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Found 190 results

  1. Last year, I had the chance to spend a week in a Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. While I found it to offer improved handling and a somewhat nicer interior over the Mazda MX-5 Miata it is based on, there were a few items that kept me from saying it was better - mainly the turbo engine and exterior design. A couple of months ago, I found myself in another 124 Spider. This time, it was the Lusso which drops a fair amount of the aggression from the Abarth, along with providing a softer suspension tune. Would this model be able to change my tune? The Lusso is the polar opposite to the Abarth I drove last year in terms of looks. It is toned down with the removal of the aggressive bumpers and quad-tip exhausts. The end result is a much cleaner look. I just wished Fiat could have done more to the rear end as it still looks a bit out of place with the rest of the design. This particular Lusso is the Red Top Edition which as the name suggests has a red soft-top. I will admit this does add a touch of personality and helps the 124 Spider stand out. Not much has changed with the interior since our last review. Getting in and out is still a bit tough due to the low ride height and anyone over six-feet will feel quite cramped. The overall design is the same as the MX-5 Miata, with slight differences to the steering wheel and instrument cluster to make it slightly more Fiat-ish. Material quality is slightly higher than the Mazda, with more soft-touch materials. One issue I did discover in this go-around is the location of the 12-volt outlet. It is mounted deep in the passenger footwell, almost near the engine firewall. Finding it was not a pleasant experience as I needed to pull out my phone to act as a flashlight to find the stupid thing. Power comes from the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. Compared to the Abarth, the Lusso loses four horsepower. This is due to a more restrictive exhaust. My tester came with the optional six-speed automatic. I wish that I could say Fiat solved the engine issued I mentioned in the previous review, but they have not. The turbo engine still feels laggy on the low-end of the rpm band. Plus, the automatic transmission is tuned to quickly upshift to improve fuel economy. This leaves you without any turbo boost when you want it. I keep thinking that the six-speed manual would be slightly better as it would me control when it is time to shift, allowing the engine to be fully exploited. One trait that sets the 124 Spider apart from its Miata brethren is the suspension tuning. Fiat decided to go with a softer tune on most models - the Abarth is the exception as it gets a stiffer suspension setup. The difference is noticeable as the 124 Spider provides a slightly smoother ride than the Miata. This softening doesn’t change the handling dynamics of the Spider. It still darts into turns with minimal body roll and fast steering. The Lusso Red Top Edition sits as the flagship of the 2018 124 Spider lineup with a base price of $31,440. This comes equipped with a number of options such backup camera, Bose audio system, navigation, and heated seats as standard equipment. With destination, this vehicle comes to an as-tested price of $32,435. The Lusso model may be the sweet spot in the 124 Spider lineup as it offers a slightly smoother ride and improved interior. But Fiat still needs to address the performance of the turbo-four. It is a great alternative to the MX-5 Miata, but not better. Gallery: 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Fiat Model: 124 Spider Trim: Lusso Engine: 1.4L MultiAir SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29 Curb Weight: 2,476 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $27,595 As Tested Price: $32,435 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Red Top Edition Package 22T - $2,495.00 Red Top Edition Package 2DT - $1,350.00
  2. Last year, I had the chance to spend a week in a Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. While I found it to offer improved handling and a somewhat nicer interior over the Mazda MX-5 Miata it is based on, there were a few items that kept me from saying it was better - mainly the turbo engine and exterior design. A couple of months ago, I found myself in another 124 Spider. This time, it was the Lusso which drops a fair amount of the aggression from the Abarth, along with providing a softer suspension tune. Would this model be able to change my tune? The Lusso is the polar opposite to the Abarth I drove last year in terms of looks. It is toned down with the removal of the aggressive bumpers and quad-tip exhausts. The end result is a much cleaner look. I just wished Fiat could have done more to the rear end as it still looks a bit out of place with the rest of the design. This particular Lusso is the Red Top Edition which as the name suggests has a red soft-top. I will admit this does add a touch of personality and helps the 124 Spider stand out. Not much has changed with the interior since our last review. Getting in and out is still a bit tough due to the low ride height and anyone over six-feet will feel quite cramped. The overall design is the same as the MX-5 Miata, with slight differences to the steering wheel and instrument cluster to make it slightly more Fiat-ish. Material quality is slightly higher than the Mazda, with more soft-touch materials. One issue I did discover in this go-around is the location of the 12-volt outlet. It is mounted deep in the passenger footwell, almost near the engine firewall. Finding it was not a pleasant experience as I needed to pull out my phone to act as a flashlight to find the stupid thing. Power comes from the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. Compared to the Abarth, the Lusso loses four horsepower. This is due to a more restrictive exhaust. My tester came with the optional six-speed automatic. I wish that I could say Fiat solved the engine issued I mentioned in the previous review, but they have not. The turbo engine still feels laggy on the low-end of the rpm band. Plus, the automatic transmission is tuned to quickly upshift to improve fuel economy. This leaves you without any turbo boost when you want it. I keep thinking that the six-speed manual would be slightly better as it would me control when it is time to shift, allowing the engine to be fully exploited. One trait that sets the 124 Spider apart from its Miata brethren is the suspension tuning. Fiat decided to go with a softer tune on most models - the Abarth is the exception as it gets a stiffer suspension setup. The difference is noticeable as the 124 Spider provides a slightly smoother ride than the Miata. This softening doesn’t change the handling dynamics of the Spider. It still darts into turns with minimal body roll and fast steering. The Lusso Red Top Edition sits as the flagship of the 2018 124 Spider lineup with a base price of $31,440. This comes equipped with a number of options such backup camera, Bose audio system, navigation, and heated seats as standard equipment. With destination, this vehicle comes to an as-tested price of $32,435. The Lusso model may be the sweet spot in the 124 Spider lineup as it offers a slightly smoother ride and improved interior. But Fiat still needs to address the performance of the turbo-four. It is a great alternative to the MX-5 Miata, but not better. Gallery: 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Fiat Model: 124 Spider Trim: Lusso Engine: 1.4L MultiAir SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29 Curb Weight: 2,476 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $27,595 As Tested Price: $32,435 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Red Top Edition Package 22T - $2,495.00 Red Top Edition Package 2DT - $1,350.00 View full article
  3. It has been a year since I first drove the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and came away very impressed. For a seven-passenger vehicle, getting 33 miles on electric power only and an average fuel economy of over 30 mpg was quite the shock. Would I still feel that way a year on? Chrysler made some minor changes for 2018 Pacifica Hybrid, including revamping the trim lineup and adding more standard features. In the case of our Limited tester, it gains a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system as standard. Can I just say how good the Pacifica Hybrid looks in this rich blue. The color helps Pacifica’s shape pop out wherever it is parked. No changes concerning the interior of the Pacifica Hybrid. That’s a good thing as the model is towards the top of the minivan hierarchy with a handsome design, impressive materials, and comfortable seating in all of the rows. One downside to going with the Pacifica Hybrid is the loss of the Stow n’ Go seats for the second-row. That space is taken up by the massive battery pack. An 8.4-inch touchscreen with UConnect is standard on all Pacifica Hybrids. This version of UConnect has a special section that provides key information on the hybrid system, including a power output screen and a place to set up the timeframe for when you want the van to charge up. The hybrid powertrain is comprised a 3.6L V6 running on the Atkinson cycle; two electric motors, and a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack Total output is rated at 260 horsepower. Despite the added heft of the hybrid system, the Pacifica Hybrid is no slouch. The two electric motors provide instantaneous torque to help move the van at a surprising rate. The V6 will come on when more power is needed such as driving on the highway. One nice touch I like is how seamless the transition between electric and hybrid power is. The only sign aside from having the status screen up is the V6 turning on and off. One item I wish Chrysler would reconsider is offering the driver the ability to change between electric hybrid models that other plug-in hybrid offer. I understand why Chrysler decided not to do this as it might not be used by most drivers. But for a small group, including myself, it would nice to choose when the electric powertrain was in use to help conserve range. EPA says the 2018 Pacifica Hybrid will return 84 MPGe on electric power and 32 MPG when running on hybrid power. Overall electric range is rated at 33 miles. My averages for the week mirrored what I saw in the 2017 model - about 32 miles on electric range and an average fuel economy figure of 32. Having the Pacifica Hybrid for a week reminded me of one of the key issues that will face many, charging times. On a 120V outlet, it takes 16 hours for the battery to fully recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that drops to a reasonable 2 hours. Handling is possibly one of the biggest surprises in the Pacifica Hybrid. The added heft of hybrid system allows the Pacifica to feel poised in the corners and have minimal body roll. Ride quality is the same as the standard Pacifica - almost all bumps are smoothed over. Road and wind noise are kept to almost silent levels. Pricing for the Pacifica Hybrid begins at $39,995 for the base Touring Plus and climbs to $44,995 for the Limited. My tester came to $49,825 with a few options, including the Advanced SafetyTec group that adds adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and blind spot monitoring. Sadly, this package isn’t available on lower trims. There is the $7,500 federal tax credit and various state incentives that will be swayed around to draw some people in, but be forewarned those only come into effect when it is time to do taxes, not when you purchase the vehicle. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: Quick Drive: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited Year: 2018 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid System Driveline: eFlite EVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ N/A (Combined) Torque @ RPM: N/A Fuel Economy: Gas + Electric Combined, Gas Combined - 84 MPGe, 32 MPG Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $44,995 As Tested Price: $49,825 (Includes $1,345 Destination Charge) Options: Tri-Pane Panoramic Sunroof - $1,595.00 Advanced SafetyTec - $995.00 18-inch x 7.5-inch Polished Aluminum wheels - $895.00 View full article
  4. It has been a year since I first drove the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and came away very impressed. For a seven-passenger vehicle, getting 33 miles on electric power only and an average fuel economy of over 30 mpg was quite the shock. Would I still feel that way a year on? Chrysler made some minor changes for 2018 Pacifica Hybrid, including revamping the trim lineup and adding more standard features. In the case of our Limited tester, it gains a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system as standard. Can I just say how good the Pacifica Hybrid looks in this rich blue. The color helps Pacifica’s shape pop out wherever it is parked. No changes concerning the interior of the Pacifica Hybrid. That’s a good thing as the model is towards the top of the minivan hierarchy with a handsome design, impressive materials, and comfortable seating in all of the rows. One downside to going with the Pacifica Hybrid is the loss of the Stow n’ Go seats for the second-row. That space is taken up by the massive battery pack. An 8.4-inch touchscreen with UConnect is standard on all Pacifica Hybrids. This version of UConnect has a special section that provides key information on the hybrid system, including a power output screen and a place to set up the timeframe for when you want the van to charge up. The hybrid powertrain is comprised a 3.6L V6 running on the Atkinson cycle; two electric motors, and a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack Total output is rated at 260 horsepower. Despite the added heft of the hybrid system, the Pacifica Hybrid is no slouch. The two electric motors provide instantaneous torque to help move the van at a surprising rate. The V6 will come on when more power is needed such as driving on the highway. One nice touch I like is how seamless the transition between electric and hybrid power is. The only sign aside from having the status screen up is the V6 turning on and off. One item I wish Chrysler would reconsider is offering the driver the ability to change between electric hybrid models that other plug-in hybrid offer. I understand why Chrysler decided not to do this as it might not be used by most drivers. But for a small group, including myself, it would nice to choose when the electric powertrain was in use to help conserve range. EPA says the 2018 Pacifica Hybrid will return 84 MPGe on electric power and 32 MPG when running on hybrid power. Overall electric range is rated at 33 miles. My averages for the week mirrored what I saw in the 2017 model - about 32 miles on electric range and an average fuel economy figure of 32. Having the Pacifica Hybrid for a week reminded me of one of the key issues that will face many, charging times. On a 120V outlet, it takes 16 hours for the battery to fully recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that drops to a reasonable 2 hours. Handling is possibly one of the biggest surprises in the Pacifica Hybrid. The added heft of hybrid system allows the Pacifica to feel poised in the corners and have minimal body roll. Ride quality is the same as the standard Pacifica - almost all bumps are smoothed over. Road and wind noise are kept to almost silent levels. Pricing for the Pacifica Hybrid begins at $39,995 for the base Touring Plus and climbs to $44,995 for the Limited. My tester came to $49,825 with a few options, including the Advanced SafetyTec group that adds adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and blind spot monitoring. Sadly, this package isn’t available on lower trims. There is the $7,500 federal tax credit and various state incentives that will be swayed around to draw some people in, but be forewarned those only come into effect when it is time to do taxes, not when you purchase the vehicle. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: Quick Drive: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited Year: 2018 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid System Driveline: eFlite EVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ N/A (Combined) Torque @ RPM: N/A Fuel Economy: Gas + Electric Combined, Gas Combined - 84 MPGe, 32 MPG Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $44,995 As Tested Price: $49,825 (Includes $1,345 Destination Charge) Options: Tri-Pane Panoramic Sunroof - $1,595.00 Advanced SafetyTec - $995.00 18-inch x 7.5-inch Polished Aluminum wheels - $895.00
  5. It seems a bit odd to be driving the Giulia Ti almost half a year on from spending a week high-performance Quadrifoglio. This felt like I had a nice slice of cake and was now facing a bowl of vegetables. Trying to keep an open mind on Ti was going to be difficult, considering the mixed opinions I had with the first Giulia. But I knew that I had to try. I actually prefer the toned-down nature of Ti Sport compared to Quadrifoglio as lacks the aggressive bumper treatment and cloverleaf emblems on the fenders. Some items such as the uniquely styled wheels do carry over and add a small sporting touch. The only item I would change is the color. Grey just makes the design somewhat boring. The blue I had on the Quadrifoglio works much better as it allows the design to stand out. The interior is still very much a mixed affair. Most of the materials are what you would expect to find a luxury car of this caliber with soft-touch plastics, leather, and metal trim. But Alfa clearly cut some corners such as the cheap plastics used on the center console. The front sport seats provide excellent bolstering and comfort for any adventure you decide to take. Rear space is almost non-existent for most adults. Alfa Romeo did address one of my complaints with that I had with 2017 Giulia. 2018 models now have the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is shame that it is an option, but it does make using infotainment system somewhat less frustrating. Some of the issues I had with the system in both the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Ti are present in this Giulia. Going through a number of menus to accomplish simple tasks, slow performance, and a small number of crashes during my weeklong test. I really hope Alfa Romeo is working on some updates to get this system in order. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder delivering 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and optional Q4 all-wheel drive. I really liked this engine in the Stevlio as moved the compact crossover without breaking a sweat. In the Giulia, this engine makes this sedan fly away from stops. It is said the turbo-four can hit 60 mph in just over five seconds, which is fast for the class. One disappointment is the engine sounding like a diesel at idle, not something you want to have in an Italian sport sedan. EPA says the Giulia Ti with AWD will return 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.6 in mostly city driving. One trait that both the Ti Sport and Quadrifoglio share is the handling. The chassis underneath allows the Giulia to dart around in the corners and keep body motions well in check. Steering is another bright spot where the vehicle would instantly respond to any input, along with provide good feedback. Ride quality is slightly better than the Quadrifoglio as only a small number of bumps come inside. Put the Giulia into Dynamic (sport mode) and the ride does become somewhat unbearable. Unfortunately, my Giulia Ti tester had an issue with the brakes. Whenever the brakes were applied, there was a noticeable screeching noise coming the rear of the vehicle. At first, I thought something had gotten lodged in the brakes. But the noise would go away after I had been driving for a bit. Park the car for awhile and drive it once again, the noise would return. This likely hints at something being warped - a bit disappointing for a vehicle that only had a few thousand miles on the odometer. The Giulia is one of those vehicles I really want to like a lot more than I currently do. Alfa Romeo still has a number of issues they need to address sooner than later. I only would recommend this model for those who understand what they’re getting into. Gallery: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Q4 Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Giulia Trim: Ti Sport Q4 Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged MultiAir SOHC Inline-Four Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $41,995 As Tested Price: $51,885 (Includes $1,295 Destination Charge) Options: Ti Sport AWD Package 22S - $2,500.00 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00 Ti Leather Package - $995.00 8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Nav - $950.00 Harman/Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00 Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00 Vesuvio Gray Metallic - $600.00 19-inch x 8-inch Bright 5-Hole Aluminum Wheels - $500.00 View full article
  6. It seems a bit odd to be driving the Giulia Ti almost half a year on from spending a week high-performance Quadrifoglio. This felt like I had a nice slice of cake and was now facing a bowl of vegetables. Trying to keep an open mind on Ti was going to be difficult, considering the mixed opinions I had with the first Giulia. But I knew that I had to try. I actually prefer the toned-down nature of Ti Sport compared to Quadrifoglio as lacks the aggressive bumper treatment and cloverleaf emblems on the fenders. Some items such as the uniquely styled wheels do carry over and add a small sporting touch. The only item I would change is the color. Grey just makes the design somewhat boring. The blue I had on the Quadrifoglio works much better as it allows the design to stand out. The interior is still very much a mixed affair. Most of the materials are what you would expect to find a luxury car of this caliber with soft-touch plastics, leather, and metal trim. But Alfa clearly cut some corners such as the cheap plastics used on the center console. The front sport seats provide excellent bolstering and comfort for any adventure you decide to take. Rear space is almost non-existent for most adults. Alfa Romeo did address one of my complaints with that I had with 2017 Giulia. 2018 models now have the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is shame that it is an option, but it does make using infotainment system somewhat less frustrating. Some of the issues I had with the system in both the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Ti are present in this Giulia. Going through a number of menus to accomplish simple tasks, slow performance, and a small number of crashes during my weeklong test. I really hope Alfa Romeo is working on some updates to get this system in order. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder delivering 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and optional Q4 all-wheel drive. I really liked this engine in the Stevlio as moved the compact crossover without breaking a sweat. In the Giulia, this engine makes this sedan fly away from stops. It is said the turbo-four can hit 60 mph in just over five seconds, which is fast for the class. One disappointment is the engine sounding like a diesel at idle, not something you want to have in an Italian sport sedan. EPA says the Giulia Ti with AWD will return 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.6 in mostly city driving. One trait that both the Ti Sport and Quadrifoglio share is the handling. The chassis underneath allows the Giulia to dart around in the corners and keep body motions well in check. Steering is another bright spot where the vehicle would instantly respond to any input, along with provide good feedback. Ride quality is slightly better than the Quadrifoglio as only a small number of bumps come inside. Put the Giulia into Dynamic (sport mode) and the ride does become somewhat unbearable. Unfortunately, my Giulia Ti tester had an issue with the brakes. Whenever the brakes were applied, there was a noticeable screeching noise coming the rear of the vehicle. At first, I thought something had gotten lodged in the brakes. But the noise would go away after I had been driving for a bit. Park the car for awhile and drive it once again, the noise would return. This likely hints at something being warped - a bit disappointing for a vehicle that only had a few thousand miles on the odometer. The Giulia is one of those vehicles I really want to like a lot more than I currently do. Alfa Romeo still has a number of issues they need to address sooner than later. I only would recommend this model for those who understand what they’re getting into. Gallery: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Q4 Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Giulia Trim: Ti Sport Q4 Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged MultiAir SOHC Inline-Four Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $41,995 As Tested Price: $51,885 (Includes $1,295 Destination Charge) Options: Ti Sport AWD Package 22S - $2,500.00 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00 Ti Leather Package - $995.00 8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Nav - $950.00 Harman/Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00 Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00 Vesuvio Gray Metallic - $600.00 19-inch x 8-inch Bright 5-Hole Aluminum Wheels - $500.00
  7. (Author's Note: Before diving into this review, I did an Afterthoughts piece on maximizing the fuel economy in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk last month. If you want to see Trackhawk somewhat out of its element, then check out the piece here.) I keep a list of vehicles that I would like to evaluate on my computer. This list is what I reference whenever I reach out to automakers and inquire about getting vehicles. Some of the vehicles on the list only spend a short time, while others are there for years. An example of the latter is the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Having driven this briefly a couple of times within the past few years, I was shocked by how capable this machine was around a winding road and power on tap. I always wanted to see how this model would fare during a week-long test where it would serve as a daily driver. Fast forward to this October when I finally got my chance to spend some quality time with one. Although, this wasn’t any Grand Cherokee SRT. What pulled up in my driveway was the SRT Trackhawk with the 6.2L Supercharged Hellcat V8 and 707 horsepower under the hood. This was going be an interesting week I thought while walking around the vehicle. The capability on offer with the Trackhawk really defies the laws of physics. For example, the Trackhawk will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Quite impressive when you consider that it tips the scales at a hefty 5,363 pounds. A lot of credit has to go to the all-wheel drive system which shuffles the power around to make sure it gets onto the payment, not in tire smoke. Stab the throttle and hold on to dear life as supercharged V8 thunders into life. Within the blink of an eye, you’ll be traveling well above the posted speed limits. Even lightly pressing on the pedal gets the Trackhawk up to speed at a surprising rate. Starting up the Trackhawk is always an event as the engine provides a growl that is more common on late 60’s high-performance muscle cars. Your neighbors may get annoyed get after while with the noise, especially in the early morning hours. On the road, it will be hard to resist stepping on the throttle to hear the whine of the supercharger and cracking exhaust note. Overall fuel economy for the week? Somehow, I was able to achieve 14 mpg. For the suspension, Jeep lowered the ride height, replaced various components, and did some revised tuning. It makes for an entertaining vehicle in the corners with reduced body roll and impressive response from the steering. Some drivers will be wishing for the steering to provide more road feel. A set of optional Pirelli P Zero tires were fitted onto my tester and provide a noticeable increase in grip. However, these tires perform at their best when they are warmed up. Push them when you first get onto the road or in cold weather, and you’ll find out they lose a fair amount of grip. The changes to the suspension does cause the ride to be slightly rougher with some bumps do make their way inside. The Grand Cherokee SRT was already an egressive looking beast with an altered front end (narrowed front grille with three slots underneath and black surround for the headlights), larger wheels, and huge exhaust tips. Trackhawk models only add some small touches such as ‘Supercharged’ badging on the doors, black exhaust tips, and a Trackhawk badge on the tailgate. If there is one disappointment to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it would be the interior. For a vehicle with a price tag of over $90,000, Jeep could have done something to make it feel somewhat special. Yes, there is carbon fiber trim, Alcantara inserts for the seats, and a quite thick steering wheel. But the rest if the interior is what you’ll find on other Grand Cherokees, which makes the Trackhawk a bit of a tough sell. On the upside, the Trackhawk retains many of the plus points of the Grand Cherokee’s interior such as ample room for passengers, logical control layout, and the excellent UConnect infotainment system. To summarize the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it is quite absurd. An SUV should not be able to hit 60 mph in under four seconds, be agile in the corners, and have a snarl that will give muscle cars a run for their money. It is not a logical vehicle and yet, it is quite impressive what has been pulled off. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Grand Cherokee, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk Year: 2018 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: SRT Trackhawk Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 645 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 53,63 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $86,200 As Tested Price: $91,530 (Includes $1,445 Destination Charge) Options: High-Performance Audio System - $1,995.00 20-inch x 10-inch Black Satin Aluminum Wheels - $995.00 295/45ZR20 BSW 3 Season Tires - $895.00
  8. (Author's Note: Before diving into this review, I did an Afterthoughts piece on maximizing the fuel economy in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk last month. If you want to see Trackhawk somewhat out of its element, then check out the piece here.) I keep a list of vehicles that I would like to evaluate on my computer. This list is what I reference whenever I reach out to automakers and inquire about getting vehicles. Some of the vehicles on the list only spend a short time, while others are there for years. An example of the latter is the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Having driven this briefly a couple of times within the past few years, I was shocked by how capable this machine was around a winding road and power on tap. I always wanted to see how this model would fare during a week-long test where it would serve as a daily driver. Fast forward to this October when I finally got my chance to spend some quality time with one. Although, this wasn’t any Grand Cherokee SRT. What pulled up in my driveway was the SRT Trackhawk with the 6.2L Supercharged Hellcat V8 and 707 horsepower under the hood. This was going be an interesting week I thought while walking around the vehicle. The capability on offer with the Trackhawk really defies the laws of physics. For example, the Trackhawk will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Quite impressive when you consider that it tips the scales at a hefty 5,363 pounds. A lot of credit has to go to the all-wheel drive system which shuffles the power around to make sure it gets onto the payment, not in tire smoke. Stab the throttle and hold on to dear life as supercharged V8 thunders into life. Within the blink of an eye, you’ll be traveling well above the posted speed limits. Even lightly pressing on the pedal gets the Trackhawk up to speed at a surprising rate. Starting up the Trackhawk is always an event as the engine provides a growl that is more common on late 60’s high-performance muscle cars. Your neighbors may get annoyed get after while with the noise, especially in the early morning hours. On the road, it will be hard to resist stepping on the throttle to hear the whine of the supercharger and cracking exhaust note. Overall fuel economy for the week? Somehow, I was able to achieve 14 mpg. For the suspension, Jeep lowered the ride height, replaced various components, and did some revised tuning. It makes for an entertaining vehicle in the corners with reduced body roll and impressive response from the steering. Some drivers will be wishing for the steering to provide more road feel. A set of optional Pirelli P Zero tires were fitted onto my tester and provide a noticeable increase in grip. However, these tires perform at their best when they are warmed up. Push them when you first get onto the road or in cold weather, and you’ll find out they lose a fair amount of grip. The changes to the suspension does cause the ride to be slightly rougher with some bumps do make their way inside. The Grand Cherokee SRT was already an egressive looking beast with an altered front end (narrowed front grille with three slots underneath and black surround for the headlights), larger wheels, and huge exhaust tips. Trackhawk models only add some small touches such as ‘Supercharged’ badging on the doors, black exhaust tips, and a Trackhawk badge on the tailgate. If there is one disappointment to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it would be the interior. For a vehicle with a price tag of over $90,000, Jeep could have done something to make it feel somewhat special. Yes, there is carbon fiber trim, Alcantara inserts for the seats, and a quite thick steering wheel. But the rest if the interior is what you’ll find on other Grand Cherokees, which makes the Trackhawk a bit of a tough sell. On the upside, the Trackhawk retains many of the plus points of the Grand Cherokee’s interior such as ample room for passengers, logical control layout, and the excellent UConnect infotainment system. To summarize the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it is quite absurd. An SUV should not be able to hit 60 mph in under four seconds, be agile in the corners, and have a snarl that will give muscle cars a run for their money. It is not a logical vehicle and yet, it is quite impressive what has been pulled off. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Grand Cherokee, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Gallery: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk Year: 2018 Make: Jeep Model: Grand Cherokee Trim: SRT Trackhawk Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 645 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 53,63 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan Base Price: $86,200 As Tested Price: $91,530 (Includes $1,445 Destination Charge) Options: High-Performance Audio System - $1,995.00 20-inch x 10-inch Black Satin Aluminum Wheels - $995.00 295/45ZR20 BSW 3 Season Tires - $895.00 View full article
  9. When Toyota introduced the Prius C back in 2012, it served two purposes. It was the entry-level model for then growing Prius family (Prius, Prius Plug-In, and Prius V). Plus, it was part of a small group of vehicles that could achieve almost 50 mpg if driven efficiently. But Toyota really hasn’t made any changes to the Prius C since it was launched, only making minor changes to the feature set for the past few years. Meanwhile, the rest of the Prius lineup has undergone significant changes with models either being dropped (Prius V) or being redesigned (Prius). For 2018, Toyota has decided to take the Prius C out of its deep freeze and make some changes. But is that enough considering larger hybrid models return higher fuel economy figures, and are slightly more expensive? The answer is no. Toyota has given the Prius C a much needed exterior update with a revised front end (new hood shape and slimmer grille), crossover-esq design touches (black wheel arches, faux skid plates, and a set of roof rails), and a set of 15-inch alloy wheels. The Prius C is one of the few Toyota models that come in a number of vibrant colors like the Tangerine Orange on this tester. It did make it look like a giant Jack-O-Lantern, but it also gave this small model some personality. The Prius C’s interior design is a bit odd. While it lacks some of the craziness found in the standard Prius (see the Storm Trooper inspired center console and stack), there are some decisions that left me scratching my head. For example, there is a storage shelf behind the steering wheel. I not sure what you can put in there aside from spare change or snacks to eat while on the move. Almost all of the materials used in the Prius C are hard plastics. Usually, I would be giving this pass considering it is a subcompact vehicle and this one of the sacrifices needed to meet the low price. But this particular Prius C has an as-tested price of $26,479. For that price, I do wish Toyota had stuck some soft-touch material to ease some of the pain on the wallet. The manual adjustments weren’t the smoothest and it took me a few days to find a position that didn’t have me constantly fidgeting around. This is disappointing considering the seat itself is nice to sit on with soft padding and decent support for long trips. In the back seat, headroom is surprisingly good due to the tall height of the roof. Like other subcompacts, the Prius C’s rear legroom is on the tight side. All Prius Cs come with a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Higher end models like my Four tester come with navigation. The screen is a bit on the small side, which makes it hard to hit some of the touchscreen buttons. At least the screen is easy to read and bright. One slight disappointment is the slowness of the system. Compared to other hybrid vehicles, Entune is a few ticks slower when going through the various screens. The Prius C’s hybrid powertrain is comprised of a 1.5L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder, 45 kW electric motor, Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack, and a CVT. Total output is rated at 99 horsepower. If your driving takes place mostly in urban areas, then the Prius C is a fine car. At speeds under 45 mph, the powertrain gets the vehicle moving a decent clip. But there is a fair amount of buzzing coming from the engine and CVT. On rural roads and highways, the limited performance of hybrid powertrain makes itself known as the model records a 0-60 mph of over 12 seconds. Passing is best done when there are no vehicles appearing in your eyesight. EPA fuel economy figures for the Prius C are 48 City/43 Highway/46 Combined. The figures are disappointing when you consider the likes of the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq return higher figures - 54/50/52 for the Prius and 55/54/55 in the Ioniq. My average for the Prius C was 49.6 mpg, very disappointing when compared to the 60 mpg in the Prius and 62 mpg in the Ioniq Blue I have reviewed previously. The reason for the poor fuel economy showing in the Prius C comes down Toyota not making any changes to the powertrain since its launch in 2012. Handling in the Prius C is quite surprising with excellent body control and feeling quite nimble around the corners. The low-rolling resistance tires will complain if you decide to push it. Where the Prius C shines is in an urban area where the compact size and tight turning radius make it easy to navigate tight spots. Ride quality is about average with most bumps being smoothed over. One item to be aware of is the abundance of road and wind noise. Be prepared to crank the radio up to drown out most of the road noise. We come now to the Prius C’s big problem. The base C One begins at $20,630. My Four tester begins at $24,965, which already makes it a tough sell when you consider that the larger Prius Two is only $280 less and returns higher fuel economy figures. With a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price came to $26,479. Again, you can get into larger Prius or the Hyundai Ioniq that not only offer better fuel economy figures but more features for a similar price. Gallery: 2018 Toyota Prius C Four Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius C, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Toyota Model: Prius C Trim: Four Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive: 1.5L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i, Electric Motor, Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery Pack Driveline: eCVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 73 @ 4,800 (Gas); 60 @ 0 (Electric) Torque @ RPM: 82 @ 4,000 (Gas); 125 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 48/43/46 Curb Weight: 2,530 lbs Location of Manufacture: Isawa, Iwate, Japan Base Price: $24,965 As Tested Price: $26,479 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Special Color - $395.00 Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat - $224.00
  10. When Toyota introduced the Prius C back in 2012, it served two purposes. It was the entry-level model for then growing Prius family (Prius, Prius Plug-In, and Prius V). Plus, it was part of a small group of vehicles that could achieve almost 50 mpg if driven efficiently. But Toyota really hasn’t made any changes to the Prius C since it was launched, only making minor changes to the feature set for the past few years. Meanwhile, the rest of the Prius lineup has undergone significant changes with models either being dropped (Prius V) or being redesigned (Prius). For 2018, Toyota has decided to take the Prius C out of its deep freeze and make some changes. But is that enough considering larger hybrid models return higher fuel economy figures, and are slightly more expensive? The answer is no. Toyota has given the Prius C a much needed exterior update with a revised front end (new hood shape and slimmer grille), crossover-esq design touches (black wheel arches, faux skid plates, and a set of roof rails), and a set of 15-inch alloy wheels. The Prius C is one of the few Toyota models that come in a number of vibrant colors like the Tangerine Orange on this tester. It did make it look like a giant Jack-O-Lantern, but it also gave this small model some personality. The Prius C’s interior design is a bit odd. While it lacks some of the craziness found in the standard Prius (see the Storm Trooper inspired center console and stack), there are some decisions that left me scratching my head. For example, there is a storage shelf behind the steering wheel. I not sure what you can put in there aside from spare change or snacks to eat while on the move. Almost all of the materials used in the Prius C are hard plastics. Usually, I would be giving this pass considering it is a subcompact vehicle and this one of the sacrifices needed to meet the low price. But this particular Prius C has an as-tested price of $26,479. For that price, I do wish Toyota had stuck some soft-touch material to ease some of the pain on the wallet. The manual adjustments weren’t the smoothest and it took me a few days to find a position that didn’t have me constantly fidgeting around. This is disappointing considering the seat itself is nice to sit on with soft padding and decent support for long trips. In the back seat, headroom is surprisingly good due to the tall height of the roof. Like other subcompacts, the Prius C’s rear legroom is on the tight side. All Prius Cs come with a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Higher end models like my Four tester come with navigation. The screen is a bit on the small side, which makes it hard to hit some of the touchscreen buttons. At least the screen is easy to read and bright. One slight disappointment is the slowness of the system. Compared to other hybrid vehicles, Entune is a few ticks slower when going through the various screens. The Prius C’s hybrid powertrain is comprised of a 1.5L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder, 45 kW electric motor, Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack, and a CVT. Total output is rated at 99 horsepower. If your driving takes place mostly in urban areas, then the Prius C is a fine car. At speeds under 45 mph, the powertrain gets the vehicle moving a decent clip. But there is a fair amount of buzzing coming from the engine and CVT. On rural roads and highways, the limited performance of hybrid powertrain makes itself known as the model records a 0-60 mph of over 12 seconds. Passing is best done when there are no vehicles appearing in your eyesight. EPA fuel economy figures for the Prius C are 48 City/43 Highway/46 Combined. The figures are disappointing when you consider the likes of the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq return higher figures - 54/50/52 for the Prius and 55/54/55 in the Ioniq. My average for the Prius C was 49.6 mpg, very disappointing when compared to the 60 mpg in the Prius and 62 mpg in the Ioniq Blue I have reviewed previously. The reason for the poor fuel economy showing in the Prius C comes down Toyota not making any changes to the powertrain since its launch in 2012. Handling in the Prius C is quite surprising with excellent body control and feeling quite nimble around the corners. The low-rolling resistance tires will complain if you decide to push it. Where the Prius C shines is in an urban area where the compact size and tight turning radius make it easy to navigate tight spots. Ride quality is about average with most bumps being smoothed over. One item to be aware of is the abundance of road and wind noise. Be prepared to crank the radio up to drown out most of the road noise. We come now to the Prius C’s big problem. The base C One begins at $20,630. My Four tester begins at $24,965, which already makes it a tough sell when you consider that the larger Prius Two is only $280 less and returns higher fuel economy figures. With a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price came to $26,479. Again, you can get into larger Prius or the Hyundai Ioniq that not only offer better fuel economy figures but more features for a similar price. Gallery: 2018 Toyota Prius C Four Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius C, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Toyota Model: Prius C Trim: Four Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive: 1.5L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i, Electric Motor, Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery Pack Driveline: eCVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 73 @ 4,800 (Gas); 60 @ 0 (Electric) Torque @ RPM: 82 @ 4,000 (Gas); 125 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 48/43/46 Curb Weight: 2,530 lbs Location of Manufacture: Isawa, Iwate, Japan Base Price: $24,965 As Tested Price: $26,479 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Special Color - $395.00 Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat - $224.00 View full article
  11. 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
  12. I’m one of the few people who actually like the current Toyota Prius - I named it one of my favorite vehicles last year. It offers excellent fuel economy and noticeable improvements to the interior and handling. So what happens when you add a plug to it? You end up with the Prius Prime which is much better than the last-generation Prius Plug-In and makes for an interesting alternative to Chevrolet Volt if you happen to be on a budget. The regular Prius was already a model that you either loved or hated the design. The Prime only exacerbates this as it comes with new front and rear styling to set it apart. The front end gets a new black treatment for the middle that makes it look like it is wearing a mask to hide its identity. A set of quad-LED headlights come from the Mirai and makes the Prime look futuristic. The back features a new tailgate design with what Toyota calls a “dual wave.” It may look ridiculous when put next to the standard Prius, but I dig it. One more thing about the rear tailgate; it happens to made out of carbon fiber to help reduce some weight out of the Prime. The weight loss is not really that impressive as the tailgate only drops 8 pounds from the curb weight. Move inside and the Prime is mostly similar to the Prius I drove last year with an abundance of soft-touch materials, color screens for the instrument cluster, and comfortable front seats. The key differences? You’ll only find seating for two in the back and cargo space is slightly smaller (19.8 vs. 24.6 cubic feet) due to the larger battery taking up some of the precious cargo space. One key item Toyota is proud of in the Prius Prime is an 11.6-inch, vertical touchscreen that controls many of the vehicle’s function such as navigation, audio, and climate control. But you may notice our test Prime doesn’t have it. That’s because the larger screen is only available on the Premium and Advanced models. The base Plus sticks with the 7-inch touchscreen with Entune. From reviews I have been reading about the Prime with the larger screen, it is a mess. The user interface is a bit of mess, performance is meh, and the screen washes out when sunlight hits it. The 7-inch system doesn’t have all of these issues - aside from the sunlight one. Entune may look a little bit dated, but the interface is easy to wrap your head around and performance is pretty snappy. The Prime’s powertrain is the same as the standard Prius; 1.8L Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors/generators producing a total output of 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. Where it differs is the battery. The Prime comes with a 95-cell, 8.8-kWh Lithium-ion battery pack. This allows for 25 miles of electric motoring - 14 miles more than the last-generation Prius Plug-In. In electric mode, the Prius Prime feels confident when leaving a stop as the electric motors provide that immediate thrust of power. This is a vehicle that will make other drivers question their thoughts about the Prius. When the Prime is put into the hybrid mode, it feels and goes like a slower Prius. A lot of this is due to extra weight brought on the larger battery - about 300 pounds. You will notice the vehicle taking a few ticks longer to get up speed, especially on hills or merging on to a freeway. How much range was I able to squeeze out of the Prime? I was able to travel between 24 to 27 miles on EV power. Average fuel economy landed around 75 mpg with mostly city driving. When I first got the Prius Prime, I had to plug it in to get the battery charged up. On a 120V outlet, it took 5 hours and 30 minutes to recharged - exactly the time listed by Toyota. If you have a 240V charger, a full recharge only takes 2 hours and 10 minutes on 240V When the battery is halfway depleted, it took about 2 hours and 30 minutes to fully recharge. The Prius was quite a shock when I drove it last year as it drove surprisingly well. It provided decent handling and the steering felt somewhat natural. The same is true for the Prime. You would think after four-generations of the Prius, Toyota would have finally figured out how to make the regenerative brakes feel like brakes in a standard car. But this isn’t the case. Like in the Prius I drove last year, the Prime exhibited brakes that felt numb and having to push further on the pedal to bring the vehicle to a stop. The Toyota Prius Prime is a huge improvement over the old the Prius Plug-In Hybrid as it offers a better EV range, short recharging time, and a much nicer interior. The exterior will put some people off and Toyota still needs to work on improving the Prius’ brakes. We have to address the elephant in the room, the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt does offer a longer range (53 miles), much better brakes, and a sharper exterior. The Prius Prime fights back with a larger interior, shorter recharging times, and low price. If I had the money, I would be picking up a Volt Premier as I think it is the slightly better vehicle. But if I only had $30,000 to spend and wanted something fuel efficient, the Prius Prime would be at the top of the list. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius Prime, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Prime Trim: Plus Engine: 1.8L DOHC, VVT-i Atkinson Cycle Four-Cylinder, Two Electric Motors Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, ECVT Horsepower @ RPM: 95 @ 5,200 (Gas), 71 @ 0 (Electric), 121 (Combined) Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 5,200 (Gas), 120 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: Electric + Gas, Hybrid City/Highway/Combined - 133 MPGe, 55/53/54 Curb Weight: 3,365 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan Base Price: $27,100 As Tested Price: $28,380 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Special Color (Hypersonic Red) - $595.00
  13. The Mazda6 is a prime example of how making various improvements throughout the lifecycle can make a vehicle. Since the first model I drove back in 2014, Mazda has been messing around with various aspects such as the interior and NVH levels. Last year saw Mazda make some key changes to 6 with the big news being the introduction of a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder from the CX-9 crossover. This was to address one of the major shortcomings of the sedan, lackluster performance when it comes to making a pass or merging onto a freeway. There are some other minor changes to go with the updated engine that help make the Mazda6 feel a bit more rounded. The turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder produces 227 horsepower (250 on premium fuel) and 310 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic to the front wheels. I praised this engine in the CX-9 I drove back in the summer with a linear flow of power and no hint of turbo lag. Those carry over to the 6, along with the feeling of confidence that you’ll be able to pass or merge onto a freeway without any issue. It was quite startling how quick the 6 accelerated from 45 to 70 on a freeway on-ramp, only taking a few seconds. The six-speed automatic works seamlessly with the turbo engine, providing snappy up and downshifts. One other trait of the turbo engine I was impressed with was NVH levels. There was barely any engine noise or the whoosh of the turbo when accelerating. Mazda hasn’t messed with the 6’s chassis with the addition of the turbo engine. It still has the planted feeling and minimal body roll that imparts a lot of confidence to a driver. Steering is quick and provides the right balance of weight and feel. One surprise is how the 2018 model rides slightly better than the 2017 model as bumps are better isolated. This might be Exterior enhancements are small with a new grille design, LED headlights, and the 19-inch wheels. But they do a surprising job of keeping of the 6’s exterior looking fresh. The enhancements for the interior really help Mazda’s ambition to become more premium. The dash has been slightly restyled and now comes with stitched upholstery and natural wood trim. The climate control system has been redesigned that makes it slightly easier to use. Mazda has started rolling out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on the 6 for 2018 via an update. My test car had had the update, but I was unable to try it out as I could not pick the option in the system. I’m not sure of the issue, but I hope to try it once again in a future Mazda product. The turbo engine is only available on the Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. My test 6 was the top-line Signature that carries a base price of $34,750. With destination and some options, the as-tested price came to $36,140. If I was to buy one, I would drop down to the Grand Touring Reserve which begins at $31,750. I would lose out on the 360-degree camera system, Nappa leather upholstery, and digital gauge cluster. But I would keep a number of desirable features such as the ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heads-up display, and power front seats. Every Mazda6 review has seen me come to the same conclusion; the sedan is so close to being considered one of the best, but it is missing a certain thing. But this conclusion is different. Mazda has been able to fix the various issues I have complained about over the past few years and now have a very compelling midsize sedan. It's a shame that the 6 along with other midsize sedans are being overshadowed by the likes of crossovers. But for those who still have their heart set on a sedan, then I have no issue in recommending the 6 as an option worthy of consideration. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas 2018 Mazda6 Signature Gallery Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Signature Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium) Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,560 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $34,750 As Tested Price: $36,140 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge) Options: Machine Gray Paint - $300.00 Scuff Plates - $125.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00 View full article
  14. The Mazda6 is a prime example of how making various improvements throughout the lifecycle can make a vehicle. Since the first model I drove back in 2014, Mazda has been messing around with various aspects such as the interior and NVH levels. Last year saw Mazda make some key changes to 6 with the big news being the introduction of a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder from the CX-9 crossover. This was to address one of the major shortcomings of the sedan, lackluster performance when it comes to making a pass or merging onto a freeway. There are some other minor changes to go with the updated engine that help make the Mazda6 feel a bit more rounded. The turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder produces 227 horsepower (250 on premium fuel) and 310 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic to the front wheels. I praised this engine in the CX-9 I drove back in the summer with a linear flow of power and no hint of turbo lag. Those carry over to the 6, along with the feeling of confidence that you’ll be able to pass or merge onto a freeway without any issue. It was quite startling how quick the 6 accelerated from 45 to 70 on a freeway on-ramp, only taking a few seconds. The six-speed automatic works seamlessly with the turbo engine, providing snappy up and downshifts. One other trait of the turbo engine I was impressed with was NVH levels. There was barely any engine noise or the whoosh of the turbo when accelerating. Mazda hasn’t messed with the 6’s chassis with the addition of the turbo engine. It still has the planted feeling and minimal body roll that imparts a lot of confidence to a driver. Steering is quick and provides the right balance of weight and feel. One surprise is how the 2018 model rides slightly better than the 2017 model as bumps are better isolated. This might be Exterior enhancements are small with a new grille design, LED headlights, and the 19-inch wheels. But they do a surprising job of keeping of the 6’s exterior looking fresh. The enhancements for the interior really help Mazda’s ambition to become more premium. The dash has been slightly restyled and now comes with stitched upholstery and natural wood trim. The climate control system has been redesigned that makes it slightly easier to use. Mazda has started rolling out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on the 6 for 2018 via an update. My test car had had the update, but I was unable to try it out as I could not pick the option in the system. I’m not sure of the issue, but I hope to try it once again in a future Mazda product. The turbo engine is only available on the Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. My test 6 was the top-line Signature that carries a base price of $34,750. With destination and some options, the as-tested price came to $36,140. If I was to buy one, I would drop down to the Grand Touring Reserve which begins at $31,750. I would lose out on the 360-degree camera system, Nappa leather upholstery, and digital gauge cluster. But I would keep a number of desirable features such as the ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heads-up display, and power front seats. Every Mazda6 review has seen me come to the same conclusion; the sedan is so close to being considered one of the best, but it is missing a certain thing. But this conclusion is different. Mazda has been able to fix the various issues I have complained about over the past few years and now have a very compelling midsize sedan. It's a shame that the 6 along with other midsize sedans are being overshadowed by the likes of crossovers. But for those who still have their heart set on a sedan, then I have no issue in recommending the 6 as an option worthy of consideration. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas 2018 Mazda6 Signature Gallery Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Signature Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium) Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,560 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $34,750 As Tested Price: $36,140 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge) Options: Machine Gray Paint - $300.00 Scuff Plates - $125.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00
  15. “Despite the positives, the Ioniq finds itself between a rock and hard place.” That was how I closed my review of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq SEL earlier this year. Despite me finding a lot to like about this hybrid, I found myself struggling as determining whether it was better or worse than the Toyota Prius. A few weeks ago, another Ioniq arrived in my driveway for a weeklong evaluation. This particular variant is the base Blue model, which is positioned as the mileage champ in the Ioniq lineup. Maybe this model could sway me in one direction or the other. EPA figures stand at 57 City/59 Highway/58 Combined, up 2/5/3 when compared to the Ioniq SEL I drove last year. My average for the week was an impressive 62 mpg - a huge increase over the 45 mpg in the last Ioniq I drove. Why the massive difference in average fuel economy? It comes down to the weather. The Blue was driven in a week where the average temperature was around 80 degrees, whereas the SEL was driven in conditions where it was below freezing. The warmer temps allowed the vehicle to rely more on electric power only. I would estimate that 30 to 40 percent of the miles driven in the Ioniq was just on electric only. The powertrain is unchanged in the Blue. There’s a 1.6L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine, a 32 kW electric motor, and a Lithium-ion Polymer battery that produces a total output of 139 horsepower. This is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. I had no issues with keeping up with traffic as the powertrain delivered decent acceleration. The dual-clutch delivered smooth and quick shifts. Handling is a strong point to the Ioniq as it delivers little body roll and responds quickly to steering inputs. Ride quality could be better as the Ioniq does let in more jolts than the Kia Niro or Toyota Prius. Another area the Ioniq doesn’t fare so well in us noise isolation. There is a fair amount of tire roar that comes inside at speeds above 50 mph. Telling the Ioniq Blue apart from the other models is quite easy. The front end has a plain black grille and vents in the bumper where the LED foglights would reside. 15-inch wheels with aero wheel covers come standard. Aside from some missing features such as power adjustments for the driver’s seat, the interior of the Ioniq Blue is the same as the SEL. That means a simple and clean dash design, a set of front seats that become a bit uncomfortable during long trips, and a tight back seat for tall passengers. For being a base model, the Blue comes well equipped. There is a proximity key, push-button start, 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and automatic headlights. How much? The Blue begins at $22,220, and my tester came to an as-tested price of $23,210 with destination and optional floor mats. As my week with the Ioniq Blue came to a close, I came to the realization that I liked it slightly more than the Prius. A lot of it comes down to the Ioniq offering better performance while returning just as impressive fuel economy figures as the Prius I drove back in 2016. The high amount of features for a low price also favors the Ioniq. I still do think the Ioniq is in a bit of tough spot due to the large appetite for crossovers. This is evident when you compare the sales of the Ioniq to its sister model, the Kia Niro. Through the end of July, the Niro outsold the Ioniq by 6,716 units. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Ioniq, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Ioniq Trim: Blue Engine: 1.6L GDI Atkinson-Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor, Lithium-ion Polymer Battery Pack Driveline: Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5,700 (Gas); 43 @ 0 (Electric); 139 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 109 @ 4,000 (Gas); 125 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 57/59/58 Curb Weight: 2,996 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $22,200 As Tested Price: $23,210 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00 View full article
  16. “Despite the positives, the Ioniq finds itself between a rock and hard place.” That was how I closed my review of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq SEL earlier this year. Despite me finding a lot to like about this hybrid, I found myself struggling as determining whether it was better or worse than the Toyota Prius. A few weeks ago, another Ioniq arrived in my driveway for a weeklong evaluation. This particular variant is the base Blue model, which is positioned as the mileage champ in the Ioniq lineup. Maybe this model could sway me in one direction or the other. EPA figures stand at 57 City/59 Highway/58 Combined, up 2/5/3 when compared to the Ioniq SEL I drove last year. My average for the week was an impressive 62 mpg - a huge increase over the 45 mpg in the last Ioniq I drove. Why the massive difference in average fuel economy? It comes down to the weather. The Blue was driven in a week where the average temperature was around 80 degrees, whereas the SEL was driven in conditions where it was below freezing. The warmer temps allowed the vehicle to rely more on electric power only. I would estimate that 30 to 40 percent of the miles driven in the Ioniq was just on electric only. The powertrain is unchanged in the Blue. There’s a 1.6L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine, a 32 kW electric motor, and a Lithium-ion Polymer battery that produces a total output of 139 horsepower. This is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. I had no issues with keeping up with traffic as the powertrain delivered decent acceleration. The dual-clutch delivered smooth and quick shifts. Handling is a strong point to the Ioniq as it delivers little body roll and responds quickly to steering inputs. Ride quality could be better as the Ioniq does let in more jolts than the Kia Niro or Toyota Prius. Another area the Ioniq doesn’t fare so well in us noise isolation. There is a fair amount of tire roar that comes inside at speeds above 50 mph. Telling the Ioniq Blue apart from the other models is quite easy. The front end has a plain black grille and vents in the bumper where the LED foglights would reside. 15-inch wheels with aero wheel covers come standard. Aside from some missing features such as power adjustments for the driver’s seat, the interior of the Ioniq Blue is the same as the SEL. That means a simple and clean dash design, a set of front seats that become a bit uncomfortable during long trips, and a tight back seat for tall passengers. For being a base model, the Blue comes well equipped. There is a proximity key, push-button start, 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and automatic headlights. How much? The Blue begins at $22,220, and my tester came to an as-tested price of $23,210 with destination and optional floor mats. As my week with the Ioniq Blue came to a close, I came to the realization that I liked it slightly more than the Prius. A lot of it comes down to the Ioniq offering better performance while returning just as impressive fuel economy figures as the Prius I drove back in 2016. The high amount of features for a low price also favors the Ioniq. I still do think the Ioniq is in a bit of tough spot due to the large appetite for crossovers. This is evident when you compare the sales of the Ioniq to its sister model, the Kia Niro. Through the end of July, the Niro outsold the Ioniq by 6,716 units. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Ioniq, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Ioniq Trim: Blue Engine: 1.6L GDI Atkinson-Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor, Lithium-ion Polymer Battery Pack Driveline: Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5,700 (Gas); 43 @ 0 (Electric); 139 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 109 @ 4,000 (Gas); 125 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 57/59/58 Curb Weight: 2,996 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $22,200 As Tested Price: $23,210 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. The 2018 Subaru Legacy finds itself in a difficult spot. Like other midsize sedans, the Legacy has been seeing its sales fall down as more buyers are trending towards trucks and utility vehicles. But Subaru is trying to stop the bleeding somewhat by introducing an updated Legacy with various improvements to the exterior and mechanical bits. Is it enough? Compared to the last Legacy I drove in 2015, the 2018 model has some minor changes. The front now comes with a wider grille, updated design for the headlights, and a new bumper. The 2.5i Sport adds blacked-out trim, fog lights, and a set of 18-inch wheels with painted inserts. This helps makes the very plain design stand-out slightly more. Subaru’s safe approach to design continues inside. There are only a couple of changes like a new steering wheel and updated controls for the climate system. While it lacks in overall excitement, the Legacy’s earns top marks in overall usability as controls are easy to find and reach. Material quality sees an improvement as Subaru has added more soft-touch plastics throughout. The Legacy’s interior feels quite spacious thanks in part to a large glass area and thin roof pillars. Those sitting in the front will find the seats to be a little too firm, but they do provide an excellent amount of support for any trip. The back seat has more than enough legroom for tall passengers. The same cannot be said for headroom as those over six-feet will find their heads touching the liner. Open up the trunk to find 15 cubic feet of space, slightly smaller than the Hyundai Sonata I reviewed a few weeks back. My Sport tester came with an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system. The system gains an upgraded processor to address complaints of Starlink being somewhat slow. It makes a big difference as the system starts up much faster and is more responsive when going to different functions. The system also earns points for being easy to use with large touchscreen tiles and shortcut buttons on either side. I did have an issue of Starlink not recognizing my iPhone 7 Plus. The system saw something was plugged into the USB port, but couldn’t figure out what it was. It took a reset of my phone and restarting the vehicle before it would work. After this, Starlink had no issues finding my phone and bringing up the CarPlay interface. Under the hood is a 2.5L boxer-four producing 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical all-wheel drive. Around town, the engine is very responsive and gets up to speed a decent clip. On the highway, the 2.5 struggles to get up to speed at a decent clip. A lot of the slowness can be attributed to the Legacy’s weight. My 2.5i Sport tips the scales at 3,538 pounds. This is 143 pounds heavier than a 2018 Toyota Camry XSE four-cylinder that I recently drove. The CVT Subaru uses is one of the best in the business. It doesn’t have the rubber-band issue - engine RPMs rise at a quick rate before falling during acceleration - and has been calibrated to have ‘steps’ to mimic a regular six-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy figures for the Legacy 2.5i are 25 City/34 Highway/29 Combined. I saw an average of 28.2 mpg on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. Despite this model being badged as a ‘Sport’, the Legacy doesn’t fully live up to this. There is a fair amount body lean when cornering and the steering is a bit too light in terms of weight. At least the AWD system provides tenacious grip to keep you on the road. You would be forgiven if you thought the Legacy was a luxury sedan due to its ride quality. Most bumps and imperfections are soaked up by the suspension. This comes down to a new set of dampers being fitted for 2018. Another improvement comes in the form of noise isolation. Subaru has added more sound-insulating material and acoustic glass for the 2018 model. The end result is barely any tire of wind noise coming inside. Some engine whine does come inside during hard acceleration. Subaru still leads the pack when it comes to active safety. The optional EyeSight driver-assist suite uses stereo cameras to see the road ahead and feed that data to the adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and pre-collision braking systems. The adaptive cruise control system is one of the best as the system is able to adjust the speed and distance in a very smooth manner whenever the system detects a vehicle in front. The 2.5i Sport begins at $26,345. My tester came equipped with an option package that included the EyeSight suite, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Active Braking, and Navigation for $2,095. That brings the as-tested price to $29,300. Taking into consideration the long list of standard equipment and the sporty touches, the Sport offers a lot of value. Subaru’s changes to the 2018 Legacy help improve what we would consider being a competent midsize sedan. There lies the problem with the Legacy. Unlike other manufacturers that have stepped their efforts in terms of design, features, and other elements to try and draw people back to midsize sedans, Subaru just did the basics and didn’t bring forth something compelling. Previously, you could argue that all-wheel drive was the Legacy’s trump card. But considering how many crossovers have that as an option, it just doesn’t work anymore. Subaru better have something special for the next-generation model due out in 2020 or we might have another casualty. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Legacy, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Subaru Model: Legacy Trim: 2.5i Sport Engine: 2.5L DOHC Boxer-Four Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 174 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/34/29 Curb Weight: 3,538 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lafayette, Indiana Base Price: $26,345 As Tested Price: $29,300 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge) Options: EyeSight + Blind Spot Monitoring + Reverse Automatic Braking + High Beam Assist + Navigation - $2,095 View full article
  20. The 2018 Subaru Legacy finds itself in a difficult spot. Like other midsize sedans, the Legacy has been seeing its sales fall down as more buyers are trending towards trucks and utility vehicles. But Subaru is trying to stop the bleeding somewhat by introducing an updated Legacy with various improvements to the exterior and mechanical bits. Is it enough? Compared to the last Legacy I drove in 2015, the 2018 model has some minor changes. The front now comes with a wider grille, updated design for the headlights, and a new bumper. The 2.5i Sport adds blacked-out trim, fog lights, and a set of 18-inch wheels with painted inserts. This helps makes the very plain design stand-out slightly more. Subaru’s safe approach to design continues inside. There are only a couple of changes like a new steering wheel and updated controls for the climate system. While it lacks in overall excitement, the Legacy’s earns top marks in overall usability as controls are easy to find and reach. Material quality sees an improvement as Subaru has added more soft-touch plastics throughout. The Legacy’s interior feels quite spacious thanks in part to a large glass area and thin roof pillars. Those sitting in the front will find the seats to be a little too firm, but they do provide an excellent amount of support for any trip. The back seat has more than enough legroom for tall passengers. The same cannot be said for headroom as those over six-feet will find their heads touching the liner. Open up the trunk to find 15 cubic feet of space, slightly smaller than the Hyundai Sonata I reviewed a few weeks back. My Sport tester came with an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system. The system gains an upgraded processor to address complaints of Starlink being somewhat slow. It makes a big difference as the system starts up much faster and is more responsive when going to different functions. The system also earns points for being easy to use with large touchscreen tiles and shortcut buttons on either side. I did have an issue of Starlink not recognizing my iPhone 7 Plus. The system saw something was plugged into the USB port, but couldn’t figure out what it was. It took a reset of my phone and restarting the vehicle before it would work. After this, Starlink had no issues finding my phone and bringing up the CarPlay interface. Under the hood is a 2.5L boxer-four producing 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical all-wheel drive. Around town, the engine is very responsive and gets up to speed a decent clip. On the highway, the 2.5 struggles to get up to speed at a decent clip. A lot of the slowness can be attributed to the Legacy’s weight. My 2.5i Sport tips the scales at 3,538 pounds. This is 143 pounds heavier than a 2018 Toyota Camry XSE four-cylinder that I recently drove. The CVT Subaru uses is one of the best in the business. It doesn’t have the rubber-band issue - engine RPMs rise at a quick rate before falling during acceleration - and has been calibrated to have ‘steps’ to mimic a regular six-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy figures for the Legacy 2.5i are 25 City/34 Highway/29 Combined. I saw an average of 28.2 mpg on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. Despite this model being badged as a ‘Sport’, the Legacy doesn’t fully live up to this. There is a fair amount body lean when cornering and the steering is a bit too light in terms of weight. At least the AWD system provides tenacious grip to keep you on the road. You would be forgiven if you thought the Legacy was a luxury sedan due to its ride quality. Most bumps and imperfections are soaked up by the suspension. This comes down to a new set of dampers being fitted for 2018. Another improvement comes in the form of noise isolation. Subaru has added more sound-insulating material and acoustic glass for the 2018 model. The end result is barely any tire of wind noise coming inside. Some engine whine does come inside during hard acceleration. Subaru still leads the pack when it comes to active safety. The optional EyeSight driver-assist suite uses stereo cameras to see the road ahead and feed that data to the adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and pre-collision braking systems. The adaptive cruise control system is one of the best as the system is able to adjust the speed and distance in a very smooth manner whenever the system detects a vehicle in front. The 2.5i Sport begins at $26,345. My tester came equipped with an option package that included the EyeSight suite, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Active Braking, and Navigation for $2,095. That brings the as-tested price to $29,300. Taking into consideration the long list of standard equipment and the sporty touches, the Sport offers a lot of value. Subaru’s changes to the 2018 Legacy help improve what we would consider being a competent midsize sedan. There lies the problem with the Legacy. Unlike other manufacturers that have stepped their efforts in terms of design, features, and other elements to try and draw people back to midsize sedans, Subaru just did the basics and didn’t bring forth something compelling. Previously, you could argue that all-wheel drive was the Legacy’s trump card. But considering how many crossovers have that as an option, it just doesn’t work anymore. Subaru better have something special for the next-generation model due out in 2020 or we might have another casualty. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Legacy, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Subaru Model: Legacy Trim: 2.5i Sport Engine: 2.5L DOHC Boxer-Four Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 174 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/34/29 Curb Weight: 3,538 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lafayette, Indiana Base Price: $26,345 As Tested Price: $29,300 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge) Options: EyeSight + Blind Spot Monitoring + Reverse Automatic Braking + High Beam Assist + Navigation - $2,095
  21. (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
  22. (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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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

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