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Found 267 results

  1. Cadillac has been trying to position itself being as an alternative to German brands with models that offer exemplary handling characteristics and sharp designs. But the brand has the issue of models that don’t quite fit the image being presented. The SRX is the poster child for this. Yes, it had the sharp looks the brand was getting known for. But you wouldn’t call it sporty. It was more along the lines of a Lexus RX where luxury and comfort were the main priorities. Enthusiasts and critics were not pleased with this, but consumers gobbled them up. The SRX for a time was Cadillac’s best-selling model. Now we come to the successor of the SRX, the 2017 XT5. Those who were hoping for a change in the priorities will be disappointed as the XT5 doesn’t mess with the SRX’s recipe. But is that bad thing? Evolution is the impression you get when walking around the XT5. Cadillac’s designers didn’t make any drastic changes to the design profile aside from softening the Art & Science design language. The front now features a comically-large grille and headlights with a strand of LEDs that run into the bumper. Towards the back is an integrated spoiler that extends the roofline, a set of large taillights, and a rear bumper that comes with chrome exhaust ports and a faux skid plate. The XT5 does lose some of the polarizing details that made the SRX stand out, but it still stands out slightly in what is becoming a crowded class. Cadillac has been stepping up its game in terms of their interiors with their new models. Case in point is the XT5. Our top-line Platinum tester featured faux suede, leather, and wood trim on a number of surfaces that make it look and feel quite luxurious. We’re glad to see the removal of the Piano Black panel for the center stack as it looked out of place and was a magnet for fingerprints. One design idea we’re not so keen on is the gear selector. Instead of a lever, Cadillac went with a joystick controller to engage the various gears. The controller isn’t intuitive as you’ll find yourself going into the wrong gear or not going into one at all on a somewhat regular basis. You will get the hang of it after a bit, but you can’t help but wonder why Cadillac decided to change this in the first place. The leather used for the seats feel quite supple and help fix the issue of uncomfortable seats in the SRX. Interior space has grown, thanks to a two-inch increase in the wheelbase. Rear legroom has grown 3.2 inches and it allows anyone sitting back there to stretch out. Headroom is still slightly tight thanks in part to our tester coming with the optional panoramic sunroof. But this can be alleviated by recalling the rear seat slightly. Cargo space in smack dab in the middle - 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 63 cubic feet when folded. Cadillac User Interface (CUE) has been one of our least favorite infotainment systems to use since it was introduced a few years ago. The litany of problems ranging from a touch sensitive buttons not responding to inputs to the system crashing have dragged Cadillac down. But the system has been getting a number of changes and updates over the past few years. For starters, Cadillac has removed most of the touch-sensitive buttons from the system. Being able to press an actual button to turn on the heated/ventilated seats or adjust the temperature is really nice. It is a shame Cadillac didn’t bring back an actual volume knob for CUE - the touch-sensitive strip is still there. But at least there are volume controls on the steering wheel that allow you to avoid it. The system itself has been overhauled with a faster processor and a slightly improved interface. The changes make a difference as the system is snappier and a little bit easier to understand. If you still find CUE a bit overwhelming, you’ll be happy to know that CUE now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Cadillac bucks the trend in the midsize luxury crossover class by only offering one engine - a 3.6L V6 producing 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque (@ 5,000 rpm). This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The V6 is the weak link in the XT5. When leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to realize the accelerator pedal has been pressed before it starts working. This is even worse when you’re trying to make a pass as it seems the engine was busy taking a nap before it was hastily woken up. Once the engine is awake, it takes its time to get up to speed. There is a positive to the V6 engine and that is the stop-start system. Unlike some previous systems that are slow to restart the engine or do so in a very rough fashion, Cadillac’s system is quick and smooth when you let off the brake. The eight-speed automatic seems reluctant to downshift at times. We’re guessing this transmission was calibrated for fuel economy. At least the eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts. Fuel economy figures for the 2017 Cadillac XT5 all-wheel drive stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average fuel economy for the week landed around 22.3 mpg in mostly city driving. One characteristic we liked about the SRX was its comfortable ride. Yes, it flies in the face of Cadillac’s message of beating the German’s at their own handling game. But buyers loved the smoothness on offer. Sadly, the XT5 loses a bit of the smoothness. Despite our tester featuring an adaptive suspension system, the XT5 wasn’t able to fully iron out bumps. Some of this can be attributed to 20-inch wheels fitted to our tester. At least the XT5 keeps road and wind noise out of the interior. Like the SRX, the XT5 isn’t sporty. Body motions are kept in check, but the light weight and nonexistent feel from the steering puts a halt to that idea. An item Cadillac has been touting on the XT5 is the Rear Camera Mirror. Available only on the top-line Platinum, the mirror can stream the view from the rear camera by flicking a switch. We found this to be really helpful when backing out of parking lots as it gave a view that isn’t hindered by the thick rear pillars. Hopefully, Cadillac spreads this feature down to other trims of the XT5. In some respects, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a step forward. The model improves on certain parts of the SRX such as a more luxurious and spacious interior, improved CUE system, and sharper looks. But in other respects, Cadillac messed up with the XT5. The 3.6L V6 needs to be shown the door and a new engine that offers better low-end performance to take its place. The loss of the smooth ride that the SRX was known for hurts the XT5 as well. Finally, there is the price. Our XT5 Platinum tester came with an as-tested price of $69,985. It is a nice crossover. But if we’re dropping close $70,000 on a luxury crossover, we can think of a few models that would be ahead of the XT5. It should be noted that the Cadillac XT5 has taken the place of the SRX of being the brand’s best selling model. At the end of 2016, Cadillac moved 39,485 XT5s. But unlike the SRX which we could recommend without hesitation, the XT5 comes with a number of caveats that we cannot do the same. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the XT5, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: SRX Trim: Platinum Engine: 3.6L V6 VVT DI Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,700 Torque @ RPM: 271 @ 5,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Spring Hill, TN Base Price: $62,500 As Tested Price: $69,985 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Package - $2,340.00 20-inch Wheels - $2,095.00 Trailering Equipment - $575.00 Black Ice Body Side Moldings - $355.00 Compact Spare Tire - $350.00 Black Ice License Plate Bar - $310.00 Black Roof Rails - $295.00 Black Splash Guards - $170.00 View full article
  2. Cadillac has been trying to position itself being as an alternative to German brands with models that offer exemplary handling characteristics and sharp designs. But the brand has the issue of models that don’t quite fit the image being presented. The SRX is the poster child for this. Yes, it had the sharp looks the brand was getting known for. But you wouldn’t call it sporty. It was more along the lines of a Lexus RX where luxury and comfort were the main priorities. Enthusiasts and critics were not pleased with this, but consumers gobbled them up. The SRX for a time was Cadillac’s best-selling model. Now we come to the successor of the SRX, the 2017 XT5. Those who were hoping for a change in the priorities will be disappointed as the XT5 doesn’t mess with the SRX’s recipe. But is that bad thing? Evolution is the impression you get when walking around the XT5. Cadillac’s designers didn’t make any drastic changes to the design profile aside from softening the Art & Science design language. The front now features a comically-large grille and headlights with a strand of LEDs that run into the bumper. Towards the back is an integrated spoiler that extends the roofline, a set of large taillights, and a rear bumper that comes with chrome exhaust ports and a faux skid plate. The XT5 does lose some of the polarizing details that made the SRX stand out, but it still stands out slightly in what is becoming a crowded class. Cadillac has been stepping up its game in terms of their interiors with their new models. Case in point is the XT5. Our top-line Platinum tester featured faux suede, leather, and wood trim on a number of surfaces that make it look and feel quite luxurious. We’re glad to see the removal of the Piano Black panel for the center stack as it looked out of place and was a magnet for fingerprints. One design idea we’re not so keen on is the gear selector. Instead of a lever, Cadillac went with a joystick controller to engage the various gears. The controller isn’t intuitive as you’ll find yourself going into the wrong gear or not going into one at all on a somewhat regular basis. You will get the hang of it after a bit, but you can’t help but wonder why Cadillac decided to change this in the first place. The leather used for the seats feel quite supple and help fix the issue of uncomfortable seats in the SRX. Interior space has grown, thanks to a two-inch increase in the wheelbase. Rear legroom has grown 3.2 inches and it allows anyone sitting back there to stretch out. Headroom is still slightly tight thanks in part to our tester coming with the optional panoramic sunroof. But this can be alleviated by recalling the rear seat slightly. Cargo space in smack dab in the middle - 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 63 cubic feet when folded. Cadillac User Interface (CUE) has been one of our least favorite infotainment systems to use since it was introduced a few years ago. The litany of problems ranging from a touch sensitive buttons not responding to inputs to the system crashing have dragged Cadillac down. But the system has been getting a number of changes and updates over the past few years. For starters, Cadillac has removed most of the touch-sensitive buttons from the system. Being able to press an actual button to turn on the heated/ventilated seats or adjust the temperature is really nice. It is a shame Cadillac didn’t bring back an actual volume knob for CUE - the touch-sensitive strip is still there. But at least there are volume controls on the steering wheel that allow you to avoid it. The system itself has been overhauled with a faster processor and a slightly improved interface. The changes make a difference as the system is snappier and a little bit easier to understand. If you still find CUE a bit overwhelming, you’ll be happy to know that CUE now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Cadillac bucks the trend in the midsize luxury crossover class by only offering one engine - a 3.6L V6 producing 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque (@ 5,000 rpm). This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The V6 is the weak link in the XT5. When leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to realize the accelerator pedal has been pressed before it starts working. This is even worse when you’re trying to make a pass as it seems the engine was busy taking a nap before it was hastily woken up. Once the engine is awake, it takes its time to get up to speed. There is a positive to the V6 engine and that is the stop-start system. Unlike some previous systems that are slow to restart the engine or do so in a very rough fashion, Cadillac’s system is quick and smooth when you let off the brake. The eight-speed automatic seems reluctant to downshift at times. We’re guessing this transmission was calibrated for fuel economy. At least the eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts. Fuel economy figures for the 2017 Cadillac XT5 all-wheel drive stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average fuel economy for the week landed around 22.3 mpg in mostly city driving. One characteristic we liked about the SRX was its comfortable ride. Yes, it flies in the face of Cadillac’s message of beating the German’s at their own handling game. But buyers loved the smoothness on offer. Sadly, the XT5 loses a bit of the smoothness. Despite our tester featuring an adaptive suspension system, the XT5 wasn’t able to fully iron out bumps. Some of this can be attributed to 20-inch wheels fitted to our tester. At least the XT5 keeps road and wind noise out of the interior. Like the SRX, the XT5 isn’t sporty. Body motions are kept in check, but the light weight and nonexistent feel from the steering puts a halt to that idea. An item Cadillac has been touting on the XT5 is the Rear Camera Mirror. Available only on the top-line Platinum, the mirror can stream the view from the rear camera by flicking a switch. We found this to be really helpful when backing out of parking lots as it gave a view that isn’t hindered by the thick rear pillars. Hopefully, Cadillac spreads this feature down to other trims of the XT5. In some respects, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a step forward. The model improves on certain parts of the SRX such as a more luxurious and spacious interior, improved CUE system, and sharper looks. But in other respects, Cadillac messed up with the XT5. The 3.6L V6 needs to be shown the door and a new engine that offers better low-end performance to take its place. The loss of the smooth ride that the SRX was known for hurts the XT5 as well. Finally, there is the price. Our XT5 Platinum tester came with an as-tested price of $69,985. It is a nice crossover. But if we’re dropping close $70,000 on a luxury crossover, we can think of a few models that would be ahead of the XT5. It should be noted that the Cadillac XT5 has taken the place of the SRX of being the brand’s best selling model. At the end of 2016, Cadillac moved 39,485 XT5s. But unlike the SRX which we could recommend without hesitation, the XT5 comes with a number of caveats that we cannot do the same. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the XT5, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: SRX Trim: Platinum Engine: 3.6L V6 VVT DI Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,700 Torque @ RPM: 271 @ 5,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Spring Hill, TN Base Price: $62,500 As Tested Price: $69,985 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Package - $2,340.00 20-inch Wheels - $2,095.00 Trailering Equipment - $575.00 Black Ice Body Side Moldings - $355.00 Compact Spare Tire - $350.00 Black Ice License Plate Bar - $310.00 Black Roof Rails - $295.00 Black Splash Guards - $170.00
  3. There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition? The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better. Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior. Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function. FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it. Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass. EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg. The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van. For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Trim: Touring L Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22 Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $34,495 As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Audio Group - $895.00 8 Passenger Seating - $495.00 View full article
  4. There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition? The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better. Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior. Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function. FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it. Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass. EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg. The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van. For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Trim: Touring L Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22 Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $34,495 As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Audio Group - $895.00 8 Passenger Seating - $495.00
  5. They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine. Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate. Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner. Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Subaru Model: Forester Trim: 2.0XT Touring Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25 Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan Base Price: $34,295 As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: Option Package 34 - $1,595.00
  6. They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine. Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate. Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner. Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Subaru Model: Forester Trim: 2.0XT Touring Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25 Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan Base Price: $34,295 As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: Option Package 34 - $1,595.00 View full article
  7. Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that. That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle. Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.) Year: 2016 Make: Dodge Model: Charger Trim: SRT Hellcat Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8 Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16 Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $65,945 As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax) Options: Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00 20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00 275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00 Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00
  8. Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that. That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle. Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.) Year: 2016 Make: Dodge Model: Charger Trim: SRT Hellcat Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8 Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16 Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $65,945 As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax) Options: Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00 20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00 275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00 Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00 View full article
  9. Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well. The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed. You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well. Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp. Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top. Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel Year: 2016 Make: Ram Trucks Model: 1500 Crew Cab Trim: Laramie Longhorn Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600 Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI Base Price: $52,365 As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge) Options: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00 4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00 Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00 Convenience Group - $495.00 Trailer Brake Control - $280.00 Cold Weather Group - $235.00 3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00
  10. Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well. The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed. You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well. Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp. Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top. Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel Year: 2016 Make: Ram Trucks Model: 1500 Crew Cab Trim: Laramie Longhorn Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600 Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI Base Price: $52,365 As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge) Options: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00 4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00 Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00 Convenience Group - $495.00 Trailer Brake Control - $280.00 Cold Weather Group - $235.00 3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00 View full article
  11. When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four. As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models. But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet. The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Kia Model: Optima Trim: SXL Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25 Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $35,790 As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  12. When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four. As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models. But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet. The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Kia Model: Optima Trim: SXL Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25 Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia Base Price: $35,790 As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  13. Most luxury SUVs will never go fully off-road. The closest they’ll ever get is driving down a gravel road. But that doesn’t mean some automakers aren’t filling them with the latest off-road for that one person who decides to. Case in point is the LX 570. Lexus’ variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated inside and out to try and draw buyers away from the usual suspects in the class. For 2016, Lexus has softened the LX’s boxy-shape with some rounded edges and more imposing fenders. The front grille has grown in size to match other Lexus vehicles, though to our eyes it looks more like the head from a Cylon in the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica tv show. The rear features new taillights and a reshaped tailgate. The interior has somehow become more opulent since the last LX we drove. A new dash design features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials. Our tester featured leather upholstery that can be described as red-orange. At first, I thought it was a bit much. But over the week I grew to like the color as it adds some personality. Sitting in either the front or second-row seats of the LX is a pleasant experience. There is plenty of head and legroom for both rows, along with heat. Front seats also get ventilation as standard. The third-row seat is a bit of joke. Getting back there in the first place is quite difficult due to the small gap when you move the second-row forward. Once back there, you find legroom is almost negligible. Finally, the way the third row folds up by side walls and not into the floor hampers cargo space - only offering 41 cubic feet. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface has arrived in the LX this year with a gargantuan 12.3-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the plus side, the screen is vibrant and easy to read. The negative is the remote touch controller as you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong function because the controller is very sensitive to inputs. Power comes from 5.7L V8 with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive system. On paper, the V8 should move the LX 570 with no issue. But a curb weight of 6,000 pounds negates this. Performance can be described as ho-hum as it takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator and quick to respond when you stab the throttle. The LX 570 is chock full of clever off-road tech such as crawl control, hill start assist, 360-degree camera system, and multi-terrain select system that optimizes various parts of the powertrain and four-wheel drive system. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to put any of these to the test. No matter the condition of the road, the LX 570 provides a smooth and relaxing ride. Impressive when you consider the LX is riding on a set of 21-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Lexus added a set of adaptive dampers for the 2016 LX and you can adjust the firmness via a knob in the center console - Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The dampers do help reduce body roll in corners, giving you a little bit more confidence. Steering is what you would expect in an SUV, light and numb. This makes the LX a bit cumbersome to move in certain places such as a parking lot. Compared to the last LX 570 we drove, the 2016 model has gone up in price. Base price now stands at $88,880 and our as-tested price comes in at $96,905. This one feels a bit a more worth of price tag that Lexus is asking for, but I still think a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover are slightly better in terms of value. If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains and want something that can you there and back, along with providing all of the luxuries, look no further than the LX. Otherwise, there are a number of other luxury SUVs that make more sense if you’re planning to stay on the pavement. Year: 2016 Make: Lexus Model: LX 570 Trim: N/A Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15 Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn Base Price: $88,880 As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00 Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00 Luxury Package - $1,190.00 Heads-Up Display - $900.00 Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00 All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00 Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00 Wireless Charger - $75.00 View full article
  14. Most luxury SUVs will never go fully off-road. The closest they’ll ever get is driving down a gravel road. But that doesn’t mean some automakers aren’t filling them with the latest off-road for that one person who decides to. Case in point is the LX 570. Lexus’ variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated inside and out to try and draw buyers away from the usual suspects in the class. For 2016, Lexus has softened the LX’s boxy-shape with some rounded edges and more imposing fenders. The front grille has grown in size to match other Lexus vehicles, though to our eyes it looks more like the head from a Cylon in the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica tv show. The rear features new taillights and a reshaped tailgate. The interior has somehow become more opulent since the last LX we drove. A new dash design features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials. Our tester featured leather upholstery that can be described as red-orange. At first, I thought it was a bit much. But over the week I grew to like the color as it adds some personality. Sitting in either the front or second-row seats of the LX is a pleasant experience. There is plenty of head and legroom for both rows, along with heat. Front seats also get ventilation as standard. The third-row seat is a bit of joke. Getting back there in the first place is quite difficult due to the small gap when you move the second-row forward. Once back there, you find legroom is almost negligible. Finally, the way the third row folds up by side walls and not into the floor hampers cargo space - only offering 41 cubic feet. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface has arrived in the LX this year with a gargantuan 12.3-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the plus side, the screen is vibrant and easy to read. The negative is the remote touch controller as you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong function because the controller is very sensitive to inputs. Power comes from 5.7L V8 with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive system. On paper, the V8 should move the LX 570 with no issue. But a curb weight of 6,000 pounds negates this. Performance can be described as ho-hum as it takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator and quick to respond when you stab the throttle. The LX 570 is chock full of clever off-road tech such as crawl control, hill start assist, 360-degree camera system, and multi-terrain select system that optimizes various parts of the powertrain and four-wheel drive system. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to put any of these to the test. No matter the condition of the road, the LX 570 provides a smooth and relaxing ride. Impressive when you consider the LX is riding on a set of 21-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Lexus added a set of adaptive dampers for the 2016 LX and you can adjust the firmness via a knob in the center console - Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The dampers do help reduce body roll in corners, giving you a little bit more confidence. Steering is what you would expect in an SUV, light and numb. This makes the LX a bit cumbersome to move in certain places such as a parking lot. Compared to the last LX 570 we drove, the 2016 model has gone up in price. Base price now stands at $88,880 and our as-tested price comes in at $96,905. This one feels a bit a more worth of price tag that Lexus is asking for, but I still think a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover are slightly better in terms of value. If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains and want something that can you there and back, along with providing all of the luxuries, look no further than the LX. Otherwise, there are a number of other luxury SUVs that make more sense if you’re planning to stay on the pavement. Year: 2016 Make: Lexus Model: LX 570 Trim: N/A Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15 Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn Base Price: $88,880 As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00 Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00 Luxury Package - $1,190.00 Heads-Up Display - $900.00 Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00 All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00 Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00 Wireless Charger - $75.00
  15. It has been a couple of years since we last checked out the Toyota 4Runner. Since that time, the crossover marketplace has grown even further and becoming the clear choice for many consumers. But there are still some who want/need the capability of an SUV like the 4Runner. Who should consider it? Toyota hasn’t changed the 4Runner’s exterior since we last checked it out. This isn’t a bad thing since one of the things I liked about it was the styling. The front end still looks like it is wearing a muzzle with a large surround for the grille and chunky front bumper. Other design details to take in are a set of flared out wheel arches, hood scoop, and rear tailgate with a window that can be raised or lowered. The interior follows the exterior with no real changes. Many materials are of the hard plastic variety which is ok considering the off-road character of the 4Runner. Having materials that can stand up to rough and tumble of off-road conditions isn’t a bad thing. The chunky knobs and simple layout of the dashboard are still here, making it easy to find certain controls when on the move. It would be nice if Toyota could swap the 6.1-inch touchscreen for something a little bit larger. It isn’t as easy to read at a glance and more often than not, you’ll be hitting the wrong touchscreen button. At least the Entune infotainment system is simple to understand. Space is plentiful for passengers in both rows with an abundance of head and legroom. There is the option of a third row, but it would be wise to skip it since it isn’t comfortable for most people to due to the minuscule amount of legroom. The powertrain remains a 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, and a five-speed automatic transmission. Most trims will have the choice of either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The TRD Pro and Trail (the model seen here) only come with four-wheel drive. The power figures may make you believe that the 4Runner has enough grunt for the daily grind, but it falters once you take it out on the road. Around town, the V6 provides a decent amount of grunt. But where the engine falters is trying to make a pass or merging onto a freeway. It seems to make more noise than actual power in these situations. The automatic transmission provides smooth gear changes. But adding an extra gear would not be a bad thing since would drop engine rpm on the expressway and improve overall fuel economy. I got an average of 19 mpg for the week - EPA fuel economy figures stand at 17 City/21 Highway/18 Combined for 4WD models. SUVs have made progress in terms of ride and handling, but you wouldn’t know that if you were driving a Toyota 4Runner. Take for example the ride quality. At low speeds, the 4Runner’s suspension does a good job with smoothing over bumpers. At higher speeds such as driving on a freeway, the ride becomes very bouncy. Going around a corner isn’t a pleasant experience as there is a fair amount of body lean. Steering is on the heavy and makes certain tasks such as pulling into a parking space a bit of a chore. But the 4Runner does redeem itself when it comes to off-road driving. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to take this 4Runner off-road which is quite a shame because the Trail adds some goodies to help when it comes to going off the beaten path. There is a locking rear differential, Crawl Control which is a low-speed cruise control system to allow the SUV go through a rocky trail, Multi-Terrain Select that alters throttle and traction control settings for various conditions, and the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that adjusts the suspension to allow for more wheel travel. The Toyota 4Runner is an old-school SUV wrapped up in modern clothing. It makes no apologies for what it is and that is something I respect. This is a model that should be considered by those who want to go to special place in the woods or out in the desert on a regular basis. If you’re not planning to go off-road on a regular basis, then the 4Runner is a poor choice. Stick with a crossover or something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the 4Runner, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Toyota Model: 4Runner Trim: Trail Premium Engine: 4.0L DOHC Dual VVT-i 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, 4WD Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/21/18 Curb Weight: 4,750 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $39,095 As Tested Price: $40,148 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge and $750.00 'Keep it Wild' savings) Options: Remote Engine Start - $499.00 All Weather Mats/Cargo Tray - $200.00 Cargo Cover - $155.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 View full article
  16. It has been a couple of years since we last checked out the Toyota 4Runner. Since that time, the crossover marketplace has grown even further and becoming the clear choice for many consumers. But there are still some who want/need the capability of an SUV like the 4Runner. Who should consider it? Toyota hasn’t changed the 4Runner’s exterior since we last checked it out. This isn’t a bad thing since one of the things I liked about it was the styling. The front end still looks like it is wearing a muzzle with a large surround for the grille and chunky front bumper. Other design details to take in are a set of flared out wheel arches, hood scoop, and rear tailgate with a window that can be raised or lowered. The interior follows the exterior with no real changes. Many materials are of the hard plastic variety which is ok considering the off-road character of the 4Runner. Having materials that can stand up to rough and tumble of off-road conditions isn’t a bad thing. The chunky knobs and simple layout of the dashboard are still here, making it easy to find certain controls when on the move. It would be nice if Toyota could swap the 6.1-inch touchscreen for something a little bit larger. It isn’t as easy to read at a glance and more often than not, you’ll be hitting the wrong touchscreen button. At least the Entune infotainment system is simple to understand. Space is plentiful for passengers in both rows with an abundance of head and legroom. There is the option of a third row, but it would be wise to skip it since it isn’t comfortable for most people to due to the minuscule amount of legroom. The powertrain remains a 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, and a five-speed automatic transmission. Most trims will have the choice of either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The TRD Pro and Trail (the model seen here) only come with four-wheel drive. The power figures may make you believe that the 4Runner has enough grunt for the daily grind, but it falters once you take it out on the road. Around town, the V6 provides a decent amount of grunt. But where the engine falters is trying to make a pass or merging onto a freeway. It seems to make more noise than actual power in these situations. The automatic transmission provides smooth gear changes. But adding an extra gear would not be a bad thing since would drop engine rpm on the expressway and improve overall fuel economy. I got an average of 19 mpg for the week - EPA fuel economy figures stand at 17 City/21 Highway/18 Combined for 4WD models. SUVs have made progress in terms of ride and handling, but you wouldn’t know that if you were driving a Toyota 4Runner. Take for example the ride quality. At low speeds, the 4Runner’s suspension does a good job with smoothing over bumpers. At higher speeds such as driving on a freeway, the ride becomes very bouncy. Going around a corner isn’t a pleasant experience as there is a fair amount of body lean. Steering is on the heavy and makes certain tasks such as pulling into a parking space a bit of a chore. But the 4Runner does redeem itself when it comes to off-road driving. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to take this 4Runner off-road which is quite a shame because the Trail adds some goodies to help when it comes to going off the beaten path. There is a locking rear differential, Crawl Control which is a low-speed cruise control system to allow the SUV go through a rocky trail, Multi-Terrain Select that alters throttle and traction control settings for various conditions, and the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that adjusts the suspension to allow for more wheel travel. The Toyota 4Runner is an old-school SUV wrapped up in modern clothing. It makes no apologies for what it is and that is something I respect. This is a model that should be considered by those who want to go to special place in the woods or out in the desert on a regular basis. If you’re not planning to go off-road on a regular basis, then the 4Runner is a poor choice. Stick with a crossover or something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the 4Runner, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Toyota Model: 4Runner Trim: Trail Premium Engine: 4.0L DOHC Dual VVT-i 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, 4WD Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/21/18 Curb Weight: 4,750 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $39,095 As Tested Price: $40,148 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge and $750.00 'Keep it Wild' savings) Options: Remote Engine Start - $499.00 All Weather Mats/Cargo Tray - $200.00 Cargo Cover - $155.00 Cargo Net - $49.00
  17. Crossovers are big business and this is nowhere more apparent than in the compact realm. Automakers are either introducing new or redesigned models to make their mark and try to a take a nice slice of the growing demand by consumers. Recently, we spent some time with the redesigned 2017 Kia Sportage SX and refreshed Toyota RAV4 SE to see how they would stack up. Exterior: Toyota did a refresh to the RAV4’s exterior for 2016 to make it look a bit sleeker. A lot of the changes are up front with a new inset grille similar to the Corolla and reshaped headlights. The back features new taillights. The big news for 2016 is the introduction of the SE trim. This brings a unique bumper and lower grille; LED headlights and taillights, and a set of 18-inch wheels. Finished in a bright blue, I had to admit Toyota has done a pretty decent job with the refresh. Meanwhile, Kia’s redesign of the Sportage is well, um, polarizing. The front end is where the Sportage’s design will make you love or hate it. A large version of Kia’s ’tiger nose’ is flanked by headlights that protrude upward. Personally, I really don’t like the front and it spoils the rest of the Sportage’s design. The rear comes with a new tailgate design, taillights that extend into the rear fenders, and a set of dual exhaust tips. Our SX tester also featured 19-inch alloy wheels and bi-xenon headlights. Interior: One of the biggest issues I had with the previous-generation Kia Sportage was the materials used. There were a lot of hard and cheap plastics throughout and it made the work Kia had done for the exterior all for naught. Thankfully, Kia has learned its lesson and has improved the materials. Most of the dash and door panels feature soft-touch plastics. There are still some hard plastics, but in areas where it makes sense such as panels near the floor. A new design for the center stack is angled towards the driver and features large buttons for the climate control and infotainment system. Seats in our SX tester came wrapped in leather and provided the right amount of support and comfort for a long drive. Those sitting in the back will have nothing to complain about in terms of head and legroom. Even those who are slightly above 6-feet will find more than enough headroom. The Sportage does falter when it comes to cargo space. With 30.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, the Sportage trails competitors by a few cubic feet. It only gets worse when you fold the rear seats and you’re provided 60.1 cubic feet, again trailing competitors. Toyota hasn’t changed the RAV4’s interior in terms of design which may disappoint some. It still has a very utilitarian look compared to many of its competitors. But Toyota has changed various trim pieces and removed the awful faux carbon-fiber inlays on the dash. The look is more coherent. Material quality has also seen an improvement with more soft-touch materials and thicker hard plastics. The SE comes with Toyota’s faux leather (Softex) as standard along with power adjustments for the driver. The RAV4’s front seats aren’t quite as comfortable as the Sportage’s due to the lack of thigh support. On a long drive, I found my leg was beginning to fall asleep. The backseat is quite spacious with a large amount of head and legroom. The low placement of the seat may bug some folks. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 38.4 cubic feet the rear seats up and 73.3 cubic feet with them folded. Infotainment: All RAV4 trims get Toyota’s Entune infotainment system as standard. Our SE tester featured the larger 7-inch system through an option package that also brought forth a JBL audio system. Entune’s interface may look somewhat dated and the screen could be a bit brighter, but Toyota has nailed ease of use and performance with this system. Large touch points, simple layout, and redundant buttons around the screen make Entune a breeze to use. Disappointingly, Entune doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Kia’s UVO infotainment system leaves Entune in the dust. The Sportage SX comes with an 8-inch touchscreen system with navigation as standard equipment. Like Entune, UVO offers a simple interface with quick performance. However, the Sportage offers a more vibrant screen and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Using CarPlay with the Sportage was very easy as the system was able to recognize my iPhone and bring up the CarPlay interface within seconds. We didn’t experience any issues of slowdown or apps crashing like in other models we have tested. Power: There are two engines on offer for the 2017 Kia Sportage. The LX and EX models feature a 2.4L four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The SX comes with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come paired with a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The power figures may make you believe the Sportage will fly, but this isn’t true. The engine takes a few moments to wake up when leaving a stop due to a hint of turbo lag and a lazy throttle - something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia turbo models. The engine also doesn’t feel as powerful as you might think due to an increase in overall curb weight. At least the six-speed automatic is excellent, delivering smart and quick shifts Toyota also offers two engines for the RAV4. A 2.5L four-cylinder comes standard and a hybrid powertrain is optional on the XLE and Limited models. The 2.5 produces 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Like the Sportage, the RAV4 features a six-speed automatic and either front or all-wheel drive. For most drivers, the 2.5 does an adequate job of moving the vehicle at a reasonable clip. It does feel slightly slower than other compact crossovers thanks in part to the torque arriving at a high 4,100 rpm. The transmission provides smooth shifts when driven normally. But when you need to make a pass, it does take its sweet time to downshift. Fuel Economy: The RAV4 AWD is rated by the EPA at 22 City/29 Highway/25 Combined. These numbers put the RAV4 in the middle of the pack the compact crossover class. Our average for the week landed around 24 mpg in mixed driving The Kia Sorento equipped with the turbo and front-wheel drive is towards the bottom with EPA figures of 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. We could only get 21 mpg during our week of mixed driving. Add all-wheel drive and numbers drop even further to 20/23/21. Ride & Handling: We had a number of complaints with the last-generation Sportage’s suspension and steering tuning. The ride was too stiff and the suspension would transmit most bumps into the cabin. The steering felt disconnected and very light. Kia has addressed these complaints in the 2017 and it has made the Sportage more well-rounded. Most bumps are now absorbed by the suspension, making for a more comfortable ride. Some bumps do make their way inside, but that is more of a case of the 19-inch wheels fitted to the SX. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is still one of the strongest parts of the Sorento. There is little body roll when cornering. The steering feels heavy and directly connected to the road. The SE trim is new for the 2016 RAV4 and it features a retuned suspension that is said to make the model fun to drive. Sadly, the changes made to the RAV4’s suspension doesn’t make a dent in improving the overall handling. Yes, the changes do reduce body motion when cornering. But the steering still feels somewhat rubbery and the set of Bridgestone Ecopia low-rolling resistance tires will make you think twice about pushing the RAV4 in a corner. What the SE does well is giving the RAV4 a harsh ride. Compared to the last RAV4 we drove back in 2014, the SE let more bumps and imperfections inside the cabin. The RAV4 also could use a bit more time in finishing school as there is a fair amount of road and wind noise coming inside. Pricing & Value: Out of the two models, the 2017 Kia Sportage SX is possibly the better value. With an as-tested price of $33,395, the Sportage SX comes very well equipped with an 8-inch color touchscreen, navigation, Harman/Kardon audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and autonomous emergency braking. This, by the way, is all standard. There are no options available on the SX. The RAV4 SE is cheaper than the Sportage SX in terms of base price ($30,665 vs. $32,500). But it does feature a higher as-tested price of $34,595. This is due to our tester featuring the $3,030 Advanced Technology Package that adds the 7-inch screen with navigation, the JBL audio system, parking sensors, and the Toyota Safety Sense Package (adds Pre-Collision system with pedestrian detection, steering assist, radar cruise control, and automatic high beams). Final Thoughts: This was a tough decision to make since for every positive point both models have, there are two negatives to go with them. Out of these two, the 2017 Kia Sportage narrowly takes the win here. The styling will divide folks and turbo engine isn’t worth the extra cost in terms of performance and fuel economy. But Kia has fixed a number of issues with previous Sportage such as poor interior materials and overall ride quality. It doesn’t hurt the Kia is the slightly better value, although we would go with the EX and the regular four-cylinder. If the RAV4 was the XLE or Limited, it might have taken the win as it would have provided a smoother ride and cost a fair amount less. But the SE comprises a decent crossover with a harsher ride and negating the improvements in handling with a set of eco tires. Still, the RAV4 does offer more cargo space and some safety features not seen on the Sportage. Both of these crossovers are in the middle of the road, but the Sportage is closer to reaching the top. Disclaimer: Kia and Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE Cheers: Cargo Space, Improved Interior, Interesting design Jeers: Engine could use some more oomph, SE trim compromises ride, Expensive Year: 2016 Make: Toyota Model: RAV4 Trim: SE Engine: 2.5L DOHC Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 172 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/29/25 Curb Weight: 3,630 lbs Location of Manufacture: Woodstock, Ontario Base Price: $30,665 As Tested Price: $34,595 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Technology Package - $3,030.00 2017 Kia Sportage SX Cheers: Better ride quality, Noticeable interior improvements, Value Jeers: Turbo engine isn't worth the extra cost, Exterior design may turn some people off, Fuel Economy Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Sportage Trim: SX Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,450-3,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23 Curb Weight: 3,666 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $32,500 As Tested Price: $33,395 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  18. Crossovers are big business and this is nowhere more apparent than in the compact realm. Automakers are either introducing new or redesigned models to make their mark and try to a take a nice slice of the growing demand by consumers. Recently, we spent some time with the redesigned 2017 Kia Sportage SX and refreshed Toyota RAV4 SE to see how they would stack up. Exterior: Toyota did a refresh to the RAV4’s exterior for 2016 to make it look a bit sleeker. A lot of the changes are up front with a new inset grille similar to the Corolla and reshaped headlights. The back features new taillights. The big news for 2016 is the introduction of the SE trim. This brings a unique bumper and lower grille; LED headlights and taillights, and a set of 18-inch wheels. Finished in a bright blue, I had to admit Toyota has done a pretty decent job with the refresh. Meanwhile, Kia’s redesign of the Sportage is well, um, polarizing. The front end is where the Sportage’s design will make you love or hate it. A large version of Kia’s ’tiger nose’ is flanked by headlights that protrude upward. Personally, I really don’t like the front and it spoils the rest of the Sportage’s design. The rear comes with a new tailgate design, taillights that extend into the rear fenders, and a set of dual exhaust tips. Our SX tester also featured 19-inch alloy wheels and bi-xenon headlights. Interior: One of the biggest issues I had with the previous-generation Kia Sportage was the materials used. There were a lot of hard and cheap plastics throughout and it made the work Kia had done for the exterior all for naught. Thankfully, Kia has learned its lesson and has improved the materials. Most of the dash and door panels feature soft-touch plastics. There are still some hard plastics, but in areas where it makes sense such as panels near the floor. A new design for the center stack is angled towards the driver and features large buttons for the climate control and infotainment system. Seats in our SX tester came wrapped in leather and provided the right amount of support and comfort for a long drive. Those sitting in the back will have nothing to complain about in terms of head and legroom. Even those who are slightly above 6-feet will find more than enough headroom. The Sportage does falter when it comes to cargo space. With 30.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, the Sportage trails competitors by a few cubic feet. It only gets worse when you fold the rear seats and you’re provided 60.1 cubic feet, again trailing competitors. Toyota hasn’t changed the RAV4’s interior in terms of design which may disappoint some. It still has a very utilitarian look compared to many of its competitors. But Toyota has changed various trim pieces and removed the awful faux carbon-fiber inlays on the dash. The look is more coherent. Material quality has also seen an improvement with more soft-touch materials and thicker hard plastics. The SE comes with Toyota’s faux leather (Softex) as standard along with power adjustments for the driver. The RAV4’s front seats aren’t quite as comfortable as the Sportage’s due to the lack of thigh support. On a long drive, I found my leg was beginning to fall asleep. The backseat is quite spacious with a large amount of head and legroom. The low placement of the seat may bug some folks. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 38.4 cubic feet the rear seats up and 73.3 cubic feet with them folded. Infotainment: All RAV4 trims get Toyota’s Entune infotainment system as standard. Our SE tester featured the larger 7-inch system through an option package that also brought forth a JBL audio system. Entune’s interface may look somewhat dated and the screen could be a bit brighter, but Toyota has nailed ease of use and performance with this system. Large touch points, simple layout, and redundant buttons around the screen make Entune a breeze to use. Disappointingly, Entune doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Kia’s UVO infotainment system leaves Entune in the dust. The Sportage SX comes with an 8-inch touchscreen system with navigation as standard equipment. Like Entune, UVO offers a simple interface with quick performance. However, the Sportage offers a more vibrant screen and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Using CarPlay with the Sportage was very easy as the system was able to recognize my iPhone and bring up the CarPlay interface within seconds. We didn’t experience any issues of slowdown or apps crashing like in other models we have tested. Power: There are two engines on offer for the 2017 Kia Sportage. The LX and EX models feature a 2.4L four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The SX comes with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come paired with a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The power figures may make you believe the Sportage will fly, but this isn’t true. The engine takes a few moments to wake up when leaving a stop due to a hint of turbo lag and a lazy throttle - something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia turbo models. The engine also doesn’t feel as powerful as you might think due to an increase in overall curb weight. At least the six-speed automatic is excellent, delivering smart and quick shifts Toyota also offers two engines for the RAV4. A 2.5L four-cylinder comes standard and a hybrid powertrain is optional on the XLE and Limited models. The 2.5 produces 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Like the Sportage, the RAV4 features a six-speed automatic and either front or all-wheel drive. For most drivers, the 2.5 does an adequate job of moving the vehicle at a reasonable clip. It does feel slightly slower than other compact crossovers thanks in part to the torque arriving at a high 4,100 rpm. The transmission provides smooth shifts when driven normally. But when you need to make a pass, it does take its sweet time to downshift. Fuel Economy: The RAV4 AWD is rated by the EPA at 22 City/29 Highway/25 Combined. These numbers put the RAV4 in the middle of the pack the compact crossover class. Our average for the week landed around 24 mpg in mixed driving The Kia Sorento equipped with the turbo and front-wheel drive is towards the bottom with EPA figures of 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. We could only get 21 mpg during our week of mixed driving. Add all-wheel drive and numbers drop even further to 20/23/21. Ride & Handling: We had a number of complaints with the last-generation Sportage’s suspension and steering tuning. The ride was too stiff and the suspension would transmit most bumps into the cabin. The steering felt disconnected and very light. Kia has addressed these complaints in the 2017 and it has made the Sportage more well-rounded. Most bumps are now absorbed by the suspension, making for a more comfortable ride. Some bumps do make their way inside, but that is more of a case of the 19-inch wheels fitted to the SX. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is still one of the strongest parts of the Sorento. There is little body roll when cornering. The steering feels heavy and directly connected to the road. The SE trim is new for the 2016 RAV4 and it features a retuned suspension that is said to make the model fun to drive. Sadly, the changes made to the RAV4’s suspension doesn’t make a dent in improving the overall handling. Yes, the changes do reduce body motion when cornering. But the steering still feels somewhat rubbery and the set of Bridgestone Ecopia low-rolling resistance tires will make you think twice about pushing the RAV4 in a corner. What the SE does well is giving the RAV4 a harsh ride. Compared to the last RAV4 we drove back in 2014, the SE let more bumps and imperfections inside the cabin. The RAV4 also could use a bit more time in finishing school as there is a fair amount of road and wind noise coming inside. Pricing & Value: Out of the two models, the 2017 Kia Sportage SX is possibly the better value. With an as-tested price of $33,395, the Sportage SX comes very well equipped with an 8-inch color touchscreen, navigation, Harman/Kardon audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and autonomous emergency braking. This, by the way, is all standard. There are no options available on the SX. The RAV4 SE is cheaper than the Sportage SX in terms of base price ($30,665 vs. $32,500). But it does feature a higher as-tested price of $34,595. This is due to our tester featuring the $3,030 Advanced Technology Package that adds the 7-inch screen with navigation, the JBL audio system, parking sensors, and the Toyota Safety Sense Package (adds Pre-Collision system with pedestrian detection, steering assist, radar cruise control, and automatic high beams). Final Thoughts: This was a tough decision to make since for every positive point both models have, there are two negatives to go with them. Out of these two, the 2017 Kia Sportage narrowly takes the win here. The styling will divide folks and turbo engine isn’t worth the extra cost in terms of performance and fuel economy. But Kia has fixed a number of issues with previous Sportage such as poor interior materials and overall ride quality. It doesn’t hurt the Kia is the slightly better value, although we would go with the EX and the regular four-cylinder. If the RAV4 was the XLE or Limited, it might have taken the win as it would have provided a smoother ride and cost a fair amount less. But the SE comprises a decent crossover with a harsher ride and negating the improvements in handling with a set of eco tires. Still, the RAV4 does offer more cargo space and some safety features not seen on the Sportage. Both of these crossovers are in the middle of the road, but the Sportage is closer to reaching the top. Disclaimer: Kia and Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE Cheers: Cargo Space, Improved Interior, Interesting design Jeers: Engine could use some more oomph, SE trim compromises ride, Expensive Year: 2016 Make: Toyota Model: RAV4 Trim: SE Engine: 2.5L DOHC Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 172 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/29/25 Curb Weight: 3,630 lbs Location of Manufacture: Woodstock, Ontario Base Price: $30,665 As Tested Price: $34,595 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Technology Package - $3,030.00 2017 Kia Sportage SX Cheers: Better ride quality, Noticeable interior improvements, Value Jeers: Turbo engine isn't worth the extra cost, Exterior design may turn some people off, Fuel Economy Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Sportage Trim: SX Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,450-3,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23 Curb Weight: 3,666 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $32,500 As Tested Price: $33,395 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  19. The Lexus IS is one of my favorite luxury sedans on sale today. The styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it helps make the IS stand out in a very crowded field of compact luxury sedans. Paired with the excellent 3.5L V6 and F-Sport package, the IS gives the German competition a run for its money in the twisty bits. Since we last drove the IS back in 2014, Lexus has made some changes to IS’ lineup with the base 2.5L V6 being dropped and a new turbocharged four-cylinder taking its place, along with a new variant of 3.5L V6 producing 255 horsepower badged as the IS 300. Recently, I spent some time in the IS 200t F-Sport and it was a bit disappointing. Read on to find out why. The cause for my disappointment? The turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine in question is the same one that is used in the NX 200t, a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder producing 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic comes standard on rear-drive models, while all-wheel drive models retain a six-speed automatic. Compared to the NX 200t, I think this engine has gotten worse in the IS. The major problem is turbo lag. I could count to three after stepping on the accelerator before the turbo would spool up and give the vehicle the needed shove to move along. Even with the vehicle in Sport mode, it takes a moment for the turbo to wake up. Once the turbo is spooled up, it moves the IS with some authority. Power comes on at a steady and smooth rate. The engine also very refined with little noise coming inside. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined. Our average landed around 24 mpg, partly due to my foot putting the pedal almost to the floor in an effort to make the turbo was up. The F-Sport package is the ace up the IS 200t’s sleeve. A revised suspension and steering setup, along with a set of summer tires make the IS a joy to pilot around corners. There is no body roll when entering a corner and the steering provides an excellent feel of the road. Unlike the IS 350 F-Sport, the 250 does without the adaptive dampers. This might make some reconsider as the ride can become somewhat rough over bumpy and pothole-ladened roads. Styling is still polarizing with sharp creases, an interesting lighting setup up front, and a grille that looks like it was styled off the Predator. The F-Sport package actually helps balance this design with new front bumper, mesh grille insert, and a set of 18-inch wheels finished in a dark gray. I’m not usually a fan of red on a vehicle, but it actually works quite well for the F-Sport. The IS’ interior hasn’t changed much since we last visited it in 2014. This means the excellent sport seats and well laid out instrument cluster are here. It also means the smallish screen for the infotainment system and the infuriating Lexus Remote Touch controller. The back seat is still quite small for most passengers, though I would say the Cadillac ATS’ back seat is even smaller. The 2016 IS 200t F-Sport begins at $40,870. Our test car came with a few options such as blind spot monitoring (which you need because rear visibility is poor), radar cruise control, navigation, Mark Levinson audio system, and heated front seats. This brought the as-tested price to $45,705. But for only $1,000 to $1,500 more, you can get into a decently equipped IS 350 F-Sport with adaptive dampers and the better engine. The Lexus IS is still an impressive compact luxury sedan and one that deserves more of the spotlight. But the 2.0L turbo spoils an impressive sedan. This is a case of right car, wrong engine. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the IS 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Lexus Model: IS Trim: 200t F-Sport Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-iW Inline-Four Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650 - 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26 Curb Weight: 3,583 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $37,325 As Tested Price: $45,705 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: F-Sport Package - $3,545.00 Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,645.00 Blind Spot Monitoring w/Rear Cross-Traffic Alert - $600.00 Dynamic Radar Cruise Control - $500.00 F-Sport Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel with Heat - $150.00
  20. The Lexus IS is one of my favorite luxury sedans on sale today. The styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it helps make the IS stand out in a very crowded field of compact luxury sedans. Paired with the excellent 3.5L V6 and F-Sport package, the IS gives the German competition a run for its money in the twisty bits. Since we last drove the IS back in 2014, Lexus has made some changes to IS’ lineup with the base 2.5L V6 being dropped and a new turbocharged four-cylinder taking its place, along with a new variant of 3.5L V6 producing 255 horsepower badged as the IS 300. Recently, I spent some time in the IS 200t F-Sport and it was a bit disappointing. Read on to find out why. The cause for my disappointment? The turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine in question is the same one that is used in the NX 200t, a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder producing 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic comes standard on rear-drive models, while all-wheel drive models retain a six-speed automatic. Compared to the NX 200t, I think this engine has gotten worse in the IS. The major problem is turbo lag. I could count to three after stepping on the accelerator before the turbo would spool up and give the vehicle the needed shove to move along. Even with the vehicle in Sport mode, it takes a moment for the turbo to wake up. Once the turbo is spooled up, it moves the IS with some authority. Power comes on at a steady and smooth rate. The engine also very refined with little noise coming inside. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined. Our average landed around 24 mpg, partly due to my foot putting the pedal almost to the floor in an effort to make the turbo was up. The F-Sport package is the ace up the IS 200t’s sleeve. A revised suspension and steering setup, along with a set of summer tires make the IS a joy to pilot around corners. There is no body roll when entering a corner and the steering provides an excellent feel of the road. Unlike the IS 350 F-Sport, the 250 does without the adaptive dampers. This might make some reconsider as the ride can become somewhat rough over bumpy and pothole-ladened roads. Styling is still polarizing with sharp creases, an interesting lighting setup up front, and a grille that looks like it was styled off the Predator. The F-Sport package actually helps balance this design with new front bumper, mesh grille insert, and a set of 18-inch wheels finished in a dark gray. I’m not usually a fan of red on a vehicle, but it actually works quite well for the F-Sport. The IS’ interior hasn’t changed much since we last visited it in 2014. This means the excellent sport seats and well laid out instrument cluster are here. It also means the smallish screen for the infotainment system and the infuriating Lexus Remote Touch controller. The back seat is still quite small for most passengers, though I would say the Cadillac ATS’ back seat is even smaller. The 2016 IS 200t F-Sport begins at $40,870. Our test car came with a few options such as blind spot monitoring (which you need because rear visibility is poor), radar cruise control, navigation, Mark Levinson audio system, and heated front seats. This brought the as-tested price to $45,705. But for only $1,000 to $1,500 more, you can get into a decently equipped IS 350 F-Sport with adaptive dampers and the better engine. The Lexus IS is still an impressive compact luxury sedan and one that deserves more of the spotlight. But the 2.0L turbo spoils an impressive sedan. This is a case of right car, wrong engine. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the IS 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Lexus Model: IS Trim: 200t F-Sport Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-iW Inline-Four Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650 - 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26 Curb Weight: 3,583 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $37,325 As Tested Price: $45,705 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: F-Sport Package - $3,545.00 Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,645.00 Blind Spot Monitoring w/Rear Cross-Traffic Alert - $600.00 Dynamic Radar Cruise Control - $500.00 F-Sport Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel with Heat - $150.00 View full article
  21. We are currently living in a golden age of compact cars. From distinctive styling to new powertrains that offer impressive power and fuel economy, the compact car has been growing up. One of the key players in this dramatic change is Hyundai. When they introduced the last-generation Elantra for the 2011 model year, it was unlike any compact that Hyundai or for that matter, any automaker had produced. The swoopy lines of the exterior made the Elantra look more expensive than it was. Plus the combination of a smooth ride and long list of standard features helped propel the model towards the top. How do you follow up this impressive act? Hyundai decided to play it safe when it introduced the 2017 Elantra at the 2015 LA Auto Show - evolution and not revolution. Was this the right decision considering the current crop of compacts? We spent a week in the Elantra Limited sedan to find out. The basic shape of the Elantra is mostly unchanged to the last-generation model. But Hyundai has done some finessing to it. The front features a larger hexagonal grille that has been appearing on Hyundai’s crossover lineup. There is also a new front bumper with a vertical strand of LED lights and reshaped headlights. The side profile becomes bolder with sculpting along the doors and more prominent character lines. In the back, the Elantra takes the trunk lid from the larger Sonata and new taillights. It might not be as daring as the new Honda Civic or Mazda3, but the Elantra has an air of elegance. It stands out but doesn’t scream about it. The interior is where you begin to see the big changes. Higher quality materials like soft-touch plastics are used in a lot of the interior. The dashboard design and layout is the same as the Sonata. This means a much easier control layout than the outgoing model and larger buttons for the various controls. Our Limited tester came with a 7-inch touchscreen as standard. Hyundai’s infotainment system is one of the better systems thanks to easy-to-understand interface and blazing performance. The 2017 Elantra brings forth Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. With our iPhone hooked up to the system, we found Hyundai’s implementation to be one of the best. It only took a few seconds for the system to recognize the phone before bringing up the CarPlay interface. From there, performance was smooth and we had no issues with either the system or phone locking up. Compared to the outgoing Elantra, the new model is about an inch longer and wider. This space has been put to good use in the back seat as legroom has improved. Headroom is still a tough affair if you happen to above 5’8” as your head will be touching the roof. The front seats provide a fair amount of adjustments to get yourself comfortable. The one item we would have liked is a bit more thigh support for longer trips. Most Elantras will feature the engine seen in our tester, a 2.0L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet. A six-speed automatic is only available on the Limited, but the base SE has the choice between it and a six-speed manual. Compared to the 2.0L found in the last-generation Elantra, there isn’t any real improvement in the power delivery. It still takes its sweet time to get up to speed whether driving on a country road or merging onto a freeway. Out of all the compacts we have driven in 2016, the Elantra is right alongside the Nissan Sentra for being some of the slowest vehicles in the class. The six-speed automatic does a competent job with providing smooth gear changes. Hyundai has two other engines on offer for the Elantra: A turbocharged 1.4L found in the Eco and updated turbocharged 1.6L coming in the new Elantra Sport. For our money, going with either one of these engines would be the better option. We’ll have a better opinion whenever we get behind the wheel of either model in the future. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2017 Hyundai Elantra stand at 27 City/38 Highway/32 Combined. Our week consisting of 60 percent city driving and 40 percent highway returned an average of 30.7 mpg. If there one area the last Hyundai Elantra did very well, it was ride comfort. The new model continues this with improved suspension tuning that irons out most bumps and imperfections. But Hyundai still has a lot of work to do when it comes to noise isolation. A fair amount of road and wind noise comes inside, making the Elantra not a great choice to do a long trip in. Handling has seen a noticeable improvement with the Elantra showing less body roll in cornering. Thank the additional structural rigidity Hyundai has added to the Elantra. Still, the steering could use a bit more work. It feels way too light and you’ll find yourself doing a fair amount of correction when driving on the highway. Hyundai took a big risk with the last-generation Elantra and it proved to be a major success. The design and features on offer shook up the compact car arena and sent manufacturers back to their drawing boards to build something that could take on the Elantra. But for this new model, Hyundai played it safe. They took an idea that was working and just improved it. In certain areas, this is a good thing. The interior is a much nicer place to be in and the addition of CarPlay and Android Auto is nice to have. But Hyundai could have done more to make the Elantra stand out even further. The 2.0L four-cylinder could have a little bit more power and more work should have been done in terms of keeping outside noises from entering the interior. The 2017 Hyundai Elantra is an improvement over the outgoing model. But in light of fresh competition such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, the Elantra doesn’t find itself on top as it once did. Cheers: Still sharp looking, Improved interior design, Comfortable ride Jeers: Slow performance, Too much outside noise coming in, Seats could be improved for longer trips Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Hyundai Model: Elantra Trim: Limited Engine: 2.0L MPI Atkinson Cycle Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 147 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 132 @ 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/32 Curb Weight: 2,811 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama Base Price: $22,350 As Tested Price: $23,310 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
  22. We are currently living in a golden age of compact cars. From distinctive styling to new powertrains that offer impressive power and fuel economy, the compact car has been growing up. One of the key players in this dramatic change is Hyundai. When they introduced the last-generation Elantra for the 2011 model year, it was unlike any compact that Hyundai or for that matter, any automaker had produced. The swoopy lines of the exterior made the Elantra look more expensive than it was. Plus the combination of a smooth ride and long list of standard features helped propel the model towards the top. How do you follow up this impressive act? Hyundai decided to play it safe when it introduced the 2017 Elantra at the 2015 LA Auto Show - evolution and not revolution. Was this the right decision considering the current crop of compacts? We spent a week in the Elantra Limited sedan to find out. The basic shape of the Elantra is mostly unchanged to the last-generation model. But Hyundai has done some finessing to it. The front features a larger hexagonal grille that has been appearing on Hyundai’s crossover lineup. There is also a new front bumper with a vertical strand of LED lights and reshaped headlights. The side profile becomes bolder with sculpting along the doors and more prominent character lines. In the back, the Elantra takes the trunk lid from the larger Sonata and new taillights. It might not be as daring as the new Honda Civic or Mazda3, but the Elantra has an air of elegance. It stands out but doesn’t scream about it. The interior is where you begin to see the big changes. Higher quality materials like soft-touch plastics are used in a lot of the interior. The dashboard design and layout is the same as the Sonata. This means a much easier control layout than the outgoing model and larger buttons for the various controls. Our Limited tester came with a 7-inch touchscreen as standard. Hyundai’s infotainment system is one of the better systems thanks to easy-to-understand interface and blazing performance. The 2017 Elantra brings forth Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. With our iPhone hooked up to the system, we found Hyundai’s implementation to be one of the best. It only took a few seconds for the system to recognize the phone before bringing up the CarPlay interface. From there, performance was smooth and we had no issues with either the system or phone locking up. Compared to the outgoing Elantra, the new model is about an inch longer and wider. This space has been put to good use in the back seat as legroom has improved. Headroom is still a tough affair if you happen to above 5’8” as your head will be touching the roof. The front seats provide a fair amount of adjustments to get yourself comfortable. The one item we would have liked is a bit more thigh support for longer trips. Most Elantras will feature the engine seen in our tester, a 2.0L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet. A six-speed automatic is only available on the Limited, but the base SE has the choice between it and a six-speed manual. Compared to the 2.0L found in the last-generation Elantra, there isn’t any real improvement in the power delivery. It still takes its sweet time to get up to speed whether driving on a country road or merging onto a freeway. Out of all the compacts we have driven in 2016, the Elantra is right alongside the Nissan Sentra for being some of the slowest vehicles in the class. The six-speed automatic does a competent job with providing smooth gear changes. Hyundai has two other engines on offer for the Elantra: A turbocharged 1.4L found in the Eco and updated turbocharged 1.6L coming in the new Elantra Sport. For our money, going with either one of these engines would be the better option. We’ll have a better opinion whenever we get behind the wheel of either model in the future. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2017 Hyundai Elantra stand at 27 City/38 Highway/32 Combined. Our week consisting of 60 percent city driving and 40 percent highway returned an average of 30.7 mpg. If there one area the last Hyundai Elantra did very well, it was ride comfort. The new model continues this with improved suspension tuning that irons out most bumps and imperfections. But Hyundai still has a lot of work to do when it comes to noise isolation. A fair amount of road and wind noise comes inside, making the Elantra not a great choice to do a long trip in. Handling has seen a noticeable improvement with the Elantra showing less body roll in cornering. Thank the additional structural rigidity Hyundai has added to the Elantra. Still, the steering could use a bit more work. It feels way too light and you’ll find yourself doing a fair amount of correction when driving on the highway. Hyundai took a big risk with the last-generation Elantra and it proved to be a major success. The design and features on offer shook up the compact car arena and sent manufacturers back to their drawing boards to build something that could take on the Elantra. But for this new model, Hyundai played it safe. They took an idea that was working and just improved it. In certain areas, this is a good thing. The interior is a much nicer place to be in and the addition of CarPlay and Android Auto is nice to have. But Hyundai could have done more to make the Elantra stand out even further. The 2.0L four-cylinder could have a little bit more power and more work should have been done in terms of keeping outside noises from entering the interior. The 2017 Hyundai Elantra is an improvement over the outgoing model. But in light of fresh competition such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, the Elantra doesn’t find itself on top as it once did. Cheers: Still sharp looking, Improved interior design, Comfortable ride Jeers: Slow performance, Too much outside noise coming in, Seats could be improved for longer trips Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Hyundai Model: Elantra Trim: Limited Engine: 2.0L MPI Atkinson Cycle Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 147 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 132 @ 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/32 Curb Weight: 2,811 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama Base Price: $22,350 As Tested Price: $23,310 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00 View full article
  23. When Toyota introduced the Prius into the U.S. back in the early 2000s, it was a different time. Gas prices were quite low and everybody was gobbling up big SUVs like they were going out of style. A small vehicle that got high fuel economy numbers didn’t seem that appealing. But then gas prices rose and consumers began to see the inherent value in the Prius. Before too long, the Prius would become the gold standard of hybrid vehicles. Now with gas prices being somewhat steady again, consumers have gone out and started buying larger vehicles again - in this case, crossovers. But the Prius is still around, welcoming those who want to get the most out of a tank of gas, Last fall, the Prius underwent a massive redesign with the big news being a new platform. Is this Prius still the top hybrid? The Toyota Prius has never been considered to be a sexy or stylish vehicle. Nor has been considered to be ugly. It has just sat in the middle of the design spectrum. Toyota decided to bust the Prius out of that design lull with a very polarizing look for the new model. Standing in front of the Prius for the first time, I thought that it looked like a cat toy. This impression comes from a pointy nose, triangular headlights, and creases in the hood. The side profile follows the ideals set by the last-generation model with some aggression. There is sculpting along the doors and rear fenders. The Prius’ interior always looked and felt like an afterthought with a dreary design and cheap materials. Thankfully, Toyota moved the interior up the priority list for the forth-generation Prius and it shows. Stepping inside, you can tell there is a noticeable improvement in material quality. Many surfaces are covered with soft-touch plastics. The center stack and console feature contrasting black and white plastic trim. The white trim is an interesting choice and might make some people think that Toyota’s designers watched a bit too much Star Wars when working on the Prius. Compared to the last Prius, the new model is considerably more comfortable and you could do a long trip without having any issues. The front seats have been lowered slightly and the setback has been slightly angled back. The back seat is slightly smaller than the previous-generation - legroom is down two inches. But an average-sized adult should fit with no issues. Cargo space has been increased to 24.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats. On the technology front, the Prius has seen some major improvements. The center mounted instrument cluster with graphics commonly seen on a microwave has been ditched for a new setup with two color screens. The left screen handles speed and basic trip information. The one on the right shows driving data, a powertrain diagram, and tips on improving overall fuel economy. The displays are very vibrant and easy to read at a quick glance. Below that lies a seven-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Entune’s interface looks slightly dated to competitors and getting into the navigation system is a bit of a mess - you hit the apps button and then hit navigation on the touchscreen. Still, we think Entune is one of the easier systems to use and is quite fast. The powertrain for the Prius is comprised of a 1.8L Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors/generators. Total output stands at 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. The base Prius Two sticks with a nickel-metal hydride battery, while higher trims - like our Three - get a compact lithium-ion battery pack. A CVT routes power to the front wheels. The Prius does take its sweet time to get up speed on the highway and rural roads. This also means you’ll need to plan your passes carefully. But the Prius does zip around the city with no issues - the electric motors offer instantaneous torque and the gas engine is ready to kick in when more power is needed. One improvement we’re glad to see is how much further you can just travel in EV mode. Keep a light foot on the accelerator and you’ll be able to travel a fair distance on just the battery alone. The CVT keeps itself in check most of the time. The only time it makes itself noticeable is during hard acceleration. The 2017 Toyota Prius Three is rated by the EPA at 54 City/50 Highway/52 Combined. Our average for the week was a very surprising 60.2 mpg with most of our driving done in the city. The Prius has never been known for being a decent handling vehicle. Going back through our previous Prius reviews, we have complained about the poor body control and steering that felt like you were stretching a rubber band. But the new Prius is quite shocking. Going around a corner, the Prius doesn’t show any real sign of body roll. Steering has some decent heft and feels more natural. What happened? A lot of the credit has to go to the new underpinnings of the Prius - Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA). This architecture introduces a new chassis design for the Prius, along with a lower center of gravity. Toyota will be introducing this architecture on other models in the future and it looks to be a winner. One area that the Prius is still struggling is the brakes. The pedal still has a vague feeling and you can’t help but wonder if the vehicle will come to a stop. Toyota has made sure the Prius was still a comfortable car to do the daily grind. Over potholed roads, the Prius’ suspension was able to soak up bumps without them making their way inside. Wind noise is almost nonexistent with a low coefficient of drag of 0.24 probably helping. Road noise is another matter as a fair amount comes inside. The combination of low-rolling resistance tires and not enough sound deadening material on the floor are the possible causes. Toyota could have just rested on their laurels and keep the basic formula that has served the Prius for many years. But instead, Toyota made some massive changes to the Prius and it has resulted in making the model become more well-rounded. The design will not appease everyone and the Prius could do with a little bit more power. But the changes made to the interior and chassis along with the impressive fuel economy more than overshadow these issues. The Prius is not only the hybrid that stands above the rest, it has finally moved on from a science fair experiment to an actual vehicle. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Trim: Three Engine: 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Continuously Variable Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 95 @ 5,200 (Gas), 121 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 54/50/52 Curb Weight: 3,050 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan Base Price: $26,250 As Tested Price: $29,842 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Technology Package - $1,935.00 Body Side Molding - $289.00 Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat - $225.00 Door Edge Guards - $125.00 Rear Bumper Applique - $69.00 Wheel Locks - $65.00 Cargo Net - $49.00
  24. When Toyota introduced the Prius into the U.S. back in the early 2000s, it was a different time. Gas prices were quite low and everybody was gobbling up big SUVs like they were going out of style. A small vehicle that got high fuel economy numbers didn’t seem that appealing. But then gas prices rose and consumers began to see the inherent value in the Prius. Before too long, the Prius would become the gold standard of hybrid vehicles. Now with gas prices being somewhat steady again, consumers have gone out and started buying larger vehicles again - in this case, crossovers. But the Prius is still around, welcoming those who want to get the most out of a tank of gas, Last fall, the Prius underwent a massive redesign with the big news being a new platform. Is this Prius still the top hybrid? The Toyota Prius has never been considered to be a sexy or stylish vehicle. Nor has been considered to be ugly. It has just sat in the middle of the design spectrum. Toyota decided to bust the Prius out of that design lull with a very polarizing look for the new model. Standing in front of the Prius for the first time, I thought that it looked like a cat toy. This impression comes from a pointy nose, triangular headlights, and creases in the hood. The side profile follows the ideals set by the last-generation model with some aggression. There is sculpting along the doors and rear fenders. The Prius’ interior always looked and felt like an afterthought with a dreary design and cheap materials. Thankfully, Toyota moved the interior up the priority list for the forth-generation Prius and it shows. Stepping inside, you can tell there is a noticeable improvement in material quality. Many surfaces are covered with soft-touch plastics. The center stack and console feature contrasting black and white plastic trim. The white trim is an interesting choice and might make some people think that Toyota’s designers watched a bit too much Star Wars when working on the Prius. Compared to the last Prius, the new model is considerably more comfortable and you could do a long trip without having any issues. The front seats have been lowered slightly and the setback has been slightly angled back. The back seat is slightly smaller than the previous-generation - legroom is down two inches. But an average-sized adult should fit with no issues. Cargo space has been increased to 24.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats. On the technology front, the Prius has seen some major improvements. The center mounted instrument cluster with graphics commonly seen on a microwave has been ditched for a new setup with two color screens. The left screen handles speed and basic trip information. The one on the right shows driving data, a powertrain diagram, and tips on improving overall fuel economy. The displays are very vibrant and easy to read at a quick glance. Below that lies a seven-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Entune’s interface looks slightly dated to competitors and getting into the navigation system is a bit of a mess - you hit the apps button and then hit navigation on the touchscreen. Still, we think Entune is one of the easier systems to use and is quite fast. The powertrain for the Prius is comprised of a 1.8L Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors/generators. Total output stands at 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. The base Prius Two sticks with a nickel-metal hydride battery, while higher trims - like our Three - get a compact lithium-ion battery pack. A CVT routes power to the front wheels. The Prius does take its sweet time to get up speed on the highway and rural roads. This also means you’ll need to plan your passes carefully. But the Prius does zip around the city with no issues - the electric motors offer instantaneous torque and the gas engine is ready to kick in when more power is needed. One improvement we’re glad to see is how much further you can just travel in EV mode. Keep a light foot on the accelerator and you’ll be able to travel a fair distance on just the battery alone. The CVT keeps itself in check most of the time. The only time it makes itself noticeable is during hard acceleration. The 2017 Toyota Prius Three is rated by the EPA at 54 City/50 Highway/52 Combined. Our average for the week was a very surprising 60.2 mpg with most of our driving done in the city. The Prius has never been known for being a decent handling vehicle. Going back through our previous Prius reviews, we have complained about the poor body control and steering that felt like you were stretching a rubber band. But the new Prius is quite shocking. Going around a corner, the Prius doesn’t show any real sign of body roll. Steering has some decent heft and feels more natural. What happened? A lot of the credit has to go to the new underpinnings of the Prius - Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA). This architecture introduces a new chassis design for the Prius, along with a lower center of gravity. Toyota will be introducing this architecture on other models in the future and it looks to be a winner. One area that the Prius is still struggling is the brakes. The pedal still has a vague feeling and you can’t help but wonder if the vehicle will come to a stop. Toyota has made sure the Prius was still a comfortable car to do the daily grind. Over potholed roads, the Prius’ suspension was able to soak up bumps without them making their way inside. Wind noise is almost nonexistent with a low coefficient of drag of 0.24 probably helping. Road noise is another matter as a fair amount comes inside. The combination of low-rolling resistance tires and not enough sound deadening material on the floor are the possible causes. Toyota could have just rested on their laurels and keep the basic formula that has served the Prius for many years. But instead, Toyota made some massive changes to the Prius and it has resulted in making the model become more well-rounded. The design will not appease everyone and the Prius could do with a little bit more power. But the changes made to the interior and chassis along with the impressive fuel economy more than overshadow these issues. The Prius is not only the hybrid that stands above the rest, it has finally moved on from a science fair experiment to an actual vehicle. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Trim: Three Engine: 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Continuously Variable Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 95 @ 5,200 (Gas), 121 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 54/50/52 Curb Weight: 3,050 lbs Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan Base Price: $26,250 As Tested Price: $29,842 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Technology Package - $1,935.00 Body Side Molding - $289.00 Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat - $225.00 Door Edge Guards - $125.00 Rear Bumper Applique - $69.00 Wheel Locks - $65.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 View full article
  25. A couple years back, I drove the recently-redesigned Mazda3 hatchback. I really liked all the improvements Mazda made to the 3, while retaining the fun to drive nature of the previous model. What I wasn’t too keen on was the price. For a vehicle that carried an as-tested price of just over $30,000, I couldn’t fully justify paying that much for a compact. Fast forward to this summer and another Mazda3 came in. This happened to be a sedan and one that was under $24,000. The best part? I felt that it was one of best bangs for your buck. The 3 in question is the 3i Grand Touring sedan. The i is the most important part as it means this 3 is fitted with the 2.0L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder producing 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. s models get the larger 2.5L four-cylinder. Our test sedan came with a six-speed manual. This engine is slightly slower and rougher than the 3s we drove a couple years back. But this engine is much better in terms of performance than some other compacts we have driven recently (Nissan Sentra and redesigned Hyundai Elantra). Mazda gets a lot of praise for their manual transmissions and we’re going to add some more. The gear lever moves with precision and smoothness. The clutch is easy to modulate to get a shudder free start. In terms of fuel economy, the EPA rates the Mazda3i at 29 City/41 Highway/33 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 35 mpg. I should note that the 3 went on a 388 mile round trip across the state for a track school (more on that in a future piece) that mostly involved highway driving. I was able to achieve 40.2 mpg during the trip. This trip also revealed two weaknesses of the 3. First is ride comfort. The 3 didn’t do a great job with isolating most bumps or potholes from entering the interior. This is due to the suspension setup which is tuned for delivering a sporty ride around corners. This would have been worse if our tester came with larger wheels. Second is a common fault with most Mazdas, noise isolation. During this trip, I was able to tell the condition of the road thanks to the abundance of road noise coming inside. There was also a fair amount of wind noise entering the cabin. Mazda says they have added more sound insulation to the 2017 model, we’ll be checking this out in the future. I would be remised if I didn’t talk about the 3’s handling. This is still one of the best driving compacts on sale today with little body roll, quick direction change, and steering that can rival some sports cars. At least sitting inside the 3 was a pleasant experience. The front seats provided excellent support for the long trip and controls were in easy reach. The infotainment system is still a mixed bag where it is easier to use the control knob than the touchscreen to move around the system. Also, the navigation system stumbled a few times where it showed I was traveling on another road than the one I was currently on. Let us step outside for a moment and gaze at the 3’s shape. I still think the Mazda3 is one of the best-looking compacts on sale. The front end has the large grille with chrome trim running along the outer edge and into the headlights. I also like the sculpting along the doors.The only disappointing thing is the back. In sedan form, the Mazda3 doesn’t look quite right. As I mentioned in the beginning, the Mazda3i Grand Touring sedan came with a price of under $24,000 ($23,435 to be exact). For the price, it was well equipped. There was leatherette seats, six-way power adjustments for the driver, navigation, Bose sound system, push-button start, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a backup camera, and a moonroof. The only option was a trunk mat for $70.00. The 2016 Mazda3 is a compelling choice in the compact class if you want something that is fun to drive. If you want something a bit more balanced or can handle a long drive, I’m not sure the 3 can cut it. There are compacts that are quieter and provide a smoother ride. It ultimately comes down to what you want in a compact. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3i, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Mazda Model: 3i Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 155 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 150 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/41/33 Curb Weight: 2,869 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $22,545 As Tested Price: $23,435 (Includes $820 Destination Charge) Options: Cargo Mat - $70.00