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Found 172 results

  1. Sport is one of the most misused terms in the automotive segment. It could mean that a vehicle has been given a once-over in terms of the engine and suspension to give it an edge. But it could also mean that a vehicle has been gifted a body kit to make it look sporty. This brings us to the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport. Which version of sport did they decide to go with? Exterior changes on the G80 Sport are small with a copper grille surround, mesh grille, a more aggressive front bumper, 19-inch multi-spoke wheels, quad-exhaust tips, and exclusive colors like the Polar Ice on this vehicle. The small changes really transform the G80 into something a bit sinister. Inside, the G80 Sport swaps the standard steering wheel for a three-spoke sport version, new transmission selector, aluminum pedals, and carbon-fiber accents. The rest of the interior is standard G80 with a clean dash, controls within easy reach, and plenty of rear legroom. Headroom is at a premium due to the standard sunroof. Passengers in the front get a set of sport seats with increased bolstering. It makes a huge difference as you don’t feel like you’re going to fall out on a twisty road. The seats also retain the long road-trip comfort that I have praised previously in the G80 3.8. Sport models come with a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system and controller knob. This system is towards the top of the class with an intuitive interface and fast processing for various functions. One of biggest complaints with the last G80 I reviewed was the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. This has been addressed in 2018 model as both come standard. Genesis has also added a second USB port for those sitting in the front which means you’re not fighting with your passenger as to who gets to charge their phone. Now, they just need to add some for those in the back seat. Power comes from a new 3.3L twin-turbo V6 engine producing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with an eight-speed automatic and in my test car, Genesis’ HTRAC all-wheel drive system. Rear-wheel drive is standard. When you step on the accelerator, you might not think that a turbo engine resides under the hood as there is no turbo lag or a deaden throttle response. The engine just gets up and goes on its merry way. It would have been nice if there was some sort of exhaust note to go with the new engine. No complaints about the eight-speed automatic. It delivers smooth and quick shifts. Fuel economy is still a weak point for Genesis. The Sport with AWD is rated by the EPA at 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 19.8 mpg with a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. Opting for RWD only boosts the highway figure to 25. For the suspension, Genesis retuned the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system to help minimize body motions. It makes some difference when the car is put into Sport mode and dampers firm up to reduce body motion. But it cannot fully overcome the biggest problem with the G80, weight. The Sport AWD tester tips the scales 4,674 pounds. Sticking with RWD only drops overall weight by 155 pounds. It is noticeable around corners as the G80 doesn’t glide, but lumbers. The steering would have benefited greatly from having a bit more weight and feel. On the upside, the G80 Sport’s ride is surprisingly smooth. Despite the larger wheels and altered CDC system, most bumps and imperfections were turned into mere ripples. The Sport sits between the 3.8L and 5.0L in the G80 lineup. Pricing begins at $55,250 for the RWD model and $57,750 for the HTRAC AWD model. This particular test car came to an as-tested price of $58,725 after destination. This is an impressive value when you take into consideration the long list of standard equipment - heated and ventilated front seats, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, color heads-up display, LED head and taillights, sunshades for the rear passengers, multi-view camera system, and adaptive cruise control. Plus, all Genesis models have a 3 year/36,000 mile complimentary maintenance plan and service valet which pickups your vehicle to be serviced. For the most part, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport delivers on ‘sport’ with an aggressive exterior and punchy twin-turbo V6. Ultimately, the handling is where the G80 Sport falters somewhat. I think if Genesis was able to put the G80 on a bit of a diet, it would do wonders. But that doesn’t look like that will happen until the next-generation model that is expected to arrive in the next few years. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G80 Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Genesis Model: G80 Trim: Sport AWD Engine: 3.3L Twin Turbo DOHC 24-Valve V6 with D-CVVT Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,674 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $57,750 As Tested Price: $58,725 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  2. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Genesis G80 Sport AWD

    Sport is one of the most misused terms in the automotive segment. It could mean that a vehicle has been given a once-over in terms of the engine and suspension to give it an edge. But it could also mean that a vehicle has been gifted a body kit to make it look sporty. This brings us to the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport. Which version of sport did they decide to go with? Exterior changes on the G80 Sport are small with a copper grille surround, mesh grille, a more aggressive front bumper, 19-inch multi-spoke wheels, quad-exhaust tips, and exclusive colors like the Polar Ice on this vehicle. The small changes really transform the G80 into something a bit sinister. Inside, the G80 Sport swaps the standard steering wheel for a three-spoke sport version, new transmission selector, aluminum pedals, and carbon-fiber accents. The rest of the interior is standard G80 with a clean dash, controls within easy reach, and plenty of rear legroom. Headroom is at a premium due to the standard sunroof. Passengers in the front get a set of sport seats with increased bolstering. It makes a huge difference as you don’t feel like you’re going to fall out on a twisty road. The seats also retain the long road-trip comfort that I have praised previously in the G80 3.8. Sport models come with a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system and controller knob. This system is towards the top of the class with an intuitive interface and fast processing for various functions. One of biggest complaints with the last G80 I reviewed was the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. This has been addressed in 2018 model as both come standard. Genesis has also added a second USB port for those sitting in the front which means you’re not fighting with your passenger as to who gets to charge their phone. Now, they just need to add some for those in the back seat. Power comes from a new 3.3L twin-turbo V6 engine producing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with an eight-speed automatic and in my test car, Genesis’ HTRAC all-wheel drive system. Rear-wheel drive is standard. When you step on the accelerator, you might not think that a turbo engine resides under the hood as there is no turbo lag or a deaden throttle response. The engine just gets up and goes on its merry way. It would have been nice if there was some sort of exhaust note to go with the new engine. No complaints about the eight-speed automatic. It delivers smooth and quick shifts. Fuel economy is still a weak point for Genesis. The Sport with AWD is rated by the EPA at 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 19.8 mpg with a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. Opting for RWD only boosts the highway figure to 25. For the suspension, Genesis retuned the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system to help minimize body motions. It makes some difference when the car is put into Sport mode and dampers firm up to reduce body motion. But it cannot fully overcome the biggest problem with the G80, weight. The Sport AWD tester tips the scales 4,674 pounds. Sticking with RWD only drops overall weight by 155 pounds. It is noticeable around corners as the G80 doesn’t glide, but lumbers. The steering would have benefited greatly from having a bit more weight and feel. On the upside, the G80 Sport’s ride is surprisingly smooth. Despite the larger wheels and altered CDC system, most bumps and imperfections were turned into mere ripples. The Sport sits between the 3.8L and 5.0L in the G80 lineup. Pricing begins at $55,250 for the RWD model and $57,750 for the HTRAC AWD model. This particular test car came to an as-tested price of $58,725 after destination. This is an impressive value when you take into consideration the long list of standard equipment - heated and ventilated front seats, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, color heads-up display, LED head and taillights, sunshades for the rear passengers, multi-view camera system, and adaptive cruise control. Plus, all Genesis models have a 3 year/36,000 mile complimentary maintenance plan and service valet which pickups your vehicle to be serviced. For the most part, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport delivers on ‘sport’ with an aggressive exterior and punchy twin-turbo V6. Ultimately, the handling is where the G80 Sport falters somewhat. I think if Genesis was able to put the G80 on a bit of a diet, it would do wonders. But that doesn’t look like that will happen until the next-generation model that is expected to arrive in the next few years. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G80 Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Genesis Model: G80 Trim: Sport AWD Engine: 3.3L Twin Turbo DOHC 24-Valve V6 with D-CVVT Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,674 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $57,750 As Tested Price: $58,725 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  3. (Author’s Note: Before you ask, no this isn’t a typo. I really did drive a 2017 Tacoma in 2018. Due to some circumstances, the Tacoma took the place of another vehicle at the last minute. I didn’t realize it was a 2017 model until I saw the sticker. I’ll make note of the changes for 2018 towards the end of the piece.) I’ll likely make some people annoyed with this line: The Toyota Tacoma is the Jeep Wrangler of the pickup world. Before you start getting banging on your keyboard, telling me how I am wrong, allow me to make my case. The two models have a number of similarities; off-road pedigree, not changing much in terms of design or mechanicals; and somewhat uncomfortable when driven on the road. Since our last review of the Tacoma, not much has changed with the exterior. The TRD Off-Road package does make the Tacoma look somewhat mean with a new grille, 16-inch wheels wrapped meaty off-road tires, and a khaki paint color that looks like it came from an army base. The Tacoma’s interior is very user-friendly with a comprehensive and simple dash layout. Most controls are where you expect to find them and in easy reach. But some controls are placed in some odd locations. A key example is the hill descent control which is next to the dome lights on the ceiling. Comfort is still almost nonexistent in the Tacoma. The front seats are quite firm and provide decent support. No height adjustment means a fair number of people will need to make comprises in comfort to find the right seating position. The back seat can fit adults, provided you don’t have anyone tall sitting in the front. Otherwise, legroom becomes very scarce. Under the hood is a 3.5L V6 producing 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. At low speeds, the engine pulls quite strongly and smoothly. It is very different when traveling on the highway as the engine really needs to be worked to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. Part of this comes down to the automatic which likes to quickly upshift to maximize fuel economy. There is a ‘sport’ mode on the transmission that locks out fifth and sixth gear, but only improves performance marginally. Fuel economy is towards the bottom with EPA figures of 18 City/23 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 19.5 mpg. TRD Off-Road brings forth a retuned suspension setup featuring a set of Bilstein shocks. Usually, this makes the ride is somewhat softer. But in the Tacoma, the ride is quite choppy on any surface that isn’t smooth. Steering is very slow and heavy, making tight maneuvers a bit difficult. A fair amount of wind and road noise is apparent. Any changes to be aware of for the 2018 Tacoma? The only change of note is the addition of Toyota Safety Sense-P. This suite of active safety features includes automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beams, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. The TRD Off-Road will set you back $35,515 for the Double Cab with the Long Bed - the 2018 model is about $1,410 more. With a few options, our as-tested price came to $40,617. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Tacoma, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Tacoma Double Cab with Long Bed Trim: TRD Off-Road Engine: 3.5L D-4S V6 with Dual VVT-i Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 278 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 265 @ 4,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/23/20 Curb Weight: 4,480 lbs Location of Manufacture: San Antonio, TX Base Price: $35,515 As Tested Price: $40,617 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium & Technology Package - $3,035.00 Tonneau Cover - $650.00 Carpet Floor Mats w/Door Sill Protector - $208.00 Mudguards - $129.00 Bed Mat - $120.00 View full article
  4. (Author’s Note: Before you ask, no this isn’t a typo. I really did drive a 2017 Tacoma in 2018. Due to some circumstances, the Tacoma took the place of another vehicle at the last minute. I didn’t realize it was a 2017 model until I saw the sticker. I’ll make note of the changes for 2018 towards the end of the piece.) I’ll likely make some people annoyed with this line: The Toyota Tacoma is the Jeep Wrangler of the pickup world. Before you start getting banging on your keyboard, telling me how I am wrong, allow me to make my case. The two models have a number of similarities; off-road pedigree, not changing much in terms of design or mechanicals; and somewhat uncomfortable when driven on the road. Since our last review of the Tacoma, not much has changed with the exterior. The TRD Off-Road package does make the Tacoma look somewhat mean with a new grille, 16-inch wheels wrapped meaty off-road tires, and a khaki paint color that looks like it came from an army base. The Tacoma’s interior is very user-friendly with a comprehensive and simple dash layout. Most controls are where you expect to find them and in easy reach. But some controls are placed in some odd locations. A key example is the hill descent control which is next to the dome lights on the ceiling. Comfort is still almost nonexistent in the Tacoma. The front seats are quite firm and provide decent support. No height adjustment means a fair number of people will need to make comprises in comfort to find the right seating position. The back seat can fit adults, provided you don’t have anyone tall sitting in the front. Otherwise, legroom becomes very scarce. Under the hood is a 3.5L V6 producing 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. At low speeds, the engine pulls quite strongly and smoothly. It is very different when traveling on the highway as the engine really needs to be worked to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. Part of this comes down to the automatic which likes to quickly upshift to maximize fuel economy. There is a ‘sport’ mode on the transmission that locks out fifth and sixth gear, but only improves performance marginally. Fuel economy is towards the bottom with EPA figures of 18 City/23 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 19.5 mpg. TRD Off-Road brings forth a retuned suspension setup featuring a set of Bilstein shocks. Usually, this makes the ride is somewhat softer. But in the Tacoma, the ride is quite choppy on any surface that isn’t smooth. Steering is very slow and heavy, making tight maneuvers a bit difficult. A fair amount of wind and road noise is apparent. Any changes to be aware of for the 2018 Tacoma? The only change of note is the addition of Toyota Safety Sense-P. This suite of active safety features includes automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beams, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. The TRD Off-Road will set you back $35,515 for the Double Cab with the Long Bed - the 2018 model is about $1,410 more. With a few options, our as-tested price came to $40,617. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Tacoma, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Tacoma Double Cab with Long Bed Trim: TRD Off-Road Engine: 3.5L D-4S V6 with Dual VVT-i Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 278 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 265 @ 4,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/23/20 Curb Weight: 4,480 lbs Location of Manufacture: San Antonio, TX Base Price: $35,515 As Tested Price: $40,617 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium & Technology Package - $3,035.00 Tonneau Cover - $650.00 Carpet Floor Mats w/Door Sill Protector - $208.00 Mudguards - $129.00 Bed Mat - $120.00
  5. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD

    Is it possible to teach an old car new tricks? That’s the question Chrysler believes it has answered with the 2018 300. The current-generation model has been with since 2012, though the platform it uses goes back to nineties. Chrysler has been making various improvements to it with an updated look, new transmission, and revised trims. Spending a week with the 2018 300S, I found there were a number of things that make it a worthy contender. But there were some issues that made me leery of fully recommending this model. Somehow, the Chrysler 300’s design just gets better with age. The boxy shape of the body is complemented by a large mesh grille, slim headlights, and a clean looking rear. The S trim adds a hint of aggression with side skirts, rear spoiler, and multi-spoke 20-inch wheels. The green color and bronze trim pieces on this vehicle received a number of comments from the peanut gallery during my week. They ranged from what 1940’s army base did the 300 come from to some comparing it to appliances from the late sixties to early seventies. While I do applaud the chutzpah of the person who decided to go with this combination, I think the bronze accents are a bit much. Thankfully, they are an option and one I recommend skipping. Inside, the 300 isn’t aging so well. Most of the interior is fitted with cheap and somewhat flimsy plastics, very disappointing on a vehicle with a nearly $50,000 price tag. The soft-touch plastic used on the dashboard looks somewhat out of place with its textured pattern. For 2018, the 300 gets the new UConnect 4 system. The key changes are updated graphics and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Thankfully, the updated UConnect system retains the logical layout with large touchscreen buttons and menu structure that we like so much. Our 300S tester came equipped with the base 3.6L V6 engine. Unlike most 300s equipped with this engine, the S gets slightly more power (300 horsepower and 284 pound-feet vs. 292 and 280). This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive comes standard. Despite the small boost in power, the V6 in the 300S feels similar to other 300s and Dodge Charger/Challengers we have driven. On paper, the V6 is somewhat slow to the competition with a 0-60 time of over six seconds. But on the road, it doesn’t show any sign of sluggishness. There is enough power for most driving situations such as making a pass or leaving a stoplight. This is likely helped by the eight-speed automatic which provides quick and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is slightly disappointing if you opt for the AWD with EPA figures of 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed around 20.4 mpg on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. S models differ from other 300s in the suspension. Chrysler uses a stiffer setup on the S to improve handling. It does show a marked improvement with less body lean and the chassis is willing to play. But it isn’t a vehicle you want to push around as the 300’s weight is very noticeable when cornering. The stiffer suspension will mean a slightly rougher ride. The 20-inch wheels that come standard on the S doesn’t help matters. As I mentioned earlier, this particular 300S is quite expensive with an as-tested price of $49,660 with destination. It isn’t worth the money considering you can get into a well-optioned Buick LaCrosse or Kia Cadenza for similar prices and feel you got your money’s worth. Also, Dodge offers the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Daytona 392 with 6.4L V8 that provide more performance for less money. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the 300S AWD, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Chrysler Model: 300 Trim: S AWD Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 300 @ 6,350 Torque @ RPM: 264 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/27/21 Curb Weight: 4,267 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $38,295 As Tested Price: $49,660 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge) Options: 300S Premium Group - $3,495 300S Premium Group 2 - $1,895 SafetyTec Plus Group - $1,695 S Model Appearance Group - $1,495 Beats Audio Group - $995 300S Alloy Package - $695 View full article
  6. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD

    Is it possible to teach an old car new tricks? That’s the question Chrysler believes it has answered with the 2018 300. The current-generation model has been with since 2012, though the platform it uses goes back to nineties. Chrysler has been making various improvements to it with an updated look, new transmission, and revised trims. Spending a week with the 2018 300S, I found there were a number of things that make it a worthy contender. But there were some issues that made me leery of fully recommending this model. Somehow, the Chrysler 300’s design just gets better with age. The boxy shape of the body is complemented by a large mesh grille, slim headlights, and a clean looking rear. The S trim adds a hint of aggression with side skirts, rear spoiler, and multi-spoke 20-inch wheels. The green color and bronze trim pieces on this vehicle received a number of comments from the peanut gallery during my week. They ranged from what 1940’s army base did the 300 come from to some comparing it to appliances from the late sixties to early seventies. While I do applaud the chutzpah of the person who decided to go with this combination, I think the bronze accents are a bit much. Thankfully, they are an option and one I recommend skipping. Inside, the 300 isn’t aging so well. Most of the interior is fitted with cheap and somewhat flimsy plastics, very disappointing on a vehicle with a nearly $50,000 price tag. The soft-touch plastic used on the dashboard looks somewhat out of place with its textured pattern. For 2018, the 300 gets the new UConnect 4 system. The key changes are updated graphics and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Thankfully, the updated UConnect system retains the logical layout with large touchscreen buttons and menu structure that we like so much. Our 300S tester came equipped with the base 3.6L V6 engine. Unlike most 300s equipped with this engine, the S gets slightly more power (300 horsepower and 284 pound-feet vs. 292 and 280). This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive comes standard. Despite the small boost in power, the V6 in the 300S feels similar to other 300s and Dodge Charger/Challengers we have driven. On paper, the V6 is somewhat slow to the competition with a 0-60 time of over six seconds. But on the road, it doesn’t show any sign of sluggishness. There is enough power for most driving situations such as making a pass or leaving a stoplight. This is likely helped by the eight-speed automatic which provides quick and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is slightly disappointing if you opt for the AWD with EPA figures of 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed around 20.4 mpg on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. S models differ from other 300s in the suspension. Chrysler uses a stiffer setup on the S to improve handling. It does show a marked improvement with less body lean and the chassis is willing to play. But it isn’t a vehicle you want to push around as the 300’s weight is very noticeable when cornering. The stiffer suspension will mean a slightly rougher ride. The 20-inch wheels that come standard on the S doesn’t help matters. As I mentioned earlier, this particular 300S is quite expensive with an as-tested price of $49,660 with destination. It isn’t worth the money considering you can get into a well-optioned Buick LaCrosse or Kia Cadenza for similar prices and feel you got your money’s worth. Also, Dodge offers the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Daytona 392 with 6.4L V8 that provide more performance for less money. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the 300S AWD, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Chrysler Model: 300 Trim: S AWD Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 300 @ 6,350 Torque @ RPM: 264 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/27/21 Curb Weight: 4,267 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $38,295 As Tested Price: $49,660 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge) Options: 300S Premium Group - $3,495 300S Premium Group 2 - $1,895 SafetyTec Plus Group - $1,695 S Model Appearance Group - $1,495 Beats Audio Group - $995 300S Alloy Package - $695
  7. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Ram 1500 Limited

    It feels somewhat weird to be writing a review of the 2018 Ram 1500 as the 2019 model begins to slowly roll out to dealers. Ram is trying their best get the 2018s out the door. At the time of this writing, Ram is offering up to $12,356 bonus cash on certain 1500 models. Seems very tempting, but are there some other reasons to consider the older 1500 over the new one? Design is very subjective. One person may like the design of a vehicle, while the another may think it is quite ugly. Case in point, I’m not a fan of 2019 Ram 1500. The new shape makes the Ram look like any other pickup truck on sale. At least the 2018 model still retains the big-rig styling that was introduced with the 1994 Ram 1500. The front end is in your face with a large grille, square headlights, and muscular hood. The side profile shows off a set of 20-inch wheels standard on the Limited and the optional RamBox storage system. That isn’t to say the 2018 Ram 1500 doesn’t have design issues either. The Limited trim swaps the standard crosshair grille for one that features ‘RAM’ in big letters. It is just a bit much and doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the truck. Since our last review of the Ram 1500 in 2016, not much has changed in the interior. It still has one of cleanest layout for controls and material quality is quite high. Some will snicker at the belt-buckle seat pockets and a ‘Limited’ badge stitched in the center console, but thankfully those touches are only on the higher end models. I do wish Ram would put in a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel as it would make easier to find a comfortable driving position. The adjustable pedals alleviate this issue somewhat. One change I was glad to see was the newest version of UConnect being installed on the 2018 model. This brings an updated interface and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The new interface makes UConnect even easier to use with clearer text and brighter screen. Integration with Apple CarPlay is one the best as it only took a few seconds for the system to find my phone and bring up the CarPlay interface. If you decide to go with the Limited, the only engine on offer is the 5.7L HEMI V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and four-wheel drive complete the powertrain. Those wanting other options will need to drop down to one of the lower trims. On paper, the HEMI V8 seems like a capable performer with close to 400 horsepower. On the road, the HEMI doesn’t quite match up to those expectations. Despite having a muscle car snarl when accelerating, the HEMI V8 is noticeably slower than competitors. As an example, the Ram 1500 took a few ticks longer to hit 70 mph than the previous GM or Toyota full-size trucks I have driven. I cannot pinpoint the possible culprit to this, but I have the feeling the truck’s curb weight and the eight-speed automatic play a role. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Ram 1500 with the HEMI V8 and four-wheel drive are 15 City/21 Highway/17 Combined. My average for the week landed at 14.7 mpg in mostly city driving. Ram still holds an edge when it comes to the ride quality. The coil-spring setup for the rear suspension gives the truck a ride quality more akin to a sedan with most bumps being smoothed over. This truck also came with an optional air suspension which lowers the truck at highway speeds to improve fuel economy. It also makes getting in and out of the Ram 1500 slightly easier. One item I hope Ram has improved with the 2019 model is the steering. The system used in the 2018 Ram 1500 is quite slow and light, meaning it takes more effort to do simple tasks such as pulling into a parking spot. The Ram 1500 Limited is only available in one configuration - Crew Cab, 5’7” cargo bed, 5.7L HEMI V8, and 4WD. Base price is $56,375, with our test truck coming in at $63,870. For most folks, I would recommend dropping down to the likes of the Big Horn or Laramie as they offer more configuration options in terms of powertrains, cabs, and features. Aside from the deep discounts being on offer for the 2018 Ram 1500, deciding whether to go for the old or new model will come down to personal desires. For some, seeing the various improvements and the shiny new body will draw them towards the 2019 model. For others, the deep discounts and being a proven product will bring them over to the 2018 model. I fall into the latter category at the moment, but it might change whenever I get the chance to drive the 2019 Ram 1500. Disclaimer: Ram Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Ram Model: 1500 Trim: Limited Engine: 5.7L HEMI VVT V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 395 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 410 @ 3,950 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/21/17 Curb Weight: 5,387 lbs Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI Base Price: $53,595 As Tested Price: $63,870 (Includes $1,395 Destination Charge and $300 Suede Headliner Delete Credit) Options: Limited Package 26V - $3,200.00 Limited Tungsten Edition - $1,825.00 Ram Box Cargo Management System - $1,295.00 Power Sunroof - $1,095.00 Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover - $595.00 Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle - $435.00 Single Disc Remote CD Player $345.00 Trailer Brake Control - $295.00 3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $95.00
  8. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Ram 1500 Limited

    It feels somewhat weird to be writing a review of the 2018 Ram 1500 as the 2019 model begins to slowly roll out to dealers. Ram is trying their best get the 2018s out the door. At the time of this writing, Ram is offering up to $12,356 bonus cash on certain 1500 models. Seems very tempting, but are there some other reasons to consider the older 1500 over the new one? Design is very subjective. One person may like the design of a vehicle, while the another may think it is quite ugly. Case in point, I’m not a fan of 2019 Ram 1500. The new shape makes the Ram look like any other pickup truck on sale. At least the 2018 model still retains the big-rig styling that was introduced with the 1994 Ram 1500. The front end is in your face with a large grille, square headlights, and muscular hood. The side profile shows off a set of 20-inch wheels standard on the Limited and the optional RamBox storage system. That isn’t to say the 2018 Ram 1500 doesn’t have design issues either. The Limited trim swaps the standard crosshair grille for one that features ‘RAM’ in big letters. It is just a bit much and doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the truck. Since our last review of the Ram 1500 in 2016, not much has changed in the interior. It still has one of cleanest layout for controls and material quality is quite high. Some will snicker at the belt-buckle seat pockets and a ‘Limited’ badge stitched in the center console, but thankfully those touches are only on the higher end models. I do wish Ram would put in a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel as it would make easier to find a comfortable driving position. The adjustable pedals alleviate this issue somewhat. One change I was glad to see was the newest version of UConnect being installed on the 2018 model. This brings an updated interface and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The new interface makes UConnect even easier to use with clearer text and brighter screen. Integration with Apple CarPlay is one the best as it only took a few seconds for the system to find my phone and bring up the CarPlay interface. If you decide to go with the Limited, the only engine on offer is the 5.7L HEMI V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and four-wheel drive complete the powertrain. Those wanting other options will need to drop down to one of the lower trims. On paper, the HEMI V8 seems like a capable performer with close to 400 horsepower. On the road, the HEMI doesn’t quite match up to those expectations. Despite having a muscle car snarl when accelerating, the HEMI V8 is noticeably slower than competitors. As an example, the Ram 1500 took a few ticks longer to hit 70 mph than the previous GM or Toyota full-size trucks I have driven. I cannot pinpoint the possible culprit to this, but I have the feeling the truck’s curb weight and the eight-speed automatic play a role. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Ram 1500 with the HEMI V8 and four-wheel drive are 15 City/21 Highway/17 Combined. My average for the week landed at 14.7 mpg in mostly city driving. Ram still holds an edge when it comes to the ride quality. The coil-spring setup for the rear suspension gives the truck a ride quality more akin to a sedan with most bumps being smoothed over. This truck also came with an optional air suspension which lowers the truck at highway speeds to improve fuel economy. It also makes getting in and out of the Ram 1500 slightly easier. One item I hope Ram has improved with the 2019 model is the steering. The system used in the 2018 Ram 1500 is quite slow and light, meaning it takes more effort to do simple tasks such as pulling into a parking spot. The Ram 1500 Limited is only available in one configuration - Crew Cab, 5’7” cargo bed, 5.7L HEMI V8, and 4WD. Base price is $56,375, with our test truck coming in at $63,870. For most folks, I would recommend dropping down to the likes of the Big Horn or Laramie as they offer more configuration options in terms of powertrains, cabs, and features. Aside from the deep discounts being on offer for the 2018 Ram 1500, deciding whether to go for the old or new model will come down to personal desires. For some, seeing the various improvements and the shiny new body will draw them towards the 2019 model. For others, the deep discounts and being a proven product will bring them over to the 2018 model. I fall into the latter category at the moment, but it might change whenever I get the chance to drive the 2019 Ram 1500. Disclaimer: Ram Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Ram Model: 1500 Trim: Limited Engine: 5.7L HEMI VVT V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 395 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 410 @ 3,950 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/21/17 Curb Weight: 5,387 lbs Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI Base Price: $53,595 As Tested Price: $63,870 (Includes $1,395 Destination Charge and $300 Suede Headliner Delete Credit) Options: Limited Package 26V - $3,200.00 Limited Tungsten Edition - $1,825.00 Ram Box Cargo Management System - $1,295.00 Power Sunroof - $1,095.00 Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover - $595.00 Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle - $435.00 Single Disc Remote CD Player $345.00 Trailer Brake Control - $295.00 3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $95.00 View full article
  9. The Toyota Highlander has an interesting selling point in the midsize crossover class. It is the only model that offers a hybrid version. Seems quite crazy that more automakers aren’t offering a green option due to the increasing popularity. But maybe there is a reason for that. (Author’s note: I don’t go into detail about the Highlander Hybrid’s exterior and interior as it is the same as the regular Highlander. If you want to get an idea of what I think, you can check out my quick drive review on the 2017 Highlander posted back in October. -WM) The Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 3.5L V6, two electric motors, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 306 horsepower. This is paired up with a CVT. The electric motors are mounted on each axle and provide all-wheel drive. Despite the hybrid weighing 310 pounds more than the standard model, the instantaneous torque from electric motors disguises the extra weight at low speeds. This makes the hybrid feel slightly quicker around town than the standard model. But at higher speeds, the effectiveness of the electric motors begin to wane and the V6 begins to shoulder more of the burden. Merging onto a freeway, I found the hybrid to not be any quicker than the standard Highlander. Switching between hybrid and EV mode in the Highlander Hybrid is very seamless. You don’t notice the transition unless you have the hybrid powertrain screen up in the instrument cluster or infotainment system. Like most Toyota hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid can travel on electric power at speeds up to 25 mph for short distances. I found this was easy to sustain when driving in city areas or my neighborhood. EPA fuel economy figures on the Highlander Hybrid are 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined for the base LE, and 29/27/28 for the rest of the lineup like our Limited tester. During my week, I was only able to achieve a disappointing 24 mpg on a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Highlander I drove last year was only 2 mpg lower during my week-long test. Ride quality is similar to the regular Highlander as most bumps and potholes are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is not the Highlander Hybrid’s strong suit. Around corners, the hybrid shows an excessive amount of body roll and dull steering. On the upside, the hybrid does feel more planted to the road than the regular model thanks to the extra weight of batteries. Brakes are still an issue for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. The Highlander Hybrid exhibits a vague and somewhat unpredictable feel from the pedal, which doesn’t inspire confidence. The 2017 Highlander Hybrid begins at $36,270 for the base LE, about $2,130 more than the standard Highlander LE V6 AWD. Our Limited tester starts at $44,760, and with a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price is $46,134. Is the hybrid worth it? In short, no. With gas prices the way they are at the moment, it will take a long time for you to break even on the extra cost of the Highlander Hybrid. Plus, I found the real-world fuel economy wasn’t that much better than the standard model. At the moment, I would stick with the standard Highlander and pocket the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with VVT-iW V6, 2 Electric Motors, Sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack Driveline: CVT, AWD-i Horsepower @ RPM: 231 @ 5,800 (Gas); 167 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 68 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2); 306 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 215 @ 4,800 (Gas); 247 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 103 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/27/28 Curb Weight: 4,861 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $44,760 As Tested Price: $46,134 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00 View full article
  10. The Toyota Highlander has an interesting selling point in the midsize crossover class. It is the only model that offers a hybrid version. Seems quite crazy that more automakers aren’t offering a green option due to the increasing popularity. But maybe there is a reason for that. (Author’s note: I don’t go into detail about the Highlander Hybrid’s exterior and interior as it is the same as the regular Highlander. If you want to get an idea of what I think, you can check out my quick drive review on the 2017 Highlander posted back in October. -WM) The Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 3.5L V6, two electric motors, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 306 horsepower. This is paired up with a CVT. The electric motors are mounted on each axle and provide all-wheel drive. Despite the hybrid weighing 310 pounds more than the standard model, the instantaneous torque from electric motors disguises the extra weight at low speeds. This makes the hybrid feel slightly quicker around town than the standard model. But at higher speeds, the effectiveness of the electric motors begin to wane and the V6 begins to shoulder more of the burden. Merging onto a freeway, I found the hybrid to not be any quicker than the standard Highlander. Switching between hybrid and EV mode in the Highlander Hybrid is very seamless. You don’t notice the transition unless you have the hybrid powertrain screen up in the instrument cluster or infotainment system. Like most Toyota hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid can travel on electric power at speeds up to 25 mph for short distances. I found this was easy to sustain when driving in city areas or my neighborhood. EPA fuel economy figures on the Highlander Hybrid are 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined for the base LE, and 29/27/28 for the rest of the lineup like our Limited tester. During my week, I was only able to achieve a disappointing 24 mpg on a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Highlander I drove last year was only 2 mpg lower during my week-long test. Ride quality is similar to the regular Highlander as most bumps and potholes are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is not the Highlander Hybrid’s strong suit. Around corners, the hybrid shows an excessive amount of body roll and dull steering. On the upside, the hybrid does feel more planted to the road than the regular model thanks to the extra weight of batteries. Brakes are still an issue for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. The Highlander Hybrid exhibits a vague and somewhat unpredictable feel from the pedal, which doesn’t inspire confidence. The 2017 Highlander Hybrid begins at $36,270 for the base LE, about $2,130 more than the standard Highlander LE V6 AWD. Our Limited tester starts at $44,760, and with a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price is $46,134. Is the hybrid worth it? In short, no. With gas prices the way they are at the moment, it will take a long time for you to break even on the extra cost of the Highlander Hybrid. Plus, I found the real-world fuel economy wasn’t that much better than the standard model. At the moment, I would stick with the standard Highlander and pocket the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with VVT-iW V6, 2 Electric Motors, Sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack Driveline: CVT, AWD-i Horsepower @ RPM: 231 @ 5,800 (Gas); 167 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 68 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2); 306 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 215 @ 4,800 (Gas); 247 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 103 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/27/28 Curb Weight: 4,861 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $44,760 As Tested Price: $46,134 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00
  11. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Lexus GS 200t

    I have been on record of not liking the 2.0L turbo-four Lexus uses in a number of their vehicles. Previous reviews have highlighted the horrendous turbo lag and power falling off a cliff after a certain point on the rpm band. But after spending a week with the 2017 Lexus GS 200t, I found that Lexus may have fixed one of the big issues with this engine. A quick refresher on the turbo 2.0L. The engine has ratings of 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission on offer. The engine feels quite punchy when the boost kicks in as it moves the 3,805 pound sedan without breaking a sweat. Another positive is how quiet and refined the engine is during acceleration and at cruise. There are a couple of downsides. As I mentioned in the RC 200t review, the engine does run out of steam at higher rpms which makes merging onto a freeway slightly tricky. The transmission programming in the ‘Normal’ drive mode leans heavily towards boosting fuel economy with rapid upshifts and slow downshifts. This was easily remedied by putting the GS into the ‘Sport’ drive mode. EPA fuel economy figures for the GS 200t at 22 City/32 Highway/26 Combined. I only averaged a very disappointing 19.2 mpg for the week. A lot of this can be attributed to the cold snap where the high temperature at the times was around 10 to 15 degrees. This meant I was running the vehicle at idle for a fair amount of time to warm it up. The GS 200t’s suspension provides a mostly smooth ride with only a couple of bumps making their way inside. Road and wind noise are almost nonexistent. I cannot really comment on the GS 200t’s handling as most of the roads were snow-covered during the week and the Michelin GreenX tires were more keen on spinning in the snow than actually getting the car moving. A set of all-seasons or snow tires would have done wonders for it. Reading through some other reviews, the consensus seems to be the GS shows little body roll and has decent steering weight. Lexus updated the GS’ styling back in 2016 with a revised front end, complete with a spindle grille and upside-down eyelash LED lighting. I’m usually not a fan of the standard insert for the spindle grille - like the mesh insert on the F-Sport. But I will admit the slat grille on this particular model works quite well. Other changes include new wheels (18-inches on our tester) and taillights. The interior hasn’t really changed since I last drove the GS back in 2013. In certain respects, this is ok. The design still holds up with the brushed-metal accents and textured black trim. Material quality is top notch as well with many surfaces being covered in soft-touch plastics and leather. Seating offers the right amount of support and comfort needed for long trips. The only downside is the large transmission tunnel that eats into rear legroom. The GS still uses the first-generation Lexus Enform infotainment system, complete with the joystick controller. The controller is a pain to use with an inconsistent feeling when using it to move around the system. At times, you’ll find yourself either overshooting or not selecting the function because of the vague feeling provided by the controller. This hurts an otherwise pretty good system with a modern design and large 12.3-inch screen with the ability of split-screen viewing. The base price of the 2017 GS 200t is $46,310. Our test vehicle came equipped with a few options such as navigation, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, power trunk, and 18-inch wheels that raised the price to a very reasonable $52,295. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GS 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Lexus Model: GS Trim: 200t Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve with Dual VVT-iW Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650-4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/26 Curb Weight: 3,805 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan Base Price: $46,310 As Tested Price: $52,295 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge and $1,730 Navigation Package Credit) Options: Navigation w/12.3-inch screen with Lexus Enform - $1,730.00 Premium Package - $1,400.00 Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System - $1,380.00 18" All Season Tires - $905.00 Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $425.00 One-Touch Power Trunk - $400.00
  12. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Lexus GS 200t

    I have been on record of not liking the 2.0L turbo-four Lexus uses in a number of their vehicles. Previous reviews have highlighted the horrendous turbo lag and power falling off a cliff after a certain point on the rpm band. But after spending a week with the 2017 Lexus GS 200t, I found that Lexus may have fixed one of the big issues with this engine. A quick refresher on the turbo 2.0L. The engine has ratings of 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission on offer. The engine feels quite punchy when the boost kicks in as it moves the 3,805 pound sedan without breaking a sweat. Another positive is how quiet and refined the engine is during acceleration and at cruise. There are a couple of downsides. As I mentioned in the RC 200t review, the engine does run out of steam at higher rpms which makes merging onto a freeway slightly tricky. The transmission programming in the ‘Normal’ drive mode leans heavily towards boosting fuel economy with rapid upshifts and slow downshifts. This was easily remedied by putting the GS into the ‘Sport’ drive mode. EPA fuel economy figures for the GS 200t at 22 City/32 Highway/26 Combined. I only averaged a very disappointing 19.2 mpg for the week. A lot of this can be attributed to the cold snap where the high temperature at the times was around 10 to 15 degrees. This meant I was running the vehicle at idle for a fair amount of time to warm it up. The GS 200t’s suspension provides a mostly smooth ride with only a couple of bumps making their way inside. Road and wind noise are almost nonexistent. I cannot really comment on the GS 200t’s handling as most of the roads were snow-covered during the week and the Michelin GreenX tires were more keen on spinning in the snow than actually getting the car moving. A set of all-seasons or snow tires would have done wonders for it. Reading through some other reviews, the consensus seems to be the GS shows little body roll and has decent steering weight. Lexus updated the GS’ styling back in 2016 with a revised front end, complete with a spindle grille and upside-down eyelash LED lighting. I’m usually not a fan of the standard insert for the spindle grille - like the mesh insert on the F-Sport. But I will admit the slat grille on this particular model works quite well. Other changes include new wheels (18-inches on our tester) and taillights. The interior hasn’t really changed since I last drove the GS back in 2013. In certain respects, this is ok. The design still holds up with the brushed-metal accents and textured black trim. Material quality is top notch as well with many surfaces being covered in soft-touch plastics and leather. Seating offers the right amount of support and comfort needed for long trips. The only downside is the large transmission tunnel that eats into rear legroom. The GS still uses the first-generation Lexus Enform infotainment system, complete with the joystick controller. The controller is a pain to use with an inconsistent feeling when using it to move around the system. At times, you’ll find yourself either overshooting or not selecting the function because of the vague feeling provided by the controller. This hurts an otherwise pretty good system with a modern design and large 12.3-inch screen with the ability of split-screen viewing. The base price of the 2017 GS 200t is $46,310. Our test vehicle came equipped with a few options such as navigation, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, power trunk, and 18-inch wheels that raised the price to a very reasonable $52,295. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GS 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Lexus Model: GS Trim: 200t Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve with Dual VVT-iW Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650-4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/26 Curb Weight: 3,805 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan Base Price: $46,310 As Tested Price: $52,295 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge and $1,730 Navigation Package Credit) Options: Navigation w/12.3-inch screen with Lexus Enform - $1,730.00 Premium Package - $1,400.00 Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System - $1,380.00 18" All Season Tires - $905.00 Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $425.00 One-Touch Power Trunk - $400.00 View full article
  13. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE

    Despite the popularity of compact crossovers, it seems somewhat odd there isn’t a large number of hybrid variants. In fact, there is only one available, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Going hybrid usually means a hit in performance and cargo space. But in the case of the RAV4 Hybrid, it is quicker than the standard model and cargo space isn’t greatly affected. I spent some time with the RAV4 Hybrid over the holidays where it was driven to Northern Michigan and back. This is what I learned. The RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 2.5L four-cylinder, three electric motors (one acting as the engine starter and battery charger, the other two drive the wheels and provide AWD), and a Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 194 horsepower. Power is routed through a CVT. Fuel economy figures are noticeably better than the RAV4 SE AWD I drove last year - 34 City/30 Highway/32 Combined for the Hybrid vs. 22/29/25 for the standard RAV4. My average for the week landed around 30.7 MPG. I think the average could have been higher if Michigan had not experienced a cold snap where temperatures fell to single digits at times, causing the engine to run longer to keep the vehicle warm. The hybrid also feels slightly quicker than the standard RAV4 thanks to the electric motors providing instantaneous torque when leaving a stop. But merging on to a freeway or passing becomes a bit unpleasant as the engine pegs at high rpms to provide the power needed. This also brings forth a lot of noise from the engine and CVT. Doing a lot of driving on the freeway and country roads made me really appreciate the smooth and compliant ride of the RAV4 Hybrid. Most bumps and road imperfections are smoothed over. Some credit has to go to the 17-inch wheels on the XLE. Handling is competent as the suspension keeps body motions in check. However, the rubbery steering and low-rolling resistance tires will make drivers think twice about pushing the RAV4 Hybrid. The low-rolling resistance tires also hamper traction in snow. I could tell when driving in deep snow, the all-wheel drive was working a bit harder to keep the vehicle moving. If you live in a snowy area, I would highly recommend swapping the low-rolling resistance tires for a set of all-seasons or winter tires. At first glance, the RAV4 Hybrid looks like any other RAV4. It is only when you get closer that you will notice the blue-tinted emblems and ‘Hybrid’ badging on the front fenders and tailgate. The interior is much the same as any other RAV4 aside from a different gauge cluster and a button to activate the EV mode. This is ok as the RAV4 is an ok place to sit in with a utilitarian design that puts various controls within easy reach for driver and passenger. Materials are what you would expect to find in a vehicle of this class, a mix of soft and hard-touch plastics. The back seat is still a plus point to the RAV4 as there is plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space in the hybrid is about 3 cubic feet smaller than the standard RAV4 due to the battery with the rear seats up or down. Still, the hybrid’s cargo space is one the of the largest in the compact crossover class and I was able to fit luggage for myself and my brother, along with gifts for various relatives with no issue. All RAV4 Hybrids come with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen. The system is becoming quite dated in terms of the interface and features - no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for example. On the upside, Entune is easy to master thanks to a simple layout and physical shortcut buttons to various functions. 2017 saw Toyota make a number of active safety features standard on all RAV4s. That includes radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and lane keep assist. I would like to see blind spot monitoring added to this suite. The 2017 RAV4 Hybrid begins at $29,030 for the base XLE, about $4,000 more than the RAV4 XLE. Taking into consideration the noticeable fuel economy increase and better performance, I would be willing to spend the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the RAV4 Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: RAV4 Hybrid Trim: XLE Engine: 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle 16-Valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Two 650V Electric Motors Driveline: CVT, AWD Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 5,700 (Gas), 105 kW (Front Electric Motor), 50 kW (Rear Electric Motor), 194 (Combined Output) Torque @ RPM: 152 @ 4,400 (Gas) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 34/30/32 Curb Weight: 3,925 lbs Location of Manufacture: Obu, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $29,030 As Tested Price: $31,965 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Convenience Package - $1,905.00 Tonneau Cover - $90.00
  14. Despite the popularity of compact crossovers, it seems somewhat odd there isn’t a large number of hybrid variants. In fact, there is only one available, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Going hybrid usually means a hit in performance and cargo space. But in the case of the RAV4 Hybrid, it is quicker than the standard model and cargo space isn’t greatly affected. I spent some time with the RAV4 Hybrid over the holidays where it was driven to Northern Michigan and back. This is what I learned. The RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 2.5L four-cylinder, three electric motors (one acting as the engine starter and battery charger, the other two drive the wheels and provide AWD), and a Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 194 horsepower. Power is routed through a CVT. Fuel economy figures are noticeably better than the RAV4 SE AWD I drove last year - 34 City/30 Highway/32 Combined for the Hybrid vs. 22/29/25 for the standard RAV4. My average for the week landed around 30.7 MPG. I think the average could have been higher if Michigan had not experienced a cold snap where temperatures fell to single digits at times, causing the engine to run longer to keep the vehicle warm. The hybrid also feels slightly quicker than the standard RAV4 thanks to the electric motors providing instantaneous torque when leaving a stop. But merging on to a freeway or passing becomes a bit unpleasant as the engine pegs at high rpms to provide the power needed. This also brings forth a lot of noise from the engine and CVT. Doing a lot of driving on the freeway and country roads made me really appreciate the smooth and compliant ride of the RAV4 Hybrid. Most bumps and road imperfections are smoothed over. Some credit has to go to the 17-inch wheels on the XLE. Handling is competent as the suspension keeps body motions in check. However, the rubbery steering and low-rolling resistance tires will make drivers think twice about pushing the RAV4 Hybrid. The low-rolling resistance tires also hamper traction in snow. I could tell when driving in deep snow, the all-wheel drive was working a bit harder to keep the vehicle moving. If you live in a snowy area, I would highly recommend swapping the low-rolling resistance tires for a set of all-seasons or winter tires. At first glance, the RAV4 Hybrid looks like any other RAV4. It is only when you get closer that you will notice the blue-tinted emblems and ‘Hybrid’ badging on the front fenders and tailgate. The interior is much the same as any other RAV4 aside from a different gauge cluster and a button to activate the EV mode. This is ok as the RAV4 is an ok place to sit in with a utilitarian design that puts various controls within easy reach for driver and passenger. Materials are what you would expect to find in a vehicle of this class, a mix of soft and hard-touch plastics. The back seat is still a plus point to the RAV4 as there is plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space in the hybrid is about 3 cubic feet smaller than the standard RAV4 due to the battery with the rear seats up or down. Still, the hybrid’s cargo space is one the of the largest in the compact crossover class and I was able to fit luggage for myself and my brother, along with gifts for various relatives with no issue. All RAV4 Hybrids come with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen. The system is becoming quite dated in terms of the interface and features - no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for example. On the upside, Entune is easy to master thanks to a simple layout and physical shortcut buttons to various functions. 2017 saw Toyota make a number of active safety features standard on all RAV4s. That includes radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and lane keep assist. I would like to see blind spot monitoring added to this suite. The 2017 RAV4 Hybrid begins at $29,030 for the base XLE, about $4,000 more than the RAV4 XLE. Taking into consideration the noticeable fuel economy increase and better performance, I would be willing to spend the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the RAV4 Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: RAV4 Hybrid Trim: XLE Engine: 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle 16-Valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Two 650V Electric Motors Driveline: CVT, AWD Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 5,700 (Gas), 105 kW (Front Electric Motor), 50 kW (Rear Electric Motor), 194 (Combined Output) Torque @ RPM: 152 @ 4,400 (Gas) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 34/30/32 Curb Weight: 3,925 lbs Location of Manufacture: Obu, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $29,030 As Tested Price: $31,965 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Convenience Package - $1,905.00 Tonneau Cover - $90.00 View full article
  15. It feels a bit odd to be spending some time in the 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe after driving the CT6 earlier this year. In a way, it felt like I was stepping back into the past where Cadillac was making some dumb decisions that ultimately would hurt their vehicles. The ATS coupe is a prime example of this where Cadillac had a legitimate challenger to likes of the BMW 3/4-Series and Audi A5 in terms of performance and handling. But some bone-headed decisions would regulate it to the mid-pack. The ATS Coupe is still quite the looker. It features the classic rear-wheel drive proportions of a long front end and a short rear deck.The low roofline and raised belt line give off an impression of aggressive elegance. Our test car came with a set of machined-finished, 18-inch wheels that help the design pop. Move inside and it is clear that the interior hasn’t aged so well. For example, the sheet of piano black trim with the silver capacitive touch buttons really look out of place. The trim is also a magnet for fingerprints. Cadillac’s designers deserve a bit of credit for providing a nice mix of materials such as the Bordello Red leather upholstery, suede microfiber covering parts of the dash and door panels, and carbon fiber trim. The front seats are very comfortable for long trips and do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. The rear seats are best left to be used for additional storage as leg and headroom are minuscule. Trunk space is quite small for the class at 10.4 cubic feet. CUE is still a bit of a mixed bag. While the overall usability is better with quicker response times and the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the touch capacitive buttons are still hit and miss in terms of responding. Power comes from a 2.0L turbo-four producing 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. We had the eight-speed automatic that was introduced last year, but a six-speed manual is available as an option. The 2.0L turbo is a punchy performer. Power comes at a smooth and steady rate. The engine does lose some points under hard acceleration as it is not refined as some competitors. The eight-speed automatic is the weak point for the ATS. It is slow to downshift when you need the thrust to pass a slower vehicle. We have to assume this comes down to the programming which is tuned more for fuel economy than performance. Gear changes, for the most part, are seamless. One area that Cadillac hasn’t messed with is the ATS’ handling. The coupe is a willing accomplice down a twisty road with sharp reflexes, little body roll, and steering that provides the right balance of steering feel and weight. We had the optional V-Sport Suspension package which adds a performance suspension and a set of summer-only, run-flat tires which only improves the handling. The downside to this handling goodness is a very stiff ride. Compared to the last ATS we drove (not the ATS-V), this coupe transmitted more bumps and imperfections, making for a very uncomfortable ride. Some of this can be laid at the V-Sport Suspension package. The ATS coupe seen here is the Luxury model - one step above the base model. It carries a base price of $41,395. Our test car was loaded with $12,055 in options, bringing the as-tested price to $54,445. You might be wondering why not jump into the Premium Luxury or Premium Performance if you’re planning to spend that much cash. That is because those two trims only come with the 3.6L V6. If you want the 2.0L turbo, you have to go either the base ATS or Luxury. If I was to buy this car, I would skip the V-Sport suspension package, performance exhaust kit, slotted rotor and brake pad upgrade, and the 18-inch wheels. That would drop the price to a somewhat reasonable $48,490. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the ATS Coupe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas (Author's Note: And that is the final review for 2017. (Hooray!) I'll be revealing my favorite vehicles before the end of the year, so stay tuned. As for 2018, there will be a mix of some leftover 2017 models mixed in with the first batch of 2018 models. Expect to see reviews start back up around the Detroit Auto Show. In the meantime, have a safe and joyous holiday. -WM) Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: ATS Coupe Trim: 2.0T Luxury Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DI VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 3,000 - 4,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 3,571 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lansing, Michigan Base Price: $41,395 As Tested Price: $54,445 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: V-Sport Suspension Package - $2,265.00 Performance Exhaust Kit - $1,650.00 Safety & Security Package - $1,500.00 Morello Red Semi-Aniline Leather - $1,295.00 Slotted Rotor and Brake Pad Upgrade Package - $1,190.00 Power Sunroof - $1,050.00 18" Bright Machined-Finish Alloy Wheels - $850.00 Black Chrome Accented Grille - $820.00 V-Series Rear Spoiler - $665.00 Phantom Gray Metallic - $595.00 Black Chrome Rear Trim - $175.00 View full article
  16. It feels a bit odd to be spending some time in the 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe after driving the CT6 earlier this year. In a way, it felt like I was stepping back into the past where Cadillac was making some dumb decisions that ultimately would hurt their vehicles. The ATS coupe is a prime example of this where Cadillac had a legitimate challenger to likes of the BMW 3/4-Series and Audi A5 in terms of performance and handling. But some bone-headed decisions would regulate it to the mid-pack. The ATS Coupe is still quite the looker. It features the classic rear-wheel drive proportions of a long front end and a short rear deck.The low roofline and raised belt line give off an impression of aggressive elegance. Our test car came with a set of machined-finished, 18-inch wheels that help the design pop. Move inside and it is clear that the interior hasn’t aged so well. For example, the sheet of piano black trim with the silver capacitive touch buttons really look out of place. The trim is also a magnet for fingerprints. Cadillac’s designers deserve a bit of credit for providing a nice mix of materials such as the Bordello Red leather upholstery, suede microfiber covering parts of the dash and door panels, and carbon fiber trim. The front seats are very comfortable for long trips and do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. The rear seats are best left to be used for additional storage as leg and headroom are minuscule. Trunk space is quite small for the class at 10.4 cubic feet. CUE is still a bit of a mixed bag. While the overall usability is better with quicker response times and the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the touch capacitive buttons are still hit and miss in terms of responding. Power comes from a 2.0L turbo-four producing 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. We had the eight-speed automatic that was introduced last year, but a six-speed manual is available as an option. The 2.0L turbo is a punchy performer. Power comes at a smooth and steady rate. The engine does lose some points under hard acceleration as it is not refined as some competitors. The eight-speed automatic is the weak point for the ATS. It is slow to downshift when you need the thrust to pass a slower vehicle. We have to assume this comes down to the programming which is tuned more for fuel economy than performance. Gear changes, for the most part, are seamless. One area that Cadillac hasn’t messed with is the ATS’ handling. The coupe is a willing accomplice down a twisty road with sharp reflexes, little body roll, and steering that provides the right balance of steering feel and weight. We had the optional V-Sport Suspension package which adds a performance suspension and a set of summer-only, run-flat tires which only improves the handling. The downside to this handling goodness is a very stiff ride. Compared to the last ATS we drove (not the ATS-V), this coupe transmitted more bumps and imperfections, making for a very uncomfortable ride. Some of this can be laid at the V-Sport Suspension package. The ATS coupe seen here is the Luxury model - one step above the base model. It carries a base price of $41,395. Our test car was loaded with $12,055 in options, bringing the as-tested price to $54,445. You might be wondering why not jump into the Premium Luxury or Premium Performance if you’re planning to spend that much cash. That is because those two trims only come with the 3.6L V6. If you want the 2.0L turbo, you have to go either the base ATS or Luxury. If I was to buy this car, I would skip the V-Sport suspension package, performance exhaust kit, slotted rotor and brake pad upgrade, and the 18-inch wheels. That would drop the price to a somewhat reasonable $48,490. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the ATS Coupe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas (Author's Note: And that is the final review for 2017. (Hooray!) I'll be revealing my favorite vehicles before the end of the year, so stay tuned. As for 2018, there will be a mix of some leftover 2017 models mixed in with the first batch of 2018 models. Expect to see reviews start back up around the Detroit Auto Show. In the meantime, have a safe and joyous holiday. -WM) Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: ATS Coupe Trim: 2.0T Luxury Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DI VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 3,000 - 4,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 3,571 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lansing, Michigan Base Price: $41,395 As Tested Price: $54,445 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: V-Sport Suspension Package - $2,265.00 Performance Exhaust Kit - $1,650.00 Safety & Security Package - $1,500.00 Morello Red Semi-Aniline Leather - $1,295.00 Slotted Rotor and Brake Pad Upgrade Package - $1,190.00 Power Sunroof - $1,050.00 18" Bright Machined-Finish Alloy Wheels - $850.00 Black Chrome Accented Grille - $820.00 V-Series Rear Spoiler - $665.00 Phantom Gray Metallic - $595.00 Black Chrome Rear Trim - $175.00
  17. One thing Jeep is very good at is providing different variations of their models to fit a buyer’s desire and budget. The Grand Cherokee is an excellent example with seven different models on offer. Jeep is using this same strategy for the Cherokee with seven different trims ranging from the base Sport to luxurious Overland. We spent some time in the Overland to see if a luxury version of the Cherokee makes any sense. The Overland model stands out from other Cherokees as the lower body cladding is painted in the same color as the body. Depending on what color you select, it will either make the Cherokee look good or just a giant blob - the latter being the case for our silver test vehicle. A set of 18-inch polished aluminum wheels come standard and add a nice touch of class. Compared to other Cherokee’s I’ve driven, the Overland does feel a little bit more luxurious. This comes down to some of the appointments used such as cream leather upholstery for the seats and door panels, a texture dash cover finished in brown, and accent stitching. Overland models get power seats for driver and passenger. This makes it easy to find a comfortable position thanks to the adjustments on offer. Backseat passengers also get their own set of adjustments - reclining, and sliding the seat forward and back. Passengers will have no complaints in terms of space or overall comfort. One area that a fair number of people will complain about is cargo space. The Cherokee is towards the bottom of the class with only 24.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 54.9 cubic feet when folded. This comes down Jeep making certain compromises to be able to fit all of the off-road hardware to the Cherokee. The 8.4-inch UConnect system fitted to the Cherokee is the previous-generation version. While you do miss out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, UConnect still comes with one of easiest interfaces to wrap your head around with large touch buttons and redundant physical shortcut buttons. Powering the Cherokee Overland is a 3.2L V6 with 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and Jeep’s Active Drive II 4WD system. With this Cherokee tipping the scales at 4,046 pounds, the V6 is the right engine for the job. It offers enough performance for everyday driving and is one of the most refined engines in the class. The nine-speed automatic provides smooth and quick upshifts. Downshifts are another story as the transmission seems somewhat reluctant whenever merging or making a pass. The Cherokee has some of the worst fuel economy numbers in the class with EPA figures of 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. I was able to eek out 22 MPG during my week of driving in mostly urban areas. Ride comfort is a plus point to the Cherokee as the suspension absorbs most impacts from bumps and other road imperfections. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. One area that Cherokee does surprisingly well is in handling. Despite its off-road credentials, the Cherokee handles with confidence with a limited amount of body roll. The steering is precise and has some decent weight. Still, the Cherokee lacks the fun element you would find in competitors such as the Mazda CX-5. The Overland trim is quite expensive with a starting price of $38,690 with 4WD. This particular model seen here came with an as-tested price of $43,690 with a few options ticked such as the Active Drive II system, Technology Package (includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, parking assist, and rain-sensing wipers), and a panoramic sunroof. For that kind of cash, you can get into a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4X4 that offers slightly more power and returns similar fuel economy figures. The Overland is nice a variant of the Cherokee. But there is no way it can justify a price tag of nearly $44,000. If you really want a nice Cherokee, drop down to the Limited and go easy on the options list. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Cherokee, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Jeep Model: Cherokee Trim: Overland Engine: 3.2L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, 4WD Horsepower @ RPM: 271 @ 6,500 Torque @ RPM: 239 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: 4,046 lbs Location of Manufacture: Belvidere, Illinois Base Price: $37,695 As Tested Price: $43,690 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge) Options: CommandView Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof - $1,755.00 Technology Group - $1,645.00 Jeep Active Drive II - $1,205.00 Heavy Duty Package Group - $295.00 View full article
  18. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland

    One thing Jeep is very good at is providing different variations of their models to fit a buyer’s desire and budget. The Grand Cherokee is an excellent example with seven different models on offer. Jeep is using this same strategy for the Cherokee with seven different trims ranging from the base Sport to luxurious Overland. We spent some time in the Overland to see if a luxury version of the Cherokee makes any sense. The Overland model stands out from other Cherokees as the lower body cladding is painted in the same color as the body. Depending on what color you select, it will either make the Cherokee look good or just a giant blob - the latter being the case for our silver test vehicle. A set of 18-inch polished aluminum wheels come standard and add a nice touch of class. Compared to other Cherokee’s I’ve driven, the Overland does feel a little bit more luxurious. This comes down to some of the appointments used such as cream leather upholstery for the seats and door panels, a texture dash cover finished in brown, and accent stitching. Overland models get power seats for driver and passenger. This makes it easy to find a comfortable position thanks to the adjustments on offer. Backseat passengers also get their own set of adjustments - reclining, and sliding the seat forward and back. Passengers will have no complaints in terms of space or overall comfort. One area that a fair number of people will complain about is cargo space. The Cherokee is towards the bottom of the class with only 24.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 54.9 cubic feet when folded. This comes down Jeep making certain compromises to be able to fit all of the off-road hardware to the Cherokee. The 8.4-inch UConnect system fitted to the Cherokee is the previous-generation version. While you do miss out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, UConnect still comes with one of easiest interfaces to wrap your head around with large touch buttons and redundant physical shortcut buttons. Powering the Cherokee Overland is a 3.2L V6 with 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and Jeep’s Active Drive II 4WD system. With this Cherokee tipping the scales at 4,046 pounds, the V6 is the right engine for the job. It offers enough performance for everyday driving and is one of the most refined engines in the class. The nine-speed automatic provides smooth and quick upshifts. Downshifts are another story as the transmission seems somewhat reluctant whenever merging or making a pass. The Cherokee has some of the worst fuel economy numbers in the class with EPA figures of 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. I was able to eek out 22 MPG during my week of driving in mostly urban areas. Ride comfort is a plus point to the Cherokee as the suspension absorbs most impacts from bumps and other road imperfections. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. One area that Cherokee does surprisingly well is in handling. Despite its off-road credentials, the Cherokee handles with confidence with a limited amount of body roll. The steering is precise and has some decent weight. Still, the Cherokee lacks the fun element you would find in competitors such as the Mazda CX-5. The Overland trim is quite expensive with a starting price of $38,690 with 4WD. This particular model seen here came with an as-tested price of $43,690 with a few options ticked such as the Active Drive II system, Technology Package (includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, parking assist, and rain-sensing wipers), and a panoramic sunroof. For that kind of cash, you can get into a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4X4 that offers slightly more power and returns similar fuel economy figures. The Overland is nice a variant of the Cherokee. But there is no way it can justify a price tag of nearly $44,000. If you really want a nice Cherokee, drop down to the Limited and go easy on the options list. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Cherokee, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Jeep Model: Cherokee Trim: Overland Engine: 3.2L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, 4WD Horsepower @ RPM: 271 @ 6,500 Torque @ RPM: 239 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: 4,046 lbs Location of Manufacture: Belvidere, Illinois Base Price: $37,695 As Tested Price: $43,690 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge) Options: CommandView Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof - $1,755.00 Technology Group - $1,645.00 Jeep Active Drive II - $1,205.00 Heavy Duty Package Group - $295.00
  19. Most wagon options in the U.S. fall under the slightly-lifted off-road category. The reason is quite simple as buyers like the looks and capability on offer when compared to standard wagons. Case in point is the latest member of the Golf family, the Alltrack. Volkswagen recently revealed that 75 percent of Golf SportWagens sold in the U.S. are Alltracks. We happen to be big fans of the Golf SportWagen as it builds upon many of strong points of the regular Golf by making it more practical. Can the Golf Alltrack do the same? The small changes made to the Golf Alltrack’s exterior help make it stand out somewhat. It begins with the slight 0.6-inch increase in ride height and a larger tire and wheel combination. Our SEL tester feature 18-inch wheels, while the S and SE make do with 17-inch wheels. Other exterior changes include new bumpers and lower body cladding. Volkswagen didn’t make any changes to the Alltrack’s interior which is a good thing. It retains the clean if a somewhat boring design that makes it easy to find the various controls. Build and material quality is very solid. SEL models get a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system and navigation. We like how fast the system is with switching between various functions, physical shortcut buttons, and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Car-Net loses some points for low-resolution graphics and the navigation system looking very dated. The seats are quite comfortable with excellent support and good bolstering to keep you planted when traversing down a winding road. Head and legroom are excellent in both rows of seats. A turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque provides the motivation for the Golf Alltrack. This is paired with a six-speed DSG transmission (a six-speed manual is available on the S and SE) and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Despite being about 300 pounds heavier than the SportWagen, the Alltrack doesn’t break a sweat. It feels just as fast as the SportWagen we drove last year with strong acceleration throughout the rpm band. The DSG still exhibits some sluggishness when leaving a stop, but improves when you’re up to speed with rapid and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is disappointing with EPA figures of 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. We saw an average of 25 MPG with a mix of 70 percent city and 30 percent highway driving. Ride and handling characteristics is much like the standard Golf and SportWagen. No matter the road surface, the Alltrack’s suspension was able to provide a comfortable ride. Around corners, the Alltrack does show a little bit of body roll. However, it feels as agile as the standard SportWagen and the steering is quick to respond to inputs. The Golf Alltrack begins at $25,850 for the base S with manual transmission. Our loaded SEL tester totaled $35,705 with the Driver Assistance and Light package. That’s a lot of money for a compact off-road wagon, especially considering you can get into a larger Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with the excellent EyeSight active safety system for around the same money. If we were buying a Golf Alltrack, we would drop down to the S with the DSG and order the Driver Assistance package, bring the total price to just over $28,500. The Alltrack is a worthy addition to the Golf family as it provides something a bit more capable while retaining many of the plus points of the standard Golf. We do wish the DSG was smoother during low-speed driving and fuel economy was slightly better. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf Alltrack, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf Alltrack Trim: SEL Engine: Turbocharged 1.8L TSI DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed DSG, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 199 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,351 lbs Location of Manufacture: N/A Base Price: $32,890 As Tested Price: $35,705 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Driver Assistance & Lighting Package - $1,995.00 View full article
  20. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

    Most wagon options in the U.S. fall under the slightly-lifted off-road category. The reason is quite simple as buyers like the looks and capability on offer when compared to standard wagons. Case in point is the latest member of the Golf family, the Alltrack. Volkswagen recently revealed that 75 percent of Golf SportWagens sold in the U.S. are Alltracks. We happen to be big fans of the Golf SportWagen as it builds upon many of strong points of the regular Golf by making it more practical. Can the Golf Alltrack do the same? The small changes made to the Golf Alltrack’s exterior help make it stand out somewhat. It begins with the slight 0.6-inch increase in ride height and a larger tire and wheel combination. Our SEL tester feature 18-inch wheels, while the S and SE make do with 17-inch wheels. Other exterior changes include new bumpers and lower body cladding. Volkswagen didn’t make any changes to the Alltrack’s interior which is a good thing. It retains the clean if a somewhat boring design that makes it easy to find the various controls. Build and material quality is very solid. SEL models get a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system and navigation. We like how fast the system is with switching between various functions, physical shortcut buttons, and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Car-Net loses some points for low-resolution graphics and the navigation system looking very dated. The seats are quite comfortable with excellent support and good bolstering to keep you planted when traversing down a winding road. Head and legroom are excellent in both rows of seats. A turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque provides the motivation for the Golf Alltrack. This is paired with a six-speed DSG transmission (a six-speed manual is available on the S and SE) and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Despite being about 300 pounds heavier than the SportWagen, the Alltrack doesn’t break a sweat. It feels just as fast as the SportWagen we drove last year with strong acceleration throughout the rpm band. The DSG still exhibits some sluggishness when leaving a stop, but improves when you’re up to speed with rapid and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is disappointing with EPA figures of 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. We saw an average of 25 MPG with a mix of 70 percent city and 30 percent highway driving. Ride and handling characteristics is much like the standard Golf and SportWagen. No matter the road surface, the Alltrack’s suspension was able to provide a comfortable ride. Around corners, the Alltrack does show a little bit of body roll. However, it feels as agile as the standard SportWagen and the steering is quick to respond to inputs. The Golf Alltrack begins at $25,850 for the base S with manual transmission. Our loaded SEL tester totaled $35,705 with the Driver Assistance and Light package. That’s a lot of money for a compact off-road wagon, especially considering you can get into a larger Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with the excellent EyeSight active safety system for around the same money. If we were buying a Golf Alltrack, we would drop down to the S with the DSG and order the Driver Assistance package, bring the total price to just over $28,500. The Alltrack is a worthy addition to the Golf family as it provides something a bit more capable while retaining many of the plus points of the standard Golf. We do wish the DSG was smoother during low-speed driving and fuel economy was slightly better. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf Alltrack, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf Alltrack Trim: SEL Engine: Turbocharged 1.8L TSI DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed DSG, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 199 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,351 lbs Location of Manufacture: N/A Base Price: $32,890 As Tested Price: $35,705 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Driver Assistance & Lighting Package - $1,995.00
  21. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2014 Lexus RX 450h

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

    Quick Drive: 2014 Lexus RX 450h

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

    Quick Drive: 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim

    I happen to be a big fan of the Kia Soul. Its daring looks, spacious interior, and overall value make it an interesting option in the compact class. It seems many others would agree as the Soul is one of Kia’s best selling models. To help keep it up there, Kia has introduced a new turbo engine for the top-line Exclaim (!) model along with minor changes for 2017. Let's see how these changes affect the Soul. Aside from the turbo engine, Kia made some design tweaks to the Exclaim to have it stand out from other Soul trims. This includes a new front bumper, red accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, a twin-tip exhaust, and exclusive colors like this copper color seen here. The little changes really make the Soul stand out even further than before. Moving on to the turbo engine, it is a 1.6L four-cylinder packing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is only paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. If you really want a manual with your turbo-four, Kia will gladly sell you a Forte5 SX which features the same engine. There is a brief moment of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator, but the engine comes into its own after this with power building smoothly. There are no issues with getting up to speed when merging or making a pass. The dual-clutch transmission is a bit of a mixed bag. In stop-and-go traffic, the transmission exhibits some jerkiness and lazy shifts. We also noticed the transmission was slow to respond in terms of downshifting, making us think the programming for this transmission was focused on fuel economy. At higher speeds, the transmission is better with rapid and smooth shifts. The turbo engine has the highest fuel economy fuel economy figures in the Soul lineup with an EPA rating of 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. We saw an average of 25.3 mpg during our week in mostly city driving, which is slightly disappointing. With the turbo engine and racy looks, you might think that this particular Soul is fun to drive. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case. Out on a winding road, the Soul is competent with minimal body roll and okay steering. This would be ok if it weren’t for the sporty image that is being portrayed by the exterior. We do wish that Kia had made some changes to the suspension to make it slightly sportier. The upside to not messing with the Soul’s suspension is it mostly retains the smooth and comfortable ride of other models. Mostly is the keyword as the 18-inch wheels do introduce some harshness to the Soul’s ride. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, most of this due to the Soul’s boxy shape. The Soul’s interior is still as sharp looking as it first was when the current model was launched in 2013. Little touches such as the uniquely styled air vents and orange accent stitching give the Soul a bit of whimsy. The extensive use of soft-touch materials gives off an aura of quality. Driver and passenger get power seats which make finding a comfortable position very easy. Those sitting in the back will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom, due to the Soul’s boxy shape. Our test Soul came with optional Technology Package that includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system and navigation. It is beginning to show its age in terms of the graphics, but it is still one of the most intuitive systems on sale today. A simple layout and redundant physical buttons make it breeze to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is an added bonus. The Exclaim begins at $22,650 and comes well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with UVO, Bluetooth, leather and cloth wrapped seats, push-button start with proximity key, and automatic headlights. Opt for the technology to get the 8-inch system, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated seats and steering wheel, and power folding mirrors. For only $26,995, you get a nicely equipped vehicle. Our test vehicle is slightly more expensive at $27,620 due to an optional panoramic sunroof which we would skip. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Soul Trim: ! (Exclaim) Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28 Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $22,650 As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $3,000.00 Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00 Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00 View full article
  24. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim

    I happen to be a big fan of the Kia Soul. Its daring looks, spacious interior, and overall value make it an interesting option in the compact class. It seems many others would agree as the Soul is one of Kia’s best selling models. To help keep it up there, Kia has introduced a new turbo engine for the top-line Exclaim (!) model along with minor changes for 2017. Let's see how these changes affect the Soul. Aside from the turbo engine, Kia made some design tweaks to the Exclaim to have it stand out from other Soul trims. This includes a new front bumper, red accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, a twin-tip exhaust, and exclusive colors like this copper color seen here. The little changes really make the Soul stand out even further than before. Moving on to the turbo engine, it is a 1.6L four-cylinder packing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is only paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. If you really want a manual with your turbo-four, Kia will gladly sell you a Forte5 SX which features the same engine. There is a brief moment of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator, but the engine comes into its own after this with power building smoothly. There are no issues with getting up to speed when merging or making a pass. The dual-clutch transmission is a bit of a mixed bag. In stop-and-go traffic, the transmission exhibits some jerkiness and lazy shifts. We also noticed the transmission was slow to respond in terms of downshifting, making us think the programming for this transmission was focused on fuel economy. At higher speeds, the transmission is better with rapid and smooth shifts. The turbo engine has the highest fuel economy fuel economy figures in the Soul lineup with an EPA rating of 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. We saw an average of 25.3 mpg during our week in mostly city driving, which is slightly disappointing. With the turbo engine and racy looks, you might think that this particular Soul is fun to drive. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case. Out on a winding road, the Soul is competent with minimal body roll and okay steering. This would be ok if it weren’t for the sporty image that is being portrayed by the exterior. We do wish that Kia had made some changes to the suspension to make it slightly sportier. The upside to not messing with the Soul’s suspension is it mostly retains the smooth and comfortable ride of other models. Mostly is the keyword as the 18-inch wheels do introduce some harshness to the Soul’s ride. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, most of this due to the Soul’s boxy shape. The Soul’s interior is still as sharp looking as it first was when the current model was launched in 2013. Little touches such as the uniquely styled air vents and orange accent stitching give the Soul a bit of whimsy. The extensive use of soft-touch materials gives off an aura of quality. Driver and passenger get power seats which make finding a comfortable position very easy. Those sitting in the back will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom, due to the Soul’s boxy shape. Our test Soul came with optional Technology Package that includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system and navigation. It is beginning to show its age in terms of the graphics, but it is still one of the most intuitive systems on sale today. A simple layout and redundant physical buttons make it breeze to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is an added bonus. The Exclaim begins at $22,650 and comes well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with UVO, Bluetooth, leather and cloth wrapped seats, push-button start with proximity key, and automatic headlights. Opt for the technology to get the 8-inch system, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated seats and steering wheel, and power folding mirrors. For only $26,995, you get a nicely equipped vehicle. Our test vehicle is slightly more expensive at $27,620 due to an optional panoramic sunroof which we would skip. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Soul Trim: ! (Exclaim) Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28 Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $22,650 As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $3,000.00 Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00 Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00
  25. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD

    The Toyota Highlander may not be the flashiest or fun to drive. But it has many qualities to make it one of Toyota’s best selling models such as functional and spacious interior, long list of standard equipment, and high-reliability marks. Last year, Toyota unveiled an updated Highlander with tweaks to the exterior, revised V6, and more safety. Considering it has been a few years since we last checked out the Highlander, it seemed a revisit was in order. The 2017 Highlander boasts new front and rear fascias to give it a more SUV-appearance and we think Toyota has mostly succeeded in this regard. The only issue is the front end reminding us too much of a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica TV. Thank the new grille design for this. Move inside and the Highlander is the same as we last saw it back in 2014 when we did our original review. This is both good and bad. The good is that the controls for the various functions are easy to use. The center console features a huge storage bin that you can easily fit a large purse or a laptop computer. A shelf underneath climate controls provides a nice space to throw small items such as a smartphone. The bad is that the controls for certain functions are not in easy reach for the drive. We also not fans of the capacitive touch buttons around the 8-inch touchscreen as they didn’t always respond. There were times we found ourselves hitting the buttons two to three times to get something to happen. The infotainment system itself is beginning to look somewhat dated with an interface that looks like it comes from the Windows XP era and the screen is somewhat dim. But we cannot argue that the system is easy to use thanks to a simple layout. Passengers sitting in the front and second-row seats will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom on offer. Also, the seats themselves are padded quite nicely. We do wish the second-row was mounted slightly higher for better long-distance comfort. The third-row seat as the seats aren’t that comfortable due to the thin amount of padding. Legroom is also quite tight with only 27.7-inches of space, meaning this is a space best reserved for small kids. Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain. Toyota’s V6 engine is one our favorites as it provides impressive acceleration and a steady stream of power up to redline. This updated engine is no exception as it feels slightly quicker than the last Highlander we drove. The powertrain stumbles somewhat due to the eight-speed automatic’s programming. Toyota went for something that focuses on fuel economy which means the transmission is quick to upshift, but slow to downshift. This means you’ll be waiting for a moment or two for the transmission to get its act together when trying to merge onto a freeway. You might be fooled into thinking that you’re riding in a Lexus considering the smooth ride of the Highlander. Bumps are turned into minor ripples. Little road and wind noise that come inside. The Highlander is a vehicle you want to keep in its comfort zone when it comes to handling. Push it in a corner and you’ll experience excessive body roll. One thing Toyota deserves credit for the 2018 Highlander is having a number of active features standard across the entire Highlander lineup. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The only item we would like to see added to this list is blind spot monitoring. You can only get it on XLE models and above. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Trim: XLE AWD Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/22 Curb Weight: 4,430 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $39,980 As Tested Price: $43,184 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge) Options: Rear Seat BluRay Entertainment System - $1,810.00 Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00

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