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  1. The last-generation Lexus LS felt a bit lost. It had many of the qualities of previous LS models, but it could not fully compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series. People pointed out the somewhat plain design, lackluster performance of the V8 engine, or the confounding infotainment system as possible reasons. But I think the reason comes down to Lexus not having something that made the LS stand out. How do you right the ship of what many considered to be at one time, the best luxury sedan on sale? If you’re Lexus, that means making some very drastic changes. Lexus has tended to play it safe with the LS’ design to fit with the general idea of a flagship sedan - providing a presence without shouting. But this new generation decides to stray away from that idea. The front end features a lot of inspiration from LC coupe with a wide grille, protruding cutouts for the faux vent, and a lowered hood. A set of Z-shaped LED headlights help the LS stand out from other Lexus models. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the previous model with slightly wider fenders and a new trunk lid design. One of the places that LS surprised me was the interior. The layout is quite attractive with a flowing dash and contours on the door panels. A clever touch is the horizontal slat pattern used on the center part of the dash that somewhat disguises the center vents. Material quality is top-notch with leather, real wood, and metal used throughout. This particular test vehicle was equipped with perforated leather upholstery which had a unique snakeskin pattern. I quite liked it, but some who rode in the vehicle found it to be a bit gaudy. This seat pattern is only available on the F-Sport, all other LS models have a plain design. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide numerous power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of legroom, but tall passengers will be annoyed by their heads touching the roof liner, a major downside to the lower roofline. The interior also houses a big disappointment; Lexus Remote Touch. The touchpad controller is still confounding and distracting to use as you need to be precise with your finger movements to correctly select the function you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up on another screen and want to scream. This is disappointing considering that Lexus Enform has improved a lot. The system is noticeably quicker in various functions and can use Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Despite the 500 designation, there is not a 5.0L V8 under the LS’ hood. Instead, Lexus is using a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic routes power to either the rear or all four wheels like in my test vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 is disappointing when leaving a stop as there is a considerable amount of turbo lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding. Once you get past this, the V6 provides plenty of scoot. Never once did I think that the V8 would be better whenever I need to merge or speed out of a corner. It is also noticeably quieter and more refined than the old V8. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined if you opt for AWD. Stick with RWD and the numbers rise to 19/30/23. My average for the week landed at 20.2 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Picking the F-Sport trim will get you a revised suspension setup and uprated brakes. It will not transform the LS into something like an Alpina B7 or a Mercedes-AMG S63, but it does make the vehicle feel a bit more poised on a winding road. When put into S+ mode, Body roll is kept in check and the steering is quick to respond. The coil springs used on the LS F-Sport are a bit stiff, which will provide a more choppy ride. An optional air suspension is reportedly better at dealing with bumps and other imperfections, but I will need to try it out before saying it is better or not. This drastic move by Lexus with the new LS could have gone wrong, but it pulls it off. The new model is more interesting to look at, luxurious and offers improved driving dynamics when ordered with the F-Sport package. There are still some thorns Lexus needs to extract such as the poor initial performance of the twin-turbo six and the mess that is Remote Touch. If you’re willing to deal with these issues, then the 2019 LS is a very viable alternative to the Germans. How I would configure an LS 500: Most likely I would build one similar to the one seen here, although I would get it in red as I think the paint really makes the design pop. Alternatives to the LS 500 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is still considered by many to be the best of the best. Considering its wide range of engines, very smooth ride, and impressive interior quality, it is tough to argue this. But the LS comes very close to matching the S-Class's interior quality, along with a more eye-catching design. It doesn't help that the S-Class is about $7,000 more than the LS. Genesis G90: Still the bargain in the flagship sedan class with a base price of $69,350 and coming with almost every feature you would expect. The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 offers better off-the line performance than the 3.5 found in the LS. But the LS offers higher quality interior materials than what is available in the G90. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 500 F-Sport Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo 24-Valve DOHC V6 Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 416 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 442 @1600 - 4800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 5,027 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $84,420 As Tested Price: $88,605 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System with 23 Speakers - $1,940.00 24-Inch Heads-Up Display - $1,220.00 View full article
  2. The last-generation Lexus LS felt a bit lost. It had many of the qualities of previous LS models, but it could not fully compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series. People pointed out the somewhat plain design, lackluster performance of the V8 engine, or the confounding infotainment system as possible reasons. But I think the reason comes down to Lexus not having something that made the LS stand out. How do you right the ship of what many considered to be at one time, the best luxury sedan on sale? If you’re Lexus, that means making some very drastic changes. Lexus has tended to play it safe with the LS’ design to fit with the general idea of a flagship sedan - providing a presence without shouting. But this new generation decides to stray away from that idea. The front end features a lot of inspiration from LC coupe with a wide grille, protruding cutouts for the faux vent, and a lowered hood. A set of Z-shaped LED headlights help the LS stand out from other Lexus models. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the previous model with slightly wider fenders and a new trunk lid design. One of the places that LS surprised me was the interior. The layout is quite attractive with a flowing dash and contours on the door panels. A clever touch is the horizontal slat pattern used on the center part of the dash that somewhat disguises the center vents. Material quality is top-notch with leather, real wood, and metal used throughout. This particular test vehicle was equipped with perforated leather upholstery which had a unique snakeskin pattern. I quite liked it, but some who rode in the vehicle found it to be a bit gaudy. This seat pattern is only available on the F-Sport, all other LS models have a plain design. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide numerous power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of legroom, but tall passengers will be annoyed by their heads touching the roof liner, a major downside to the lower roofline. The interior also houses a big disappointment; Lexus Remote Touch. The touchpad controller is still confounding and distracting to use as you need to be precise with your finger movements to correctly select the function you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up on another screen and want to scream. This is disappointing considering that Lexus Enform has improved a lot. The system is noticeably quicker in various functions and can use Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Despite the 500 designation, there is not a 5.0L V8 under the LS’ hood. Instead, Lexus is using a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic routes power to either the rear or all four wheels like in my test vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 is disappointing when leaving a stop as there is a considerable amount of turbo lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding. Once you get past this, the V6 provides plenty of scoot. Never once did I think that the V8 would be better whenever I need to merge or speed out of a corner. It is also noticeably quieter and more refined than the old V8. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined if you opt for AWD. Stick with RWD and the numbers rise to 19/30/23. My average for the week landed at 20.2 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Picking the F-Sport trim will get you a revised suspension setup and uprated brakes. It will not transform the LS into something like an Alpina B7 or a Mercedes-AMG S63, but it does make the vehicle feel a bit more poised on a winding road. When put into S+ mode, Body roll is kept in check and the steering is quick to respond. The coil springs used on the LS F-Sport are a bit stiff, which will provide a more choppy ride. An optional air suspension is reportedly better at dealing with bumps and other imperfections, but I will need to try it out before saying it is better or not. This drastic move by Lexus with the new LS could have gone wrong, but it pulls it off. The new model is more interesting to look at, luxurious and offers improved driving dynamics when ordered with the F-Sport package. There are still some thorns Lexus needs to extract such as the poor initial performance of the twin-turbo six and the mess that is Remote Touch. If you’re willing to deal with these issues, then the 2019 LS is a very viable alternative to the Germans. How I would configure an LS 500: Most likely I would build one similar to the one seen here, although I would get it in red as I think the paint really makes the design pop. Alternatives to the LS 500 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is still considered by many to be the best of the best. Considering its wide range of engines, very smooth ride, and impressive interior quality, it is tough to argue this. But the LS comes very close to matching the S-Class's interior quality, along with a more eye-catching design. It doesn't help that the S-Class is about $7,000 more than the LS. Genesis G90: Still the bargain in the flagship sedan class with a base price of $69,350 and coming with almost every feature you would expect. The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 offers better off-the line performance than the 3.5 found in the LS. But the LS offers higher quality interior materials than what is available in the G90. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 500 F-Sport Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo 24-Valve DOHC V6 Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 416 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 442 @1600 - 4800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 5,027 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $84,420 As Tested Price: $88,605 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System with 23 Speakers - $1,940.00 24-Inch Heads-Up Display - $1,220.00
  3. Expectation can be a very dangerous thing. You come into something thinking it will blow your mind and more often than not, it comes up short. That’s how I felt during the first few days into a loan of a 2019 Buick Regal GS. What was being presented didn’t match up with my experience. But over the week I had the vehicle, it began to grow on. That isn’t to say some issues need to be addressed. At first glance, you might think Buick decided to stick with a sedan shape. But the sloping rear hatch gives away its true identity as a Sportback. This helps give the impression that the Regal is sporty, helped further by short overhangs. By adding small touches such as large front air intakes, GS-specific 19-inch wheels. Brembo front brake calipers finished in Red, and a small lip spoiler, the GS transforms the Regal into looking like a red-blooded sports sedan. The interior sadly doesn’t match up with what is being presented on the outside. While there was some effort to make the GS stand out with faux carbon-fiber trim, special sport seats, and GS badging, it doesn’t quite match with what is being presented outside. Not helping are some cheap plastics littered throughout the Regal GS’ interior. If this was a standard Regal, I may have given it a slight pass. But considering this GS carries a price of almost $43k, it becomes a big issue. The interior does redeem it somewhat with a logical and simple layout. No one had any complaints about whether the controls were confusing or hard to reach. Let’s talk about the front seats, The Regal GS comes fitted with racing-style front seat with aggressive side bolstering and faux holes towards the top where the belts for a harness would go into. This design seems more at home in a hardcore Corvette than a Buick. Before you start thinking that the seat design only allows a small group of people to fit, Buick has fitted adjustable bolstering to allow a wide set of body types to sit comfortably. With this and other power adjustments, I was able to find a position that suited me. Over a long drive, the seats were able to provide the right amount of support and comfort. The back seats don’t get the same “race car” treatment as the front, but they do offer ample head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space is quite impressive with 31.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 60.7 when folded. The Kia Stinger I drove back in January pales in comparison with 23.3 and 40.9 cubic feet. The Regal GS features an eight-inch touchscreen with the new Buick Infotainment 3 system. As I mentioned in my Silverado/Sierra 1500 review, the new system is worlds better than Intellilink. The interface has been cleaned up with simpler graphics and fonts that are much easier to read. Also seeing noticeable improvements is the overall performance. The system is much faster when bringing up different functions or crunching a route on the optional navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE round off the system. With the effort Buick has put in, you might have the feeling that the Regal GS has something special under the hood. That isn’t the case. Under the hood of the GS is GM’s venerable 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet. While the V6 packs 40 more horsepower than the 2.0L turbo-four from the last-generation model, it is also down 13 pound-feet. This absence becomes apparent when you decide to sprint away from a stoplight or exiting a corner as you need to work the engine to get that rush of power. A numb throttle response doesn’t help. If you resist from attack mode, the V6 reveals a quiet and refined nature. But again, you will need to work the engine when merging or making a pass. Before someone shouts “put a turbo on it”, Buick cannot do that as there isn’t enough space in the engine bay due to the design of the platform. We’ve known about this issue since 2016 when Holden was gearing up to launch the Commodore - its version of the OpelVauxhall Insignia. The nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with unobtrusive shifts when going about your daily errands, but offers up snappy shifts when you decide to get aggressive. A glaring omission on this sports sedan is the lack of paddle shifters. Fuel economy for the 2019 Regal GS is 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. I saw an average of 20 during the week. This can likely to be attributed to the test vehicle having under 1,000 miles on the odometer. On paper, the Regal GS’ handling credentials seem top-notch with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and a GKN all-wheel drive system featuring a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential. The latter allows a varying amount of power sent to each rear wheel to improve cornering. In the real world, the GS is more Grand Tourer than Gran Sport. While the sedan shows little body roll, its reflexes are slightly muted due to a nearly 3,800 pound curb weight. The steering provides a decent amount of weight when turning, but don’t expect a lot of road feel. What about that AWD system? For the most part, you really won’t notice working unless you decide to push the limits or practice your winter driving skills in a snowy and empty parking lot. Thanks to the CDC system, the Regal GS’ ride is surprisingly smooth. With the vehicle in Tour, the suspension glides over bumps and imperfections. The ride begins to get choppy if you One area that I’m glad Buick is still focusing on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent. The 2019 Buick Regal GS is a case of expectations being put too high. Despite what the exterior and sports seats of the interior may hint at, this isn’t a sports sedan like a Kia Stinger GT or something from a German luxury brand. But my feelings began to change when I thought of the GS as being more of a grand tourer. It has the ingredients such as a refined powertrain, a suspension that can be altered to provide either a comfortable or sporty ride; and minimizing the amount of outside noise. There lies the overall problem with Regal GS as Buick doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a sport sedan or a luxury sedan with grand tourer tendencies? This confusion will likely cause many people to look at something else which is a big shame. How I Would Configure a 2019 Buick Regal GS. My particular configuration would be similar to the vehicle tested here with the Driver Confidence Package #2, Sights and Sounds, and Appearance packages. The only change would be adding the White Frost Tricoat color, which adds an additional $1,095 to the price. All together, it comes out to $44,210. Alternatives to the 2019 Buick Regal GS: Kia Stinger: The big elephant in the room when talking about the Regal GS. For a similar amount of cash, you can step into the base GT model with its 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive setup (AWD adds $2,200). I came away very impressed with the styling, performance on tap from the V6, and handling prowess. Downsides include the interior design being a bit too minimalist and the ride being a bit rough. Volkswagen Arteon: The other dark horse to the Regal GS. There is no doubt that the Arteon is quite handsome with flowing lines and sleek fastback shape. Having sat in one at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I found it to be very roomy and upscale in terms of the interior materials. I hope to get some time behind the wheel in the near future to see how it measures up in handling. Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Regal GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Buick Model: Regal Trim: GS Engine: 3.6L V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,800 Torque @ RPM: 282 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22 Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany Base Price: $39,070 As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00 Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00 Appearance Package: $485.00 View full article
  4. The Volkswagen Arteon is the vehicle that effectively replaces the Volkswagen CC in VW’s lineup, however, it comes at the segment with a noticeably different approach. The Arteon is much more interesting looking than the old CC and comes as a hatchback rather than a sedan. I would hesitate to use the word “bold” about the Arteon’s looks, as feels rather conservative to me, but it still has a gravitas that lets passers-by know that this is not an ordinary Volkswagen. The front end has a lot of detailing with multiple creases in the hood and a deep, wide grille. Thick wheel arches give the car a muscular look. Around back, the hatch area fits between a set of thick thighs and a set of tail lights that almost look Benz-like. Down below there is a chrome strip that runs around the entire perimeter of the car. As handsome as the exterior is, the interior is a bit of a letdown. In the SEL version I drove, the interior materials were not up to snuff for a car with a $42,795 sticker price and the design is fairly sterile. There is a wide strip that traverses the dash and mimics the look of the grille and below that, another wood (plood?) strip runs parallel. The center stack is neatly organized with all knobs and buttons within easy reach. If you are a bit of a neat freak like me about your car, keep a microfiber duster in the glovebox to wipe down the piano black surfaces. The seats are flat and firm but without much lateral support. As a hatchback, rear passengers get cut out of a bit of headroom, but there is plenty of legroom back there for them to stretch out. Cargo room for this size of a car can only be described as cavernous. The hatch lifts up high and out of the way giving you easy access to anything you can rear. Fold the rear seats down and you may even say “Crossover, what?”, there is 55 cubic feet of cargo room back there. The Arteon comes with an 8-inch touch screen display that includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Android Auto is easy to set up and I stayed in that mode during my entire drive. Driving the Arteon is probably the best part about it. My tester came equipped with 4motion, Volkswagen’s all-wheel-drive system. It works well and the car feels glued to the road during the twisties. No matter which level of Arteon you buy, you have a single choice of engine. Standard is a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is this engine that delayed the Arteon’s entry into the U.S. due to a backlog of certification testing. This setup is merely adequate. It neither thrills you nor lets you down. I do wish a V6 were available, but small-displacement turbo-4s are where the market is going these days. Unfortunately, even with the small displacement 4-cylinder, you still get V6-like fuel economy. The Arteon is rated for 20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined. For reference, that’s about the same as an AWD Buick Lacrosse with a big V6 and 310 horsepower, in fact, the Buick does a little better on the highway and so do most other V6 sedans. In normal mode the transmission is a bit lazy, upshifting early and reluctant to downshift. In sport mode, it wakes up a little but there is still a lag when downshifting. The ride and drive of the Arteon is definitely dialed towards comfort over sport. It comes equipped with a DCC adaptive ride system, but I notice almost no difference between the Sport and Comfort modes. Cruising along in the Arteon is serene with very little noise from the outside entering the cabin. It is certainly a car that can get you into trouble with the leasing company for mileage. Is the Arteon a car I can recommend? Yes and no. If you’re a die-hard VW fan, then the Arteon is an easy choice to make. Otherwise, there are more powerful and more upscale options out there for the price, but you wouldn’t be wrong to choose this one. Year: 2019 Make: Volkswagen Model: Arteon Trim: SEL w/4Motion Engine: 2.0L DOHC Turbocharged Direct Injected 4-cylinder Driveline: 8-Speed automatic with all-wheel-drive Horsepower: 268 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 0 - 3,600 Curb Weight: 3,655 lbs Location of Manufacture: Emden, Germany Base Price: $35,845 As Tested Price: $42,790 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) View full article
  5. The Volkswagen Arteon is the vehicle that effectively replaces the Volkswagen CC in VW’s lineup, however, it comes at the segment with a noticeably different approach. The Arteon is much more interesting looking than the old CC and comes as a hatchback rather than a sedan. I would hesitate to use the word “bold” about the Arteon’s looks, as feels rather conservative to me, but it still has a gravitas that lets passers-by know that this is not an ordinary Volkswagen. The front end has a lot of detailing with multiple creases in the hood and a deep, wide grille. Thick wheel arches give the car a muscular look. Around back, the hatch area fits between a set of thick thighs and a set of tail lights that almost look Benz-like. Down below there is a chrome strip that runs around the entire perimeter of the car. As handsome as the exterior is, the interior is a bit of a letdown. In the SEL version I drove, the interior materials were not up to snuff for a car with a $42,795 sticker price and the design is fairly sterile. There is a wide strip that traverses the dash and mimics the look of the grille and below that, another wood (plood?) strip runs parallel. The center stack is neatly organized with all knobs and buttons within easy reach. If you are a bit of a neat freak like me about your car, keep a microfiber duster in the glovebox to wipe down the piano black surfaces. The seats are flat and firm but without much lateral support. As a hatchback, rear passengers get cut out of a bit of headroom, but there is plenty of legroom back there for them to stretch out. Cargo room for this size of a car can only be described as cavernous. The hatch lifts up high and out of the way giving you easy access to anything you can rear. Fold the rear seats down and you may even say “Crossover, what?”, there is 55 cubic feet of cargo room back there. The Arteon comes with an 8-inch touch screen display that includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Android Auto is easy to set up and I stayed in that mode during my entire drive. Driving the Arteon is probably the best part about it. My tester came equipped with 4motion, Volkswagen’s all-wheel-drive system. It works well and the car feels glued to the road during the twisties. No matter which level of Arteon you buy, you have a single choice of engine. Standard is a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is this engine that delayed the Arteon’s entry into the U.S. due to a backlog of certification testing. This setup is merely adequate. It neither thrills you nor lets you down. I do wish a V6 were available, but small-displacement turbo-4s are where the market is going these days. Unfortunately, even with the small displacement 4-cylinder, you still get V6-like fuel economy. The Arteon is rated for 20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined. For reference, that’s about the same as an AWD Buick Lacrosse with a big V6 and 310 horsepower, in fact, the Buick does a little better on the highway and so do most other V6 sedans. In normal mode the transmission is a bit lazy, upshifting early and reluctant to downshift. In sport mode, it wakes up a little but there is still a lag when downshifting. The ride and drive of the Arteon is definitely dialed towards comfort over sport. It comes equipped with a DCC adaptive ride system, but I notice almost no difference between the Sport and Comfort modes. Cruising along in the Arteon is serene with very little noise from the outside entering the cabin. It is certainly a car that can get you into trouble with the leasing company for mileage. Is the Arteon a car I can recommend? Yes and no. If you’re a die-hard VW fan, then the Arteon is an easy choice to make. Otherwise, there are more powerful and more upscale options out there for the price, but you wouldn’t be wrong to choose this one. Year: 2019 Make: Volkswagen Model: Arteon Trim: SEL w/4Motion Engine: 2.0L DOHC Turbocharged Direct Injected 4-cylinder Driveline: 8-Speed automatic with all-wheel-drive Horsepower: 268 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 0 - 3,600 Curb Weight: 3,655 lbs Location of Manufacture: Emden, Germany Base Price: $35,845 As Tested Price: $42,790 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
  6. At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform. Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level. The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package. Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment. Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard. On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands. Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is. It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level. Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors. The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree. While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors. Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids. My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles. Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway. The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6. Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment. Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system. The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading). If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined. The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating. Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds. Engine noise is hushed and refined. One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable. The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs. That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well. The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension. Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one. That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard. If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list. Year: 2020 Make: Kia Model: Telluride Trim: SX Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6 Driveline: All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21 Curb Weight: 4482 lb. Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA Base Price: $31,690 As Tested Price: $45,815 Destination Charge: $1,045 Options: SX Prestige Package - $2,000 Carpeted Floor Mats - $210 Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115 View full article
  7. I’ll admit that I have an unabashed love for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. This plucky roadster proves you don’t need gobs of power to provide a big grin when driving. A combination of well-sorted chassis, steering, and slick gearbox does the trick. But Mazda has decided to add a bit more power for the 2019 model, along with including a more powerful four-cylinder and a hardtop option. I’m curious to see if these changes can make the Miata better or worse. The model seen here is the RF - short for retractable fastback. Press the switch and the roof panels begin an origami folding exercise into the trunk. The result is a targa that provides the open-air feeling, minus a large amount of wind noise. It doesn’t hurt that roof pillars are styled in such a way that gives off a rakish look, no matter whether the top is up or down. Under the hood lies a revised 2.0L Skyactiv four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque - up 26 and 3 respectively. A six-speed manual is standard, while an automatic is optional. The small bump makes for a huge improvement in overall acceleration. Just leaving a stop, I was surprised how much pull the engine had as it got to 45 about a half-second quicker than the last Miata. A key change is Mazda bumping the redline to 7,500 rpm, which allows the engine to fully flex its muscle. This became apparent when I needed to pass a vehicle and found that I didn’t need to drop down a gear to get the power needed. The six-speed manual is still a joy to work with short and precise throws and a direct feeling clutch pedal. Even when stuck in traffic, doing the motions didn’t feel like a hassle. Average fuel economy for the week landed around 32 mpg, even though I was winding the engine out and playing through the gears just because it is so much fun. My tester was the Club model that adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, and a front shock tower brace. This firms up the suspension and provides improve handling on the limit. But out on the backroads, I couldn’t tell there was any real difference in handling between this and the 2016 MX-5 Grand Touring I drove a few years back. Maybe there was slightly less body roll in the RF, but both vehicles had similar characteristics when going into a turn. If I drove both of them on a track, then I think the differences would become more apparent. There is a downside to the Club’s suspension, a very harsh ride. Just making a quick trip to the store was a bit much as the suspension would transmit every little bump and imperfection to the backside of those sitting inside. Another item fitted to my tester was a set of Recaro bucket seats. They come as part of an option package that also adds Brembo Brakes and some cool-looking BBS wheels finished in black. The seats have increased bolstering to hold you in during an enthusiastic drive. But the lack of padding makes them uncomfortable for longer trips. On paper, the RF is an expensive proposition when put against the soft-top: $32,345 vs. $25,730. That massive difference is due to Mazda not offering the base Sport model on the RF. But put the soft-top Club against the RF and the difference shrinks to just over $2,000. Be forewarned that the RF can get expensive. That package I mentioned earlier with the Recaro seats? That will set you back $4,670, bringing the as-tested price to just over $38,000. Mazda’s improvements for the 2019 MX-5 Miata for the most part help, allowing it to become more fun to drive and somewhat easier to live with. That said, the additional cost of the hardtop will depend on whether or not you think it is worth the benefits of possibly being an all-seasons car. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata RF, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: MX-5 Miata RF Trim: Club Engine: 2.0L SkyActiv-G DOHC 16-Valve with VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29 Curb Weight: 2,453 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $32,345 As Tested Price: $38,335 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Brembo with Black Roof - $4,670.00 Interior Package for M/T - $425.00 View full article
  8. I’ll admit that I have an unabashed love for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. This plucky roadster proves you don’t need gobs of power to provide a big grin when driving. A combination of well-sorted chassis, steering, and slick gearbox does the trick. But Mazda has decided to add a bit more power for the 2019 model, along with including a more powerful four-cylinder and a hardtop option. I’m curious to see if these changes can make the Miata better or worse. The model seen here is the RF - short for retractable fastback. Press the switch and the roof panels begin an origami folding exercise into the trunk. The result is a targa that provides the open-air feeling, minus a large amount of wind noise. It doesn’t hurt that roof pillars are styled in such a way that gives off a rakish look, no matter whether the top is up or down. Under the hood lies a revised 2.0L Skyactiv four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque - up 26 and 3 respectively. A six-speed manual is standard, while an automatic is optional. The small bump makes for a huge improvement in overall acceleration. Just leaving a stop, I was surprised how much pull the engine had as it got to 45 about a half-second quicker than the last Miata. A key change is Mazda bumping the redline to 7,500 rpm, which allows the engine to fully flex its muscle. This became apparent when I needed to pass a vehicle and found that I didn’t need to drop down a gear to get the power needed. The six-speed manual is still a joy to work with short and precise throws and a direct feeling clutch pedal. Even when stuck in traffic, doing the motions didn’t feel like a hassle. Average fuel economy for the week landed around 32 mpg, even though I was winding the engine out and playing through the gears just because it is so much fun. My tester was the Club model that adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, and a front shock tower brace. This firms up the suspension and provides improve handling on the limit. But out on the backroads, I couldn’t tell there was any real difference in handling between this and the 2016 MX-5 Grand Touring I drove a few years back. Maybe there was slightly less body roll in the RF, but both vehicles had similar characteristics when going into a turn. If I drove both of them on a track, then I think the differences would become more apparent. There is a downside to the Club’s suspension, a very harsh ride. Just making a quick trip to the store was a bit much as the suspension would transmit every little bump and imperfection to the backside of those sitting inside. Another item fitted to my tester was a set of Recaro bucket seats. They come as part of an option package that also adds Brembo Brakes and some cool-looking BBS wheels finished in black. The seats have increased bolstering to hold you in during an enthusiastic drive. But the lack of padding makes them uncomfortable for longer trips. On paper, the RF is an expensive proposition when put against the soft-top: $32,345 vs. $25,730. That massive difference is due to Mazda not offering the base Sport model on the RF. But put the soft-top Club against the RF and the difference shrinks to just over $2,000. Be forewarned that the RF can get expensive. That package I mentioned earlier with the Recaro seats? That will set you back $4,670, bringing the as-tested price to just over $38,000. Mazda’s improvements for the 2019 MX-5 Miata for the most part help, allowing it to become more fun to drive and somewhat easier to live with. That said, the additional cost of the hardtop will depend on whether or not you think it is worth the benefits of possibly being an all-seasons car. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata RF, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: MX-5 Miata RF Trim: Club Engine: 2.0L SkyActiv-G DOHC 16-Valve with VVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29 Curb Weight: 2,453 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $32,345 As Tested Price: $38,335 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Brembo with Black Roof - $4,670.00 Interior Package for M/T - $425.00
  9. When Toyota introduced the last-generation Avalon for the 2014 model year, I was shocked by how Toyota had built the better Lexus ES. On the surface, this seems a bit crazy. But Toyota had put a lot of effort into shedding the image of Avalon of an old person’s car by bringing a modern and sleek look; luxurious interior, and a balance between a relaxing ride and sporty dynamics. This became more apparent when compared to the ES launched a couple of years earlier, looking very dated in terms of looks and driving like a cream puff. The times are a changing and the two brands have launched new versions of their respective sedans within the past year. I find myself wondering if Toyota still builds the better Lexus or if the ES has finally stepped up and can give the Avalon a real challenge. Exterior Toyota stuck with the shape of the previous Avalon but gave it some refinement. The low roofline and sloping rear glass shape are paired with more aggressive rear end featuring a full-length taillight. Where the new design falls apart is in the front. Toyota must have taken some of the pages out of Lexus’ design book on grille design as the Avalon has a massive grille. Lower trim models make do with black slats for the insert, but my Hybrid Limited tester features chrome slats that make it more polarizing. I understand Toyota wants to give the Avalon a bit more presence on the road, but this new grille design is a bit much. The ES 350 is a different story as Lexus’ designers pulled off an extensive transformation. Wearing a toned-down version of the brand’s current design language, the new ES has an overall look of something formidable and elegant. The spindle grille is front and center, but Lexus has made it slightly smaller to have fit in with the flowing lines. Other design traits include a sloping roofline and shortened rear deck. Interior Like the exterior, the ES’ interior is completely unrecognizable from the outgoing model. Gone are the cheap feeling and mismatch plastics. In their places is a combination of leather, soft-touch plastics, and wood trim that brings forth a sense of premium uniformity. Ergonomics are also top of the class with such touches as control knobs sitting on either side of the instrument panel, and controls for the climate and audio being in easy reach for driver and passenger. Those sitting in the front are treated to leather-covered seats that provide an excellent balance between support and coddle. Those sitting in the back seat might complain about the low position, but will like the ample amount of head and legroom. Stepping inside the Avalon Hybrid, Toyota has given it a major makeover. Gone is the flowing and rounded center stack with capacitive touch controls. Instead, the Avalon uses a narrower and blocky center stack with actual buttons. I’m sad to see the touch controls go away as I found them to be quite responsive. Toyota likely dropped them as buyers complained there was no feedback - a click sound or pulsation - to whoever was using it. Other changes include a slim chrome bar running along the dash vents and more color choices. Finding a comfortable position in the Avalon was no problem due to the numerous amount of power adjustments available on the Limited. Like the ES, the Avalon’s seats strike the balance of comfort and support just right. In the back, there is an abundance of legroom that allows passengers to stretch out. Headroom is fine for most adults. Infotainment Toyota has installed the latest version of Entune for the 2019 Avalon. While looking somewhat dated with a muted color palette and dull screen, Entune retains its ease of use. The menus with large touchscreen buttons make it very easy to move around the system, along with clearly marked buttons and knobs sitting on either side. Toyota has also got with times and made the Avalon the first model to feature CarPlay integration. Those wanting Android Auto will need to wait until 2020. If there is an Achilles heel to the ES 350, that would be Lexus’ Remote Touch. I have written numerously about how using this system is not only a pain, but very distracting when driving. Take for example changing an XMSirius station. Look at the screen to see where the cursor is. Use the touchpad to move the cursor to the station you want, making sure to keep an eye on the screen. Press down on the touchpad to make the selection, hoping you’re finger doesn’t slip and causes something else to happen. This whole routine plays out time and time again whenever you want to do something. Even Apple CarPlay which was introduced for 2019 is a pain to use with Remote Touch. There is salvation on the horizon. Earlier this year, Lexus unveiled an updated RX crossover with a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The automaker said that it will be available on other models in the coming years. Here’s to hoping the ES is one of the first recipients. Performance Both vehicles come with the choice of either a 3.5L V6 or hybrid system using a 2.5L four-cylinder. An eight-speed automatic is teamed with the V6. The hybrid uses a CVT. The 3.5 V6 has been given a bit more power for 2019, now producing 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This bump makes for a noticeable improvement in overall acceleration, feeling slightly quicker than the last ES 350 I drove. Power builds on a smooth and linear fashion. The engine is also noticeably refined, with barely a rumble coming from underneath the hood. With only a total output of 215 horsepower, the hybrid system in the Toyota Avalon may seem underpowered. This is only an issue when climbing a steep hill or needing to make an immediate pass. Otherwise, the hybrid system provides plenty of oomph for the daily drive. I like how the system seamless transitioned from electric to hybrid power with only a minimal buzz coming from the engine bay. Like other Toyota hybrids, the Avalon Hybrid can travel on electric power alone - albeit a short distance and at speeds below 25 mph. In EPA testing, the ES 350 returns 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined and the Avalon Hybrid returns 43 City/43 Highway/43 Combined. I clocked averages of 25 in the ES 350 and 40 in the Avalon Hybrid. Ride and Handling Aside from engines, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 share another vital component. Under the skin of both models is a version of Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA) known as GA-K. This variant provides the stiffer structure and lower-center of gravity found on other TGNA models, but allows both Toyota and Lexus to build larger front-wheel drive vehicles. In the Avalon Hybrid, the move to GA-K doesn’t change much. The last-generation model showed that you could have good driving dynamics and retain a mission of comfort. The new model continues that with slightly improved handling and sharper steering response. The ES 350 is a different story. Changing over to GA-K transforms the model from a creampuff on wheels to a luxury sedan with that can take corners without embarrassing itself. Body roll is significantly reduced and the steering responds to inputs without fuss. Neither one of these sedans will challenge the likes of the Germans or the Kia Stinger GT, but they will not fall over and cry uncle when pushed. Ride quality is still one of the impressive points for both models. On some of roughest, pothole-ladened streets that the Metro Detroit has on offer, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 made it feel like mere ripples. Not much outside noise comes inside the cabin of either model, making them a perfect place to decompress after a long day. Verdict Let’s begin with the 2020 Avalon Hybrid. This updated sedan didn’t surprise me and that’s fine. Aside from the styling, Toyota made small changes to address certain issues of the previous-generation and build upon its strengths. Getting 40 MPG is still an impressive trait for such a big sedan. With a starting price tag of $35,560 for the gas version and $36,650 for the hybrid, the Avalon is still the one to buy if you want the luxuries of the ES without the luxury tax. The ES 350, on the other hand, is the more impressive of the two. You have to wonder if Lexus was motivated by what Toyota was able to pull off with last-generation Avalon. In a lot of ways, the ES 350 looks and feels like a proper luxury car. Add in a new platform that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to tip over and Lexus is very close to that idea of “Experience Amazing”. The only fault is Remote Touch which sours many of the dramatic improvements. If Lexus can get that new touchscreen into the ES ASAP, I would gladly give it my “Most Improved Car of the Year” award. How I would configure a 2019 Lexus ES 350 or Toyota Avalon Hybrid Starting with the ES 350, I would skip the base model and go with the Luxury trim. This adds such items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and ambient lighting. On top of this, I would add Blind Spot Monitoring package and a power rear sunshade. With destination, I'm out the door with a final price of $45,540. For the Avalon Hybrid, I would pick the XSE. This is positioned as the sporty model with various exterior treatments including a mesh insert for the grille. Other standard equipment includes a moonroof, leatherette and suede upholstery, and wireless phone charging. The only two options I would tick are the Ruby Flare Pearl paint and 14-Speaker JBL Audio System. Add destination and the final price comes to $41,480. Alternatives Genesis G80: A perennial favorite, the G80 slots between the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 in terms of price - $41,750. It comes showered with loads of standard equipment and an excellent engine lineup. It cannot match the ES and Avalon in terms of interior design, but provides a more modern and easier to understand infotainment system. Ride quality is similar in all three vehicles, but the ES and Avalon have a slight edge in handling. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: ES 350 Trim: Luxury Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26 Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,755 As Tested Price: $45,955 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge)* Options: Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking - $1,065.00 18-Inch Split Five-Spoke Alloy Noise Reduction Wheels - $950.00 Wood and Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel - $300.00 Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00 *No window sticker was provided for the ES 350. This is me taking a guess as to final price and options. Year: 2019 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, 650V Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 5,700 (Gas); 118 (88 kW) (Electric); 215 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 163 @ 3,600-5,200 (Gas) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/43/43 Curb Weight: 3,715 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,800 As Tested Price: $45,118 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Safety Package - $1,150.00 Carpet Mat Package - $248.00 View full article
  10. When Toyota introduced the last-generation Avalon for the 2014 model year, I was shocked by how Toyota had built the better Lexus ES. On the surface, this seems a bit crazy. But Toyota had put a lot of effort into shedding the image of Avalon of an old person’s car by bringing a modern and sleek look; luxurious interior, and a balance between a relaxing ride and sporty dynamics. This became more apparent when compared to the ES launched a couple of years earlier, looking very dated in terms of looks and driving like a cream puff. The times are a changing and the two brands have launched new versions of their respective sedans within the past year. I find myself wondering if Toyota still builds the better Lexus or if the ES has finally stepped up and can give the Avalon a real challenge. Exterior Toyota stuck with the shape of the previous Avalon but gave it some refinement. The low roofline and sloping rear glass shape are paired with more aggressive rear end featuring a full-length taillight. Where the new design falls apart is in the front. Toyota must have taken some of the pages out of Lexus’ design book on grille design as the Avalon has a massive grille. Lower trim models make do with black slats for the insert, but my Hybrid Limited tester features chrome slats that make it more polarizing. I understand Toyota wants to give the Avalon a bit more presence on the road, but this new grille design is a bit much. The ES 350 is a different story as Lexus’ designers pulled off an extensive transformation. Wearing a toned-down version of the brand’s current design language, the new ES has an overall look of something formidable and elegant. The spindle grille is front and center, but Lexus has made it slightly smaller to have fit in with the flowing lines. Other design traits include a sloping roofline and shortened rear deck. Interior Like the exterior, the ES’ interior is completely unrecognizable from the outgoing model. Gone are the cheap feeling and mismatch plastics. In their places is a combination of leather, soft-touch plastics, and wood trim that brings forth a sense of premium uniformity. Ergonomics are also top of the class with such touches as control knobs sitting on either side of the instrument panel, and controls for the climate and audio being in easy reach for driver and passenger. Those sitting in the front are treated to leather-covered seats that provide an excellent balance between support and coddle. Those sitting in the back seat might complain about the low position, but will like the ample amount of head and legroom. Stepping inside the Avalon Hybrid, Toyota has given it a major makeover. Gone is the flowing and rounded center stack with capacitive touch controls. Instead, the Avalon uses a narrower and blocky center stack with actual buttons. I’m sad to see the touch controls go away as I found them to be quite responsive. Toyota likely dropped them as buyers complained there was no feedback - a click sound or pulsation - to whoever was using it. Other changes include a slim chrome bar running along the dash vents and more color choices. Finding a comfortable position in the Avalon was no problem due to the numerous amount of power adjustments available on the Limited. Like the ES, the Avalon’s seats strike the balance of comfort and support just right. In the back, there is an abundance of legroom that allows passengers to stretch out. Headroom is fine for most adults. Infotainment Toyota has installed the latest version of Entune for the 2019 Avalon. While looking somewhat dated with a muted color palette and dull screen, Entune retains its ease of use. The menus with large touchscreen buttons make it very easy to move around the system, along with clearly marked buttons and knobs sitting on either side. Toyota has also got with times and made the Avalon the first model to feature CarPlay integration. Those wanting Android Auto will need to wait until 2020. If there is an Achilles heel to the ES 350, that would be Lexus’ Remote Touch. I have written numerously about how using this system is not only a pain, but very distracting when driving. Take for example changing an XMSirius station. Look at the screen to see where the cursor is. Use the touchpad to move the cursor to the station you want, making sure to keep an eye on the screen. Press down on the touchpad to make the selection, hoping you’re finger doesn’t slip and causes something else to happen. This whole routine plays out time and time again whenever you want to do something. Even Apple CarPlay which was introduced for 2019 is a pain to use with Remote Touch. There is salvation on the horizon. Earlier this year, Lexus unveiled an updated RX crossover with a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The automaker said that it will be available on other models in the coming years. Here’s to hoping the ES is one of the first recipients. Performance Both vehicles come with the choice of either a 3.5L V6 or hybrid system using a 2.5L four-cylinder. An eight-speed automatic is teamed with the V6. The hybrid uses a CVT. The 3.5 V6 has been given a bit more power for 2019, now producing 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This bump makes for a noticeable improvement in overall acceleration, feeling slightly quicker than the last ES 350 I drove. Power builds on a smooth and linear fashion. The engine is also noticeably refined, with barely a rumble coming from underneath the hood. With only a total output of 215 horsepower, the hybrid system in the Toyota Avalon may seem underpowered. This is only an issue when climbing a steep hill or needing to make an immediate pass. Otherwise, the hybrid system provides plenty of oomph for the daily drive. I like how the system seamless transitioned from electric to hybrid power with only a minimal buzz coming from the engine bay. Like other Toyota hybrids, the Avalon Hybrid can travel on electric power alone - albeit a short distance and at speeds below 25 mph. In EPA testing, the ES 350 returns 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined and the Avalon Hybrid returns 43 City/43 Highway/43 Combined. I clocked averages of 25 in the ES 350 and 40 in the Avalon Hybrid. Ride and Handling Aside from engines, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 share another vital component. Under the skin of both models is a version of Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA) known as GA-K. This variant provides the stiffer structure and lower-center of gravity found on other TGNA models, but allows both Toyota and Lexus to build larger front-wheel drive vehicles. In the Avalon Hybrid, the move to GA-K doesn’t change much. The last-generation model showed that you could have good driving dynamics and retain a mission of comfort. The new model continues that with slightly improved handling and sharper steering response. The ES 350 is a different story. Changing over to GA-K transforms the model from a creampuff on wheels to a luxury sedan with that can take corners without embarrassing itself. Body roll is significantly reduced and the steering responds to inputs without fuss. Neither one of these sedans will challenge the likes of the Germans or the Kia Stinger GT, but they will not fall over and cry uncle when pushed. Ride quality is still one of the impressive points for both models. On some of roughest, pothole-ladened streets that the Metro Detroit has on offer, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 made it feel like mere ripples. Not much outside noise comes inside the cabin of either model, making them a perfect place to decompress after a long day. Verdict Let’s begin with the 2020 Avalon Hybrid. This updated sedan didn’t surprise me and that’s fine. Aside from the styling, Toyota made small changes to address certain issues of the previous-generation and build upon its strengths. Getting 40 MPG is still an impressive trait for such a big sedan. With a starting price tag of $35,560 for the gas version and $36,650 for the hybrid, the Avalon is still the one to buy if you want the luxuries of the ES without the luxury tax. The ES 350, on the other hand, is the more impressive of the two. You have to wonder if Lexus was motivated by what Toyota was able to pull off with last-generation Avalon. In a lot of ways, the ES 350 looks and feels like a proper luxury car. Add in a new platform that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to tip over and Lexus is very close to that idea of “Experience Amazing”. The only fault is Remote Touch which sours many of the dramatic improvements. If Lexus can get that new touchscreen into the ES ASAP, I would gladly give it my “Most Improved Car of the Year” award. How I would configure a 2019 Lexus ES 350 or Toyota Avalon Hybrid Starting with the ES 350, I would skip the base model and go with the Luxury trim. This adds such items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and ambient lighting. On top of this, I would add Blind Spot Monitoring package and a power rear sunshade. With destination, I'm out the door with a final price of $45,540. For the Avalon Hybrid, I would pick the XSE. This is positioned as the sporty model with various exterior treatments including a mesh insert for the grille. Other standard equipment includes a moonroof, leatherette and suede upholstery, and wireless phone charging. The only two options I would tick are the Ruby Flare Pearl paint and 14-Speaker JBL Audio System. Add destination and the final price comes to $41,480. Alternatives Genesis G80: A perennial favorite, the G80 slots between the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 in terms of price - $41,750. It comes showered with loads of standard equipment and an excellent engine lineup. It cannot match the ES and Avalon in terms of interior design, but provides a more modern and easier to understand infotainment system. Ride quality is similar in all three vehicles, but the ES and Avalon have a slight edge in handling. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: ES 350 Trim: Luxury Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26 Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,755 As Tested Price: $45,955 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge)* Options: Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking - $1,065.00 18-Inch Split Five-Spoke Alloy Noise Reduction Wheels - $950.00 Wood and Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel - $300.00 Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00 *No window sticker was provided for the ES 350. This is me taking a guess as to final price and options. Year: 2019 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, 650V Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 5,700 (Gas); 118 (88 kW) (Electric); 215 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 163 @ 3,600-5,200 (Gas) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/43/43 Curb Weight: 3,715 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,800 As Tested Price: $45,118 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Safety Package - $1,150.00 Carpet Mat Package - $248.00
  11. Expectation can be a very dangerous thing. You come into something thinking it will blow your mind and more often than not, it comes up short. That’s how I felt during the first few days into a loan of a 2019 Buick Regal GS. What was being presented didn’t match up with my experience. But over the week I had the vehicle, it began to grow on. That isn’t to say some issues need to be addressed. At first glance, you might think Buick decided to stick with a sedan shape. But the sloping rear hatch gives away its true identity as a Sportback. This helps give the impression that the Regal is sporty, helped further by short overhangs. By adding small touches such as large front air intakes, GS-specific 19-inch wheels. Brembo front brake calipers finished in Red, and a small lip spoiler, the GS transforms the Regal into looking like a red-blooded sports sedan. The interior sadly doesn’t match up with what is being presented on the outside. While there was some effort to make the GS stand out with faux carbon-fiber trim, special sport seats, and GS badging, it doesn’t quite match with what is being presented outside. Not helping are some cheap plastics littered throughout the Regal GS’ interior. If this was a standard Regal, I may have given it a slight pass. But considering this GS carries a price of almost $43k, it becomes a big issue. The interior does redeem it somewhat with a logical and simple layout. No one had any complaints about whether the controls were confusing or hard to reach. Let’s talk about the front seats, The Regal GS comes fitted with racing-style front seat with aggressive side bolstering and faux holes towards the top where the belts for a harness would go into. This design seems more at home in a hardcore Corvette than a Buick. Before you start thinking that the seat design only allows a small group of people to fit, Buick has fitted adjustable bolstering to allow a wide set of body types to sit comfortably. With this and other power adjustments, I was able to find a position that suited me. Over a long drive, the seats were able to provide the right amount of support and comfort. The back seats don’t get the same “race car” treatment as the front, but they do offer ample head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space is quite impressive with 31.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 60.7 when folded. The Kia Stinger I drove back in January pales in comparison with 23.3 and 40.9 cubic feet. The Regal GS features an eight-inch touchscreen with the new Buick Infotainment 3 system. As I mentioned in my Silverado/Sierra 1500 review, the new system is worlds better than Intellilink. The interface has been cleaned up with simpler graphics and fonts that are much easier to read. Also seeing noticeable improvements is the overall performance. The system is much faster when bringing up different functions or crunching a route on the optional navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE round off the system. With the effort Buick has put in, you might have the feeling that the Regal GS has something special under the hood. That isn’t the case. Under the hood of the GS is GM’s venerable 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet. While the V6 packs 40 more horsepower than the 2.0L turbo-four from the last-generation model, it is also down 13 pound-feet. This absence becomes apparent when you decide to sprint away from a stoplight or exiting a corner as you need to work the engine to get that rush of power. A numb throttle response doesn’t help. If you resist from attack mode, the V6 reveals a quiet and refined nature. But again, you will need to work the engine when merging or making a pass. Before someone shouts “put a turbo on it”, Buick cannot do that as there isn’t enough space in the engine bay due to the design of the platform. We’ve known about this issue since 2016 when Holden was gearing up to launch the Commodore - its version of the OpelVauxhall Insignia. The nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with unobtrusive shifts when going about your daily errands, but offers up snappy shifts when you decide to get aggressive. A glaring omission on this sports sedan is the lack of paddle shifters. Fuel economy for the 2019 Regal GS is 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. I saw an average of 20 during the week. This can likely to be attributed to the test vehicle having under 1,000 miles on the odometer. On paper, the Regal GS’ handling credentials seem top-notch with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and a GKN all-wheel drive system featuring a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential. The latter allows a varying amount of power sent to each rear wheel to improve cornering. In the real world, the GS is more Grand Tourer than Gran Sport. While the sedan shows little body roll, its reflexes are slightly muted due to a nearly 3,800 pound curb weight. The steering provides a decent amount of weight when turning, but don’t expect a lot of road feel. What about that AWD system? For the most part, you really won’t notice working unless you decide to push the limits or practice your winter driving skills in a snowy and empty parking lot. Thanks to the CDC system, the Regal GS’ ride is surprisingly smooth. With the vehicle in Tour, the suspension glides over bumps and imperfections. The ride begins to get choppy if you One area that I’m glad Buick is still focusing on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent. The 2019 Buick Regal GS is a case of expectations being put too high. Despite what the exterior and sports seats of the interior may hint at, this isn’t a sports sedan like a Kia Stinger GT or something from a German luxury brand. But my feelings began to change when I thought of the GS as being more of a grand tourer. It has the ingredients such as a refined powertrain, a suspension that can be altered to provide either a comfortable or sporty ride; and minimizing the amount of outside noise. There lies the overall problem with Regal GS as Buick doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a sport sedan or a luxury sedan with grand tourer tendencies? This confusion will likely cause many people to look at something else which is a big shame. How I Would Configure a 2019 Buick Regal GS. My particular configuration would be similar to the vehicle tested here with the Driver Confidence Package #2, Sights and Sounds, and Appearance packages. The only change would be adding the White Frost Tricoat color, which adds an additional $1,095 to the price. All together, it comes out to $44,210. Alternatives to the 2019 Buick Regal GS: Kia Stinger: The big elephant in the room when talking about the Regal GS. For a similar amount of cash, you can step into the base GT model with its 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive setup (AWD adds $2,200). I came away very impressed with the styling, performance on tap from the V6, and handling prowess. Downsides include the interior design being a bit too minimalist and the ride being a bit rough. Volkswagen Arteon: The other dark horse to the Regal GS. There is no doubt that the Arteon is quite handsome with flowing lines and sleek fastback shape. Having sat in one at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I found it to be very roomy and upscale in terms of the interior materials. I hope to get some time behind the wheel in the near future to see how it measures up in handling. Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Regal GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Buick Model: Regal Trim: GS Engine: 3.6L V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,800 Torque @ RPM: 282 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22 Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany Base Price: $39,070 As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00 Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00 Appearance Package: $485.00
  12. The news about the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have been constant barrage about how they aren’t doing so well in the sales charts. In fact, Ram has taken second place in overall truck sales from the Silverado. General Motors is quick to point that Ram has been increasing amount of money on the hoods of the 2019 Ram 1500, along with the last-generation model being sold alongside. But could there be more to this slump? What if the new Silverado and Sierra didn’t move the needle as far as the competition? The new Silverado and Sierra continue to separate from one another in exterior design. The basic shape may be the same, but it is the details where the two begin to develop their own identities. On the Sierra, it goes for some polarization with its gaping maw of a grille and c-shaped headlights. Chevrolet is a bit more restrained with the Silverado featuring a split bar grille and separate headlight housings. More differences can be seen turning to the side as the Silverado has slightly more pronounced fenders than the Sierra. Both trucks arrived in their off-road trims: Trail Boss for the Silverado and AT4 for the Sierra. This is denoted by two-inch lift for the suspension, blacked-out trim pieces, and meaty off-road tires featuring some sharp-looking wheels. I tend not to like off-road models as they go overboard with the “LOOK AT ME” bits placed on it, which I get why a number of buyers absolutely love it. But the Trail Boss and AT4 find that nice point where they look the business without being too shouty about it. GMC is also trying to set itself apart in terms of the tailgate. My Sierra AT4 tester came equipped with the MultiPro tailgate which offers “six functions and positions.” They include, Primary Gate (Full Tailgate) Primary Gate Load Stop: Panel that holds longer items in the bed Easy Access: Flip the inner part of the tailgate to allow for better access for items in the bed Step to allow for easy entry and exit from the bed Inner Gate with Load Stop Inner Gate as a work surface You will not find a physical tailgate handle. Instead, there are two buttons that sit between the backup camera. The top button releases the inner gate, while the bottom allows the full tailgate to open. Opening the inner gate wasn’t as smooth as the full tailgate, feeling like it was sticking at points. A lot of this I would attribute to cold temperatures during the week. Despite this issue, having the inner tailgate give way to allow for better access to the bed and a step does give a unique selling point. I do wonder how will this tailgate design hold-up in the long run. Moving inside, GM is still focusing on functional and practical aspects. This is evident with the large knobs and buttons controlling various functions, and a comprehensive gauge cluster. But this approach does put both trucks behind the pack in terms of interior design and materials when compared against Ford and Ram. I had to do a double-take getting inside the Silverado for the first time as the dashboard really didn’t change that much aside from the colors and slightly altered buttons. This isn’t helped by some of the material choices which look and feel out of place in trucks that carry price tags that are around the $60,000 mark. But the Silverado and Sierra’s interiors do claw some points back in terms of overall comfort. No one will have any issue trying to find a position that works thanks to a generous amount of power seat adjustments and a steering wheel that finally provides tilt-telescope adjustment. Space in the back of crew cabs is massive with loads of head and legroom. Both trucks came with an eight-inch screen (lesser trims get by with a seven-inch screen) and new software - Chevrolet Infotainment 3/GMC Infotainment. The interface looks like a simplified version of MyLink/Intellilink with simpler graphics and easier to read fonts. Moving around the system is easy thanks to the simple menu structure and quick responses for any command. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration comes standard. Both trucks were able to find my iPhone 7 Plus and bring up the CarPlay interface within seconds of plugging it in. There are four different engines on offer, including a new 2.7L turbo-four. There’s also a turbodiesel V6 that will be arriving for the 2020 model year. Both of my test trucks came with the V8s - Silverado packing a 5.3L and the Sierra using the 6.2L. The 5.3L V8 has not been my engine of choice for the last-generation trucks. Not because of the power on offer, but more of the tuning of the throttle pedal. It made the V8 feel very sluggish and would make the driver push further down on the pedal to get it moving a decent clip. Thankfully, GM has addressed this issue and 5.3 now feel likes it has 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. You can lightly press on the accelerator and V8 doesn’t feel artificially overwhelmed. A new eight-speed automatic (standard on higher trims) helps keep the engine right in the sweet spot of power and provides smooth shifts. As for the 6.2L V8, it is a monster. With 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet, it moves the Sierra at a surprising rate. Making a pass or merging on to a freeway is no problem as there is an abundance of power waiting to be unleashed. A new ten-speed automatic (jointly developed with Ford) helps keep the engine right in the spot of power. Unless you need or want all of the power, the 5.3 is the engine I would recommend for either truck. EPA fuel economy figures for the V8s are 15 City/20 Highway/17 Combined for the 5.3 and 15/19/17 for the 6.2L AT4. My averages for the week were 16.1 for the 5.3 and 15.2 for the 6.2. Ram is still the gold standard when it comes to ride quality due to its rear coil spring setup. But GM isn’t so far behind with its solid rear axle setup. Most bumps and imperfections become mere ripples. Larger potholes didn’t upset either truck, but I would put that towards the off-road suspension. The standard trucks may bounce around. Handling is quite surprising as both trucks feel agile around bends. Noise isolation, for the most part, is excellent, though the knobby tires fitted to the Trail Boss and AT4 do ruin some of the tranquility. My feelings are mixed on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500. GM has either fixed or improved various problems that I have talked about in previous reviews. But it feels GM hasn’t done enough to fully set their trucks apart from the competition. I think this line from my journal says it all. “If General Motors wasn’t touting various aspects of these new trucks such as the aluminum body panels or multi-pro tailgate, I would have thought both models went through a dramatic mid-cycle refresh.” This could give the full explanation as to why the Silverado and Sierra are currently getting beaten out by Ford and Ram Trucks in the sales chart. Buyers may not see any real changes for both trucks when compared against the competition. GM has been on the offensive, saying to be patient. But that approach may not work and may cause the automaker to draw up some drastic measures. That’s the thing about the full-size truck market, you need to show up with the best. Anything less and you’re in danger of losing. How I would configure a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500. There are two options I would consider with the Silverado. First is the RST. I would order a 4WD crew cab with a short and opt for the 5.3L V8. From there, I would add the Convenience Package with Bucket Seats, Convenience Package II, Safety Package, and Trailering Package. That brings the final price to $52,745 excluding any discounts I could get. Second is the Trail Boss which gets the 5.3L V8 as standard. Options would mirror the RST and bring the final price to $54,285. If I was to order a Sierra 1500, then I would start with the SLT Crew Cab 4WD with a short bed. This comes with the 5.3L V8 as standard and I would only add two options; Dark Sky Metallic for $495 and the SLT Premium Plus Package for $6,875. This package combines a number of option packages such as the SLT Preferred Package and the two Driver Alert Packages. The final price comes to $60,460 with a $1,000 discount for ordering Premium Plus Package. Alternatives to the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500. 2019 Ram 1500: Ram's redesign on the 1500 has helped make it a real challenger to both Ford and GM. The interior raises the bar of what a truck can be with an impressive design and high-quality material choices. It also boasts an impressive list of safety features such as adaptive cruise control. Ride quality is still class leading. What may put some people off is the styling as it looks a bit plain. 2019 Ford F-150: Bestselling for reason, Ford has constantly improved the F-150 to keep it one step ahead of the competition. It features one of the largest selection of powertrains that help give it some impressive towing numbers. A number of trims also gives buyers different options to build their F-150 the way they want. But Ford trails Ram and GM when it comes ride quality. Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the trucks, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas (*Author's Note: Unfortunately, I lost the window sticker to the GMC Sierra 1500 I drove. I have built the truck as close as possible to my memory to get an approximation on price. -WM) Year: 2019 Make: Chevrolet Model: Silverado 1500 Trim: LT Trail Boss Engine: 5.3L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 355 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/20/17 Curb Weight: 5,008 lbs Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana Base Price: $48,300 As Tested Price: $55,955 (Includes $1,495 Destination Charge) Options: Convenience Package with Bucket Seats - $1,805.00 Convenience Package II - $1,420.00 Off-Road Assist Steps - $895.00 Safety Package I - $890.00 Bed Protection Package - $635.00 Trailer Brake Controller - $275.00 Advanced Trailering Package - $240.00 Year: 2019 Make: GMC Model: Sierra 1500 Trim: AT4 Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start Driveline: Ten-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/19/17 Curb Weight: 5,015 lbs Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana Base Price: $53,200 As Tested Price: $64,955 (Includes $1,595 Destination Charge and $500 discount for the AT4 Premium Package)* Options: Off-Road Performance Package - $4,940 AT4 Premium Package - $3,100 with a $500 discount Technology Package - $1,875 Driver Alert Package II - $745
  13. At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform. Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level. The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package. Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment. Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard. On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands. Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is. It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level. Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors. The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree. While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors. Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids. My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles. Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway. The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6. Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment. Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system. The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading). If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined. The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating. Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds. Engine noise is hushed and refined. One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable. The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs. That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well. The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension. Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one. That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard. If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list. Year: 2020 Make: Kia Model: Telluride Trim: SX Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6 Driveline: All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21 Curb Weight: 4482 lb. Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA Base Price: $31,690 As Tested Price: $45,815 Destination Charge: $1,045 Options: SX Prestige Package - $2,000 Carpeted Floor Mats - $210 Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115
  14. Seven years ago, I drove the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander for a week-long review. There was a lot to like about the previous model as it featured distinctive shape, comfortable ride, and being somewhat fun to drive. But in other areas, the model fell a bit flat. Poor material choices, firm ride, and the optional V6 engine feeling slightly lackluster. I ended my review with this, “Mitsubishi has shown a new Outlander at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Underneath the Outlander’s new sheet metal lies a new vehicle architecture and will have the choice between gas and plug-in hybrid power. The new Outlander also gets revised interior and new safety equipment. The question is will the new Outlander be able to fix the problems of the current one?” It has taken a fair amount of time to get my hands on the new Outlander. In that time, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes and updates to the Outlander lineup such as a revised exterior. Was it worth the wait? The Outlander’s shape is nothing too special with rounded corners, large glass area, and a set of 18-inch alloy wheels that comes standard on most models. For 2019, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander’s front end with a new grille shape, headlights, and more chrome trim. It does help spruce up the design that has been with us since 2014. My only complaint is the dark silver paint on my tester. It makes the vehicle look like a giant blob. There isn’t anything that sets the interior apart from rivals. The design is somewhat plain, but material quality is quite surprising with an abundance of soft-touch materials. There is a fair amount of piano black trim, which does attract fingerprints. All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen running Mitsubishi’s latest infotainment system is standard. Those wanting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to step up to the SE or higher. My experience with the system mimics the Eclipse Cross; lags behind the competition in terms of the interface and performance, but its a huge step forward from the previous system. The Outlander is one of the few models in the compact crossover class that can boast having three-rows to allow seating for seven. This seat is best reserved for small kids due to the limited amount of leg and headroom. Having the third-row also eats into cargo space - 10.3 vs. 33 cubic feet with the seats folded. Front and rear seating is fine. There’s enough padding to keep everyone comfortable on a long trip, and most passengers will be able to stretch out. Most Outlanders come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front or Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. Step up to the GT to get a 3.0L V6 packing 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a PHEV option which I talk about more in this first drive piece. The 2.4 is serviceable around town with brisk acceleration and minimal noise. But take the Outlander on the highway or fill it up with people and cargo, and the 2.4 feels overwhelmed. Not helping is the CVT that will drone quite loudly when you plant your foot on the gas. Fuel economy is mid-pack with EPA figures of 24 City/29 Highway/26 Combined for the AWD version - front-wheel drive models see a one MPG improvement. My average for the week landed around 24. One area that I was surprised by the Outlander was the ride. Over the varied surfaces on offer in the Metro Detroit area, the Outlander’s suspension smoothed out various bumps. It doesn’t feel comfortable around corners, showing noticeable body lean and a disconnected steering system. The Mitsubishi Outlander answers the oddly specific question of, “what is the cheapest three-row crossover I could buy?’ I can see why someone on a tight budget would consider one as the Outlander provides a lot of standard equipment, along with seating for seven at a low price. It doesn’t hurt that Mitsubishi’s 5 year/60,000 mile new car warranty does provide peace of mind for those who want a bit of security. But it does become a poor value the higher you climb in price. My Outlander SEL S-AWC tester starts at $29.095. With the optional SEL Touring Package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and a 710W Rockford Fosgate audio system) and carpeted floor mats, the price ballooned to $33,225 with destination. For that amount of cash, you get into a decently equipped Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5. I know dealers put cash on the hoods - most dropping the cost to under $30,000, but it is still a tough sell. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander Trim: SEL S-AWC Engine: 2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 166 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 162 @ 4,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/29/26 Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $29,095 As Tested Price: $33,225 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Touring Package - $3,000.00 Accessory Carpeted Floors Mats and Portfolio - $135.00 View full article
  15. Seven years ago, I drove the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander for a week-long review. There was a lot to like about the previous model as it featured distinctive shape, comfortable ride, and being somewhat fun to drive. But in other areas, the model fell a bit flat. Poor material choices, firm ride, and the optional V6 engine feeling slightly lackluster. I ended my review with this, “Mitsubishi has shown a new Outlander at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Underneath the Outlander’s new sheet metal lies a new vehicle architecture and will have the choice between gas and plug-in hybrid power. The new Outlander also gets revised interior and new safety equipment. The question is will the new Outlander be able to fix the problems of the current one?” It has taken a fair amount of time to get my hands on the new Outlander. In that time, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes and updates to the Outlander lineup such as a revised exterior. Was it worth the wait? The Outlander’s shape is nothing too special with rounded corners, large glass area, and a set of 18-inch alloy wheels that comes standard on most models. For 2019, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander’s front end with a new grille shape, headlights, and more chrome trim. It does help spruce up the design that has been with us since 2014. My only complaint is the dark silver paint on my tester. It makes the vehicle look like a giant blob. There isn’t anything that sets the interior apart from rivals. The design is somewhat plain, but material quality is quite surprising with an abundance of soft-touch materials. There is a fair amount of piano black trim, which does attract fingerprints. All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen running Mitsubishi’s latest infotainment system is standard. Those wanting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to step up to the SE or higher. My experience with the system mimics the Eclipse Cross; lags behind the competition in terms of the interface and performance, but its a huge step forward from the previous system. The Outlander is one of the few models in the compact crossover class that can boast having three-rows to allow seating for seven. This seat is best reserved for small kids due to the limited amount of leg and headroom. Having the third-row also eats into cargo space - 10.3 vs. 33 cubic feet with the seats folded. Front and rear seating is fine. There’s enough padding to keep everyone comfortable on a long trip, and most passengers will be able to stretch out. Most Outlanders come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front or Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. Step up to the GT to get a 3.0L V6 packing 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a PHEV option which I talk about more in this first drive piece. The 2.4 is serviceable around town with brisk acceleration and minimal noise. But take the Outlander on the highway or fill it up with people and cargo, and the 2.4 feels overwhelmed. Not helping is the CVT that will drone quite loudly when you plant your foot on the gas. Fuel economy is mid-pack with EPA figures of 24 City/29 Highway/26 Combined for the AWD version - front-wheel drive models see a one MPG improvement. My average for the week landed around 24. One area that I was surprised by the Outlander was the ride. Over the varied surfaces on offer in the Metro Detroit area, the Outlander’s suspension smoothed out various bumps. It doesn’t feel comfortable around corners, showing noticeable body lean and a disconnected steering system. The Mitsubishi Outlander answers the oddly specific question of, “what is the cheapest three-row crossover I could buy?’ I can see why someone on a tight budget would consider one as the Outlander provides a lot of standard equipment, along with seating for seven at a low price. It doesn’t hurt that Mitsubishi’s 5 year/60,000 mile new car warranty does provide peace of mind for those who want a bit of security. But it does become a poor value the higher you climb in price. My Outlander SEL S-AWC tester starts at $29.095. With the optional SEL Touring Package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and a 710W Rockford Fosgate audio system) and carpeted floor mats, the price ballooned to $33,225 with destination. For that amount of cash, you get into a decently equipped Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5. I know dealers put cash on the hoods - most dropping the cost to under $30,000, but it is still a tough sell. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander Trim: SEL S-AWC Engine: 2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 166 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 162 @ 4,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/29/26 Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $29,095 As Tested Price: $33,225 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Touring Package - $3,000.00 Accessory Carpeted Floors Mats and Portfolio - $135.00
  16. The Kia Forte could never claim to be the best compact car, but its low price and a long list of equipment made it an interesting alternative choice to the stalwarts of the compact class. This approach has worked well with the Forte becoming one of the brand’s best selling models. Kia wants to change the fortunes of the Forte with third-generation by not fully relying on price and value. I spent a week in the top-line EX Launch Edition to see how it fares. The new Mazda3 is considered by many to be the sexiest compact car on sale. Running a close second is the Forte. Elements of the Stinger are used throughout such as power bulge on the hood, headlights that extend into the fenders, and sculpting along the side. The only place where the design falters is in the rear with a set of triangular pods housing the reversing lights and turn signals. They ruin the elegant and upscale look Kia is trying to go for. The Forte’s interior at first glance may look somewhat plain, with only a set of circular vents and a strip of faux metal trim running across the dash being the interesting bits. But Kia has done its homework in building a high-quality interior. Almost all of the plastics used are soft-touch and feature different textures to make the vehicle look and feel more expensive than the actual price. Clever touches such as dual-zone climate control being standard on all models and a two-tier bin allowing you and a passenger to place their phones also set the Forte apart. The EX features leatherette upholstery, a 10-way power seat for the driver, and heat/ventilation for those sitting up front. I found the seats to be very easy to find a comfortable position, along with providing excellent support for long trips. The back seat is mixed with a decent of legroom, but headroom being somewhat at a premium due to an optional sunroof for those above six-feet. All Fortes come with an 8-inch touchscreen as standard with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Navigation is only available on the EX if you order the Launch Edition package. The current incarnation of UVO is starting to look somewhat old in terms of the interface. It cannot be beaten for the overall ease of use with large touchpoints, simple menu layout, and physical shortcut buttons underneath the screen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is standard across the board. Power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine pumping out 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The base FE gets a six-speed manual, while higher trims use a CVT. The powertrain goes about its business surprisingly well around down with the engine providing decent pull and the CVT mimicking an automatic transmission. But this powertrain falters when you need to get up to speed quickly. The engine runs out of steam when going above 60 mph and there is a noticeable drone coming from the CVT. Fuel economy in the 2019 Kia Forte EX is rated at 30 City/40 Highway/34 Combined. My average for the week landed around 33. The Forte really shines when it comes to ride quality. Despite having a slightly stiffer ride compared to the last-generation model, the sedan glides over most bumps with no issue. Road and wind noise were about average for the class, and could easily be drowned out by turning up the volume slightly. Handling is about average for the class with a slight amount of body lean and steering providing decent weight. To sum up, the large effort Kia has put into the 2019 Forte shows. The combination of styling, a long list of features, balance between ride and handling, and a surprising base price make it a real threat in the compact car class. The only item that needs to be addressed is the engine - ten extra horsepower and torque could make the difference. How I would configure a 2019 Kia Forte While the EX Launch Edition does provide some desirable features such as adaptive cruise control, QI wireless charging, and a Harman/Kardon audio system, I would drop down to the mid-level S. At $20,290, you’re getting a lot of equipment such as 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and keyless entry. I would add the $1,200 S Premium Package to get LED headlights, automatic high beams, and a power sunroof. With destination, the price comes to $22,415. Alternatives to the 2019 Kia Forte Hyundai Elantra: Mechanically similar to the Forte, albeit with a face that will scare small kids. Two turbo engine options - one focused on the economy while the other is for sport - might be attractive to some. Honda Civic: Drives slightly better than the Forte and offers more body styles. But lower reliability scores and confounding infotainment systems may cause you to look elsewhere. Chevrolet Cruze: While it lacks a number of features found on the Forte, it does offer a slightly smoother and quieter ride. Plus, dealers are starting to push a lot of cash on the hoods to get them moving. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Forte, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Forte Trim: EX Engine: 2.0L Multi-Port DOHC Inline-Four Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 147 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 132 @ 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/40/34 Curb Weight: 2,903 lbs Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico Base Price: $21,990 As Tested Price: $26,220 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: EX Launch Edtion - $3,210.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00 View full article
  17. The Kia Forte could never claim to be the best compact car, but its low price and a long list of equipment made it an interesting alternative choice to the stalwarts of the compact class. This approach has worked well with the Forte becoming one of the brand’s best selling models. Kia wants to change the fortunes of the Forte with third-generation by not fully relying on price and value. I spent a week in the top-line EX Launch Edition to see how it fares. The new Mazda3 is considered by many to be the sexiest compact car on sale. Running a close second is the Forte. Elements of the Stinger are used throughout such as power bulge on the hood, headlights that extend into the fenders, and sculpting along the side. The only place where the design falters is in the rear with a set of triangular pods housing the reversing lights and turn signals. They ruin the elegant and upscale look Kia is trying to go for. The Forte’s interior at first glance may look somewhat plain, with only a set of circular vents and a strip of faux metal trim running across the dash being the interesting bits. But Kia has done its homework in building a high-quality interior. Almost all of the plastics used are soft-touch and feature different textures to make the vehicle look and feel more expensive than the actual price. Clever touches such as dual-zone climate control being standard on all models and a two-tier bin allowing you and a passenger to place their phones also set the Forte apart. The EX features leatherette upholstery, a 10-way power seat for the driver, and heat/ventilation for those sitting up front. I found the seats to be very easy to find a comfortable position, along with providing excellent support for long trips. The back seat is mixed with a decent of legroom, but headroom being somewhat at a premium due to an optional sunroof for those above six-feet. All Fortes come with an 8-inch touchscreen as standard with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Navigation is only available on the EX if you order the Launch Edition package. The current incarnation of UVO is starting to look somewhat old in terms of the interface. It cannot be beaten for the overall ease of use with large touchpoints, simple menu layout, and physical shortcut buttons underneath the screen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is standard across the board. Power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine pumping out 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The base FE gets a six-speed manual, while higher trims use a CVT. The powertrain goes about its business surprisingly well around down with the engine providing decent pull and the CVT mimicking an automatic transmission. But this powertrain falters when you need to get up to speed quickly. The engine runs out of steam when going above 60 mph and there is a noticeable drone coming from the CVT. Fuel economy in the 2019 Kia Forte EX is rated at 30 City/40 Highway/34 Combined. My average for the week landed around 33. The Forte really shines when it comes to ride quality. Despite having a slightly stiffer ride compared to the last-generation model, the sedan glides over most bumps with no issue. Road and wind noise were about average for the class, and could easily be drowned out by turning up the volume slightly. Handling is about average for the class with a slight amount of body lean and steering providing decent weight. To sum up, the large effort Kia has put into the 2019 Forte shows. The combination of styling, a long list of features, balance between ride and handling, and a surprising base price make it a real threat in the compact car class. The only item that needs to be addressed is the engine - ten extra horsepower and torque could make the difference. How I would configure a 2019 Kia Forte While the EX Launch Edition does provide some desirable features such as adaptive cruise control, QI wireless charging, and a Harman/Kardon audio system, I would drop down to the mid-level S. At $20,290, you’re getting a lot of equipment such as 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and keyless entry. I would add the $1,200 S Premium Package to get LED headlights, automatic high beams, and a power sunroof. With destination, the price comes to $22,415. Alternatives to the 2019 Kia Forte Hyundai Elantra: Mechanically similar to the Forte, albeit with a face that will scare small kids. Two turbo engine options - one focused on the economy while the other is for sport - might be attractive to some. Honda Civic: Drives slightly better than the Forte and offers more body styles. But lower reliability scores and confounding infotainment systems may cause you to look elsewhere. Chevrolet Cruze: While it lacks a number of features found on the Forte, it does offer a slightly smoother and quieter ride. Plus, dealers are starting to push a lot of cash on the hoods to get them moving. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Forte, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Kia Model: Forte Trim: EX Engine: 2.0L Multi-Port DOHC Inline-Four Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 147 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 132 @ 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/40/34 Curb Weight: 2,903 lbs Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico Base Price: $21,990 As Tested Price: $26,220 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: EX Launch Edtion - $3,210.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
  18. It feels weird to be writing a review of the previous-generation Mazda3 when the new model is currently sitting out front at dealers. But I find this situation to be unique because I had the chance to explore a 2019 Mazda3 to get some first impressions while working on a review of the 2018 model. This gives me a chance to compare the two in certain aspects, along with pondering the question of whether or not the previous model is still a good buy. Despite the new model taking the styling up another level, the outgoing model is still a looker. From the bold front end with a large grille and slightly angled headlights, to sculpting running along the sides, the 2018 3 still stands out in the compact crowd. The older design also allows for slightly better rear headroom and a larger area of glass for improved visibility. But the new 3 holds a significant edge over the old model when it comes to the interior. The modern design and use of high-quality materials really help boost Mazda’s ambitions of becoming something more premium. But the 2018 model I found to have a slightly easier center stack layout and more interior room. One item I didn’t get the chance to play within the 2019 Mazda3 is the infotainment system. Aside from boasting a larger screen, Mazda has also dropped the touchscreen functionality. The latter has been a big issue on some of the recent Mazda vehicles I have driven, including the 2018 3. It is difficult to figure out which parts of the screen are touch-enabled and which aren’t. The system is also beginning to show its age somewhat as the system showed some slowdown in certain areas such as connecting to my phone via Bluetooth. Under the hood of the 2018 model is either a 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder. My tester had the latter which produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. This engine can also be found under 2019 Mazda3, albeit slightly tweaked - 186 for both horsepower and torque. I find the Mazda3 to be the best application for the 2.5 engine. The lighter weight of the vehicle allows the 2.5 to provide a smooth and quick acceleration for most situations you find yourself in. However, the 2.5 feels like it is running out of breath when going above 70 mph, making passing and merging onto a highway slightly difficult. Where the 3 really shines is down a twisty road. Very few vehicles can match the sharp handling characteristics on offer. The suspension keeps the vehicle level when cornering and quickly respond to change in direction. Steering is quick and features a nice weight when turning. Ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of bumps coming inside. Some of this can be attributed to the 18-inch wheels fitted on my tester. Should you consider a 2018 Mazda3 when the bright and shiny 2019 3 is available now? I can only give a half-answer as I haven’t driven the 2019 model yet. But having sat in one, I can see why someone would consider it. The impressive design inside and out can make you believe you’re driving something from a luxury brand. The 2018 model still has some things going for it such as having slightly more interior space, similar fuel economy figures, and dealers beginning to lower prices on them to get them out. As I am writing this (May 5th), I have seen dealers in my local drop prices by $1,000 to $3,000 on 2018 models. Right now, I would be willing to pocket the extra cash and go with a 2018 Mazda3. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: 3 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/35/30 Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico Base Price: $24,945 As Tested Price: $28,035 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Equipment Package - $1,600.00 Soul Red Metallic Paint - $300.00 Scuff Plates/Door Sill Trim Plate - $125.00 Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00 View full article
  19. It feels weird to be writing a review of the previous-generation Mazda3 when the new model is currently sitting out front at dealers. But I find this situation to be unique because I had the chance to explore a 2019 Mazda3 to get some first impressions while working on a review of the 2018 model. This gives me a chance to compare the two in certain aspects, along with pondering the question of whether or not the previous model is still a good buy. Despite the new model taking the styling up another level, the outgoing model is still a looker. From the bold front end with a large grille and slightly angled headlights, to sculpting running along the sides, the 2018 3 still stands out in the compact crowd. The older design also allows for slightly better rear headroom and a larger area of glass for improved visibility. But the new 3 holds a significant edge over the old model when it comes to the interior. The modern design and use of high-quality materials really help boost Mazda’s ambitions of becoming something more premium. But the 2018 model I found to have a slightly easier center stack layout and more interior room. One item I didn’t get the chance to play within the 2019 Mazda3 is the infotainment system. Aside from boasting a larger screen, Mazda has also dropped the touchscreen functionality. The latter has been a big issue on some of the recent Mazda vehicles I have driven, including the 2018 3. It is difficult to figure out which parts of the screen are touch-enabled and which aren’t. The system is also beginning to show its age somewhat as the system showed some slowdown in certain areas such as connecting to my phone via Bluetooth. Under the hood of the 2018 model is either a 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder. My tester had the latter which produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. This engine can also be found under 2019 Mazda3, albeit slightly tweaked - 186 for both horsepower and torque. I find the Mazda3 to be the best application for the 2.5 engine. The lighter weight of the vehicle allows the 2.5 to provide a smooth and quick acceleration for most situations you find yourself in. However, the 2.5 feels like it is running out of breath when going above 70 mph, making passing and merging onto a highway slightly difficult. Where the 3 really shines is down a twisty road. Very few vehicles can match the sharp handling characteristics on offer. The suspension keeps the vehicle level when cornering and quickly respond to change in direction. Steering is quick and features a nice weight when turning. Ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of bumps coming inside. Some of this can be attributed to the 18-inch wheels fitted on my tester. Should you consider a 2018 Mazda3 when the bright and shiny 2019 3 is available now? I can only give a half-answer as I haven’t driven the 2019 model yet. But having sat in one, I can see why someone would consider it. The impressive design inside and out can make you believe you’re driving something from a luxury brand. The 2018 model still has some things going for it such as having slightly more interior space, similar fuel economy figures, and dealers beginning to lower prices on them to get them out. As I am writing this (May 5th), I have seen dealers in my local drop prices by $1,000 to $3,000 on 2018 models. Right now, I would be willing to pocket the extra cash and go with a 2018 Mazda3. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: 3 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/35/30 Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico Base Price: $24,945 As Tested Price: $28,035 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Equipment Package - $1,600.00 Soul Red Metallic Paint - $300.00 Scuff Plates/Door Sill Trim Plate - $125.00 Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00
  20. The Kia Stinger has been one of the most hotly anticipated vehicles in recent years. Here was a model that promised to rival models from luxury brands in terms styling, performance, and handling at a lower price. It felt like Kia was bitting off more they could chew, but I was willing to give it a chance. After spending a week in a Stinger GT1, I have to say it delivers on most of those promises. Depending on where you look at the Stinger, the impression will range from something quite beautiful to a bit of a mess. Straight on the front, the Stinger looks like something from an Italian or German automaker with a narrow front grille, distinctive cuts on for the bumper, and a slightly contoured hood. The back is neatly shaped with a rounded tailgate, taillights that run the length of the rear end, and quad exhaust pipes. But the Stinger’s design begins to lose some elegance when looked at from an angle. Take the rear as an example. The way Kia tries to bring the coupe-like roofline, bulging rear fenders, 19-inch wheels, and taillights that extend into the fenders ends up looking somewhat awkward. Color also plays a big role in making or breaking the Stinger’s look. In the case of my tester, the white does help minimize some of the polarizing parts of the vehicle. Going with red only emphasizes them and that will turn off some folks. Compared to the outgoing and expressive look of the exterior, the Stinger’s interior is quite disappointing. The minimalist approach Kia employs in the Stinger with minimal brightwork and narrow center stack doesn’t fully fit the exclusive image being presented outside. Not helping are some of the materials used in the Stinger. Considering that Kia is pitting this model against the likes of Audi and BMW, some of the plastics don’t match up to the image being portrayed. The front seats in the Stinger GT offer excellent back support, along with numerous power adjustments including side bolstering. I did wish the bottom cushion was slightly longer to allow for better thigh support. Those sitting in the back will find adequate legroom, but headroom is tight due to the sloping roofline. It was a bit disappointing that Kia doesn’t offer seat heaters for the rear, considering some of their other models like the Optima offer it. One place that the Stinger excels at is cargo space. Open the rear hatch and you’ll find 23.3 cubic feet of space. This expands to 40.9 when the rear seats are folded. Only the Buick Regal Sportback and BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe offer more space. The Stinger GT uses an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Kia’s UVO infotainment system. We have heaped much praise on UVO on the system being simple to use and offering a number of features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I don’t like the placement of touchscreen on top of the dash as it makes hard to reach. Kia should consider adding some sort of control knob on the center console to improve overall usability. GT models get a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. Our tester came with the optional all-wheel drive system. I have experienced this engine in Genesis G80 Sport and G90, and have raved about how it delivers ample power no matter the driving situation, along with minimal turbo lag. Those same traits continue in the Stinger GT as the engine moves the vehicle at a surprising rate. The eight-speed automatic transmission delivers rapid and smooth shifts. The big downside the twin-turbo V6 is fuel economy. EPA rates the Stinger GT at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined for both rear and all-wheel drive. My average for the week landed around 18.2 mpg partly due to me dipping a bit too much into the boost. Kia has been making a big deal about how the Stinger GT can rival competitors from other brands in terms of handling. They bring up how Albert Biermann, the former head at BMW’s M performance division, helped in the development of the chassis. Seems like a lot of talk, but the good news is that Kia has delivered. Down a winding road, the Stinger GT exhibits qualities seen on such vehicles like the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS 350 F-Sport with excellent body control and a willingness to quickly transition from one corner to another. Steering is where Kia could do some more work as it doesn’t quite have the same feel or weight as those models mentioned above. Ride quality is another area where Stinger GT is surprising. Despite the 19-inch wheels and sporty suspension setup, the Stinger GT provides a compliant ride with only large bumps making their way inside. Road noise is noticeable, due mostly to the summer tire and wheel setup on the vehicle. Wind noise was kept to very acceptable levels. The Kia Stinger seems to be similar in the overall idea as the K900 in serving as an attainable halo vehicle. While the K900 aimed at those wanting something along the lines of an S-Class or 7-Series, the Stinger GT serves those who something that can rival the likes the BMW 3/4-Series, Audi A4/A5, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class not only in terms of performance, but also in luxury. The end result is mixed. Kia has nailed down the performance and exterior styling, but the interior doesn’t fully match the ambitions being presented. Fuel economy could be slightly better. But the biggest problem for the Stinger GT is convincing buyers to spend almost $50,000 on a Kia. My GT1 AWD tester with a few options came to an as-tested price of $48,350. Telling someone you spent that much for a Kia sedan will raise some eyebrows. Despite how good the Stinger GT is to look at or drive, the Kia badge on the front will ultimately push most people away. If you’re part of a small group who could care less about what badge is fitted onto a vehicle, then you’ll find the Stinger GT is a very impressive package. Gallery: 2018 Kia Stinger GT1 AWD Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Stinger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Kia Model: Stinger Trim: GT1 AWD Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,023 lbs Location of Manufacture: Sohari, South Korea Base Price: $45,450 As Tested Price: $48,350 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Driver Assistance Package - $2,000 View full article
  21. I was a bit surprised when I got word that I would be spending a few days with a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross only a few weeks after doing a brief first drive. As I noted in my report, I came away pretty impressed with certain aspects of this latest contender in the compact crossover class. But there were some items that I needed more time to mess around with such as the infotainment system and powertrain. With a bit more time behind the wheel, how would Mitsubishi’s newest model fare? As I talked about in my quick first drive, Mitsubishi’s design staff went crazy with the Eclipse Cross. Sharp angles, a split shape for the tailgate, and aggressive front end treatment will draw a lot of comment. But credit should be given to the design team as they have created something that does stand out in a very crowded class. The polarizing design can be toned down a lot if you choose a different color than the red as seen on my tester. Sadly, that polarizing design doesn’t carry into the interior. But the plain look does allow for most controls to be easy to find and reach. Only the placement of the trip computer controls (behind the steering wheel) and climate control (nestled deep in the center stack) will invoke some frustration. Mitsubishi has also made some noticeable improvements to overall interior quality. There are higher quality hard plastics and some soft-touch materials used throughout. Also, there were no glaring build quality concerns that I noticed in the Outlander Sport. The front seats provide decent support for short trips, but I was wishing for more padding after doing a day trip to Ohio. The sloping roofline and large sunroof will eat into rear headroom, but legroom is decent for most passengers. Cargo space is on the low side with 22.6 cubic feet with the seats up and 48.9 cubic feet when folded. The sloping tailgate design does also mean you’ll need to plan carefully as to how you plan on loading cargo. Mitsubishi equips all Eclipse Cross models with a seven-inch touchscreen, but only the LE and above get a free-standing version with a touchpad controller. The touchpad controller reminds a lot of the Lexus’ Remote Touch system and its issues. Both systems exhibit some slowness to respond when your finger is moving across the pad. At least the Mitsubishi system has a touchscreen as another input method, but you’ll be stretching your arm to use it. The graphics and overall performance do trail competitors, but it is a huge step forward when compared to the previous systems Mitsubishi has installed. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are standard on LE models and above. A new turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder powers the Eclipse Cross. Output is rated at 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. All models come with a CVT and the choice of either front or Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel-Control (S-AWC). During my first drive, I came away mostly impressed with the turbo-four as it moved the vehicle with subtle verve around town. This still held true during my time with the vehicle. But I did find the engine runs out of steam at higher speeds, making it somewhat difficult to pass quickly when traveling on the highway. Also, the engine does sound somewhat unrefined in hard acceleration. The CVT is similar; providing excellent performance around town, but noticeably struggles on the highway. EPA fuel economy on the Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC is 25 City/26 Highway/25 Combined. My average for the five-day period I had the vehicle landed around 27.2 on a 70/30 mix of highway and city driving. Despite the Eclipse name on the vehicle, this is not a sporty crossover. There is pronounced body lean and the steering feels noticeably light. But for most buyers, this is not a big issue. They’re more concerned about how the Eclipse Cross rides and the news is better. The suspension does a great job of absorbing most bumps. Wind noise is kept to very acceptable levels, but there was a fair amount of road noise coming inside - especially when traveling on the highway. This makes long trips somewhat tiring. While many enthusiasts may bemoan the fact that Mitsubishi is using the Eclipse name on a crossover, I’ll be the first to admit this is their best vehicle in quite some time. The design and turbo engine help the model stand out in what is becoming a quite crowded class. Plus, the starting price of $23,295 for the base ES makes it quite tempting. Still, the Eclipse Cross does trail the pack in terms of comfort, cargo space, and performance at higher speeds. There is room for improvement, but Mitsubishi has most of the basics right on the money. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Eclipse Cross, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Eclipse Cross Trim: SEL S-AWC Engine: Turbocharged 1.5L Direct-Injected Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 152 @ 5,550 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/26/25 Curb Weight: 3,516 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $27,895 As Tested Price: $32,310 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Touring Package - $2,500.00 Red Diamond Paint - $595.00 Accessory Tonneau Cover - $190.00 Accessory Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio - $135.00 View full article
  22. I was a bit surprised when I got word that I would be spending a few days with a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross only a few weeks after doing a brief first drive. As I noted in my report, I came away pretty impressed with certain aspects of this latest contender in the compact crossover class. But there were some items that I needed more time to mess around with such as the infotainment system and powertrain. With a bit more time behind the wheel, how would Mitsubishi’s newest model fare? As I talked about in my quick first drive, Mitsubishi’s design staff went crazy with the Eclipse Cross. Sharp angles, a split shape for the tailgate, and aggressive front end treatment will draw a lot of comment. But credit should be given to the design team as they have created something that does stand out in a very crowded class. The polarizing design can be toned down a lot if you choose a different color than the red as seen on my tester. Sadly, that polarizing design doesn’t carry into the interior. But the plain look does allow for most controls to be easy to find and reach. Only the placement of the trip computer controls (behind the steering wheel) and climate control (nestled deep in the center stack) will invoke some frustration. Mitsubishi has also made some noticeable improvements to overall interior quality. There are higher quality hard plastics and some soft-touch materials used throughout. Also, there were no glaring build quality concerns that I noticed in the Outlander Sport. The front seats provide decent support for short trips, but I was wishing for more padding after doing a day trip to Ohio. The sloping roofline and large sunroof will eat into rear headroom, but legroom is decent for most passengers. Cargo space is on the low side with 22.6 cubic feet with the seats up and 48.9 cubic feet when folded. The sloping tailgate design does also mean you’ll need to plan carefully as to how you plan on loading cargo. Mitsubishi equips all Eclipse Cross models with a seven-inch touchscreen, but only the LE and above get a free-standing version with a touchpad controller. The touchpad controller reminds a lot of the Lexus’ Remote Touch system and its issues. Both systems exhibit some slowness to respond when your finger is moving across the pad. At least the Mitsubishi system has a touchscreen as another input method, but you’ll be stretching your arm to use it. The graphics and overall performance do trail competitors, but it is a huge step forward when compared to the previous systems Mitsubishi has installed. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are standard on LE models and above. A new turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder powers the Eclipse Cross. Output is rated at 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. All models come with a CVT and the choice of either front or Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel-Control (S-AWC). During my first drive, I came away mostly impressed with the turbo-four as it moved the vehicle with subtle verve around town. This still held true during my time with the vehicle. But I did find the engine runs out of steam at higher speeds, making it somewhat difficult to pass quickly when traveling on the highway. Also, the engine does sound somewhat unrefined in hard acceleration. The CVT is similar; providing excellent performance around town, but noticeably struggles on the highway. EPA fuel economy on the Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC is 25 City/26 Highway/25 Combined. My average for the five-day period I had the vehicle landed around 27.2 on a 70/30 mix of highway and city driving. Despite the Eclipse name on the vehicle, this is not a sporty crossover. There is pronounced body lean and the steering feels noticeably light. But for most buyers, this is not a big issue. They’re more concerned about how the Eclipse Cross rides and the news is better. The suspension does a great job of absorbing most bumps. Wind noise is kept to very acceptable levels, but there was a fair amount of road noise coming inside - especially when traveling on the highway. This makes long trips somewhat tiring. While many enthusiasts may bemoan the fact that Mitsubishi is using the Eclipse name on a crossover, I’ll be the first to admit this is their best vehicle in quite some time. The design and turbo engine help the model stand out in what is becoming a quite crowded class. Plus, the starting price of $23,295 for the base ES makes it quite tempting. Still, the Eclipse Cross does trail the pack in terms of comfort, cargo space, and performance at higher speeds. There is room for improvement, but Mitsubishi has most of the basics right on the money. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Eclipse Cross, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Eclipse Cross Trim: SEL S-AWC Engine: Turbocharged 1.5L Direct-Injected Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 152 @ 5,550 Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/26/25 Curb Weight: 3,516 lbs Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $27,895 As Tested Price: $32,310 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Touring Package - $2,500.00 Red Diamond Paint - $595.00 Accessory Tonneau Cover - $190.00 Accessory Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio - $135.00
  23. The Kia Stinger has been one of the most hotly anticipated vehicles in recent years. Here was a model that promised to rival models from luxury brands in terms styling, performance, and handling at a lower price. It felt like Kia was bitting off more they could chew, but I was willing to give it a chance. After spending a week in a Stinger GT1, I have to say it delivers on most of those promises. Depending on where you look at the Stinger, the impression will range from something quite beautiful to a bit of a mess. Straight on the front, the Stinger looks like something from an Italian or German automaker with a narrow front grille, distinctive cuts on for the bumper, and a slightly contoured hood. The back is neatly shaped with a rounded tailgate, taillights that run the length of the rear end, and quad exhaust pipes. But the Stinger’s design begins to lose some elegance when looked at from an angle. Take the rear as an example. The way Kia tries to bring the coupe-like roofline, bulging rear fenders, 19-inch wheels, and taillights that extend into the fenders ends up looking somewhat awkward. Color also plays a big role in making or breaking the Stinger’s look. In the case of my tester, the white does help minimize some of the polarizing parts of the vehicle. Going with red only emphasizes them and that will turn off some folks. Compared to the outgoing and expressive look of the exterior, the Stinger’s interior is quite disappointing. The minimalist approach Kia employs in the Stinger with minimal brightwork and narrow center stack doesn’t fully fit the exclusive image being presented outside. Not helping are some of the materials used in the Stinger. Considering that Kia is pitting this model against the likes of Audi and BMW, some of the plastics don’t match up to the image being portrayed. The front seats in the Stinger GT offer excellent back support, along with numerous power adjustments including side bolstering. I did wish the bottom cushion was slightly longer to allow for better thigh support. Those sitting in the back will find adequate legroom, but headroom is tight due to the sloping roofline. It was a bit disappointing that Kia doesn’t offer seat heaters for the rear, considering some of their other models like the Optima offer it. One place that the Stinger excels at is cargo space. Open the rear hatch and you’ll find 23.3 cubic feet of space. This expands to 40.9 when the rear seats are folded. Only the Buick Regal Sportback and BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe offer more space. The Stinger GT uses an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Kia’s UVO infotainment system. We have heaped much praise on UVO on the system being simple to use and offering a number of features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I don’t like the placement of touchscreen on top of the dash as it makes hard to reach. Kia should consider adding some sort of control knob on the center console to improve overall usability. GT models get a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. Our tester came with the optional all-wheel drive system. I have experienced this engine in Genesis G80 Sport and G90, and have raved about how it delivers ample power no matter the driving situation, along with minimal turbo lag. Those same traits continue in the Stinger GT as the engine moves the vehicle at a surprising rate. The eight-speed automatic transmission delivers rapid and smooth shifts. The big downside the twin-turbo V6 is fuel economy. EPA rates the Stinger GT at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined for both rear and all-wheel drive. My average for the week landed around 18.2 mpg partly due to me dipping a bit too much into the boost. Kia has been making a big deal about how the Stinger GT can rival competitors from other brands in terms of handling. They bring up how Albert Biermann, the former head at BMW’s M performance division, helped in the development of the chassis. Seems like a lot of talk, but the good news is that Kia has delivered. Down a winding road, the Stinger GT exhibits qualities seen on such vehicles like the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS 350 F-Sport with excellent body control and a willingness to quickly transition from one corner to another. Steering is where Kia could do some more work as it doesn’t quite have the same feel or weight as those models mentioned above. Ride quality is another area where Stinger GT is surprising. Despite the 19-inch wheels and sporty suspension setup, the Stinger GT provides a compliant ride with only large bumps making their way inside. Road noise is noticeable, due mostly to the summer tire and wheel setup on the vehicle. Wind noise was kept to very acceptable levels. The Kia Stinger seems to be similar in the overall idea as the K900 in serving as an attainable halo vehicle. While the K900 aimed at those wanting something along the lines of an S-Class or 7-Series, the Stinger GT serves those who something that can rival the likes the BMW 3/4-Series, Audi A4/A5, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class not only in terms of performance, but also in luxury. The end result is mixed. Kia has nailed down the performance and exterior styling, but the interior doesn’t fully match the ambitions being presented. Fuel economy could be slightly better. But the biggest problem for the Stinger GT is convincing buyers to spend almost $50,000 on a Kia. My GT1 AWD tester with a few options came to an as-tested price of $48,350. Telling someone you spent that much for a Kia sedan will raise some eyebrows. Despite how good the Stinger GT is to look at or drive, the Kia badge on the front will ultimately push most people away. If you’re part of a small group who could care less about what badge is fitted onto a vehicle, then you’ll find the Stinger GT is a very impressive package. Gallery: 2018 Kia Stinger GT1 AWD Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Stinger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Kia Model: Stinger Trim: GT1 AWD Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,023 lbs Location of Manufacture: Sohari, South Korea Base Price: $45,450 As Tested Price: $48,350 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Driver Assistance Package - $2,000
  24. "I love it when a plan comes together." Hannibal from the A-Team. I wasn't expecting to get back into a review vehicle for some time as the Detroit Auto Show tends to reduce the number of vehicles available - they're reserved for those coming out-of-state and OEM representatives. I thought next month is when I would begin my rotation once again. But a surprise email this morning from General Motors asking if I was able to take a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado today. Of course! This particular Silverado is an LT Trail Boss Crew Cab with the 5.3L V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. Base is $48,300 and my as-tested price comes to $55,965 with a few option packages like the Convenience package (front bucket seats, dual-zone climate control, and heated steering wheel). First Impressions? Even though it may appear the truck is black, it is actually painted a dark blue (blame my iPhone). Even though I'm not sold on the design on the Silverado as a whole, the Trail Boss make it look aggressive. Interior looks a rehash of the one seen in the previous Silverado. Material quality is better, but I was kind of hoping more in terms of design. 5.3L V8 doesn't feel muzzled when leaving a stop or needing to accelerate quickly - THANK YOU GM! Haven't quite figured out how to open the power tailgate. Spent a few moments just pressing the button and not having the tailgate come down. Need to some reading in the owners manual. I'll be trying my best to update this piece with other observations and impressions throughout the week. You can also drop some questions below if you want to something about the truck. Gallery: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss Crew Cab
  25. "I love it when a plan comes together." Hannibal from the A-Team. I wasn't expecting to get back into a review vehicle for some time as the Detroit Auto Show tends to reduce the number of vehicles available - they're reserved for those coming out-of-state and OEM representatives. I thought next month is when I would begin my rotation once again. But a surprise email this morning from General Motors asking if I was able to take a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado today. Of course! This particular Silverado is an LT Trail Boss Crew Cab with the 5.3L V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. Base is $48,300 and my as-tested price comes to $55,965 with a few option packages like the Convenience package (front bucket seats, dual-zone climate control, and heated steering wheel). First Impressions? Even though it may appear the truck is black, it is actually painted a dark blue (blame my iPhone). Even though I'm not sold on the design on the Silverado as a whole, the Trail Boss make it look aggressive. Interior looks a rehash of the one seen in the previous Silverado. Material quality is better, but I was kind of hoping more in terms of design. 5.3L V8 doesn't feel muzzled when leaving a stop or needing to accelerate quickly - THANK YOU GM! Haven't quite figured out how to open the power tailgate. Spent a few moments just pressing the button and not having the tailgate come down. Need to some reading in the owners manual. I'll be trying my best to update this piece with other observations and impressions throughout the week. You can also drop some questions below if you want to something about the truck. Gallery: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss Crew Cab View full article

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