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Found 418 results

  1. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

    Hyundai had set itself a high bar when it launched the sixth-generation Sonata for the 2010 model year. It stood out from a crowded field of midsize sedans with an exterior shape that resembled a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. The Sonata also boasted a comfortable interior, loads of technology features, a good selection of engines, and a nice balance between comfort and sport. Replacing this model would be a tough task and one Hyundai wasn’t able to meet. When the seventh-generation model rolled out at 2014 New York Auto Show, you could hear the cry of a sad trombone. The new Sonata had gone conservative in its design. Compared to Chevrolet, Honda, and Toyota that rolled out bold styling on their sedans, the Sonata went backwards with a conservative look. Hyundai realized they need to make some drastic changes to Sonata to give it a fighting chance not only against other sedans, but from the growing demand for crossovers of all sizes. This brings us to the 2018 Sonata Limited. It was time to find out if Hyundai had found that magic once again. This being a refresh, Hyundai couldn’t go completely crazy in terms of the design language, however the updates really help the Sonata have more presence. Up front is bolder with a new hexagonal grille surround, chrome grille slats, new sculpting on the hood, and deep cuts in the bumper for LED fog lights. The side profile retains the chrome trim that runs through the headlights and around the windows. Hyundai made some drastic changes for the rear by smoothing out the trunk lid and moving the placement of the license plate to the bumper. The Sonata’s interior retains the basic shape of the outgoing model, but changes have been made to freshen it up. The center stack boasts a revised control layout and all trims get a three-spoke steering wheel. Previously, only the Sport trim got this wheel design. It would have been nice if Hyundai was a little bit more adventurous with the design, but I’m willing to forgive some of this feeling as the controls fall easily into hand. Interior materials are about average for the class with a mix of hard and soft plastics. The front seats were designed with long-distance comfort in mind with a fair amount of seat padding and just the right amount of firmness. Power adjustments for both driver and passenger are standard on the Limited and offer a generous range of adjustments. Space in the back is quite roomy and there are some nice touches such as manual window shades. The Sonata has one of the largest trunks in the class with 16.3 cubic feet of space on offer. All Sonata’s come with a 7-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system. Our test Sonata Limited had the optional 8-inch screen with navigation. The current BlueLink system has been with us for a few years and its interface is beginning to look somewhat dated, but the system is still one of the best when it comes to overall usability with large touchscreen buttons, bright screen, and a simple interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Sonatas except the base SE. Sonata offers one of the widest range of powertrains in the segment with three gas engines, a hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Our Sonata Limited came with the base 2.4L inline-four producing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. The engine provides adequate power for around town and rural driving. You will need to step on it when making a pass or merging onto a freeway as torque resides higher in the rev band. The six-speed automatic goes about its business smoothly and always knows what gear it needs to be in. Hyundai does offer an eight-speed automatic, but only if you opt for the turbocharged 2.0L. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Sonata Limited are 25 City/35 Highway/28 Combined (SE models see a one mpg increase in highway and combined figures). My average for the week landed around 28.5 mpg. Hyundai did make some tweaks to the 2018 Sonata’s suspension including a revised rear suspension setup with thicker trailing arms and revised steering system. The end result is a Sonata that handles much better than the previous car. Body motion has noticeably decreased and the steering provides decent weight when turning. Thankfully, the tweaks made to the suspension haven’t affected the Sonata’s ride quality. Bumps and other road imperfections are soaked up before reaching passengers. Some of the credit has to go to Hyundai not going crazy on offering large wheels - the Limited seen here rides on 17-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels. My first impression seeing the 2018 Sonata was that Hyundai had improved it, but was still a bit short when compared to the work done by other automakers. Spending a week with the Sonata caused me to change my train of thought; It surprised me how much work Hyundai put into this mid-cycle refresh and brings the Sonata up to the point where I would say it is fighting for best-in-class honors. While the 2018 Sonata may lack most of the pizzazz found in the sixth-generation model, it does show that Hyundai has learned from its mistake and worked to reclaim some of the magic. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Trim: Limited Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic. Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/28 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL Base Price: $27,400 As Tested Price: $31,310 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ultimate Package - $2,900.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00 View full article
  2. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

    Hyundai had set itself a high bar when it launched the sixth-generation Sonata for the 2010 model year. It stood out from a crowded field of midsize sedans with an exterior shape that resembled a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. The Sonata also boasted a comfortable interior, loads of technology features, a good selection of engines, and a nice balance between comfort and sport. Replacing this model would be a tough task and one Hyundai wasn’t able to meet. When the seventh-generation model rolled out at 2014 New York Auto Show, you could hear the cry of a sad trombone. The new Sonata had gone conservative in its design. Compared to Chevrolet, Honda, and Toyota that rolled out bold styling on their sedans, the Sonata went backwards with a conservative look. Hyundai realized they need to make some drastic changes to Sonata to give it a fighting chance not only against other sedans, but from the growing demand for crossovers of all sizes. This brings us to the 2018 Sonata Limited. It was time to find out if Hyundai had found that magic once again. This being a refresh, Hyundai couldn’t go completely crazy in terms of the design language, however the updates really help the Sonata have more presence. Up front is bolder with a new hexagonal grille surround, chrome grille slats, new sculpting on the hood, and deep cuts in the bumper for LED fog lights. The side profile retains the chrome trim that runs through the headlights and around the windows. Hyundai made some drastic changes for the rear by smoothing out the trunk lid and moving the placement of the license plate to the bumper. The Sonata’s interior retains the basic shape of the outgoing model, but changes have been made to freshen it up. The center stack boasts a revised control layout and all trims get a three-spoke steering wheel. Previously, only the Sport trim got this wheel design. It would have been nice if Hyundai was a little bit more adventurous with the design, but I’m willing to forgive some of this feeling as the controls fall easily into hand. Interior materials are about average for the class with a mix of hard and soft plastics. The front seats were designed with long-distance comfort in mind with a fair amount of seat padding and just the right amount of firmness. Power adjustments for both driver and passenger are standard on the Limited and offer a generous range of adjustments. Space in the back is quite roomy and there are some nice touches such as manual window shades. The Sonata has one of the largest trunks in the class with 16.3 cubic feet of space on offer. All Sonata’s come with a 7-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system. Our test Sonata Limited had the optional 8-inch screen with navigation. The current BlueLink system has been with us for a few years and its interface is beginning to look somewhat dated, but the system is still one of the best when it comes to overall usability with large touchscreen buttons, bright screen, and a simple interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Sonatas except the base SE. Sonata offers one of the widest range of powertrains in the segment with three gas engines, a hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Our Sonata Limited came with the base 2.4L inline-four producing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. The engine provides adequate power for around town and rural driving. You will need to step on it when making a pass or merging onto a freeway as torque resides higher in the rev band. The six-speed automatic goes about its business smoothly and always knows what gear it needs to be in. Hyundai does offer an eight-speed automatic, but only if you opt for the turbocharged 2.0L. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Sonata Limited are 25 City/35 Highway/28 Combined (SE models see a one mpg increase in highway and combined figures). My average for the week landed around 28.5 mpg. Hyundai did make some tweaks to the 2018 Sonata’s suspension including a revised rear suspension setup with thicker trailing arms and revised steering system. The end result is a Sonata that handles much better than the previous car. Body motion has noticeably decreased and the steering provides decent weight when turning. Thankfully, the tweaks made to the suspension haven’t affected the Sonata’s ride quality. Bumps and other road imperfections are soaked up before reaching passengers. Some of the credit has to go to Hyundai not going crazy on offering large wheels - the Limited seen here rides on 17-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels. My first impression seeing the 2018 Sonata was that Hyundai had improved it, but was still a bit short when compared to the work done by other automakers. Spending a week with the Sonata caused me to change my train of thought; It surprised me how much work Hyundai put into this mid-cycle refresh and brings the Sonata up to the point where I would say it is fighting for best-in-class honors. While the 2018 Sonata may lack most of the pizzazz found in the sixth-generation model, it does show that Hyundai has learned from its mistake and worked to reclaim some of the magic. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Trim: Limited Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic. Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/28 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL Base Price: $27,400 As Tested Price: $31,310 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ultimate Package - $2,900.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
  3. I found myself in a bit of quandary when it came to writing the review for the 2018 Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Both of these models have been redesigned recently and despite the different exteriors, under the skin they share a number of key parts such as the engine and suspension. As I was going through my notes, I realized the answer was right in front of me; talk about the differences between the two and see which one does it better. Exterior Between the two vehicles, the Rio stands out considerably. Like the previous model, the new Rio has a fair amount of European influence with neatly proportioned body and clean lines. The front end is quite low and features a narrow top grille and deep slits in the bumper for a set of fog lights. 15-inch alloy wheels come standard on EX. Unlike the Accent, the Rio is still available in as a hatchback. The Accent goes for the safe approach with a simple three-box sedan design. This isn’t helped by the silver color on my test vehicle which makes it become somewhat anonymous. The only real design traits are in the front with a new grille shape that is appearing on new Hyundai models and cutouts in the bumper for accent trim on our base SE tester or foglights on higher trims. One way the Accent SE stands out from the Rio LX is painted door handles and mirror caps. Interior There are no frills to be found in the Accent’s interior. Like the outside, Hyundai went for a simple and honest design. Material quality is what you expect in the class - hard plastics on most surfaces. But the plastics have a solid feel. All Accents feature basic front seat adjustments - fore/aft, height (driver only), and recline. I was able to find a position that worked for me quite quickly. One item to be aware of is the SE doesn’t come with a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel; SEL models and above get that feature. Space in the back is average for the class with a decent amount of headroom, but a limited amount of legroom. Kia added some style to the Rio’s interior with a sculpted dash featuring two-tone plastics. Hard plastics make up the majority of interior surfaces with a grain texture pattern. Like the Accent, the plastics have a very solid feel. The layout is simple with most controls in easy reach. Finding a comfortable position took no time with a basic set of seat adjustments and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. However, I found the seats in the Rio to not be as supportive on long trips. The back seat mirrors the Accent; ok headroom and a small amount of legroom. Infotainment The Rio EX comes with a 7-inch infotainment system with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. No navigation system is offered, but you won’t need it as support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. It will not take long to familiarize yourself with UVO thanks to a well-thought out interface and dedicated buttons for various features. Performance is impressive with the system responding very quickly to inputs. Over at the Accent SE, it comes with a 5-inch touchscreen radio. For the most part, the system was simple to use with redundant buttons for various functions, simple interface, and large touchscreen buttons. I only wished that the screen was slightly larger when I was scrolling through my iPod. One surprise was the SE getting Bluetooth as standard. Kia doesn’t offer Bluetooth on the base Rio LX. Powertrain Both the Accent and Rio use the same 1.6L inline-four engine producing 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque. What differs between the two is the transmission; the Accent SE comes with a six-speed manual while the Rio EX makes do with a six-speed automatic. Between the two, the Accent is noticeably quicker. The manual transmission allows the engine to flex what little muscle it has to get the vehicle up to speed. In the Rio, the automatic’s programming smothers the small amount of power to improve fuel economy. There is a Sport mode that holds onto gears longer, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. Neither of the transmissions can help the 1.6L on the freeway as the engine struggles to get up to speed at a decent rate. Fuel Economy EPA fuel economy figures are almost identical for the two models. Both return 28 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway. The difference is in the combined figure; the Rio returns 32, while the Accent returns 31. I got an average of 34 in the Rio and 33 in the Accent. Ride and Handling There are more similarities between the Rio and Accent when it comes to the driving experience. Both still employ struts in the front and a torsion-beam rear axle. But the body has been stiffened which helps with ride quality. Both models exhibited excellent isolation of most road imperfections. Handling is another place where the two surprised me. While not exhibiting the sporty characteristics of a Ford Fiesta, both the Accent and Rio show little body roll and feel quite nimble. The steering is light, but provides a decent amount of feedback when pushed. Pricing The 2018 Hyundai Accent begins at $14,995 for the base SE with manual transmission and climbs to $18,895 for the Limited. Our test SE with optional floor mats came to an as-tested price of $16,005. While it does cost $1,095 more than the base Rio LX, the Accent SE comes with more features such as Bluetooth, full power accessories, and a rear USB port. The 2018 Kia Rio kicks off at $13,900 for the LX sedan and climbs to $18,700 for the EX hatchback. The EX sedan tester came to an as-tested price of $19,425 with carpeted floor mats and destination. It is a bit hard to stomach the price tag when you can into some decently equipped compact sedans such as the Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze for similar money. Even after you factor in the EX getting forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, it’s still a tough sell. Verdict Trying to decide which of the two subcompacts was the winner in this piece was very difficult as they share so much. Beginning with the Rio EX, it is a very sharp looking subcompact with a fair amount of European influence and it is available as a hatchback. But the automatic transmission suffocates what little performance is on offer from the 1.6L engine. Plus the price tag of the EX is very difficult to swallow when you can step up into a compact for similar money. If it was the midlevel S, this would have been a closer fight. This brings us to the Accent SE. It's styling inside and out is a bit plain when pitted against the Rio. The lack of hatchback also makes the Accent a bit of hard sell to some buyers. But the list of standard features on the base model is very surprising. Plus, the manual transmission allows the engine to have some flexibility in most driving situations. Both models are towards the top in the subcompact class. But in this comparison, the base Accent SE nips the top-line Rio EX by a hair. Disclaimer: Hyundai and Kia Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Accent Trim: SE Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-valve GDI Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300 Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/31 Curb Weight: 2,502 lbs Location of Manufacture: Nuevo Leon, Mexico Base Price: $14,995 As Tested Price: $16,005 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats: $125.00 Year: 2018 Make: Kia Model: Rio Trim: EX Engine: 1.6L 16-valve GDI Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300 Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/32 Curb Weight: 2,714 lbs Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico Base Price: $18,400 As Tested Price: $19,425 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $130.00 View full article
  4. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Hyundai Accent SE vs. Kia Rio EX

    I found myself in a bit of quandary when it came to writing the review for the 2018 Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Both of these models have been redesigned recently and despite the different exteriors, under the skin they share a number of key parts such as the engine and suspension. As I was going through my notes, I realized the answer was right in front of me; talk about the differences between the two and see which one does it better. Exterior Between the two vehicles, the Rio stands out considerably. Like the previous model, the new Rio has a fair amount of European influence with neatly proportioned body and clean lines. The front end is quite low and features a narrow top grille and deep slits in the bumper for a set of fog lights. 15-inch alloy wheels come standard on EX. Unlike the Accent, the Rio is still available in as a hatchback. The Accent goes for the safe approach with a simple three-box sedan design. This isn’t helped by the silver color on my test vehicle which makes it become somewhat anonymous. The only real design traits are in the front with a new grille shape that is appearing on new Hyundai models and cutouts in the bumper for accent trim on our base SE tester or foglights on higher trims. One way the Accent SE stands out from the Rio LX is painted door handles and mirror caps. Interior There are no frills to be found in the Accent’s interior. Like the outside, Hyundai went for a simple and honest design. Material quality is what you expect in the class - hard plastics on most surfaces. But the plastics have a solid feel. All Accents feature basic front seat adjustments - fore/aft, height (driver only), and recline. I was able to find a position that worked for me quite quickly. One item to be aware of is the SE doesn’t come with a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel; SEL models and above get that feature. Space in the back is average for the class with a decent amount of headroom, but a limited amount of legroom. Kia added some style to the Rio’s interior with a sculpted dash featuring two-tone plastics. Hard plastics make up the majority of interior surfaces with a grain texture pattern. Like the Accent, the plastics have a very solid feel. The layout is simple with most controls in easy reach. Finding a comfortable position took no time with a basic set of seat adjustments and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. However, I found the seats in the Rio to not be as supportive on long trips. The back seat mirrors the Accent; ok headroom and a small amount of legroom. Infotainment The Rio EX comes with a 7-inch infotainment system with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. No navigation system is offered, but you won’t need it as support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. It will not take long to familiarize yourself with UVO thanks to a well-thought out interface and dedicated buttons for various features. Performance is impressive with the system responding very quickly to inputs. Over at the Accent SE, it comes with a 5-inch touchscreen radio. For the most part, the system was simple to use with redundant buttons for various functions, simple interface, and large touchscreen buttons. I only wished that the screen was slightly larger when I was scrolling through my iPod. One surprise was the SE getting Bluetooth as standard. Kia doesn’t offer Bluetooth on the base Rio LX. Powertrain Both the Accent and Rio use the same 1.6L inline-four engine producing 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque. What differs between the two is the transmission; the Accent SE comes with a six-speed manual while the Rio EX makes do with a six-speed automatic. Between the two, the Accent is noticeably quicker. The manual transmission allows the engine to flex what little muscle it has to get the vehicle up to speed. In the Rio, the automatic’s programming smothers the small amount of power to improve fuel economy. There is a Sport mode that holds onto gears longer, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. Neither of the transmissions can help the 1.6L on the freeway as the engine struggles to get up to speed at a decent rate. Fuel Economy EPA fuel economy figures are almost identical for the two models. Both return 28 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway. The difference is in the combined figure; the Rio returns 32, while the Accent returns 31. I got an average of 34 in the Rio and 33 in the Accent. Ride and Handling There are more similarities between the Rio and Accent when it comes to the driving experience. Both still employ struts in the front and a torsion-beam rear axle. But the body has been stiffened which helps with ride quality. Both models exhibited excellent isolation of most road imperfections. Handling is another place where the two surprised me. While not exhibiting the sporty characteristics of a Ford Fiesta, both the Accent and Rio show little body roll and feel quite nimble. The steering is light, but provides a decent amount of feedback when pushed. Pricing The 2018 Hyundai Accent begins at $14,995 for the base SE with manual transmission and climbs to $18,895 for the Limited. Our test SE with optional floor mats came to an as-tested price of $16,005. While it does cost $1,095 more than the base Rio LX, the Accent SE comes with more features such as Bluetooth, full power accessories, and a rear USB port. The 2018 Kia Rio kicks off at $13,900 for the LX sedan and climbs to $18,700 for the EX hatchback. The EX sedan tester came to an as-tested price of $19,425 with carpeted floor mats and destination. It is a bit hard to stomach the price tag when you can into some decently equipped compact sedans such as the Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze for similar money. Even after you factor in the EX getting forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, it’s still a tough sell. Verdict Trying to decide which of the two subcompacts was the winner in this piece was very difficult as they share so much. Beginning with the Rio EX, it is a very sharp looking subcompact with a fair amount of European influence and it is available as a hatchback. But the automatic transmission suffocates what little performance is on offer from the 1.6L engine. Plus the price tag of the EX is very difficult to swallow when you can step up into a compact for similar money. If it was the midlevel S, this would have been a closer fight. This brings us to the Accent SE. It's styling inside and out is a bit plain when pitted against the Rio. The lack of hatchback also makes the Accent a bit of hard sell to some buyers. But the list of standard features on the base model is very surprising. Plus, the manual transmission allows the engine to have some flexibility in most driving situations. Both models are towards the top in the subcompact class. But in this comparison, the base Accent SE nips the top-line Rio EX by a hair. Disclaimer: Hyundai and Kia Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Accent Trim: SE Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-valve GDI Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300 Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/31 Curb Weight: 2,502 lbs Location of Manufacture: Nuevo Leon, Mexico Base Price: $14,995 As Tested Price: $16,005 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats: $125.00 Year: 2018 Make: Kia Model: Rio Trim: EX Engine: 1.6L 16-valve GDI Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300 Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/32 Curb Weight: 2,714 lbs Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico Base Price: $18,400 As Tested Price: $19,425 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $130.00
  5. Sport is one of the most misused terms in the automotive segment. It could mean that a vehicle has been given a once-over in terms of the engine and suspension to give it an edge. But it could also mean that a vehicle has been gifted a body kit to make it look sporty. This brings us to the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport. Which version of sport did they decide to go with? Exterior changes on the G80 Sport are small with a copper grille surround, mesh grille, a more aggressive front bumper, 19-inch multi-spoke wheels, quad-exhaust tips, and exclusive colors like the Polar Ice on this vehicle. The small changes really transform the G80 into something a bit sinister. Inside, the G80 Sport swaps the standard steering wheel for a three-spoke sport version, new transmission selector, aluminum pedals, and carbon-fiber accents. The rest of the interior is standard G80 with a clean dash, controls within easy reach, and plenty of rear legroom. Headroom is at a premium due to the standard sunroof. Passengers in the front get a set of sport seats with increased bolstering. It makes a huge difference as you don’t feel like you’re going to fall out on a twisty road. The seats also retain the long road-trip comfort that I have praised previously in the G80 3.8. Sport models come with a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system and controller knob. This system is towards the top of the class with an intuitive interface and fast processing for various functions. One of biggest complaints with the last G80 I reviewed was the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. This has been addressed in 2018 model as both come standard. Genesis has also added a second USB port for those sitting in the front which means you’re not fighting with your passenger as to who gets to charge their phone. Now, they just need to add some for those in the back seat. Power comes from a new 3.3L twin-turbo V6 engine producing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with an eight-speed automatic and in my test car, Genesis’ HTRAC all-wheel drive system. Rear-wheel drive is standard. When you step on the accelerator, you might not think that a turbo engine resides under the hood as there is no turbo lag or a deaden throttle response. The engine just gets up and goes on its merry way. It would have been nice if there was some sort of exhaust note to go with the new engine. No complaints about the eight-speed automatic. It delivers smooth and quick shifts. Fuel economy is still a weak point for Genesis. The Sport with AWD is rated by the EPA at 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 19.8 mpg with a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. Opting for RWD only boosts the highway figure to 25. For the suspension, Genesis retuned the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system to help minimize body motions. It makes some difference when the car is put into Sport mode and dampers firm up to reduce body motion. But it cannot fully overcome the biggest problem with the G80, weight. The Sport AWD tester tips the scales 4,674 pounds. Sticking with RWD only drops overall weight by 155 pounds. It is noticeable around corners as the G80 doesn’t glide, but lumbers. The steering would have benefited greatly from having a bit more weight and feel. On the upside, the G80 Sport’s ride is surprisingly smooth. Despite the larger wheels and altered CDC system, most bumps and imperfections were turned into mere ripples. The Sport sits between the 3.8L and 5.0L in the G80 lineup. Pricing begins at $55,250 for the RWD model and $57,750 for the HTRAC AWD model. This particular test car came to an as-tested price of $58,725 after destination. This is an impressive value when you take into consideration the long list of standard equipment - heated and ventilated front seats, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, color heads-up display, LED head and taillights, sunshades for the rear passengers, multi-view camera system, and adaptive cruise control. Plus, all Genesis models have a 3 year/36,000 mile complimentary maintenance plan and service valet which pickups your vehicle to be serviced. For the most part, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport delivers on ‘sport’ with an aggressive exterior and punchy twin-turbo V6. Ultimately, the handling is where the G80 Sport falters somewhat. I think if Genesis was able to put the G80 on a bit of a diet, it would do wonders. But that doesn’t look like that will happen until the next-generation model that is expected to arrive in the next few years. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G80 Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Genesis Model: G80 Trim: Sport AWD Engine: 3.3L Twin Turbo DOHC 24-Valve V6 with D-CVVT Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,674 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $57,750 As Tested Price: $58,725 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  6. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Genesis G80 Sport AWD

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

    Review: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti

    Trying to review an Alfa Romeo vehicle is difficult as I found out with the Giulia Quadrifoglio. There were parts of model that I found to be quite amazing and worthy of putting it on my year-end favorites list. But other traits and details left a very sour taste in my mouth. I ended my review with this line, “To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.” Now I find myself in the same difficult position with another Alfa Romeo, the Stelvio. My fingers were crossed that the Stelvio would avoid some of the pitfalls from the Giulia. If you were to ask me to describe the Stelvio’s design, I would say it is a tall riding Giulia hatchback. The shared DNA is made quite clear in the front as there is a three-leaf design for the grille, narrow headlights set at a slight angle, and there are deep cuts in the hood. More of the Giulia can be seen in the side profile with flowing curves and noticeable fender bulges. One design trait that sets the Stelvio apart from other luxury crossovers is the sharply raked d-pillar that gives it a sporty edge. The Stelvio’s interior mirrors the Giulia with the same modern design and mixture of high-quality and very cheap materials. I also had an odd build quality issue where the button for the driver’s heated seat would get stuck. I would have to press the button a few times to dislodge it. This is a bit worrying for a brand with a very questionable reliability history. A set of leather sport seats that are part of an optional sport package came equipped. With increased side bolstering, the seats do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. It is a shame that the seats aren’t comfortable for long trips. After an hour or so, I found that my thighs were becoming sore. A little bit more seat padding would do some wonders. In the back, there is adequate head and legroom for an average sized adult. Taller passengers will notice headroom is very much at a premium due to the sloping roofline. Cargo space slightly trails competitors with 18.5 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 56.5 when folded. For infotainment, the base Stelvio comes with a 6.5-inch screen. The Ti makes do with a larger 8.8-inch screen. Both systems use a controller knob on the center console and voice commands to move around the system. If you read our Giulia Quadrifoglio review, then you know I had a number of problems with the infotainment system: Odd design choices, issues with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and a number of crashes to name a few. I was hoping the Stelvio’s system would have ironed some of the issues. But sadly, the Stelvio experienced the same issues as the Giulia. Alfa Romeo should have just used the UConnect infotainment system like Maserati does. Just put a different coat of paint and call something different. Under the hood of the Stelvio lies a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. There is also the high-performance Quadrifoglio with a 505 horsepower, twin-turbo V6 engine. Some turbo lag makes an appearance when the vehicle begins to accelerate. But once the turbocharger spools up, the Stelvio moves at a surprising rate. This comes down to a broad and flat torque curve. The eight-speed automatic mirrors what I found in the Giulia Quadrifoglio I drove earlier in the year - stumbles with gear changes at lower speeds, but becomes smoother as speed increases. Handling is where the Stelvio really pulls ahead of the competition. On a winding road, the crossover exhibits excellent control of body motions. Steering provides decent weight and feel needed for an enthusiastic drive. I had to remind myself this isn’t a Giulia sedan, this is a compact crossover. But there is one item that will make you think twice about driving the Stelvio with gusto and that is brakes. The pedal feel was very inconsistent - lightly press on the pedal and the vehicle didn’t feel like it was slowing down, press a little bit further and it felt like the vehicle was going into a panic stop. The issue deals with the brake-by-wire system which uses sensors to measure the amount of force and speed applied to the pedal. This information is then transmitted to a controller which applies the appropriate amount of braking force. This is a problem a few other reviews have noted and one Alfa Romeo needs to address. The ride is compliant with a fair number of bumps making their way inside. If you’re looking for a somewhat smoother ride, dropping to the smaller 18-inch wheels is recommended. Road and wind noise are kept to average levels for the class. But engine noise is very noticeable inside, sounding like an old diesel truck. Be prepared to keep the volume for the audio system up. Like the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Stelvio has me torn. The crossover has a lot going for it such as the sharp exterior, a very punchy turbo-four, and impressive handling. But then I look at the list of issues such as the problematic infotainment system, confused transmission, and a braking system that is very inconsistent. This isn’t including the dark cloud of Alfa Romeo’s reliability. During my week, I had a ‘Service Alarm’ light that would pop up when I started the vehicle. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I accidentally pressed the panic button and the alarm went off for five minutes. I was about ready to break out the wrenches and remove the battery to shut up the alarm, but then it stopped. It needs to be noted that FCA has issued four recalls on the Stelvio at the time of this writing. If you really have your heart set on a Stelvio, be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. There are moments of brilliance mixed in with the perils. Everyone else should look at the competition. Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Stelvio, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Stelvio Trim: Ti Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L MultiAir2 SOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/28/24 Curb Weight: 4,044 lbs Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $43,995 As Tested Price: $54,090 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ti Sport Package 22S - $2,500 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500 Dual-Pane Sunroof - $1,350 8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Navigation - $950.00 Harman Kardon Premium Audio - $900.00 Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00 Vesuvio Grey Metallic - $600.00 Compact Spare Tire - $450.00 Convenience Package - $200.00 View full article
  8. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti

    Trying to review an Alfa Romeo vehicle is difficult as I found out with the Giulia Quadrifoglio. There were parts of model that I found to be quite amazing and worthy of putting it on my year-end favorites list. But other traits and details left a very sour taste in my mouth. I ended my review with this line, “To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.” Now I find myself in the same difficult position with another Alfa Romeo, the Stelvio. My fingers were crossed that the Stelvio would avoid some of the pitfalls from the Giulia. If you were to ask me to describe the Stelvio’s design, I would say it is a tall riding Giulia hatchback. The shared DNA is made quite clear in the front as there is a three-leaf design for the grille, narrow headlights set at a slight angle, and there are deep cuts in the hood. More of the Giulia can be seen in the side profile with flowing curves and noticeable fender bulges. One design trait that sets the Stelvio apart from other luxury crossovers is the sharply raked d-pillar that gives it a sporty edge. The Stelvio’s interior mirrors the Giulia with the same modern design and mixture of high-quality and very cheap materials. I also had an odd build quality issue where the button for the driver’s heated seat would get stuck. I would have to press the button a few times to dislodge it. This is a bit worrying for a brand with a very questionable reliability history. A set of leather sport seats that are part of an optional sport package came equipped. With increased side bolstering, the seats do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. It is a shame that the seats aren’t comfortable for long trips. After an hour or so, I found that my thighs were becoming sore. A little bit more seat padding would do some wonders. In the back, there is adequate head and legroom for an average sized adult. Taller passengers will notice headroom is very much at a premium due to the sloping roofline. Cargo space slightly trails competitors with 18.5 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 56.5 when folded. For infotainment, the base Stelvio comes with a 6.5-inch screen. The Ti makes do with a larger 8.8-inch screen. Both systems use a controller knob on the center console and voice commands to move around the system. If you read our Giulia Quadrifoglio review, then you know I had a number of problems with the infotainment system: Odd design choices, issues with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and a number of crashes to name a few. I was hoping the Stelvio’s system would have ironed some of the issues. But sadly, the Stelvio experienced the same issues as the Giulia. Alfa Romeo should have just used the UConnect infotainment system like Maserati does. Just put a different coat of paint and call something different. Under the hood of the Stelvio lies a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. There is also the high-performance Quadrifoglio with a 505 horsepower, twin-turbo V6 engine. Some turbo lag makes an appearance when the vehicle begins to accelerate. But once the turbocharger spools up, the Stelvio moves at a surprising rate. This comes down to a broad and flat torque curve. The eight-speed automatic mirrors what I found in the Giulia Quadrifoglio I drove earlier in the year - stumbles with gear changes at lower speeds, but becomes smoother as speed increases. Handling is where the Stelvio really pulls ahead of the competition. On a winding road, the crossover exhibits excellent control of body motions. Steering provides decent weight and feel needed for an enthusiastic drive. I had to remind myself this isn’t a Giulia sedan, this is a compact crossover. But there is one item that will make you think twice about driving the Stelvio with gusto and that is brakes. The pedal feel was very inconsistent - lightly press on the pedal and the vehicle didn’t feel like it was slowing down, press a little bit further and it felt like the vehicle was going into a panic stop. The issue deals with the brake-by-wire system which uses sensors to measure the amount of force and speed applied to the pedal. This information is then transmitted to a controller which applies the appropriate amount of braking force. This is a problem a few other reviews have noted and one Alfa Romeo needs to address. The ride is compliant with a fair number of bumps making their way inside. If you’re looking for a somewhat smoother ride, dropping to the smaller 18-inch wheels is recommended. Road and wind noise are kept to average levels for the class. But engine noise is very noticeable inside, sounding like an old diesel truck. Be prepared to keep the volume for the audio system up. Like the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Stelvio has me torn. The crossover has a lot going for it such as the sharp exterior, a very punchy turbo-four, and impressive handling. But then I look at the list of issues such as the problematic infotainment system, confused transmission, and a braking system that is very inconsistent. This isn’t including the dark cloud of Alfa Romeo’s reliability. During my week, I had a ‘Service Alarm’ light that would pop up when I started the vehicle. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I accidentally pressed the panic button and the alarm went off for five minutes. I was about ready to break out the wrenches and remove the battery to shut up the alarm, but then it stopped. It needs to be noted that FCA has issued four recalls on the Stelvio at the time of this writing. If you really have your heart set on a Stelvio, be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. There are moments of brilliance mixed in with the perils. Everyone else should look at the competition. Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Stelvio, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Stelvio Trim: Ti Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L MultiAir2 SOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/28/24 Curb Weight: 4,044 lbs Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $43,995 As Tested Price: $54,090 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ti Sport Package 22S - $2,500 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500 Dual-Pane Sunroof - $1,350 8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Navigation - $950.00 Harman Kardon Premium Audio - $900.00 Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00 Vesuvio Grey Metallic - $600.00 Compact Spare Tire - $450.00 Convenience Package - $200.00
  9. (Author's Note: As was pointed out to me on Facebook, the diesel engine is nowhere to be seen on the consumer site or the configurator. Yet, it appears in FCA's media materials. In an email sent this afternoon, Ram Trucks spokesman Nick Cappa said the option has been dropped for 2018. This review has been updated with this new information. -WM) I’ll admit that I was a bit crazy requesting a 2018 Ram ProMaster van for review. Ever since it was introduced, I have been interested in this rebadged version of the Fiat Ducato van sold elsewhere. Unlike most vans that use a rear-wheel drive layout, the ProMaster uses a front-wheel drive one. I wanted to know if this works for a vehicle designed for work. But I also have an odd curiosity to cargo vans in general as I wondered what it would be like to drive one for a week as my daily driver. This is what I found out. Function over form best describes the design brief for the Ram ProMaster. The overall profile reminds us of an oversized dustbuster with a steeply raked and short front end and tall sides. Awkward is the kindest word to use on the ProMaster’s front end with the grille placed very low, acres of gray plastic, headlights positioned near the windshield, and a large glass area. The rest of the ProMaster’s design fits in line with other cargo vans with clean sides, split-opening rear doors, and a set of optional wheels.  The ProMaster offers a wide variety of configurations. With three weight classes, three body styles, and various roof height and length options, you’ll be able to find a van that fit your needs. Our particular tester is one of the popular configurations; a 2500 with the 159-inch wheelbase and high roof option. Getting inside the ProMaster isn’t tough thanks to wide opening front doors and steps to help you climb up. Once in, you’ll notice one of the key benefits to the ProMaster’s exterior. The large glass area not only makes the interior feel airy, it provides excellent outward visibility. This helps make maneuvering in tight spaces easier. The design is very utilitarian with a plain look and controls within easy reach of the driver and passenger. There are some clever touches such as the integrated clipboard latch on the top of the dash to hold paperwork and numerous storage spaces. Many surfaces are covered in hard plastics which will hold up to the various work demands being put upon by owners. One area that will be a major issue for drivers is the seating position. Instead of you sitting in front of the steering wheel, Ram has the wheel set up similar to a school bus or semi-truck where you sit over it. Not helping is the placement of the pedals where you step down instead of push forward. The end result is a driver being in a hunched over position. This could be somewhat alleviated if there was a tilt adjustment for the steering wheel. But Ram only offers a telescoping adjustment. The only way to get a sudo-tilt adjustment is to adjust the angle of the seat. The seats themselves are perfect for a long workday with excellent support and firm cushioning. It needs to be noted that the ProMaster only offers the bare minimum when it comes to seat adjustments such as angle and position. If you want lumbar adjustments, you need to tick that box on the option list. All ProMasters come with a 5.3-inch touchscreen with FCA’s UConnect infotainment system. Our test van came with the optional TomTom navigation system. The small screen makes it slightly difficult to look at quickly or use while on the move. We would skip the TomTom navigation system as the graphics are quite dated and it takes some time to process before providing directions. At least the base UConnect system has many of the qualities we like on the larger systems such as a simple user interface and snappy performance. Step behind the cockpit to enter the massive cargo space. Our particular ProMaster configuration boasted 420 cubic feet of space and max payload of 4,020 pounds. One of the reasons I had requested the van was to get a number of items at my parent’s house to be donated. The van was up to the task by swallowing up everything including a dining room set. The low step-in height, rear-doors that open up 260-degrees, and numerous tie-down points to keep cargo in its place were appreciated. There are two engines on offer for the ProMaster. We had the base 3.6L V6 producing 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. There is an optional a 3.0L turbodiesel inline-four with a six-speed automated manual. (No more diesel for 2018 according to FCA). The V6 engine moves the van with no issue even with a large amount of cargo. As for the automatic, it delivers smooth shifts. However, the transmission showed some slowness to change gears. We’re assuming this is due to van only having 350 miles when we took delivery. For those who need a specific setup in the cargo area such as plumbers or painters, Ram offers various uplift packages that include such items as shelving, integrated tool boxes, and dividers. The low mileage might also explain the fuel economy figure of 15.7 mpg in mostly city driving. No EPA numbers are available due to the van’s gross vehicle weight being above 8,500 pounds. It is evident that Ram’s prime consideration for the suspension was tuned to deal with heavy loads and not comfort. With the van empty, the ride quality is quite harsh with many bumps making their way inside. Fill up the van and the ride begins to smooth out somewhat. Steering takes a lot of effort as it's very slow and requires a driver to make a number of rotations to do simple turns. There is a fair amount of road and wind noise coming inside the passenger compartment. If I was to judge the ProMaster like I would with a normal passenger car or SUV, it would be towards the bottom. There is a long list of problems such as the odd driving position, the number of comfort features that are optional, slow steering, and harsh ride. But I need to look at the ProMaster in a different light since it isn’t built for people like me. It is built for people who need a vehicle that can handle holding a lot of cargo or tools, along with being on some sort of worksite for periods at a time. Then the ProMaster begins to show some bright spots. The massive cargo area with the low step-in and tie-down point make it great for deliveries or moving. Using a front-wheel drive setup doesn’t hurt the ProMaster’s capability in terms of payload, and will help the van when the weather becomes terrible like a snowstorm. Finally, the V6 engine is plenty powerful for any situation the ProMaster is in. While I found the ProMaster to be a bit much to be used a daily driver for me, I can very much see the appeal for those in the commercial market. Just be sure to try the seating position as that will be the item that will influence your decision the most. Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the ProMaster 2500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Ram Trucks Model: ProMaster Cargo Trim: 2500 159" Wheelbase - High Roof Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - N/A Curb Weight: 4.483 lbs Location of Manufacture: N/A Base Price: $35,095 As Tested Price: $43,460 (Includes $1,395 Destination Charge) Options: Sliding Driver-Side Door without Glass - $595.00 Trailer Tow Group - $585.00 UConnect 3 Navigation with 5-inch Display - $495.00 16-inch x 6.0-inch Aluminum Wheels - $445.00 Wood Composite Floor - $445.00 Premium Appearance Group - $395.00 Interior Convenience Group - $345.00 ParkSense Rear Park-Assist System - $295.00 Rear Hinged Doors with Deep Tinted Glass - $295.00 Speed Control - $295.00 Upper and Lower Side Wall Paneling Group - $295.00 LED Cargo Areas Light Bars - $285.00 225/75R16C BSW All-Season Tires - $250.00 Driver/Passenger 6-Way Adjustable Lumbar Seats - $245.00 Power Folding/Heated Mirrors - $245.00 Security Alarm - $245.00 DOT Certified Roadside Safety Kit - $195.00 Heated Driver Seat - $195.00 Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel - $195.00 SiriusXM Sat Radio w/1-Year Subscription - $195.00 Rear Assist Handles - $150.00 Heated Passenger Seat - $145.00 Instrument Panel Bright Bezels - $95.00 12-Volt Rear Auxiliary Power Outlet - $45.00
  10. (Author's Note: As was pointed out to me on Facebook, the diesel engine is nowhere to be seen on the consumer site or the configurator. Yet, it appears in FCA's media materials. In an email sent this afternoon, Ram Trucks spokesman Nick Cappa said the option has been dropped for 2018. This review has been updated with this new information. -WM) I’ll admit that I was a bit crazy requesting a 2018 Ram ProMaster van for review. Ever since it was introduced, I have been interested in this rebadged version of the Fiat Ducato van sold elsewhere. Unlike most vans that use a rear-wheel drive layout, the ProMaster uses a front-wheel drive one. I wanted to know if this works for a vehicle designed for work. But I also have an odd curiosity to cargo vans in general as I wondered what it would be like to drive one for a week as my daily driver. This is what I found out. Function over form best describes the design brief for the Ram ProMaster. The overall profile reminds us of an oversized dustbuster with a steeply raked and short front end and tall sides. Awkward is the kindest word to use on the ProMaster’s front end with the grille placed very low, acres of gray plastic, headlights positioned near the windshield, and a large glass area. The rest of the ProMaster’s design fits in line with other cargo vans with clean sides, split-opening rear doors, and a set of optional wheels.  The ProMaster offers a wide variety of configurations. With three weight classes, three body styles, and various roof height and length options, you’ll be able to find a van that fit your needs. Our particular tester is one of the popular configurations; a 2500 with the 159-inch wheelbase and high roof option. Getting inside the ProMaster isn’t tough thanks to wide opening front doors and steps to help you climb up. Once in, you’ll notice one of the key benefits to the ProMaster’s exterior. The large glass area not only makes the interior feel airy, it provides excellent outward visibility. This helps make maneuvering in tight spaces easier. The design is very utilitarian with a plain look and controls within easy reach of the driver and passenger. There are some clever touches such as the integrated clipboard latch on the top of the dash to hold paperwork and numerous storage spaces. Many surfaces are covered in hard plastics which will hold up to the various work demands being put upon by owners. One area that will be a major issue for drivers is the seating position. Instead of you sitting in front of the steering wheel, Ram has the wheel set up similar to a school bus or semi-truck where you sit over it. Not helping is the placement of the pedals where you step down instead of push forward. The end result is a driver being in a hunched over position. This could be somewhat alleviated if there was a tilt adjustment for the steering wheel. But Ram only offers a telescoping adjustment. The only way to get a sudo-tilt adjustment is to adjust the angle of the seat. The seats themselves are perfect for a long workday with excellent support and firm cushioning. It needs to be noted that the ProMaster only offers the bare minimum when it comes to seat adjustments such as angle and position. If you want lumbar adjustments, you need to tick that box on the option list. All ProMasters come with a 5.3-inch touchscreen with FCA’s UConnect infotainment system. Our test van came with the optional TomTom navigation system. The small screen makes it slightly difficult to look at quickly or use while on the move. We would skip the TomTom navigation system as the graphics are quite dated and it takes some time to process before providing directions. At least the base UConnect system has many of the qualities we like on the larger systems such as a simple user interface and snappy performance. Step behind the cockpit to enter the massive cargo space. Our particular ProMaster configuration boasted 420 cubic feet of space and max payload of 4,020 pounds. One of the reasons I had requested the van was to get a number of items at my parent’s house to be donated. The van was up to the task by swallowing up everything including a dining room set. The low step-in height, rear-doors that open up 260-degrees, and numerous tie-down points to keep cargo in its place were appreciated. There are two engines on offer for the ProMaster. We had the base 3.6L V6 producing 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. There is an optional a 3.0L turbodiesel inline-four with a six-speed automated manual. (No more diesel for 2018 according to FCA). The V6 engine moves the van with no issue even with a large amount of cargo. As for the automatic, it delivers smooth shifts. However, the transmission showed some slowness to change gears. We’re assuming this is due to van only having 350 miles when we took delivery. For those who need a specific setup in the cargo area such as plumbers or painters, Ram offers various uplift packages that include such items as shelving, integrated tool boxes, and dividers. The low mileage might also explain the fuel economy figure of 15.7 mpg in mostly city driving. No EPA numbers are available due to the van’s gross vehicle weight being above 8,500 pounds. It is evident that Ram’s prime consideration for the suspension was tuned to deal with heavy loads and not comfort. With the van empty, the ride quality is quite harsh with many bumps making their way inside. Fill up the van and the ride begins to smooth out somewhat. Steering takes a lot of effort as it's very slow and requires a driver to make a number of rotations to do simple turns. There is a fair amount of road and wind noise coming inside the passenger compartment. If I was to judge the ProMaster like I would with a normal passenger car or SUV, it would be towards the bottom. There is a long list of problems such as the odd driving position, the number of comfort features that are optional, slow steering, and harsh ride. But I need to look at the ProMaster in a different light since it isn’t built for people like me. It is built for people who need a vehicle that can handle holding a lot of cargo or tools, along with being on some sort of worksite for periods at a time. Then the ProMaster begins to show some bright spots. The massive cargo area with the low step-in and tie-down point make it great for deliveries or moving. Using a front-wheel drive setup doesn’t hurt the ProMaster’s capability in terms of payload, and will help the van when the weather becomes terrible like a snowstorm. Finally, the V6 engine is plenty powerful for any situation the ProMaster is in. While I found the ProMaster to be a bit much to be used a daily driver for me, I can very much see the appeal for those in the commercial market. Just be sure to try the seating position as that will be the item that will influence your decision the most. Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the ProMaster 2500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Ram Trucks Model: ProMaster Cargo Trim: 2500 159" Wheelbase - High Roof Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - N/A Curb Weight: 4.483 lbs Location of Manufacture: N/A Base Price: $35,095 As Tested Price: $43,460 (Includes $1,395 Destination Charge) Options: Sliding Driver-Side Door without Glass - $595.00 Trailer Tow Group - $585.00 UConnect 3 Navigation with 5-inch Display - $495.00 16-inch x 6.0-inch Aluminum Wheels - $445.00 Wood Composite Floor - $445.00 Premium Appearance Group - $395.00 Interior Convenience Group - $345.00 ParkSense Rear Park-Assist System - $295.00 Rear Hinged Doors with Deep Tinted Glass - $295.00 Speed Control - $295.00 Upper and Lower Side Wall Paneling Group - $295.00 LED Cargo Areas Light Bars - $285.00 225/75R16C BSW All-Season Tires - $250.00 Driver/Passenger 6-Way Adjustable Lumbar Seats - $245.00 Power Folding/Heated Mirrors - $245.00 Security Alarm - $245.00 DOT Certified Roadside Safety Kit - $195.00 Heated Driver Seat - $195.00 Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel - $195.00 SiriusXM Sat Radio w/1-Year Subscription - $195.00 Rear Assist Handles - $150.00 Heated Passenger Seat - $145.00 Instrument Panel Bright Bezels - $95.00 12-Volt Rear Auxiliary Power Outlet - $45.00 View full article
  11. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Ram 1500 Limited

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

    Quick Drive: 2018 Ram 1500 Limited

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

    Review: 2018 Genesis G90 3.3T Premium

    When you’re buying a luxury flagship sedan, you are making a statement to the world. Drive an S-Class, 7-Series, XJ, or other sedans and the impressions can range from being someone important to just having a lot of money. But for some people, they don’t want their luxury sedan to make itself known to the world. They want to enjoy the features available on their sedan, but without making so much noise. That’s where the Genesis G90 could make some inroads. Part of Hyundai’s new luxury brand, the G90 has its sights set on the stalwarts of the flagship luxury class by offering many of the features and luxury appointments found in them at a very low price. We spent a week in a G90 Premium to see if this ploy could work. Genesis has injected a bit of style into the G90’s design. The key traits are a distinctive character line running the whole length of the vehicle and fenders that bulge out slightly. The rear end is slightly boring. However, the G90’s front end doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the design. The flat nose and large grille borrowed from the smaller G80 seems a bit out of place. Step inside and the G90 seems to have the design and materials nailed down. It is quite handsome with a simple dash design, genuine wood trim, and a mix of Nappa leather and soft-touch plastics. But take a longer look and you begin to notice some glaring issues. The steering wheel is a good example as it doesn't feel like it is covered in leather. Instead, it feels like textured vinyl. This is odd since a couple of months after the G90, I spent some time in the G80 Sport and found the steering wheel to feel like leather. Another issue is the center stack's button and knobs which appear to be borrowed from Hyundai’s parts bin. I’ll admit I’m nitpicking, but it's the little things that can make or break a flagship luxury sedan. Settling in the G90, you cannot help but be impressed by the front seats. Upholstered in Nappa leather, the seats offer the right mix of cushioning and support for long drives. The driver’s seat comes with 22-way power adjustments, while the passenger has to make do with 16-way power adjustments. One nice touch is the seat moving back whenever the door is open to allow for easier entry and exit from the vehicle. Those sitting in the back will have no complaints as there is a large amount of head and legroom on offer. A folding armrest has controls for climate control, audio, and heated seats. Ultimate models add more luxuries such as power adjustments and a rear-seat entertainment system. A large 12.3-inch screen houses Genesis’ infotainment system. This is controlled through either a controller knob on the center console or a set of buttons below the screen. Using the system is a breeze thanks to an easy to understand interface and the various control methods on offer. The screen is vibrant and allows you to have two functions up at the same time - having audio on one side and the navigation on the other. There are some areas Genesis can improve on. For one, the G90 doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility - something most of the competition does. Also, it would be nice to have more than two USB ports - one in the front and the other in the rear - so that people are not fighting over who gets to charge their phone. Genesis offers two engines on the G90. Our base Premium tester came with the 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. The uplevel Ultimate features the 5.0L V8 with 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is equipped with either engine and there is a choice of rear-wheel or HTRAC all-wheel drive - our test car had the latter. Unless you want the rumble of the V8, the twin-turbo V6 is the engine to go for. For one, the V6 feels just as fast as the V8. Outlets who have timed both say the V6 can match the V8 in 0-60 mph. Plus, the V6 feels more eager to accelerate thanks to torque arriving at 1,300 rpm. The eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts and doesn’t show any hesitation to downshift when more power is needed. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 G90 3.3T HTRAC AWD stand at 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 20.2 mpg. The G90’s ride is similar to big 70’s Buick or Cadillac, soft and pillowy thanks to the standard adaptive dampers. Even with the G90 set in Sport mode, the dampers were still able to keep road imperfections at bay. In terms of noise isolation, the G90 is towards the top. Road and engine noise are nonexistent inside. Only a little wind noise is noticeable. This makes the G90 a perfect car to take a long road trip. The trade-off to the soft ride is a fair amount of body roll in corners, even in the sport mode. Steering is light, but has a precise feel. If you’re looking for a luxury sedan that is a bit fun on a winding road, we are happy to point you in the direction of a Cadillac CT6 or Jaguar XJ. The 2018 Genesis G90 significantly undercuts the competition when it comes to price. Our Premium tester came with a base price of $70,850 with the HTRAC AWD system. Add a $975.00 destination charge to get our as-tested price of $71,825. Considering that includes the 12.3-inch infotainment system, three-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and surround view camera system, it makes the G90 very much a steal. The Genesis G90 may not shout out its intention of being a flagship sedan, but it goes about its business quietly. It delivers the smooth ride, long list of equipment, and understated looks a number of folks are looking for. The punchy twin-turbo V6 and low price are just the cherries on top. However, the G90 does cut some corners in terms of the materials. Considering the competition that the G90 is going up against, this is a big black mark for an otherwise excellent sedan. As they say, the devil is in the details. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G90 Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Genesis Model: G90 Trim: 3.3T Premium HTRAC Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,784 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $70,850 As Tested Price: $71,825 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  14. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Genesis G90 3.3T Premium

    When you’re buying a luxury flagship sedan, you are making a statement to the world. Drive an S-Class, 7-Series, XJ, or other sedans and the impressions can range from being someone important to just having a lot of money. But for some people, they don’t want their luxury sedan to make itself known to the world. They want to enjoy the features available on their sedan, but without making so much noise. That’s where the Genesis G90 could make some inroads. Part of Hyundai’s new luxury brand, the G90 has its sights set on the stalwarts of the flagship luxury class by offering many of the features and luxury appointments found in them at a very low price. We spent a week in a G90 Premium to see if this ploy could work. Genesis has injected a bit of style into the G90’s design. The key traits are a distinctive character line running the whole length of the vehicle and fenders that bulge out slightly. The rear end is slightly boring. However, the G90’s front end doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the design. The flat nose and large grille borrowed from the smaller G80 seems a bit out of place. Step inside and the G90 seems to have the design and materials nailed down. It is quite handsome with a simple dash design, genuine wood trim, and a mix of Nappa leather and soft-touch plastics. But take a longer look and you begin to notice some glaring issues. The steering wheel is a good example as it doesn't feel like it is covered in leather. Instead, it feels like textured vinyl. This is odd since a couple of months after the G90, I spent some time in the G80 Sport and found the steering wheel to feel like leather. Another issue is the center stack's button and knobs which appear to be borrowed from Hyundai’s parts bin. I’ll admit I’m nitpicking, but it's the little things that can make or break a flagship luxury sedan. Settling in the G90, you cannot help but be impressed by the front seats. Upholstered in Nappa leather, the seats offer the right mix of cushioning and support for long drives. The driver’s seat comes with 22-way power adjustments, while the passenger has to make do with 16-way power adjustments. One nice touch is the seat moving back whenever the door is open to allow for easier entry and exit from the vehicle. Those sitting in the back will have no complaints as there is a large amount of head and legroom on offer. A folding armrest has controls for climate control, audio, and heated seats. Ultimate models add more luxuries such as power adjustments and a rear-seat entertainment system. A large 12.3-inch screen houses Genesis’ infotainment system. This is controlled through either a controller knob on the center console or a set of buttons below the screen. Using the system is a breeze thanks to an easy to understand interface and the various control methods on offer. The screen is vibrant and allows you to have two functions up at the same time - having audio on one side and the navigation on the other. There are some areas Genesis can improve on. For one, the G90 doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility - something most of the competition does. Also, it would be nice to have more than two USB ports - one in the front and the other in the rear - so that people are not fighting over who gets to charge their phone. Genesis offers two engines on the G90. Our base Premium tester came with the 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. The uplevel Ultimate features the 5.0L V8 with 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is equipped with either engine and there is a choice of rear-wheel or HTRAC all-wheel drive - our test car had the latter. Unless you want the rumble of the V8, the twin-turbo V6 is the engine to go for. For one, the V6 feels just as fast as the V8. Outlets who have timed both say the V6 can match the V8 in 0-60 mph. Plus, the V6 feels more eager to accelerate thanks to torque arriving at 1,300 rpm. The eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts and doesn’t show any hesitation to downshift when more power is needed. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 G90 3.3T HTRAC AWD stand at 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 20.2 mpg. The G90’s ride is similar to big 70’s Buick or Cadillac, soft and pillowy thanks to the standard adaptive dampers. Even with the G90 set in Sport mode, the dampers were still able to keep road imperfections at bay. In terms of noise isolation, the G90 is towards the top. Road and engine noise are nonexistent inside. Only a little wind noise is noticeable. This makes the G90 a perfect car to take a long road trip. The trade-off to the soft ride is a fair amount of body roll in corners, even in the sport mode. Steering is light, but has a precise feel. If you’re looking for a luxury sedan that is a bit fun on a winding road, we are happy to point you in the direction of a Cadillac CT6 or Jaguar XJ. The 2018 Genesis G90 significantly undercuts the competition when it comes to price. Our Premium tester came with a base price of $70,850 with the HTRAC AWD system. Add a $975.00 destination charge to get our as-tested price of $71,825. Considering that includes the 12.3-inch infotainment system, three-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and surround view camera system, it makes the G90 very much a steal. The Genesis G90 may not shout out its intention of being a flagship sedan, but it goes about its business quietly. It delivers the smooth ride, long list of equipment, and understated looks a number of folks are looking for. The punchy twin-turbo V6 and low price are just the cherries on top. However, the G90 does cut some corners in terms of the materials. Considering the competition that the G90 is going up against, this is a big black mark for an otherwise excellent sedan. As they say, the devil is in the details. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G90 Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Genesis Model: G90 Trim: 3.3T Premium HTRAC Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20 Curb Weight: 4,784 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $70,850 As Tested Price: $71,825 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  15. Driven: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback Essence 2.0t (the original review is in this post. A revised review is further down, in this post) HIGHS: -Nice understated shape conceals a cleverly integrated hatchback design -'Decent' propulsion from 2.0t engine -Nicely shaped upper dash with touchsreen oriented slightly to driver. Interesting at least from a design standpoint. -Sporting driving position and good room in both rows, mostly, plus the biggest benefit being improved leg room over previous model -Really nice cargo space, with seats up, or seats down, the cargo area of this vehicle and the flexibility of it in a car like this IMO is a major draw -View outside of this vehicle is improved over its platform mate (Malibu, my daily driver) due to the rear door glass being longer and taller. View out the front and rear is essentially the same. -AWD availability is a nice plus, thanks Buick. LOWS: -I can't recall any of the GM vehicles I have driven with this ubiquitous 2.0t engine, where i have actually been wowed or impressed by it. It has decent thrust, but honestly you gotta spool it up a bit, the tranny doesn't respond instantly, it's not a five star smooth tranny, and it's kind of rough and noisy overall as a powertrain (AT LEAST FOR IT'S PRICE / CLASS). I was hoping the 2.0 would make the car match the near luxury description but I don't think it's overall a smooth enough powertrain to meet that claim. It's neither smooth, nor sporting or exciting. And this is with front wheel drive. I will reserve final judgment until i get in the GS with the v6, which is the engine I think most people will really end up liking in this car. -Heavier than it's Malibu platform mate. No doubt acceptable due to the larger engine, but the benefit of the extra weight doesn't manifest itself in any real tangible way anywhere in the ride and drive of the car. -Not really any quieter inside than my Malibu. Strange, because this Buick is supposed to have quiet tuning, and goo in the tires to help make it quieter. The ride isn't really any more plush, either. -Steering is sort of dead and mushy. That's not GERMANIC now, is it. -NEED TO BE ABLE TO TURN OFF THE AUTOSTOP WHEN YOU WANT TO. -Not really much nicer inside than in my Malibu. The lower dash is the same 'less expensive' plastic you see in cheap Chevy's. The door panels are a little nicer, but not that much more. Many switches and buttons are the same. The console is nicer (I don't like the shifter centered in the console now actually, it's quite a reach) I guess...except for cupholders in front of the climate controls. The upper dash material is an upgrade over the Malibu, but it's not a PREMIUM dash material either. -I can't really tell for sure if the seats are better. My Malibu seats are poor. The Regal seats seemed to hug me more, but they still felt thin and insubstantial. The leather quality was slightly better, but still nothing to write home about. -Rear head room suffers a bit with the hatch design. I don't mind the tradeoff personally, but the Malibu retains a bit more headroom, and the Regal TourX really has much more....so get the wagon if rear head room matters. -Sunroof was nice to have considering how bunkerlike the Malibu can feel....but again the hatch design limits the size of the sunroof here compared to the Malibu's BAMR. I can live with the compromise here myself, and again, the wagon will satisfy your urge for BAMR if you need it. I would encourage GM to develop a way to integrate a larger moonroof with the hatch design. I think it could be done, but would require time and money on a redesign effort. -Options / packages on this car are, simply put, stupid. But that merits its own post. At least in this car, the heated steering wheel and leather heated seats were both included. You can actually get this car with heated steering wheel but without heated seats. How f-cked up is that? In 2019, Fusion, Toyota, and others will have things like blind spot and cross path detection as standard equipment. And those are not 'premium' makes. -I'll let others decide if they think the styling is too tepid. I don't mind the understated styling but do admit that the color selections that are available on this car leave me wanting. I like the red on the GS, and the smoked pearl metallic is nice. And Buick seems to think they should charge extra for paint colors when they don't make the ride and drive anything special. -pricing. I think the average nature of this car would be easily forgiven if the pricing were in line with being an average car; not priced for a premium marque. Like the LaCrosse and Envision, it is best to wait out the model year if you are buying and wait for the inevitable 7,000-10,000 or more in discounts...which might bring the pricing in line with what the vehicle really is. You can't say this vehicle is appealing at the prices it is at now. SUMMARY: This probably seems like a negative review, but you should consider it more of underwhelmed and let down. This car as I drove it just doesn't have any kind of endearing personality to speak of! At the end of the day, it took Buick two extra years to bring to the US it's own Malibu clone, which doesn't have much more to show for it.... apart from the clever hatch and base 2.0 engine upgrade over the 1.5. I actually am very curious now to be among the first to try the 2019 Malibu 1.5t + CVT combo. But that's an aside for another discussion. The 2.0 that general motors puts in so many vehicles has never impressed me, and that's due more to it's character than anything. I had hopes this would be the ONE CAR that it would feel sporting in; one that would make the car feel at least a little, like a SPORTS SEDAN. Nope. I will wait with baited breath to someday find a v6 GS to test, as i think it will be the only Regal worth anything. At least worth anything more than just being another option in the midsize, genericar class. And I hope Buick is working on a twin turbo six option as well for the GS (GSX?). I tend to think this car won't move the needle in marketplace excitement until it has a tire shredder under the hood to brag about...The v6 will promise smoother revs and deeper lungs at least......... Still, as a replacement in the bottom end of the Buick lineup for the Verano, I am ok with this. Just please, sex it up!
  16. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL

    On the day I was getting the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a week-long test, meteorologists were calling for a massive snowstorm in Metro Detroit. Depending on where you lived, snowfall was expected to range from six inches to almost a foot. As I was signing the paperwork and getting the key, the snow was beginning to fall at a heavy rate. It would be an interesting week with one of oldest crossovers on sale. The current Outlander Sport has been with us since 2011 and it still stands out from other crossovers in the class. This comes down to an aggressive design and Mitsubishi making a number of changes to the design in the past few years. For 2018, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander Sport with new bumpers and LED running lights. Up front, Mitsubishi went with a dual grille setup - a narrow one on top and a large mesh one for the bottom. 18-inch wheels come standard on all Outlander Sports and look quite sharp. Mitsubishi hasn’t done much to the Outlander Sport’s interior since its launch and it clearly shows. The design is very uninspired with seemingly endless black plastic and almost no brightwork. Most materials used feel brittle and cheap, which is very disappointing when compared to other models such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Mitsubishi does redeem itself a little bit with the dash being covered in soft-touch material. Another plus point to the Outlander Sport’s interior is the control layout. The buttons and knobs are laid out in a logical fashion and are within easy reach. Getting comfortable in the front seats is not hard thanks to a decent amount of manual adjustments on offer, along with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel for the driver. Slightly worrying was my test Outlander Sport having a driver’s seat that slightly rocked whenever the vehicle accelerated and stopped. I know this issue isn’t isolated to my test vehicle. Speaking to some who have driven different 2018 Outlander Sports, they have reported the same issue. Mitsubishi really needs to figure out this issue and get a fix out ASAP. The rear seat offers a decent amount of headroom, but there is barely enough legroom for taller passengers. Cargo space is quite good with 21.7 cubic feet of space behind the front seats and 49.5 cubic feet when folded. For 2018, Mitsubishi has installed a new 7-inch infotainment system on all Outlander Sports. Higher trims like our test SEL add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Compared to Mitsubishi’s previous infotainment systems, the one in the Outlander Sport is excellent. The system is very easy to use with a simple and vibrant interface. Performance is quite good as the system quickly responds to a user’s input. Mitsubishi offers two engines for the Outlander Sport. ES and LE models use a 2.0L four-cylinder, while the SE and SEL models feature a larger 2.4L four-cylinder. Our test vehicle had the latter engine which produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front- or Mitsubishi's All-Wheel Control (AWC) system. Out of the two engines, the 2.4 is the one to get as is feels noticeably quicker when leaving a stop. But it will run out of steam at higher speeds, making passing or getting onto the freeway a bit difficult. The CVT is somewhat slow to respond whenever you step on the accelerator. The AWC system redeems the Outlander Sport to a point. AWC offers the driver three different modes - 2WD, 4WD Auto, and 4WD Lock. The difference between the two 4WD settings is Auto only sends power to rear wheels if it detects slip where Lock sends power to all wheels. Putting the system into 4WD Lock, the Outlander Sport easily went through roads with close to a foot of snow on the ground with no issue. The system was able to quickly shift power to the wheels with grip to help keep the car moving. I believe if you fit you a set of snow tires to the Sport, you will have a very good winter vehicle. Fuel economy figures of 22 City/27 Highway/24 Combined put the Outlander Sport towards the bottom of the class. My average for the week landed around 23.2 mpg. For a subcompact crossover, the Outlander Sport’s ride is pleasant. It glides over bumps and other imperfections. Handling is a mixed affair. Drive the Outlander Sport normally around a corner and it feels composed. Begin to push it and there is a fair amount of body roll. Steering has a very rubbery feel and there is a noticeable dead zone when the wheel is centered. This might be the first review I have done where I have two verdicts on the Outlander Sport. As a whole, the model really needs to be replaced. In many areas, the Outlander Sport significantly trails competitors. It doesn’t help that the as-tested price was $29,310 which makes the Sport a bit of poor value. I know dealers put a lot of cash on the hoods of Outlander Sports to get them moving, which is likely one reason why it is Mitsubishi’s best selling model. But I would rather put my money into a Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, the new Hyundai Kona, and others since they are newer and offer so much more. But I will admit that the Outlander Sport came at a very opportune time. The snowstorm really brought up some of the Outlander Sport’s best qualities, primarily the AWC system and punchy four-cylinder around town. I remember an auto writer once saying that some of the most memorable vehicles are those that are not the best, but can show some bright spots in a difficult situation. The Outlander Sport for me is one of those vehicles. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander Sport Trim: SEL Engine: 2.4L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 167 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/28/25 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $25,895 As Tested Price: $29,310 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Touring Package - $2,000.00 Diamond White Pearl - $200.00 Tonneau Cover - $150.00 Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio - $125.00
  17. On the day I was getting the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a week-long test, meteorologists were calling for a massive snowstorm in Metro Detroit. Depending on where you lived, snowfall was expected to range from six inches to almost a foot. As I was signing the paperwork and getting the key, the snow was beginning to fall at a heavy rate. It would be an interesting week with one of oldest crossovers on sale. The current Outlander Sport has been with us since 2011 and it still stands out from other crossovers in the class. This comes down to an aggressive design and Mitsubishi making a number of changes to the design in the past few years. For 2018, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander Sport with new bumpers and LED running lights. Up front, Mitsubishi went with a dual grille setup - a narrow one on top and a large mesh one for the bottom. 18-inch wheels come standard on all Outlander Sports and look quite sharp. Mitsubishi hasn’t done much to the Outlander Sport’s interior since its launch and it clearly shows. The design is very uninspired with seemingly endless black plastic and almost no brightwork. Most materials used feel brittle and cheap, which is very disappointing when compared to other models such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Mitsubishi does redeem itself a little bit with the dash being covered in soft-touch material. Another plus point to the Outlander Sport’s interior is the control layout. The buttons and knobs are laid out in a logical fashion and are within easy reach. Getting comfortable in the front seats is not hard thanks to a decent amount of manual adjustments on offer, along with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel for the driver. Slightly worrying was my test Outlander Sport having a driver’s seat that slightly rocked whenever the vehicle accelerated and stopped. I know this issue isn’t isolated to my test vehicle. Speaking to some who have driven different 2018 Outlander Sports, they have reported the same issue. Mitsubishi really needs to figure out this issue and get a fix out ASAP. The rear seat offers a decent amount of headroom, but there is barely enough legroom for taller passengers. Cargo space is quite good with 21.7 cubic feet of space behind the front seats and 49.5 cubic feet when folded. For 2018, Mitsubishi has installed a new 7-inch infotainment system on all Outlander Sports. Higher trims like our test SEL add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Compared to Mitsubishi’s previous infotainment systems, the one in the Outlander Sport is excellent. The system is very easy to use with a simple and vibrant interface. Performance is quite good as the system quickly responds to a user’s input. Mitsubishi offers two engines for the Outlander Sport. ES and LE models use a 2.0L four-cylinder, while the SE and SEL models feature a larger 2.4L four-cylinder. Our test vehicle had the latter engine which produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front- or Mitsubishi's All-Wheel Control (AWC) system. Out of the two engines, the 2.4 is the one to get as is feels noticeably quicker when leaving a stop. But it will run out of steam at higher speeds, making passing or getting onto the freeway a bit difficult. The CVT is somewhat slow to respond whenever you step on the accelerator. The AWC system redeems the Outlander Sport to a point. AWC offers the driver three different modes - 2WD, 4WD Auto, and 4WD Lock. The difference between the two 4WD settings is Auto only sends power to rear wheels if it detects slip where Lock sends power to all wheels. Putting the system into 4WD Lock, the Outlander Sport easily went through roads with close to a foot of snow on the ground with no issue. The system was able to quickly shift power to the wheels with grip to help keep the car moving. I believe if you fit you a set of snow tires to the Sport, you will have a very good winter vehicle. Fuel economy figures of 22 City/27 Highway/24 Combined put the Outlander Sport towards the bottom of the class. My average for the week landed around 23.2 mpg. For a subcompact crossover, the Outlander Sport’s ride is pleasant. It glides over bumps and other imperfections. Handling is a mixed affair. Drive the Outlander Sport normally around a corner and it feels composed. Begin to push it and there is a fair amount of body roll. Steering has a very rubbery feel and there is a noticeable dead zone when the wheel is centered. This might be the first review I have done where I have two verdicts on the Outlander Sport. As a whole, the model really needs to be replaced. In many areas, the Outlander Sport significantly trails competitors. It doesn’t help that the as-tested price was $29,310 which makes the Sport a bit of poor value. I know dealers put a lot of cash on the hoods of Outlander Sports to get them moving, which is likely one reason why it is Mitsubishi’s best selling model. But I would rather put my money into a Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, the new Hyundai Kona, and others since they are newer and offer so much more. But I will admit that the Outlander Sport came at a very opportune time. The snowstorm really brought up some of the Outlander Sport’s best qualities, primarily the AWC system and punchy four-cylinder around town. I remember an auto writer once saying that some of the most memorable vehicles are those that are not the best, but can show some bright spots in a difficult situation. The Outlander Sport for me is one of those vehicles. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander Sport Trim: SEL Engine: 2.4L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 167 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/28/25 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $25,895 As Tested Price: $29,310 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Touring Package - $2,000.00 Diamond White Pearl - $200.00 Tonneau Cover - $150.00 Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio - $125.00 View full article
  18. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Lexus LC 500

    "We had no intention of turning it into a production car. But your positive reaction, as well as the reaction of our customers, changed our minds. We listened, and we made it real.” That was Toyota President Akio Toyoda speaking at the Lexus LC 500 debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. Four years before, Lexus unveiled the LF-LC concept to the world. It was striking to say in the least with a design that empathized curves and deep cuts. There was no chance that this sleek concept would make it into production. It was too daring for a brand that liked to play it safe. But the LF-LC did make it into production and retained most of the design. But what is the rest of the car like? When an automaker takes a car from concept to production, something is usually lost in the translation due to regulations or costs. But Lexus was somehow able to carry over the design of the LF-LC concept to the LC 500. The front end is set very low and features the brand’s spindle grille and aggressive cuts in the bumper for the LED fog lights. Channels along the hood flow gently into either side of the grille. For the side, the door handles are flush with the doors and will pop out to allow entry into the vehicle. The rear fenders are quite wide to make room for larger tires and brake vents. The back stands out with narrow taillights that extend into the fenders and chrome exhaust surrounds. Wearing a dark grey finish, the LC 500 looks very sinister. The interior is a treat for the eyes. It’s a minimalist design with few buttons and knobs on the dash and door panels. There are some special design touches such as handles that float on the door panels and a grab handle that extends from the center stack to the console for the front seat passenger. Material quality is very impressive with leather, Alcantara, carbon fiber, and metal used throughout. My tester came with a set of sport seats with eight-way power seats. The seats feature increased bolstering to hold driver and passenger during a bout of exuberant driving. However, some people will not be able to fully fit into the seats because of the added bolstering. I would like to see Lexus offer some sort of adjustable bolstering down the road. The back seat is best used for storage. There is barely enough head and legroom for a small kid. A 10.3-inch screen sitting in the center stack features the latest version of Lexus Enform. The system features an updated interface with revised graphics and new color palate that makes it very easy to read at a glance. Controlling this is Lexus’ Remote Touchpad controller. Compared to other vehicles with the Touchpad, the LC brings a couple of key improvements. There are a set of shortcut buttons to common functions such as the radio and navigation. Lexus has also implemented a pause over each icon to prevent you from selecting another one because your finger slipped. Despite the improvements, Remote Touchpad is still very distracting to use when driving. You need to give your full attention to the system and not the road to make sure you’re turning on the heated seat for example. At least the LC 500 collision mitigation system with automatic braking to give you a bit of a safety net when using this system. Pop up the hood to find the heart of the LC 500; a 5.0L naturally-aspirated V8 producing 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The powertrain has a Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde personality. Driven normally, the 5.0L V8 emits a low growl and delivers power in a smooth fashion. Gear changes from the 10-speed are unobtrusive. Drive it with some aggression and the LC becomes an animal. The V8 emits a roar similar to a muscle car and will throw you back into the seat as power comes on rapidly. The 10-speed automatic delivers fast shifts to keep the engine in its sweet spot of power. I found myself having a stupid grin on my face every time I would floor the accelerator just to hear the lovely sounds of the V8. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Lexus LC 500 are 16 City/26 Highway/19 Combined. My average for the week landed around 18.6 mpg. The LC 500 is quite surprising on a winding road. Despite the large size and weight, the LC seems to glide from bend to bend with little body roll. Some of this can be attributed to the rear-wheel steering system that is part of an optional performance package that makes the coupe feel smaller. This package also adds the variable gear-ratio steering system which adjusts the number of turns to reach steering lock helps the LC feel nimble. The only downside is the steering lacking the feedback some driving enthusiasts want. On a cruise, the LC 500 settles down and provides a somewhat relaxing ride. A small number of bumps make their way inside due to the 21-inch forged aluminum wheels. The smaller 20-inch wheels do improve ride quality somewhat. Road and wind noise are kept to minimum levels. Possibly the big surprise is how much the LC 500 will set you back. The base is $92,000 and our test vehicle came with an as-tested price of $101,715 with destination. Considering how much performance and luxuries you get for the price, the LC 500 is quite the steal. Lexus took quite the gamble with the LC 500 and their efforts paid off. The sharp exterior styling hides a very impressive chassis that somehow balances sporty handling and comfort. Plus, the V8 engine provides one of the most impressive sounds. Lexus Enform and Remote Touch spoil the LC somewhat as it is distracting to use. In a way, the LC is a modern incarnation of the SC coupe from the 90s. Both were a departure for Lexus as they offered a sleek design, smooth and powerful engines, and a balance between comfort and support. The two coupes also gave Lexus something it was lacking, a soul. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LC 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Lexus Model: LC Trim: 500 Engine: 5.0L DOHC 32-Valve, Dual VVT-i V8 Driveline: Ten-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 471 @ 7,100 Torque @ RPM: 398 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/26/19 Curb Weight: 4,280 lbs Location of Manufacture: Motomachi, Yokohama, Japan Base Price: $92,000 As Tested Price: $101,715 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Performance Package with Carbon - $5,960.00 Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound System - $1,220.00 Color Heads-Up Display - $900.00 Torsen Limited-Slip Rear Differential - $390.00 All-Weather Trim Package - $250.00
  19. I couldn’t believe my eyes as to what stood before me. In the driveway stood an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I had to touch it to see if I was imagining it. Okay, I am being a bit hyperbolic, but considering the long time it took Alfa Romeo to get its affairs in some semblance of order, it is amazing that the Giulia is on sale. Still, I had a bit of trepidation with spending a week in the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The past year has seen a number of outlets reporting various gremlins pop up on their test vehicles. Would my particular one be spared? If so, what does the Giulia Quadrifoglio offer over the competition? Alfa Romeo is known for styling vehicles that stand out and Giulia Quadrifoglio is no exception. Up front resides the traditional Alfa triangle grille and large openings in the bumper with mesh inserts. The carbon fiber hood features gentle sculpting and a set of air vents in the channels. The side profile features more of the gentle sculpting on the doors, along with carbon fiber side skirts and 19-inch wheels finished in dark gray. The rear is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio makes its intentions known to the world with a carbon fiber lip spoiler and massive rear diffuser with large exhaust pipes sitting on either end. Finishing off the vehicle are cloverleaf badges on the front fenders and a dark blue finish. At first glance, the Giulia’s interior looks elegant. The dash has a flowing wave shape that is higher on the driver’s side to make space for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. Material choices such soft-touch plastics, carbon fiber accent trim, and a small-rimmed steering wheel with Alcantara and carbon fiber help set the Quadrifoglio apart from other Giulia models. But Alfa Romeo earns some red marks as the center console is littered with cheap plastics - the controller for the infotainment system and gear lever being the key offenders. Our test Giulia Quadrifoglio came with the standard leather and Alcantara sport seats. A set of carbon fiber Sparco racing seats are available as an option, but it is one we would recommend trying out first. Sitting in a Quadrifoglio with the optional seats, I found that I could not fully settle into them due to my wide shoulder blades. The standard seats offer increased bolstering to hold you and a passenger when the road gets twisty. I would like to see a little bit more cushioning in the seats as it becomes somewhat uncomfortable the longer you sit in them. The back seat in Giulia is average for the class, offering a decent amount of head and legroom for those under six-feet. Getting in and out of the back seat is not easy due to a narrow opening. All Giulia Quadrifoglios come equipped with an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Controlling this is a rotary knob in the center console, along with using voice commands. The system itself is very frustrating for a number of reasons. For one, the system is slow when put against competitors. It takes a few moments to switch between various menus. Also, certain functions don’t work as you might expect. For example, turning the knob in the navigation system doesn’t zoom in or out. You have to scroll the navigation menu to find the Zoom command to allow this function. Other issues I experienced during my week-long test of the Giulia included,: The system wouldn’t play my iPod if I had it paused for more than minute or if I switched to another audio source and then back to the iPod. Connecting my iPhone 7 Plus to the system via Bluetooth took on average about 45 seconds. I had the system crash on me twice during the week I had the Giulia. One of those crashes required me to turn off the vehicle and start it back up to get the system working again. Alfa Romeo needs to go back to the garage and do some serious work with this infotainment system. Underneath the carbon fiber hood lies the beating heart of the Quadrifoglio, a 2.9L twin-turbo V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Drive is sent to the rear-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Quadrifoglio models have four drive modes - Race, Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency and each one alters the engine’s behavior. Advanced Efficiency and Natural are about the same with the throttle being a bit more laid back. But that isn’t to say the Giulia isn’t quick in either mode. It has more than enough oomph to leave other cars in the dust when leaving a stop light or merging. But the engine really comes alive when in Dynamic or Race. The throttle sharpens up and the exhaust opens up to deliver a tantalizing soundtrack. Mash the pedal and hold on because this engine will throw you back. The engine sings at mid and high-rpms with speed coming on at an astonishing rate. Alfa says the Quadrifoglio can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and I can say they are right on the money. The automatic transmission is quite impressive. In Normal and Advanced Efficiency, the transmission delivers smooth gear changes. Turn to Dynamic or Race and the gear changes are snappy and fast. Oddly, the automatic transmission exhibits some hesitation when leaving a stop. This is a problem more attune with dual-clutch transmissions. EPA fuel economy figures for the Giulia Quadrifoglio are 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed at 19.7 mpg. Handling is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio truly shines. Enter into a corner and Giulia hunkers down with little body roll and gives you the confidence to push a little bit further. Steering is another highlight, offering quick response and decent weight. The only complaint I have with the steering is that I wished for some road feel. There is a trade-off to Giulia’s handling and that is a very stiff ride. Even with the vehicle set in Advanced Efficiency or Natural mode, the suspension will transmit every road imperfection to your backside. Wind and road noise isolation is about average for the class. It is time to address the elephant in the room and that is Alfa Romeo’s reliability record. Since the Giulia went on sale last year, numerous outlets have reported various issues from a sunroof jamming to a vehicle going into a limp mode after half a lap on a track. The only real issues I experienced during my week dealt with infotainment system which made me breathe a sigh of relief. Still, the dark cloud of reliability hung over the Giulia and I never felt fully comfortable that some show-stopping issue would happen. This is something Alfa Romeo needs to remedy ASAP. Now we come to end of the Giulia Quadrifoglio review and I am quite mixed. Considering the overall package, the Quadrifoglio is not for everyone. No, it isn’t just because of reliability. This vehicle is a pure sports car in a sedan wrapper. It will put a big smile on your face every time you get on the throttle or execute that perfect turn around a corner. But it will not coddle you or your passengers during the daily drive. Add in the material quality issues and concerns about reliability, and you have a mixed bag. To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs. Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Giulia Trim: Quadrifoglio Engine: 2.9L 24-Valve DOHC Twin-Turbo V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 505 @ 6,500 Torque @ RPM: 443 @ 2,500 - 5,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $72,000 As Tested Price: $76,995 (Includes $1,595.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00 Harman Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00 Montecarlo Blue Metallic Exterior Paint - $600.00 Quadrifoglio Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel - $400.00 View full article
  20. William Maley

    Review: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

    I couldn’t believe my eyes as to what stood before me. In the driveway stood an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I had to touch it to see if I was imagining it. Okay, I am being a bit hyperbolic, but considering the long time it took Alfa Romeo to get its affairs in some semblance of order, it is amazing that the Giulia is on sale. Still, I had a bit of trepidation with spending a week in the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The past year has seen a number of outlets reporting various gremlins pop up on their test vehicles. Would my particular one be spared? If so, what does the Giulia Quadrifoglio offer over the competition? Alfa Romeo is known for styling vehicles that stand out and Giulia Quadrifoglio is no exception. Up front resides the traditional Alfa triangle grille and large openings in the bumper with mesh inserts. The carbon fiber hood features gentle sculpting and a set of air vents in the channels. The side profile features more of the gentle sculpting on the doors, along with carbon fiber side skirts and 19-inch wheels finished in dark gray. The rear is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio makes its intentions known to the world with a carbon fiber lip spoiler and massive rear diffuser with large exhaust pipes sitting on either end. Finishing off the vehicle are cloverleaf badges on the front fenders and a dark blue finish. At first glance, the Giulia’s interior looks elegant. The dash has a flowing wave shape that is higher on the driver’s side to make space for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. Material choices such soft-touch plastics, carbon fiber accent trim, and a small-rimmed steering wheel with Alcantara and carbon fiber help set the Quadrifoglio apart from other Giulia models. But Alfa Romeo earns some red marks as the center console is littered with cheap plastics - the controller for the infotainment system and gear lever being the key offenders. Our test Giulia Quadrifoglio came with the standard leather and Alcantara sport seats. A set of carbon fiber Sparco racing seats are available as an option, but it is one we would recommend trying out first. Sitting in a Quadrifoglio with the optional seats, I found that I could not fully settle into them due to my wide shoulder blades. The standard seats offer increased bolstering to hold you and a passenger when the road gets twisty. I would like to see a little bit more cushioning in the seats as it becomes somewhat uncomfortable the longer you sit in them. The back seat in Giulia is average for the class, offering a decent amount of head and legroom for those under six-feet. Getting in and out of the back seat is not easy due to a narrow opening. All Giulia Quadrifoglios come equipped with an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Controlling this is a rotary knob in the center console, along with using voice commands. The system itself is very frustrating for a number of reasons. For one, the system is slow when put against competitors. It takes a few moments to switch between various menus. Also, certain functions don’t work as you might expect. For example, turning the knob in the navigation system doesn’t zoom in or out. You have to scroll the navigation menu to find the Zoom command to allow this function. Other issues I experienced during my week-long test of the Giulia included,: The system wouldn’t play my iPod if I had it paused for more than minute or if I switched to another audio source and then back to the iPod. Connecting my iPhone 7 Plus to the system via Bluetooth took on average about 45 seconds. I had the system crash on me twice during the week I had the Giulia. One of those crashes required me to turn off the vehicle and start it back up to get the system working again. Alfa Romeo needs to go back to the garage and do some serious work with this infotainment system. Underneath the carbon fiber hood lies the beating heart of the Quadrifoglio, a 2.9L twin-turbo V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Drive is sent to the rear-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Quadrifoglio models have four drive modes - Race, Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency and each one alters the engine’s behavior. Advanced Efficiency and Natural are about the same with the throttle being a bit more laid back. But that isn’t to say the Giulia isn’t quick in either mode. It has more than enough oomph to leave other cars in the dust when leaving a stop light or merging. But the engine really comes alive when in Dynamic or Race. The throttle sharpens up and the exhaust opens up to deliver a tantalizing soundtrack. Mash the pedal and hold on because this engine will throw you back. The engine sings at mid and high-rpms with speed coming on at an astonishing rate. Alfa says the Quadrifoglio can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and I can say they are right on the money. The automatic transmission is quite impressive. In Normal and Advanced Efficiency, the transmission delivers smooth gear changes. Turn to Dynamic or Race and the gear changes are snappy and fast. Oddly, the automatic transmission exhibits some hesitation when leaving a stop. This is a problem more attune with dual-clutch transmissions. EPA fuel economy figures for the Giulia Quadrifoglio are 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed at 19.7 mpg. Handling is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio truly shines. Enter into a corner and Giulia hunkers down with little body roll and gives you the confidence to push a little bit further. Steering is another highlight, offering quick response and decent weight. The only complaint I have with the steering is that I wished for some road feel. There is a trade-off to Giulia’s handling and that is a very stiff ride. Even with the vehicle set in Advanced Efficiency or Natural mode, the suspension will transmit every road imperfection to your backside. Wind and road noise isolation is about average for the class. It is time to address the elephant in the room and that is Alfa Romeo’s reliability record. Since the Giulia went on sale last year, numerous outlets have reported various issues from a sunroof jamming to a vehicle going into a limp mode after half a lap on a track. The only real issues I experienced during my week dealt with infotainment system which made me breathe a sigh of relief. Still, the dark cloud of reliability hung over the Giulia and I never felt fully comfortable that some show-stopping issue would happen. This is something Alfa Romeo needs to remedy ASAP. Now we come to end of the Giulia Quadrifoglio review and I am quite mixed. Considering the overall package, the Quadrifoglio is not for everyone. No, it isn’t just because of reliability. This vehicle is a pure sports car in a sedan wrapper. It will put a big smile on your face every time you get on the throttle or execute that perfect turn around a corner. But it will not coddle you or your passengers during the daily drive. Add in the material quality issues and concerns about reliability, and you have a mixed bag. To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs. Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Alfa Romeo Model: Giulia Trim: Quadrifoglio Engine: 2.9L 24-Valve DOHC Twin-Turbo V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 505 @ 6,500 Torque @ RPM: 443 @ 2,500 - 5,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy Base Price: $72,000 As Tested Price: $76,995 (Includes $1,595.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00 Harman Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00 Montecarlo Blue Metallic Exterior Paint - $600.00 Quadrifoglio Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel - $400.00
  21. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

    The Hyundai Elantra GT has always stood apart from its sedan counterpart due to its European roots. This is most apparent in terms of handling where the hatchback felt slightly sharper than the sedan. Hyundai’s U.S. office has once again called on the European office to source a new Elantra GT hatchback. The model known in Europe as the i30 has been said to be a viable alternative to the Volkswagen Golf by automotive writers. Does that hold true in terms of the U.S.? Hyundai’s designers took a page out of the Golf’s playbook when it comes to the exterior. It may not have the excitement or sharp design traits of other compacts, but the Elantra GT’s shape is very classy. The front end features Hyundai’s new hexagonal grille shape and deep cuts in the bumper for the fog lights. The side profile features a large area of glass to help the interior feel airier and a set of 18-inch wheels with black center caps. The rear has a crease running along the rear tailgate and a dual exhaust system. My first impression of the Elantra GT’s interior was, “this is more interesting to look at than the Elantra sedan”. The dash design is clean with sculpting along the passenger side to provide some visual differentiation. Sport models feature red accent trim around the vents and stitching on the seats to give off the impression of sportiness. Material quality is average for the class with an equal mix of hard and soft-touch materials. Passengers sitting up front will find controls to be in easy reach and the seats offering adequate comfort. Taller passengers sitting in the back will be complaining about the minuscule amount of legroom. With the driver’s seat set in my position, I found my knees were almost touching the back of it. The Elantra GT’s cargo space is towards the top of the class with 24.9 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 55.1 cubic feet when folded. All Elantra GT’s get Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system housed either in a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen mounted on top of the dash. Our tester came with the larger 8-inch screen with navigation. Hyundai’s BlueLink system is one our favorite infotainment system with an easy-to-understand user interface, physical shortcut buttons around the screen, and snappy performance. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard and bring more capability to BlueLink. Under the hood of the Elantra GT Sport is a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder producing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is the same engine you’ll find in the Elantra Sport and Kia Soul !. A six-speed manual is standard, but the model seen here had the optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The first couple of days driving the Elantra GT Sport was somewhat of a disappointment. The throttle felt very sluggish, not letting the turbo engine provide a rush of power. Not helping was the transmission which was focused more on upshifting quickly, along with stumbling with gear changes at low speeds. But I soon figured out that putting the vehicle into Sport mode makes the vehicle much more lively. The throttle loosens up and allows the engine to exploit its full potential. The transmission seems to hold on to gears slightly longer to allow for improved performance. My hunch is that the standard drive mode is actually an eco mode to maximize fuel economy. I would like to see Hyundai add a separate eco mode and have the standard driving mode be a balance of eco and sport. In terms of fuel economy, the Elantra GT Sport is rated at 26 City/32 Highway/28 Combined with the DCT. My average for the week landed around 27 mpg with a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Elantra GT Sport’s handling is Hyundai’s best effort to date. Sport models swap the torsion beam rear suspension found on the standard GT for a sport-tuned multilink setup. This swap makes the Elantra GT quite nimble in the corners with little body roll and feels poised. Steering provides decent weight when turning. The sporty setup does mean the Elantra GT Sport has a compliant ride with more road imperfections being transmitted. Not much wind noise comes inside, but a fair amount of road noise does. The Elantra GT Sport is so close to being a viable alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. It offers a clean exterior look, well-equipped interior, spacious cargo area, and impressive handling characteristics. But the programming of the standard drive mode dents the appeal of the Sport, making it feel less ‘sporty’. Hopefully, Hyundai has some plans to tweak the drive mode programming and dual-clutch transmission. Hyundai has an agreeable compact hatchback in the form of the Elantra GT Sport. But we think given a little bit more time and work, it could be one of the best. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra GT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Elantra GT Trim: Sport A/T Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed dual-Clutch Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 ~ 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/32/28 Curb Weight: 3,155 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $24,350 As Tested Price: $29,210 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Sport Tech Package - $3,850.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
  22. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

    The Hyundai Elantra GT has always stood apart from its sedan counterpart due to its European roots. This is most apparent in terms of handling where the hatchback felt slightly sharper than the sedan. Hyundai’s U.S. office has once again called on the European office to source a new Elantra GT hatchback. The model known in Europe as the i30 has been said to be a viable alternative to the Volkswagen Golf by automotive writers. Does that hold true in terms of the U.S.? Hyundai’s designers took a page out of the Golf’s playbook when it comes to the exterior. It may not have the excitement or sharp design traits of other compacts, but the Elantra GT’s shape is very classy. The front end features Hyundai’s new hexagonal grille shape and deep cuts in the bumper for the fog lights. The side profile features a large area of glass to help the interior feel airier and a set of 18-inch wheels with black center caps. The rear has a crease running along the rear tailgate and a dual exhaust system. My first impression of the Elantra GT’s interior was, “this is more interesting to look at than the Elantra sedan”. The dash design is clean with sculpting along the passenger side to provide some visual differentiation. Sport models feature red accent trim around the vents and stitching on the seats to give off the impression of sportiness. Material quality is average for the class with an equal mix of hard and soft-touch materials. Passengers sitting up front will find controls to be in easy reach and the seats offering adequate comfort. Taller passengers sitting in the back will be complaining about the minuscule amount of legroom. With the driver’s seat set in my position, I found my knees were almost touching the back of it. The Elantra GT’s cargo space is towards the top of the class with 24.9 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 55.1 cubic feet when folded. All Elantra GT’s get Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system housed either in a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen mounted on top of the dash. Our tester came with the larger 8-inch screen with navigation. Hyundai’s BlueLink system is one our favorite infotainment system with an easy-to-understand user interface, physical shortcut buttons around the screen, and snappy performance. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard and bring more capability to BlueLink. Under the hood of the Elantra GT Sport is a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder producing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is the same engine you’ll find in the Elantra Sport and Kia Soul !. A six-speed manual is standard, but the model seen here had the optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The first couple of days driving the Elantra GT Sport was somewhat of a disappointment. The throttle felt very sluggish, not letting the turbo engine provide a rush of power. Not helping was the transmission which was focused more on upshifting quickly, along with stumbling with gear changes at low speeds. But I soon figured out that putting the vehicle into Sport mode makes the vehicle much more lively. The throttle loosens up and allows the engine to exploit its full potential. The transmission seems to hold on to gears slightly longer to allow for improved performance. My hunch is that the standard drive mode is actually an eco mode to maximize fuel economy. I would like to see Hyundai add a separate eco mode and have the standard driving mode be a balance of eco and sport. In terms of fuel economy, the Elantra GT Sport is rated at 26 City/32 Highway/28 Combined with the DCT. My average for the week landed around 27 mpg with a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Elantra GT Sport’s handling is Hyundai’s best effort to date. Sport models swap the torsion beam rear suspension found on the standard GT for a sport-tuned multilink setup. This swap makes the Elantra GT quite nimble in the corners with little body roll and feels poised. Steering provides decent weight when turning. The sporty setup does mean the Elantra GT Sport has a compliant ride with more road imperfections being transmitted. Not much wind noise comes inside, but a fair amount of road noise does. The Elantra GT Sport is so close to being a viable alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. It offers a clean exterior look, well-equipped interior, spacious cargo area, and impressive handling characteristics. But the programming of the standard drive mode dents the appeal of the Sport, making it feel less ‘sporty’. Hopefully, Hyundai has some plans to tweak the drive mode programming and dual-clutch transmission. Hyundai has an agreeable compact hatchback in the form of the Elantra GT Sport. But we think given a little bit more time and work, it could be one of the best. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra GT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Elantra GT Trim: Sport A/T Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed dual-Clutch Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 ~ 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/32/28 Curb Weight: 3,155 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $24,350 As Tested Price: $29,210 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Sport Tech Package - $3,850.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00 View full article
  23. William Maley

    Review: 2018 Lexus LC 500

    "We had no intention of turning it into a production car. But your positive reaction, as well as the reaction of our customers, changed our minds. We listened, and we made it real.” That was Toyota President Akio Toyoda speaking at the Lexus LC 500 debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. Four years before, Lexus unveiled the LF-LC concept to the world. It was striking to say in the least with a design that empathized curves and deep cuts. There was no chance that this sleek concept would make it into production. It was too daring for a brand that liked to play it safe. But the LF-LC did make it into production and retained most of the design. But what is the rest of the car like? When an automaker takes a car from concept to production, something is usually lost in the translation due to regulations or costs. But Lexus was somehow able to carry over the design of the LF-LC concept to the LC 500. The front end is set very low and features the brand’s spindle grille and aggressive cuts in the bumper for the LED fog lights. Channels along the hood flow gently into either side of the grille. For the side, the door handles are flush with the doors and will pop out to allow entry into the vehicle. The rear fenders are quite wide to make room for larger tires and brake vents. The back stands out with narrow taillights that extend into the fenders and chrome exhaust surrounds. Wearing a dark grey finish, the LC 500 looks very sinister. The interior is a treat for the eyes. It’s a minimalist design with few buttons and knobs on the dash and door panels. There are some special design touches such as handles that float on the door panels and a grab handle that extends from the center stack to the console for the front seat passenger. Material quality is very impressive with leather, Alcantara, carbon fiber, and metal used throughout. My tester came with a set of sport seats with eight-way power seats. The seats feature increased bolstering to hold driver and passenger during a bout of exuberant driving. However, some people will not be able to fully fit into the seats because of the added bolstering. I would like to see Lexus offer some sort of adjustable bolstering down the road. The back seat is best used for storage. There is barely enough head and legroom for a small kid. A 10.3-inch screen sitting in the center stack features the latest version of Lexus Enform. The system features an updated interface with revised graphics and new color palate that makes it very easy to read at a glance. Controlling this is Lexus’ Remote Touchpad controller. Compared to other vehicles with the Touchpad, the LC brings a couple of key improvements. There are a set of shortcut buttons to common functions such as the radio and navigation. Lexus has also implemented a pause over each icon to prevent you from selecting another one because your finger slipped. Despite the improvements, Remote Touchpad is still very distracting to use when driving. You need to give your full attention to the system and not the road to make sure you’re turning on the heated seat for example. At least the LC 500 collision mitigation system with automatic braking to give you a bit of a safety net when using this system. Pop up the hood to find the heart of the LC 500; a 5.0L naturally-aspirated V8 producing 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The powertrain has a Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde personality. Driven normally, the 5.0L V8 emits a low growl and delivers power in a smooth fashion. Gear changes from the 10-speed are unobtrusive. Drive it with some aggression and the LC becomes an animal. The V8 emits a roar similar to a muscle car and will throw you back into the seat as power comes on rapidly. The 10-speed automatic delivers fast shifts to keep the engine in its sweet spot of power. I found myself having a stupid grin on my face every time I would floor the accelerator just to hear the lovely sounds of the V8. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Lexus LC 500 are 16 City/26 Highway/19 Combined. My average for the week landed around 18.6 mpg. The LC 500 is quite surprising on a winding road. Despite the large size and weight, the LC seems to glide from bend to bend with little body roll. Some of this can be attributed to the rear-wheel steering system that is part of an optional performance package that makes the coupe feel smaller. This package also adds the variable gear-ratio steering system which adjusts the number of turns to reach steering lock helps the LC feel nimble. The only downside is the steering lacking the feedback some driving enthusiasts want. On a cruise, the LC 500 settles down and provides a somewhat relaxing ride. A small number of bumps make their way inside due to the 21-inch forged aluminum wheels. The smaller 20-inch wheels do improve ride quality somewhat. Road and wind noise are kept to minimum levels. Possibly the big surprise is how much the LC 500 will set you back. The base is $92,000 and our test vehicle came with an as-tested price of $101,715 with destination. Considering how much performance and luxuries you get for the price, the LC 500 is quite the steal. Lexus took quite the gamble with the LC 500 and their efforts paid off. The sharp exterior styling hides a very impressive chassis that somehow balances sporty handling and comfort. Plus, the V8 engine provides one of the most impressive sounds. Lexus Enform and Remote Touch spoil the LC somewhat as it is distracting to use. In a way, the LC is a modern incarnation of the SC coupe from the 90s. Both were a departure for Lexus as they offered a sleek design, smooth and powerful engines, and a balance between comfort and support. The two coupes also gave Lexus something it was lacking, a soul. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LC 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Lexus Model: LC Trim: 500 Engine: 5.0L DOHC 32-Valve, Dual VVT-i V8 Driveline: Ten-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 471 @ 7,100 Torque @ RPM: 398 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/26/19 Curb Weight: 4,280 lbs Location of Manufacture: Motomachi, Yokohama, Japan Base Price: $92,000 As Tested Price: $101,715 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Performance Package with Carbon - $5,960.00 Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound System - $1,220.00 Color Heads-Up Display - $900.00 Torsen Limited-Slip Rear Differential - $390.00 All-Weather Trim Package - $250.00 View full article
  24. The Toyota Highlander has an interesting selling point in the midsize crossover class. It is the only model that offers a hybrid version. Seems quite crazy that more automakers aren’t offering a green option due to the increasing popularity. But maybe there is a reason for that. (Author’s note: I don’t go into detail about the Highlander Hybrid’s exterior and interior as it is the same as the regular Highlander. If you want to get an idea of what I think, you can check out my quick drive review on the 2017 Highlander posted back in October. -WM) The Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 3.5L V6, two electric motors, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 306 horsepower. This is paired up with a CVT. The electric motors are mounted on each axle and provide all-wheel drive. Despite the hybrid weighing 310 pounds more than the standard model, the instantaneous torque from electric motors disguises the extra weight at low speeds. This makes the hybrid feel slightly quicker around town than the standard model. But at higher speeds, the effectiveness of the electric motors begin to wane and the V6 begins to shoulder more of the burden. Merging onto a freeway, I found the hybrid to not be any quicker than the standard Highlander. Switching between hybrid and EV mode in the Highlander Hybrid is very seamless. You don’t notice the transition unless you have the hybrid powertrain screen up in the instrument cluster or infotainment system. Like most Toyota hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid can travel on electric power at speeds up to 25 mph for short distances. I found this was easy to sustain when driving in city areas or my neighborhood. EPA fuel economy figures on the Highlander Hybrid are 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined for the base LE, and 29/27/28 for the rest of the lineup like our Limited tester. During my week, I was only able to achieve a disappointing 24 mpg on a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Highlander I drove last year was only 2 mpg lower during my week-long test. Ride quality is similar to the regular Highlander as most bumps and potholes are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is not the Highlander Hybrid’s strong suit. Around corners, the hybrid shows an excessive amount of body roll and dull steering. On the upside, the hybrid does feel more planted to the road than the regular model thanks to the extra weight of batteries. Brakes are still an issue for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. The Highlander Hybrid exhibits a vague and somewhat unpredictable feel from the pedal, which doesn’t inspire confidence. The 2017 Highlander Hybrid begins at $36,270 for the base LE, about $2,130 more than the standard Highlander LE V6 AWD. Our Limited tester starts at $44,760, and with a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price is $46,134. Is the hybrid worth it? In short, no. With gas prices the way they are at the moment, it will take a long time for you to break even on the extra cost of the Highlander Hybrid. Plus, I found the real-world fuel economy wasn’t that much better than the standard model. At the moment, I would stick with the standard Highlander and pocket the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with VVT-iW V6, 2 Electric Motors, Sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack Driveline: CVT, AWD-i Horsepower @ RPM: 231 @ 5,800 (Gas); 167 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 68 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2); 306 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 215 @ 4,800 (Gas); 247 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 103 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/27/28 Curb Weight: 4,861 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $44,760 As Tested Price: $46,134 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00 View full article
  25. The Toyota Highlander has an interesting selling point in the midsize crossover class. It is the only model that offers a hybrid version. Seems quite crazy that more automakers aren’t offering a green option due to the increasing popularity. But maybe there is a reason for that. (Author’s note: I don’t go into detail about the Highlander Hybrid’s exterior and interior as it is the same as the regular Highlander. If you want to get an idea of what I think, you can check out my quick drive review on the 2017 Highlander posted back in October. -WM) The Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 3.5L V6, two electric motors, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 306 horsepower. This is paired up with a CVT. The electric motors are mounted on each axle and provide all-wheel drive. Despite the hybrid weighing 310 pounds more than the standard model, the instantaneous torque from electric motors disguises the extra weight at low speeds. This makes the hybrid feel slightly quicker around town than the standard model. But at higher speeds, the effectiveness of the electric motors begin to wane and the V6 begins to shoulder more of the burden. Merging onto a freeway, I found the hybrid to not be any quicker than the standard Highlander. Switching between hybrid and EV mode in the Highlander Hybrid is very seamless. You don’t notice the transition unless you have the hybrid powertrain screen up in the instrument cluster or infotainment system. Like most Toyota hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid can travel on electric power at speeds up to 25 mph for short distances. I found this was easy to sustain when driving in city areas or my neighborhood. EPA fuel economy figures on the Highlander Hybrid are 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined for the base LE, and 29/27/28 for the rest of the lineup like our Limited tester. During my week, I was only able to achieve a disappointing 24 mpg on a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Highlander I drove last year was only 2 mpg lower during my week-long test. Ride quality is similar to the regular Highlander as most bumps and potholes are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is not the Highlander Hybrid’s strong suit. Around corners, the hybrid shows an excessive amount of body roll and dull steering. On the upside, the hybrid does feel more planted to the road than the regular model thanks to the extra weight of batteries. Brakes are still an issue for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. The Highlander Hybrid exhibits a vague and somewhat unpredictable feel from the pedal, which doesn’t inspire confidence. The 2017 Highlander Hybrid begins at $36,270 for the base LE, about $2,130 more than the standard Highlander LE V6 AWD. Our Limited tester starts at $44,760, and with a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price is $46,134. Is the hybrid worth it? In short, no. With gas prices the way they are at the moment, it will take a long time for you to break even on the extra cost of the Highlander Hybrid. Plus, I found the real-world fuel economy wasn’t that much better than the standard model. At the moment, I would stick with the standard Highlander and pocket the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with VVT-iW V6, 2 Electric Motors, Sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack Driveline: CVT, AWD-i Horsepower @ RPM: 231 @ 5,800 (Gas); 167 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 68 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2); 306 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 215 @ 4,800 (Gas); 247 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 103 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/27/28 Curb Weight: 4,861 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $44,760 As Tested Price: $46,134 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00

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