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Found 286 results

  1. There has been a common theme for most of the Cadillac vehicles I have reviewed over the past few years. They are always so close to being up there with the best, but there is one thing or trait that knocks them down. Such examples include interior appointments that don’t match up with the price being asked, confusing infotainment systems, and engines that don’t quite match up with the image being portrayed. This was floating around in the back of my head when a 2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum rolled up onto my driveway. This is an important model for Cadillac as it is taking on the likes of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The little things can make or break a sedan in the class. Seeing the Cadillac CT6 for the first time at Detroit Auto Show a few years ago, I wasn’t too impressed. The toned-down Art & Science design made me feel that the CT6 blended in with other luxury sedans. But after spending a bit of time with this CT6, I grew to like the design. Yes, the design language has lost some edge found on other Cadillacs, but there is still some sharpness with hard angles and bold lines. The Platinum adds some touches that really bring out the CT6’s shape. A chrome grille helps give the model a more imposing front end and a set of optional 20-inch wheels finished in ‘Midnight Silver’ do an excellent job of filling in the wheel wells. If there has been a consistent weak point to Cadillac’s recent models, it has to be interior. On first glance, it seems they have it nailed down with a modern design and quality materials. But when you sit inside and begin to take a closer look, that illusion begins to go away. A fair amount of the materials used doesn't quite match up the luxury aura being presented such as the sheet piano black trim used for touch-sensitive controls on a number of Cadillac models. But the brand is improving as we noted in our XT5 review, and the CT6 is much the same. There is a noticeable step-up in terms of materials such as fine leather, carbon fiber accents, and wood trim. This comes wrapped in a handsomely-designed dashboard. There are some areas Cadillac still needs to do some work on such as the plasticity controls for the climate control system. The front seats are a treat to sit in thanks to the right amount of cushioning and support. The Platinum trim gets 20-way power seats for both the driver and passenger to help dial in the right position. Those sitting in the back will be pleased to find generous head and legroom. As added bonus, you can order heated and ventilated seats, power adjustments, and a rear entertainment system to make the back more luxurious. The only downside to sitting in the back is that the CT6 isn’t long enough to take full advantage of the power adjustments. I felt somewhat cramped when I had the back seat fully reclined and my legs touching the back of the front seat. A few more inches in the wheelbase would fix this issue. Cadillac’s CUE system has undergone some changes for the CT6. Most of the touch-sensitive buttons have either been dropped or replaced with actual, physical buttons. Being able to press a button or flick a switch to change a setting is a welcome change and less frustrating than the touch-sensitive controls. It would have been nice if Cadillac swapped the touch-sensitive volume strip for an actual knob, but at least you can adjust it via the steering wheel controls. Cadillac also added a touchpad controller (think Lexus’ Remote Touch system) for CUE. It is a nice idea on paper, but the execution shows Cadillac needs to do a bit more work. The touchpad is hypersensitive and tends to overshoot from where you want the cursor. You’re better off using the touchscreen. As for CUE itself, the system comes with a faster processor, some tweaks to the interface, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. These changes make CUE less frustrating to use on a daily basis. There are three engines on offer for the CT6. The base is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder, followed by a 3.6L V6. Our Platinum tester featured the big dog; a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 offering 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque (@ 2,500 - 5,100 rpm) Power goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic. Performance for the twin-turbo six may not have same exuberance as V8s found in competitors, but it isn’t a slouch. This engine rockets the CT6 at a surprising rate of speed. Those who have timed the vehicle say it will hit 60 mph in around five seconds and we would believe it. Torque is abundant throughout rev range, meaning you should have no issue trying to merge on the freeway or make a pass. The eight-speed automatic has the right characteristics you want in a flagship sedan, smooth and unobtrusive shifts. EPA fuel economy figures for the CT6 3.0TT stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 22 mpg in mostly city driving. Describing a sedan that measures 204 inches in overall length as ‘agile’ seems very disingenuous. But the CT6 is that. Drive it around a turn and the CT6 feels like a smaller sedan with nimble manners and well-controlled body motions. Some credit has to go Active Chassis package that comes standard on the Platinum and comes with the excellent Magnetic Ride Control system and rear-wheel steering. But most buyers who tend to buy a sedan of this caliber don’t really care about handling. Ride quality is king here and that’s where the CT6 begins to falter. When equipped with the Magnetic Ride Control system, the ride is just a touch too firm. You will feel more bumps in this than some of the CT6’s competition. It would be nice if Cadillac could offer an air suspension for those who want comfort. On the upside, road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels. It seems somewhat surprising to call the CT6 Platinum a great value, but it actually is. The Platinum 3.0TT begins at $87,495 and our test car with a few options (20-inch wheels, white paint, and spoiler) comes in at $91,580. Considering you have to spend a fair amount more on competitors to match the level of equipment on offer, the CT6 Platinum is quite the steal. Most of Cadillac’s vehicles have fallen into the cliche of ‘being so close, yet so far’ due to some odd or boneheaded decision. But the CT6 is the first Cadillac that has avoided this. It feels like Cadillac is starting to feel comfortable in this new identity that it has been putting out there since the mid-2000s, a legitimate competitor to the Germans. The CT6 stands out for a number of reasons; excellent driving dynamics, impressive interior, punchy V6, and being quite the value. There are some niggling issues such as a firm ride and questionable materials, but these can and should be addressed down the road. Whether the CT6 can draw people away from the usual suspects remains to be seen. If Cadillac can take what they have learned from the CT6 and implement them into future models, then we can say something that hasn’t been used in a long time, ‘Standard of the World’. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the CT6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: CT6 Trim: Platinum Engine: Twin-Turbo 3.0L DI DOHC with VVT V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 404 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 2,500 - 5,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: 4,085 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, MI Base Price: $87,495 As Tested Price: $91,580 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 20" Midnight Silver Wheels - $2,095.00 Crystal White Tricoat - $500.00 Spoiler Kit - $495.00 View full article
  2. There has been a common theme for most of the Cadillac vehicles I have reviewed over the past few years. They are always so close to being up there with the best, but there is one thing or trait that knocks them down. Such examples include interior appointments that don’t match up with the price being asked, confusing infotainment systems, and engines that don’t quite match up with the image being portrayed. This was floating around in the back of my head when a 2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum rolled up onto my driveway. This is an important model for Cadillac as it is taking on the likes of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The little things can make or break a sedan in the class. Seeing the Cadillac CT6 for the first time at Detroit Auto Show a few years ago, I wasn’t too impressed. The toned-down Art & Science design made me feel that the CT6 blended in with other luxury sedans. But after spending a bit of time with this CT6, I grew to like the design. Yes, the design language has lost some edge found on other Cadillacs, but there is still some sharpness with hard angles and bold lines. The Platinum adds some touches that really bring out the CT6’s shape. A chrome grille helps give the model a more imposing front end and a set of optional 20-inch wheels finished in ‘Midnight Silver’ do an excellent job of filling in the wheel wells. If there has been a consistent weak point to Cadillac’s recent models, it has to be interior. On first glance, it seems they have it nailed down with a modern design and quality materials. But when you sit inside and begin to take a closer look, that illusion begins to go away. A fair amount of the materials used doesn't quite match up the luxury aura being presented such as the sheet piano black trim used for touch-sensitive controls on a number of Cadillac models. But the brand is improving as we noted in our XT5 review, and the CT6 is much the same. There is a noticeable step-up in terms of materials such as fine leather, carbon fiber accents, and wood trim. This comes wrapped in a handsomely-designed dashboard. There are some areas Cadillac still needs to do some work on such as the plasticity controls for the climate control system. The front seats are a treat to sit in thanks to the right amount of cushioning and support. The Platinum trim gets 20-way power seats for both the driver and passenger to help dial in the right position. Those sitting in the back will be pleased to find generous head and legroom. As added bonus, you can order heated and ventilated seats, power adjustments, and a rear entertainment system to make the back more luxurious. The only downside to sitting in the back is that the CT6 isn’t long enough to take full advantage of the power adjustments. I felt somewhat cramped when I had the back seat fully reclined and my legs touching the back of the front seat. A few more inches in the wheelbase would fix this issue. Cadillac’s CUE system has undergone some changes for the CT6. Most of the touch-sensitive buttons have either been dropped or replaced with actual, physical buttons. Being able to press a button or flick a switch to change a setting is a welcome change and less frustrating than the touch-sensitive controls. It would have been nice if Cadillac swapped the touch-sensitive volume strip for an actual knob, but at least you can adjust it via the steering wheel controls. Cadillac also added a touchpad controller (think Lexus’ Remote Touch system) for CUE. It is a nice idea on paper, but the execution shows Cadillac needs to do a bit more work. The touchpad is hypersensitive and tends to overshoot from where you want the cursor. You’re better off using the touchscreen. As for CUE itself, the system comes with a faster processor, some tweaks to the interface, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. These changes make CUE less frustrating to use on a daily basis. There are three engines on offer for the CT6. The base is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder, followed by a 3.6L V6. Our Platinum tester featured the big dog; a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 offering 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque (@ 2,500 - 5,100 rpm) Power goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic. Performance for the twin-turbo six may not have same exuberance as V8s found in competitors, but it isn’t a slouch. This engine rockets the CT6 at a surprising rate of speed. Those who have timed the vehicle say it will hit 60 mph in around five seconds and we would believe it. Torque is abundant throughout rev range, meaning you should have no issue trying to merge on the freeway or make a pass. The eight-speed automatic has the right characteristics you want in a flagship sedan, smooth and unobtrusive shifts. EPA fuel economy figures for the CT6 3.0TT stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 22 mpg in mostly city driving. Describing a sedan that measures 204 inches in overall length as ‘agile’ seems very disingenuous. But the CT6 is that. Drive it around a turn and the CT6 feels like a smaller sedan with nimble manners and well-controlled body motions. Some credit has to go Active Chassis package that comes standard on the Platinum and comes with the excellent Magnetic Ride Control system and rear-wheel steering. But most buyers who tend to buy a sedan of this caliber don’t really care about handling. Ride quality is king here and that’s where the CT6 begins to falter. When equipped with the Magnetic Ride Control system, the ride is just a touch too firm. You will feel more bumps in this than some of the CT6’s competition. It would be nice if Cadillac could offer an air suspension for those who want comfort. On the upside, road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels. It seems somewhat surprising to call the CT6 Platinum a great value, but it actually is. The Platinum 3.0TT begins at $87,495 and our test car with a few options (20-inch wheels, white paint, and spoiler) comes in at $91,580. Considering you have to spend a fair amount more on competitors to match the level of equipment on offer, the CT6 Platinum is quite the steal. Most of Cadillac’s vehicles have fallen into the cliche of ‘being so close, yet so far’ due to some odd or boneheaded decision. But the CT6 is the first Cadillac that has avoided this. It feels like Cadillac is starting to feel comfortable in this new identity that it has been putting out there since the mid-2000s, a legitimate competitor to the Germans. The CT6 stands out for a number of reasons; excellent driving dynamics, impressive interior, punchy V6, and being quite the value. There are some niggling issues such as a firm ride and questionable materials, but these can and should be addressed down the road. Whether the CT6 can draw people away from the usual suspects remains to be seen. If Cadillac can take what they have learned from the CT6 and implement them into future models, then we can say something that hasn’t been used in a long time, ‘Standard of the World’. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the CT6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: CT6 Trim: Platinum Engine: Twin-Turbo 3.0L DI DOHC with VVT V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 404 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 2,500 - 5,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: 4,085 lbs Location of Manufacture: Detroit, MI Base Price: $87,495 As Tested Price: $91,580 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: 20" Midnight Silver Wheels - $2,095.00 Crystal White Tricoat - $500.00 Spoiler Kit - $495.00
  3. Mazda is already known for building vehicles that are fun to drive and is garnering one for their distinctive designs. One area that Mazda might not get a lot of credit is the constant improvements they make to their lineup. Take for example the Mazda6 sedan. Since its launch back in 2013 as a 2014 model, Mazda has been updating the 6 with new improvements and features to make it better. For example, when we drove the 2016 Mazda6 back in 2015, it featured new dashboard and infotainment system that made it more pleasant to be in. For 2017, Mazda has introduced two big changes for 6 - one dealing with handling and the other dealing with overall refinement. First up is Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control. This system monitors steering and throttle input (along with a few other things according to the brand), and when it deems necessary, will reduce engine power to shift weight to the front. This is said to improve overall handling in a corner. Here’s the thing, I really can’t tell if this system makes the 2017 Mazda6 a better handler than the previous 6 I drove back in 2015. The model shows the sharp handling characteristics that has made it one of the best driving models in the class with little body roll and steering that feels direct. I would need to drive both a 2016 and 2017 Mazda6 back to back to see if there is a difference. The other improvement for the 2017 Mazda6 will be noticed by anyone going for a ride; a quieter interior. Mazda has added a bit more sound insulation for the 6 and it makes for a more pleasant driving experience. There isn’t as much wind whistle as there was in previous 6s I have driven. You still do get a fair amount of tire noise, but that’s more due to the 19-inch wheels fitted on the Grand Touring. The 19-inch wheels also make the ride slightly rough with various bumps being transmitted clearly to the backsides of you and your passengers. Mazda hasn’t messed with anything else for the 2017 6 and that’s mostly a good thing. It still retains the striking good looks of the outside, especially in this bronze color seen here. The Mazda6’s interior is towards the top of the class with a modern design, high-quality materials, and an easy to understand control layout. The leather seats offer the right amount of comfort for long trips. Those sitting in the back will have no complaints in terms of head and legroom. Under the hood is a 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Sport and Touring models get the option of either a six-speed manual or automatic, while the Grand Touring makes due with only the automatic. The engine is a spritely performer with strong acceleration and having the power ready to go when needed. The six-speed is quick when it comes to downshifts. But the transmission does stumble when it comes to upshifts as it is slow to respond when you need that punch of power. At least the automatic transmission does feature paddles on the steering wheel to allow for some manual control to solve this. The continuous updates Mazda makes to the vehicles should be applauded as it helps keep them competitive in light of tougher competition. The 2017 Mazda6 is a key example of this. You might not be able to detect one of the changes made, but the other one us quite noticeable and makes the 6 that much better. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L DOHC Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/35/30 Curb Weight: 3,305 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $30,695 As Tested Price: $34,530 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge) Options: GT Premium Package - $2,500.00 Machine Gray Metallic - $300.00 Door Sill Trim Plates - $125.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00 View full article
  4. When I last reviewed the Acura MDX back in 2014, I mentioned that it and the RDX crossover made up a majority of the brand’s sales. That’s still true in 2017 as both models currently make up 63.8 percent of Acura’s sales through the end of March. In closing my review, I said Acura focused on fixing the issues that hurt the MDX before and left other things well alone, creating a balanced luxury crossover. But does that still hold up in a field that has become very competitive in the past couple of years? It seemed a revisit was in order. Acura did a significant refresh for the 2017 MDX with the biggest change being the design. Up front, Acura has swapped the shield grille for a larger pentagonal grille from the 2016 Precision Concept. While the shield was considered by many to a bit polarizing and a turn-off, I find the new grille to be a bit cartoonish. It doesn’t really work with the rest of the MDX’s design. At least certain traits such as the ‘Jewel Eye’ headlights and sloping roofline are still here and still work. The interior hasn’t changed much since our last test and that’s both a good and bad thing. The good is the MDX’s material quality is towards the top of the class with a fair amount of leather and wood trim used throughout. Although considering the price tag of just over $59,000, it would have been nice if Acura added some more luxury touches. Those sitting up front or in the second-row will find plenty of room and a set of supportive seats. The MDX is one of the few models in the class that offers a third-row as standard, but it is best reserved for small kids or being folded into the floor to increase cargo space. The bad mostly deals with the AcuraLink infotainment system. This dual screen setup brings more headaches than any other system I have used. A perfect example is when you want to switch from music to a podcast on your USB device. You need to use the top screen and a control knob to go through the various menus to find the show you want to listen to. Not only is this pain, but it also creates a distraction when driving as your eyes are taken off from the road. I wish Acura would scrap this system and start back from square one. Power still comes from a 3.5L V6 offering 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic routes power to either the front-wheels or all four-wheels via Acura’s super-handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD). Advanced models like ours come standard with a stop-start system. The V6 in the MDX is such an impressive motor. Power delivery is quite strong throughout the rev band and the engine doesn’t make much noise during acceleration. However, the stop-start is a bit of a mess. It takes a few seconds for the system to realize that you took your foot off the brake before it restarts the engine. The system can be turned off which we recommend doing. The nine-speed automatic needs a bit work as well as we found shifts to be somewhat clunky at low speeds. Also, the transmission is slow to downshift when you need to make a pass. At least paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel solves this issue somewhat as you can do it yourself. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/26 Highway/22 Combined when the MDX is equipped with SH-AWD. I got none too shabby 23 MPG average for the week. One area we’re glad to see Acura not messing with the MDX refresh is the suspension tuning. The MDX has stuck the right balance of comfort and handling. Some of this is credited to the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that alters various settings for the suspension, steering, and a few other items. This means the MDX can be tailored to deliver a sporty ride when driving down a curvy road and ironing out road imperfections when commuting. There is one big issue for the MDX, price. Our MDX Advance & Entertainment tester came with an as-tested price of $59,475 with destination. Considering what you get for the price and compare against other models, the MDX is a bit of a poor value. Stick with one of the lower trims. The Acura MDX stands in a bit of an odd middle ground, where it is above the mainstream, but below luxury competitors. It remains a very competent crossover that seems to do most things right. But we can’t help but wonder if Acura was given a bit more time to mess with the stop-start system and automatic transmission, along with making it slightly more luxurious, it could take it a bit further from the middle ground the MDX currently sits in. Disclaimer: Acura Provided the MDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Acura Model: MDX Trim: Advanced Entertainment SH-AWD Engine: 3.5L 24-Valve SOHC i-VTEC V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22 Curb Weight: 4,292 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, AL Base Price: $58,500 As Tested Price: $59,475 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  5. When I last reviewed the Acura MDX back in 2014, I mentioned that it and the RDX crossover made up a majority of the brand’s sales. That’s still true in 2017 as both models currently make up 63.8 percent of Acura’s sales through the end of March. In closing my review, I said Acura focused on fixing the issues that hurt the MDX before and left other things well alone, creating a balanced luxury crossover. But does that still hold up in a field that has become very competitive in the past couple of years? It seemed a revisit was in order. Acura did a significant refresh for the 2017 MDX with the biggest change being the design. Up front, Acura has swapped the shield grille for a larger pentagonal grille from the 2016 Precision Concept. While the shield was considered by many to a bit polarizing and a turn-off, I find the new grille to be a bit cartoonish. It doesn’t really work with the rest of the MDX’s design. At least certain traits such as the ‘Jewel Eye’ headlights and sloping roofline are still here and still work. The interior hasn’t changed much since our last test and that’s both a good and bad thing. The good is the MDX’s material quality is towards the top of the class with a fair amount of leather and wood trim used throughout. Although considering the price tag of just over $59,000, it would have been nice if Acura added some more luxury touches. Those sitting up front or in the second-row will find plenty of room and a set of supportive seats. The MDX is one of the few models in the class that offers a third-row as standard, but it is best reserved for small kids or being folded into the floor to increase cargo space. The bad mostly deals with the AcuraLink infotainment system. This dual screen setup brings more headaches than any other system I have used. A perfect example is when you want to switch from music to a podcast on your USB device. You need to use the top screen and a control knob to go through the various menus to find the show you want to listen to. Not only is this pain, but it also creates a distraction when driving as your eyes are taken off from the road. I wish Acura would scrap this system and start back from square one. Power still comes from a 3.5L V6 offering 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic routes power to either the front-wheels or all four-wheels via Acura’s super-handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD). Advanced models like ours come standard with a stop-start system. The V6 in the MDX is such an impressive motor. Power delivery is quite strong throughout the rev band and the engine doesn’t make much noise during acceleration. However, the stop-start is a bit of a mess. It takes a few seconds for the system to realize that you took your foot off the brake before it restarts the engine. The system can be turned off which we recommend doing. The nine-speed automatic needs a bit work as well as we found shifts to be somewhat clunky at low speeds. Also, the transmission is slow to downshift when you need to make a pass. At least paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel solves this issue somewhat as you can do it yourself. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/26 Highway/22 Combined when the MDX is equipped with SH-AWD. I got none too shabby 23 MPG average for the week. One area we’re glad to see Acura not messing with the MDX refresh is the suspension tuning. The MDX has stuck the right balance of comfort and handling. Some of this is credited to the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that alters various settings for the suspension, steering, and a few other items. This means the MDX can be tailored to deliver a sporty ride when driving down a curvy road and ironing out road imperfections when commuting. There is one big issue for the MDX, price. Our MDX Advance & Entertainment tester came with an as-tested price of $59,475 with destination. Considering what you get for the price and compare against other models, the MDX is a bit of a poor value. Stick with one of the lower trims. The Acura MDX stands in a bit of an odd middle ground, where it is above the mainstream, but below luxury competitors. It remains a very competent crossover that seems to do most things right. But we can’t help but wonder if Acura was given a bit more time to mess with the stop-start system and automatic transmission, along with making it slightly more luxurious, it could take it a bit further from the middle ground the MDX currently sits in. Disclaimer: Acura Provided the MDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Acura Model: MDX Trim: Advanced Entertainment SH-AWD Engine: 3.5L 24-Valve SOHC i-VTEC V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22 Curb Weight: 4,292 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, AL Base Price: $58,500 As Tested Price: $59,475 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  6. American automakers haven’t been known for building good compact vehicles. Previous attempts have faltered when compared to those from the likes of Honda, Mazda, and Toyota. But this perception began to change when Ford brought out the Focus in 2000. It seemed progress was being made in making a decent compact vehicle thanks to their European branch helping out. Seeing this, GM decided to follow the same path. They called in their Korean and European offices to help out with the development of a new model known as Cruze. The vehicle proved to be a massive improvement from the Cobalt as it got the basics right such as fuel economy and overall interior space. Yes, the Cruze was lacking in some key areas such as design and driving fun. But it was light years ahead of GM’s previous attempts at a compact vehicle. When it came time to work on the next-generation Cruze, Chevrolet knew they had a good starting point and only needed to make improvements to make the model a real contender in the class. Let’s see if that has panned out or not. Dare I say the new Cruze is a sharp looking compact? Yes, but to a point. It is clear that Chevrolet’s design team took a lot of inspiration from the Volt PHEV when working on the second-generation Cruze. The overall profile and certain lines of the Volt appear on the Cruze. The front end features Chevrolet’s new tiered-grille and a set of slimmer headlights. Where the Cruze’s design falls flat is in the back. It seems Chevrolet’s designers really couldn’t be bothered to do something special. There two ways you can fix this. You can either go with the Cruze hatchback which to our eyes looks so much better thanks to the longer roofline and tailgate, or opting for the RS appearance package which dresses up the back with a more aggressive bumper. The RS package also adds mesh grille inserts, and sporty looking wheels - 18-inch ones on our Premier tester. Moving inside, Chevrolet has put a lot of effort in making the Cruze a nice place to sit in. Many surfaces are covered with high-quality materials and feature some unique touches such as a curving character line on the dashboard. Making yourself comfortable is quite easy thanks to eight-way power adjustments for the driver and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The front passenger has to make do with manual adjustments. In the back, there is enough legroom for most passengers. Headroom is slightly tight if you decide to get a sunroof. One nice item for those sitting in the back is the option of heated seats. One area Chevrolet is using as a selling point for the Cruze is technology. All Cruzes get a seven-inch touchscreen with Chevrolet MyLink and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi also comes standard across the board. Our Premier tester came with the optional 8-inch touchscreen with navigation. MyLink has been a source of frustration in many of Chevrolet vehicles we have reviewed, but it seems they are starting to get its act together. Overall performance has seen a slight improvement with transitions into various functions being snappy. The navigation system still has some performance issues as it slows down when zooming in or out. Chevrolet has also fixed some of the bugs with their Apple CarPlay integration. We saw no issues of slowdown or apps crashing whenever we had CarPlay up. Under the Cruze’s hood is a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder with 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission choice if you get the Premier. Anything below and you have the choice of the automatic or a six-speed manual. A diesel engine is coming later this year. The performance figures for the turbo 1.4L will not knock the socks off of anyone - 0-60 mph time of just over eight seconds. But you won’t think the Cruze is a slowpoke thanks the engine having a lot of low-end grunt. The vehicle leaps forward when leaving a stop and doesn’t feel that it is going to run out of breath. It doesn’t hurt Chevrolet has dropped almost 300 pounds from the new model. The six-speed automatic is quick to upshift to maximize fuel economy, but the same cannot be said for downshifts. It takes a moment or two for the automatic to go down a gear when you step on the accelerator. The turbo 1.4 comes with an auto stop-start system as standard. The system is quick to start the engine back up whenever you take your foot off the brake. One item that will irk some people is that you cannot turn off the stop-start system. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze stand at 29 City/39 Highway/33 Combined for the Premier sedan. Our average for the week landed around 31.2 mpg. The L, LS, and LT sedan get slightly higher fuel economy figures of 28/39/32 for the manual and 30/40/34 for the automatic. It seems most compacts are trying to outdo one another in terms of offering the best driving experience. So it is a bit of fresh air that Chevrolet has decided to skip this and make the Cruze ride like a bigger car. The suspension provides a cushy ride with most bumps being ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to almost silent levels. Handling is competent in the class as the Cruze shows little body roll. However, the steering is too light in terms of feel and weight when driven enthusiastically. Chevrolet’s previous attempts at a compact vehicle have ranged from the punchline to a bad joke to something that can be considered at competent. But with the 2017 Cruze, Chevrolet put their heads down into making a compact that could stand tall among competitors. They have succeeded as the Cruze gets the fundamentals right and offers some distinctive traits that help it stand out from others such as the big-car ride and impressive amount of tech. Yes, it would be nice if Cruze was a slightly sharper in terms of design and the steering tweaked a bit to make it a bit more fun to drive. Since I have been reviewing new vehicles for almost five years, there have been only a few vehicles that I keep thinking about to this day. Chevrolet has two to its name. The first was the 2014 Impala and the Cruze is number two. Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Cruze, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chevrolet Model: Cruze Trim: Premier Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L DOHC VVT DI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 153 @ 5600 Torque @ RPM: 177 @ 2000-4000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/39/33 Curb Weight: 2,978 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lordstown, OH Base Price: $23,475 As Tested Price: $29,195 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: Sun & Sound w/Navigation - $1,995.00 RS Package - $995.00 Enhanced Convenience Package - $865.00 Driver Confidence II Package - $790.00 Floor Mats - $140.00 Wheel Lock Kit - $60.00 View full article
  7. In the past two years, I have driven three variations of the Volkswagen Golf; the GTI, SportWagen, and R. But I never had the chance to drive the standard Golf. That is until a couple of months ago when a Golf Wolfsburg Edition rolled up. For 2017, the Wolfsburg is one of the two trims on offer (the base S being the other) and comes with lots of equipment for a surprising price. But this is only the cherry on top of an impressive compact hatchback as I would find out. Let’s begin with that surprising price. Our Golf Wolfsburg tester came with an as-tested price of $23,515 and that includes a sunroof, push-button start, heated seats, backup camera, pre-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rain-sensing wipers. Considering the amount of equipment on offer, this might be one of the best values in the compact class. I know that I’m beating a dead horse here, but I wished the Golf was just a little bit more exciting to look at. The clean lines and minimal brightwork make the Golf have a handsome profile. But park it next to something like a Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback, and you kind of wish that Volkswagen did something to make it standout. You could level the same complaint at the Golf’s interior as doesn’t have the same panache or sharpness as some competitors. But I can overlook it as the Golf has one the most functional and well-built interiors in the class. Controls are within easy reach and have a solid feel that is lacking in other compact models. It doesn’t hurt the Golf has a spacious interior for passengers and cargo. I’m 5’8” and found to have plenty of head and legroom sitting in the back. For cargo, the Golf offers up 22.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 52.7 cubic feet with them folded, putting it at the top of the class. Like the larger SportWagen and Alltrack, the regular Golf sports a turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder producing 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with the optional six-speed automatic. A five-speed manual comes standard. This engine is such a sweetheart as it punches well above its weight. Power comes on a quick and smooth rate, meaning you’ll not be wanting for power when trying to make a pass. The automatic transmission is smart, knowing when it needs to up or downshift and doing so at a quick rate. One item that I gave the Golf SportWagen a lot of praise was the pleasant balance between a smooth ride and sharp handling. The regular Golf is much the same. Taking a corner, the vehicle shows little body roll and the steering provides a linear and quick response. It would be nice if the steering had some more weight, but otherwise, it is a fun car to hustle around. For the daily commute, the Golf offers up a comfortable ride where potholes and other imperfections are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. If I do have one complaint, it has to deal with the lack of adaptive cruise control. There is already a radar module up front for the pre-collision braking that can monitor vehicles ahead and bring the vehicle to a stop. So why isn’t there the ability to use that module to provide adaptive cruise control? Is it a technical issue or something dealing with the cost? (I'm thinking its the latter). That issue aside, I’m really impressed with the regular Golf. This is one of the vehicles that can deliver on being an all arounder without falling on its face due to one or many things. Plus, the Wolfsburg Edition might be the steal for the 2017 Golf lineup considering what you get. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf Trim: Wolfsburg Edition Engine: 1.8L TSI Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 199 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/29 Curb Weight: 3,023 lbs Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany Base Price: $22,695 As Tested Price: $23,515 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  8. In the past two years, I have driven three variations of the Volkswagen Golf; the GTI, SportWagen, and R. But I never had the chance to drive the standard Golf. That is until a couple of months ago when a Golf Wolfsburg Edition rolled up. For 2017, the Wolfsburg is one of the two trims on offer (the base S being the other) and comes with lots of equipment for a surprising price. But this is only the cherry on top of an impressive compact hatchback as I would find out. Let’s begin with that surprising price. Our Golf Wolfsburg tester came with an as-tested price of $23,515 and that includes a sunroof, push-button start, heated seats, backup camera, pre-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rain-sensing wipers. Considering the amount of equipment on offer, this might be one of the best values in the compact class. I know that I’m beating a dead horse here, but I wished the Golf was just a little bit more exciting to look at. The clean lines and minimal brightwork make the Golf have a handsome profile. But park it next to something like a Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback, and you kind of wish that Volkswagen did something to make it standout. You could level the same complaint at the Golf’s interior as doesn’t have the same panache or sharpness as some competitors. But I can overlook it as the Golf has one the most functional and well-built interiors in the class. Controls are within easy reach and have a solid feel that is lacking in other compact models. It doesn’t hurt the Golf has a spacious interior for passengers and cargo. I’m 5’8” and found to have plenty of head and legroom sitting in the back. For cargo, the Golf offers up 22.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 52.7 cubic feet with them folded, putting it at the top of the class. Like the larger SportWagen and Alltrack, the regular Golf sports a turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder producing 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with the optional six-speed automatic. A five-speed manual comes standard. This engine is such a sweetheart as it punches well above its weight. Power comes on a quick and smooth rate, meaning you’ll not be wanting for power when trying to make a pass. The automatic transmission is smart, knowing when it needs to up or downshift and doing so at a quick rate. One item that I gave the Golf SportWagen a lot of praise was the pleasant balance between a smooth ride and sharp handling. The regular Golf is much the same. Taking a corner, the vehicle shows little body roll and the steering provides a linear and quick response. It would be nice if the steering had some more weight, but otherwise, it is a fun car to hustle around. For the daily commute, the Golf offers up a comfortable ride where potholes and other imperfections are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. If I do have one complaint, it has to deal with the lack of adaptive cruise control. There is already a radar module up front for the pre-collision braking that can monitor vehicles ahead and bring the vehicle to a stop. So why isn’t there the ability to use that module to provide adaptive cruise control? Is it a technical issue or something dealing with the cost? (I'm thinking its the latter). That issue aside, I’m really impressed with the regular Golf. This is one of the vehicles that can deliver on being an all arounder without falling on its face due to one or many things. Plus, the Wolfsburg Edition might be the steal for the 2017 Golf lineup considering what you get. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf Trim: Wolfsburg Edition Engine: 1.8L TSI Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 199 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/29 Curb Weight: 3,023 lbs Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany Base Price: $22,695 As Tested Price: $23,515 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  9. American automakers haven’t been known for building good compact vehicles. Previous attempts have faltered when compared to those from the likes of Honda, Mazda, and Toyota. But this perception began to change when Ford brought out the Focus in 2000. It seemed progress was being made in making a decent compact vehicle thanks to their European branch helping out. Seeing this, GM decided to follow the same path. They called in their Korean and European offices to help out with the development of a new model known as Cruze. The vehicle proved to be a massive improvement from the Cobalt as it got the basics right such as fuel economy and overall interior space. Yes, the Cruze was lacking in some key areas such as design and driving fun. But it was light years ahead of GM’s previous attempts at a compact vehicle. When it came time to work on the next-generation Cruze, Chevrolet knew they had a good starting point and only needed to make improvements to make the model a real contender in the class. Let’s see if that has panned out or not. Dare I say the new Cruze is a sharp looking compact? Yes, but to a point. It is clear that Chevrolet’s design team took a lot of inspiration from the Volt PHEV when working on the second-generation Cruze. The overall profile and certain lines of the Volt appear on the Cruze. The front end features Chevrolet’s new tiered-grille and a set of slimmer headlights. Where the Cruze’s design falls flat is in the back. It seems Chevrolet’s designers really couldn’t be bothered to do something special. There two ways you can fix this. You can either go with the Cruze hatchback which to our eyes looks so much better thanks to the longer roofline and tailgate, or opting for the RS appearance package which dresses up the back with a more aggressive bumper. The RS package also adds mesh grille inserts, and sporty looking wheels - 18-inch ones on our Premier tester. Moving inside, Chevrolet has put a lot of effort in making the Cruze a nice place to sit in. Many surfaces are covered with high-quality materials and feature some unique touches such as a curving character line on the dashboard. Making yourself comfortable is quite easy thanks to eight-way power adjustments for the driver and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The front passenger has to make do with manual adjustments. In the back, there is enough legroom for most passengers. Headroom is slightly tight if you decide to get a sunroof. One nice item for those sitting in the back is the option of heated seats. One area Chevrolet is using as a selling point for the Cruze is technology. All Cruzes get a seven-inch touchscreen with Chevrolet MyLink and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi also comes standard across the board. Our Premier tester came with the optional 8-inch touchscreen with navigation. MyLink has been a source of frustration in many of Chevrolet vehicles we have reviewed, but it seems they are starting to get its act together. Overall performance has seen a slight improvement with transitions into various functions being snappy. The navigation system still has some performance issues as it slows down when zooming in or out. Chevrolet has also fixed some of the bugs with their Apple CarPlay integration. We saw no issues of slowdown or apps crashing whenever we had CarPlay up. Under the Cruze’s hood is a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder with 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission choice if you get the Premier. Anything below and you have the choice of the automatic or a six-speed manual. A diesel engine is coming later this year. The performance figures for the turbo 1.4L will not knock the socks off of anyone - 0-60 mph time of just over eight seconds. But you won’t think the Cruze is a slowpoke thanks the engine having a lot of low-end grunt. The vehicle leaps forward when leaving a stop and doesn’t feel that it is going to run out of breath. It doesn’t hurt Chevrolet has dropped almost 300 pounds from the new model. The six-speed automatic is quick to upshift to maximize fuel economy, but the same cannot be said for downshifts. It takes a moment or two for the automatic to go down a gear when you step on the accelerator. The turbo 1.4 comes with an auto stop-start system as standard. The system is quick to start the engine back up whenever you take your foot off the brake. One item that will irk some people is that you cannot turn off the stop-start system. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze stand at 29 City/39 Highway/33 Combined for the Premier sedan. Our average for the week landed around 31.2 mpg. The L, LS, and LT sedan get slightly higher fuel economy figures of 28/39/32 for the manual and 30/40/34 for the automatic. It seems most compacts are trying to outdo one another in terms of offering the best driving experience. So it is a bit of fresh air that Chevrolet has decided to skip this and make the Cruze ride like a bigger car. The suspension provides a cushy ride with most bumps being ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to almost silent levels. Handling is competent in the class as the Cruze shows little body roll. However, the steering is too light in terms of feel and weight when driven enthusiastically. Chevrolet’s previous attempts at a compact vehicle have ranged from the punchline to a bad joke to something that can be considered at competent. But with the 2017 Cruze, Chevrolet put their heads down into making a compact that could stand tall among competitors. They have succeeded as the Cruze gets the fundamentals right and offers some distinctive traits that help it stand out from others such as the big-car ride and impressive amount of tech. Yes, it would be nice if Cruze was a slightly sharper in terms of design and the steering tweaked a bit to make it a bit more fun to drive. Since I have been reviewing new vehicles for almost five years, there have been only a few vehicles that I keep thinking about to this day. Chevrolet has two to its name. The first was the 2014 Impala and the Cruze is number two. Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Cruze, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chevrolet Model: Cruze Trim: Premier Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L DOHC VVT DI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 153 @ 5600 Torque @ RPM: 177 @ 2000-4000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/39/33 Curb Weight: 2,978 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lordstown, OH Base Price: $23,475 As Tested Price: $29,195 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: Sun & Sound w/Navigation - $1,995.00 RS Package - $995.00 Enhanced Convenience Package - $865.00 Driver Confidence II Package - $790.00 Floor Mats - $140.00 Wheel Lock Kit - $60.00
  10. For a time, the V6 was looked down upon in the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang because they were seen as lackluster. The engines didn’t match aggression that was being expressed by the exterior of the coupes. But rising gas prices and increasing regulations on fuel economy and emissions has the likes of GM, Ford, and FCA revisiting the idea of a V6 muscle car. We recently spent some time in a 2016 Dodge Challenger V6 to see if it is worth it. I will argue that the Challenger is still the meanest looking out of the three muscle cars on sale. Dodge’s designers were able to bring the design of the original Challenger into the modern era without making it look like a complete mess. The little details such as the narrow grille, quad headlights, fuel filler cap, and rectangular taillights are here and help it stand out. Our tester featured the optional Blacktop package that adds a blacked-out grille, black stripes, and a set of 20-inch wheels. The downside to bringing the original Challenger design into the modern era is poor visibility. Large rear pillars and a small glass area make it somewhat difficult to backup or making a pass. The good news is that a number of Challenger models like our SXT Plus come with a backup camera as standard and blind spot monitoring is available as an option. The Challenger’s interior hasn’t changed much since we last reviewed it back in 2014 with the SRT 392. It is still a comfortable place to sit in and controls are in easy reach for the driver thanks to the center stack being slightly angled. Still, the limited glass area does mean you will feel somewhat confined. Power for the SXT is Chrysler’s 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, you need to step to one of the V8 engines. The V6 is quite surprising with how much performance is on offer. Step on the accelerator and the V6 moves the Challenger with surprising authority. Power comes on a smooth rate no matter what gear you find yourself in. The eight-speed automatic is one of best in the business with smart shifts. Only disappointment is the V6 doesn’t sound like it belongs in the Challenger. There isn’t that muscular roar when step on the accelerator. A new exhaust and some tweaking in the engine could fix this issue. As for fuel economy, we got an average of 23.4 mpg. Not bad for a coupe that is rated at 19 City/30 Highway/23 Combined. One item that the Challenger is known for is its ride comfort and this hasn’t changed. Even with the optional Super Track Pak fitted to our tester, the Challenger was able to provide a cushy ride over some of Michigan’s terrible roads. Road and wind noise are kept at very low levels. Speaking of the Super Track Pak, this should be mandatory equipment on the V6 model. With firmer suspension bits, it makes the Challenger feel slightly smaller and reduces body roll around corners. However, it cannot mask the Challenger’s weight. Pushing it around a corner, the Challenger feels quite big and not as nimble the as the Chevrolet Camaro I drove afterward. The Challenger SXT Plus starts at $29,995. Add on a few options such as the Blacktop package and you’ll came to an as-tested price of $34,965, pretty good value for a muscle car. Going with the V6 option in the Challenger isn’t bad a choice. You get the looks of a muscle car and some decent performance. But as I drove the Challenger during the week, I couldn’t help but think about what if I had the V8. Six is good, but eight is even better. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Dodge Model: Challenger Trim: SXT Plus Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 305 @ 6,350 Torque @ RPM: 268 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/30/23 Curb Weight: 3,885.2 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $26,995 As Tested Price: $34,965 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: SXT Plus 3.6L V6 Package 21V - $3,000.00 Driver Convenience Group - $1,095.00 Sound Group II - $795.00 Blacktop Package - $695.00 Super Track Pak - $695.00 UConnect 8.4 NAV - $695.00 View full article
  11. Cruze Diesel Review by Green Car http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1109762_2017-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-first-drive Came across this review of the cruze diesel and have to say I was impressed by the writeup, pictures and found the following two quotes to be very telling of just how well Cheverolet nailed the new Diesel Cruze. Quote 1 Driving the Prius for mileage was an annoying affair, requiring me to putter away from stoplights and hang out in the slow lane on the freeway as other cars passed, just so I could come up short on the EPA-estimated freeway figure. It was tiring and tedious. Quote While the diesel engine deserves a lot of praise, the reality is that I'd be ignoring the sublime 9-speed automatic. GM has just nailed this transmission. Over all this guy says this auto was snappy, responsive and quieter than a cruze gas ICO version. GM needs to apply these same traits to all their product lines.
  12. When trying to describe Volvo, you may use terms such as sensible, anonymous, or different. The Swedish automaker has always gone down a different road than everyone else and at times it has proved to be a success. But at other times, it has put the automaker behind the pack. Currently, Volvo is on the upswing with the XC90 SUV that shocked everyone with its handsome looks, polished interior, and a comfortable drive. This has garnered a lot of attention from the press as the XC90 walked away with numerous awards. But it has also put the next 90 Series model, the S90 in a tough spot. It already finds itself in a tough position competing in the midsize luxury sedan class where there are plenty of models to draw people away. Now, the S90 faces a tough yardstick in the form of the XC90. Can the S90 meet these high expectations put upon it? Restraint is the key word when it comes the S90’s exterior design. Volvo could have gone ahead and go all out with the latest design trends, but instead their designers went with something simple and it works beautifully for the most part. You can tell Volvo is paying homage to their older models as the profile is somewhat boxy, but the corners have been rounded to give a sleek appearance. The front end comes with a large concave grille and headlights featuring the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime-running lights. For the back, Volvo fitted a set of C-shaped taillights and a peculiar trunk lid design. However, the design choices made here don’t fully mesh with the rest of the S90. Step inside and the S90 becomes a feast for the eyes. Our Inscription tester came with elegant materials such as matte wood trim, Nappa leather, and metal surrounds for the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system. There is also a lot of minimalism in the S90’s interior with many of the vehicle’s functions being controlled through a nine-inch touchscreen featuring Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Using this system is a bit of a hit and miss. The pluses are how simple it is to use Sensus thanks to an easy to understand interface and the ability to use gestures like on a smartphone such as swiping left to right. A downside to Sensus is how long it takes to boot-up when you first start the vehicle (on average, we found it took about a minute before we could fully use the system). The system also becomes somewhat distracting to use when you’re on the move. There were times where I found myself wishing for an extra knob or button to control the climate system for example. One area Volvo didn’t skimp on was comfort. Up front, both driver and passenger get 10-way power adjustments with the option of adjustable side and thigh bolstering. It is easy to find a position that will work for you and the seats provide excellent support for the long distance. Those sitting in the back will be happy with the extensive amount of head and legroom on offer. Plus, passengers sitting in the back get their own set of climate controls and manual window shades. Volvo differs from the rest of competition by only offering four-cylinder engines in the S90. Our test S90 came with T6 which is a 2.0L four-cylinder with super and turbocharging. Output stands at 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. While the T6 engine may not offer thrilling acceleration, what it does offer is a smooth and steady stream of power. Plus, the supercharger makes turbo lag nonexistent on the low end of the rpm band. Volvo also deserves a lot of credit for the amount of work done in the refinement department. Those who went for a ride in the S90 thought it was powered by a V6 because of how smooth and quiet it was. Imagine the look of surprise when I told them that it was a twin-charged four-cylinder. EPA Fuel Economy figures for the S90 T6 is rated at 22 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.2 mpg with most of the time being spent in urban areas. The S90’s ride is almost like the one you would find in a proper luxury sedan. Most bumps and imperfections are smoothed over by the S90’s compliant suspension. We say most because of one feature fitted to our tester; the optional 20-inch wheels made the ride a little bit harsher than if we had the standard 19-inch wheels. The larger wheels also cause more tire noise to come inside the cabin. Volvo does offer an optional air suspension which should solve this issue. But for our money, we would recommend skipping both the larger wheels and air suspension. Wind noise is kept to almost near silent levels. Where the Volvo S90 will fall apart for some is in the handling. Compared to some of the competition, the S90 doesn’t feel as athletic when going around a corner. The suspension does a decent job of keeping body roll in place, but the steering doesn’t quite have the feel you would want in these situations. Also, we found the steering to be slightly too heavy for the daily grind. One feature that may surprise people on the S90 is Volvo’s Pilot Assist system. Standard across the board, Pilot Assist is a semi-autonomous driving system that can drive the vehicle at speeds up to 80 mph on the freeway. I tried this system out and found to be somewhat disconcerting to use. The main reason for this was the vehicle automatically making small steering adjustments to keep it in the lane. One thing you cannot do with Pilot Assist is to take your hands off the steering wheel. The system will detect this and flash warning to put your hands on the wheel. If you don’t, Pilot Assist will automatically turn off. The Volvo S90 may not be exciting to look at or drive, but that might its greatest strength. The understated look of the exterior hides one of the best interiors not only in the class but in the industry as a whole. It is also nice to be in a vehicle that cares more about providing a comfortable ride than sharp handling. The XC90 set a high bar for future Volvo models and the good news is that S90 was able to clear it. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the S90, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volvo Model: S90 Trim: T6 Inscription Engine: Super & Turbocharged 2.0L DI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 316 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 2200–5400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25 Curb Weight: 4,080 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden Base Price: $52,950 As Tested Price: $66,365 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Inscription Package - $3,300.00 Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound - $2,650.00 Climate Package with HUD - $1,950.00 Vision Package - $1,950.00 20" Inscription Alloy Wheels - $1,010.00 Convenience Package - $1,000.00 Metallic Paint - $560.00 View full article
  13. When trying to describe Volvo, you may use terms such as sensible, anonymous, or different. The Swedish automaker has always gone down a different road than everyone else and at times it has proved to be a success. But at other times, it has put the automaker behind the pack. Currently, Volvo is on the upswing with the XC90 SUV that shocked everyone with its handsome looks, polished interior, and a comfortable drive. This has garnered a lot of attention from the press as the XC90 walked away with numerous awards. But it has also put the next 90 Series model, the S90 in a tough spot. It already finds itself in a tough position competing in the midsize luxury sedan class where there are plenty of models to draw people away. Now, the S90 faces a tough yardstick in the form of the XC90. Can the S90 meet these high expectations put upon it? Restraint is the key word when it comes the S90’s exterior design. Volvo could have gone ahead and go all out with the latest design trends, but instead their designers went with something simple and it works beautifully for the most part. You can tell Volvo is paying homage to their older models as the profile is somewhat boxy, but the corners have been rounded to give a sleek appearance. The front end comes with a large concave grille and headlights featuring the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime-running lights. For the back, Volvo fitted a set of C-shaped taillights and a peculiar trunk lid design. However, the design choices made here don’t fully mesh with the rest of the S90. Step inside and the S90 becomes a feast for the eyes. Our Inscription tester came with elegant materials such as matte wood trim, Nappa leather, and metal surrounds for the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system. There is also a lot of minimalism in the S90’s interior with many of the vehicle’s functions being controlled through a nine-inch touchscreen featuring Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Using this system is a bit of a hit and miss. The pluses are how simple it is to use Sensus thanks to an easy to understand interface and the ability to use gestures like on a smartphone such as swiping left to right. A downside to Sensus is how long it takes to boot-up when you first start the vehicle (on average, we found it took about a minute before we could fully use the system). The system also becomes somewhat distracting to use when you’re on the move. There were times where I found myself wishing for an extra knob or button to control the climate system for example. One area Volvo didn’t skimp on was comfort. Up front, both driver and passenger get 10-way power adjustments with the option of adjustable side and thigh bolstering. It is easy to find a position that will work for you and the seats provide excellent support for the long distance. Those sitting in the back will be happy with the extensive amount of head and legroom on offer. Plus, passengers sitting in the back get their own set of climate controls and manual window shades. Volvo differs from the rest of competition by only offering four-cylinder engines in the S90. Our test S90 came with T6 which is a 2.0L four-cylinder with super and turbocharging. Output stands at 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. While the T6 engine may not offer thrilling acceleration, what it does offer is a smooth and steady stream of power. Plus, the supercharger makes turbo lag nonexistent on the low end of the rpm band. Volvo also deserves a lot of credit for the amount of work done in the refinement department. Those who went for a ride in the S90 thought it was powered by a V6 because of how smooth and quiet it was. Imagine the look of surprise when I told them that it was a twin-charged four-cylinder. EPA Fuel Economy figures for the S90 T6 is rated at 22 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.2 mpg with most of the time being spent in urban areas. The S90’s ride is almost like the one you would find in a proper luxury sedan. Most bumps and imperfections are smoothed over by the S90’s compliant suspension. We say most because of one feature fitted to our tester; the optional 20-inch wheels made the ride a little bit harsher than if we had the standard 19-inch wheels. The larger wheels also cause more tire noise to come inside the cabin. Volvo does offer an optional air suspension which should solve this issue. But for our money, we would recommend skipping both the larger wheels and air suspension. Wind noise is kept to almost near silent levels. Where the Volvo S90 will fall apart for some is in the handling. Compared to some of the competition, the S90 doesn’t feel as athletic when going around a corner. The suspension does a decent job of keeping body roll in place, but the steering doesn’t quite have the feel you would want in these situations. Also, we found the steering to be slightly too heavy for the daily grind. One feature that may surprise people on the S90 is Volvo’s Pilot Assist system. Standard across the board, Pilot Assist is a semi-autonomous driving system that can drive the vehicle at speeds up to 80 mph on the freeway. I tried this system out and found to be somewhat disconcerting to use. The main reason for this was the vehicle automatically making small steering adjustments to keep it in the lane. One thing you cannot do with Pilot Assist is to take your hands off the steering wheel. The system will detect this and flash warning to put your hands on the wheel. If you don’t, Pilot Assist will automatically turn off. The Volvo S90 may not be exciting to look at or drive, but that might its greatest strength. The understated look of the exterior hides one of the best interiors not only in the class but in the industry as a whole. It is also nice to be in a vehicle that cares more about providing a comfortable ride than sharp handling. The XC90 set a high bar for future Volvo models and the good news is that S90 was able to clear it. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the S90, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volvo Model: S90 Trim: T6 Inscription Engine: Super & Turbocharged 2.0L DI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 316 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 2200–5400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25 Curb Weight: 4,080 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden Base Price: $52,950 As Tested Price: $66,365 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Inscription Package - $3,300.00 Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound - $2,650.00 Climate Package with HUD - $1,950.00 Vision Package - $1,950.00 20" Inscription Alloy Wheels - $1,010.00 Convenience Package - $1,000.00 Metallic Paint - $560.00
  14. Mazda is already known for building vehicles that are fun to drive and is garnering one for their distinctive designs. One area that Mazda might not get a lot of credit is the constant improvements they make to their lineup. Take for example the Mazda6 sedan. Since its launch back in 2013 as a 2014 model, Mazda has been updating the 6 with new improvements and features to make it better. For example, when we drove the 2016 Mazda6 back in 2015, it featured new dashboard and infotainment system that made it more pleasant to be in. For 2017, Mazda has introduced two big changes for 6 - one dealing with handling and the other dealing with overall refinement. First up is Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control. This system monitors steering and throttle input (along with a few other things according to the brand), and when it deems necessary, will reduce engine power to shift weight to the front. This is said to improve overall handling in a corner. Here’s the thing, I really can’t tell if this system makes the 2017 Mazda6 a better handler than the previous 6 I drove back in 2015. The model shows the sharp handling characteristics that has made it one of the best driving models in the class with little body roll and steering that feels direct. I would need to drive both a 2016 and 2017 Mazda6 back to back to see if there is a difference. The other improvement for the 2017 Mazda6 will be noticed by anyone going for a ride; a quieter interior. Mazda has added a bit more sound insulation for the 6 and it makes for a more pleasant driving experience. There isn’t as much wind whistle as there was in previous 6s I have driven. You still do get a fair amount of tire noise, but that’s more due to the 19-inch wheels fitted on the Grand Touring. The 19-inch wheels also make the ride slightly rough with various bumps being transmitted clearly to the backsides of you and your passengers. Mazda hasn’t messed with anything else for the 2017 6 and that’s mostly a good thing. It still retains the striking good looks of the outside, especially in this bronze color seen here. The Mazda6’s interior is towards the top of the class with a modern design, high-quality materials, and an easy to understand control layout. The leather seats offer the right amount of comfort for long trips. Those sitting in the back will have no complaints in terms of head and legroom. Under the hood is a 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Sport and Touring models get the option of either a six-speed manual or automatic, while the Grand Touring makes due with only the automatic. The engine is a spritely performer with strong acceleration and having the power ready to go when needed. The six-speed is quick when it comes to downshifts. But the transmission does stumble when it comes to upshifts as it is slow to respond when you need that punch of power. At least the automatic transmission does feature paddles on the steering wheel to allow for some manual control to solve this. The continuous updates Mazda makes to the vehicles should be applauded as it helps keep them competitive in light of tougher competition. The 2017 Mazda6 is a key example of this. You might not be able to detect one of the changes made, but the other one us quite noticeable and makes the 6 that much better. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L DOHC Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/35/30 Curb Weight: 3,305 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $30,695 As Tested Price: $34,530 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge) Options: GT Premium Package - $2,500.00 Machine Gray Metallic - $300.00 Door Sill Trim Plates - $125.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00
  15. In a not surprising move, President Donald Trump announced today that his administration will reopen a review into the 2025 fuel economy standards set by the EPA before the end of President Barack Obama's term. “We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again. There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car,” said Trump at an event in the former Willow Run bomber factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan - soon to become a testing ground for autonomous vehicles. "These standards are costly for automakers and the American people. We will work with our partners at DOT to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. In the closing days of President Obama's second term, the EPA announced that it would keep the strict standards that will require automakers to raise their fleetwide fuel economy average to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Automakers cried foul, saying the upcoming standards are costly and out of touch with the current market (i.e. low gas prices and people gobbling up crossovers, pickups, and SUVs). It is expected that the 54.5 mpg average will drop, but no one is sure how much it would drop. Reaction to this announcement has been mixed. Automakers and lobby groups approve of this move as it allows them to focus on building vehicles people want, instead of being pushed into building vehicles that will not sell. "The Trump Administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and coordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data," said Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the AutoAlliance, an industry lobby group that represents a number of automakers including Ford and GM. Other groups are not so pleased with this move. "Today's announcement of backtracking on vehicle standards for model years 2022-2025 puts at risk tens of billions of dollars of fuel savings for consumers and big reductions in tailpipe emissions," said Therese Langer, transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, in a statement. "Any delay in settling efficiency standards introduces uncertainty that will disrupt manufacturers' product planning. What is certain is that technological stagnation is not a recipe for continuing the remarkable success our domestic manufacturers have achieved in recent years." Democratic U.S. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts tells Reuters this move could actually hurt consumers. "Filling up their cars and trucks is the energy bill Americans pay most often, but President Trump's roll-back of fuel economy emissions standards means families will end up paying more at the pump," said Markey Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Reuters, Roadshow View full article
  16. In a not surprising move, President Donald Trump announced today that his administration will reopen a review into the 2025 fuel economy standards set by the EPA before the end of President Barack Obama's term. “We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again. There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car,” said Trump at an event in the former Willow Run bomber factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan - soon to become a testing ground for autonomous vehicles. "These standards are costly for automakers and the American people. We will work with our partners at DOT to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. In the closing days of President Obama's second term, the EPA announced that it would keep the strict standards that will require automakers to raise their fleetwide fuel economy average to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Automakers cried foul, saying the upcoming standards are costly and out of touch with the current market (i.e. low gas prices and people gobbling up crossovers, pickups, and SUVs). It is expected that the 54.5 mpg average will drop, but no one is sure how much it would drop. Reaction to this announcement has been mixed. Automakers and lobby groups approve of this move as it allows them to focus on building vehicles people want, instead of being pushed into building vehicles that will not sell. "The Trump Administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and coordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data," said Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the AutoAlliance, an industry lobby group that represents a number of automakers including Ford and GM. Other groups are not so pleased with this move. "Today's announcement of backtracking on vehicle standards for model years 2022-2025 puts at risk tens of billions of dollars of fuel savings for consumers and big reductions in tailpipe emissions," said Therese Langer, transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, in a statement. "Any delay in settling efficiency standards introduces uncertainty that will disrupt manufacturers' product planning. What is certain is that technological stagnation is not a recipe for continuing the remarkable success our domestic manufacturers have achieved in recent years." Democratic U.S. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts tells Reuters this move could actually hurt consumers. "Filling up their cars and trucks is the energy bill Americans pay most often, but President Trump's roll-back of fuel economy emissions standards means families will end up paying more at the pump," said Markey Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Reuters, Roadshow
  17. Is the Honda Ridgeline a truck or not? Depends on to whom you ask this question. A truck person would say no since the Ridgeline isn’t a body-on-frame vehicle. Instead, it uses a unibody platform from the Honda Pilot. A consumer would say yes because it looks like a truck and has all the attributes you would find on one such as a bed. I spent some time in a Ridgeline over the holidays to see if I could figure out the answer. The previous Ridgeline looked like an auto show concept squared-off shape and missing the design cues you would expect on a truck such as a gap between the cab and bed. This put a lot of people off from looking at the Ridgeline. The new model looks more in line with the current crop of midsize trucks as Honda adopted the standard cab and bed design. This includes the gap between the bed and cab, although this is more of a design touch. Stick your hand in the gap and you’ll realize that both parts are connected (thanks unibody construction). The front end is where you’ll make your decision as to whether you like the Ridgeline or not. There is an imposing grille with a long chrome bar on top. A set of large headlights sits on either side of the grille. Other design items to take note of are the sculpted hood and front bumper. Personally, I found the front end to a bit over the top. Honda was trying to make the Ridgeline look tough and imposing, but the end result is a look that is trying too hard. At least Honda got the Ridgeline’s bed right. Compared to the last model, Honda added four inches to the overall length of the bed (64 vs. 60 inches). This gives the Ridgeline the longest standard bed in the class. Unlike competitors, you cannot option a longer bed for the Ridgeline. Honda has also fitted some clever ideas for the Ridgeline’s bed. First is the in-bed trunk that offers 7.3 cubic feet of space where you can stow tools or luggage, giving the Ridgeline a significant edge in practicality than its competitors. Second is the dual-action tailgate which allows the tailgate to be opened downward or to the side. The recent crop of trucks have been stepping up their game when it comes to interiors and the Ridgeline is no different. The interior is borrowed from the Pilot crossover and brings forth an easy-to-understand control layout and high-quality materials. One item that wasn’t carried over from the Pilot was the push-button transmission selector. Instead, the Ridgeline sticks with a good-ole lever. Thank you, Honda. The Ridgeline proved to be a very comfortable pickup truck thanks to supportive leather seats, and power-adjustments for the driver. I took this truck to Northern Michigan and back during the holidays, and I never felt tired or had any soreness afterward. The back seat provides more than enough head and legroom for passengers. The bottom cushion of the back seat can also be folded up to provide a decent amount space for carrying larger items. Honda’s infotainment system in the Ridgeline has to be one of the most frustrating systems we have ever come across. The eight-inch system gets off on the wrong foot by using touch-sensitive controls for the volume and other functions that don’t always respond whenever pressed. At least you can use the steering wheel controls for a number of these functions. HondaLink needs a serious revamp in terms of its interface as trying to do simple things is very convoluted. For example, if I want to pick a podcast episode from my iPod, I have to jump through a number of menus to just to get to the listing of the specific show I want to listen to. You can avoid using HondaLink by plugging in your iPhone or Android phone and using CarPlay or Android Auto. All Honda Ridgeline’s come with a 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with a six-speed automatic. The base RT to the RTL-T has the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The RTL-E and Black Edition only come with all-wheel drive. No other V6 truck in the class can match the performance of the Ridgeline’s V6. Acceleration is strong whether you’re leaving a stoplight or making a pass. The run to 60 mph is said to take around 7 seconds, making this one quick midsize truck. The six-speed automatic delivers fast and smooth shifts. All-wheel drive Ridgelines like our tester come with Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management system. This system quickly redistributes the amount of torque going to each wheel to improve handling and traction. AWD models also get the Intelligent Traction Management system which adjusts the settings of the powertrain to help you get through whatever terrain you find yourself in. We put these systems to the test by driving through an unplowed road with deep snow. The Ridgeline was able to make it through without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t make the Ridgeline a truck you want to take on an off-road trail as it only offers 7.9-inches of ground clearance and no low-range. The Ridgeline’s payload is towards the top the of class when compared with other midsize crew cab trucks. Front-wheel drive models can haul between 1,447 to 1,565 pounds in the bed. All-wheel drive models have a payload capacity of 1,499 to 1,584 pounds. For towing, the Ridgeline falls a bit short. Front-wheel drive models have a max tow rating of 3,500 lbs, while AWD models are slightly higher at 5,000 lbs. For most people, the Ridgeline will be enough to handle various towing needs. If you need a bit more, then the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are ready to help. The EPA rates the Ridgeline AWD at 18 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed at 23.6 mpg in a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Previously, we’ve considered GM’s midsize trucks as having the best ride in the class. The Honda Ridgeline now holds that honor. The unibody platform and four-wheel independent suspension setup give the Ridgeline a ride that is almost equal to a passenger sedan. Bumps and other imperfections are smoothed out. The Ridgeline is a decent handling truck as well. There isn’t much body roll and it feels stable when going into a corner. We do wish Honda would make the steering slightly heavier for the Ridgeline. The Honda Ridgeline may not meet the true definition of a pickup truck, but it is one in spirit. Yes, the unibody architecture does limit the capabilities of the Ridgeline as it cannot haul or tow heavy items. Nor can it go deep into the wilderness due to decisions made by Honda on the Ridgeline’s off-road capability. But it is in other areas that the Ridgeline begins to stand out such as the clever ideas in the bed, comfortable interior, and a ride that is more in tune with a regular car. They might not be the advantages you would expect in a truck, but they are something that Honda believes will bring in those interested in a pickup minus a lot of the issues that other models have. To put it another way, the Honda Ridgeline is like Festivus from Seinfeld; they’re both for the rest of us. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Ridgeline, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Honda Model: Ridgeline Trim: RTL-E Engine: 3.5L SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,515 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, Alabama Base Price: $41,370 As Tested Price: $42,270 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  18. Is the Honda Ridgeline a truck or not? Depends on to whom you ask this question. A truck person would say no since the Ridgeline isn’t a body-on-frame vehicle. Instead, it uses a unibody platform from the Honda Pilot. A consumer would say yes because it looks like a truck and has all the attributes you would find on one such as a bed. I spent some time in a Ridgeline over the holidays to see if I could figure out the answer. The previous Ridgeline looked like an auto show concept squared-off shape and missing the design cues you would expect on a truck such as a gap between the cab and bed. This put a lot of people off from looking at the Ridgeline. The new model looks more in line with the current crop of midsize trucks as Honda adopted the standard cab and bed design. This includes the gap between the bed and cab, although this is more of a design touch. Stick your hand in the gap and you’ll realize that both parts are connected (thanks unibody construction). The front end is where you’ll make your decision as to whether you like the Ridgeline or not. There is an imposing grille with a long chrome bar on top. A set of large headlights sits on either side of the grille. Other design items to take note of are the sculpted hood and front bumper. Personally, I found the front end to a bit over the top. Honda was trying to make the Ridgeline look tough and imposing, but the end result is a look that is trying too hard. At least Honda got the Ridgeline’s bed right. Compared to the last model, Honda added four inches to the overall length of the bed (64 vs. 60 inches). This gives the Ridgeline the longest standard bed in the class. Unlike competitors, you cannot option a longer bed for the Ridgeline. Honda has also fitted some clever ideas for the Ridgeline’s bed. First is the in-bed trunk that offers 7.3 cubic feet of space where you can stow tools or luggage, giving the Ridgeline a significant edge in practicality than its competitors. Second is the dual-action tailgate which allows the tailgate to be opened downward or to the side. The recent crop of trucks have been stepping up their game when it comes to interiors and the Ridgeline is no different. The interior is borrowed from the Pilot crossover and brings forth an easy-to-understand control layout and high-quality materials. One item that wasn’t carried over from the Pilot was the push-button transmission selector. Instead, the Ridgeline sticks with a good-ole lever. Thank you, Honda. The Ridgeline proved to be a very comfortable pickup truck thanks to supportive leather seats, and power-adjustments for the driver. I took this truck to Northern Michigan and back during the holidays, and I never felt tired or had any soreness afterward. The back seat provides more than enough head and legroom for passengers. The bottom cushion of the back seat can also be folded up to provide a decent amount space for carrying larger items. Honda’s infotainment system in the Ridgeline has to be one of the most frustrating systems we have ever come across. The eight-inch system gets off on the wrong foot by using touch-sensitive controls for the volume and other functions that don’t always respond whenever pressed. At least you can use the steering wheel controls for a number of these functions. HondaLink needs a serious revamp in terms of its interface as trying to do simple things is very convoluted. For example, if I want to pick a podcast episode from my iPod, I have to jump through a number of menus to just to get to the listing of the specific show I want to listen to. You can avoid using HondaLink by plugging in your iPhone or Android phone and using CarPlay or Android Auto. All Honda Ridgeline’s come with a 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with a six-speed automatic. The base RT to the RTL-T has the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The RTL-E and Black Edition only come with all-wheel drive. No other V6 truck in the class can match the performance of the Ridgeline’s V6. Acceleration is strong whether you’re leaving a stoplight or making a pass. The run to 60 mph is said to take around 7 seconds, making this one quick midsize truck. The six-speed automatic delivers fast and smooth shifts. All-wheel drive Ridgelines like our tester come with Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management system. This system quickly redistributes the amount of torque going to each wheel to improve handling and traction. AWD models also get the Intelligent Traction Management system which adjusts the settings of the powertrain to help you get through whatever terrain you find yourself in. We put these systems to the test by driving through an unplowed road with deep snow. The Ridgeline was able to make it through without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t make the Ridgeline a truck you want to take on an off-road trail as it only offers 7.9-inches of ground clearance and no low-range. The Ridgeline’s payload is towards the top the of class when compared with other midsize crew cab trucks. Front-wheel drive models can haul between 1,447 to 1,565 pounds in the bed. All-wheel drive models have a payload capacity of 1,499 to 1,584 pounds. For towing, the Ridgeline falls a bit short. Front-wheel drive models have a max tow rating of 3,500 lbs, while AWD models are slightly higher at 5,000 lbs. For most people, the Ridgeline will be enough to handle various towing needs. If you need a bit more, then the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are ready to help. The EPA rates the Ridgeline AWD at 18 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed at 23.6 mpg in a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Previously, we’ve considered GM’s midsize trucks as having the best ride in the class. The Honda Ridgeline now holds that honor. The unibody platform and four-wheel independent suspension setup give the Ridgeline a ride that is almost equal to a passenger sedan. Bumps and other imperfections are smoothed out. The Ridgeline is a decent handling truck as well. There isn’t much body roll and it feels stable when going into a corner. We do wish Honda would make the steering slightly heavier for the Ridgeline. The Honda Ridgeline may not meet the true definition of a pickup truck, but it is one in spirit. Yes, the unibody architecture does limit the capabilities of the Ridgeline as it cannot haul or tow heavy items. Nor can it go deep into the wilderness due to decisions made by Honda on the Ridgeline’s off-road capability. But it is in other areas that the Ridgeline begins to stand out such as the clever ideas in the bed, comfortable interior, and a ride that is more in tune with a regular car. They might not be the advantages you would expect in a truck, but they are something that Honda believes will bring in those interested in a pickup minus a lot of the issues that other models have. To put it another way, the Honda Ridgeline is like Festivus from Seinfeld; they’re both for the rest of us. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Ridgeline, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Honda Model: Ridgeline Trim: RTL-E Engine: 3.5L SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,515 lbs Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, Alabama Base Price: $41,370 As Tested Price: $42,270 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  19. When it comes to hot hatchbacks, there is a line that floats around in my head from one of the earlier episodes of Top Gear. “I love hot hatchbacks as they offer drawback free motoring. You can put a chest of drawers in the back and then take it home at a million miles per hour.” The only hot hatch that has come close to this is the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Not only is a hoot to drive, but you can carry your friends and stuff with no real issue. But what about the Volkswagen Golf R? It offers the space as the GTI, but with a more powerful turbo engine and all-wheel drive. But the Golf R also comes with a price tag that is nearly $10,000 more than Golf GTI. Is it worth the extra cost? The Golf R uses the same turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder found in the Golf GTI, but the wick has been turned up. The R’s 2.0L pumps out 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with either a six-speed manual (what my tester featured) or six-speed DSG. No matter the transmission, Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system comes standard. Acceleration in the Golf R is an exciting experience. It only takes a brief moment for the turbo to spool up and then hold on. Power comes on a fast and steady rate. The six-speed manual is a bit notchy when changing gears. Like other Volkswagens equipped with the manual, the take-up point for the clutch is very narrow and you’ll have to have your foot almost off the floor to find it. It should be noted that the manual is over a half-second slower than the DSG - 5.1 vs. 4.5. But the manual does give you a bit more control with controlling the engine’s performance and making you feel that you’re playing a role. The 4Motion AWD system helps put the power down and keep the Golf R glued to the road when it’s dry. But the system really comes into its own when it is snowy. A few days into my loan and Mother Nature decided to drop a bit on snow in the Metro Detroit area. Driving through unplowed roads, the 4Motion system was able to keep the vehicle moving through some deep snow. One issue that arose was a too-eager stability control system that would come on every few seconds to combat wheelspin when driving through the deep snow - something you don’t want. At least Volkswagen was smart to equip the Golf R with a sports mode for the stability control to allow some wheelspin. This made all of the difference to keep the Golf R moving. Handling-wise? It is like a Golf GTI. Entering a corner, the Golf R feels composed and doesn’t show any sign of body roll. Steering is a bit disappointment as the R doesn’t have the weight or feel you would expect in a performance car. The ride is slightly firmer than what you find on the GTI as some bumps and road imperfections will make their way inside. There are adaptive dampers, but you’ll need to spend an extra $3,000 to get it (along with some other features). Personally, I find the standard suspension setup is ok for most people. Volkswagen has made some slight exterior changes for the Golf R such as a new slim grille, 19-inch wheels, a set of quad exhaust tips. On one hand, I wished Volkswagen could have done some more work to make the Golf R a bit more exciting to look at. On the other hand, the downplayed nature of the Golf R’s changes gives it the ability to hide its true nature. The interior of the Golf R is mostly the same as the standard Golf, which isn’t a bad thing. A lot of the traits that we like in the standard Golf such as high-quality interior, loads of space for passengers, and one of the easiest infotainment systems to use. The only changes Volkswagen did make are a set of sport seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, and carbon fiber trim. If there is one problem for the Golf R, it is the price. As I mentioned in the introduction, the base Golf R is about $10,000 more than the base GTI. For some folks, this is tall order as the GTI can you 85 to 90 percent of the Golf R’s performance at a reasonable price. But for others, that extra 10 to 15 percent the R offers is very much worth the extra cash. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf R, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf R Trim: N/A Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L TSI DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 292 @ 5,400 Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25 Curb Weight: 3,305 lbs Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany Base Price: $35,655 As Tested Price: $36,475 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  20. When it comes to hot hatchbacks, there is a line that floats around in my head from one of the earlier episodes of Top Gear. “I love hot hatchbacks as they offer drawback free motoring. You can put a chest of drawers in the back and then take it home at a million miles per hour.” The only hot hatch that has come close to this is the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Not only is a hoot to drive, but you can carry your friends and stuff with no real issue. But what about the Volkswagen Golf R? It offers the space as the GTI, but with a more powerful turbo engine and all-wheel drive. But the Golf R also comes with a price tag that is nearly $10,000 more than Golf GTI. Is it worth the extra cost? The Golf R uses the same turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder found in the Golf GTI, but the wick has been turned up. The R’s 2.0L pumps out 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with either a six-speed manual (what my tester featured) or six-speed DSG. No matter the transmission, Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system comes standard. Acceleration in the Golf R is an exciting experience. It only takes a brief moment for the turbo to spool up and then hold on. Power comes on a fast and steady rate. The six-speed manual is a bit notchy when changing gears. Like other Volkswagens equipped with the manual, the take-up point for the clutch is very narrow and you’ll have to have your foot almost off the floor to find it. It should be noted that the manual is over a half-second slower than the DSG - 5.1 vs. 4.5. But the manual does give you a bit more control with controlling the engine’s performance and making you feel that you’re playing a role. The 4Motion AWD system helps put the power down and keep the Golf R glued to the road when it’s dry. But the system really comes into its own when it is snowy. A few days into my loan and Mother Nature decided to drop a bit on snow in the Metro Detroit area. Driving through unplowed roads, the 4Motion system was able to keep the vehicle moving through some deep snow. One issue that arose was a too-eager stability control system that would come on every few seconds to combat wheelspin when driving through the deep snow - something you don’t want. At least Volkswagen was smart to equip the Golf R with a sports mode for the stability control to allow some wheelspin. This made all of the difference to keep the Golf R moving. Handling-wise? It is like a Golf GTI. Entering a corner, the Golf R feels composed and doesn’t show any sign of body roll. Steering is a bit disappointment as the R doesn’t have the weight or feel you would expect in a performance car. The ride is slightly firmer than what you find on the GTI as some bumps and road imperfections will make their way inside. There are adaptive dampers, but you’ll need to spend an extra $3,000 to get it (along with some other features). Personally, I find the standard suspension setup is ok for most people. Volkswagen has made some slight exterior changes for the Golf R such as a new slim grille, 19-inch wheels, a set of quad exhaust tips. On one hand, I wished Volkswagen could have done some more work to make the Golf R a bit more exciting to look at. On the other hand, the downplayed nature of the Golf R’s changes gives it the ability to hide its true nature. The interior of the Golf R is mostly the same as the standard Golf, which isn’t a bad thing. A lot of the traits that we like in the standard Golf such as high-quality interior, loads of space for passengers, and one of the easiest infotainment systems to use. The only changes Volkswagen did make are a set of sport seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, and carbon fiber trim. If there is one problem for the Golf R, it is the price. As I mentioned in the introduction, the base Golf R is about $10,000 more than the base GTI. For some folks, this is tall order as the GTI can you 85 to 90 percent of the Golf R’s performance at a reasonable price. But for others, that extra 10 to 15 percent the R offers is very much worth the extra cash. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf R, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf R Trim: N/A Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L TSI DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 292 @ 5,400 Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25 Curb Weight: 3,305 lbs Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany Base Price: $35,655 As Tested Price: $36,475 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  21. Cadillac has been trying to position itself being as an alternative to German brands with models that offer exemplary handling characteristics and sharp designs. But the brand has the issue of models that don’t quite fit the image being presented. The SRX is the poster child for this. Yes, it had the sharp looks the brand was getting known for. But you wouldn’t call it sporty. It was more along the lines of a Lexus RX where luxury and comfort were the main priorities. Enthusiasts and critics were not pleased with this, but consumers gobbled them up. The SRX for a time was Cadillac’s best-selling model. Now we come to the successor of the SRX, the 2017 XT5. Those who were hoping for a change in the priorities will be disappointed as the XT5 doesn’t mess with the SRX’s recipe. But is that bad thing? Evolution is the impression you get when walking around the XT5. Cadillac’s designers didn’t make any drastic changes to the design profile aside from softening the Art & Science design language. The front now features a comically-large grille and headlights with a strand of LEDs that run into the bumper. Towards the back is an integrated spoiler that extends the roofline, a set of large taillights, and a rear bumper that comes with chrome exhaust ports and a faux skid plate. The XT5 does lose some of the polarizing details that made the SRX stand out, but it still stands out slightly in what is becoming a crowded class. Cadillac has been stepping up its game in terms of their interiors with their new models. Case in point is the XT5. Our top-line Platinum tester featured faux suede, leather, and wood trim on a number of surfaces that make it look and feel quite luxurious. We’re glad to see the removal of the Piano Black panel for the center stack as it looked out of place and was a magnet for fingerprints. One design idea we’re not so keen on is the gear selector. Instead of a lever, Cadillac went with a joystick controller to engage the various gears. The controller isn’t intuitive as you’ll find yourself going into the wrong gear or not going into one at all on a somewhat regular basis. You will get the hang of it after a bit, but you can’t help but wonder why Cadillac decided to change this in the first place. The leather used for the seats feel quite supple and help fix the issue of uncomfortable seats in the SRX. Interior space has grown, thanks to a two-inch increase in the wheelbase. Rear legroom has grown 3.2 inches and it allows anyone sitting back there to stretch out. Headroom is still slightly tight thanks in part to our tester coming with the optional panoramic sunroof. But this can be alleviated by recalling the rear seat slightly. Cargo space in smack dab in the middle - 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 63 cubic feet when folded. Cadillac User Interface (CUE) has been one of our least favorite infotainment systems to use since it was introduced a few years ago. The litany of problems ranging from a touch sensitive buttons not responding to inputs to the system crashing have dragged Cadillac down. But the system has been getting a number of changes and updates over the past few years. For starters, Cadillac has removed most of the touch-sensitive buttons from the system. Being able to press an actual button to turn on the heated/ventilated seats or adjust the temperature is really nice. It is a shame Cadillac didn’t bring back an actual volume knob for CUE - the touch-sensitive strip is still there. But at least there are volume controls on the steering wheel that allow you to avoid it. The system itself has been overhauled with a faster processor and a slightly improved interface. The changes make a difference as the system is snappier and a little bit easier to understand. If you still find CUE a bit overwhelming, you’ll be happy to know that CUE now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Cadillac bucks the trend in the midsize luxury crossover class by only offering one engine - a 3.6L V6 producing 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque (@ 5,000 rpm). This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The V6 is the weak link in the XT5. When leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to realize the accelerator pedal has been pressed before it starts working. This is even worse when you’re trying to make a pass as it seems the engine was busy taking a nap before it was hastily woken up. Once the engine is awake, it takes its time to get up to speed. There is a positive to the V6 engine and that is the stop-start system. Unlike some previous systems that are slow to restart the engine or do so in a very rough fashion, Cadillac’s system is quick and smooth when you let off the brake. The eight-speed automatic seems reluctant to downshift at times. We’re guessing this transmission was calibrated for fuel economy. At least the eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts. Fuel economy figures for the 2017 Cadillac XT5 all-wheel drive stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average fuel economy for the week landed around 22.3 mpg in mostly city driving. One characteristic we liked about the SRX was its comfortable ride. Yes, it flies in the face of Cadillac’s message of beating the German’s at their own handling game. But buyers loved the smoothness on offer. Sadly, the XT5 loses a bit of the smoothness. Despite our tester featuring an adaptive suspension system, the XT5 wasn’t able to fully iron out bumps. Some of this can be attributed to 20-inch wheels fitted to our tester. At least the XT5 keeps road and wind noise out of the interior. Like the SRX, the XT5 isn’t sporty. Body motions are kept in check, but the light weight and nonexistent feel from the steering puts a halt to that idea. An item Cadillac has been touting on the XT5 is the Rear Camera Mirror. Available only on the top-line Platinum, the mirror can stream the view from the rear camera by flicking a switch. We found this to be really helpful when backing out of parking lots as it gave a view that isn’t hindered by the thick rear pillars. Hopefully, Cadillac spreads this feature down to other trims of the XT5. In some respects, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a step forward. The model improves on certain parts of the SRX such as a more luxurious and spacious interior, improved CUE system, and sharper looks. But in other respects, Cadillac messed up with the XT5. The 3.6L V6 needs to be shown the door and a new engine that offers better low-end performance to take its place. The loss of the smooth ride that the SRX was known for hurts the XT5 as well. Finally, there is the price. Our XT5 Platinum tester came with an as-tested price of $69,985. It is a nice crossover. But if we’re dropping close $70,000 on a luxury crossover, we can think of a few models that would be ahead of the XT5. It should be noted that the Cadillac XT5 has taken the place of the SRX of being the brand’s best selling model. At the end of 2016, Cadillac moved 39,485 XT5s. But unlike the SRX which we could recommend without hesitation, the XT5 comes with a number of caveats that we cannot do the same. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the XT5, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: SRX Trim: Platinum Engine: 3.6L V6 VVT DI Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,700 Torque @ RPM: 271 @ 5,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Spring Hill, TN Base Price: $62,500 As Tested Price: $69,985 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Package - $2,340.00 20-inch Wheels - $2,095.00 Trailering Equipment - $575.00 Black Ice Body Side Moldings - $355.00 Compact Spare Tire - $350.00 Black Ice License Plate Bar - $310.00 Black Roof Rails - $295.00 Black Splash Guards - $170.00 View full article
  22. Cadillac has been trying to position itself being as an alternative to German brands with models that offer exemplary handling characteristics and sharp designs. But the brand has the issue of models that don’t quite fit the image being presented. The SRX is the poster child for this. Yes, it had the sharp looks the brand was getting known for. But you wouldn’t call it sporty. It was more along the lines of a Lexus RX where luxury and comfort were the main priorities. Enthusiasts and critics were not pleased with this, but consumers gobbled them up. The SRX for a time was Cadillac’s best-selling model. Now we come to the successor of the SRX, the 2017 XT5. Those who were hoping for a change in the priorities will be disappointed as the XT5 doesn’t mess with the SRX’s recipe. But is that bad thing? Evolution is the impression you get when walking around the XT5. Cadillac’s designers didn’t make any drastic changes to the design profile aside from softening the Art & Science design language. The front now features a comically-large grille and headlights with a strand of LEDs that run into the bumper. Towards the back is an integrated spoiler that extends the roofline, a set of large taillights, and a rear bumper that comes with chrome exhaust ports and a faux skid plate. The XT5 does lose some of the polarizing details that made the SRX stand out, but it still stands out slightly in what is becoming a crowded class. Cadillac has been stepping up its game in terms of their interiors with their new models. Case in point is the XT5. Our top-line Platinum tester featured faux suede, leather, and wood trim on a number of surfaces that make it look and feel quite luxurious. We’re glad to see the removal of the Piano Black panel for the center stack as it looked out of place and was a magnet for fingerprints. One design idea we’re not so keen on is the gear selector. Instead of a lever, Cadillac went with a joystick controller to engage the various gears. The controller isn’t intuitive as you’ll find yourself going into the wrong gear or not going into one at all on a somewhat regular basis. You will get the hang of it after a bit, but you can’t help but wonder why Cadillac decided to change this in the first place. The leather used for the seats feel quite supple and help fix the issue of uncomfortable seats in the SRX. Interior space has grown, thanks to a two-inch increase in the wheelbase. Rear legroom has grown 3.2 inches and it allows anyone sitting back there to stretch out. Headroom is still slightly tight thanks in part to our tester coming with the optional panoramic sunroof. But this can be alleviated by recalling the rear seat slightly. Cargo space in smack dab in the middle - 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 63 cubic feet when folded. Cadillac User Interface (CUE) has been one of our least favorite infotainment systems to use since it was introduced a few years ago. The litany of problems ranging from a touch sensitive buttons not responding to inputs to the system crashing have dragged Cadillac down. But the system has been getting a number of changes and updates over the past few years. For starters, Cadillac has removed most of the touch-sensitive buttons from the system. Being able to press an actual button to turn on the heated/ventilated seats or adjust the temperature is really nice. It is a shame Cadillac didn’t bring back an actual volume knob for CUE - the touch-sensitive strip is still there. But at least there are volume controls on the steering wheel that allow you to avoid it. The system itself has been overhauled with a faster processor and a slightly improved interface. The changes make a difference as the system is snappier and a little bit easier to understand. If you still find CUE a bit overwhelming, you’ll be happy to know that CUE now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Cadillac bucks the trend in the midsize luxury crossover class by only offering one engine - a 3.6L V6 producing 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque (@ 5,000 rpm). This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The V6 is the weak link in the XT5. When leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to realize the accelerator pedal has been pressed before it starts working. This is even worse when you’re trying to make a pass as it seems the engine was busy taking a nap before it was hastily woken up. Once the engine is awake, it takes its time to get up to speed. There is a positive to the V6 engine and that is the stop-start system. Unlike some previous systems that are slow to restart the engine or do so in a very rough fashion, Cadillac’s system is quick and smooth when you let off the brake. The eight-speed automatic seems reluctant to downshift at times. We’re guessing this transmission was calibrated for fuel economy. At least the eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts. Fuel economy figures for the 2017 Cadillac XT5 all-wheel drive stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average fuel economy for the week landed around 22.3 mpg in mostly city driving. One characteristic we liked about the SRX was its comfortable ride. Yes, it flies in the face of Cadillac’s message of beating the German’s at their own handling game. But buyers loved the smoothness on offer. Sadly, the XT5 loses a bit of the smoothness. Despite our tester featuring an adaptive suspension system, the XT5 wasn’t able to fully iron out bumps. Some of this can be attributed to 20-inch wheels fitted to our tester. At least the XT5 keeps road and wind noise out of the interior. Like the SRX, the XT5 isn’t sporty. Body motions are kept in check, but the light weight and nonexistent feel from the steering puts a halt to that idea. An item Cadillac has been touting on the XT5 is the Rear Camera Mirror. Available only on the top-line Platinum, the mirror can stream the view from the rear camera by flicking a switch. We found this to be really helpful when backing out of parking lots as it gave a view that isn’t hindered by the thick rear pillars. Hopefully, Cadillac spreads this feature down to other trims of the XT5. In some respects, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a step forward. The model improves on certain parts of the SRX such as a more luxurious and spacious interior, improved CUE system, and sharper looks. But in other respects, Cadillac messed up with the XT5. The 3.6L V6 needs to be shown the door and a new engine that offers better low-end performance to take its place. The loss of the smooth ride that the SRX was known for hurts the XT5 as well. Finally, there is the price. Our XT5 Platinum tester came with an as-tested price of $69,985. It is a nice crossover. But if we’re dropping close $70,000 on a luxury crossover, we can think of a few models that would be ahead of the XT5. It should be noted that the Cadillac XT5 has taken the place of the SRX of being the brand’s best selling model. At the end of 2016, Cadillac moved 39,485 XT5s. But unlike the SRX which we could recommend without hesitation, the XT5 comes with a number of caveats that we cannot do the same. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the XT5, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Cadillac Model: SRX Trim: Platinum Engine: 3.6L V6 VVT DI Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,700 Torque @ RPM: 271 @ 5,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Spring Hill, TN Base Price: $62,500 As Tested Price: $69,985 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Assist Package - $2,340.00 20-inch Wheels - $2,095.00 Trailering Equipment - $575.00 Black Ice Body Side Moldings - $355.00 Compact Spare Tire - $350.00 Black Ice License Plate Bar - $310.00 Black Roof Rails - $295.00 Black Splash Guards - $170.00
  23. There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition? The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better. Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior. Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function. FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it. Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass. EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg. The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van. For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Trim: Touring L Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22 Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $34,495 As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Audio Group - $895.00 8 Passenger Seating - $495.00 View full article
  24. There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition? The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better. Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior. Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function. FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it. Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass. EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg. The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van. For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Trim: Touring L Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22 Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $34,495 As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Audio Group - $895.00 8 Passenger Seating - $495.00
  25. They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine. Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate. Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner. Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Subaru Model: Forester Trim: 2.0XT Touring Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25 Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan Base Price: $34,295 As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge) Options: Option Package 34 - $1,595.00