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  1. I’ve driven my fair share of Challengers on both extremes - from the standard V6 to the high-performance SRT and Hellcat models. But I never had any time behind the wheel of the R/T with its 5.7 V8. That changed in the summer when a bright orange Charger R/T Shaker was dropped off for a week. This allowed me to ask a question that has been sitting in my head for some time: Is the R/T the best bang for your buck in the Challenger family? The Shaker sets itself apart from other Challenger models with the use of a ‘Shaker’ scoop that prominently pops up from the hood. There is also a blackout treatment on several trim pieces and wheels that make it look even more imposing on the road. Along with the scoop, the Shaker package does add a new cold-air intake seated right in front of the driver’s side corner. This addition should boost the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8 (372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque when paired with the eight-speed automatic. But FCA’s spec sheet doesn’t say anything about the Shaker Package adding more oomph or not. When you first start up the R/T Shaker, it makes presence known with a deep and loud exhaust note. I had to do a double-take the first time as I was wondering if I was given either an R/T Scat Pack or a Hellcat by mistake. While it may lack the high power numbers of the 6.4 and supercharged 6.2 V8s, the 5.7 is no slouch. 60 mph comes in at just over five seconds and power is seemingly available at any speed. My tester came with the optional Performance Handling Group that adds upgraded springs, sway bars, and a set of Bilstein shocks. This does improve the handling by a fair amount with less body roll. But it doesn’t feel nimble due to a curb weight of around 4,158 pounds. The steering has a quick response, but there is a noticeable lack of road feedback. If you want your muscle car to have some handling, consider the Camaro or Mustang. Nothing new to report on the Challenger’s interior. It still has the angled center stack, retro-inspired gauges, and easy to use UConnect infotainment system. The seats are where the Challenger loses some points as it feels like you’re sitting on top of cinderblocks. The Shaker package is surprisingly good value, adding $2,500 to the base price of the R/T which begins at $34,295. But you’ll need to be careful on the option sheet, or you’ll end up with something quite expensive. My tester came with an as-tested price of $46,555, which is $300 more than an R/T Scat Pack Widebody with the 6.4 HEMI V8. The Dodge Challenger is getting up there in age and sadly cannot compete with the likes of the Camaro and Mustang in terms of handling. But Dodge is still able to offer a lot of performance in the form of the R/T. With a potent V8 engine, old school styling, and different packages like the Shaker to make your Challenger stand out, the R/T is possibly the best value and well-rounded model in the lineup. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Dodge Model: Challenger Trim: R/T Engine: 5.7 HEMI VVT V8 Engine Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 372 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19 Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $34,295 As Tested Price: $46,555 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge) Options: "Shaker" Package - $2,500.00 TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,595.00 Performance Handling Group - $1,495.00 Driver Convenience Group - $1,295.00 Power Sunroof - $1,295.00 UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display - $1,095.00 Alpine Sound Group with Subwoofer - $995.00 Shakedown Graphics - $495.00 View full article
  2. I’ve driven my fair share of Challengers on both extremes - from the standard V6 to the high-performance SRT and Hellcat models. But I never had any time behind the wheel of the R/T with its 5.7 V8. That changed in the summer when a bright orange Charger R/T Shaker was dropped off for a week. This allowed me to ask a question that has been sitting in my head for some time: Is the R/T the best bang for your buck in the Challenger family? The Shaker sets itself apart from other Challenger models with the use of a ‘Shaker’ scoop that prominently pops up from the hood. There is also a blackout treatment on several trim pieces and wheels that make it look even more imposing on the road. Along with the scoop, the Shaker package does add a new cold-air intake seated right in front of the driver’s side corner. This addition should boost the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8 (372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque when paired with the eight-speed automatic. But FCA’s spec sheet doesn’t say anything about the Shaker Package adding more oomph or not. When you first start up the R/T Shaker, it makes presence known with a deep and loud exhaust note. I had to do a double-take the first time as I was wondering if I was given either an R/T Scat Pack or a Hellcat by mistake. While it may lack the high power numbers of the 6.4 and supercharged 6.2 V8s, the 5.7 is no slouch. 60 mph comes in at just over five seconds and power is seemingly available at any speed. My tester came with the optional Performance Handling Group that adds upgraded springs, sway bars, and a set of Bilstein shocks. This does improve the handling by a fair amount with less body roll. But it doesn’t feel nimble due to a curb weight of around 4,158 pounds. The steering has a quick response, but there is a noticeable lack of road feedback. If you want your muscle car to have some handling, consider the Camaro or Mustang. Nothing new to report on the Challenger’s interior. It still has the angled center stack, retro-inspired gauges, and easy to use UConnect infotainment system. The seats are where the Challenger loses some points as it feels like you’re sitting on top of cinderblocks. The Shaker package is surprisingly good value, adding $2,500 to the base price of the R/T which begins at $34,295. But you’ll need to be careful on the option sheet, or you’ll end up with something quite expensive. My tester came with an as-tested price of $46,555, which is $300 more than an R/T Scat Pack Widebody with the 6.4 HEMI V8. The Dodge Challenger is getting up there in age and sadly cannot compete with the likes of the Camaro and Mustang in terms of handling. But Dodge is still able to offer a lot of performance in the form of the R/T. With a potent V8 engine, old school styling, and different packages like the Shaker to make your Challenger stand out, the R/T is possibly the best value and well-rounded model in the lineup. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Dodge Model: Challenger Trim: R/T Engine: 5.7 HEMI VVT V8 Engine Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 372 @ 5,200 Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19 Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario Base Price: $34,295 As Tested Price: $46,555 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge) Options: "Shaker" Package - $2,500.00 TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,595.00 Performance Handling Group - $1,495.00 Driver Convenience Group - $1,295.00 Power Sunroof - $1,295.00 UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display - $1,095.00 Alpine Sound Group with Subwoofer - $995.00 Shakedown Graphics - $495.00
  3. The CX-30 certainly takes the cake for being visually distinctive. The flowing lines, taut proportions, and certain design traits like the narrow headlights make for an expressive model. There is a major downside to the CX-30's design; outward visibility. Due to the low roofline and thick c-pillars, rear visibility can be best described as looking out of a mailbox slot. Thankfully, all CX-30s get a backup camera, and Premium models and above get blind-spot monitoring. Inside, Mazda may have crafted the best interior for the subcompact crossover class. It is a simple design, but the use of premium materials helps elevate it. The positioning of the various controls also deserves praise as they are within easy reach. An 8.8-inch screen running Mazda's new infotainment system is standard on all models. Unlike the previous system where you had the choice of using either a touchscreen or control knob, Mazda has decided to only use the knob. This decision does mean doing various tasks will take a few extra steps. But I didn't mind so much as the interface is easy to navigate. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. While those sitting in the front will find plenty of space to find that comfortable position, those in the back will not be so lucky. Head and legroom is tight for most people. Cargo space is about average for the class, measuring 20.2 cubic feet. Most CX-30s will come equipped with 2.5L four-cylinder producing 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and in my tester, all-wheel drive. Those looking for more power can step up to the turbocharged version with 250 hp. The base engine is perfectly suited for most driving situations with power being available when needed. The six-speed automatic is very smart and knows when to up or downshift depending on the situation. My only issue is that I wished Mazda did a little bit more work on the engine's NVH levels. Found it to be somewhat high during moderate to hard acceleration. Fuel economy for the CX-30 AWD is rated at 24 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the landed at just over 28 MPG. For driving enjoyment, the CX-30 cannot be beaten. Minimal body roll and sharp steering will make anyone grin on a winding road. The downside to the fun driving is a stiff ride. Over various bumps and potholes, the CX-30's suspension isn't fully able to cope with minimizing the impacts. The CX-30 is slightly more expensive than other models in the class with a starting price of $23,225 for a base front-wheel drive model. But you do a lot of standard equipment such as LED lighting, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and rain-sensing wipers. My Premium AWD tester comes in at $31,700 with the destination charge. Again, a bit expensive, but Mazda does include a lot of features for the money. The Premium gets a heads-up display, adaptive front lights, leather seats, 12-speaker Bose audio system, and a power liftgate. When my week with the CX-30 was coming to a close, I found myself feeling very split. On one hand, the CX-30 has a design that stands out, impressive handling, and an interior that makes it feel more expensive than it is. But the poor rear visibility, firm ride, and high price put it right in the mid-pack of a growing and competitive segment. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-30, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2021 Make: Mazda Model: CX-30 Trim: Premium AWD Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-valve Skyactiv-G four-cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 186 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 186 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,388 lbs Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico Base Price: $29,950 As Tested Price: $31,700 (Includes $1,100.00 Destination Charge) Options: Frameless Auto-dim Mirror w/Homelink - $375.00 Cargo Cover - $150.00 Floor Mats, All-Weather - $125.00 View full article
  4. The CX-30 certainly takes the cake for being visually distinctive. The flowing lines, taut proportions, and certain design traits like the narrow headlights make for an expressive model. There is a major downside to the CX-30's design; outward visibility. Due to the low roofline and thick c-pillars, rear visibility can be best described as looking out of a mailbox slot. Thankfully, all CX-30s get a backup camera, and Premium models and above get blind-spot monitoring. Inside, Mazda may have crafted the best interior for the subcompact crossover class. It is a simple design, but the use of premium materials helps elevate it. The positioning of the various controls also deserves praise as they are within easy reach. An 8.8-inch screen running Mazda's new infotainment system is standard on all models. Unlike the previous system where you had the choice of using either a touchscreen or control knob, Mazda has decided to only use the knob. This decision does mean doing various tasks will take a few extra steps. But I didn't mind so much as the interface is easy to navigate. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. While those sitting in the front will find plenty of space to find that comfortable position, those in the back will not be so lucky. Head and legroom is tight for most people. Cargo space is about average for the class, measuring 20.2 cubic feet. Most CX-30s will come equipped with 2.5L four-cylinder producing 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and in my tester, all-wheel drive. Those looking for more power can step up to the turbocharged version with 250 hp. The base engine is perfectly suited for most driving situations with power being available when needed. The six-speed automatic is very smart and knows when to up or downshift depending on the situation. My only issue is that I wished Mazda did a little bit more work on the engine's NVH levels. Found it to be somewhat high during moderate to hard acceleration. Fuel economy for the CX-30 AWD is rated at 24 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the landed at just over 28 MPG. For driving enjoyment, the CX-30 cannot be beaten. Minimal body roll and sharp steering will make anyone grin on a winding road. The downside to the fun driving is a stiff ride. Over various bumps and potholes, the CX-30's suspension isn't fully able to cope with minimizing the impacts. The CX-30 is slightly more expensive than other models in the class with a starting price of $23,225 for a base front-wheel drive model. But you do a lot of standard equipment such as LED lighting, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and rain-sensing wipers. My Premium AWD tester comes in at $31,700 with the destination charge. Again, a bit expensive, but Mazda does include a lot of features for the money. The Premium gets a heads-up display, adaptive front lights, leather seats, 12-speaker Bose audio system, and a power liftgate. When my week with the CX-30 was coming to a close, I found myself feeling very split. On one hand, the CX-30 has a design that stands out, impressive handling, and an interior that makes it feel more expensive than it is. But the poor rear visibility, firm ride, and high price put it right in the mid-pack of a growing and competitive segment. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-30, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2021 Make: Mazda Model: CX-30 Trim: Premium AWD Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-valve Skyactiv-G four-cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 186 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 186 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,388 lbs Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico Base Price: $29,950 As Tested Price: $31,700 (Includes $1,100.00 Destination Charge) Options: Frameless Auto-dim Mirror w/Homelink - $375.00 Cargo Cover - $150.00 Floor Mats, All-Weather - $125.00
  5. Even though this shape has been around for a few years, the XC90 still looks very fresh. The minimalist boxy profile proudly shows off the various design traits such as the "Thor Hammer" headlights, slightly altered grille, and large wheels for the Inscription model. This was the first Volvo model where I felt slightly disappointed with the interior. Not because of the material choice or design, but rather the color. The black leather and dark trim make the interior feel cheap, not something you want in an SUV costing over $90,000. A colleague of mine had a similar XC90, but with a light beige color which makes the vehicle feel luxurious. Aside from this, the XC90 follows other Volvo's in terms of comfort. The front and second-row seats provide are very supportive on any trip. Head and legroom is plentiful for most passengers sitting in the second-row. The third-row is best reserved for either small kids or emergencies. My particular XC90 came with the T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain. It's comprised of the 2.0L twin-charged (turbo and supercharged) four-cylinder and two electric motors. Total output is rated at 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. For a model that tips the scales at over 5,000 lbs, the T8 powertrain shrugs it off. When both powertrains are activated, the XC90 moves like a rocket. Making any sort of pass or merging is no problem. The electric-only range is slightly disappointing with the EPA rating it at 18 miles. For comparison, Lincoln's Aviator PHEV gets 21 miles per charge. During my week, I was able to eke out 21 miles in mostly city and some rural driving. Recharging on 110V took around 8 to 10 hours with the battery fully depleted. Getting a 220V charger drops the charging time to around 2.5 hours. In terms of fuel economy, the XC90 T8 is rated at 55 MPGe with both powertrains, and 27 MPG with the gas engine alone. My average for the week landed around 43. The XC90 surprised me in terms of handling. I was expecting a fair amount of body roll and feeling a bit overwhelmed. But it felt alright on a winding road with minimal roll. Credit the optional four-corner air suspension which also does an amazing job with smoothing out various ruts and bumps. I came away somewhat impressed with the XC90. The T8 powertrain is the star of this vehicle as it moves this SUV like it weighs nothing, and returns decent fuel economy figures. The exterior still looks fresh and the ride/handling is impressive if you order the optional air suspension. Where the XC90 falters is in electric-only range; the interior feeling quite drab when getting a dark color; and the price tag. Volvo V90 Inscription Take the V60 and add a few more inches in length, and you have the V90. The clean and smoothed-over boxy shape is still one of the best-looking shapes in a very small field of wagons. Inside, the V90 is the pinnacle of luxury. My tester was the Inscription which included Nappa leather for the seats and wood trim. Unlike the XC90, the V90 came with a light color for the interior which made it feel more expensive. Most passengers will not complain about the V90's space or comfort. No matter where you find yourself sitting, there is more than enough head and legroom. Cargo space is also plentiful with 33.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 59.3 when folded down. For powertrains, the V90 is only available with the T5 (turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder) or T6 (twin-charged 2.0L four-cylinder). My tester came with the latter, which also adds all-wheel drive. Like other Volvos I have sampled with this engine, the T6 is quite potent. No matter the driving situation, the twin-charged setup can get up to speed in no time. EPA rates the V90 T6 at 21 City/32 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed slightly below the combined figure at 25. The V90 makes no pretensions of being sporty with steering feeling very light. Body roll is kept under control, but that's due to the optional air suspension fitted to this vehicle. Ride comfort is top notch with barely a bump or road imperfection making its way inside. Complaints? I do wish for more physical controls with the Volvo Sensus infotainment system. It would make doing certain tasks such as changing the fan speed or turning the heated/ventilated front seats on or off much easier. The V90 is an excellent alternative to crossovers as it offers practicality and space, but with better fuel economy and handling. But I have some bad news concerning the V90. Volvo announced earlier this year that 2021 will be the last year for this model in U.S. Despite being only available via special order from a dealer, sales were dismal - 153 units sold through the first half of this year. I can understand why Volvo is pulling the V90 from the U.S., but it is a shame. At least the Cross Country model will still be around. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Volvo Model: XC90 Trim: T8 Inscription Engine: Twin-Charged 2.0L DOHC 16-valve Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor on Rear Axle Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 314 @ 5,700 (gas engine); 87 @ 0 (electric motor); 400 (combined) Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 2,200 (gas), 177 @ 0 (electric); 472 (combined) Fuel Economy: MPGe Combined/Gas Combined - 55/27 Curb Weight: 5,142 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden Base Price: $74,795 As Tested Price: $86,790 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $3,200.00 Luxury Package - $3,100.00 Advanced Package - $2,450.00 4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,800.00 21" 8-Multi Spoke Wheels - $800.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00 Year: 2021 Make: Volvo Model: V90 Trim: T6 Inscription Engine: Twin-Charged 2.0L DOHC 16-valve Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 316 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 2,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/32/25 Curb Weight: 4,291 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden Base Price: $57,780 As Tested Price: $67,740 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $3,200.00 Advanced Package - $1,500.00 4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,200.00 21" 8-Multi Spoke Wheels - $800.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00 Massage in Front Seat - $500.00 Air Quality with Advanced Air Cleaner - $250.00 View full article
  6. Even though this shape has been around for a few years, the XC90 still looks very fresh. The minimalist boxy profile proudly shows off the various design traits such as the "Thor Hammer" headlights, slightly altered grille, and large wheels for the Inscription model. This was the first Volvo model where I felt slightly disappointed with the interior. Not because of the material choice or design, but rather the color. The black leather and dark trim make the interior feel cheap, not something you want in an SUV costing over $90,000. A colleague of mine had a similar XC90, but with a light beige color which makes the vehicle feel luxurious. Aside from this, the XC90 follows other Volvo's in terms of comfort. The front and second-row seats provide are very supportive on any trip. Head and legroom is plentiful for most passengers sitting in the second-row. The third-row is best reserved for either small kids or emergencies. My particular XC90 came with the T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain. It's comprised of the 2.0L twin-charged (turbo and supercharged) four-cylinder and two electric motors. Total output is rated at 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. For a model that tips the scales at over 5,000 lbs, the T8 powertrain shrugs it off. When both powertrains are activated, the XC90 moves like a rocket. Making any sort of pass or merging is no problem. The electric-only range is slightly disappointing with the EPA rating it at 18 miles. For comparison, Lincoln's Aviator PHEV gets 21 miles per charge. During my week, I was able to eke out 21 miles in mostly city and some rural driving. Recharging on 110V took around 8 to 10 hours with the battery fully depleted. Getting a 220V charger drops the charging time to around 2.5 hours. In terms of fuel economy, the XC90 T8 is rated at 55 MPGe with both powertrains, and 27 MPG with the gas engine alone. My average for the week landed around 43. The XC90 surprised me in terms of handling. I was expecting a fair amount of body roll and feeling a bit overwhelmed. But it felt alright on a winding road with minimal roll. Credit the optional four-corner air suspension which also does an amazing job with smoothing out various ruts and bumps. I came away somewhat impressed with the XC90. The T8 powertrain is the star of this vehicle as it moves this SUV like it weighs nothing, and returns decent fuel economy figures. The exterior still looks fresh and the ride/handling is impressive if you order the optional air suspension. Where the XC90 falters is in electric-only range; the interior feeling quite drab when getting a dark color; and the price tag. Volvo V90 Inscription Take the V60 and add a few more inches in length, and you have the V90. The clean and smoothed-over boxy shape is still one of the best-looking shapes in a very small field of wagons. Inside, the V90 is the pinnacle of luxury. My tester was the Inscription which included Nappa leather for the seats and wood trim. Unlike the XC90, the V90 came with a light color for the interior which made it feel more expensive. Most passengers will not complain about the V90's space or comfort. No matter where you find yourself sitting, there is more than enough head and legroom. Cargo space is also plentiful with 33.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 59.3 when folded down. For powertrains, the V90 is only available with the T5 (turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder) or T6 (twin-charged 2.0L four-cylinder). My tester came with the latter, which also adds all-wheel drive. Like other Volvos I have sampled with this engine, the T6 is quite potent. No matter the driving situation, the twin-charged setup can get up to speed in no time. EPA rates the V90 T6 at 21 City/32 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed slightly below the combined figure at 25. The V90 makes no pretensions of being sporty with steering feeling very light. Body roll is kept under control, but that's due to the optional air suspension fitted to this vehicle. Ride comfort is top notch with barely a bump or road imperfection making its way inside. Complaints? I do wish for more physical controls with the Volvo Sensus infotainment system. It would make doing certain tasks such as changing the fan speed or turning the heated/ventilated front seats on or off much easier. The V90 is an excellent alternative to crossovers as it offers practicality and space, but with better fuel economy and handling. But I have some bad news concerning the V90. Volvo announced earlier this year that 2021 will be the last year for this model in U.S. Despite being only available via special order from a dealer, sales were dismal - 153 units sold through the first half of this year. I can understand why Volvo is pulling the V90 from the U.S., but it is a shame. At least the Cross Country model will still be around. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Volvo Model: XC90 Trim: T8 Inscription Engine: Twin-Charged 2.0L DOHC 16-valve Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor on Rear Axle Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 314 @ 5,700 (gas engine); 87 @ 0 (electric motor); 400 (combined) Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 2,200 (gas), 177 @ 0 (electric); 472 (combined) Fuel Economy: MPGe Combined/Gas Combined - 55/27 Curb Weight: 5,142 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden Base Price: $74,795 As Tested Price: $86,790 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $3,200.00 Luxury Package - $3,100.00 Advanced Package - $2,450.00 4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,800.00 21" 8-Multi Spoke Wheels - $800.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00 Year: 2021 Make: Volvo Model: V90 Trim: T6 Inscription Engine: Twin-Charged 2.0L DOHC 16-valve Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 316 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 2,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/32/25 Curb Weight: 4,291 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden Base Price: $57,780 As Tested Price: $67,740 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $3,200.00 Advanced Package - $1,500.00 4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,200.00 21" 8-Multi Spoke Wheels - $800.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00 Massage in Front Seat - $500.00 Air Quality with Advanced Air Cleaner - $250.00
  7. In a not surprising move, President Donald Trump announced today that his administration will reopen a review into the 2025 fuel economy standards set by the EPA before the end of President Barack Obama's term. “We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again. There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car,” said Trump at an event in the former Willow Run bomber factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan - soon to become a testing ground for autonomous vehicles. "These standards are costly for automakers and the American people. We will work with our partners at DOT to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. In the closing days of President Obama's second term, the EPA announced that it would keep the strict standards that will require automakers to raise their fleetwide fuel economy average to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Automakers cried foul, saying the upcoming standards are costly and out of touch with the current market (i.e. low gas prices and people gobbling up crossovers, pickups, and SUVs). It is expected that the 54.5 mpg average will drop, but no one is sure how much it would drop. Reaction to this announcement has been mixed. Automakers and lobby groups approve of this move as it allows them to focus on building vehicles people want, instead of being pushed into building vehicles that will not sell. "The Trump Administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and coordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data," said Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the AutoAlliance, an industry lobby group that represents a number of automakers including Ford and GM. Other groups are not so pleased with this move. "Today's announcement of backtracking on vehicle standards for model years 2022-2025 puts at risk tens of billions of dollars of fuel savings for consumers and big reductions in tailpipe emissions," said Therese Langer, transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, in a statement. "Any delay in settling efficiency standards introduces uncertainty that will disrupt manufacturers' product planning. What is certain is that technological stagnation is not a recipe for continuing the remarkable success our domestic manufacturers have achieved in recent years." Democratic U.S. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts tells Reuters this move could actually hurt consumers. "Filling up their cars and trucks is the energy bill Americans pay most often, but President Trump's roll-back of fuel economy emissions standards means families will end up paying more at the pump," said Markey Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Reuters, Roadshow
  8. 4Runner Venture Edition Not much has changed outside since we last checked out the 4Runner in 2016. It still has a blocky and chunky look that helps it stand apart from other SUVs. This Venture model adds several goodies such as TRD wheels, blacked-out trim pieces, and a Yakima roof rack; perfect if you decide to go adventuring. Inside, Toyota has made a massive update to the infotainment system. A larger eight-inch touchscreen running an updated version of Toyota’s Entune system is standard. This change makes it so much easier to operate the system either parked on while on the move. It doesn’t hurt that this system also brings forth Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Aside from this, the interior hasn’t changed. There is plenty of space for those sitting in the front or back, and controls are well marked. Power comes from the old, but reliable 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The base SR5 can be equipped rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, while other trims only come with four-wheel drive. The 4Runner’s performance is adequate. Around town, the V6 can get up to speed quickly and smoothly. But it struggles when trying to get up to higher speeds. Adding an extra gear would allow for more flexibility in terms of performance. It would also help fuel economy as I saw 15.4 mpg for the week. EPA figures are 16 City/19 Highway/17 Combined. My average for the week landed at 15.4 mpg. The 4Runner’s roots of being an old-school SUV show up prominently when driving on pavement. It has noticeable body roll-around turns and the ride quality is rough. One area that I sadly did not get to test was the off-road capability. With such features as Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control, this helps make the 4Runner very capable off-road. The 4Runner should be considered by someone who wants to venture off-road. For those who are planning to commute or go on family trips while on pavement, Toyota has other models that should be considered first. Land Cruiser Heritage Edition The Heritage Edition adds some nice touches to the Land Cruiser’s exterior such as 18-inch BBS wheels with a bronze finish, black accents for the front grille, and vintage-style “Land Cruiser” badges on the rear pillars. The Heritage Edition does lose the entry steps found on the standard model, making it somewhat difficult to get in and out. The interior looks somewhat boring in terms of the design, but Toyota nails the materials. Wood trim, supple leather, and soft-touch materials make this a very pleasant place to be in. Despite having one of the larger screens in Toyota’s utility lineup, the Land Cruiser’s infotainment system leaves a lot to be desired. Using an older version of Entune, it feels sluggish and the graphics look somewhat dull. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to be found here as well. Anyone sitting in the front or second-row will have no complaints about space or comfort. No third-row is available on the Heritage Edition which helps boost cargo space from 41.3 cubic feet (with the third-row folded) to 53.5. Under the hood is a 5.7L V8 engine producing 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and a full-time four-wheel drive system. Performance from this engine is impressive considering the Land Cruiser’s curb weight of almost 6,000 lbs. It will move away from a stop much faster than you first think. The only place where the engine seems to run out of steam is on the highway. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of providing smooth and quick shifts. I do wish it wasn’t giddy with trying to shift into top gear quickly. Fuel economy isn’t great with EPA figures of 13 City/17 Highway/14 Combined. I only got 13 mpg during my week. I was surprised at how well the Land Cruiser drove on pavement. It felt stable and provided a ride that made even some of the roughest roads feel smooth. There is a fair amount of body roll when cornering, but that is to be expected considering the size and intended purpose of this vehicle. I am bummed that I didn’t get the chance to take the Land Cruiser off-road during my week. But from reading other reviews, very few vehicles can match what is on offer. How to sum up the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition? This is a vehicle that will not impress most due to the poor fuel economy and aging infotainment system. But for a small group who are wanting something that can take them anywhere and back, and do it in comfort, the Land Cruiser is the right vehicle. (Addendum: As I post this review a few months late, I have some news on the Land Cruiser. Earlier this month, Toyota unveiled the next-generation model with a new twin-turbo V6 replacing the V8. The outside doesn't look that much different from the current model, but the interior has underwent some major changes. It is unclear whether or not we'll see this model arrive in the U.S. The best chance we possibly have is next-generation LX. Stay tuned. -WM) Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the SUVs, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Toyota Model: 4Runner Trim: Venture Engine: 4.0L DOHC 24-Valve V6 Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/19/17 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $44,285 As Tested Price: $48,877 (Includes $1,120.00 Destination Charge and $730.00 Keep It Wild discount) Options: Kinentic Dynamic Suspension Suspension System (KDSS) - $1,750.00 TRD Pro Exhaust - $799.00 Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof - $730.00 Running Boards - $345.00 Cargo Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $269.00 Door Edge Guard - $79.00 Year: 2020 Make: Toyota Model: Land Cruiser Trim: Heritage Edition Engine: 5.7L DOHC 32-Valve VVT-i V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 381 @ 5,600 Torque @ RPM: 401 @ 3,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/17/14 Curb Weight: 5,715 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $87,645 As Tested Price: $89,239 (Includes $1,295.00 Destination Charge) Options: Glass Breakage Sensor - $299.00 View full article
  9. There are some cars I will not turn down the opportunity to spend time with again. A prime example is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a car that brings a smile to my face. This past fall, I had a chance to spend some time in a soft-top version and to figure out whether I would have this or the RF. What has changed since our last visit with Miata? Only a few things such as the addition of Mazda's i-Activsense suite of active safety features (automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning) as standard; and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the Club and Grand Touring models. I find myself drawn more to the standard Miata than RF because it looks a bit neater. The hardtop makes the Miata look somewhat bulky. The 17-inch wheels finished in dark silver help set the car off. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes using the MazdaConnect infotainment system a bit more bearable to use. I found myself using CarPlay more due to its easier interface layout and brighter graphics. Power comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G inline-four with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed manual, while an automatic is optional. As I noted in my review of the RF, the new 2.0 makes a dramatic difference to the Miata's performance. Leaving a stop, the engine freely revs and delivers a smooth rush of power. I think this version is slightly faster than the RF, mostly due to it not having the foldable hardtop. The six-speed manual is still one of the sweetest transmissions I have used. It feels smooth and precise when running through the gears. Handling is still one of the Miata's strong points as it eagerly changes direction and shows little body roll. Steering is sharp and provides the right amount of weight when driven hard. Ride quality is slightly better than the RF I drove last year due to the Grand Touring not having as stiff as a suspension setup. Yes, you will still feel several bumps and imperfections. But not at the rate as you'll experience in the Club. The Miata is one of those few cars I find myself still being impressed with every time I get the chance to drive one. It offers a level of driving fun that very few models can match, along with a price tag that won’t break the bank. If you were to ask which Miata I would choose, it would be the soft top. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Mazda Model: MX-5 Miata Trim: Grand Touring Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G DOHC 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: 2,341 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $31,670 As Tested Price: $32,790 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: Grey Cloth Roof - $200.00 View full article
  10. I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that. Very Polarizing Design The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out. If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape. Simple, Yet Elegant Interior If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest. Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof. Tech Galore! Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes. Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects. Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick. Power Selection Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output. Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models. Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day. Fuel economy for both models are as followed, Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid. Calm and Collected Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal. But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps. Rising To The Top The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money. Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time. Alternative: Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Trim: Limited 1.6T Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31 Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL Base Price: $33,300 As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00 Year: 2020 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output) Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47 Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea Base Price: $35,300 As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00 View full article
  11. Despite being one of the best sellers in the luxury crossover class, the Lexus RX lacked something many competitors offered; a third-row option. Lexus rectified this a couple of years ago by stretching the RX's body and adding a third-row to create the RX L. I spent some time in the RX 350L Luxury back in the fall to find out if Lexus has another winner or if this a half-baked attempt. You can tell the difference between the standard RX to the longer L by looking for a floating roofline treatment. This is due to Lexus blacking part of the c-pillar to help disguise the added bulk. It doesn't fully work as looks somewhat half-baked. At least Lexus was more successful upfront where non F-Sport models get a new mesh insert to replace the horizontal slats, along with a revised bumper. When equipped with the Luxury Package, the RX is a plush and pleasant place to spend time. The leather upholstery feels nice to the touch and the use of contrasting colors (cream and brown in my tester) help make it feel special. Lexus has finally added a touchscreen for the RX's infotainment and it makes a huge difference. Gone are the litany of issues I have noted in previous models such as, Being precise with your finger movements when selecting an item Becoming very distracting to use when on the move Not the most intuitive controller Now using Lexus Enform or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not an exercise in frustration, but one of ease. My only complaint is that I wished Lexus moved the screen slightly more forwards. It is quite a reach to use the touchscreen. Those sitting in the second row will not have much to complain about as head and legroom are plentiful for most passengers. The same cannot be said for the third-row. Getting back here is difficult as there is not enough a gap when the second-row seat is moved forward. Once back here, space is non-existent with your head touching the headliner and legroom from nothing to something bearable depending on where the second-row is set. The one upside to the longer RX is cargo space. With the third-row seat folded, you get about seven extra cubic feet of space compared to standard RX. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in several Lexus and Toyota vehicles. For the RX 350L, it produces 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with all-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive is standard. Performance is adequate as you'll be able to keep up with traffic or make a pass with no issue. Those wanting a bit more performance should look at something like the upcoming Acura MDX or Volvo XC90. Comfort is still a key hallmark to the RX. Bumps and potholes become mere ripples when driven over. There is also a noticeable lack of road and wind coming inside. The RX 350L feels like a stop-gap solution until Lexus finishes up their upcoming three-row crossover due out within the next couple of years. The third-row isn't all useful for carrying passengers and is best to fold down to expand cargo space. If you need a third-row, there are much better options such as the Volvo XC90. But if you really want an RX, stick with the standard two-row version and pocket the cash you saved for something nice. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 350L, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Lexus Model: RX Trim: 350L Luxury Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,300 Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21 Curb Weight: 4,597 lbs Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan Base Price: $54,700 As Tested Price: $63,540 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge) Options: 12.3" Navigation System/Mark Levinson 15-Speaker Premium Audio System - $3,365.00 Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert Braking - $1,865.00 Running Boards - $640.00 Color Head-Up Display - $600.00 Second-Row Captain's Chairs - $405.00 All-Weather Floor Liners with Cargo Mat - $330.00 Cold Weather Package - $315.00 Mudguards - $155.00 Door Edge Guards - $140.00 View full article
  12. Do you need a V8 engine in your flagship luxury sedan? That's a question I posed myself when a Genesis G90 equipped with a 5.0L V8 engine was dropped off for a week. The standard G90 with the twin-turbo V6 offers an impressive amount of performance and refinement. But the V8 offers much more power, along with some extra goodies you cannot get with the V6. Since our last visit with the G90, Genesis has given a bit of a facelift. The front end prominently features a new diamond-shape. I found myself growing to like it, even if I thought it was a tad too large. But I can see this becoming a point of contention. Other changes include new wheels and a restyled rear end that makes the G90 look a bit cleaner. No changes of note for the interior. It still is very luxurious to sit in and the controls are logically laid out. The only item I'm sad not to see is the new 12.3-inch digital cluster that is found in the all-new G80 and GV80. Opting for the Ultimate means back seat passengers get their own screens mounted behind the front seats. This allows you to tap into the G90's infotainment system to play audio, check various information, and look at the navigation system. Ultimate models come with the larger 5.0L V8 producing 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option. The V8 is a bit of a tough sell when compared to the twin-turbo 3.3L V6 as it slower off the line and not as flexible whenever you need to accelerate quickly. Both engines also are similar in terms of refinement, offer a muted engine note. The only place I found the V8 to be slightly better than the V6 was in my average fuel economy. The V8 returned 24.7 mpg, while the V6 only got 20.3 mpg. A combination of the V8 G90 being rear-wheel and not all-wheel, along with more miles being done on the highway likely contributed to the better fuel economy figures. Ride quality is still on the hallmarks of the G90. With the adaptive suspension in either SMART or Comfort, the G90 glides along any road surface with nary a bump or pothole coming inside. Around bends, the G90 doesn't feel at home with a fair amount of body roll. There is a Sport model to help reduce this, along with adding more weight to the steering. For the as-tested price of $76,695, you are getting quite a lot of equipment. There are LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, power sunshades, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, memory settings for seats, and much more. The only way I could recommend the G90 Ultimate is either if you're operating a livery service or just want a V8 engine no matter what. Otherwise, you'll be happy with the G90 Premium and its twin-turbo V6. That said, the current G90 is starting to show its age, especially when compared to some of the new Genesis models such as the G80 and GV80. A new model is coming down the pipeline and if the recent models are any indication, the G90 has a real shot of becoming one of the best luxury sedans. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G90, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Genesis Model: G90 Trim: 5.0 Ultimate Engine: 5.0L GDI V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 5,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 4,817 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea Base Price: $75,700 As Tested Price: $76,695 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A View full article
  13. Genesis has come a long way since it was spun off to its own brand back in 2015. We have heaped praise on the G80 and G90 sedans, but it needs to be noted that these were badged as Hyundais before becoming Genesis models. The real test would be seeing how an original model stacked up. Our chance came in the fall when a 2020 Genesis G70 3.3T Sport was dropped off for a week. This new entrant into the compact sport luxury sedan appears on paper to have the goods, but how would fare in the real world? The Heart & Bones Power in this G70 is the optional twin-turbo 3.3L V6 engine providing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This is mated with an eight-speed automatic which routes power to the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is an option. Having some experience with this engine in the Genesis G80 Sport and Kia Stinger GT, I knew this engine would pack quite the punch. Step on the accelerator and the V6 provides a massive wallop of power for any situation needed. The eight-speed automatic delivers rapid and smooth gear changes. Where the V6 falls apart is in fuel economy. EPA figures for the G70 3.3T RWD are 17 City/26 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed at a disappointing 19.2 mpg. The standard turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder is better at 22/25/30 with the automatic. Handling is where the G70 shines. My 3.3T Sport comes with a couple of extra goodies - an electronically controlled suspension and a set of Michelin Pilot Sport summer tires. On the test route I use to evaluate handling, the G70 felt nicely balanced and provides the driver a big grin when going into a corner. The steering provides the right amount of weight and feels needed for enthusiastic driving. When it comes time to do the daily commute, the G70 surprises here. Turn the drive mode knob into either Comfort or Smart, and the suspension softens up to provide a mostly smooth ride. I do wish the Pilot Sports had a slightly taller sidewall as some bumps do make their way inside. Also, barely any outside noise comes inside. Outside In While it may share the same bones as the Kia Stinger, I find the G70 a little bit easier on the eyes. Some of this comes down to the G70 being shorter in overall length (about a foot), and wheelbase (around three inches). Details that will catch your eye are gloss black wheels which come as part of the Sport package; the large front grille, and slim headlights. The G70's interior is very well done. Genesis' designers were able to craft an interior that not only looks nice but is also very functional. Many of the materials used are some of the best in the class with leather, aluminum, and soft-touch plastics. I also appreciate that the center stack is angled slightly towards the driver, allowing for easier access to the various controls. Speaking of that, there are a fair number of them for the audio, climate control, and other systems - primarily made up of large knobs and buttons. It may lack the minimalist look many are trending towards, but the ease of use cannot be beaten. For those sitting up front, Genesis provides a set of supportive sport seats with adjustable bolsters. I found the seats to do an excellent job of holding you in place while driving aggressively, but also providing the support and comfort needed on long trips. The back seat is a different story as there is barely any head and legroom available. The limited legroom also makes entry and exit difficult. Another issue with the G70 is the infotainment system. It's the same eight-inch system you'll find in several Hyundai vehicles such as the Kona and Venue, not the one seen in the G80 and G90 sedans. While the system is very easy to use and snappy, it doesn't fit the luxury image that the G70 is portraying. The good news is that the G70 will get a new infotainment system more fitting of its image as part of a refresh for 2022. A Threat? For a first attempt at the highly competitive luxury sport sedan class, Genesis knocked it out of the park. The G70 provides a triple threat of excellent performance, sharp handling, and a design that stands out. But now comes the big challenge for Genesis; luring buyers from the old guard. If they can do that, then the G70 can lay its mark. Cheers: Potent Twin-Turbo V6 Crisp Handling Premium Interior Jeers: Infotainment System Hampers Luxury Ideal Cramped Rear Seats Fuel Economy Trailing the Pack How I Would Order a G70: Basically I would order the vehicle seen here, but in blue. That brings the as-tested price to $51,245. Alternatives: Kia Stinger GT: The sister model to the G70, the Stinger is more daring in its design with a hatchback shape. This also makes it slightly more practical than the Genesis. Where the G70 clobbers it is in the interior as the Stinger lacks the design and quality of materials. Performance and handling is a dead heat. Alfa Romeo Giulia: The G70's closest competitor when it comes to driving fun. No matter which version you choose, the handling is sublime and the steering is slightly better. I also find the Giulia's looks to be towards the top of the class with an elegant shape. But being an Alfa Romeo, the Giulia's reliability is very questionable. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G70, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Genesis Model: G70 Trim: 3.3T Sport Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo GDI V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/26/20 Curb Weight: 3,774 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea Base Price: $44,650.00 As Tested Price: $51,245.00 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Prestige Package: $2,850.00 Elite Package: $1,450.00 Sport Package: $1,300.00 View full article
  14. Considering the number of Lexus RC coupes I have driven over the years, there has been a significant hole - the V8 RC F. Whenever I have asked for one, the vehicle either wasn't in the press fleet or someone else was driving it during the dates I had available. But I was able to finally get my hands on one for a week in early fall. It was good timing as I was feeling the effects of being home for the past six months due to COVID-19. Maybe this coupe could give me a bit of joy. The RC F is not a shrinking violet. From its bright yellow paint, blacked-out 20-inch wheels, and optional carbon fiber package that includes a retractable rear spoiler, this coupe is very brash and proud of it. I'll admit that I was worried about scraping or cracking the carbon fiber front splitter if I took a steep entrance ramp or bump a bit too aggressively. It looks cool on the car, but the existential dread of an expensive repair bill does sour the appeal. Not much changes on the inside for the RC F except for carbon fiber trim and a set of racing-style seats. Usually, I have a lot of trepidation on this type of seat because I don't fully fit in due to my slightly wide shoulders. But the seats conformed to my body within a day or so and I found them to offer the balance of support during hard-driving, and comfort for day-to-day - something I find to be hit and miss on seats from other automakers. Lexus Enform is still a frustrating infotainment system to use on daily basis. With a touchy control pad, it is easy to find yourself changing the song or end up in a different section of the system. This means you need to pay close attention to any change being made, which becomes a distraction hazard. Apple CarPlay is standard and does make using the system a bit more bearable. But I do wish Lexus would roll out their touchscreen system which makes it much more intuitive. Though, that likely will not come until a redesign, possibly in the next year or two. The main event for the RC F is under the hood. A 5.0L V8 engine with 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque - figures that slightly pale when compared to the BMW M4 or Mercedes-AMG C63. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic which routes the power to the rear wheels. The initial acceleration is a slight disappointment as the throttle response feels a bit sleepy. I'm not sure if this was due to improve fuel economy or throttle feel higher in the rev band. Thankfully, this sleepiness goes away as the car climbs up in speed and the V8 reveals its party trick. The noise that comes out of this engine sounds like a muscle car and you find yourself stepping the accelerator to enjoy it. Not much to say about the eight-speed automatic. It goes about its business smoothly and quickly. Fuel economy was surprising in the least, as I got an average of 18 mpg in mostly city and suburb driving. A set of adaptive dampers comes standard for the RC-F and gives it a split personality. Turn the drive mode knob to Sport+ and the dampers tighten up to make the coupe feel more agile than its weight of 4,017 pounds would suggest. Also helping in the handling are a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires, providing tenacious grip. But switch the drive mode into normal and RC F becomes a very comfortable and refined grand tourer. Ride quality is very good with only a few bumps making their way inside. A minimal amount of road and wind noise is present. One area where the RC F holds a distinct advantage over the completion is the base price of $65,925 - undercutting most by a few grand. The danger is going through the option list and deciding to go crazy, which explains the as-tested price of $89,654. You can chop off over $11,000 by skipping the Performance package which brings all of the carbon fiber bits. The RC F lacks the outright performance as those from Germany. But I'm willing to overlook it because sometimes you want a car that just shouts to the world and the RC F does that very well. During my week, I found myself reveling in the engine and the grand touring characteristics of the suspension. It brought me the joy which sometimes is all you need a car to do. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RC F, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Lexus Model: RC F Trim: - Engine: 5.0L DOHC 32-Valve V8 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 467 @ 7,100 Torque @ RPM: 389 @ 4,800 - 5,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19 Curb Weight: 3,958 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $64,900 As Tested Price: $89,654 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge) Options: Performance Package - $11,400.00 Premium Package - $5,350.00 Navigation System w/Mark Levinson Audio - $2,725.00 Torque Vectoring Differential - $1,250.00 Premium Triple Beam LED Headlamps - $1,160.00 Flare Yellow Premium Paint - $595.00 Intuitive Parking Assist - $500.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $449.00 Orange Metallic Brembo Brake Calipers - $300.00 View full article
  15. Back in the spring, I spent some time with two different Volvo 60 series models - the S60 Momentum and V60 Cross Country. I came away impressed with the work Volvo had done, picking Cross Country as my favorite. A couple months back, another 60 series model rolled up for a week long evaluation. This one is very different. Unlike most performance wagons that grab a bullhorn and shout for attention, the V60 Polestar goes for a more sedate approach. From afar, it looks like your standard V60. Get closer and you begin to see the small changes such as the lowered ride height, 20-inch grey wheels that cover up the massive gold brake calipers, and the two Polestar badges. Only changes for the interior are the Polestar logo embossed on the front headrests and gold seatbelts. Under the hood is Volvo's T8 powertrain. This is the 2.0L twin-charged four-cylinder paired with an electric motor on the rear axle to produce a total output of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque. This setup also provides all-wheel drive. It is quite shocking (pardon the pun) as to how fast the V60 Polestar goes. Step on the accelerator and it feels like you have engaged warp drive as the two powertrains work together. But there were times where the gas engine and electric motor didn't seem to be on the same page. There would be the odd delay or surging of the gas engine when driving around town in the hybrid mode. Hopefully, this is something that could be addressed with an update to the engine software. The other party trick of the V60 Polestar is the ability to run on electric power alone. This comes from an 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack underneath the cargo floor. Volvo claims a range of 22 miles on electric power alone, but I was able to stretch it out to around 23 to 25 miles throughout the week. Recharging took around eight to eleven hours if the battery was near or fully depleted. For the week, I saw an MPGe average of 52.1. With the battery drained, I saw the average fall to around 29.1 MPG. Volvo turned to suspension supplier Öhlins to develop something bespoke for the V60 Polestar. What was delivered is a special set of dampers that are manually adjusted by gold-colored aluminum knobs. You'll easily find the ones in the front by opening the hood - sitting on top of the shock towers. The ones in the back are slightly harder to find as they're located above the wheels in the wheel housing. This is something that feels like more of a talking point when showing off the wagon, not something you want to mess with unless you are knowledgeable on damper tuning. The V60 Polestar may be the best handling Volvo I have driven in quite some time. The Öhlins dampers do make a difference as they minimize body roll. But the dampers cannot fully hide the massive weight of the Polestar - tipping the scales at 4,522 pounds. This makes the wagon not feel as nimble. In terms of ride quality, the V60 Polestar does well on smooth roads. Take it on a road with a litany of bumps and potholes and the ride becomes very choppy. This is where I wished Volvo had gone for a computer-controlled damper system to make the ride slightly smoother. A price tag of over $68,000 is a bit much for a Volvo, but you need to take into consideration that you're getting everything as standard. That includes the premium B&O audio system, full LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, Pilot Assist, and more. The only option on our tester is the metallic paint. Despite the price tag and rough ride, I'm happy to see Volvo venturing out and doing some wild as the V60 Polestar. This vehicle is a prime example of having your cake and eating it by delivering excellent performance and efficiency in one package. The fact that this package is in a wagon shows this for someone who doesn't want to follow the Joneses and get a performance crossover. Would this be the 60 Series model I would buy? No, that honor falls to the V60 Cross Country I drove in the early spring. But the Polestar runs a close second. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the V60 Polestar, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2020 Make: Volvo Model: V60 Trim: T8 Polestar Engineered Engine: 2.0L Twincharged DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder, Two AC Electric Motors Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 328 (gas), 46 (electric motor front), 87 (electric motor rear), 415 (combined) Torque @ RPM: 317 (gas), 111 (electric motor front), 177 (electric motor rear), 494 (combined) Fuel Economy: Combined MPGe/Gas - 69/30 Curb Weight: 4,522 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden Base Price: $67,300 As Tested Price: $68,940 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Metallic Paint - $645.00 View full article
  16. Chrysler isn’t the first, let alone the tenth automaker you would think of building a hybrid vehicle. Yet, they stunned the world last year as they introduced a plug-in hybrid version of the new Pacifica minivan. It currently holds the title of being the only full-size hybrid minivan sold in the world. On paper, the Pacifica Hybrid makes a good case for itself. Being able to travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone and returning a combined fuel economy figure of 83 MPGe. But how does it fare in the real world? The Pacifica Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a modified version of the 3.6L V6 that runs on the Atkinson cycle for improved efficiency; two electric motors and a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack. Total output stands at 260 horsepower. Even though the Pacifica Hybrid is about 600 pounds more than the standard model, it doesn’t feel like it. The instant torque from the electric motors moves the van at a very brisk rate when leaving a stop. The gas engine will kick on when the battery is depleted or when more power is needed such as merging onto a highway. The transition between electric and hybrid power is barely noticeable. When the gas engine is on, it has more than enough power to get you moving on your way. An odd omission from the Pacifica Hybrid is being able to switch between electric and hybrid modes like you can do in other PHEVs. The van will automatically do it. This is a bit disappointing as some drivers would like to conserve battery when driving on a highway for example. The key numbers to be aware of are 33 miles and 84 MPGe on electric power, and 32 MPG when running on hybrid power. During my week, I was able to go about 34 miles on electric power alone and saw an average of 32 MPG for the week. Considering how big and heavy this van is, these numbers are quite impressive. Recharging times for the Pacifica Hybrid are 2 hours when plugged into a 240V outlet, or 16 hours for a 120V outlet. FCA is right on the money for the 120V time as it took around 16 hours for the van to be fully recharged. There isn’t any difference between how the Pacifica Hybrid rides and handles to the standard Pacifica. Both exhibit a smooth ride, no matter the road surface. Going around a corner is not a big deal as body roll is kept very much in check. There are only a few things that separate the Pacifica Hybrid from the standard model. Aside from the charging door, the hybrid gets a different grille and wheel design. While the Pacifica Hybrid is designed to carry families, you would think differently after sitting inside. Our Platinum tester was kitted out with leather on the seats, contrasting stitching, and an abundance of soft-touch materials. This interior gives certain luxury cars a run for their money. No matter where you’re sitting in the Pacifica Hybrid, there is plenty of head and legroom on offer. Comfort is also a major plus point as all of the seats provide excellent support for long trips. One downside to the hybrid powertrain is the loss of the Stow n’ Go seats for the second row. That space is taken up by the large battery pack. At least you can remove the second-row seats, but be prepared to have another person help you as they are heavy. At least the third-row seats do fold into the floor. There isn’t anything different with the 8.4-inch UConnect system aside from the usual screens you would expect on hybrid such as a power diagram. This system is very simple to operate, but the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto leaves us slightly disappointed. Thankfully, this will be addressed with the 2018 model year as both become standard across the Pacifica lineup. We also had the chance to try out UConnect Access. This smartphone application allows you to check on how much charge is left on the battery, set up a charging schedule, trip information, remote lock and start, and vehicle location. While it is nice to have a key information within easy reach, it takes a long time for the application to pull it. We found on average that it took a good minute or two before updated information would arrive. For all of this tech, it comes at a price. The base Pacifica Hybrid Premium rings up at $41,995. Our Platinum tester came to $47,885 with an optional panoramic sunroof. That’s a lot of cash for a minivan, even one with a hybrid powertrain. But with the Platinum, you’re getting everything - navigation, rear-seat entertainment system, heated and ventilated front seats, and a ton of safety equipment. There is also the $7,500 federal tax credit and other incentives from various states that might sway some folks. But those only come into play when it comes time to do taxes. Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chrysler Model: Pacifica Hybrid Trim: Platinum Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid System Driveline: eFlite EVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ N/A (Combined) Torque @ RPM: N/A Fuel Economy: Gas + Electric Combined, Gas Combined - 84 MPGe, 32 MPG Curb Weight: 4,987 lbs Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario Base Price: $44,995 As Tested Price: $47,885 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tri-Pane Panaromic Sunroof - $1,795 View full article
  17. The Toyota Highlander may not be the flashiest or fun to drive. But it has many qualities to make it one of Toyota’s best selling models such as functional and spacious interior, long list of standard equipment, and high-reliability marks. Last year, Toyota unveiled an updated Highlander with tweaks to the exterior, revised V6, and more safety. Considering it has been a few years since we last checked out the Highlander, it seemed a revisit was in order. The 2017 Highlander boasts new front and rear fascias to give it a more SUV-appearance and we think Toyota has mostly succeeded in this regard. The only issue is the front end reminding us too much of a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica TV. Thank the new grille design for this. Move inside and the Highlander is the same as we last saw it back in 2014 when we did our original review. This is both good and bad. The good is that the controls for the various functions are easy to use. The center console features a huge storage bin that you can easily fit a large purse or a laptop computer. A shelf underneath climate controls provides a nice space to throw small items such as a smartphone. The bad is that the controls for certain functions are not in easy reach for the drive. We also not fans of the capacitive touch buttons around the 8-inch touchscreen as they didn’t always respond. There were times we found ourselves hitting the buttons two to three times to get something to happen. The infotainment system itself is beginning to look somewhat dated with an interface that looks like it comes from the Windows XP era and the screen is somewhat dim. But we cannot argue that the system is easy to use thanks to a simple layout. Passengers sitting in the front and second-row seats will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom on offer. Also, the seats themselves are padded quite nicely. We do wish the second-row was mounted slightly higher for better long-distance comfort. The third-row seat as the seats aren’t that comfortable due to the thin amount of padding. Legroom is also quite tight with only 27.7-inches of space, meaning this is a space best reserved for small kids. Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain. Toyota’s V6 engine is one our favorites as it provides impressive acceleration and a steady stream of power up to redline. This updated engine is no exception as it feels slightly quicker than the last Highlander we drove. The powertrain stumbles somewhat due to the eight-speed automatic’s programming. Toyota went for something that focuses on fuel economy which means the transmission is quick to upshift, but slow to downshift. This means you’ll be waiting for a moment or two for the transmission to get its act together when trying to merge onto a freeway. You might be fooled into thinking that you’re riding in a Lexus considering the smooth ride of the Highlander. Bumps are turned into minor ripples. Little road and wind noise that come inside. The Highlander is a vehicle you want to keep in its comfort zone when it comes to handling. Push it in a corner and you’ll experience excessive body roll. One thing Toyota deserves credit for the 2018 Highlander is having a number of active features standard across the entire Highlander lineup. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The only item we would like to see added to this list is blind spot monitoring. You can only get it on XLE models and above. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Trim: XLE AWD Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/22 Curb Weight: 4,430 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $39,980 As Tested Price: $43,184 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge) Options: Rear Seat BluRay Entertainment System - $1,810.00 Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00 View full article
  18. We had high hopes for the Hyundai Tucson when we did a first drive back in August 2015. But when we did our full review last April, we ended it by saying the model wasn’t “the slam dunk we thought it was.” This was due to some key issues such as a small cargo area, a tough value argument and a dual-clutch transmission having some hesitating issues. A year later, we find ourselves revisiting the Tucson. There has been a software update to the transmission, along with some minor changes to the infotainment system and interior. A quick refresher on the Tucson’s powertrain lineup: A 2.0L four-cylinder producing 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque is used on the base SE and SE Plus. The rest of the Tucson lineup features a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic comes standard on the 2.0L, while the turbo 1.6 gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The engine does show some turbo lag when leaving a stop, but it will soon pick up steam and move the Tucson at a pretty decent rate. The engine doesn’t feel overtaxed when you need to make a pass. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission still has issues. While Hyundai has reduced some of the hesitation issues we experienced in the last Tucson via a software update, there is still a fair amount of this when leaving from a dead stop. We also noticed some rough upshifts during our week. At least the ride and handling characteristics have not changed since our last test. The Tucson still provides one of the smoothest rides in the class, even with the Limited’s 19-inch wheels. It doesn’t flinch when going around a corner as body motions are kept in check. A Mazda CX-5 would be more fun to drive as it is quicker when transitioning from one corner to another and the steering has the right amount of weight and feel. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. The interior remains mostly unchanged except for a couple of minor things. The 8-inch touchscreen system now features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We’re impressed with how fast the system was able to find the iPhone and bring up the CarPlay interface. The other change deals with more soft-touch materials being added to various parts of the interior. There is still a fair amount of hard plastics, even on the high-end Limited model which is very disappointing. There is still a lot to like about the Tucson’s interior. Space is plentiful for those sitting in the front or rear seats, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. The list of standard equipment is quite extensive as well. Limited models get automatic headlights, power and heated front seats, an 8-speaker Infinity sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key with push-button start, and blind-spot monitoring. Cargo space still trails competitors with only 31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61.9 cubic feet when folded. The CR-V offers 35.2 and 70.9 cubic feet respectively. The Limited seen here came with a $35,210 as-tested price, which is about average for a fully-loaded crossover in this class. But the Tucson becomes a bit of a tough sell when dropping to the lower trims as you cannot get certain features. As we noted in our full review last year, “if you want navigation or dual-zone climate control on the Sport, you’re out of luck.” Despite some of the changes made for 2017, our verdict is much the same as the 2016 Tucson. There is a lot to like about the Tucson, but there are still some issues the company needs to address - smoothing out the dual-clutch and trying to make the model a better value. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Tucson, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Hyundai Model: Tucson Trim: Limited AWD Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/28/25 Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $31,175 As Tested Price: $35,201 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ultimate Package - $2,750.00 Cargo Cover - $190.00 Reversible Cargo Tray - $100.00 Rear Bumper Applique - $70.00 First Aid Kit - $30.00 View full article
  19. Most wagon options in the U.S. fall under the slightly-lifted off-road category. The reason is quite simple as buyers like the looks and capability on offer when compared to standard wagons. Case in point is the latest member of the Golf family, the Alltrack. Volkswagen recently revealed that 75 percent of Golf SportWagens sold in the U.S. are Alltracks. We happen to be big fans of the Golf SportWagen as it builds upon many of strong points of the regular Golf by making it more practical. Can the Golf Alltrack do the same? The small changes made to the Golf Alltrack’s exterior help make it stand out somewhat. It begins with the slight 0.6-inch increase in ride height and a larger tire and wheel combination. Our SEL tester feature 18-inch wheels, while the S and SE make do with 17-inch wheels. Other exterior changes include new bumpers and lower body cladding. Volkswagen didn’t make any changes to the Alltrack’s interior which is a good thing. It retains the clean if a somewhat boring design that makes it easy to find the various controls. Build and material quality is very solid. SEL models get a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system and navigation. We like how fast the system is with switching between various functions, physical shortcut buttons, and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Car-Net loses some points for low-resolution graphics and the navigation system looking very dated. The seats are quite comfortable with excellent support and good bolstering to keep you planted when traversing down a winding road. Head and legroom are excellent in both rows of seats. A turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque provides the motivation for the Golf Alltrack. This is paired with a six-speed DSG transmission (a six-speed manual is available on the S and SE) and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Despite being about 300 pounds heavier than the SportWagen, the Alltrack doesn’t break a sweat. It feels just as fast as the SportWagen we drove last year with strong acceleration throughout the rpm band. The DSG still exhibits some sluggishness when leaving a stop, but improves when you’re up to speed with rapid and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is disappointing with EPA figures of 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. We saw an average of 25 MPG with a mix of 70 percent city and 30 percent highway driving. Ride and handling characteristics is much like the standard Golf and SportWagen. No matter the road surface, the Alltrack’s suspension was able to provide a comfortable ride. Around corners, the Alltrack does show a little bit of body roll. However, it feels as agile as the standard SportWagen and the steering is quick to respond to inputs. The Golf Alltrack begins at $25,850 for the base S with manual transmission. Our loaded SEL tester totaled $35,705 with the Driver Assistance and Light package. That’s a lot of money for a compact off-road wagon, especially considering you can get into a larger Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with the excellent EyeSight active safety system for around the same money. If we were buying a Golf Alltrack, we would drop down to the S with the DSG and order the Driver Assistance package, bring the total price to just over $28,500. The Alltrack is a worthy addition to the Golf family as it provides something a bit more capable while retaining many of the plus points of the standard Golf. We do wish the DSG was smoother during low-speed driving and fuel economy was slightly better. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Golf Alltrack, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Volkswagen Model: Golf Alltrack Trim: SEL Engine: Turbocharged 1.8L TSI DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed DSG, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 199 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,351 lbs Location of Manufacture: N/A Base Price: $32,890 As Tested Price: $35,705 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: SEL Driver Assistance & Lighting Package - $1,995.00 View full article
  20. I happen to be a big fan of the Kia Soul. Its daring looks, spacious interior, and overall value make it an interesting option in the compact class. It seems many others would agree as the Soul is one of Kia’s best selling models. To help keep it up there, Kia has introduced a new turbo engine for the top-line Exclaim (!) model along with minor changes for 2017. Let's see how these changes affect the Soul. Aside from the turbo engine, Kia made some design tweaks to the Exclaim to have it stand out from other Soul trims. This includes a new front bumper, red accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, a twin-tip exhaust, and exclusive colors like this copper color seen here. The little changes really make the Soul stand out even further than before. Moving on to the turbo engine, it is a 1.6L four-cylinder packing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is only paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. If you really want a manual with your turbo-four, Kia will gladly sell you a Forte5 SX which features the same engine. There is a brief moment of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator, but the engine comes into its own after this with power building smoothly. There are no issues with getting up to speed when merging or making a pass. The dual-clutch transmission is a bit of a mixed bag. In stop-and-go traffic, the transmission exhibits some jerkiness and lazy shifts. We also noticed the transmission was slow to respond in terms of downshifting, making us think the programming for this transmission was focused on fuel economy. At higher speeds, the transmission is better with rapid and smooth shifts. The turbo engine has the highest fuel economy fuel economy figures in the Soul lineup with an EPA rating of 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. We saw an average of 25.3 mpg during our week in mostly city driving, which is slightly disappointing. With the turbo engine and racy looks, you might think that this particular Soul is fun to drive. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case. Out on a winding road, the Soul is competent with minimal body roll and okay steering. This would be ok if it weren’t for the sporty image that is being portrayed by the exterior. We do wish that Kia had made some changes to the suspension to make it slightly sportier. The upside to not messing with the Soul’s suspension is it mostly retains the smooth and comfortable ride of other models. Mostly is the keyword as the 18-inch wheels do introduce some harshness to the Soul’s ride. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, most of this due to the Soul’s boxy shape. The Soul’s interior is still as sharp looking as it first was when the current model was launched in 2013. Little touches such as the uniquely styled air vents and orange accent stitching give the Soul a bit of whimsy. The extensive use of soft-touch materials gives off an aura of quality. Driver and passenger get power seats which make finding a comfortable position very easy. Those sitting in the back will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom, due to the Soul’s boxy shape. Our test Soul came with optional Technology Package that includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system and navigation. It is beginning to show its age in terms of the graphics, but it is still one of the most intuitive systems on sale today. A simple layout and redundant physical buttons make it breeze to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is an added bonus. The Exclaim begins at $22,650 and comes well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with UVO, Bluetooth, leather and cloth wrapped seats, push-button start with proximity key, and automatic headlights. Opt for the technology to get the 8-inch system, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated seats and steering wheel, and power folding mirrors. For only $26,995, you get a nicely equipped vehicle. Our test vehicle is slightly more expensive at $27,620 due to an optional panoramic sunroof which we would skip. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Soul Trim: ! (Exclaim) Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28 Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea Base Price: $22,650 As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $3,000.00 Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00 Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00 View full article
  21. There are some vehicles that leave you scratching your head, wondering why is anyone buying them. A perfect example is the previous-generation Jeep Compass. The model had a long list of negatives ranging from a very cheap interior to powertrains that could be beaten by a snail. But a number of folks bought the Compass and its sister car, the Patriot, in droves. It offered the looks and the image of owning a Jeep vehicle without the downsides of owning something that provided a rough ride or was too expensive. Almost a decade later, we have the new Compass which hopes to right the wrongs of the previous model. We spent a week in the Limited trim to see if Jeep was able to. First impressions seem promising when it comes to the exterior. There is a lot of Grand Cherokee in the Compass’ shape with similar profiles, angled front end, and rear tailgate. Our Limited tester came with 18-inch aluminum wheels and two-tone paint that helps make the model pop. Compared to the last Compass, the new model is slightly shorter (173.2 vs. 175.1-inches). A big complaint about the Compass/Patriot was their interiors. It was easy to tell they were built to the lowest cost possible with cheap plastics, a short list of standard features, and odd design decisions. The new Compass thankfully fixes many of those mistakes. Step inside and it becomes quite clear that Jeep focused on making the Compass a special place to be in. Again, there is a lot of Grand Cherokee influence with a similar dash design and the extensive use of soft-touch materials. We like the contrasting trim pieces around the vents that help make the interior not feel as dark. One thing we’re not so keen on is the low placement of HVAC and audio controls in the center stack. It is a bit of reach to adjust the temperature or change the volume. In terms of seating, you feel that you’re sitting on top of the Compass, not inside it. This is due to Jeep raising the seats to provide the high-riding experience of an SUV. The front seats provide decent support for long trips and optional power adjustments make it easier to find the right position. In the back, there is plenty of legroom for those over 6-feet. Headroom is tight for taller passengers if you get the optional panoramic sunroof. Cargo space measures out to 27 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61 cubic feet folded. Our test Compass came with the 8.4-inch UConnect system. Recently updated for the 2018 model year, the system features an updated interface and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Unlike other FCA vehicles equipped with UConnect, the system in the Compass was problematic. For starters, the system had trouble trying to pair an iPhone 7 Plus via Bluetooth. The system would try to connect to the phone for about 30 seconds and then give up. On the third attempt, UConnect froze and I had to shut off the vehicle and walk away for a minute before the system turned off. After doing some troubleshooting, I realized that I had too many UConnect pairings on my phone and deleted them all. After this, the system was able to connect to connect to my phone with no issues. Yes, this is only a problem to those of us who review a number of new cars. But other problems with this system would pop up such as the system taking a few moments to bring up certain functions, being unable to find my iPod or iPhone when plugged in, and the system crashing when I was trying to bring up navigation. I believe these most of these issues are isolated to this vehicle, but it doesn’t leave a good impression with the new version of UConnect. There is only one engine available for the Compass, a 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Our Limited came equipped with a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models have the choice between a six-speed manual or automatic. This engine has been a weak point in many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicles we have driven and the Compass is no exception. Acceleration is very anemic as the engine takes its sweet time to get up to speed. The engine is also very noisy when accelerating but thankfully quiets down when cruising at a steady speed. The nine-speed automatic is well-behaved for the most part as it smoothly and quickly upshifts to help boost fuel economy. There is some hesitation when it comes to downshifting. Fuel economy is not a strong suit for the Compass. EPA ratings for the nine-speed and AWD combination stands at 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week landed at 23 MPG. The tall height may hint that the Compass is a bit of handful when cornering, but the model is surprisingly agile. There is some lean when cornering, but the Compass feels planted and controlled. The steering feels nicely weighted and responds quickly to inputs. In terms of the ride, the Compass’ suspension is able to smooth over most bumps with no issue. We sadly didn’t get the chance to try the Compass’ off-road capability. AWD models come with Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system that offers four different driving modes that alter various settings. Those who have taken the Compass off the beaten path say it is surprisingly capable. The second-generation Jeep Compass is worlds better than the original model. A lot of the changes made to this model have been for the better with a sharp-looking exterior, pleasant interior, and surprising driving dynamics. But there are two issues that hold the Compass back from reaching greatness. First is the 2.4 four-cylinder engine which feels sluggish and fuel economy is somewhat poor. FCA really needs to come up with a replacement for the 2.4 ASAP. Second is the price. The Compass Limited starts at $28,995 and our as-tested price came to $34,955. This makes a bit of a poor value, especially when the Hyundai Tucson Limited we reviewed a few weeks ago was only $300 more. Given the choice, we would pick the Hyundai. Despite the changes made by the Jeep, the Compass is relegated to mid-pack. If they can get a new engine and work on the value argument, then the Compass could be a real threat. Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Compass, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Jeep Model: Compass Trim: Limited 4X4 Engine: 2.4L MultiAir 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,400 Torque @ RPM: 175 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/30/25 Curb Weight: 3,327 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico Base Price: $28,995 As Tested Price: $34,955 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge) Options: 19" x 7.5" Polished Black Pocket Aluminum Wheels - $895.00 Advanced Safety & Lighting Group - $895.00 Navigation Group - $895.00 Safety and Security Group - $745.00 Beats Premium Audio System - $695.00 Power Liftgate - $495.00 Compact Spare Tire - $245.00 View full article
  22. The Toyota Highlander has an interesting selling point in the midsize crossover class. It is the only model that offers a hybrid version. Seems quite crazy that more automakers aren’t offering a green option due to the increasing popularity. But maybe there is a reason for that. (Author’s note: I don’t go into detail about the Highlander Hybrid’s exterior and interior as it is the same as the regular Highlander. If you want to get an idea of what I think, you can check out my quick drive review on the 2017 Highlander posted back in October. -WM) The Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 3.5L V6, two electric motors, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 306 horsepower. This is paired up with a CVT. The electric motors are mounted on each axle and provide all-wheel drive. Despite the hybrid weighing 310 pounds more than the standard model, the instantaneous torque from electric motors disguises the extra weight at low speeds. This makes the hybrid feel slightly quicker around town than the standard model. But at higher speeds, the effectiveness of the electric motors begin to wane and the V6 begins to shoulder more of the burden. Merging onto a freeway, I found the hybrid to not be any quicker than the standard Highlander. Switching between hybrid and EV mode in the Highlander Hybrid is very seamless. You don’t notice the transition unless you have the hybrid powertrain screen up in the instrument cluster or infotainment system. Like most Toyota hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid can travel on electric power at speeds up to 25 mph for short distances. I found this was easy to sustain when driving in city areas or my neighborhood. EPA fuel economy figures on the Highlander Hybrid are 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined for the base LE, and 29/27/28 for the rest of the lineup like our Limited tester. During my week, I was only able to achieve a disappointing 24 mpg on a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Highlander I drove last year was only 2 mpg lower during my week-long test. Ride quality is similar to the regular Highlander as most bumps and potholes are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is not the Highlander Hybrid’s strong suit. Around corners, the hybrid shows an excessive amount of body roll and dull steering. On the upside, the hybrid does feel more planted to the road than the regular model thanks to the extra weight of batteries. Brakes are still an issue for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. The Highlander Hybrid exhibits a vague and somewhat unpredictable feel from the pedal, which doesn’t inspire confidence. The 2017 Highlander Hybrid begins at $36,270 for the base LE, about $2,130 more than the standard Highlander LE V6 AWD. Our Limited tester starts at $44,760, and with a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price is $46,134. Is the hybrid worth it? In short, no. With gas prices the way they are at the moment, it will take a long time for you to break even on the extra cost of the Highlander Hybrid. Plus, I found the real-world fuel economy wasn’t that much better than the standard model. At the moment, I would stick with the standard Highlander and pocket the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Toyota Model: Highlander Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with VVT-iW V6, 2 Electric Motors, Sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack Driveline: CVT, AWD-i Horsepower @ RPM: 231 @ 5,800 (Gas); 167 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 68 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2); 306 (Total) Torque @ RPM: 215 @ 4,800 (Gas); 247 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 103 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/27/28 Curb Weight: 4,861 lbs Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana Base Price: $44,760 As Tested Price: $46,134 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00 Body Side Molding - $209.00 View full article
  23. I need to get something out of the way before diving into the review of the 2018 Toyota C-HR. Originally the C-HR was to join Scion’s lineup, but the C-HR would become a Toyota as the Scion brand would shut its doors in late 2016. With this change of brands, does this leave the C-HR with an identity crisis? The C-HR is short for ‘Coupe High Roof’ and the design makes that very clear. Proportions are very similar to a coupe with a long front and stubby back. Other coupe details to be aware of are a set of wider fenders, a sloping roofline, and a rear spoiler. It makes for a very polarizing design that many will agree catches your eye for better or worse Toyota’s designers must have been infatuated with diamonds as you’ll notice this shape throughout the C-HR. Key examples include the pattern on the cloth seats and arrangement of buttons on the steering wheel. The center stack is slightly angled towards the driver to emphasize a sporty nature. Material quality is about average with a mix of soft-touch plastics on the dash, and hard plastics for the door panels and center console. The C-HR’s ergonomics are excellent as controls are laid out logically and easy to use. I found the front seats are lacking in lower-body support. I’m 5’9” and after driving the C-HR for an hour, I found my thighs and legs started to ache. This comes down to a short bottom cushion. Shorter drivers will likely not run into this issue. ‘Claustrophobic’ is the word to describe the C-HR’s back seat as the small rear windows make it feel small. Not helping is the limited amount of legroom as I found my knees touching the backside of the front seat. CH-R’s cargo space is in the middle of the class when the rear seats are up at 19 cubic feet. To give some perspective, the Mazda CX-3 is the smallest at 12.4 cubic feet, while the Honda HR-V has the largest at 24.3. Fold the rear seats and the C-HR is at the bottom of the class with 36.4 cubic feet. The Mazda CX-3 has 9.1 cubic feet more space when its rear seats are folded. All C-HRs come equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen radio with the basics; AM/FM, Bluetooth, and inputs for USB and aux cords. While I found the system to be intuitive to use with a simple menu structure and decent performance, I did find myself wishing Toyota had included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto or the option of a larger system with navigation. Powering the C-HR is a 2.0L four-cylinder with 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is nowhere to be found despite the C-HR offering it in markets outside the U.S. Driving in town, the C-HR feels lively thanks to a responsive throttle. But above these speeds, the C-HR reveals a major weakness; put your foot down and the engine takes its sweet time to get up to speed - taking over 11 seconds to hit 60 mph. This makes certain tasks such as passing a slower vehicle treacherous. Under hard acceleration, the CVT is quite loud. Toyota does offer other engines for the C-HR elsewhere, including a hybrid. Reading through various test drives, the hybrid is slightly quicker; recording a 0-60 time of 11 seconds. Fuel economy figures for the 2018 C-HR are 27 City/31 Highway/29 Combined. My average for the week landed at 28.1 mpg. Like most new and redesigned Toyota models, the C-HR rides on the modular TGNA platform. I have praised this platform on both the Prius and Prius Prime as it makes them feel playful on a winding road. This extends to the C-HR. Despite a higher ride height, body motions are kept in check when cornering. Steering feels precise and has ample weight when turning. Ride quality is on the firm side, but it will not beat up passengers. A fair amount of tire and wind noise comes inside when driving on the expressway. The Toyota C-HR is quite expensive for a subcompact crossovers. The base XLE begins at $22,500. My XLE Premium tester begins at $24,350 and with some added accessories, the final price was $25,633. That’s without leather seats, navigation, or a sunroof. Toyota is quick to point out that the C-HR does come equipped with a number of active safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist as standard. That only helps the base XLE when it comes to arguing value. The XLE Premium has a tougher time since you can get into a well equipped Hyundai Kona Limited FWD with a sunroof, leather seats, a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration; and 18-inch alloy wheels for only $53 more. You do miss out on the active safety features since as you can only get those on the top-line Ultimate, but the Kona presents a better value than the C-HR when you compare features bit by bit. The Toyota C-HR left me very frustrated as the week came to a close. The crossover has some charm with sharp driving dynamics and a very willing chassis. But it is clear that the C-HR feels more like a Scion than a Toyota as it was built to be cost-effective as it doesn’t offer any options. What you see is what you get. The problem is that competitors offer more equipment for similar money. The C-HR also trails competitors in terms of cargo capacity and performance. I do believe there is a crossover that can stand out from the growing field of subcompact models, but Toyota needs to think of the C-HR as one of their own models, not as a Scion. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the C-HR, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Toyota Model: C-HR Trim: XLE Premium Engine: 2.0L DOHC, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder with Valvematic Driveline: CVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 144 @ 6,100 Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 3,900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/31/29 Curb Weight: 3,300 lbs Location of Manufacture: Arifiye, Sakarya, Turkey Base Price: $24,350 As Tested Price: $25,633 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floormats and Cargo Mat - $194.00 Mudguards - $129.00 View full article
  24. Hyundai had set itself a high bar when it launched the sixth-generation Sonata for the 2010 model year. It stood out from a crowded field of midsize sedans with an exterior shape that resembled a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. The Sonata also boasted a comfortable interior, loads of technology features, a good selection of engines, and a nice balance between comfort and sport. Replacing this model would be a tough task and one Hyundai wasn’t able to meet. When the seventh-generation model rolled out at 2014 New York Auto Show, you could hear the cry of a sad trombone. The new Sonata had gone conservative in its design. Compared to Chevrolet, Honda, and Toyota that rolled out bold styling on their sedans, the Sonata went backwards with a conservative look. Hyundai realized they need to make some drastic changes to Sonata to give it a fighting chance not only against other sedans, but from the growing demand for crossovers of all sizes. This brings us to the 2018 Sonata Limited. It was time to find out if Hyundai had found that magic once again. This being a refresh, Hyundai couldn’t go completely crazy in terms of the design language, however the updates really help the Sonata have more presence. Up front is bolder with a new hexagonal grille surround, chrome grille slats, new sculpting on the hood, and deep cuts in the bumper for LED fog lights. The side profile retains the chrome trim that runs through the headlights and around the windows. Hyundai made some drastic changes for the rear by smoothing out the trunk lid and moving the placement of the license plate to the bumper. The Sonata’s interior retains the basic shape of the outgoing model, but changes have been made to freshen it up. The center stack boasts a revised control layout and all trims get a three-spoke steering wheel. Previously, only the Sport trim got this wheel design. It would have been nice if Hyundai was a little bit more adventurous with the design, but I’m willing to forgive some of this feeling as the controls fall easily into hand. Interior materials are about average for the class with a mix of hard and soft plastics. The front seats were designed with long-distance comfort in mind with a fair amount of seat padding and just the right amount of firmness. Power adjustments for both driver and passenger are standard on the Limited and offer a generous range of adjustments. Space in the back is quite roomy and there are some nice touches such as manual window shades. The Sonata has one of the largest trunks in the class with 16.3 cubic feet of space on offer. All Sonata’s come with a 7-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system. Our test Sonata Limited had the optional 8-inch screen with navigation. The current BlueLink system has been with us for a few years and its interface is beginning to look somewhat dated, but the system is still one of the best when it comes to overall usability with large touchscreen buttons, bright screen, and a simple interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Sonatas except the base SE. Sonata offers one of the widest range of powertrains in the segment with three gas engines, a hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Our Sonata Limited came with the base 2.4L inline-four producing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. The engine provides adequate power for around town and rural driving. You will need to step on it when making a pass or merging onto a freeway as torque resides higher in the rev band. The six-speed automatic goes about its business smoothly and always knows what gear it needs to be in. Hyundai does offer an eight-speed automatic, but only if you opt for the turbocharged 2.0L. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Sonata Limited are 25 City/35 Highway/28 Combined (SE models see a one mpg increase in highway and combined figures). My average for the week landed around 28.5 mpg. Hyundai did make some tweaks to the 2018 Sonata’s suspension including a revised rear suspension setup with thicker trailing arms and revised steering system. The end result is a Sonata that handles much better than the previous car. Body motion has noticeably decreased and the steering provides decent weight when turning. Thankfully, the tweaks made to the suspension haven’t affected the Sonata’s ride quality. Bumps and other road imperfections are soaked up before reaching passengers. Some of the credit has to go to Hyundai not going crazy on offering large wheels - the Limited seen here rides on 17-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels. My first impression seeing the 2018 Sonata was that Hyundai had improved it, but was still a bit short when compared to the work done by other automakers. Spending a week with the Sonata caused me to change my train of thought; It surprised me how much work Hyundai put into this mid-cycle refresh and brings the Sonata up to the point where I would say it is fighting for best-in-class honors. While the 2018 Sonata may lack most of the pizzazz found in the sixth-generation model, it does show that Hyundai has learned from its mistake and worked to reclaim some of the magic. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Trim: Limited Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic. Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/28 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL Base Price: $27,400 As Tested Price: $31,310 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) Options: Ultimate Package - $2,900.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00 View full article
  25. On the day I was getting the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a week-long test, meteorologists were calling for a massive snowstorm in Metro Detroit. Depending on where you lived, snowfall was expected to range from six inches to almost a foot. As I was signing the paperwork and getting the key, the snow was beginning to fall at a heavy rate. It would be an interesting week with one of oldest crossovers on sale. The current Outlander Sport has been with us since 2011 and it still stands out from other crossovers in the class. This comes down to an aggressive design and Mitsubishi making a number of changes to the design in the past few years. For 2018, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander Sport with new bumpers and LED running lights. Up front, Mitsubishi went with a dual grille setup - a narrow one on top and a large mesh one for the bottom. 18-inch wheels come standard on all Outlander Sports and look quite sharp. Mitsubishi hasn’t done much to the Outlander Sport’s interior since its launch and it clearly shows. The design is very uninspired with seemingly endless black plastic and almost no brightwork. Most materials used feel brittle and cheap, which is very disappointing when compared to other models such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Mitsubishi does redeem itself a little bit with the dash being covered in soft-touch material. Another plus point to the Outlander Sport’s interior is the control layout. The buttons and knobs are laid out in a logical fashion and are within easy reach. Getting comfortable in the front seats is not hard thanks to a decent amount of manual adjustments on offer, along with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel for the driver. Slightly worrying was my test Outlander Sport having a driver’s seat that slightly rocked whenever the vehicle accelerated and stopped. I know this issue isn’t isolated to my test vehicle. Speaking to some who have driven different 2018 Outlander Sports, they have reported the same issue. Mitsubishi really needs to figure out this issue and get a fix out ASAP. The rear seat offers a decent amount of headroom, but there is barely enough legroom for taller passengers. Cargo space is quite good with 21.7 cubic feet of space behind the front seats and 49.5 cubic feet when folded. For 2018, Mitsubishi has installed a new 7-inch infotainment system on all Outlander Sports. Higher trims like our test SEL add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Compared to Mitsubishi’s previous infotainment systems, the one in the Outlander Sport is excellent. The system is very easy to use with a simple and vibrant interface. Performance is quite good as the system quickly responds to a user’s input. Mitsubishi offers two engines for the Outlander Sport. ES and LE models use a 2.0L four-cylinder, while the SE and SEL models feature a larger 2.4L four-cylinder. Our test vehicle had the latter engine which produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front- or Mitsubishi's All-Wheel Control (AWC) system. Out of the two engines, the 2.4 is the one to get as is feels noticeably quicker when leaving a stop. But it will run out of steam at higher speeds, making passing or getting onto the freeway a bit difficult. The CVT is somewhat slow to respond whenever you step on the accelerator. The AWC system redeems the Outlander Sport to a point. AWC offers the driver three different modes - 2WD, 4WD Auto, and 4WD Lock. The difference between the two 4WD settings is Auto only sends power to rear wheels if it detects slip where Lock sends power to all wheels. Putting the system into 4WD Lock, the Outlander Sport easily went through roads with close to a foot of snow on the ground with no issue. The system was able to quickly shift power to the wheels with grip to help keep the car moving. I believe if you fit you a set of snow tires to the Sport, you will have a very good winter vehicle. Fuel economy figures of 22 City/27 Highway/24 Combined put the Outlander Sport towards the bottom of the class. My average for the week landed around 23.2 mpg. For a subcompact crossover, the Outlander Sport’s ride is pleasant. It glides over bumps and other imperfections. Handling is a mixed affair. Drive the Outlander Sport normally around a corner and it feels composed. Begin to push it and there is a fair amount of body roll. Steering has a very rubbery feel and there is a noticeable dead zone when the wheel is centered. This might be the first review I have done where I have two verdicts on the Outlander Sport. As a whole, the model really needs to be replaced. In many areas, the Outlander Sport significantly trails competitors. It doesn’t help that the as-tested price was $29,310 which makes the Sport a bit of poor value. I know dealers put a lot of cash on the hoods of Outlander Sports to get them moving, which is likely one reason why it is Mitsubishi’s best selling model. But I would rather put my money into a Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, the new Hyundai Kona, and others since they are newer and offer so much more. But I will admit that the Outlander Sport came at a very opportune time. The snowstorm really brought up some of the Outlander Sport’s best qualities, primarily the AWC system and punchy four-cylinder around town. I remember an auto writer once saying that some of the most memorable vehicles are those that are not the best, but can show some bright spots in a difficult situation. The Outlander Sport for me is one of those vehicles. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mitsubishi Model: Outlander Sport Trim: SEL Engine: 2.4L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 167 @ 4,100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/28/25 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan Base Price: $25,895 As Tested Price: $29,310 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Touring Package - $2,000.00 Diamond White Pearl - $200.00 Tonneau Cover - $150.00 Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio - $125.00 View full article

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