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Found 12 results

  1. The upcoming Lincoln Aviator will be offering a very potent plug-in hybrid powertrain offering 450 horsepower and a whopping 600 pound-feet of torque. But what will Lincoln call this Aviator model? Most competitors use something like E-Hybrid, PHEV, or a 'e' to the end of the model. According to Automotive News, Lincoln will be using the Grand Touring (GT) to designate electrified variants. "Quite simply, it came down to, what does it do? And what it does is that it makes the vehicle more exciting to drive. It's the purest definition of Grand Touring," said Robert Parker, Lincoln's marketing chief. Lincoln went through various names, "including variations of the letter E," in internal discussions and focus groups before landing on Grand Touring. "Consumers may have liked the word but didn't know what it meant. If I have to go spend money to describe to customers what a new word means, I've taken money away from promoting Aviator," explained Parker. "You can talk yourself into these letters and conventions, but when you go out into the consumer space, they're very confused. EcoBoost wasn't new; direct-injection technology was around in the late '80s, but nobody seemed to find the magic until EcoBoost." We'll see if this works out for Lincoln when the Aviator begins hitting dealers next summer. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required) View full article
  2. The upcoming Lincoln Aviator will be offering a very potent plug-in hybrid powertrain offering 450 horsepower and a whopping 600 pound-feet of torque. But what will Lincoln call this Aviator model? Most competitors use something like E-Hybrid, PHEV, or a 'e' to the end of the model. According to Automotive News, Lincoln will be using the Grand Touring (GT) to designate electrified variants. "Quite simply, it came down to, what does it do? And what it does is that it makes the vehicle more exciting to drive. It's the purest definition of Grand Touring," said Robert Parker, Lincoln's marketing chief. Lincoln went through various names, "including variations of the letter E," in internal discussions and focus groups before landing on Grand Touring. "Consumers may have liked the word but didn't know what it meant. If I have to go spend money to describe to customers what a new word means, I've taken money away from promoting Aviator," explained Parker. "You can talk yourself into these letters and conventions, but when you go out into the consumer space, they're very confused. EcoBoost wasn't new; direct-injection technology was around in the late '80s, but nobody seemed to find the magic until EcoBoost." We'll see if this works out for Lincoln when the Aviator begins hitting dealers next summer. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  3. William Maley

    Review: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

    “But you’ll look sweet Upon the seat Of a Mazda CX-3 built for two” Okay, I might have slightly altered a song that you may sung during preschool and/or kindergarten. But that song perfectly describes the latest entrant in the subcompact crossover class, the 2016 Mazda CX-3. Let me explain. Mazda has been designing some of the sharpest looking vehicles for a few years and the CX-3 is no exception. The front end looks the same as the larger CX-5 and upcoming CX-9 with a large grill and chrome trim running along the outer edge into the headlights. Moving to the side shows off a flowing line that resembles an ocean wave. Finishing the look is a set of eighteen-inch wheels that come standard on the Grand Touring. The overall shape makes the CX-3 look bigger than it actually is. This thought goes away once you get inside the CX-3. Interior space can be best described as intimate. The front seats provide good support and come with extra side bolstering to hold you in whenever you decide its time to horse around. The back seat is quite small with little head and legroom. I’m 5’8” and found that I barely fit. There needs to be a sticker attached to the rear windows saying “the rear seat to be used only in case of emergencies". Cargo space is also small with the CX-3 only offering 12.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 44.5 cubic feet with them down. Our CX-3 tester had an even smaller cargo area due to the subwoofer (comes with the optional Bose audio system) taking up valuable space. Measurements are 10.1 and 42.3 cubic feet respectively. This trails the Honda HR-V which offers 24.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 58.8 cubic feet when folded. At least Mazda did an impressive job when it comes to the design of the CX-3’s interior. A sleek looking dash features a small chrome bar running between a set of air vents. Various trim pieces are finished in contrasting colors to set off the interior. All CX-3s feature a seven-inch color touchscreen with the MazdaConnect infotainment system. The Grand Touring is the only trim that comes with navigation. Much like our experience in the MX-5 Miata, trying to use the touchscreen is more an exercise in frustration since you don’t know which controls are touch enabled. It is easier to use the control knob to move around the system. Power for the CX-3 comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder with 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque (@ 2,800 rpm). This comes paired with a six-speed automatic and the choice of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Our tester came with all-wheel drive. Around town the CX-3's 2.0 liter provides decent off the line power, but under heavier acceleration and at highway speeds, the engine struggles and sounds rough. Those who have timed the CX-3 to 60 mph say it takes about 8.5 seconds. The six-speed automatic delivers smooth and crisp upshifts, but is somewhat slow to respond when downshifting. Fuel economy for the CX-3 AWD is rated at 27 City/32 Highway/29 Combined. Our average landed around 26 MPG. Not bad considering the winter conditions the CX-3 was facing, along with the vehicle only having just a hair over 1,000 miles. One key item Mazda points out on the CX-3 is the i-Active all-wheel drive system. Mazda says this system is able to predict road conditions through various sensors around the vehicle to provide information to the computer. From there, the computer is able to make various changes to all-wheel drive system to keep the vehicle moving through whatever mother nature decides to throw out. For example, if you turn on the windshield wipers, the system can tell that its raining and makes the necessary changes. Seems like a marketing gimmick, but it actually does make a difference. When the CX-3 was dropped off, the metro Detroit area was experiencing a big snow storm with snow amounts ranging from six to twelve inches. The all-wheel drive system was able to keep the CX-3 moving through deep snow drifts on the road. Even when stopped, you could tell the wheels spun briefly before the system made some quick adjustments to get the vehicle moving. Handling is where the Mazda CX-3 truly shines. Around corners, the vehicle feels nimble and body motions are kept in check. Steering is towards the top of the class with excellent weight and feel of the road. The daily drive reveals the CX-3 having a compliant ride with some bumps making their way inside. One area Mazda still hasn’t been able to fully solve yet is noise isolation. There is a fair amount of road and tire noise coming into the cabin. We’re wondering if going for the sixteen-inch wheels on the Touring trim would fix this issue. Wind noise is kept to acceptable levels. In terms of pricing, the Mazda CX-3 is right in line with competitors. Prices range from $19,960 for the base Sport front-wheel drive to $26,240 for the Grand Touring all-wheel drive. Our Grand Touring tester came to an as-tested price of $29,260 with most options added. This is a lot of cash to drop on a subcompact crossover. The only thing we can see why you might go to the Grand Touring is for the optional safety package that adds radar cruise control and automatic braking. Otherwise you can get a good amount of equipment from the CX-3 Grand Touring as options on the Touring. Making this price tag harder to swallow is the Mazda CX-5 Touring all-wheel drive that is only a few hundred dollars more than our tester ($29,820), and offers more space and can be optioned with automatic braking. Let’s go back to the beginning of this review with the song and saying how it perfectly describes the 2016 Mazda CX-3. This a crossover that will work for either a single person or couple as there is enough space for their needs. A small family will feel cramped and wonder why there isn’t any more cargo space. In my notes for the CX-3, I made the connection between it and the Mazda MX-5 I drove a few weeks before. Both models are focused on providing driving excitement and sharp looks, but at the cost of practicality. This isn’t to say the Mazda CX-3 is a bad crossover. I happen to really like it. But it only works for a certain group of people. Cheers: Fun to drive, Clever all-wheel drive system, Looks that stand out Jeers: You can get a CX-5 for the same amount of money as our tester, Rear seat best used in emergencies, Engine struggles when getting up to speed on a freeway Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Mazda Model: CX-3 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.0L Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 146 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 146 @ 2,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/32/29 Curb Weight: 2,952 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $26,240 As Tested Price: $29,260 (Includes $900 Destination Charge) Options: GT i-Activesense Package - $1,920.00 Door Sill Trim Plates - $100.00 Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00 View full article
  4. William Maley

    Review: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

    “But you’ll look sweet Upon the seat Of a Mazda CX-3 built for two” Okay, I might have slightly altered a song that you may sung during preschool and/or kindergarten. But that song perfectly describes the latest entrant in the subcompact crossover class, the 2016 Mazda CX-3. Let me explain. Mazda has been designing some of the sharpest looking vehicles for a few years and the CX-3 is no exception. The front end looks the same as the larger CX-5 and upcoming CX-9 with a large grill and chrome trim running along the outer edge into the headlights. Moving to the side shows off a flowing line that resembles an ocean wave. Finishing the look is a set of eighteen-inch wheels that come standard on the Grand Touring. The overall shape makes the CX-3 look bigger than it actually is. This thought goes away once you get inside the CX-3. Interior space can be best described as intimate. The front seats provide good support and come with extra side bolstering to hold you in whenever you decide its time to horse around. The back seat is quite small with little head and legroom. I’m 5’8” and found that I barely fit. There needs to be a sticker attached to the rear windows saying “the rear seat to be used only in case of emergencies". Cargo space is also small with the CX-3 only offering 12.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 44.5 cubic feet with them down. Our CX-3 tester had an even smaller cargo area due to the subwoofer (comes with the optional Bose audio system) taking up valuable space. Measurements are 10.1 and 42.3 cubic feet respectively. This trails the Honda HR-V which offers 24.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 58.8 cubic feet when folded. At least Mazda did an impressive job when it comes to the design of the CX-3’s interior. A sleek looking dash features a small chrome bar running between a set of air vents. Various trim pieces are finished in contrasting colors to set off the interior. All CX-3s feature a seven-inch color touchscreen with the MazdaConnect infotainment system. The Grand Touring is the only trim that comes with navigation. Much like our experience in the MX-5 Miata, trying to use the touchscreen is more an exercise in frustration since you don’t know which controls are touch enabled. It is easier to use the control knob to move around the system. Power for the CX-3 comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder with 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque (@ 2,800 rpm). This comes paired with a six-speed automatic and the choice of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Our tester came with all-wheel drive. Around town the CX-3's 2.0 liter provides decent off the line power, but under heavier acceleration and at highway speeds, the engine struggles and sounds rough. Those who have timed the CX-3 to 60 mph say it takes about 8.5 seconds. The six-speed automatic delivers smooth and crisp upshifts, but is somewhat slow to respond when downshifting. Fuel economy for the CX-3 AWD is rated at 27 City/32 Highway/29 Combined. Our average landed around 26 MPG. Not bad considering the winter conditions the CX-3 was facing, along with the vehicle only having just a hair over 1,000 miles. One key item Mazda points out on the CX-3 is the i-Active all-wheel drive system. Mazda says this system is able to predict road conditions through various sensors around the vehicle to provide information to the computer. From there, the computer is able to make various changes to all-wheel drive system to keep the vehicle moving through whatever mother nature decides to throw out. For example, if you turn on the windshield wipers, the system can tell that its raining and makes the necessary changes. Seems like a marketing gimmick, but it actually does make a difference. When the CX-3 was dropped off, the metro Detroit area was experiencing a big snow storm with snow amounts ranging from six to twelve inches. The all-wheel drive system was able to keep the CX-3 moving through deep snow drifts on the road. Even when stopped, you could tell the wheels spun briefly before the system made some quick adjustments to get the vehicle moving. Handling is where the Mazda CX-3 truly shines. Around corners, the vehicle feels nimble and body motions are kept in check. Steering is towards the top of the class with excellent weight and feel of the road. The daily drive reveals the CX-3 having a compliant ride with some bumps making their way inside. One area Mazda still hasn’t been able to fully solve yet is noise isolation. There is a fair amount of road and tire noise coming into the cabin. We’re wondering if going for the sixteen-inch wheels on the Touring trim would fix this issue. Wind noise is kept to acceptable levels. In terms of pricing, the Mazda CX-3 is right in line with competitors. Prices range from $19,960 for the base Sport front-wheel drive to $26,240 for the Grand Touring all-wheel drive. Our Grand Touring tester came to an as-tested price of $29,260 with most options added. This is a lot of cash to drop on a subcompact crossover. The only thing we can see why you might go to the Grand Touring is for the optional safety package that adds radar cruise control and automatic braking. Otherwise you can get a good amount of equipment from the CX-3 Grand Touring as options on the Touring. Making this price tag harder to swallow is the Mazda CX-5 Touring all-wheel drive that is only a few hundred dollars more than our tester ($29,820), and offers more space and can be optioned with automatic braking. Let’s go back to the beginning of this review with the song and saying how it perfectly describes the 2016 Mazda CX-3. This a crossover that will work for either a single person or couple as there is enough space for their needs. A small family will feel cramped and wonder why there isn’t any more cargo space. In my notes for the CX-3, I made the connection between it and the Mazda MX-5 I drove a few weeks before. Both models are focused on providing driving excitement and sharp looks, but at the cost of practicality. This isn’t to say the Mazda CX-3 is a bad crossover. I happen to really like it. But it only works for a certain group of people. Cheers: Fun to drive, Clever all-wheel drive system, Looks that stand out Jeers: You can get a CX-5 for the same amount of money as our tester, Rear seat best used in emergencies, Engine struggles when getting up to speed on a freeway Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Mazda Model: CX-3 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.0L Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 146 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 146 @ 2,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/32/29 Curb Weight: 2,952 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $26,240 As Tested Price: $29,260 (Includes $900 Destination Charge) Options: GT i-Activesense Package - $1,920.00 Door Sill Trim Plates - $100.00 Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00
  5. William Maley

    Quick Drive: Midsize Sedan Three-Pack

    The past few months at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau has seen some midsize sedans make a second appearance. One has gone the eco-friendly route, another came with some added zip in its sporty model, and the last has undergone some significant changes. The three sedans in question are the Hyundai Sonata Eco, Toyota Camry XSE V6, and 2016 Mazda6. Now if you want to know what we thought of these vehicles originally, you check out our reviews here. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring 2015 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid Next: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco The current Hyundai Sonata is a bit head scratcher. When the new model was shown last year at the New York Auto Show, it looked like Hyundai dropped the ball. While the automaker had made a number of improvements in terms of the interior and the engine, the big item of the exterior design was somewhat forgotten. The sleek shape had been changed for something a bit more conservative. This has caused sales to slump and Hyundai to order a refresh a year sooner than expected. But even with these problems, is there a Sonata model that can stand above the rest? As we found out earlier this year, it isn’t the Sonata Sport 2.0T as it has a number of problems with being sporty. Let’s see if the Hyundai Sonata Eco can do it. What makes the Eco different from other Sonata models is under the hood. Hyundai employs a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Aside from this and an Eco badge on the trunk, it looks like the standard Sonata. But the Eco doesn’t drive like the standard model. With the torque arriving at 1,500 and continuing towards 4,500 rpm, this means the Eco’s has power readily available when you’re leaving a stop and continues onwards. Power comes on smoothly and linearly. The only downside to this powertrain is the dual-clutch transmission stumbles a bit due to slow shifts and occasional juddering. It should be noted that Hyundai has made some improvements to the DCT since we’ve driven the Sonata Eco, and the improvements are noticeable when we drove Tucson with this transmission. The other difference between the Sonata Eco and other trims comes in the form of fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco at 28 City/38 Highway/32 Combined. This is slightly better than the standard Sonata with 25 City/37 Highway/29 Combined. My week of driving saw an average of 33.4 MPG, slightly above the combined figure. In the ride and handling department, the Sonata Eco is quite a comfortable car as the suspension keeps most bumps from reaching the interior. Road and wind noise are kept to acceptable levels. Those who want a bit of sport should look towards the Mazda6 as it offers the driver a bit more information and enjoyment on the curves. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco starts at $23,275, about $2,125 more than the base SE model. Considering what comes standard - a power drivers seat, backup camera, five-inch touchscreen radio, and a chrome front grille - the Eco is quite a good value. Our test Eco came with the optional tech package which adds $4,100 to the base price. But the package transforms the Eco into a handsomely loaded model with such features as blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, leather seats, heated front seats, and push-button start. The Eco may be the best all-around trim in the Hyundai Sonata lineup. Not only does it offer impressive fuel economy for a midsize sedan, it comes well equipped and boasts a price tag that will not make you wonder if you spent too much. For many, it might be the right sedan. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata Eco, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Trim: Eco Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged, Direct-Injected Four-Cylinder Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual Clutch, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 178 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/38/32 Curb Weight: 3,250 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL Base Price: $23,275 As Tested Price: $28,310 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tech Package - $4,100 Carpet Floor Mats - $125.00 Next: 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring Small changes can make a big difference to a vehicle. No one is a bigger believer to this mantra than Mazda. A classic example is the CX-5. When it launched in 2013, the crossover drew me in with its sharp looks and impressive handling dynamics. But the 2.0L four-cylinder was a bit of a let down as it was a bit underpowered for the vehicle’s weight. Mazda went back and installed a larger 2.5L four-cylinder for the CX-5 and it made a world of difference in overall performance. So imagine taking this idea of making small changes and doing it to another vehicle. Mazda has done that with the 2016 Mazda sedan. Let see what the changes are and if they make the 6 an even better sedan. The outside get some minor changes such as the grille slats draped in chrome and a longer chrome bar that runs underneath the grille. The big changes for the 2016 model are for the interior as Mazda has taken the interior from 3 and placed it into 6. The new dash brings forth improved materials to make it look and feel more premium, along with Mazda’s new infotainment system. This system is a massive improvement over the older one in terms of performance and overall usability. However, Mazda’s system has an odd problem with the navigation system as it shows you traveling on a different road a few hundred feet away than the one you are currently on. Now the system does correct itself, but it takes up to half a minute. One other change for the 2016 Mazda6 is the optional i-Eloop system. This is a regenerative braking system that recycles the kinetic energy that is moving the vehicle into electricity that is stored in a capacitor. The capacitor then feeds that power to various electronic components to help reduce the load on the alternator and improve fuel economy. Now Mazda says the system delivers up five percent better fuel economy. This shows in the 2016 Mazda6’s fuel economy numbers of 28 City/40 Highway/32 Combined, slightly better than the 26 City/38 Highway/30 Combined on the 2014 model. So does it make a difference? Most likely as my average for the week in the 2016 model was 31 MPG, three MPGs higher than the 2014 model. Aside from all of these changes, the Mazda6 is still one of the best driving midsize sedans on sale. The 2.5L Skyactiv-G engine gets up to speed at a quick rate, while the six-speed automatic is one the fastest and smoothest shifting transmissions on sale. Mazda also hasn’t changed the fun-to-drive characteristics we loved in our original road test of the 6. One item we wished Mazda would work on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise were very apparent when driving the 6 on the expressway. The 2016 Mazda6 shows the little changes can take a sedan that is considered by many to be one of best and make and make it that much more. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Skyactiv-Drive Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/40/32 Curb Weight: 3,250 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $30,195 As Tested Price: $33,395 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: GT Technology Package - $2,180 Door Sill Trim Plates - $125.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00 Next: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 Can a Toyota Camry be sporty? Before you start writing comments saying no and telling me that I’m crazy, it is a legitimate question. Consider Toyota’s pledge a couple years ago where it pledged to make their vehicles more engaging. So far, Toyota’s vehicles have looked more exciting. In terms of making them more engaging with driving, it has been mixed. The Avalon Hybrid we thought was a good driving vehicle, while the Corolla S wasn’t. So with that in mind, let us see how the sportiest Camry, the new XSE fares. The 2015 Camry went through a substantial refresh with most of body being changed - aside from the roof. It’s quite dramatic when compared to the previous model. The Camry XSE gets some unique tweaks to make it stand out further such as new mesh grille insert, 18-inch wheels, and dual-exhaust ports. The changes do make the Camry XSE stand out, but it also makes the XSE look like it's trying a bit too hard. Inside the XSE features a number of changes that we delved into our Camry Hybrid SE review including the revised dash with stitching. The only differences for the XSE is a set of faux-suede seats and red stitching. It would be nice if Toyota could do something more to differentiate the Camry XSE from other Camry models in the interior like some new trim pieces specific to the XSE. Power for the XSE comes in the form of a 2.5L four-cylinder as the base, with a 3.5L V6 as an option. Our XSE tester came with the optional V6 which packs 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet. No matter which engine you pick, a six-speed automatic comes standard. The V6 is quite the surprise as it pulls very strong through the rev range and will cause the front wheels to break loose if you aren’t careful with the accelerator. Toyota should also be given some credit for building one of the smoothest and quietest V6 engines on sale. The six-speed automatic shares the smooth characteristics of the engine. Fuel economy for the Camry V6 is rated at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. I saw an average 24 MPG for the week. Now Toyota has made a number of improvements to the XSE to make it sporty such as firmer shocks and springs, new bushings, and a revised ­electric power steering system. So does it make a noticeable improvement to the Camry’s handling? Somewhat. The changes to the suspension do help in terms of body control. But the steering feels a little-bit rubbery and doesn’t provide any increased weight from the standard Camry. At least the Camry XSE provides a somewhat smooth ride. The big problem for the Camry XSE is the value proposition. The base price of the Camry XSE V6 starts at $31,370 and includes LED headlights, a seven-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system and navigation; power seats, and dual-zone climate control. However, our test vehicle was fitted with a number of options such as blind-spot monitoring, a JBL audio system, radar cruise control, and lane-departure warning which caused our as-tested price to be $35,768. Considering what you get and how the model doesn’t live up to its sport pretensions, it makes us question whether or not the XSE is worth it. While the XSE is a step in the right direction for in terms of making the Camry a bit more sporty, we think Toyota could have gone a little bit farther in this regard. Also, the value for money equation doesn’t quite work for the Camry XSE. It is a good effort, but Toyota needs to do a bit more work. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry XSE, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Toyota Model: Camry Trim: XSE V6 Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve w/Dual-VVTi V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 268 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/31/25 Curb Weight: 3,480 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY Base Price: $31,370 As Tested Price: $35,768 (Includes $525.00 Destination Charge) Options: Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation - $805.00 Technology Package - $750.00 Blind Spot Monitor with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert - $500.00 Remote Start - $499.00 Special Color (Ruby Flare Pearl) - $395.00 Four Seasons Floor Mat Package - $325.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $299.00 View full article
  6. William Maley

    Quick Drive: Midsize Sedan Three-Pack

    The past few months at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau has seen some midsize sedans make a second appearance. One has gone the eco-friendly route, another came with some added zip in its sporty model, and the last has undergone some significant changes. The three sedans in question are the Hyundai Sonata Eco, Toyota Camry XSE V6, and 2016 Mazda6. Now if you want to know what we thought of these vehicles originally, you check out our reviews here. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring 2015 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid Next: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco The current Hyundai Sonata is a bit head scratcher. When the new model was shown last year at the New York Auto Show, it looked like Hyundai dropped the ball. While the automaker had made a number of improvements in terms of the interior and the engine, the big item of the exterior design was somewhat forgotten. The sleek shape had been changed for something a bit more conservative. This has caused sales to slump and Hyundai to order a refresh a year sooner than expected. But even with these problems, is there a Sonata model that can stand above the rest? As we found out earlier this year, it isn’t the Sonata Sport 2.0T as it has a number of problems with being sporty. Let’s see if the Hyundai Sonata Eco can do it. What makes the Eco different from other Sonata models is under the hood. Hyundai employs a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Aside from this and an Eco badge on the trunk, it looks like the standard Sonata. But the Eco doesn’t drive like the standard model. With the torque arriving at 1,500 and continuing towards 4,500 rpm, this means the Eco’s has power readily available when you’re leaving a stop and continues onwards. Power comes on smoothly and linearly. The only downside to this powertrain is the dual-clutch transmission stumbles a bit due to slow shifts and occasional juddering. It should be noted that Hyundai has made some improvements to the DCT since we’ve driven the Sonata Eco, and the improvements are noticeable when we drove Tucson with this transmission. The other difference between the Sonata Eco and other trims comes in the form of fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco at 28 City/38 Highway/32 Combined. This is slightly better than the standard Sonata with 25 City/37 Highway/29 Combined. My week of driving saw an average of 33.4 MPG, slightly above the combined figure. In the ride and handling department, the Sonata Eco is quite a comfortable car as the suspension keeps most bumps from reaching the interior. Road and wind noise are kept to acceptable levels. Those who want a bit of sport should look towards the Mazda6 as it offers the driver a bit more information and enjoyment on the curves. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco starts at $23,275, about $2,125 more than the base SE model. Considering what comes standard - a power drivers seat, backup camera, five-inch touchscreen radio, and a chrome front grille - the Eco is quite a good value. Our test Eco came with the optional tech package which adds $4,100 to the base price. But the package transforms the Eco into a handsomely loaded model with such features as blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, leather seats, heated front seats, and push-button start. The Eco may be the best all-around trim in the Hyundai Sonata lineup. Not only does it offer impressive fuel economy for a midsize sedan, it comes well equipped and boasts a price tag that will not make you wonder if you spent too much. For many, it might be the right sedan. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata Eco, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Trim: Eco Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged, Direct-Injected Four-Cylinder Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual Clutch, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 178 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/38/32 Curb Weight: 3,250 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL Base Price: $23,275 As Tested Price: $28,310 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tech Package - $4,100 Carpet Floor Mats - $125.00 Next: 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring Small changes can make a big difference to a vehicle. No one is a bigger believer to this mantra than Mazda. A classic example is the CX-5. When it launched in 2013, the crossover drew me in with its sharp looks and impressive handling dynamics. But the 2.0L four-cylinder was a bit of a let down as it was a bit underpowered for the vehicle’s weight. Mazda went back and installed a larger 2.5L four-cylinder for the CX-5 and it made a world of difference in overall performance. So imagine taking this idea of making small changes and doing it to another vehicle. Mazda has done that with the 2016 Mazda sedan. Let see what the changes are and if they make the 6 an even better sedan. The outside get some minor changes such as the grille slats draped in chrome and a longer chrome bar that runs underneath the grille. The big changes for the 2016 model are for the interior as Mazda has taken the interior from 3 and placed it into 6. The new dash brings forth improved materials to make it look and feel more premium, along with Mazda’s new infotainment system. This system is a massive improvement over the older one in terms of performance and overall usability. However, Mazda’s system has an odd problem with the navigation system as it shows you traveling on a different road a few hundred feet away than the one you are currently on. Now the system does correct itself, but it takes up to half a minute. One other change for the 2016 Mazda6 is the optional i-Eloop system. This is a regenerative braking system that recycles the kinetic energy that is moving the vehicle into electricity that is stored in a capacitor. The capacitor then feeds that power to various electronic components to help reduce the load on the alternator and improve fuel economy. Now Mazda says the system delivers up five percent better fuel economy. This shows in the 2016 Mazda6’s fuel economy numbers of 28 City/40 Highway/32 Combined, slightly better than the 26 City/38 Highway/30 Combined on the 2014 model. So does it make a difference? Most likely as my average for the week in the 2016 model was 31 MPG, three MPGs higher than the 2014 model. Aside from all of these changes, the Mazda6 is still one of the best driving midsize sedans on sale. The 2.5L Skyactiv-G engine gets up to speed at a quick rate, while the six-speed automatic is one the fastest and smoothest shifting transmissions on sale. Mazda also hasn’t changed the fun-to-drive characteristics we loved in our original road test of the 6. One item we wished Mazda would work on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise were very apparent when driving the 6 on the expressway. The 2016 Mazda6 shows the little changes can take a sedan that is considered by many to be one of best and make and make it that much more. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Skyactiv-Drive Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/40/32 Curb Weight: 3,250 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $30,195 As Tested Price: $33,395 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: GT Technology Package - $2,180 Door Sill Trim Plates - $125.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00 Next: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 Can a Toyota Camry be sporty? Before you start writing comments saying no and telling me that I’m crazy, it is a legitimate question. Consider Toyota’s pledge a couple years ago where it pledged to make their vehicles more engaging. So far, Toyota’s vehicles have looked more exciting. In terms of making them more engaging with driving, it has been mixed. The Avalon Hybrid we thought was a good driving vehicle, while the Corolla S wasn’t. So with that in mind, let us see how the sportiest Camry, the new XSE fares. The 2015 Camry went through a substantial refresh with most of body being changed - aside from the roof. It’s quite dramatic when compared to the previous model. The Camry XSE gets some unique tweaks to make it stand out further such as new mesh grille insert, 18-inch wheels, and dual-exhaust ports. The changes do make the Camry XSE stand out, but it also makes the XSE look like it's trying a bit too hard. Inside the XSE features a number of changes that we delved into our Camry Hybrid SE review including the revised dash with stitching. The only differences for the XSE is a set of faux-suede seats and red stitching. It would be nice if Toyota could do something more to differentiate the Camry XSE from other Camry models in the interior like some new trim pieces specific to the XSE. Power for the XSE comes in the form of a 2.5L four-cylinder as the base, with a 3.5L V6 as an option. Our XSE tester came with the optional V6 which packs 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet. No matter which engine you pick, a six-speed automatic comes standard. The V6 is quite the surprise as it pulls very strong through the rev range and will cause the front wheels to break loose if you aren’t careful with the accelerator. Toyota should also be given some credit for building one of the smoothest and quietest V6 engines on sale. The six-speed automatic shares the smooth characteristics of the engine. Fuel economy for the Camry V6 is rated at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. I saw an average 24 MPG for the week. Now Toyota has made a number of improvements to the XSE to make it sporty such as firmer shocks and springs, new bushings, and a revised ­electric power steering system. So does it make a noticeable improvement to the Camry’s handling? Somewhat. The changes to the suspension do help in terms of body control. But the steering feels a little-bit rubbery and doesn’t provide any increased weight from the standard Camry. At least the Camry XSE provides a somewhat smooth ride. The big problem for the Camry XSE is the value proposition. The base price of the Camry XSE V6 starts at $31,370 and includes LED headlights, a seven-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system and navigation; power seats, and dual-zone climate control. However, our test vehicle was fitted with a number of options such as blind-spot monitoring, a JBL audio system, radar cruise control, and lane-departure warning which caused our as-tested price to be $35,768. Considering what you get and how the model doesn’t live up to its sport pretensions, it makes us question whether or not the XSE is worth it. While the XSE is a step in the right direction for in terms of making the Camry a bit more sporty, we think Toyota could have gone a little bit farther in this regard. Also, the value for money equation doesn’t quite work for the Camry XSE. It is a good effort, but Toyota needs to do a bit more work. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry XSE, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Toyota Model: Camry Trim: XSE V6 Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve w/Dual-VVTi V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 268 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/31/25 Curb Weight: 3,480 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY Base Price: $31,370 As Tested Price: $35,768 (Includes $525.00 Destination Charge) Options: Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation - $805.00 Technology Package - $750.00 Blind Spot Monitor with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert - $500.00 Remote Start - $499.00 Special Color (Ruby Flare Pearl) - $395.00 Four Seasons Floor Mat Package - $325.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $299.00
  7. William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2014 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring

    The Mazda CX-9 is one of the oldest nameplates in three-row crossover marketplace and also happens to be one, if not the oldest model on sale. At one time, it was considered to be one of the best crossovers. But since then, a new generation of crossovers have gone on sale. Does the CX-9 still have a place? Last year, Mazda gave the CX-9 a bit of a facelift with a new front end to bring it more in line with other models with the Kodo design language. The facelift hasn't worked out as the new front end seems very out of place to the rest of the vehicle. The remainder of the vehicle from the front doors on is still the same as the first CX-9 from 2007 and is still a very handsome vehicle. Inside, the CX-9 is a mix of the old and new. Old is the seating arrangement which provides good head and legroom, though the seats are little bit stiff for long trips. Also staying the same is the minuscule amount of cargo space when all three rows are up. To get any cargo space, its recommended that you fold the third row down. New is a revised center stack with a new head unit. In my tester, it was the optional navigation system. The system is the same as the Mazda6 and CX-5, which means a somewhat dated interface, and long time for the system to find to connect my phone to the bluetooth system. I would just pass on the navigation. Power still comes from 3.7L V6 with 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. This engine really needs to worked around the 3,000 to 4,500 rpm area if you want to feel like your moving along. Anything below that and the engine feels very legarthic. On the plus side, the six-speed automatic is very smooth and the optional all-wheel drive was able to keep the vehicle on the road with plenty of traction. Fuel economy on the CX-9 is rated by the EPA at 16 City/22 Highway/18 Combined. In my week-long testing, I only got 17.6 MPG. Being a Mazda, you would expect excellent driving characteristics. The CX-9 is almost no exception to that rule. The CX-9's suspension is on the firm side, which means the model doesn't show any lean and is fun to play around in the corners. That also means you'll be feeling a fair number of bumps and road imperfections. Steering is slow to respond at first turn, but once it catches up, it provides decent weight and feel. Wind and road noise were somewhat apparent when driving in the CX-9. As I was driving around in the CX-9, I thought that if I have driven this before the Dodge Durango, I would like the CX-9 a bit more. The reason is the Dodge Durango takes the CX-9's recipe and improves on it with a better V6 engine, higher fuel economy numbers, and being a bit better to drive. The CX-9 is getting up there in age and I think needs to retire and let a new model take its place. When that will be is up in the air. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-9, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: CX-9 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 3.7L MZR V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 273 @ 6,250 Torque @ RPM: 270 @ 4,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/22/18 Curb Weight: 4,552 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $36,625 As Tested Price: $39,855 (Includes $795 Destination Charge) Options: GT Tech Package - $2,435 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  8. The Mazda CX-9 is one of the oldest nameplates in three-row crossover marketplace and also happens to be one, if not the oldest model on sale. At one time, it was considered to be one of the best crossovers. But since then, a new generation of crossovers have gone on sale. Does the CX-9 still have a place? Last year, Mazda gave the CX-9 a bit of a facelift with a new front end to bring it more in line with other models with the Kodo design language. The facelift hasn't worked out as the new front end seems very out of place to the rest of the vehicle. The remainder of the vehicle from the front doors on is still the same as the first CX-9 from 2007 and is still a very handsome vehicle. Inside, the CX-9 is a mix of the old and new. Old is the seating arrangement which provides good head and legroom, though the seats are little bit stiff for long trips. Also staying the same is the minuscule amount of cargo space when all three rows are up. To get any cargo space, its recommended that you fold the third row down. New is a revised center stack with a new head unit. In my tester, it was the optional navigation system. The system is the same as the Mazda6 and CX-5, which means a somewhat dated interface, and long time for the system to find to connect my phone to the bluetooth system. I would just pass on the navigation. Power still comes from 3.7L V6 with 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. This engine really needs to worked around the 3,000 to 4,500 rpm area if you want to feel like your moving along. Anything below that and the engine feels very legarthic. On the plus side, the six-speed automatic is very smooth and the optional all-wheel drive was able to keep the vehicle on the road with plenty of traction. Fuel economy on the CX-9 is rated by the EPA at 16 City/22 Highway/18 Combined. In my week-long testing, I only got 17.6 MPG. Being a Mazda, you would expect excellent driving characteristics. The CX-9 is almost no exception to that rule. The CX-9's suspension is on the firm side, which means the model doesn't show any lean and is fun to play around in the corners. That also means you'll be feeling a fair number of bumps and road imperfections. Steering is slow to respond at first turn, but once it catches up, it provides decent weight and feel. Wind and road noise were somewhat apparent when driving in the CX-9. As I was driving around in the CX-9, I thought that if I have driven this before the Dodge Durango, I would like the CX-9 a bit more. The reason is the Dodge Durango takes the CX-9's recipe and improves on it with a better V6 engine, higher fuel economy numbers, and being a bit better to drive. The CX-9 is getting up there in age and I think needs to retire and let a new model take its place. When that will be is up in the air. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-9, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: CX-9 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 3.7L MZR V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 273 @ 6,250 Torque @ RPM: 270 @ 4,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/22/18 Curb Weight: 4,552 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $36,625 As Tested Price: $39,855 (Includes $795 Destination Charge) Options: GT Tech Package - $2,435 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  9. William Maley

    2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring

    William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 12, 2013 The name of the game in the midsize sedan class is to build something that appeals to everyone. Just look at most of the sedans on the marketplace and they are similar to one another. But what if an automaker decides not to follow the crowd? Go to the beat of its own drum? You would likely end up with something like the 2014 Mazda6. The new 6 is Mazda's first midsize sedan without the oversight of former parent Ford. As a result, Mazda could create the midsize sedan it wanted to. A little bit of SKYACTIV Technology, a dash of Mazda's Kodo design language, some lightness, and the fun to drive aspect the company is known for. But is this right move for a company which is still in a fair bit of trouble? In my book, the 2014 Mazda6 has to be the most gorgeous midsize sedan on sale today. The Kodo design language gives a distinctive look and identity for the vehicle. A flat front-end greets you with a five-point grille and chrome trim running along the outer edge. Along the side are a set of front fenders that flow into the front doors. A set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels come standard on Grand Touring and add a touch of class. I wish I could say the same for the Mazda6's interior. Much like the CX-5, the Mazda6's interior leaves a lot to be desired. Despite designers adding a piece of contrasting trim along the along the dashboard, I was wishing for a bit more. If Mazda can produce some great styling on the outside, why can't they on the inside? Materials and build quality are excellent though.Another problem that I have with the current crop of Mazda's is the optional navigation unit. While the maps from TomTom provide very good information, the interface is a bit ugly and dated. Throw in the fact that the head unit took thirty seconds to connect my phone up to the bluetooth system and almost two minutes for it to find my iPod, Mazda needs some serious help here. As for comfort and space, the Mazda6 does a decent job. Front seat passengers sit in heavily bolstered seats with heat. Back seat passengers will find a decent amount of legroom. Headroom is tight for those taller passengers.But.. Mazda is known for building driver's cars. So how does it drive? On to page 2! Under the hood is Mazda's 2.5L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic, though a six-speed manual is available on the Mazda6 Sport and Touring models. The 2.5 makes the Mazda6 feel plenty powerful. The engine's power band does require you to wring its neck somewhat (above 2,500 rpms), but you don't mind as the engine sounds very refined as it climbs in rpms. The six-speed automatic is very quick in shifts whether up or down. Also, the automatic didn't experience the stumbling problem with downshifts that I have complained about in my past CX-5 reviews. Fuel economy wise, the 2014 Mazda6 returns 26 City/38 Highway/30 Combined. During my week of mostly city driving, I saw an average of 28 MPG. Out of the freeway for a quick jaunt, I saw my number rise to 36 MPG.Mazdas are known for their fun to drive trait and the new 6 continues that. A sharp and nicely-weighted steering system, stiff chassis, and tuned suspension make the Mazda6 a very enjoyable midsize sedan to throw around. Driving on one of the test roads I use for vehicles, I found myself smiling because of how much fun I was having. Mazda did strike balance between sport and comfort with the new 6. The suspension copes pretty well when soaking up bumps and road imperfections. The only thing I wished Mazda did better was more sound insulation. This is very noticeable on the freeway as there is a surprising amount of road noise.The 2014 Mazda6 isn't for everyone and that's ok. Mazda isn't trying to go for the jugular of the midsize sedan market. Instead, they're offering a vehicle for those who want something a bit different. The 6 largely succeeds here with a fun and nimble chassis, surprising fuel economy, and very distinctive fuel economy. It does miss on interior styling, space, and sound insulation. The Mazda6 dares to be different. Whether this works or not remains to be seen. Disclaimer: Mazda provided the 6, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/38/30 Curb Weight: 3,792 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $29,495.00 As Tested Price: $31,490.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: MRCC and FOW Package - $900.00 Soul Red Paint - $300.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  10. William Maley

    2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring

    William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 12, 2013 The name of the game in the midsize sedan class is to build something that appeals to everyone. Just look at most of the sedans on the marketplace and they are similar to one another. But what if an automaker decides not to follow the crowd? Go to the beat of its own drum? You would likely end up with something like the 2014 Mazda6. The new 6 is Mazda's first midsize sedan without the oversight of former parent Ford. As a result, Mazda could create the midsize sedan it wanted to. A little bit of SKYACTIV Technology, a dash of Mazda's Kodo design language, some lightness, and the fun to drive aspect the company is known for. But is this right move for a company which is still in a fair bit of trouble? In my book, the 2014 Mazda6 has to be the most gorgeous midsize sedan on sale today. The Kodo design language gives a distinctive look and identity for the vehicle. A flat front-end greets you with a five-point grille and chrome trim running along the outer edge. Along the side are a set of front fenders that flow into the front doors. A set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels come standard on Grand Touring and add a touch of class. I wish I could say the same for the Mazda6's interior. Much like the CX-5, the Mazda6's interior leaves a lot to be desired. Despite designers adding a piece of contrasting trim along the along the dashboard, I was wishing for a bit more. If Mazda can produce some great styling on the outside, why can't they on the inside? Materials and build quality are excellent though.Another problem that I have with the current crop of Mazda's is the optional navigation unit. While the maps from TomTom provide very good information, the interface is a bit ugly and dated. Throw in the fact that the head unit took thirty seconds to connect my phone up to the bluetooth system and almost two minutes for it to find my iPod, Mazda needs some serious help here. As for comfort and space, the Mazda6 does a decent job. Front seat passengers sit in heavily bolstered seats with heat. Back seat passengers will find a decent amount of legroom. Headroom is tight for those taller passengers.But.. Mazda is known for building driver's cars. So how does it drive? On to page 2! Under the hood is Mazda's 2.5L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic, though a six-speed manual is available on the Mazda6 Sport and Touring models. The 2.5 makes the Mazda6 feel plenty powerful. The engine's power band does require you to wring its neck somewhat (above 2,500 rpms), but you don't mind as the engine sounds very refined as it climbs in rpms. The six-speed automatic is very quick in shifts whether up or down. Also, the automatic didn't experience the stumbling problem with downshifts that I have complained about in my past CX-5 reviews. Fuel economy wise, the 2014 Mazda6 returns 26 City/38 Highway/30 Combined. During my week of mostly city driving, I saw an average of 28 MPG. Out of the freeway for a quick jaunt, I saw my number rise to 36 MPG.Mazdas are known for their fun to drive trait and the new 6 continues that. A sharp and nicely-weighted steering system, stiff chassis, and tuned suspension make the Mazda6 a very enjoyable midsize sedan to throw around. Driving on one of the test roads I use for vehicles, I found myself smiling because of how much fun I was having. Mazda did strike balance between sport and comfort with the new 6. The suspension copes pretty well when soaking up bumps and road imperfections. The only thing I wished Mazda did better was more sound insulation. This is very noticeable on the freeway as there is a surprising amount of road noise.The 2014 Mazda6 isn't for everyone and that's ok. Mazda isn't trying to go for the jugular of the midsize sedan market. Instead, they're offering a vehicle for those who want something a bit different. The 6 largely succeeds here with a fun and nimble chassis, surprising fuel economy, and very distinctive fuel economy. It does miss on interior styling, space, and sound insulation. The Mazda6 dares to be different. Whether this works or not remains to be seen. Disclaimer: Mazda provided the 6, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2014 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/38/30 Curb Weight: 3,792 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $29,495.00 As Tested Price: $31,490.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: MRCC and FOW Package - $900.00 Soul Red Paint - $300.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  11. William Maley

    2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 2.5

    By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com May 9, 2013 (Author’s Note: I’ll be mostly covering powertrain changes and a few other changes from the last CX-5 I drove. Those looking for a more in-depth review can click here for my 2013 CX-5 review. -WM) When I drove the 2013 Mazda CX-5 last summer, I had many praises for it. I loved the exterior styling, the way it drove, and impressive fuel economy to name a few. One part of the CX-5 I didn’t like was the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G engine. While the 2.0L was chock full of technologies and interesting ideas, it was simply not enough engine for this size crossover.. Mazda has heard those complaints and addressed a solution at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show by introducing a larger 2.5L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder which brought forth more power. This new engine would appear in the 2014 Mazda6 and CX-5. A revisit it seem was in order and a few weeks ago, a 2014 CX-5 Grand Touring landed on my doorstep with the new 2.5L engine. The new 2.5L SKYACTIV-G engine produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, increases of 29 and 35 respectively when compared with the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G. A six-speed automatic is your only transmission. Also, you can only get the 2.5L on the Touring and Grand Touring models. Those opting for the base Sport model stick with the 2.0L. The 2.5L also takes a slight hit in fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2.5L at 25 City/32 Highway/27 Combined compared to the 2.0L’s 26 City/32 Highway/29 Combined. The 2.5L really makes the CX-5 come alive. Whether you’re leaving from a stop or needing to make a pass, the engine doesn’t come under any strain. Plus, the 2.5L has the low end punch that was missing from the 2.0L. The six-speed automatic is the same as the last CX-5 I drove: very quick on upshifts, stumbling somewhat on the downshifts. Fuel economy was also very good on the 2.5L. My week’s average was 26.7 MPG. Despite the 2.5L adding about 100 lbs to CX-5’s curb weight, the excellent ride and handling characteristics are still there. The suspension copes very well when push, providing excellent stability and keeping body roll in control. Steering has the right weight and provides surprising feel. Drive it day to day and the CX-5 is composed and comfortable on most road surfaces. One other new feature that should be talked about is Mazda's Smart City Brake Support. Optional on the Touring and Grand Touring models, Smart City Brake Support uses a laser sensor mounted in windshield to detect an impending low speed collision. If the driver doesn’t react quickly, the system will intervene and brake the CX-5 to minimize or eliminate a crash. Sadly I didn’t get chance to try out the system. I did have some problems with the CX-5 though. The first comes from the Bluetooth system. Pairing my phone with the headunit took upwards of thirty seconds. This is pretty poor considering the competition can do it in about ten seconds or less. The other problem comes with the Grand Touring trim level. Aside from adding leather seats, automatic climate control, and nineteen-inch alloy wheels; you option up a mid-level Touring model to be almost the same as a Grand Touring for less money. Unless Mazda has a killer feature that they are saving for Grand Touring down the road, I would go with the touring. Otherwise, the new 2.5L SKYACTIV-G breaths new life into the Mazda CX-5 and makes it, at least in my opinion, one of the best crossovers on the market. Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2014 Make – Mazda Model – CX-5 Trim – Grand Touring FWD Engine – 2.5L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 184 @ 5,700 RPM Torque @ RPM – 185 @ 3,250 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/32/27 Curb Weight – 3,375 lbs Location of Manufacture – Hiroshima, Japan Base Price - $27,620.00 As Tested Price - $30,340.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: Grand Touring Tech Package - $1,625 Retractable Cargo Cover - $200 Rear Bumper Guard - $100 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  12. William Maley

    2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 2.5

    By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com May 9, 2013 (Author’s Note: I’ll be mostly covering powertrain changes and a few other changes from the last CX-5 I drove. Those looking for a more in-depth review can click here for my 2013 CX-5 review. -WM) When I drove the 2013 Mazda CX-5 last summer, I had many praises for it. I loved the exterior styling, the way it drove, and impressive fuel economy to name a few. One part of the CX-5 I didn’t like was the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G engine. While the 2.0L was chock full of technologies and interesting ideas, it was simply not enough engine for this size crossover.. Mazda has heard those complaints and addressed a solution at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show by introducing a larger 2.5L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder which brought forth more power. This new engine would appear in the 2014 Mazda6 and CX-5. A revisit it seem was in order and a few weeks ago, a 2014 CX-5 Grand Touring landed on my doorstep with the new 2.5L engine. The new 2.5L SKYACTIV-G engine produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, increases of 29 and 35 respectively when compared with the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G. A six-speed automatic is your only transmission. Also, you can only get the 2.5L on the Touring and Grand Touring models. Those opting for the base Sport model stick with the 2.0L. The 2.5L also takes a slight hit in fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2.5L at 25 City/32 Highway/27 Combined compared to the 2.0L’s 26 City/32 Highway/29 Combined. The 2.5L really makes the CX-5 come alive. Whether you’re leaving from a stop or needing to make a pass, the engine doesn’t come under any strain. Plus, the 2.5L has the low end punch that was missing from the 2.0L. The six-speed automatic is the same as the last CX-5 I drove: very quick on upshifts, stumbling somewhat on the downshifts. Fuel economy was also very good on the 2.5L. My week’s average was 26.7 MPG. Despite the 2.5L adding about 100 lbs to CX-5’s curb weight, the excellent ride and handling characteristics are still there. The suspension copes very well when push, providing excellent stability and keeping body roll in control. Steering has the right weight and provides surprising feel. Drive it day to day and the CX-5 is composed and comfortable on most road surfaces. One other new feature that should be talked about is Mazda's Smart City Brake Support. Optional on the Touring and Grand Touring models, Smart City Brake Support uses a laser sensor mounted in windshield to detect an impending low speed collision. If the driver doesn’t react quickly, the system will intervene and brake the CX-5 to minimize or eliminate a crash. Sadly I didn’t get chance to try out the system. I did have some problems with the CX-5 though. The first comes from the Bluetooth system. Pairing my phone with the headunit took upwards of thirty seconds. This is pretty poor considering the competition can do it in about ten seconds or less. The other problem comes with the Grand Touring trim level. Aside from adding leather seats, automatic climate control, and nineteen-inch alloy wheels; you option up a mid-level Touring model to be almost the same as a Grand Touring for less money. Unless Mazda has a killer feature that they are saving for Grand Touring down the road, I would go with the touring. Otherwise, the new 2.5L SKYACTIV-G breaths new life into the Mazda CX-5 and makes it, at least in my opinion, one of the best crossovers on the market. Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2014 Make – Mazda Model – CX-5 Trim – Grand Touring FWD Engine – 2.5L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 184 @ 5,700 RPM Torque @ RPM – 185 @ 3,250 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/32/27 Curb Weight – 3,375 lbs Location of Manufacture – Hiroshima, Japan Base Price - $27,620.00 As Tested Price - $30,340.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: Grand Touring Tech Package - $1,625 Retractable Cargo Cover - $200 Rear Bumper Guard - $100 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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