should boost the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8 (372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque when paired with the eight-speed automatic. But FCA’s spec sheet doesn’t say anything about the Shaker Package adding more oomph or not. When you first start up the R/T Shaker, it makes presence known with a deep and loud exhaust note. I had to do a double-take the first time as I was wondering if I was given either an R/T Scat Pack or a Hellcat by mistake. While it may lack the high power numbers of the 6.4 and supercharged 6.2 V8s, the 5.7 is no slouch. 60 mph comes in at just over five seconds and power is seemingly available at any speed. My tester came with the optional Performance Handling Group that adds upgraded springs, sway bars, and a set of Bilstein shocks. This does improve the handling by a fair amount with less body roll. But it doesn’t feel nimble due to a curb weight of around 4,158 pounds. The steering has a quick response, but there is a noticeable lack of road feedback. If you want your muscle car to have some handling, consider the Camaro or Mustang. Nothing new to report on the Challenger’s interior. It still has the angled center stack, retro-inspired gauges, and easy to use UConnect infotainment system. The seats are where the Challenger loses some points as it feels like you’re sitting on top of cinderblocks. The Shaker package is surprisingly good value, adding $2,500 to the base price of the R/T which begins at $34,295. But you’ll need to be careful on the option sheet, or you’ll end up with something quite expensive. My tester came with an as-tested price of $46,555, which is $300 more than an R/T Scat Pack Widebody with the 6.4 HEMI V8. The Dodge Challenger is getting up there in age and sadly cannot compete with the likes of the Camaro and Mustang in terms of handling. But Dodge is still able to offer a lot of performance in the form of the R/T. With a potent V8 engine, old school styling, and different packages like the Shaker to make your Challenger stand out, the R/T is possibly the best value and well-rounded model in the lineup. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Dodge Model: Challenger Trim: R/T Engine: 5.7 HEMI VVT V8 Engine Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 372 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19 Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $34,295 As Tested Price: $46,555 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge) Options: "Shaker" Package - $2,500.00 TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,595.00 Performance Handling Group - $1,495.00 Driver Convenience Group - $1,295.00 Power Sunroof - $1,295.00 UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display - $1,095.00 Alpine Sound Group with Subwoofer - $995.00 Shakedown Graphics - $495.00 View full article
  4. I’ve driven my fair share of Challengers on both extremes - from the standard V6 to the high-performance SRT and Hellcat models. But I never had any time behind the wheel of the R/T with its 5.7 V8. That changed in the summer when a bright orange Charger R/T Shaker was dropped off for a week. This allowed me to ask a question that has been sitting in my head for some time: Is the R/T the best bang for your buck in the Challenger family? The Shaker sets itself apart from other Challenger models with the use of a ‘Shaker’ scoop that prominently pops up from the hood. There is also a blackout treatment on several trim pieces and wheels that make it look even more imposing on the road. Along with the scoop, the Shaker package does add a new cold-air intake seated right in front of the driver’s side corner. This addition should boost the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8 (372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque when paired with the eight-speed automatic. But FCA’s spec sheet doesn’t say anything about the Shaker Package adding more oomph or not. When you first start up the R/T Shaker, it makes presence known with a deep and loud exhaust note. I had to do a double-take the first time as I was wondering if I was given either an R/T Scat Pack or a Hellcat by mistake. While it may lack the high power numbers of the 6.4 and supercharged 6.2 V8s, the 5.7 is no slouch. 60 mph comes in at just over five seconds and power is seemingly available at any speed. My tester came with the optional Performance Handling Group that adds upgraded springs, sway bars, and a set of Bilstein shocks. This does improve the handling by a fair amount with less body roll. But it doesn’t feel nimble due to a curb weight of around 4,158 pounds. The steering has a quick response, but there is a noticeable lack of road feedback. If you want your muscle car to have some handling, consider the Camaro or Mustang. Nothing new to report on the Challenger’s interior. It still has the angled center stack, retro-inspired gauges, and easy to use UConnect infotainment system. The seats are where the Challenger loses some points as it feels like you’re sitting on top of cinderblocks. The Shaker package is surprisingly good value, adding $2,500 to the base price of the R/T which begins at $34,295. But you’ll need to be careful on the option sheet, or you’ll end up with something quite expensive. My tester came with an as-tested price of $46,555, which is $300 more than an R/T Scat Pack Widebody with the 6.4 HEMI V8. The Dodge Challenger is getting up there in age and sadly cannot compete with the likes of the Camaro and Mustang in terms of handling. But Dodge is still able to offer a lot of performance in the form of the R/T. With a potent V8 engine, old school styling, and different packages like the Shaker to make your Challenger stand out, the R/T is possibly the best value and well-rounded model in the lineup. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Dodge Model: Challenger Trim: R/T Engine: 5.7 HEMI VVT V8 Engine Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 372 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19 Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $34,295 As Tested Price: $46,555 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge) Options: "Shaker" Package - $2,500.00 TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,595.00 Performance Handling Group - $1,495.00 Driver Convenience Group - $1,295.00 Power Sunroof - $1,295.00 UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display - $1,095.00 Alpine Sound Group with Subwoofer - $995.00 Shakedown Graphics - $495.00
  5. Over a year ago, I pitted the Mazda CX-9 against the Volkswagen Atlas to find out which was the better three-row crossover. The CX-9 put up a good fight with a very luxurious interior and impressive driving dynamics. However, the Atlas took home the win as it proved to be the better carrier of passengers and cargo, along with providing a slightly smoother ride. A year on, the CX-9 makes a return to the C&G Detroit Garage to see if it could redeem itself. Spoiler alert: I still feel the same way as I did last year. Going on three years, the CX-9 is still one of the best looking three-row crossovers on sale. Its graceful lines, tapered rear pillar, and slim lights make the crossover look more expensive than it actually is. The Grand Touring may miss out on the Nappa leather for the seats and Rosewood trim found on the Signature, it is still a nice place to sit in. Bright metalwork contrasts nicely with soft-touch plastics and leather upholstery on the seats. But the interior also houses some of the CX-9’s key flaws beginning with the seat arrangement. All 2019 CX-9s come with seating for seven people, there is no option for six with a set of captain chairs - that is being rectified for 2020. Those sitting in the second-row will have no complaints about space, but anyone sitting in the third-row will bemoan the lack of legroom. This can improve if the second-row is slid forward. Cargo space is another weak spot. The CX-9 only offers 14.4 cubic feet behind the third-row, 38.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and 71.2 cubic feet with both rows folded. To give some perspective, the Atlas offers 20.6, 55.5, and 96.8 cubic feet of space. 2019 finally sees Mazda add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility to their MazdaConnect infotainment system. This is an improvement as MazdaConnect trails competitors in terms of graphics and a slightly confusing menu structure. At least the control knob and shortcut buttons make using the system less aggravating. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder with 227 horsepower (250 if you fill up with premium) and 310 pound-feet. This is channeled through a six-speed automatic and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Putting a turbo-four into a three-row crossover seems like madness, but Mazda was able to make it work with no issue. Torque arrives at a low 2,000 rpm, allowing the CX-9 to leap away from any driving situation. Response from the transmission is excellent with snappy up and downshifts. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23, slightly better than the 22.5 mpg for the 2018 model. The ace up the CX-9’s sleeve is the handling. No other crossover can close to matching the taut characteristics on offer with body motions kept in check and sharp steering. Though how many people consider a plus is likely very small. Ride quality falls under supple with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Impressive when you consider this is riding 20-inch wheels. The Mazda CX-9 is an outlier in the three-row crossover class as it focuses more on the driving experience and looks. That isn’t a bad thing as it gives Mazda a unique selling point. But a small space for passengers and cargo is the CX-9’s major downfall. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-9, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: CX-9 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 227 or 250 @ 5,000 (Depending on the fuel) Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23 Curb Weight: 4,383 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $42,640 As Tested Price: $45,060 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Illuminated Door Sill Trim Plates - $575.00 Front & Rear Bumper Trim - $550.00 Snowflake White Pearl - $200.00 Cargo Mat - $100.00 View full article
  6. Over a year ago, I pitted the Mazda CX-9 against the Volkswagen Atlas to find out which was the better three-row crossover. The CX-9 put up a good fight with a very luxurious interior and impressive driving dynamics. However, the Atlas took home the win as it proved to be the better carrier of passengers and cargo, along with providing a slightly smoother ride. A year on, the CX-9 makes a return to the C&G Detroit Garage to see if it could redeem itself. Spoiler alert: I still feel the same way as I did last year. Going on three years, the CX-9 is still one of the best looking three-row crossovers on sale. Its graceful lines, tapered rear pillar, and slim lights make the crossover look more expensive than it actually is. The Grand Touring may miss out on the Nappa leather for the seats and Rosewood trim found on the Signature, it is still a nice place to sit in. Bright metalwork contrasts nicely with soft-touch plastics and leather upholstery on the seats. But the interior also houses some of the CX-9’s key flaws beginning with the seat arrangement. All 2019 CX-9s come with seating for seven people, there is no option for six with a set of captain chairs - that is being rectified for 2020. Those sitting in the second-row will have no complaints about space, but anyone sitting in the third-row will bemoan the lack of legroom. This can improve if the second-row is slid forward. Cargo space is another weak spot. The CX-9 only offers 14.4 cubic feet behind the third-row, 38.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and 71.2 cubic feet with both rows folded. To give some perspective, the Atlas offers 20.6, 55.5, and 96.8 cubic feet of space. 2019 finally sees Mazda add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility to their MazdaConnect infotainment system. This is an improvement as MazdaConnect trails competitors in terms of graphics and a slightly confusing menu structure. At least the control knob and shortcut buttons make using the system less aggravating. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder with 227 horsepower (250 if you fill up with premium) and 310 pound-feet. This is channeled through a six-speed automatic and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Putting a turbo-four into a three-row crossover seems like madness, but Mazda was able to make it work with no issue. Torque arrives at a low 2,000 rpm, allowing the CX-9 to leap away from any driving situation. Response from the transmission is excellent with snappy up and downshifts. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23, slightly better than the 22.5 mpg for the 2018 model. The ace up the CX-9’s sleeve is the handling. No other crossover can close to matching the taut characteristics on offer with body motions kept in check and sharp steering. Though how many people consider a plus is likely very small. Ride quality falls under supple with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Impressive when you consider this is riding 20-inch wheels. The Mazda CX-9 is an outlier in the three-row crossover class as it focuses more on the driving experience and looks. That isn’t a bad thing as it gives Mazda a unique selling point. But a small space for passengers and cargo is the CX-9’s major downfall. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-9, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: CX-9 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 227 or 250 @ 5,000 (Depending on the fuel) Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23 Curb Weight: 4,383 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $42,640 As Tested Price: $45,060 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Illuminated Door Sill Trim Plates - $575.00 Front & Rear Bumper Trim - $550.00 Snowflake White Pearl - $200.00 Cargo Mat - $100.00
  7. The X2 is BMW’s entry into the compact crossover vehicle segment. It’s based on the X1, but with a lower roofline and more car-like characteristics. While the base X2 28i comes with a 228 horsepower 2.0-liter engine with either front or all-wheel drive, I got my hands on one with the M badge at a meeting of the Mid-West Automotive Media Association at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet Illinois. The M badge brings a default of BMW xDrive and increases engine horsepower to 302 and the torque to 332 lb.-ft. BWM claims a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and 29 mpg. With that much power coming from a 2-liter engine, there was bound to be a bit of turbo lag and while rolling the small BMW minimizes the lag well. However, from a dead stop, there is a disturbing amount of lag that would scare me if I needed to pull out into fast traffic. Sprints from zero require planning. When already at speed, the 8-speed automatic is quick to downshift and the engine is willing to rev. Putting the X2 M35i into sport mode does make the engine more lively. The suspension setup is stiff and you’ll feel all of the road imperfections except on the most glass-smooth of pavement. That is the tradeoff for having very nimble handling. It is rather fun to push this small front driver into the corners. My tester came with 20-inch wheels rather than the standard 19-inchers. This is not one of those cars that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The interior is definitely snug and I wouldn’t recommend the driver’s seat to anyone much larger than my 5’10” frame. Because of the lower roof, headroom suffers, especially in the rear. Cargo room is small, but if you’re in the market for a car this size, it is to be expected. Still, in spite of its lack of size, the X2 is a comfortable place to sit with bold leather seats in Magma Red. The controls are well placed, though with a large number of buttons. BMW’s iDrive is here too, which always takes some getting used to. Android Auto is not an option and BMW offers Apple CarPlay as a subscription service. This is one thing I can’t get my head around as both are offered for free on much less expensive vehicles. Because of the smaller dimensions, rearward vision isn’t great and there are a few blind spots that can make things tricky. The BMW X2 competes with the likes of the Volvo XC40, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque, Cadillac XT4, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. All of those, save the GLA, feel roomier inside, making the X2 a more ideal fit for someone of diminutive size. However, the M35i can out power all of them except the GLA AMG 45. The as-tested price of my X2 M35i is estimated at $50,400 MSRP. Whether you can stomach $50k for a compact crossover with 302 horsepower is up to you. View full article
  8. The X2 is BMW’s entry into the compact crossover vehicle segment. It’s based on the X1, but with a lower roofline and more car-like characteristics. While the base X2 28i comes with a 228 horsepower 2.0-liter engine with either front or all-wheel drive, I got my hands on one with the M badge at a meeting of the Mid-West Automotive Media Association at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet Illinois. The M badge brings a default of BMW xDrive and increases engine horsepower to 302 and the torque to 332 lb.-ft. BWM claims a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and 29 mpg. With that much power coming from a 2-liter engine, there was bound to be a bit of turbo lag and while rolling the small BMW minimizes the lag well. However, from a dead stop, there is a disturbing amount of lag that would scare me if I needed to pull out into fast traffic. Sprints from zero require planning. When already at speed, the 8-speed automatic is quick to downshift and the engine is willing to rev. Putting the X2 M35i into sport mode does make the engine more lively. The suspension setup is stiff and you’ll feel all of the road imperfections except on the most glass-smooth of pavement. That is the tradeoff for having very nimble handling. It is rather fun to push this small front driver into the corners. My tester came with 20-inch wheels rather than the standard 19-inchers. This is not one of those cars that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The interior is definitely snug and I wouldn’t recommend the driver’s seat to anyone much larger than my 5’10” frame. Because of the lower roof, headroom suffers, especially in the rear. Cargo room is small, but if you’re in the market for a car this size, it is to be expected. Still, in spite of its lack of size, the X2 is a comfortable place to sit with bold leather seats in Magma Red. The controls are well placed, though with a large number of buttons. BMW’s iDrive is here too, which always takes some getting used to. Android Auto is not an option and BMW offers Apple CarPlay as a subscription service. This is one thing I can’t get my head around as both are offered for free on much less expensive vehicles. Because of the smaller dimensions, rearward vision isn’t great and there are a few blind spots that can make things tricky. The BMW X2 competes with the likes of the Volvo XC40, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque, Cadillac XT4, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. All of those, save the GLA, feel roomier inside, making the X2 a more ideal fit for someone of diminutive size. However, the M35i can out power all of them except the GLA AMG 45. The as-tested price of my X2 M35i is estimated at $50,400 MSRP. Whether you can stomach $50k for a compact crossover with 302 horsepower is up to you.
  9. What a difference that four years make. That's the timeframe from the first Kia electric I reviewed (Soul EV) to the model seen here, the 2019 Niro EV. So much has changed in terms of battery technology and overall range that I could see myself having an electric vehicle as a primary mode of transport. There are some still some issues that make me think twice, but they are getting smaller. Kia avoided the trend of going crazy with the Niro EV’s design. Little touches such as blue accent trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and closed-front grille hiding the charging port help the EV stand apart from other Niro models. Changes inside are even smaller with a new center console featuring a dial control for the drive selector. This move is very smart as many buyers really don’t want their vehicle to shout “LOOK AT ME” when driving. The electric powertrain in the Niro EV packs quite the punch - 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is up 62 and 92 respectively from the Niro Hybrid I drove a few years back. Providing the electricity is a 64 kWh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery that provides an estimated range of 239 miles. Kia says the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in under eight seconds. But I found it to be slightly quicker thanks to all of the torque being available instantly. Merging onto a freeway is where the electric powertrain does lose steam - blame a hefty curb weight of 3,854 pounds. I saw a maximum range of 208 to 210 miles throughout my week. This was due to cold temperatures ranging from low 30s to high 40s. But I was able to do a forty-mile round-trip commute for most of the week without having any range anxiety issues. Charging anxiety is a different story. If you have been reading my electric and plug-in hybrid reviews, then you’ll know that I only have access to 120V charging at home. Plugging the Niro EV after my day job meant waiting over sixteen hours for a full charge. This caused me to not want to venture out far unless I had some important errands to run as it would mean a longer time for a recharge. If I had completely depleted the battery, I would be waiting over two days for the battery to recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that time drops to 9.5 hours for a full-recharge. Finding a quick charger has gotten easier in the past year or two, but it is still a hit and miss affair. There are no quick chargers near where I live (unless I have a Tesla). It's slightly better further south where I work as there some around the area. But that introduces its own set of problems such setting aside the time to charge up the vehicle to finding if one works. I should note that I didn’t get the chance to try quick charging with the Niro EV during my week. Handling is slightly better in the Niro EV thanks to the additional weight of the battery pack which reduces body roll. Steering is very light when turning, but will surprise you with how quick and accurate it deals with changes in direction. Ride quality is a little bit firm with some bumps and imperfections making their way inside. Where the Niro EV shines is noise isolation. During my work commute, I was surprised by how little wind and road noise came inside. The major downside to the Niro EV is its limited availability. At the time of this writing, Kia is only selling the Niro EV is twelve states - most of them having Zero Emission Vehicle (or ZEV) programs that require automakers to sell a certain amount of electric vehicles in their lineups. Nothing is stopping you from purchasing a Niro EV in one of the states that it is available, but I’m wondering how many people will do that. Pricing for the Niro EV begins at $38,500 for the base EX model. I had the EX Premium at $44,000 which adds such goodies as an eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats; sunroof. Add in a $1,000 Launch Edition package (LED headlights, front parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror), and my as-tested price came to $45,995. Expensive bit of kit, but the Niro EV does come with a long list of standard features including heated outside mirrors with power folding; seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. Plus, the Niro EV qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which may sway some buyers when it comes time to do their taxes. The Kia Niro EV is the first electric vehicle that I could see myself living with. It drives for the most part as a normal vehicle and offers enough range for most people. The big item you need to be aware of is charging. If you decide to purchase, be sure to get a 240V charger and check to see if there are any sort of fast chargers in your area. It may mean the difference between worry-free and a large amount of anxiety. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro EV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Niro EV Trim: EX Premium Engine: 356V Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Pack Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 3,800 - 8,000 Torque @ RPM: 291 @ 0 - 3,600 Estimated Range: 239 Miles Curb Weight: 3,854 lbs Location of Manufacture: Base Price: $44,000 As Tested Price: $46,045 (Includes $1,045.00 Destination Charge) Options: Launch Edition - $1,000.00 View full article
  10. What a difference that four years make. That's the timeframe from the first Kia electric I reviewed (Soul EV) to the model seen here, the 2019 Niro EV. So much has changed in terms of battery technology and overall range that I could see myself having an electric vehicle as a primary mode of transport. There are some still some issues that make me think twice, but they are getting smaller. Kia avoided the trend of going crazy with the Niro EV’s design. Little touches such as blue accent trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and closed-front grille hiding the charging port help the EV stand apart from other Niro models. Changes inside are even smaller with a new center console featuring a dial control for the drive selector. This move is very smart as many buyers really don’t want their vehicle to shout “LOOK AT ME” when driving. The electric powertrain in the Niro EV packs quite the punch - 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is up 62 and 92 respectively from the Niro Hybrid I drove a few years back. Providing the electricity is a 64 kWh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery that provides an estimated range of 239 miles. Kia says the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in under eight seconds. But I found it to be slightly quicker thanks to all of the torque being available instantly. Merging onto a freeway is where the electric powertrain does lose steam - blame a hefty curb weight of 3,854 pounds. I saw a maximum range of 208 to 210 miles throughout my week. This was due to cold temperatures ranging from low 30s to high 40s. But I was able to do a forty-mile round-trip commute for most of the week without having any range anxiety issues. Charging anxiety is a different story. If you have been reading my electric and plug-in hybrid reviews, then you’ll know that I only have access to 120V charging at home. Plugging the Niro EV after my day job meant waiting over sixteen hours for a full charge. This caused me to not want to venture out far unless I had some important errands to run as it would mean a longer time for a recharge. If I had completely depleted the battery, I would be waiting over two days for the battery to recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that time drops to 9.5 hours for a full-recharge. Finding a quick charger has gotten easier in the past year or two, but it is still a hit and miss affair. There are no quick chargers near where I live (unless I have a Tesla). It's slightly better further south where I work as there some around the area. But that introduces its own set of problems such setting aside the time to charge up the vehicle to finding if one works. I should note that I didn’t get the chance to try quick charging with the Niro EV during my week. Handling is slightly better in the Niro EV thanks to the additional weight of the battery pack which reduces body roll. Steering is very light when turning, but will surprise you with how quick and accurate it deals with changes in direction. Ride quality is a little bit firm with some bumps and imperfections making their way inside. Where the Niro EV shines is noise isolation. During my work commute, I was surprised by how little wind and road noise came inside. The major downside to the Niro EV is its limited availability. At the time of this writing, Kia is only selling the Niro EV is twelve states - most of them having Zero Emission Vehicle (or ZEV) programs that require automakers to sell a certain amount of electric vehicles in their lineups. Nothing is stopping you from purchasing a Niro EV in one of the states that it is available, but I’m wondering how many people will do that. Pricing for the Niro EV begins at $38,500 for the base EX model. I had the EX Premium at $44,000 which adds such goodies as an eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats; sunroof. Add in a $1,000 Launch Edition package (LED headlights, front parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror), and my as-tested price came to $45,995. Expensive bit of kit, but the Niro EV does come with a long list of standard features including heated outside mirrors with power folding; seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. Plus, the Niro EV qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which may sway some buyers when it comes time to do their taxes. The Kia Niro EV is the first electric vehicle that I could see myself living with. It drives for the most part as a normal vehicle and offers enough range for most people. The big item you need to be aware of is charging. If you decide to purchase, be sure to get a 240V charger and check to see if there are any sort of fast chargers in your area. It may mean the difference between worry-free and a large amount of anxiety. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro EV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Niro EV Trim: EX Premium Engine: 356V Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Pack Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 3,800 - 8,000 Torque @ RPM: 291 @ 0 - 3,600 Estimated Range: 239 Miles Curb Weight: 3,854 lbs Location of Manufacture: Base Price: $44,000 As Tested Price: $46,045 (Includes $1,045.00 Destination Charge) Options: Launch Edition - $1,000.00
  11. I’ll admit that I have an unabashed love for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. This plucky roadster proves you don’t need gobs of power to provide a big grin when driving. A combination of well-sorted chassis, steering, and slick gearbox does the trick. But Mazda has decided to add a bit more power for the 2019 model, along with including a more powerful four-cylinder and a hardtop option. I’m curious to see if these changes can make the Miata better or worse. The model seen here is the RF - short for retractable fastback. Press the switch and the roof panels begin an origami folding exercise into the trunk. The result is a targa that provides the open-air feeling, minus a large amount of wind noise. It doesn’t hurt that roof pillars are styled in such a way that gives off a rakish look, no matter whether the top is up or down. Under the hood lies a revised 2.0L Skyactiv four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque - up 26 and 3 respectively. A six-speed manual is standard, while an automatic is optional. The small bump makes for a huge improvement in overall acceleration. Just leaving a stop, I was surprised how much pull the engine had as it got to 45 about a half-second quicker than the last Miata. A key change is Mazda bumping the redline to 7,500 rpm, which allows the engine to fully flex its muscle. This became apparent when I needed to pass a vehicle and found that I didn’t need to drop down a gear to get the power needed. The six-speed manual is still a joy to work with short and precise throws and a direct feeling clutch pedal. Even when stuck in traffic, doing the motions didn’t feel like a hassle. Average fuel economy for the week landed around 32 mpg, even though I was winding the engine out and playing through the gears just because it is so much fun. My tester was the Club model that adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, and a front shock tower brace. This firms up the suspension and provides improve handling on the limit. But out on the backroads, I couldn’t tell there was any real difference in handling between this and the 2016 MX-5 Grand Touring I drove a few years back. Maybe there was slightly less body roll in the RF, but both vehicles had similar characteristics when going into a turn. If I drove both of them on a track, then I think the differences would become more apparent. There is a downside to the Club’s suspension, a very harsh ride. Just making a quick trip to the store was a bit much as the suspension would transmit every little bump and imperfection to the backside of those sitting inside. Another item fitted to my tester was a set of Recaro bucket seats. They come as part of an option package that also adds Brembo Brakes and some cool-looking BBS wheels finished in black. The seats have increased bolstering to hold you in during an enthusiastic drive. But the lack of padding makes them uncomfortable for longer trips. On paper, the RF is an expensive proposition when put against the soft-top: $32,345 vs. $25,730. That massive difference is due to Mazda not offering the base Sport model on the RF. But put the soft-top Club against the RF and the difference shrinks to just over $2,000. Be forewarned that the RF can get expensive. That package I mentioned earlier with the Recaro seats? That will set you back $4,670, bringing the as-tested price to just over $38,000. Mazda’s improvements for the 2019 MX-5 Miata for the most part help, allowing it to become more fun to drive and somewhat easier to live with. That said, the additional cost of the hardtop will depend on whether or not you think it is worth the benefits of possibly being an all-seasons car. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata RF, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: MX-5 Miata RF Trim: Club Engine: 2.0L SkyActiv-G DOHC 16-Valve with VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29 Curb Weight: 2,453 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $32,345 As Tested Price: $38,335 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Brembo with Black Roof - $4,670.00 Interior Package for M/T - $425.00 View full article
  12. I’ll admit that I have an unabashed love for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. This plucky roadster proves you don’t need gobs of power to provide a big grin when driving. A combination of well-sorted chassis, steering, and slick gearbox does the trick. But Mazda has decided to add a bit more power for the 2019 model, along with including a more powerful four-cylinder and a hardtop option. I’m curious to see if these changes can make the Miata better or worse. The model seen here is the RF - short for retractable fastback. Press the switch and the roof panels begin an origami folding exercise into the trunk. The result is a targa that provides the open-air feeling, minus a large amount of wind noise. It doesn’t hurt that roof pillars are styled in such a way that gives off a rakish look, no matter whether the top is up or down. Under the hood lies a revised 2.0L Skyactiv four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque - up 26 and 3 respectively. A six-speed manual is standard, while an automatic is optional. The small bump makes for a huge improvement in overall acceleration. Just leaving a stop, I was surprised how much pull the engine had as it got to 45 about a half-second quicker than the last Miata. A key change is Mazda bumping the redline to 7,500 rpm, which allows the engine to fully flex its muscle. This became apparent when I needed to pass a vehicle and found that I didn’t need to drop down a gear to get the power needed. The six-speed manual is still a joy to work with short and precise throws and a direct feeling clutch pedal. Even when stuck in traffic, doing the motions didn’t feel like a hassle. Average fuel economy for the week landed around 32 mpg, even though I was winding the engine out and playing through the gears just because it is so much fun. My tester was the Club model that adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, and a front shock tower brace. This firms up the suspension and provides improve handling on the limit. But out on the backroads, I couldn’t tell there was any real difference in handling between this and the 2016 MX-5 Grand Touring I drove a few years back. Maybe there was slightly less body roll in the RF, but both vehicles had similar characteristics when going into a turn. If I drove both of them on a track, then I think the differences would become more apparent. There is a downside to the Club’s suspension, a very harsh ride. Just making a quick trip to the store was a bit much as the suspension would transmit every little bump and imperfection to the backside of those sitting inside. Another item fitted to my tester was a set of Recaro bucket seats. They come as part of an option package that also adds Brembo Brakes and some cool-looking BBS wheels finished in black. The seats have increased bolstering to hold you in during an enthusiastic drive. But the lack of padding makes them uncomfortable for longer trips. On paper, the RF is an expensive proposition when put against the soft-top: $32,345 vs. $25,730. That massive difference is due to Mazda not offering the base Sport model on the RF. But put the soft-top Club against the RF and the difference shrinks to just over $2,000. Be forewarned that the RF can get expensive. That package I mentioned earlier with the Recaro seats? That will set you back $4,670, bringing the as-tested price to just over $38,000. Mazda’s improvements for the 2019 MX-5 Miata for the most part help, allowing it to become more fun to drive and somewhat easier to live with. That said, the additional cost of the hardtop will depend on whether or not you think it is worth the benefits of possibly being an all-seasons car. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata RF, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: MX-5 Miata RF Trim: Club Engine: 2.0L SkyActiv-G DOHC 16-Valve with VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29 Curb Weight: 2,453 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $32,345 As Tested Price: $38,335 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Brembo with Black Roof - $4,670.00 Interior Package for M/T - $425.00
  13. Seven years ago, I drove the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander for a week-long review. There was a lot to like about the previous model as it featured distinctive shape, comfortable ride, and being somewhat fun to drive. But in other areas, the model fell a bit flat. Poor material choices, firm ride, and the optional V6 engine feeling slightly lackluster. I ended my review with this, “Mitsubishi has shown a new Outlander at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Underneath the Outlander’s new sheet metal lies a new vehicle architecture and will have the choice between gas and plug-in hybrid power. The new Outlander also gets revised interior and new safety equipment. The question is will the new Outlander be able to fix the problems of the current one?” It has taken a fair amount of time to get my hands on the new Outlander. In that time, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes and updates to the Outlander lineup such as a revised exterior. Was it worth the wait? The Outlander’s shape is nothing too special with rounded corners, large glass area, and a set of 18-inch alloy wheels that comes standard on most models. For 2019, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander’s front end with a new grille shape, headlights, and more chrome trim. It does help spruce up the design that has been with us since 2014. My only complaint is the dark silver paint on my tester. It makes the vehicle look like a giant blob. There isn’t anything that sets the interior apart from rivals. The design is somewhat plain, but material quality is quite surprising with an abundance of soft-touch materials. There is a fair amount of piano black trim, which does attract fingerprints. All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen running Mitsubishi’s latest infotainment system is standard. Those wanting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to step up to the SE or higher. My experience with the system mimics the Eclipse Cross; lags behind the competition in terms of the interface and performance, but its a huge step forward from the previous system. The Outlander is one of the few models in the compact crossover class that can boast having three-rows to allow seating for seven. This seat is best reserved for small kids due to the limited amount of leg and headroom. Having the third-row also eats into cargo space - 10.3 vs. 33 cubic feet with the seats folded. Front and rear seating is fine. There’s enough padding to keep everyone comfortable on a long trip, and most passengers will be able to stretch out. Most Outlanders come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front or Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. Step up to the GT to get a 3.0L V6 packing 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a PHEV option which I talk about more in this first drive piece. The 2.4 is serviceable around town with brisk acceleration and minimal noise. But take the Outlander on the highway or fill it up with people and cargo, and the 2.4 feels overwhelmed. Not helping is the CVT that will drone quite loudly when you plant your foot on the gas. Fuel economy is mid-pack with EPA figures of 24 City/29 Highway/26 Combined for the AWD version - front-wheel drive models see a one MPG improvement. My average for the week landed around 24. One area that I was surprised by the Outlander was the ride. Over the varied surfaces on offer in the Metro Detroit area, the Outlander’s suspension smoothed out various bumps. It doesn’t feel comfortable around corners, showing noticeable body lean and a disconnected steering system. The Mitsubishi Outlander answers the oddly specific question of, “what is the cheapest three-row crossover I could buy?’ I can see why someone on a tight budget would consider one as the Outlander provides a lot of standard equipment, along with seating for seven at a low price. It doesn’t hurt that Mitsubishi’s 5 year/60,000 mile new car warranty does provide peace of mind for those who want a bit of security. But it does become a poor value the higher you climb in price. My Outlander SEL S-AWC tester starts at $29.095. With the optional SEL Touring Package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and a 710W Rockford Fosgate audio system) and carpeted floor mats, the price ballooned to $33,225 with destination. For that amount of cash, you get into a decently equipped Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5. I know dealers put cash on the hoods - most dropping the cost to under $30,000, but it is still a tough sell. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander Trim: SEL S-AWC Engine: 2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 166 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 162 @ 4,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/29/26 Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $29,095 As Tested Price: $33,225 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Touring Package - $3,000.00 Accessory Carpeted Floors Mats and Portfolio - $135.00 View full article
  14. Seven years ago, I drove the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander for a week-long review. There was a lot to like about the previous model as it featured distinctive shape, comfortable ride, and being somewhat fun to drive. But in other areas, the model fell a bit flat. Poor material choices, firm ride, and the optional V6 engine feeling slightly lackluster. I ended my review with this, “Mitsubishi has shown a new Outlander at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Underneath the Outlander’s new sheet metal lies a new vehicle architecture and will have the choice between gas and plug-in hybrid power. The new Outlander also gets revised interior and new safety equipment. The question is will the new Outlander be able to fix the problems of the current one?” It has taken a fair amount of time to get my hands on the new Outlander. In that time, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes and updates to the Outlander lineup such as a revised exterior. Was it worth the wait? The Outlander’s shape is nothing too special with rounded corners, large glass area, and a set of 18-inch alloy wheels that comes standard on most models. For 2019, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander’s front end with a new grille shape, headlights, and more chrome trim. It does help spruce up the design that has been with us since 2014. My only complaint is the dark silver paint on my tester. It makes the vehicle look like a giant blob. There isn’t anything that sets the interior apart from rivals. The design is somewhat plain, but material quality is quite surprising with an abundance of soft-touch materials. There is a fair amount of piano black trim, which does attract fingerprints. All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen running Mitsubishi’s latest infotainment system is standard. Those wanting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to step up to the SE or higher. My experience with the system mimics the Eclipse Cross; lags behind the competition in terms of the interface and performance, but its a huge step forward from the previous system. The Outlander is one of the few models in the compact crossover class that can boast having three-rows to allow seating for seven. This seat is best reserved for small kids due to the limited amount of leg and headroom. Having the third-row also eats into cargo space - 10.3 vs. 33 cubic feet with the seats folded. Front and rear seating is fine. There’s enough padding to keep everyone comfortable on a long trip, and most passengers will be able to stretch out. Most Outlanders come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front or Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. Step up to the GT to get a 3.0L V6 packing 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a PHEV option which I talk about more in this first drive piece. The 2.4 is serviceable around town with brisk acceleration and minimal noise. But take the Outlander on the highway or fill it up with people and cargo, and the 2.4 feels overwhelmed. Not helping is the CVT that will drone quite loudly when you plant your foot on the gas. Fuel economy is mid-pack with EPA figures of 24 City/29 Highway/26 Combined for the AWD version - front-wheel drive models see a one MPG improvement. My average for the week landed around 24. One area that I was surprised by the Outlander was the ride. Over the varied surfaces on offer in the Metro Detroit area, the Outlander’s suspension smoothed out various bumps. It doesn’t feel comfortable around corners, showing noticeable body lean and a disconnected steering system. The Mitsubishi Outlander answers the oddly specific question of, “what is the cheapest three-row crossover I could buy?’ I can see why someone on a tight budget would consider one as the Outlander provides a lot of standard equipment, along with seating for seven at a low price. It doesn’t hurt that Mitsubishi’s 5 year/60,000 mile new car warranty does provide peace of mind for those who want a bit of security. But it does become a poor value the higher you climb in price. My Outlander SEL S-AWC tester starts at $29.095. With the optional SEL Touring Package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and a 710W Rockford Fosgate audio system) and carpeted floor mats, the price ballooned to $33,225 with destination. For that amount of cash, you get into a decently equipped Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5. I know dealers put cash on the hoods - most dropping the cost to under $30,000, but it is still a tough sell. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander Trim: SEL S-AWC Engine: 2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 166 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 162 @ 4,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/29/26 Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $29,095 As Tested Price: $33,225 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Touring Package - $3,000.00 Accessory Carpeted Floors Mats and Portfolio - $135.00
  15. It feels weird to be writing a review of the previous-generation Mazda3 when the new model is currently sitting out front at dealers. But I find this situation to be unique because I had the chance to explore a 2019 Mazda3 to get some first impressions while working on a review of the 2018 model. This gives me a chance to compare the two in certain aspects, along with pondering the question of whether or not the previous model is still a good buy. Despite the new model taking the styling up another level, the outgoing model is still a looker. From the bold front end with a large grille and slightly angled headlights, to sculpting running along the sides, the 2018 3 still stands out in the compact crowd. The older design also allows for slightly better rear headroom and a larger area of glass for improved visibility. But the new 3 holds a significant edge over the old model when it comes to the interior. The modern design and use of high-quality materials really help boost Mazda’s ambitions of becoming something more premium. But the 2018 model I found to have a slightly easier center stack layout and more interior room. One item I didn’t get the chance to play within the 2019 Mazda3 is the infotainment system. Aside from boasting a larger screen, Mazda has also dropped the touchscreen functionality. The latter has been a big issue on some of the recent Mazda vehicles I have driven, including the 2018 3. It is difficult to figure out which parts of the screen are touch-enabled and which aren’t. The system is also beginning to show its age somewhat as the system showed some slowdown in certain areas such as connecting to my phone via Bluetooth. Under the hood of the 2018 model is either a 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder. My tester had the latter which produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. This engine can also be found under 2019 Mazda3, albeit slightly tweaked - 186 for both horsepower and torque. I find the Mazda3 to be the best application for the 2.5 engine. The lighter weight of the vehicle allows the 2.5 to provide a smooth and quick acceleration for most situations you find yourself in. However, the 2.5 feels like it is running out of breath when going above 70 mph, making passing and merging onto a highway slightly difficult. Where the 3 really shines is down a twisty road. Very few vehicles can match the sharp handling characteristics on offer. The suspension keeps the vehicle level when cornering and quickly respond to change in direction. Steering is quick and features a nice weight when turning. Ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of bumps coming inside. Some of this can be attributed to the 18-inch wheels fitted on my tester. Should you consider a 2018 Mazda3 when the bright and shiny 2019 3 is available now? I can only give a half-answer as I haven’t driven the 2019 model yet. But having sat in one, I can see why someone would consider it. The impressive design inside and out can make you believe you’re driving something from a luxury brand. The 2018 model still has some things going for it such as having slightly more interior space, similar fuel economy figures, and dealers beginning to lower prices on them to get them out. As I am writing this (May 5th), I have seen dealers in my local drop prices by $1,000 to $3,000 on 2018 models. Right now, I would be willing to pocket the extra cash and go with a 2018 Mazda3. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: 3 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/35/30 Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico Base Price: $24,945 As Tested Price: $28,035 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Equipment Package - $1,600.00 Soul Red Metallic Paint - $300.00 Scuff Plates/Door Sill Trim Plate - $125.00 Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00 View full article
  16. It feels weird to be writing a review of the previous-generation Mazda3 when the new model is currently sitting out front at dealers. But I find this situation to be unique because I had the chance to explore a 2019 Mazda3 to get some first impressions while working on a review of the 2018 model. This gives me a chance to compare the two in certain aspects, along with pondering the question of whether or not the previous model is still a good buy. Despite the new model taking the styling up another level, the outgoing model is still a looker. From the bold front end with a large grille and slightly angled headlights, to sculpting running along the sides, the 2018 3 still stands out in the compact crowd. The older design also allows for slightly better rear headroom and a larger area of glass for improved visibility. But the new 3 holds a significant edge over the old model when it comes to the interior. The modern design and use of high-quality materials really help boost Mazda’s ambitions of becoming something more premium. But the 2018 model I found to have a slightly easier center stack layout and more interior room. One item I didn’t get the chance to play within the 2019 Mazda3 is the infotainment system. Aside from boasting a larger screen, Mazda has also dropped the touchscreen functionality. The latter has been a big issue on some of the recent Mazda vehicles I have driven, including the 2018 3. It is difficult to figure out which parts of the screen are touch-enabled and which aren’t. The system is also beginning to show its age somewhat as the system showed some slowdown in certain areas such as connecting to my phone via Bluetooth. Under the hood of the 2018 model is either a 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder. My tester had the latter which produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. This engine can also be found under 2019 Mazda3, albeit slightly tweaked - 186 for both horsepower and torque. I find the Mazda3 to be the best application for the 2.5 engine. The lighter weight of the vehicle allows the 2.5 to provide a smooth and quick acceleration for most situations you find yourself in. However, the 2.5 feels like it is running out of breath when going above 70 mph, making passing and merging onto a highway slightly difficult. Where the 3 really shines is down a twisty road. Very few vehicles can match the sharp handling characteristics on offer. The suspension keeps the vehicle level when cornering and quickly respond to change in direction. Steering is quick and features a nice weight when turning. Ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of bumps coming inside. Some of this can be attributed to the 18-inch wheels fitted on my tester. Should you consider a 2018 Mazda3 when the bright and shiny 2019 3 is available now? I can only give a half-answer as I haven’t driven the 2019 model yet. But having sat in one, I can see why someone would consider it. The impressive design inside and out can make you believe you’re driving something from a luxury brand. The 2018 model still has some things going for it such as having slightly more interior space, similar fuel economy figures, and dealers beginning to lower prices on them to get them out. As I am writing this (May 5th), I have seen dealers in my local drop prices by $1,000 to $3,000 on 2018 models. Right now, I would be willing to pocket the extra cash and go with a 2018 Mazda3. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: 3 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/35/30 Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico Base Price: $24,945 As Tested Price: $28,035 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Equipment Package - $1,600.00 Soul Red Metallic Paint - $300.00 Scuff Plates/Door Sill Trim Plate - $125.00 Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00
  17. Last year, I had the chance to spend a week in a Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. While I found it to offer improved handling and a somewhat nicer interior over the Mazda MX-5 Miata it is based on, there were a few items that kept me from saying it was better - mainly the turbo engine and exterior design. A couple of months ago, I found myself in another 124 Spider. This time, it was the Lusso which drops a fair amount of the aggression from the Abarth, along with providing a softer suspension tune. Would this model be able to change my tune? The Lusso is the polar opposite to the Abarth I drove last year in terms of looks. It is toned down with the removal of the aggressive bumpers and quad-tip exhausts. The end result is a much cleaner look. I just wished Fiat could have done more to the rear end as it still looks a bit out of place with the rest of the design. This particular Lusso is the Red Top Edition which as the name suggests has a red soft-top. I will admit this does add a touch of personality and helps the 124 Spider stand out. Not much has changed with the interior since our last review. Getting in and out is still a bit tough due to the low ride height and anyone over six-feet will feel quite cramped. The overall design is the same as the MX-5 Miata, with slight differences to the steering wheel and instrument cluster to make it slightly more Fiat-ish. Material quality is slightly higher than the Mazda, with more soft-touch materials. One issue I did discover in this go-around is the location of the 12-volt outlet. It is mounted deep in the passenger footwell, almost near the engine firewall. Finding it was not a pleasant experience as I needed to pull out my phone to act as a flashlight to find the stupid thing. Power comes from the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. Compared to the Abarth, the Lusso loses four horsepower. This is due to a more restrictive exhaust. My tester came with the optional six-speed automatic. I wish that I could say Fiat solved the engine issued I mentioned in the previous review, but they have not. The turbo engine still feels laggy on the low-end of the rpm band. Plus, the automatic transmission is tuned to quickly upshift to improve fuel economy. This leaves you without any turbo boost when you want it. I keep thinking that the six-speed manual would be slightly better as it would me control when it is time to shift, allowing the engine to be fully exploited. One trait that sets the 124 Spider apart from its Miata brethren is the suspension tuning. Fiat decided to go with a softer tune on most models - the Abarth is the exception as it gets a stiffer suspension setup. The difference is noticeable as the 124 Spider provides a slightly smoother ride than the Miata. This softening doesn’t change the handling dynamics of the Spider. It still darts into turns with minimal body roll and fast steering. The Lusso Red Top Edition sits as the flagship of the 2018 124 Spider lineup with a base price of $31,440. This comes equipped with a number of options such backup camera, Bose audio system, navigation, and heated seats as standard equipment. With destination, this vehicle comes to an as-tested price of $32,435. The Lusso model may be the sweet spot in the 124 Spider lineup as it offers a slightly smoother ride and improved interior. But Fiat still needs to address the performance of the turbo-four. It is a great alternative to the MX-5 Miata, but not better. Gallery: 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Fiat Model: 124 Spider Trim: Lusso Engine: 1.4L MultiAir SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29 Curb Weight: 2,476 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $27,595 As Tested Price: $32,435 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Red Top Edition Package 22T - $2,495.00 Red Top Edition Package 2DT - $1,350.00
  18. Last year, I had the chance to spend a week in a Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. While I found it to offer improved handling and a somewhat nicer interior over the Mazda MX-5 Miata it is based on, there were a few items that kept me from saying it was better - mainly the turbo engine and exterior design. A couple of months ago, I found myself in another 124 Spider. This time, it was the Lusso which drops a fair amount of the aggression from the Abarth, along with providing a softer suspension tune. Would this model be able to change my tune? The Lusso is the polar opposite to the Abarth I drove last year in terms of looks. It is toned down with the removal of the aggressive bumpers and quad-tip exhausts. The end result is a much cleaner look. I just wished Fiat could have done more to the rear end as it still looks a bit out of place with the rest of the design. This particular Lusso is the Red Top Edition which as the name suggests has a red soft-top. I will admit this does add a touch of personality and helps the 124 Spider stand out. Not much has changed with the interior since our last review. Getting in and out is still a bit tough due to the low ride height and anyone over six-feet will feel quite cramped. The overall design is the same as the MX-5 Miata, with slight differences to the steering wheel and instrument cluster to make it slightly more Fiat-ish. Material quality is slightly higher than the Mazda, with more soft-touch materials. One issue I did discover in this go-around is the location of the 12-volt outlet. It is mounted deep in the passenger footwell, almost near the engine firewall. Finding it was not a pleasant experience as I needed to pull out my phone to act as a flashlight to find the stupid thing. Power comes from the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. Compared to the Abarth, the Lusso loses four horsepower. This is due to a more restrictive exhaust. My tester came with the optional six-speed automatic. I wish that I could say Fiat solved the engine issued I mentioned in the previous review, but they have not. The turbo engine still feels laggy on the low-end of the rpm band. Plus, the automatic transmission is tuned to quickly upshift to improve fuel economy. This leaves you without any turbo boost when you want it. I keep thinking that the six-speed manual would be slightly better as it would me control when it is time to shift, allowing the engine to be fully exploited. One trait that sets the 124 Spider apart from its Miata brethren is the suspension tuning. Fiat decided to go with a softer tune on most models - the Abarth is the exception as it gets a stiffer suspension setup. The difference is noticeable as the 124 Spider provides a slightly smoother ride than the Miata. This softening doesn’t change the handling dynamics of the Spider. It still darts into turns with minimal body roll and fast steering. The Lusso Red Top Edition sits as the flagship of the 2018 124 Spider lineup with a base price of $31,440. This comes equipped with a number of options such backup camera, Bose audio system, navigation, and heated seats as standard equipment. With destination, this vehicle comes to an as-tested price of $32,435. The Lusso model may be the sweet spot in the 124 Spider lineup as it offers a slightly smoother ride and improved interior. But Fiat still needs to address the performance of the turbo-four. It is a great alternative to the MX-5 Miata, but not better. Gallery: 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Fiat Model: 124 Spider Trim: Lusso Engine: 1.4L MultiAir SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29 Curb Weight: 2,476 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $27,595 As Tested Price: $32,435 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Red Top Edition Package 22T - $2,495.00 Red Top Edition Package 2DT - $1,350.00 View full article
  19. It has been a year since I first drove the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and came away very impressed. For a seven-passenger vehicle, getting 33 miles on electric power only and an average fuel economy of over 30 mpg was quite the shock. Would I still feel that way a year on? Chrysler made some minor changes for 2018 Pacifica Hybrid, including revamping the trim lineup and adding more standard features. In the case of our Limited tester, it gains a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system as standard. Can I just say how good the Pacifica Hybrid looks in this rich blue. The color helps Pacifica’s shape pop out wherever it is parked. No changes concerning the interior of the Pacifica Hybrid. That’s a good thing as the model is towards the top of the minivan hierarchy with a handsome design, impressive materials, and comfortable seating in all of the rows. One downside to going with the Pacifica Hybrid is the loss of the Stow n’ Go seats for the second-row. That space is taken up by the massive battery pack. An 8.4-inch touchscreen with UConnect is standard on all Pacifica Hybrids. This version of UConnect has a special section that provides key information on the hybrid system, including a power output screen and a place to set up the timeframe for when you want the van to charge up. The hybrid powertrain is comprised a 3.6L V6 running on the Atkinson cycle; two electric motors, and a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack Total output is rated at 260 horsepower. Despite the added heft of the hybrid system, the Pacifica Hybrid is no slouch. The two electric motors provide instantaneous torque to help move the van at a surprising rate. The V6 will come on when more power is needed such as driving on the highway. One nice touch I like is how seamless the transition between electric and hybrid power is. The only sign aside from having the status screen up is the V6 turning on and off. One item I wish Chrysler would reconsider is offering the driver the ability to change between electric hybrid models that other plug-in hybrid offer. I understand why Chrysler decided not to do this as it might not be used by most drivers. But for a small group, including myself, it would nice to choose when the electric powertrain was in use to help conserve range. EPA says the 2018 Pacifica Hybrid will return 84 MPGe on electric power and 32 MPG when running on hybrid power. Overall electric range is rated at 33 miles. My averages for the week mirrored what I saw in the 2017 model - about 32 miles on electric range and an average fuel economy figure of 32. Having the Pacifica Hybrid for a week reminded me of one of the key issues that will face many, charging times. On a 120V outlet, it takes 16 hours for the battery to fully recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that drops to a reasonable 2 hours. Handling is possibly one of the biggest surprises in the Pacifica Hybrid. The added heft of hybrid system allows the Pacifica to feel poised in the corners and have minimal body roll. Ride quality is the same as the standard Pacifica - almost all bumps are smoothed over. Road and wind noise are kept to almost silent levels. Pricing for the Pacifica Hybrid begins at $39,995 for the base Touring Plus and climbs to $44,995 for the Limited. My tester came to $49,825 with a few options, including the Advanced SafetyTec group that adds adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and blind spot monitoring. Sadly, this package isn’t available on lower trims. There is the $7,500 federal tax credit and various state incentives that will be swayed around to draw some people in, but be forewarned those only come into effect when it is time to do taxes, not when you purchase the vehicle. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: Quick Drive: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited Year: 2018 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid System Driveline: eFlite EVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ N/A (Combined) Torque @ RPM: N/A Fuel Economy: Gas + Electric Combined, Gas Combined - 84 MPGe, 32 MPG Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $44,995 As Tested Price: $49,825 (Includes $1,345 Destination Charge) Options: Tri-Pane Panoramic Sunroof - $1,595.00 Advanced SafetyTec - $995.00 18-inch x 7.5-inch Polished Aluminum wheels - $895.00 View full article
  20. It has been a year since I first drove the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and came away very impressed. For a seven-passenger vehicle, getting 33 miles on electric power only and an average fuel economy of over 30 mpg was quite the shock. Would I still feel that way a year on? Chrysler made some minor changes for 2018 Pacifica Hybrid, including revamping the trim lineup and adding more standard features. In the case of our Limited tester, it gains a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system as standard. Can I just say how good the Pacifica Hybrid looks in this rich blue. The color helps Pacifica’s shape pop out wherever it is parked. No changes concerning the interior of the Pacifica Hybrid. That’s a good thing as the model is towards the top of the minivan hierarchy with a handsome design, impressive materials, and comfortable seating in all of the rows. One downside to going with the Pacifica Hybrid is the loss of the Stow n’ Go seats for the second-row. That space is taken up by the massive battery pack. An 8.4-inch touchscreen with UConnect is standard on all Pacifica Hybrids. This version of UConnect has a special section that provides key information on the hybrid system, including a power output screen and a place to set up the timeframe for when you want the van to charge up. The hybrid powertrain is comprised a 3.6L V6 running on the Atkinson cycle; two electric motors, and a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack Total output is rated at 260 horsepower. Despite the added heft of the hybrid system, the Pacifica Hybrid is no slouch. The two electric motors provide instantaneous torque to help move the van at a surprising rate. The V6 will come on when more power is needed such as driving on the highway. One nice touch I like is how seamless the transition between electric and hybrid power is. The only sign aside from having the status screen up is the V6 turning on and off. One item I wish Chrysler would reconsider is offering the driver the ability to change between electric hybrid models that other plug-in hybrid offer. I understand why Chrysler decided not to do this as it might not be used by most drivers. But for a small group, including myself, it would nice to choose when the electric powertrain was in use to help conserve range. EPA says the 2018 Pacifica Hybrid will return 84 MPGe on electric power and 32 MPG when running on hybrid power. Overall electric range is rated at 33 miles. My averages for the week mirrored what I saw in the 2017 model - about 32 miles on electric range and an average fuel economy figure of 32. Having the Pacifica Hybrid for a week reminded me of one of the key issues that will face many, charging times. On a 120V outlet, it takes 16 hours for the battery to fully recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that drops to a reasonable 2 hours. Handling is possibly one of the biggest surprises in the Pacifica Hybrid. The added heft of hybrid system allows the Pacifica to feel poised in the corners and have minimal body roll. Ride quality is the same as the standard Pacifica - almost all bumps are smoothed over. Road and wind noise are kept to almost silent levels. Pricing for the Pacifica Hybrid begins at $39,995 for the base Touring Plus and climbs to $44,995 for the Limited. My tester came to $49,825 with a few options, including the Advanced SafetyTec group that adds adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and blind spot monitoring. Sadly, this package isn’t available on lower trims. There is the $7,500 federal tax credit and various state incentives that will be swayed around to draw some people in, but be forewarned those only come into effect when it is time to do taxes, not when you purchase the vehicle. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: Quick Drive: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited Year: 2018 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid System Driveline: eFlite EVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ N/A (Combined) Torque @ RPM: N/A Fuel Economy: Gas + Electric Combined, Gas Combined - 84 MPGe, 32 MPG Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $44,995 As Tested Price: $49,825 (Includes $1,345 Destination Charge) Options: Tri-Pane Panoramic Sunroof - $1,595.00 Advanced SafetyTec - $995.00 18-inch x 7.5-inch Polished Aluminum wheels - $895.00
  21. It seems a bit odd to be driving the Giulia Ti almost half a year on from spending a week high-performance Quadrifoglio. This felt like I had a nice slice of cake and was now facing a bowl of vegetables. Trying to keep an open mind on Ti was going to be difficult, considering the mixed opinions I had with the first Giulia. But I knew that I had to try. I actually prefer the toned-down nature of Ti Sport compared to Quadrifoglio as lacks the aggressive bumper treatment and cloverleaf emblems on the fenders. Some items such as the uniquely styled wheels do carry over and add a small sporting touch. The only item I would change is the color. Grey just makes the design somewhat boring. The blue I had on the Quadrifoglio works much better as it allows the design to stand out. The interior is still very much a mixed affair. Most of the materials are what you would expect to find a luxury car of this caliber with soft-touch plastics, leather, and metal trim. But Alfa clearly cut some corners such as the cheap plastics used on the center console. The front sport seats provide excellent bolstering and comfort for any adventure you decide to take. Rear space is almost non-existent for most adults. Alfa Romeo did address one of my complaints with that I had with 2017 Giulia. 2018 models now have the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is shame that it is an option, but it does make using infotainment system somewhat less frustrating. Some of the issues I had with the system in both the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Ti are present in this Giulia. Going through a number of menus to accomplish simple tasks, slow performance, and a small number of crashes during my weeklong test. I really hope Alfa Romeo is working on some updates to get this system in order. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder delivering 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and optional Q4 all-wheel drive. I really liked this engine in the Stevlio as moved the compact crossover without breaking a sweat. In the Giulia, this engine makes this sedan fly away from stops. It is said the turbo-four can hit 60 mph in just over five seconds, which is fast for the class. One disappointment is the engine sounding like a diesel at idle, not something you want to have in an Italian sport sedan. EPA says the Giulia Ti with AWD will return 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.6 in mostly city driving. One trait that both the Ti Sport and Quadrifoglio share is the handling. The chassis underneath allows the Giulia to dart around in the corners and keep body motions well in check. Steering is another bright spot where the vehicle would instantly respond to any input, along with provide good feedback. Ride quality is slightly better than the Quadrifoglio as only a small number of bumps come inside. Put the Giulia into Dynamic (sport mode) and the ride does become somewhat unbearable. Unfortunately, my Giulia Ti tester had an issue with the brakes. Whenever the brakes were applied, there was a noticeable screeching noise coming the rear of the vehicle. At first, I thought something had gotten lodged in the brakes. But the noise would go away after I had been driving for a bit. Park the car for awhile and drive it once again, the noise would return. This likely hints at something being warped - a bit disappointing for a vehicle that only had a few thousand miles on the odometer. The Giulia is one of those vehicles I really want to like a lot more than I currently do. Alfa Romeo still has a number of issues they need to address sooner than later. I only would recommend this model for those who understand what they’re getting into. Gallery: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Q4 Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Giulia Trim: Ti Sport Q4 Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged MultiAir SOHC Inline-Four Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $41,995 As Tested Price: $51,885 (Includes $1,295 Destination Charge) Options: Ti Sport AWD Package 22S - $2,500.00 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00 Ti Leather Package - $995.00 8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Nav - $950.00 Harman/Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00 Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00 Vesuvio Gray Metallic - $600.00 19-inch x 8-inch Bright 5-Hole Aluminum Wheels - $500.00 View full article
  22. It seems a bit odd to be driving the Giulia Ti almost half a year on from spending a week high-performance Quadrifoglio. This felt like I had a nice slice of cake and was now facing a bowl of vegetables. Trying to keep an open mind on Ti was going to be difficult, considering the mixed opinions I had with the first Giulia. But I knew that I had to try. I actually prefer the toned-down nature of Ti Sport compared to Quadrifoglio as lacks the aggressive bumper treatment and cloverleaf emblems on the fenders. Some items such as the uniquely styled wheels do carry over and add a small sporting touch. The only item I would change is the color. Grey just makes the design somewhat boring. The blue I had on the Quadrifoglio works much better as it allows the design to stand out. The interior is still very much a mixed affair. Most of the materials are what you would expect to find a luxury car of this caliber with soft-touch plastics, leather, and metal trim. But Alfa clearly cut some corners such as the cheap plastics used on the center console. The front sport seats provide excellent bolstering and comfort for any adventure you decide to take. Rear space is almost non-existent for most adults. Alfa Romeo did address one of my complaints with that I had with 2017 Giulia. 2018 models now have the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is shame that it is an option, but it does make using infotainment system somewhat less frustrating. Some of the issues I had with the system in both the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Ti are present in this Giulia. Going through a number of menus to accomplish simple tasks, slow performance, and a small number of crashes during my weeklong test. I really hope Alfa Romeo is working on some updates to get this system in order. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder delivering 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and optional Q4 all-wheel drive. I really liked this engine in the Stevlio as moved the compact crossover without breaking a sweat. In the Giulia, this engine makes this sedan fly away from stops. It is said the turbo-four can hit 60 mph in just over five seconds, which is fast for the class. One disappointment is the engine sounding like a diesel at idle, not something you want to have in an Italian sport sedan. EPA says the Giulia Ti with AWD will return 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.6 in mostly city driving. One trait that both the Ti Sport and Quadrifoglio share is the handling. The chassis underneath allows the Giulia to dart around in the corners and keep body motions well in check. Steering is another bright spot where the vehicle would instantly respond to any input, along with provide good feedback. Ride quality is slightly better than the Quadrifoglio as only a small number of bumps come inside. Put the Giulia into Dynamic (sport mode) and the ride does become somewhat unbearable. Unfortunately, my Giulia Ti tester had an issue with the brakes. Whenever the brakes were applied, there was a noticeable screeching noise coming the rear of the vehicle. At first, I thought something had gotten lodged in the brakes. But the noise would go away after I had been driving for a bit. Park the car for awhile and drive it once again, the noise would return. This likely hints at something being warped - a bit disappointing for a vehicle that only had a few thousand miles on the odometer. The Giulia is one of those vehicles I really want to like a lot more than I currently do. Alfa Romeo still has a number of issues they need to address sooner than later. I only would recommend this model for those who understand what they’re getting into. Gallery: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Q4 Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Giulia Trim: Ti Sport Q4 Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged MultiAir SOHC Inline-Four Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $41,995 As Tested Price: $51,885 (Includes $1,295 Destination Charge) Options: Ti Sport AWD Package 22S - $2,500.00 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00 Ti Leather Package - $995.00 8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Nav - $950.00 Harman/Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00 Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00 Vesuvio Gray Metallic - $600.00 19-inch x 8-inch Bright 5-Hole Aluminum Wheels - $500.00
  23. (Author's Note: Before diving into this review, I did an Afterthoughts piece on maximizing the fuel economy in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk last month. If you want to see Trackhawk somewhat out of its element, then check out the piece here.) I keep a list of vehicles that I would like to evaluate on my computer. This list is what I reference whenever I reach out to automakers and inquire about getting vehicles. Some of the vehicles on the list only spend a short time, while others are there for years. An example of the latter is the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Having driven this briefly a couple of times within the past few years, I was shocked by how capable this machine was around a winding road and power on tap. I always wanted to see how this model would fare during a week-long test where it would serve as a daily driver. Fast forward to this October when I finally got my chance to spend some quality time with one. Although, this wasn’t any Grand Cherokee SRT. What pulled up in my driveway was the SRT Trackhawk with the 6.2L Supercharged Hellcat V8 and 707 horsepower under the hood. This was going be an interesting week I thought while walking around the vehicle. The capability on offer with the Trackhawk really defies the laws of physics. For example, the Trackhawk will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Quite impressive when you consider that it tips the scales at a hefty 5,363 pounds. A lot of credit has to go to the all-wheel drive system which shuffles the power around to make sure it gets onto the payment, not in tire smoke. Stab the throttle and hold on to dear life as supercharged V8 thunders into life. Within the blink of an eye, you’ll be traveling well above the posted speed limits. Even lightly pressing on the pedal gets the Trackhawk up to speed at a surprising rate. Starting up the Trackhawk is always an event as the engine provides a growl that is more common on late 60’s high-performance muscle cars. Your neighbors may get annoyed get after while with the noise, especially in the early morning hours. On the road, it will be hard to resist stepping on the throttle to hear the whine of the supercharger and cracking exhaust note. Overall fuel economy for the week? Somehow, I was able to achieve 14 mpg. For the suspension, Jeep lowered the ride height, replaced various components, and did some revised tuning. It makes for an entertaining vehicle in the corners with reduced body roll and impressive response from the steering. Some drivers will be wishing for the steering to provide more road feel. A set of optional Pirelli P Zero tires were fitted onto my tester and provide a noticeable increase in grip. However, these tires perform at their best when they are warmed up. Push them when you first get onto the road or in cold weather, and you’ll find out they lose a fair amount of grip. The changes to the suspension does cause the ride to be slightly rougher with some bumps do make their way inside. The Grand Cherokee SRT was already an egressive looking beast with an altered front end (narrowed front grille with three slots underneath and black surround for the headlights), larger wheels, and huge exhaust tips. Trackhawk models only add some small touches such as ‘Supercharged’ badging on the doors, black exhaust tips, and a Trackhawk badge on the tailgate. If there is one disappointment to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it would be the interior. For a vehicle with a price tag of over $90,000, Jeep could have done something to make it feel somewhat special. Yes, there is carbon fiber trim, Alcantara inserts for the seats, and a quite thick steering wheel. But the rest if the interior is what you’ll find on other Grand Cherokees, which makes the Trackhawk a bit of a tough sell. On the upside, the Trackhawk retains many of the plus points of the Grand Cherokee’s interior such as ample room for passengers, logical control layout, and the excellent UConnect infotainment system. To summarize the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it is quite absurd. An SUV should not be able to hit 60 mph in under four seconds, be agile in the corners, and have a snarl that will give muscle cars a run for their money. It is not a logical vehicle and yet, it is quite impressive what has been pulled off. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Grand Cherokee, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk Year: 2018 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: SRT Trackhawk Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 645 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 53,63 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $86,200 As Tested Price: $91,530 (Includes $1,445 Destination Charge) Options: High-Performance Audio System - $1,995.00 20-inch x 10-inch Black Satin Aluminum Wheels - $995.00 295/45ZR20 BSW 3 Season Tires - $895.00
  24. (Author's Note: Before diving into this review, I did an Afterthoughts piece on maximizing the fuel economy in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk last month. If you want to see Trackhawk somewhat out of its element, then check out the piece here.) I keep a list of vehicles that I would like to evaluate on my computer. This list is what I reference whenever I reach out to automakers and inquire about getting vehicles. Some of the vehicles on the list only spend a short time, while others are there for years. An example of the latter is the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Having driven this briefly a couple of times within the past few years, I was shocked by how capable this machine was around a winding road and power on tap. I always wanted to see how this model would fare during a week-long test where it would serve as a daily driver. Fast forward to this October when I finally got my chance to spend some quality time with one. Although, this wasn’t any Grand Cherokee SRT. What pulled up in my driveway was the SRT Trackhawk with the 6.2L Supercharged Hellcat V8 and 707 horsepower under the hood. This was going be an interesting week I thought while walking around the vehicle. The capability on offer with the Trackhawk really defies the laws of physics. For example, the Trackhawk will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Quite impressive when you consider that it tips the scales at a hefty 5,363 pounds. A lot of credit has to go to the all-wheel drive system which shuffles the power around to make sure it gets onto the payment, not in tire smoke. Stab the throttle and hold on to dear life as supercharged V8 thunders into life. Within the blink of an eye, you’ll be traveling well above the posted speed limits. Even lightly pressing on the pedal gets the Trackhawk up to speed at a surprising rate. Starting up the Trackhawk is always an event as the engine provides a growl that is more common on late 60’s high-performance muscle cars. Your neighbors may get annoyed get after while with the noise, especially in the early morning hours. On the road, it will be hard to resist stepping on the throttle to hear the whine of the supercharger and cracking exhaust note. Overall fuel economy for the week? Somehow, I was able to achieve 14 mpg. For the suspension, Jeep lowered the ride height, replaced various components, and did some revised tuning. It makes for an entertaining vehicle in the corners with reduced body roll and impressive response from the steering. Some drivers will be wishing for the steering to provide more road feel. A set of optional Pirelli P Zero tires were fitted onto my tester and provide a noticeable increase in grip. However, these tires perform at their best when they are warmed up. Push them when you first get onto the road or in cold weather, and you’ll find out they lose a fair amount of grip. The changes to the suspension does cause the ride to be slightly rougher with some bumps do make their way inside. The Grand Cherokee SRT was already an egressive looking beast with an altered front end (narrowed front grille with three slots underneath and black surround for the headlights), larger wheels, and huge exhaust tips. Trackhawk models only add some small touches such as ‘Supercharged’ badging on the doors, black exhaust tips, and a Trackhawk badge on the tailgate. If there is one disappointment to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it would be the interior. For a vehicle with a price tag of over $90,000, Jeep could have done something to make it feel somewhat special. Yes, there is carbon fiber trim, Alcantara inserts for the seats, and a quite thick steering wheel. But the rest if the interior is what you’ll find on other Grand Cherokees, which makes the Trackhawk a bit of a tough sell. On the upside, the Trackhawk retains many of the plus points of the Grand Cherokee’s interior such as ample room for passengers, logical control layout, and the excellent UConnect infotainment system. To summarize the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it is quite absurd. An SUV should not be able to hit 60 mph in under four seconds, be agile in the corners, and have a snarl that will give muscle cars a run for their money. It is not a logical vehicle and yet, it is quite impressive what has been pulled off. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Grand Cherokee, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk Year: 2018 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: SRT Trackhawk Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 645 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 53,63 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $86,200 As Tested Price: $91,530 (Includes $1,445 Destination Charge) Options: High-Performance Audio System - $1,995.00 20-inch x 10-inch Black Satin Aluminum Wheels - $995.00 295/45ZR20 BSW 3 Season Tires - $895.00 View full article
  25. When Toyota introduced the Prius C back in 2012, it served two purposes. It was the entry-level model for then growing Prius family (Prius, Prius Plug-In, and Prius V). Plus, it was part of a small group of vehicles that could achieve almost 50 mpg if driven efficiently. But Toyota really hasn’t made any changes to the Prius C since it was launched, only making minor changes to the feature set for the past few years. Meanwhile, the rest of the Prius lineup has undergone significant changes with models either being dropped (Prius V) or being redesigned (Prius). For 2018, Toyota has decided to take the Prius C out of its deep freeze and make some changes. But is that enough considering larger hybrid models return higher fuel economy figures, and are slightly more expensive? The answer is no. Toyota has given the Prius C a much needed exterior update with a revised front end (new hood shape and slimmer grille), crossover-esq design touches (black wheel arches, faux skid plates, and a set of roof rails), and a set of 15-inch alloy wheels. The Prius C is one of the few Toyota models that come in a number of vibrant colors like the Tangerine Orange on this tester. It did make it look like a giant Jack-O-Lantern, but it also gave this small model some personality. The Prius C’s interior design is a bit odd. While it lacks some of the craziness found in the standard Prius (see the Storm Trooper inspired center console and stack), there are some decisions that left me scratching my head. For example, there is a storage shelf behind the steering wheel. I not sure what you can put in there aside from spare change or snacks to eat while on the move. Almost all of the materials used in the Prius C are hard plastics. Usually, I would be giving this pass considering it is a subcompact vehicle and this one of the sacrifices needed to meet the low price. But this particular Prius C has an as-tested price of $26,479. For that price, I do wish Toyota had stuck some soft-touch material to ease some of the pain on the wallet. The manual adjustments weren’t the smoothest and it took me a few days to find a position that didn’t have me constantly fidgeting around. This is disappointing considering the seat itself is nice to sit on with soft padding and decent support for long trips. In the back seat, headroom is surprisingly good due to the tall height of the roof. Like other subcompacts, the Prius C’s rear legroom is on the tight side. All Prius Cs come with a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Higher end models like my Four tester come with navigation. The screen is a bit on the small side, which makes it hard to hit some of the touchscreen buttons. At least the screen is easy to read and bright. One slight disappointment is the slowness of the system. Compared to other hybrid vehicles, Entune is a few ticks slower when going through the various screens. The Prius C’s hybrid powertrain is comprised of a 1.5L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder, 45 kW electric motor, Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack, and a CVT. Total output is rated at 99 horsepower. If your driving takes place mostly in urban areas, then the Prius C is a fine car. At speeds under 45 mph, the powertrain gets the vehicle moving a decent clip. But there is a fair amount of buzzing coming from the engine and CVT. On rural roads and highways, the limited performance of hybrid powertrain makes itself known as the model records a 0-60 mph of over 12 seconds. Passing is best done when there are no vehicles appearing in your eyesight. EPA fuel economy figures for the Prius C are 48 City/43 Highway/46 Combined. The figures are disappointing when you consider the likes of the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq return higher figures - 54/50/52 for the Prius and 55/54/55 in the Ioniq. My average for the Prius C was 49.6 mpg, very disappointing when compared to the 60 mpg in the Prius and 62 mpg in the Ioniq Blue I have reviewed previously. The reason for the poor fuel economy showing in the Prius C comes down Toyota not making any changes to the powertrain since its launch in 2012. Handling in the Prius C is quite surprising with excellent body control and feeling quite nimble around the corners. The low-rolling resistance tires will complain if you decide to push it. Where the Prius C shines is in an urban area where the compact size and tight turning radius make it easy to navigate tight spots. Ride quality is about average with most bumps being smoothed over. One item to be aware of is the abundance of road and wind noise. Be prepared to crank the radio up to drown out most of the road noise. We come now to the Prius C’s big problem. The base C One begins at $20,630. My Four tester begins at $24,965, which already makes it a tough sell when you consider that the larger Prius Two is only $280 less and returns higher fuel economy figures. With a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price came to $26,479. Again, you can get into larger Prius or the Hyundai Ioniq that not only offer better fuel economy figures but more features for a similar price. Gallery: 2018 Toyota Prius C Four Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius C, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Toyota Model: Prius C Trim: Four Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive: 1.5L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i, Electric Motor, Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery Pack Driveline: eCVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 73 @ 4,800 (Gas); 60 @ 0 (Electric) Torque @ RPM: 82 @ 4,000 (Gas); 125 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 48/43/46 Curb Weight: 2,530 lbs Location of Manufacture: Isawa, Iwate, Japan Base Price: $24,965 As Tested Price: $26,479 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Special Color - $395.00 Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat - $224.00

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