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Found 489 results

  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. My wheels for the week are a 2020 Toyota Corolla XLE sedan. This one is well equipped with Toyota Safety Sense now standard, Toyota Entune with Apple CarPlay, Adaptive lighting system with automatic high beams, headed seats, and a JBL Premium audio system. It is rated for 29 city / 37 highway and we'll be putting that highway number to the test. We will be taking the Corolla to Northern Virginia for the weekend to visit family for the holidays. The XLE differs from the 2019 Corolla SE hatchback that @William Maley recently tested in that it has the 1.8 liter engine instead of the 2.0 liter. This engine puts out 139 horsepower at 6100 RPM and 126 lb-ft of torque at 3900 rpm. About a 30 horsepower deficit compared to the SE. In my initial drive, I found the car to be snappy around town, but things got a little raucous when I went to merge onto the highway. Though it is a CVT, it has a fixed first gear. The fixed first gear does take away from the rubber band feeling most CVTs have. I took the Corolla on a set of twisty roads that I take all test vehicles on and the sedan, while no sports car, felt firmly planted and predictable around the curves. One thing that is surprising is the sticker price; $28,084 for a Corolla without even the biggest engine seems quite steep. So while I'm loading up the trunk with Christmas cheer, fire off any questions you have about the 2020 Toyota Corolla XLE. View full article
  4. Hyundai can’t seem to stop itself from tinkering with the Santa Fe crossover. This is apparent when you consider the nameplate first debuted on compact crossover in the early 2000s before growing into a two-model family up until last year. Hyundai has made another drastic change to the Santa Fe by making it a single model again - the three-row Santa Fe XL has been replaced by the Palisade. Does this re-focus make the model competitive? The overall shape of the 2019 Santa Fe is more upright than the outgoing Santa Fe Sport. This solves one of the biggest issues I had with the Sport, poor visibility. The upright shape and flatter belt line allowed Hyundai designers to increase the amount of glass used. Not only does this improve overall visibility. This also makes the interior feel more airy. Up front, Hyundai uses a hexagonal grille that is flanked by a split headlight layout. Slim LED daytime running lights sit on either side of the grille, while a pod housing the headlights sit underneath. Where the Santa Fe really shines is the interior. It’s a modern and clean design with a two-tone dashboard, unique fabric covering the pillars and headliner; and the use of polygons in the seat pattern and speaker grilles. Materials for the most part are soft-touch plastics and leather on my Ultimate tester. There are some hard plastics used here and there, but it will not detract from the premium feel Hyundai is going for. The layout for the controls is excellent with all in easy reach for driver or passenger. Also earning top marks is the eight-inch infotainment system which is simple to use, provides snappy performance, and allows a driver to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. For those sitting up front, the Santa Fe Ultimate provides power adjustments, heat, and ventilation. Getting settled in and finding the correct position, I found the seats to be quite comfortable with enough padding to tackle any trip length. Back seat passengers will find plenty of leg and headroom. Those sitting in the back will also appreciate the rear seats can recline along with heat during the cold winter months. Cargo space is about average with 35.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 71.3 when folded. Most Santa Fes will come with the base 2.4L inline-four with 185 horsepower. My Ultimate AWD tester featured the optional turbocharged 2.0L inline-four with 235 horsepower. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic. Whenever a Hyundai vehicle is equipped with a turbo-four, it falls into one of two camps - works perfectly or there is a performance issue. The Santa Fe falls into the latter. There is a noticeable amount of turbo-lag when leaving from a stop. Once up to speed, the engine can sometimes be a bit too responsive with a jumpiness that makes smooth acceleration a difficult task. Whether this is something with the programming of the engine, transmission, or throttle, I cannot say. I hope this gets fixed with the 2020 model. EPA fuel economy figures for the turbo-four with AWD are 19 City/24 Highway/21 Combined. I saw an average of 20.7 mpg during my week of testing. It should be noted this is the same as the Honda Passport with its slightly more powerful 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower. The Santa Fe’s ride is still smooth and relaxing over many of the bumps and imperfections that dot the roads of Metro Detroit. It is also surprisingly quiet with barely any wind or road noise coming inside. Handling is where the Santa Fe really surprised me as it felt agile when driven around a bend. There was barely any body roll and steering provided excellent response. On the surface, the 2019 Santa Fe is an improvement over the Santa Fe Sport. It features a fetching design, comfortable ride, simple tech, and a lot of equipment for the money. My Ultimate tester came with an as-tested price of $39,905 and that includes adaptive cruise control with stop & go; blind spot monitoring, Infinity premium audio system, panoramic sunroof, and much more. Build up one of the Santa Fe’s competition to similar specs and you’re looking at spending on average around $5,000 more. But the Santa Fe is soured by the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine which appears to have two settings - slow off the line performance and unpredictable acceleration at higher speeds. Until Hyundai can figure out what is going on, stick with the base 2.4L four-cylinder. It may be a little bit underpowered, but at least it is more consistent in its power delivery. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Trim: Ultimate Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L GDI 16-Valve DOHC CVVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,450 - 3,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21 Curb Weight: 4,085 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama Base Price: $38,800 As Tested Price: $39,905 (Includes $980.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00 View full article
  5. My wheels for the week are a 2020 Toyota Corolla XLE sedan. This one is well equipped with Toyota Safety Sense now standard, Toyota Entune with Apple CarPlay, Adaptive lighting system with automatic high beams, headed seats, and a JBL Premium audio system. It is rated for 29 city / 37 highway and we'll be putting that highway number to the test. We will be taking the Corolla to Northern Virginia for the weekend to visit family for the holidays. The XLE differs from the 2019 Corolla SE hatchback that @William Maley recently tested in that it has the 1.8 liter engine instead of the 2.0 liter. This engine puts out 139 horsepower at 6100 RPM and 126 lb-ft of torque at 3900 rpm. About a 30 horsepower deficit compared to the SE. In my initial drive, I found the car to be snappy around town, but things got a little raucous when I went to merge onto the highway. Though it is a CVT, it has a fixed first gear. The fixed first gear does take away from the rubber band feeling most CVTs have. I took the Corolla on a set of twisty roads that I take all test vehicles on and the sedan, while no sports car, felt firmly planted and predictable around the curves. One thing that is surprising is the sticker price; $28,084 for a Corolla without even the biggest engine seems quite steep. So while I'm loading up the trunk with Christmas cheer, fire off any questions you have about the 2020 Toyota Corolla XLE.
  6. Hyundai can’t seem to stop itself from tinkering with the Santa Fe crossover. This is apparent when you consider the nameplate first debuted on compact crossover in the early 2000s before growing into a two-model family up until last year. Hyundai has made another drastic change to the Santa Fe by making it a single model again - the three-row Santa Fe XL has been replaced by the Palisade. Does this re-focus make the model competitive? The overall shape of the 2019 Santa Fe is more upright than the outgoing Santa Fe Sport. This solves one of the biggest issues I had with the Sport, poor visibility. The upright shape and flatter belt line allowed Hyundai designers to increase the amount of glass used. Not only does this improve overall visibility. This also makes the interior feel more airy. Up front, Hyundai uses a hexagonal grille that is flanked by a split headlight layout. Slim LED daytime running lights sit on either side of the grille, while a pod housing the headlights sit underneath. Where the Santa Fe really shines is the interior. It’s a modern and clean design with a two-tone dashboard, unique fabric covering the pillars and headliner; and the use of polygons in the seat pattern and speaker grilles. Materials for the most part are soft-touch plastics and leather on my Ultimate tester. There are some hard plastics used here and there, but it will not detract from the premium feel Hyundai is going for. The layout for the controls is excellent with all in easy reach for driver or passenger. Also earning top marks is the eight-inch infotainment system which is simple to use, provides snappy performance, and allows a driver to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. For those sitting up front, the Santa Fe Ultimate provides power adjustments, heat, and ventilation. Getting settled in and finding the correct position, I found the seats to be quite comfortable with enough padding to tackle any trip length. Back seat passengers will find plenty of leg and headroom. Those sitting in the back will also appreciate the rear seats can recline along with heat during the cold winter months. Cargo space is about average with 35.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 71.3 when folded. Most Santa Fes will come with the base 2.4L inline-four with 185 horsepower. My Ultimate AWD tester featured the optional turbocharged 2.0L inline-four with 235 horsepower. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic. Whenever a Hyundai vehicle is equipped with a turbo-four, it falls into one of two camps - works perfectly or there is a performance issue. The Santa Fe falls into the latter. There is a noticeable amount of turbo-lag when leaving from a stop. Once up to speed, the engine can sometimes be a bit too responsive with a jumpiness that makes smooth acceleration a difficult task. Whether this is something with the programming of the engine, transmission, or throttle, I cannot say. I hope this gets fixed with the 2020 model. EPA fuel economy figures for the turbo-four with AWD are 19 City/24 Highway/21 Combined. I saw an average of 20.7 mpg during my week of testing. It should be noted this is the same as the Honda Passport with its slightly more powerful 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower. The Santa Fe’s ride is still smooth and relaxing over many of the bumps and imperfections that dot the roads of Metro Detroit. It is also surprisingly quiet with barely any wind or road noise coming inside. Handling is where the Santa Fe really surprised me as it felt agile when driven around a bend. There was barely any body roll and steering provided excellent response. On the surface, the 2019 Santa Fe is an improvement over the Santa Fe Sport. It features a fetching design, comfortable ride, simple tech, and a lot of equipment for the money. My Ultimate tester came with an as-tested price of $39,905 and that includes adaptive cruise control with stop & go; blind spot monitoring, Infinity premium audio system, panoramic sunroof, and much more. Build up one of the Santa Fe’s competition to similar specs and you’re looking at spending on average around $5,000 more. But the Santa Fe is soured by the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine which appears to have two settings - slow off the line performance and unpredictable acceleration at higher speeds. Until Hyundai can figure out what is going on, stick with the base 2.4L four-cylinder. It may be a little bit underpowered, but at least it is more consistent in its power delivery. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Hyundai Model: Santa Fe Trim: Ultimate Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L GDI 16-Valve DOHC CVVT Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,450 - 3,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21 Curb Weight: 4,085 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama Base Price: $38,800 As Tested Price: $39,905 (Includes $980.00 Destination Charge) Options: Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
  7. Over a year ago, I pitted the Mazda CX-9 against the Volkswagen Atlas to find out which was the better three-row crossover. The CX-9 put up a good fight with a very luxurious interior and impressive driving dynamics. However, the Atlas took home the win as it proved to be the better carrier of passengers and cargo, along with providing a slightly smoother ride. A year on, the CX-9 makes a return to the C&G Detroit Garage to see if it could redeem itself. Spoiler alert: I still feel the same way as I did last year. Going on three years, the CX-9 is still one of the best looking three-row crossovers on sale. Its graceful lines, tapered rear pillar, and slim lights make the crossover look more expensive than it actually is. The Grand Touring may miss out on the Nappa leather for the seats and Rosewood trim found on the Signature, it is still a nice place to sit in. Bright metalwork contrasts nicely with soft-touch plastics and leather upholstery on the seats. But the interior also houses some of the CX-9’s key flaws beginning with the seat arrangement. All 2019 CX-9s come with seating for seven people, there is no option for six with a set of captain chairs - that is being rectified for 2020. Those sitting in the second-row will have no complaints about space, but anyone sitting in the third-row will bemoan the lack of legroom. This can improve if the second-row is slid forward. Cargo space is another weak spot. The CX-9 only offers 14.4 cubic feet behind the third-row, 38.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and 71.2 cubic feet with both rows folded. To give some perspective, the Atlas offers 20.6, 55.5, and 96.8 cubic feet of space. 2019 finally sees Mazda add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility to their MazdaConnect infotainment system. This is an improvement as MazdaConnect trails competitors in terms of graphics and a slightly confusing menu structure. At least the control knob and shortcut buttons make using the system less aggravating. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder with 227 horsepower (250 if you fill up with premium) and 310 pound-feet. This is channeled through a six-speed automatic and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Putting a turbo-four into a three-row crossover seems like madness, but Mazda was able to make it work with no issue. Torque arrives at a low 2,000 rpm, allowing the CX-9 to leap away from any driving situation. Response from the transmission is excellent with snappy up and downshifts. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23, slightly better than the 22.5 mpg for the 2018 model. The ace up the CX-9’s sleeve is the handling. No other crossover can close to matching the taut characteristics on offer with body motions kept in check and sharp steering. Though how many people consider a plus is likely very small. Ride quality falls under supple with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Impressive when you consider this is riding 20-inch wheels. The Mazda CX-9 is an outlier in the three-row crossover class as it focuses more on the driving experience and looks. That isn’t a bad thing as it gives Mazda a unique selling point. But a small space for passengers and cargo is the CX-9’s major downfall. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-9, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: CX-9 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 227 or 250 @ 5,000 (Depending on the fuel) Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23 Curb Weight: 4,383 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $42,640 As Tested Price: $45,060 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Illuminated Door Sill Trim Plates - $575.00 Front & Rear Bumper Trim - $550.00 Snowflake White Pearl - $200.00 Cargo Mat - $100.00 View full article
  8. Over a year ago, I pitted the Mazda CX-9 against the Volkswagen Atlas to find out which was the better three-row crossover. The CX-9 put up a good fight with a very luxurious interior and impressive driving dynamics. However, the Atlas took home the win as it proved to be the better carrier of passengers and cargo, along with providing a slightly smoother ride. A year on, the CX-9 makes a return to the C&G Detroit Garage to see if it could redeem itself. Spoiler alert: I still feel the same way as I did last year. Going on three years, the CX-9 is still one of the best looking three-row crossovers on sale. Its graceful lines, tapered rear pillar, and slim lights make the crossover look more expensive than it actually is. The Grand Touring may miss out on the Nappa leather for the seats and Rosewood trim found on the Signature, it is still a nice place to sit in. Bright metalwork contrasts nicely with soft-touch plastics and leather upholstery on the seats. But the interior also houses some of the CX-9’s key flaws beginning with the seat arrangement. All 2019 CX-9s come with seating for seven people, there is no option for six with a set of captain chairs - that is being rectified for 2020. Those sitting in the second-row will have no complaints about space, but anyone sitting in the third-row will bemoan the lack of legroom. This can improve if the second-row is slid forward. Cargo space is another weak spot. The CX-9 only offers 14.4 cubic feet behind the third-row, 38.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and 71.2 cubic feet with both rows folded. To give some perspective, the Atlas offers 20.6, 55.5, and 96.8 cubic feet of space. 2019 finally sees Mazda add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility to their MazdaConnect infotainment system. This is an improvement as MazdaConnect trails competitors in terms of graphics and a slightly confusing menu structure. At least the control knob and shortcut buttons make using the system less aggravating. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder with 227 horsepower (250 if you fill up with premium) and 310 pound-feet. This is channeled through a six-speed automatic and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Putting a turbo-four into a three-row crossover seems like madness, but Mazda was able to make it work with no issue. Torque arrives at a low 2,000 rpm, allowing the CX-9 to leap away from any driving situation. Response from the transmission is excellent with snappy up and downshifts. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23, slightly better than the 22.5 mpg for the 2018 model. The ace up the CX-9’s sleeve is the handling. No other crossover can close to matching the taut characteristics on offer with body motions kept in check and sharp steering. Though how many people consider a plus is likely very small. Ride quality falls under supple with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Impressive when you consider this is riding 20-inch wheels. The Mazda CX-9 is an outlier in the three-row crossover class as it focuses more on the driving experience and looks. That isn’t a bad thing as it gives Mazda a unique selling point. But a small space for passengers and cargo is the CX-9’s major downfall. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-9, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Mazda Model: CX-9 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 227 or 250 @ 5,000 (Depending on the fuel) Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23 Curb Weight: 4,383 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $42,640 As Tested Price: $45,060 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: Illuminated Door Sill Trim Plates - $575.00 Front & Rear Bumper Trim - $550.00 Snowflake White Pearl - $200.00 Cargo Mat - $100.00
  9. The Toyota Corolla for the past couple of decades has been the poster child of the vehicle that just existed. All it was built to do was go from point a to b without any sort of enthusiasm. But Toyota is wanting to change that with the redesign of Corolla, starting with the new Corolla Hatchback. Has it worked? The Corolla Hatchback falls in line with recent Toyota models with a shouty design. A sloping front end features massive lower grille, slim daytime running lights, and headlights that looked to be chiseled in. My SE tester lacked the 18-inch alloy wheels and a huge rear wing that is standard on the XSE. But the smaller wheels and wing provide a much cleaner look. The interior looks more expressive with a layered dashboard design and faux stitching around both the dash and transmission. In traditional Toyota fashion, controls for the various functions are within easy reach. An eight-inch screen mounted high on the dash is standard on Corolla Hatchbacks and comes with the latest version of Entune. As I have noted in other 2019 Toyotas, the updated Entune is noticeably quicker when switching between various functions. Also appreciated is the integration with Apple CarPlay which gives a driver another choice for infotainment. Those with Android phones will need to get their hands on the 2020 model. What I do wish is that Toyota had made the interface slightly more modern and added other colors that weren’t 50 shades of grey. If you find yourself riding in the Corolla Hatchback, be sure to nab the front seat. Those sitting in the back will find space for their legs to be quite small. This isn’t helped with the narrow rear door openings. At least no one will have any complaints with the headroom as the hatchback has plenty of it. It gets even worse when you open up the rear tailgate and you’re presented with a minuscule 17.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. The new Mazda3 offers more space at 20.1. Power comes from a new 2.0L four-cylinder producing 168 horsepower and 151 pounds-feet of torque, a noticeable increase from the outgoing Corolla iM - 137 HP and 126 lb-ft. This has moved overall performance impressions from poor to adequate as the hatchback is noticeably quicker around town. Country and highway driving are still a weak point as you’ll need to jam the gas to get any real movement from the engine. I would like to see either Toyota introduce a small turbo engine or figure out how to have torque readily available at a lower rpm. My test vehicle was fitted with an optional CVT; a six-speed manual is standard. This CVT is different from others as Toyota fitted a fixed first gear ratio that it uses when leaving a stop. This reduces the rubber-band-type delay when accelerating and makes it feel more like a conventional automatic. EPA fuel economy figures for the Corolla Hatchback with the CVT are 32 City/42 Highway/36 Combined. My average for the week landed around 36.1 mpg. One area that the Corolla Hatchback’s predecessor impressed me was the handling. It felt planted and had surprising reflexes when going through a bend, but the rubbery steering did let it down. The Corolla Hatchback carries this torch as it feels even sharper with less body roll and a nimble feel. Steering is improved as well with a more natural feel when turning. I’ll still put the last-generation Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf as the best-handling models in the class, but Corolla Hatchback isn’t too far behind. Despite its sporting intentions, the Corolla Hatchback coped very well on Detroit’s shambolic roads with most bumps and ruts being smoothed over. Part of this comes down to the SE having 16-inch wheels, allowing for more sidewall. Road noise is kept out, but there is a fair amount of wind noise that enters when driving on the freeway. Toyota pulled most of the stops out when working on the Corolla Hatchback and their efforts have paid off. It is the best looking Corolla in quite some time, offers surprising handling characteristics, and comes well equipped for the money. The SE begins at $21,090 and that includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, eight-inch touchscreen, and LED lighting. Where the Corolla Hatchback loses ground is rear-seat space and cargo room which trails competitors by a significant amount. That’s the make or break decision as to whether you should or shouldn’t consider one. Nevertheless, Toyota has done the seemingly impossible: Made the Corolla interesting. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Corolla Hatchback, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Toyota Model: Corolla Hatchback Trim: SE Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve D4S Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 32/42/36 Curb Weight: 3,060 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $21,090 As Tested Price: $23,639.00 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: SE Preferred Package - $1,400.00 Carpet Mat Package - $229.00 View full article
  10. In the C&G garage for the week is the 2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited AWD with a sticker price of $47,605. This is Hyundai's newest SUV, at least until the diminutive Hyundai Venue takes its place at the other end of the size spectrum. The first impression I got from the Palisade was how big it is. Even though it is around 7 inches shorter than a Buick Enclave, it looks bigger and beefier. Being a Limited means that it is in top trim with only carpeted floor mats as an additional option. It's powered by a 3.8 liter naturally aspirated V6 producing 291 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque and equipped with start/stop. On my quick initial test drive I found the start/stop function to be unobtrusive and quick to restart the vehicle when I was ready to roll. Another immediate impression was with the sound quality of the Harmon Kardon sound system. I hooked my phone up via USB and Android Auto took over, playing my favorite Pandora station loud and clear. Another feature I like is the video display in the dash when using the turn signal. It helps clear any blind spots one might have in this big SUV. So while you're stuffing your faces with turkey this Thursday, think of questions you have about the 2020 Hyundai Palisade and post them below. View full article
  11. The Toyota Corolla for the past couple of decades has been the poster child of the vehicle that just existed. All it was built to do was go from point a to b without any sort of enthusiasm. But Toyota is wanting to change that with the redesign of Corolla, starting with the new Corolla Hatchback. Has it worked? The Corolla Hatchback falls in line with recent Toyota models with a shouty design. A sloping front end features massive lower grille, slim daytime running lights, and headlights that looked to be chiseled in. My SE tester lacked the 18-inch alloy wheels and a huge rear wing that is standard on the XSE. But the smaller wheels and wing provide a much cleaner look. The interior looks more expressive with a layered dashboard design and faux stitching around both the dash and transmission. In traditional Toyota fashion, controls for the various functions are within easy reach. An eight-inch screen mounted high on the dash is standard on Corolla Hatchbacks and comes with the latest version of Entune. As I have noted in other 2019 Toyotas, the updated Entune is noticeably quicker when switching between various functions. Also appreciated is the integration with Apple CarPlay which gives a driver another choice for infotainment. Those with Android phones will need to get their hands on the 2020 model. What I do wish is that Toyota had made the interface slightly more modern and added other colors that weren’t 50 shades of grey. If you find yourself riding in the Corolla Hatchback, be sure to nab the front seat. Those sitting in the back will find space for their legs to be quite small. This isn’t helped with the narrow rear door openings. At least no one will have any complaints with the headroom as the hatchback has plenty of it. It gets even worse when you open up the rear tailgate and you’re presented with a minuscule 17.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. The new Mazda3 offers more space at 20.1. Power comes from a new 2.0L four-cylinder producing 168 horsepower and 151 pounds-feet of torque, a noticeable increase from the outgoing Corolla iM - 137 HP and 126 lb-ft. This has moved overall performance impressions from poor to adequate as the hatchback is noticeably quicker around town. Country and highway driving are still a weak point as you’ll need to jam the gas to get any real movement from the engine. I would like to see either Toyota introduce a small turbo engine or figure out how to have torque readily available at a lower rpm. My test vehicle was fitted with an optional CVT; a six-speed manual is standard. This CVT is different from others as Toyota fitted a fixed first gear ratio that it uses when leaving a stop. This reduces the rubber-band-type delay when accelerating and makes it feel more like a conventional automatic. EPA fuel economy figures for the Corolla Hatchback with the CVT are 32 City/42 Highway/36 Combined. My average for the week landed around 36.1 mpg. One area that the Corolla Hatchback’s predecessor impressed me was the handling. It felt planted and had surprising reflexes when going through a bend, but the rubbery steering did let it down. The Corolla Hatchback carries this torch as it feels even sharper with less body roll and a nimble feel. Steering is improved as well with a more natural feel when turning. I’ll still put the last-generation Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf as the best-handling models in the class, but Corolla Hatchback isn’t too far behind. Despite its sporting intentions, the Corolla Hatchback coped very well on Detroit’s shambolic roads with most bumps and ruts being smoothed over. Part of this comes down to the SE having 16-inch wheels, allowing for more sidewall. Road noise is kept out, but there is a fair amount of wind noise that enters when driving on the freeway. Toyota pulled most of the stops out when working on the Corolla Hatchback and their efforts have paid off. It is the best looking Corolla in quite some time, offers surprising handling characteristics, and comes well equipped for the money. The SE begins at $21,090 and that includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, eight-inch touchscreen, and LED lighting. Where the Corolla Hatchback loses ground is rear-seat space and cargo room which trails competitors by a significant amount. That’s the make or break decision as to whether you should or shouldn’t consider one. Nevertheless, Toyota has done the seemingly impossible: Made the Corolla interesting. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Corolla Hatchback, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Toyota Model: Corolla Hatchback Trim: SE Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve D4S Four-Cylinder Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 32/42/36 Curb Weight: 3,060 lbs Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $21,090 As Tested Price: $23,639.00 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: SE Preferred Package - $1,400.00 Carpet Mat Package - $229.00
  12. In the C&G garage for the week is the 2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited AWD with a sticker price of $47,605. This is Hyundai's newest SUV, at least until the diminutive Hyundai Venue takes its place at the other end of the size spectrum. The first impression I got from the Palisade was how big it is. Even though it is around 7 inches shorter than a Buick Enclave, it looks bigger and beefier. Being a Limited means that it is in top trim with only carpeted floor mats as an additional option. It's powered by a 3.8 liter naturally aspirated V6 producing 291 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque and equipped with start/stop. On my quick initial test drive I found the start/stop function to be unobtrusive and quick to restart the vehicle when I was ready to roll. Another immediate impression was with the sound quality of the Harmon Kardon sound system. I hooked my phone up via USB and Android Auto took over, playing my favorite Pandora station loud and clear. Another feature I like is the video display in the dash when using the turn signal. It helps clear any blind spots one might have in this big SUV. So while you're stuffing your faces with turkey this Thursday, think of questions you have about the 2020 Hyundai Palisade and post them below.
  13. 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature Mazda is on a mission lately to make their products feel more premium. They have been tuning their vehicles to be quieter and more refined in order to give them an air that they are above their class. This second generation of the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2017 model year with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft of torque. For 2019, Mazda added the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from the CX-9. On regular gas, the engine produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque, but if you fill it up with 93 octane, the horsepower figure bumps up to 250. Available only on the Grand Touring and Signature trims, the 2.5-T makes the CX-5 the compact crossover with the most available torque. Mazda sent a CX-5 Signature for me to try for a week to see what I thought. There’s no replacement for displacement… maybe The biggest CX-5 news for 2019 is the engine options. There is the 2.5-T mentioned above and a 2.2-liter turbo diesel. Both are exciting entries into a relatively conservative segment. The 2.5-T is the second-largest displacement engine available in the segment, behind the 3.2 liter V6 in the Jeep Cherokee. This 4-cylinder puts out quite a bit more torque than the bigger V6, though the Jeep produces more horsepower (271 @ 6,500 rpm). Even among 4-cylinders, this is the largest displacement you can get, but none of those others offering 2.5 liters also offers a turbocharger. This engine is rated by the EPA to get 22 city / 27 highway. I got about 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Zero to 60 is a claimed 6.2 seconds. Under normal driving, the engine is quiet and composed, with torque coming on quickly when called for. When the pedal is mashed at speed, the CX-5 leaps forward with minimal turbo lag and gives off a strong growl from under the hood. The only time you can really feel any lag in the turbo is if you are starting from a dead stop. Overall, you never feel without power at the tip of your toes and the sounds, and lack of sounds, from the engine room is quiet and refined. One area the CX-5 falls behind on is in the transmission department. Although the transmission offers smooth shift and is willing to downshift when called upon, a 6-speed automatic almost feels anachronistic in a time when all of its direct competition is sporting 8 or 9 speeds. I never thought there would come a day when 6-forward gears aren’t enough, but here we are. Adding 2 or 3 more gears to the CX-5 would further liven up the already sporty crossover and help keep the turbocharged engine firmly in the good places of its torque band. Ride: Al dente – Firm but tender If there is a brand that Mazda is looking to emulate here by being premium without the premium badge, it would likely be BMW. The ride is firm, but not so harsh as to spill your latte. Steering is on the heavy side with precise control and great on-center feel. Body roll is minimal. Pushing the CX-5 into corners is fun and the standard G-Vectoring Control Plus makes sure you stay planted where you intended to be. The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive mostly runs in front-wheel-drive mode until microscopic amounts of wheel slip are detected and then some torque is instantly transferred to the rear wheels. Mazda programs the AWD system to always have at least a little bit of torque going to the rear in order for the transfer of torque to happen faster. It’s what’s inside that matter most Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated. Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom. There is no adjustment fore and aft. Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum. There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system. Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them. The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW. The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great. There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement. Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up. That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. Do you need a safe space? This may be it. The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed. Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display. I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility. Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display. The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen. The Verdict The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want. However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430. A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147. Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look. View full article
  14. 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature Mazda is on a mission lately to make their products feel more premium. They have been tuning their vehicles to be quieter and more refined in order to give them an air that they are above their class. This second generation of the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2017 model year with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft of torque. For 2019, Mazda added the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from the CX-9. On regular gas, the engine produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque, but if you fill it up with 93 octane, the horsepower figure bumps up to 250. Available only on the Grand Touring and Signature trims, the 2.5-T makes the CX-5 the compact crossover with the most available torque. Mazda sent a CX-5 Signature for me to try for a week to see what I thought. There’s no replacement for displacement… maybe The biggest CX-5 news for 2019 is the engine options. There is the 2.5-T mentioned above and a 2.2-liter turbo diesel. Both are exciting entries into a relatively conservative segment. The 2.5-T is the second-largest displacement engine available in the segment, behind the 3.2 liter V6 in the Jeep Cherokee. This 4-cylinder puts out quite a bit more torque than the bigger V6, though the Jeep produces more horsepower (271 @ 6,500 rpm). Even among 4-cylinders, this is the largest displacement you can get, but none of those others offering 2.5 liters also offers a turbocharger. This engine is rated by the EPA to get 22 city / 27 highway. I got about 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Zero to 60 is a claimed 6.2 seconds. Under normal driving, the engine is quiet and composed, with torque coming on quickly when called for. When the pedal is mashed at speed, the CX-5 leaps forward with minimal turbo lag and gives off a strong growl from under the hood. The only time you can really feel any lag in the turbo is if you are starting from a dead stop. Overall, you never feel without power at the tip of your toes and the sounds, and lack of sounds, from the engine room is quiet and refined. One area the CX-5 falls behind on is in the transmission department. Although the transmission offers smooth shift and is willing to downshift when called upon, a 6-speed automatic almost feels anachronistic in a time when all of its direct competition is sporting 8 or 9 speeds. I never thought there would come a day when 6-forward gears aren’t enough, but here we are. Adding 2 or 3 more gears to the CX-5 would further liven up the already sporty crossover and help keep the turbocharged engine firmly in the good places of its torque band. Ride: Al dente – Firm but tender If there is a brand that Mazda is looking to emulate here by being premium without the premium badge, it would likely be BMW. The ride is firm, but not so harsh as to spill your latte. Steering is on the heavy side with precise control and great on-center feel. Body roll is minimal. Pushing the CX-5 into corners is fun and the standard G-Vectoring Control Plus makes sure you stay planted where you intended to be. The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive mostly runs in front-wheel-drive mode until microscopic amounts of wheel slip are detected and then some torque is instantly transferred to the rear wheels. Mazda programs the AWD system to always have at least a little bit of torque going to the rear in order for the transfer of torque to happen faster. It’s what’s inside that matter most Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated. Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom. There is no adjustment fore and aft. Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum. There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system. Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them. The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW. The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great. There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement. Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up. That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. Do you need a safe space? This may be it. The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed. Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display. I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility. Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display. The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen. The Verdict The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want. However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430. A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147. Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look.
  15. In this week for a review is a 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature with the turbocharged 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine. This engine is shared with the Mazda CX-9 and Mazda 6 Turbo and produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque on regular gasoline, but bumps up to 250 horsepower on 93 octane. All-wheel drive is standard. This is the most loaded of the CX-5 trims with only the paint ($300) and rear bumper guard ($125) as additional charges. That brings the MSRP to $38,360 after destination charges. What do you want to know about this Mazda while I have it for a week? Let me know in the comments below. View full article
  16. In this week for a review is a 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature with the turbocharged 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine. This engine is shared with the Mazda CX-9 and Mazda 6 Turbo and produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque on regular gasoline, but bumps up to 250 horsepower on 93 octane. All-wheel drive is standard. This is the most loaded of the CX-5 trims with only the paint ($300) and rear bumper guard ($125) as additional charges. That brings the MSRP to $38,360 after destination charges. What do you want to know about this Mazda while I have it for a week? Let me know in the comments below.
  17. The X2 is BMW’s entry into the compact crossover vehicle segment. It’s based on the X1, but with a lower roofline and more car-like characteristics. While the base X2 28i comes with a 228 horsepower 2.0-liter engine with either front or all-wheel drive, I got my hands on one with the M badge at a meeting of the Mid-West Automotive Media Association at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet Illinois. The M badge brings a default of BMW xDrive and increases engine horsepower to 302 and the torque to 332 lb.-ft. BWM claims a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and 29 mpg. With that much power coming from a 2-liter engine, there was bound to be a bit of turbo lag and while rolling the small BMW minimizes the lag well. However, from a dead stop, there is a disturbing amount of lag that would scare me if I needed to pull out into fast traffic. Sprints from zero require planning. When already at speed, the 8-speed automatic is quick to downshift and the engine is willing to rev. Putting the X2 M35i into sport mode does make the engine more lively. The suspension setup is stiff and you’ll feel all of the road imperfections except on the most glass-smooth of pavement. That is the tradeoff for having very nimble handling. It is rather fun to push this small front driver into the corners. My tester came with 20-inch wheels rather than the standard 19-inchers. This is not one of those cars that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The interior is definitely snug and I wouldn’t recommend the driver’s seat to anyone much larger than my 5’10” frame. Because of the lower roof, headroom suffers, especially in the rear. Cargo room is small, but if you’re in the market for a car this size, it is to be expected. Still, in spite of its lack of size, the X2 is a comfortable place to sit with bold leather seats in Magma Red. The controls are well placed, though with a large number of buttons. BMW’s iDrive is here too, which always takes some getting used to. Android Auto is not an option and BMW offers Apple CarPlay as a subscription service. This is one thing I can’t get my head around as both are offered for free on much less expensive vehicles. Because of the smaller dimensions, rearward vision isn’t great and there are a few blind spots that can make things tricky. The BMW X2 competes with the likes of the Volvo XC40, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque, Cadillac XT4, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. All of those, save the GLA, feel roomier inside, making the X2 a more ideal fit for someone of diminutive size. However, the M35i can out power all of them except the GLA AMG 45. The as-tested price of my X2 M35i is estimated at $50,400 MSRP. Whether you can stomach $50k for a compact crossover with 302 horsepower is up to you. View full article
  18. Expectation can be a very dangerous thing. You come into something thinking it will blow your mind and more often than not, it comes up short. That’s how I felt during the first few days into a loan of a 2019 Buick Regal GS. What was being presented didn’t match up with my experience. But over the week I had the vehicle, it began to grow on. That isn’t to say some issues need to be addressed. At first glance, you might think Buick decided to stick with a sedan shape. But the sloping rear hatch gives away its true identity as a Sportback. This helps give the impression that the Regal is sporty, helped further by short overhangs. By adding small touches such as large front air intakes, GS-specific 19-inch wheels. Brembo front brake calipers finished in Red, and a small lip spoiler, the GS transforms the Regal into looking like a red-blooded sports sedan. The interior sadly doesn’t match up with what is being presented on the outside. While there was some effort to make the GS stand out with faux carbon-fiber trim, special sport seats, and GS badging, it doesn’t quite match with what is being presented outside. Not helping are some cheap plastics littered throughout the Regal GS’ interior. If this was a standard Regal, I may have given it a slight pass. But considering this GS carries a price of almost $43k, it becomes a big issue. The interior does redeem it somewhat with a logical and simple layout. No one had any complaints about whether the controls were confusing or hard to reach. Let’s talk about the front seats, The Regal GS comes fitted with racing-style front seat with aggressive side bolstering and faux holes towards the top where the belts for a harness would go into. This design seems more at home in a hardcore Corvette than a Buick. Before you start thinking that the seat design only allows a small group of people to fit, Buick has fitted adjustable bolstering to allow a wide set of body types to sit comfortably. With this and other power adjustments, I was able to find a position that suited me. Over a long drive, the seats were able to provide the right amount of support and comfort. The back seats don’t get the same “race car” treatment as the front, but they do offer ample head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space is quite impressive with 31.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 60.7 when folded. The Kia Stinger I drove back in January pales in comparison with 23.3 and 40.9 cubic feet. The Regal GS features an eight-inch touchscreen with the new Buick Infotainment 3 system. As I mentioned in my Silverado/Sierra 1500 review, the new system is worlds better than Intellilink. The interface has been cleaned up with simpler graphics and fonts that are much easier to read. Also seeing noticeable improvements is the overall performance. The system is much faster when bringing up different functions or crunching a route on the optional navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE round off the system. With the effort Buick has put in, you might have the feeling that the Regal GS has something special under the hood. That isn’t the case. Under the hood of the GS is GM’s venerable 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet. While the V6 packs 40 more horsepower than the 2.0L turbo-four from the last-generation model, it is also down 13 pound-feet. This absence becomes apparent when you decide to sprint away from a stoplight or exiting a corner as you need to work the engine to get that rush of power. A numb throttle response doesn’t help. If you resist from attack mode, the V6 reveals a quiet and refined nature. But again, you will need to work the engine when merging or making a pass. Before someone shouts “put a turbo on it”, Buick cannot do that as there isn’t enough space in the engine bay due to the design of the platform. We’ve known about this issue since 2016 when Holden was gearing up to launch the Commodore - its version of the OpelVauxhall Insignia. The nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with unobtrusive shifts when going about your daily errands, but offers up snappy shifts when you decide to get aggressive. A glaring omission on this sports sedan is the lack of paddle shifters. Fuel economy for the 2019 Regal GS is 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. I saw an average of 20 during the week. This can likely to be attributed to the test vehicle having under 1,000 miles on the odometer. On paper, the Regal GS’ handling credentials seem top-notch with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and a GKN all-wheel drive system featuring a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential. The latter allows a varying amount of power sent to each rear wheel to improve cornering. In the real world, the GS is more Grand Tourer than Gran Sport. While the sedan shows little body roll, its reflexes are slightly muted due to a nearly 3,800 pound curb weight. The steering provides a decent amount of weight when turning, but don’t expect a lot of road feel. What about that AWD system? For the most part, you really won’t notice working unless you decide to push the limits or practice your winter driving skills in a snowy and empty parking lot. Thanks to the CDC system, the Regal GS’ ride is surprisingly smooth. With the vehicle in Tour, the suspension glides over bumps and imperfections. The ride begins to get choppy if you One area that I’m glad Buick is still focusing on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent. The 2019 Buick Regal GS is a case of expectations being put too high. Despite what the exterior and sports seats of the interior may hint at, this isn’t a sports sedan like a Kia Stinger GT or something from a German luxury brand. But my feelings began to change when I thought of the GS as being more of a grand tourer. It has the ingredients such as a refined powertrain, a suspension that can be altered to provide either a comfortable or sporty ride; and minimizing the amount of outside noise. There lies the overall problem with Regal GS as Buick doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a sport sedan or a luxury sedan with grand tourer tendencies? This confusion will likely cause many people to look at something else which is a big shame. How I Would Configure a 2019 Buick Regal GS. My particular configuration would be similar to the vehicle tested here with the Driver Confidence Package #2, Sights and Sounds, and Appearance packages. The only change would be adding the White Frost Tricoat color, which adds an additional $1,095 to the price. All together, it comes out to $44,210. Alternatives to the 2019 Buick Regal GS: Kia Stinger: The big elephant in the room when talking about the Regal GS. For a similar amount of cash, you can step into the base GT model with its 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive setup (AWD adds $2,200). I came away very impressed with the styling, performance on tap from the V6, and handling prowess. Downsides include the interior design being a bit too minimalist and the ride being a bit rough. Volkswagen Arteon: The other dark horse to the Regal GS. There is no doubt that the Arteon is quite handsome with flowing lines and sleek fastback shape. Having sat in one at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I found it to be very roomy and upscale in terms of the interior materials. I hope to get some time behind the wheel in the near future to see how it measures up in handling. Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Regal GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Buick Model: Regal Trim: GS Engine: 3.6L V6 Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,800 Torque @ RPM: 282 @ 5,200 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22 Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany Base Price: $39,070 As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge) Options: Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00 Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00 Appearance Package: $485.00 View full article
  19. Automakers want to be first into a new segment for various reasons. They can become the icon for the class and grab a fair chunk of sales as competitors rush to get their models in. There is a significant downside to being first as it allows some of the competition to study and figure out where to improve on. This brings us to the 2019 Volvo XC40 which is the focus of today’s review. It was one of the late arrivals to the subcompact luxury crossover class, but it allowed the automaker to study and figure what it could improve on. How does it stack up? The XC40 shares various design traits with the XC60 and XC90 crossovers. They include a familiar boxy profile, wide rectangular grille, and LED headlights with the signature “Thor’s Hammer” element. But Volvo allowed their designers to play around to give it a distinct identity. Take for example the side profile with its beltline that sharply rakes along the rear door and meets the rear pillar. There is also the option of a two-tone color palette that gives the XC40 a youthful look. Inside, the XC40 follows the ideals as seen in other Volvos with a minimalist look. But again, Volvo gave free roam to their designers to make it slightly different. While my test vehicle didn’t come with the bright ‘Lava Orange’ carpet, there is patterned metal trim where you would expect to find wood and felt-like material covering parts of the door panels. There is a fair amount of hard plastics used, but Volvo made the smart decision of keeping them in places where they make sense such as panels covering the center console. My R-Design tester came with leather upholstery for the seats, along with power adjustments for those sitting in the front. The front seats are the best place to sit in as they offer plenty of support and comfort for any drive length. In the back, there plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. But the XC40 falters on the seats as the bottom cushions come up a bit short and the seat-back doesn’t have any form of recline. Volvo’s technology story in the XC40 is mixed. The reconfigurable 12.3-inch display for the instrument cluster is a delight to look at with vibrant graphics and different layouts to present key information. Move over to the center stack to find a nine-inch touchscreen with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Many of the controls for audio, climate control, and systems are controlled through the screen, with a row of buttons sitting underneath for volume and a few other functions. This decision does make for a cleaner dash but also makes accomplishing simple tasks very irritating. To change the fan speed or audio input, you have to go through various screens to find that one menu or slider. Adding more physical buttons would clutter up the dash, but would massively improve overall usability. What engine comes under the hood of the XC40 ultimately depends on the driven wheels. Go for front-wheel drive and you’ll end up with the T4 - turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 187 horsepower. Opt for all-wheel drive like in my tester and you’ll get the T5 - the same 2.0L four, but with 248 horsepower. Both come paired with an eight-speed automatic. The T5 is the workhorse of Volvo’s lineup by boasting decent performance and fuel economy for most of their models. In the XC40, the T5 becomes a surprising performer with excellent off the line performance and a seemingly endless flow of power when needed for passing. Some credit is due to the 258 pound-feet of torque which is available on the low end of the rpm band. The eight-speed automatic provided timely and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is rated at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 24 mpg. Opting for the R-Design does change up the chassis setup with an emphasis on sporty driving. This is apparent in the bends as the XC40 feels confident with minimal body roll and quick reflexes. Steering is responsive, but there will be some who wished there was a little bit more weight dialed in. The downside to the R-Design’s chassis is the ride feeling slightly rough, not helped by the optional 20-inch alloy wheels fitted to my tester. Despite being somewhat late to the party, the Volvo XC40 stands out from the subcompact luxury crossover crowd. The styling inside and out put the model into its own space that competitors dream about, along with offering a strong performer in the form of the T5 engine. Where the XC40 stands out is the Care By Volvo subscription service. Starting at $700 a month for 24 months, this service gives you the vehicle, complimentary maintenance, insurance, and the ability to upgrade your vehicle to another one after 12 months. No one has been able to match what Volvo is offering. The XC40 shows that if you bring something compelling to the party, it doesn’t matter how late you are. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the XC40, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Volvo Model: XC40 Trim: T5 R-Design Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 248 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,713 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ghent, Belgium Base Price: $35,700 As Tested Price: $46,385 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: R-Design Features - $2,500.00 Laminated Panoramic Sunroof - $1,200.00 Vision Package - $1,100.00 Advanced Package - $995.00 Premium Package - $900.00 20" 5-Double Spoke Matte Black Alloy Wheels - $800.00 Harman Kardon Audio System - $800.00 Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel - $750.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00 View full article
  20. Automakers want to be first into a new segment for various reasons. They can become the icon for the class and grab a fair chunk of sales as competitors rush to get their models in. There is a significant downside to being first as it allows some of the competition to study and figure out where to improve on. This brings us to the 2019 Volvo XC40 which is the focus of today’s review. It was one of the late arrivals to the subcompact luxury crossover class, but it allowed the automaker to study and figure what it could improve on. How does it stack up? The XC40 shares various design traits with the XC60 and XC90 crossovers. They include a familiar boxy profile, wide rectangular grille, and LED headlights with the signature “Thor’s Hammer” element. But Volvo allowed their designers to play around to give it a distinct identity. Take for example the side profile with its beltline that sharply rakes along the rear door and meets the rear pillar. There is also the option of a two-tone color palette that gives the XC40 a youthful look. Inside, the XC40 follows the ideals as seen in other Volvos with a minimalist look. But again, Volvo gave free roam to their designers to make it slightly different. While my test vehicle didn’t come with the bright ‘Lava Orange’ carpet, there is patterned metal trim where you would expect to find wood and felt-like material covering parts of the door panels. There is a fair amount of hard plastics used, but Volvo made the smart decision of keeping them in places where they make sense such as panels covering the center console. My R-Design tester came with leather upholstery for the seats, along with power adjustments for those sitting in the front. The front seats are the best place to sit in as they offer plenty of support and comfort for any drive length. In the back, there plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. But the XC40 falters on the seats as the bottom cushions come up a bit short and the seat-back doesn’t have any form of recline. Volvo’s technology story in the XC40 is mixed. The reconfigurable 12.3-inch display for the instrument cluster is a delight to look at with vibrant graphics and different layouts to present key information. Move over to the center stack to find a nine-inch touchscreen with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Many of the controls for audio, climate control, and systems are controlled through the screen, with a row of buttons sitting underneath for volume and a few other functions. This decision does make for a cleaner dash but also makes accomplishing simple tasks very irritating. To change the fan speed or audio input, you have to go through various screens to find that one menu or slider. Adding more physical buttons would clutter up the dash, but would massively improve overall usability. What engine comes under the hood of the XC40 ultimately depends on the driven wheels. Go for front-wheel drive and you’ll end up with the T4 - turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 187 horsepower. Opt for all-wheel drive like in my tester and you’ll get the T5 - the same 2.0L four, but with 248 horsepower. Both come paired with an eight-speed automatic. The T5 is the workhorse of Volvo’s lineup by boasting decent performance and fuel economy for most of their models. In the XC40, the T5 becomes a surprising performer with excellent off the line performance and a seemingly endless flow of power when needed for passing. Some credit is due to the 258 pound-feet of torque which is available on the low end of the rpm band. The eight-speed automatic provided timely and smooth shifts. Fuel economy is rated at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 24 mpg. Opting for the R-Design does change up the chassis setup with an emphasis on sporty driving. This is apparent in the bends as the XC40 feels confident with minimal body roll and quick reflexes. Steering is responsive, but there will be some who wished there was a little bit more weight dialed in. The downside to the R-Design’s chassis is the ride feeling slightly rough, not helped by the optional 20-inch alloy wheels fitted to my tester. Despite being somewhat late to the party, the Volvo XC40 stands out from the subcompact luxury crossover crowd. The styling inside and out put the model into its own space that competitors dream about, along with offering a strong performer in the form of the T5 engine. Where the XC40 stands out is the Care By Volvo subscription service. Starting at $700 a month for 24 months, this service gives you the vehicle, complimentary maintenance, insurance, and the ability to upgrade your vehicle to another one after 12 months. No one has been able to match what Volvo is offering. The XC40 shows that if you bring something compelling to the party, it doesn’t matter how late you are. Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the XC40, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Volvo Model: XC40 Trim: T5 R-Design Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 248 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26 Curb Weight: 3,713 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ghent, Belgium Base Price: $35,700 As Tested Price: $46,385 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) Options: R-Design Features - $2,500.00 Laminated Panoramic Sunroof - $1,200.00 Vision Package - $1,100.00 Advanced Package - $995.00 Premium Package - $900.00 20" 5-Double Spoke Matte Black Alloy Wheels - $800.00 Harman Kardon Audio System - $800.00 Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel - $750.00 Metallic Paint - $645.00
  21. The X2 is BMW’s entry into the compact crossover vehicle segment. It’s based on the X1, but with a lower roofline and more car-like characteristics. While the base X2 28i comes with a 228 horsepower 2.0-liter engine with either front or all-wheel drive, I got my hands on one with the M badge at a meeting of the Mid-West Automotive Media Association at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet Illinois. The M badge brings a default of BMW xDrive and increases engine horsepower to 302 and the torque to 332 lb.-ft. BWM claims a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and 29 mpg. With that much power coming from a 2-liter engine, there was bound to be a bit of turbo lag and while rolling the small BMW minimizes the lag well. However, from a dead stop, there is a disturbing amount of lag that would scare me if I needed to pull out into fast traffic. Sprints from zero require planning. When already at speed, the 8-speed automatic is quick to downshift and the engine is willing to rev. Putting the X2 M35i into sport mode does make the engine more lively. The suspension setup is stiff and you’ll feel all of the road imperfections except on the most glass-smooth of pavement. That is the tradeoff for having very nimble handling. It is rather fun to push this small front driver into the corners. My tester came with 20-inch wheels rather than the standard 19-inchers. This is not one of those cars that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The interior is definitely snug and I wouldn’t recommend the driver’s seat to anyone much larger than my 5’10” frame. Because of the lower roof, headroom suffers, especially in the rear. Cargo room is small, but if you’re in the market for a car this size, it is to be expected. Still, in spite of its lack of size, the X2 is a comfortable place to sit with bold leather seats in Magma Red. The controls are well placed, though with a large number of buttons. BMW’s iDrive is here too, which always takes some getting used to. Android Auto is not an option and BMW offers Apple CarPlay as a subscription service. This is one thing I can’t get my head around as both are offered for free on much less expensive vehicles. Because of the smaller dimensions, rearward vision isn’t great and there are a few blind spots that can make things tricky. The BMW X2 competes with the likes of the Volvo XC40, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque, Cadillac XT4, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. All of those, save the GLA, feel roomier inside, making the X2 a more ideal fit for someone of diminutive size. However, the M35i can out power all of them except the GLA AMG 45. The as-tested price of my X2 M35i is estimated at $50,400 MSRP. Whether you can stomach $50k for a compact crossover with 302 horsepower is up to you.
  22. The last-generation Lexus LS felt a bit lost. It had many of the qualities of previous LS models, but it could not fully compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series. People pointed out the somewhat plain design, lackluster performance of the V8 engine, or the confounding infotainment system as possible reasons. But I think the reason comes down to Lexus not having something that made the LS stand out. How do you right the ship of what many considered to be at one time, the best luxury sedan on sale? If you’re Lexus, that means making some very drastic changes. Lexus has tended to play it safe with the LS’ design to fit with the general idea of a flagship sedan - providing a presence without shouting. But this new generation decides to stray away from that idea. The front end features a lot of inspiration from LC coupe with a wide grille, protruding cutouts for the faux vent, and a lowered hood. A set of Z-shaped LED headlights help the LS stand out from other Lexus models. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the previous model with slightly wider fenders and a new trunk lid design. One of the places that LS surprised me was the interior. The layout is quite attractive with a flowing dash and contours on the door panels. A clever touch is the horizontal slat pattern used on the center part of the dash that somewhat disguises the center vents. Material quality is top-notch with leather, real wood, and metal used throughout. This particular test vehicle was equipped with perforated leather upholstery which had a unique snakeskin pattern. I quite liked it, but some who rode in the vehicle found it to be a bit gaudy. This seat pattern is only available on the F-Sport, all other LS models have a plain design. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide numerous power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of legroom, but tall passengers will be annoyed by their heads touching the roof liner, a major downside to the lower roofline. The interior also houses a big disappointment; Lexus Remote Touch. The touchpad controller is still confounding and distracting to use as you need to be precise with your finger movements to correctly select the function you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up on another screen and want to scream. This is disappointing considering that Lexus Enform has improved a lot. The system is noticeably quicker in various functions and can use Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Despite the 500 designation, there is not a 5.0L V8 under the LS’ hood. Instead, Lexus is using a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic routes power to either the rear or all four wheels like in my test vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 is disappointing when leaving a stop as there is a considerable amount of turbo lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding. Once you get past this, the V6 provides plenty of scoot. Never once did I think that the V8 would be better whenever I need to merge or speed out of a corner. It is also noticeably quieter and more refined than the old V8. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined if you opt for AWD. Stick with RWD and the numbers rise to 19/30/23. My average for the week landed at 20.2 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Picking the F-Sport trim will get you a revised suspension setup and uprated brakes. It will not transform the LS into something like an Alpina B7 or a Mercedes-AMG S63, but it does make the vehicle feel a bit more poised on a winding road. When put into S+ mode, Body roll is kept in check and the steering is quick to respond. The coil springs used on the LS F-Sport are a bit stiff, which will provide a more choppy ride. An optional air suspension is reportedly better at dealing with bumps and other imperfections, but I will need to try it out before saying it is better or not. This drastic move by Lexus with the new LS could have gone wrong, but it pulls it off. The new model is more interesting to look at, luxurious and offers improved driving dynamics when ordered with the F-Sport package. There are still some thorns Lexus needs to extract such as the poor initial performance of the twin-turbo six and the mess that is Remote Touch. If you’re willing to deal with these issues, then the 2019 LS is a very viable alternative to the Germans. How I would configure an LS 500: Most likely I would build one similar to the one seen here, although I would get it in red as I think the paint really makes the design pop. Alternatives to the LS 500 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is still considered by many to be the best of the best. Considering its wide range of engines, very smooth ride, and impressive interior quality, it is tough to argue this. But the LS comes very close to matching the S-Class's interior quality, along with a more eye-catching design. It doesn't help that the S-Class is about $7,000 more than the LS. Genesis G90: Still the bargain in the flagship sedan class with a base price of $69,350 and coming with almost every feature you would expect. The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 offers better off-the line performance than the 3.5 found in the LS. But the LS offers higher quality interior materials than what is available in the G90. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 500 F-Sport Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo 24-Valve DOHC V6 Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 416 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 442 @1600 - 4800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 5,027 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $84,420 As Tested Price: $88,605 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System with 23 Speakers - $1,940.00 24-Inch Heads-Up Display - $1,220.00 View full article
  23. The last-generation Lexus LS felt a bit lost. It had many of the qualities of previous LS models, but it could not fully compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series. People pointed out the somewhat plain design, lackluster performance of the V8 engine, or the confounding infotainment system as possible reasons. But I think the reason comes down to Lexus not having something that made the LS stand out. How do you right the ship of what many considered to be at one time, the best luxury sedan on sale? If you’re Lexus, that means making some very drastic changes. Lexus has tended to play it safe with the LS’ design to fit with the general idea of a flagship sedan - providing a presence without shouting. But this new generation decides to stray away from that idea. The front end features a lot of inspiration from LC coupe with a wide grille, protruding cutouts for the faux vent, and a lowered hood. A set of Z-shaped LED headlights help the LS stand out from other Lexus models. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the previous model with slightly wider fenders and a new trunk lid design. One of the places that LS surprised me was the interior. The layout is quite attractive with a flowing dash and contours on the door panels. A clever touch is the horizontal slat pattern used on the center part of the dash that somewhat disguises the center vents. Material quality is top-notch with leather, real wood, and metal used throughout. This particular test vehicle was equipped with perforated leather upholstery which had a unique snakeskin pattern. I quite liked it, but some who rode in the vehicle found it to be a bit gaudy. This seat pattern is only available on the F-Sport, all other LS models have a plain design. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide numerous power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of legroom, but tall passengers will be annoyed by their heads touching the roof liner, a major downside to the lower roofline. The interior also houses a big disappointment; Lexus Remote Touch. The touchpad controller is still confounding and distracting to use as you need to be precise with your finger movements to correctly select the function you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up on another screen and want to scream. This is disappointing considering that Lexus Enform has improved a lot. The system is noticeably quicker in various functions and can use Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Despite the 500 designation, there is not a 5.0L V8 under the LS’ hood. Instead, Lexus is using a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic routes power to either the rear or all four wheels like in my test vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 is disappointing when leaving a stop as there is a considerable amount of turbo lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding. Once you get past this, the V6 provides plenty of scoot. Never once did I think that the V8 would be better whenever I need to merge or speed out of a corner. It is also noticeably quieter and more refined than the old V8. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined if you opt for AWD. Stick with RWD and the numbers rise to 19/30/23. My average for the week landed at 20.2 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Picking the F-Sport trim will get you a revised suspension setup and uprated brakes. It will not transform the LS into something like an Alpina B7 or a Mercedes-AMG S63, but it does make the vehicle feel a bit more poised on a winding road. When put into S+ mode, Body roll is kept in check and the steering is quick to respond. The coil springs used on the LS F-Sport are a bit stiff, which will provide a more choppy ride. An optional air suspension is reportedly better at dealing with bumps and other imperfections, but I will need to try it out before saying it is better or not. This drastic move by Lexus with the new LS could have gone wrong, but it pulls it off. The new model is more interesting to look at, luxurious and offers improved driving dynamics when ordered with the F-Sport package. There are still some thorns Lexus needs to extract such as the poor initial performance of the twin-turbo six and the mess that is Remote Touch. If you’re willing to deal with these issues, then the 2019 LS is a very viable alternative to the Germans. How I would configure an LS 500: Most likely I would build one similar to the one seen here, although I would get it in red as I think the paint really makes the design pop. Alternatives to the LS 500 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is still considered by many to be the best of the best. Considering its wide range of engines, very smooth ride, and impressive interior quality, it is tough to argue this. But the LS comes very close to matching the S-Class's interior quality, along with a more eye-catching design. It doesn't help that the S-Class is about $7,000 more than the LS. Genesis G90: Still the bargain in the flagship sedan class with a base price of $69,350 and coming with almost every feature you would expect. The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 offers better off-the line performance than the 3.5 found in the LS. But the LS offers higher quality interior materials than what is available in the G90. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: LS Trim: 500 F-Sport Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo 24-Valve DOHC V6 Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 416 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 442 @1600 - 4800 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - Curb Weight: 5,027 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan Base Price: $84,420 As Tested Price: $88,605 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge) Options: Mark Levinson Audio System with 23 Speakers - $1,940.00 24-Inch Heads-Up Display - $1,220.00
  24. The Volkswagen Arteon is the vehicle that effectively replaces the Volkswagen CC in VW’s lineup, however, it comes at the segment with a noticeably different approach. The Arteon is much more interesting looking than the old CC and comes as a hatchback rather than a sedan. I would hesitate to use the word “bold” about the Arteon’s looks, as feels rather conservative to me, but it still has a gravitas that lets passers-by know that this is not an ordinary Volkswagen. The front end has a lot of detailing with multiple creases in the hood and a deep, wide grille. Thick wheel arches give the car a muscular look. Around back, the hatch area fits between a set of thick thighs and a set of tail lights that almost look Benz-like. Down below there is a chrome strip that runs around the entire perimeter of the car. As handsome as the exterior is, the interior is a bit of a letdown. In the SEL version I drove, the interior materials were not up to snuff for a car with a $42,795 sticker price and the design is fairly sterile. There is a wide strip that traverses the dash and mimics the look of the grille and below that, another wood (plood?) strip runs parallel. The center stack is neatly organized with all knobs and buttons within easy reach. If you are a bit of a neat freak like me about your car, keep a microfiber duster in the glovebox to wipe down the piano black surfaces. The seats are flat and firm but without much lateral support. As a hatchback, rear passengers get cut out of a bit of headroom, but there is plenty of legroom back there for them to stretch out. Cargo room for this size of a car can only be described as cavernous. The hatch lifts up high and out of the way giving you easy access to anything you can rear. Fold the rear seats down and you may even say “Crossover, what?”, there is 55 cubic feet of cargo room back there. The Arteon comes with an 8-inch touch screen display that includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Android Auto is easy to set up and I stayed in that mode during my entire drive. Driving the Arteon is probably the best part about it. My tester came equipped with 4motion, Volkswagen’s all-wheel-drive system. It works well and the car feels glued to the road during the twisties. No matter which level of Arteon you buy, you have a single choice of engine. Standard is a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is this engine that delayed the Arteon’s entry into the U.S. due to a backlog of certification testing. This setup is merely adequate. It neither thrills you nor lets you down. I do wish a V6 were available, but small-displacement turbo-4s are where the market is going these days. Unfortunately, even with the small displacement 4-cylinder, you still get V6-like fuel economy. The Arteon is rated for 20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined. For reference, that’s about the same as an AWD Buick Lacrosse with a big V6 and 310 horsepower, in fact, the Buick does a little better on the highway and so do most other V6 sedans. In normal mode the transmission is a bit lazy, upshifting early and reluctant to downshift. In sport mode, it wakes up a little but there is still a lag when downshifting. The ride and drive of the Arteon is definitely dialed towards comfort over sport. It comes equipped with a DCC adaptive ride system, but I notice almost no difference between the Sport and Comfort modes. Cruising along in the Arteon is serene with very little noise from the outside entering the cabin. It is certainly a car that can get you into trouble with the leasing company for mileage. Is the Arteon a car I can recommend? Yes and no. If you’re a die-hard VW fan, then the Arteon is an easy choice to make. Otherwise, there are more powerful and more upscale options out there for the price, but you wouldn’t be wrong to choose this one. Year: 2019 Make: Volkswagen Model: Arteon Trim: SEL w/4Motion Engine: 2.0L DOHC Turbocharged Direct Injected 4-cylinder Driveline: 8-Speed automatic with all-wheel-drive Horsepower: 268 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 0 - 3,600 Curb Weight: 3,655 lbs Location of Manufacture: Emden, Germany Base Price: $35,845 As Tested Price: $42,790 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge) View full article
  25. The Volkswagen Arteon is the vehicle that effectively replaces the Volkswagen CC in VW’s lineup, however, it comes at the segment with a noticeably different approach. The Arteon is much more interesting looking than the old CC and comes as a hatchback rather than a sedan. I would hesitate to use the word “bold” about the Arteon’s looks, as feels rather conservative to me, but it still has a gravitas that lets passers-by know that this is not an ordinary Volkswagen. The front end has a lot of detailing with multiple creases in the hood and a deep, wide grille. Thick wheel arches give the car a muscular look. Around back, the hatch area fits between a set of thick thighs and a set of tail lights that almost look Benz-like. Down below there is a chrome strip that runs around the entire perimeter of the car. As handsome as the exterior is, the interior is a bit of a letdown. In the SEL version I drove, the interior materials were not up to snuff for a car with a $42,795 sticker price and the design is fairly sterile. There is a wide strip that traverses the dash and mimics the look of the grille and below that, another wood (plood?) strip runs parallel. The center stack is neatly organized with all knobs and buttons within easy reach. If you are a bit of a neat freak like me about your car, keep a microfiber duster in the glovebox to wipe down the piano black surfaces. The seats are flat and firm but without much lateral support. As a hatchback, rear passengers get cut out of a bit of headroom, but there is plenty of legroom back there for them to stretch out. Cargo room for this size of a car can only be described as cavernous. The hatch lifts up high and out of the way giving you easy access to anything you can rear. Fold the rear seats down and you may even say “Crossover, what?”, there is 55 cubic feet of cargo room back there. The Arteon comes with an 8-inch touch screen display that includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Android Auto is easy to set up and I stayed in that mode during my entire drive. Driving the Arteon is probably the best part about it. My tester came equipped with 4motion, Volkswagen’s all-wheel-drive system. It works well and the car feels glued to the road during the twisties. No matter which level of Arteon you buy, you have a single choice of engine. Standard is a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is this engine that delayed the Arteon’s entry into the U.S. due to a backlog of certification testing. This setup is merely adequate. It neither thrills you nor lets you down. I do wish a V6 were available, but small-displacement turbo-4s are where the market is going these days. Unfortunately, even with the small displacement 4-cylinder, you still get V6-like fuel economy. The Arteon is rated for 20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined. For reference, that’s about the same as an AWD Buick Lacrosse with a big V6 and 310 horsepower, in fact, the Buick does a little better on the highway and so do most other V6 sedans. In normal mode the transmission is a bit lazy, upshifting early and reluctant to downshift. In sport mode, it wakes up a little but there is still a lag when downshifting. The ride and drive of the Arteon is definitely dialed towards comfort over sport. It comes equipped with a DCC adaptive ride system, but I notice almost no difference between the Sport and Comfort modes. Cruising along in the Arteon is serene with very little noise from the outside entering the cabin. It is certainly a car that can get you into trouble with the leasing company for mileage. Is the Arteon a car I can recommend? Yes and no. If you’re a die-hard VW fan, then the Arteon is an easy choice to make. Otherwise, there are more powerful and more upscale options out there for the price, but you wouldn’t be wrong to choose this one. Year: 2019 Make: Volkswagen Model: Arteon Trim: SEL w/4Motion Engine: 2.0L DOHC Turbocharged Direct Injected 4-cylinder Driveline: 8-Speed automatic with all-wheel-drive Horsepower: 268 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 0 - 3,600 Curb Weight: 3,655 lbs Location of Manufacture: Emden, Germany Base Price: $35,845 As Tested Price: $42,790 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

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