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Archive for the ‘compact cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Project Redspace

The Earth is teeming with humanity. In 2011, the world population hit a head-spinning 7 billion people, and it’s only getting more crowded – at an accelerating rate, too. Most folks live in and around staggeringly dense urban centers called “megacities,” called as such thanks to population figures that eclipse the 10-million mark. With such incredible numbers of people to serve, transportation systems are at their limit. So what’s the solution? Something like Project Redspace might very well be it. Produced by a Chinese firm and aimed primarily at the Chinese market, the Project Redspace (Redspace as in “Revolutionary Electric Dream Space”) is an all-electric commuter with a unique twist. The driving philosophy behind its creation was to leverage space wherever possible, finding an ideal amalgamation between form and function through inherent adaptability and customization, all while leaving the door open for the integration of forthcoming autonomous systems. Introduced in concept form at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, this very well could be the transportation solution for future U.S. city dwellers.

While the Project Redspace certainly doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before, that’s kind of the point, or at least half of it. Spearheading the project is Chris Bangle, a noted American car designer with a resume that includes a stint at BMW and Fiat. Backed by Chinese partners from CHTC Motors (China Hi-Tech New Energy Automobile Co., Ltd), Bangle says that he managed to design “a space that decided to become a car,” and he’s deadest on meeting the needs of the traveling public of the future. While this might be a prototype model, a production iteration is reportedly just years away. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 Project Redspace.

Exterior

– * Unique exterior features

– * Boxy, yet angular, yet organic

– * Forward-leaning windshield helps keep interior cool

– * Offers a roof around the perimeter

– * Sliding door design

– * Very small exterior dimensions

– * Flower pedal wheel cover design


2020 Project Redspace - image 750728
“The Project Redspace is utterly unique, blending a variety of elements to create something unlike anything we’ve seen before”

The Project Redspace is utterly unique, blending a variety of elements to create something unlike anything we’ve seen before. It’s boxy, no doubt about it, but at the same time its got tons of curves and angles, marked by pointed elements added just about everywhere, thus breaking up the lunchbox-style form underneath with additional organic bits. The details on this thing are plentiful, to say the least. Bangle says part of the design takes inspiration from what a little kid would trace when asked to draw car – a bold move, to say the least.

Taking responsibility for the form is a multinational design team that includes folks from Germany, Japan, America, France, and Italy, which might help to explain the Project Redspace’s rather hodge-podge look. Bangle calls it an “interactive” design language.


2020 Project Redspace - image 750736
“Taking responsibility for the form is a multinational design team, which might help to explain the Project Redspace’s rather hodge-podge look.”

In front, we find a short, blocky nose, with rounded curves and angular headlights drawn into the corners. An organic-looking front bumper block breaks up the form, while the windshield rises up and outwards into a perfectly flat roof, curving around like half of a martini glass. The headlights appear to offer LED lighting elements, with signature surrounds. The overhangs are very short, both front and back. A small geometric Redspace badge resides in the left-hand portion of the fascia.

Moving to the sides, the Redspace’s unique front-leaning wraparound windshield becomes more obvious, offset by a rear-leaning pillar structure to give a sort of vee-shape. While unique in terms of styling, the automaker says the design is also quite functional, as it opens up the interior space while simultaneously allowing for more efficient airflow outside. The top overhang also helps create a shadow, thus keeping temperatures inside down.


2020 Project Redspace - image 750730
“In the corners, we see an adequately funky wheel design, like the pedals of a some kind of mechanical flower. Aiding ingress and egress is a pair of sliding doors, similar to a van, and particular useful when squeezing through tight spots.”

In the corners, we see an adequately funky wheel design, like the pedals of some kind of mechanical flower. Aiding ingress and egress is a pair of horizontally sliding doors, with a function similar to what you might find on a van, which is particularly useful when squeezing through tight spots. The sliding design also means the car offers a bit of a roof as you climb into the vehicle, which, as the automaker points out, should keep you dry when entering or exiting the car in inclement weather.


2020 Project Redspace - image 750735
“As you might expect, all those crazy exterior details opens up a plethora of opportunities when it comes to customization.”

As you might expect, all those crazy exterior details open up a plethora of opportunities when it comes to customization, and the automaker is quick to boast about the huge range of styling options customers will have in making it their own.

Finally, the Project Redspace comes with very small exterior dimensions, a vital characteristic for city driving. We’ll let you know the final measurements when the production version arrives, but for now, we hear it’s roughly 20 inches shorter than a Fiat 500 and just a tad bigger than a Smart Fortwo.

Interior

– * Designed from the inside out

– * Seats four passengers

– * Offers enough space to “live” in

– * Large infotainment screen on the dash

– * Adaptable and modular seating arrangement

– * Wi-Fi should be standard

– * Seats rotate for socialization

– * Opens up opportunities for autonomous technology


2020 Project Redspace - image 750748
“Project Redspace actually began its life as an interior”

Interestingly, Project Redspace actually began its life as an interior. The designers started by modeling the cabin space, so as you can imagine, a lot of time and effort went into making it as effective as possible. The overarching goal was to comfortably seat four adult passengers, while also offering a huge amount of customizability to fulfill a broad range of needs, whether its playing video games, changing a diaper, or finishing a business report. Bangle says it’s supposed to be an area large enough to “live my life in,” like a mobile apartment.

To kick it off, the individual seats can swivel 180 degrees, facing forward while driving, or facing one another when the car isn’t in motion. Alternatively, the seats can be rearranged into a totally new configuration, placed in offset to make more room for arms and legs. The armrests slope upwards for easier driving.


2020 Project Redspace - image 750739
“The seats can be rearranged into a totally new configuration, placed in offset to make more room for arms and legs.”

On the dash, the most obvious feature is the enormous 17-inch infotainment screen on top of the dash. There’s also a lower touchscreen located near the driver to provide a means for user inputs. This lower screen gets a plastic cover with a tactile feel to it, which is intended to offer easier the driver operation without requiring them to take their eyes off the road. There’s also a fold-down desk, in case you need a spot to sign papers or rest your mobile device. Onboard Wi-Fi should be standard.


2020 Project Redspace - image 750750
“The car is obviously perfectly suited for high levels of autonomy.”

Further tech features include automatic braking and parking assistance. And considering the amount of time that went into making the Redspace interior a great spot to relax, the car is obviously perfectly suited for high levels of autonomy, a facet the company is sure to jump on as soon as the technology hits the right inflection point in terms of cost and efficacy.

Drivetrain

– * Rear-mounted electric motor

– * Aluminum construction

– * Solar panels on the roof

– * Inductive charging capabilities

– * Offers the same range as a “large four-seater car”


2020 Project Redspace - image 750734
“The Project Redspace gets all-electric motivation”

Per tradition for a forward-thinking city machine, the Project Redspace gets all-electric motivation. Details on the car’s powertrain are understandably still under wraps, but we do know the electric motor is mounted in the rear, which means its RWD. The batteries are also mounted underneath the floor, while aluminum was used for the construction to keep it as lightweight as possible. The automaker also says it’ll offer the range of a “large four-seater car,” so we’re hoping for at least 150 miles. 200 miles would be ideal.

Once again though, the details are what make Project Redspace interesting. For example, the roof is a solar panel, which is wired to the peripherals (HVAC, stereo, infotainment, etc.) to keep the battery pack topped off on sunny days. And it’s got a big roof too, which means a big solar panel. Apparently, it’ll have the option for inductive charging as well, a feature that will be offered at launch.

Prices


2020 Project Redspace - image 750740

While the Project Redspace is designed specifically for the Chinese market, there’s a possibility it could see an introduction in other markets as well, including in the U.S.

Impressively, Redspace says it could have this thing on the road in the next two years, which seems rather ambitious, if you ask us.

No pricing has been announced, but if we were to guess, all those premium features and customizability and advanced technologies won’t come cheap. As such, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it tagged at $45,000, similar to the BMW i3. And speaking of which…

Competition

BMW i3


BMW Unveils 2018 i3 and i3s - image 728706

Interestingly, our first competitor comes from Bangle’s former employer, BMW. Like the Project Redspace, the BMW i3 is a high-end all-electric box, made from aluminum and carbon fiber to keep weight as low as possible. Inside, the materials are quite nice, while seating for four provides a decent amount of space. In the tail, you’ll find an electric motor in place to drive the rear wheels. Range per charge is around 100 miles, but if you need more, there’s the option for a gasoline “range extender” internal combustion engine for a little more outlay.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW i3.

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive


2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
- image 689210

The Smart Fortwo focuses much more on catering to urban environments than the BMW i3, with tiny exterior dimensions and a tiny turning circle as well. This thing was made for squeezing through cramped spaces, which is great, but the interior space suffers as a result, only offering seating for two passengers max. Range is also a bit on the low side, with just 75 miles offered between plug-ins. The price, however, is far below that of the Bimmer and what we’re speculating for the Project Redspace, slotting in under the $25,000 mark.

Read our full review on the 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Conclusion


2020 Project Redspace - image 750735

Redspace says cars spend the vast majority of the time (up to 90 percent in fact) just being idle. And therein lies the designer’s idea of what could be done to increase efficiency on a variety of levels. In terms of time, the car was designed to be a mobile workspace and lounge thanks to its modular interior layout. Thanks to the electric motivation and potential autonomous technology, the car should be efficient with the energy reserves as well.

It makes sense this thing was designed by a Chinese firm. After all, few countries have as many megacities as China, and demand for personal transportation solutions will only increase. The automaker says the target demographic includes “young people who just want a place to be with their friends on their own in a car that they have fun with, and at the same time, the mom, the woman who needs a second car in the family.” Then there are the folks who will use it as a “business tool.” All told, the Project Redspace is meant to appeal to a wide variety of folks in the newly emerging, hyper-crowded megacity landscape.

“That’s a rather tall order, hence the good deal of experimentation that went into the vehicle’s creation. However, if autonomous tech really takes off in the next few years, it could be quite successful.”

And that’s a rather tall order, hence the good deal of experimentation that went into the vehicle’s creation. The novel design approach is also pretty interesting, with an inside-out look at making the car work.

If the Project Redspace really does become a reality, the biggest hurdle we see to its success is price. There’s a lot going on here, and making it function properly in the real world will be complicated, which means by the time it reaches consumers, it could be quite out of reach for the target buyers.

However, if autonomous tech really takes off in the next few years, and Project Redspace adopts a “sharing” business model to help bring down the price, it could be quite successful as well.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  • Leave it
    • * Not all folks will like the way it looks
    • * Likely very expensive
    • * Best served with autonomous tech, but where’s the tech?

References


maker logos - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon ‘Tis The Season For Symmetrical AWD: Video

We just got a good amount of the white stuff up here in Northern California, which is well timed with the impending holiday season. But, as we all know, with the extra fluffy frozen water comes grip issues on the road, and that can be a problem if you’re on a deadline to deliver tons of toys to good little girls and boys all around the world. Luckily, it looks like Santa has the right stuff to make it there on time, as evidenced in the above commercial.

Rather than floating through the sky pulled by a herd of reindeer, we see Santa is actually powered by a Subaru Crosstrek, dashing through the snow thanks to high ground clearance and 152 horsepower laid down by a 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder engine. And just in case that magical sack Santa uses to haul around all the goodies gets a little too full, the Crosstrek’s sizable rear cargo room should have the right stuff to bring the rest of it. All it needs now is a bright and shiny red grille on the nose…

References

Subaru Crosstrek


2018 Subaru XV Crosstrek - image 711838

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek.

PostHeaderIcon The Mercedes GLA is America’s Least Satisfying Car in 2017

If you’re in the market for a Mercedes GLA this Christmas season, you might want to hold off on that purchase. Despite being produced by an automaker that’s known for its refinement, the GLA has been bestowed by Consumer Reports with the ignominious distinction of being America’s least satisfying car in 2017. The magazine used data from its Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey along with its own testing and reliability ratings to come to this conclusion. It’s not a good look for the GLA, but it’s also far from the only model that made it to CR’s list of 10 least satisfying vehicles in the country.

Mercedes GLA-Class


2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA - image 700280

It’s not the kind of list the Mercedes GLA-Class wants to be a part of, but it made it to the top of the list because of a number of worrying characteristics. According to Consumer Reports, the high-riding hatchback suffers from a number of deficiencies, including poor visibility, a bad gearbox, a stiff ride, and a loud interior. It doesn’t get better from there as the GLA was also criticized for being small, cramped, and expensive. Pricing for the crossover starts at $33,400, which is a steep price to pay for a car that has these many warts in it.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes GLA-Class.

Infiniti QX60


2016 Infiniti QX60 - image 666975

As bad as it gets for the Mercedes GLA-Class, it can at least find solace knowing that it’s not the only crossover/SUV to make it to Consumer Reports’ list of least satisfying cars in the US. Joining the GLA in this run of misery is the Infiniti QX60, a plush crossover that does have a few positive things going for it, including a spacious and well-appointed interior. Sadly, the that wasn’t enough for the QX60 to gain a positive grade because its rating was torpedoed by what Consumer Reports calls a “so-so” fuel-economy rating and a “mushy” driving experience.

Read our full review on the 2016 Infiniti QX60

Dodge Journey


2011 Dodge Journey - image 378402

The run of poor crossovers and SUVs continues with the Dodge Journey. While the mid-sizer looks relatively fresh for a model that’s late in its production run, it’s not enough to offset the myriad of issues that it has. According to Consumer Reports, the Journey suffered from a lack of agility in its tests. Its 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine also delivers the worst fuel economy class and it fared about as well as Homer Simpson taking a calculus test in the IIHS small-overlap frontal crash test. It’s a bit disappointing to see the Journey on this list because it does ride well and the interior still has some comfort to it. But there’s always a price to pay for a car as old as the Journey. Turns out, that “price” is a spot on Consumer Reports’ least satisfying cars in America list.

Read our full review on the 2017 Dodge Journey

Chevrolet Trax


2015 Chevrolet Trax - image 549338

Is it a surprise to see the Chevrolet Trax on this list? The short answer is “no” because the Trax suffers from so many problems that I’m actually surprised it’s not the least of the least in this list (tongue twister!). As much as I want to like the Trax, it suffers from a laundry list of issues, including a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that’s neither powerful nor fuel efficient. It can be one or the other and we’d look the other way, but “neither” is bad from the get-go. To make things worse, the Trax’s bite-sized appeal also lends to a cramped interior and a stiff ride that’s not going to do any wonders for the driver and the passengers. There’s an option to get a base model on the cheap, but if you’re getting a “premium” version like the Trax LT AWD, the $26,000 you’ll have to spend for one would be better of used on something like a Subaru Forester.

Read our full on the 2017 Chevrolet Trax

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656182

Mercifully, the run of crossovers and SUVs on this last has come to an end. We now turn our attention to the sedans, and leading the way is the Nissan Sentra. To be fair, the Sentra has far fewer issues than the other sedans that made this list. It handles relatively well, and it has a spacious interior for its class. But the ride remains stiff, and it doesn’t accelerate off the line as quick as a lot of its rivals. The issues aren’t enough for us to throw a red flag on the sedan, but it is concerning that Nissan’s most popular model found its way on this list. That should at least set off some warning lights on your head.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Nissan Versa Sedan


2015 - 2016 Nissan Versa Sedan - image 548600

Oh, look, another Nissan sedan is on this list. Joy of joys. I was tempted to just skip over the Versa Sedan because it really is a mediocre car. The interior is cheap and noisy. The handling is sub-par. The ride is stiff. I could go on with all the things that ail the subcompact sedan. But I’ll stop here because it does have a trim – the Versa note – that offers much better for the price you’re going to have to pay for it.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Versa Sedan

Acura ILX


2016 - 2017 Acura ILX - image 672341

I was actually surprised to see the Acura ILX on this list because I thought the sedan’s recent update addressed a lot of its shortcomings. Apparently, Consumer Reports still isn’t impressed with the sedan because of what it describes as continuing issues in handling and comfort. According to CR, the ILX’s ride is jumpy and the handling is sub-standard. It also suffers from a rebellious gearbox and a confusing infotainment system. It’s a pity because the new ILX actually looks good from a design point-of-view.

Read our full review on the 2017 Acura ILX.

Fiat 500


2015 Fiat 500 - image 547927

For the record, I don’t think the Fiat 500 belongs in this list. I’ve driven one a handful of times and I enjoyed it, at least for the most part. Sadly, Consumer Reports doesn’t share the same optimism about the 500, which is described as having a choppy ride, an awkward driving position, and a noisy interior. I will admit that the ride wasn’t on the level of a luxury car, but shouldn’t that be expected for a pint-sized hatchback? Well, it’s not my list so I really don’t have a lot of say in the proceedings.

Read our full review on the 2017 Fiat 500.

Dodge Grand Caravan


2011 Dodge Grand Caravan - image 379434

Unlike the Fiat 500, this one is an easy call. The Dodge Grand Caravan is just bad in so many ways. It suffers from the worst fuel economy rating in its class and it has an interior that can be best described as uneven. It is affordable at just $25,995, but even I wouldn’t spend that much money on a car that’s on its last legs.

Read our full review on the Dodge Grand Caravan

Ford Transit Connect


2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon - image 518432

Last but certainly not least is the Ford Transit Connect, the commercial vehicle that has also doubled as a minivan replacement in the past. Unfortunately for the Transit Connect, just because it’s served that purpose in the past, it doesn’t mean it should continue serving the same purpose. The Transit Connect has mediocre fuel economy ratings, has a cheap interior, and an alarming lack of significant features. If you’re going to spend money on a minivan, the Transit Connect isn’t going to offer any more than what it has at its disposal. It just so happens that there’s not a lot of them, to begin with.

Read our full review on the Ford Transit Connect

PostHeaderIcon Mazda Updates the MX-5 For 2018; Adds Dark Cherry Soft Top Color

The current Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t old. In fact, it just debuted for the 2016 model year. Well, Mazda isn’t letting the icon age without change. The retractable fastback option came in 2017, and now for 2018, the standard MX-5 gets a few key updates.

New body and top colors bring fresh life while new interior leather options come to the range-topping Grand Touring trim. Mazda’s design team wasn’t the only ones to work their magic. The engineers retuned the rear suspension and power steering, likely matching the changes given to the Miata RF in 2017.

Owners of the performance-minded Club model can now get the Brembo/BBS Package, which comes with several items including – you guessed it – Brembo brakes and BBS wheels. The Club also now has upgraded 17-inch wheels, a better Bose sound system, and heated cloth seats for those chilly nighttime drives with the top down. And last but not least, the base Sport model now comes standard with the Mazda Connect infotainment system with the 7.0-inch display.

Continue reading for more information.

Color Updates


2016 Mazda MX-5 - image 614551
“The new body colors include Eternal Blue Mica, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, and Soul Red Crystal”

Mazda isn’t changing the Miata’s sheet metal, but rather giving customers more choices in paint color and soft top color. The new body colors include Eternal Blue Mica, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, and Soul Red Crystal. That sweet Machine Gray Metallic found on the Miata RF can now be had on the convertible, too. Color options for the tops now include that beautiful Dark Cherry. Subjectively, the Dark Cherry looks amazing when paired with the Machine Gray body color.

Inside, Mazda is has expanded the availability of the Nappa leather seats in the Auburn color to the Grand Touring. Before, only the Launch Edition came with that interior combination.

The MX-5 Club trim now has the option of heated cloth seats with red contrast stitching. Club models that opt for the Brembo/BBS Package also come standard with heated black leather seats. Those wanting more of a track-ready machine can get Recaro sport seats with the Brembo/BBS Recaro Package.

Of course, Mazda won’t just give you these new body colors or offer the Auburn Nappa leather for free. Here is how the prices break down:

Option Cost
Auburn Nappa Leather $300
Soul Red Crystal $595
Machine Gray Metallic $300
Snowflake White Pearl Mica $200

Brembo/BBS Package


Mazda Updates the MX-5 For 2018; Adds Dark Cherry Soft Top Color - image 753895
“The front Brembo brakes are said to provide better heat resistance for track day duty”

A returning option for the 2018 MX-5 Club is the Brembo/BBS Package. As the name suggests, this is a big brake package with BBS wheels. The front Brembo brakes are said to provide better heat resistance for track day duty, though Mazda did not mention any better braking performance or a size increase in the brakes themselves. Those BBS wheels are multi-spoke, gunmetal gray 17-inch alloys. Like before, the Brembo/BBS Package adds exterior aerodynamic features like side sill extensions and a rear bumper skirt.

New to the 2018 MX-5 is the Brembo/BBS Recaro Package. Heated Recaro sport seats replace the heated leather seats that come with the standard Brembo/BBS Package. Those who frequently track their MX-5 should find the seats more appropriate for the task.

On-Sale Date


Mazda Updates the MX-5 For 2018; Adds Dark Cherry Soft Top Color - image 753894

The updated 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata will begin arriving in showrooms January 2018.
Prices start at $25,295, which is a $380 increase over the 2017 model.

6-Speed Manual Transmission 6-Speed Automatic Transmission
MX-5 Sport $25,295 $26,645
MX-5 Club $29,155 $29,755
• Club Brembo/BBS Package (6MT Only) $3,770
• Club Brembo/BBS RECARO Package (6MT Only) $4,470
MX-5 Grand Touring $30,195 $31,270

References

Mazda MX-5


2016 Mazda MX-5 - image 614529

Read our full review on the 2016 Mazda MX-5.


maker logos - image 741756

Read more Mazda news.

PostHeaderIcon Mazda Updates the MX-5 For 2018; Adds Dark Cherry Soft Top Color

The current Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t old. In fact, it just debuted for the 2016 model year. Well, Mazda isn’t letting the icon age without change. The retractable fastback option came in 2017, and now for 2018, the standard MX-5 gets a few key updates.

New body and top colors bring fresh life while new interior leather options come to the range-topping Grand Touring trim. Mazda’s design team wasn’t the only ones to work their magic. The engineers retuned the rear suspension and power steering, likely matching the changes given to the Miata RF in 2017.

Owners of the performance-minded Club model can now get the Brembo/BBS Package, which comes with several items including – you guessed it – Brembo brakes and BBS wheels. The Club also now has upgraded 17-inch wheels, a better Bose sound system, and heated cloth seats for those chilly nighttime drives with the top down. And last but not least, the base Sport model now comes standard with the Mazda Connect infotainment system with the 7.0-inch display.

Continue reading for more information.

Color Updates


2016 Mazda MX-5 - image 614551
“The new body colors include Eternal Blue Mica, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, and Soul Red Crystal”

Mazda isn’t changing the Miata’s sheet metal, but rather giving customers more choices in paint color and soft top color. The new body colors include Eternal Blue Mica, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, and Soul Red Crystal. That sweet Machine Gray Metallic found on the Miata RF can now be had on the convertible, too. Color options for the tops now include that beautiful Dark Cherry. Subjectively, the Dark Cherry looks amazing when paired with the Machine Gray body color.

Inside, Mazda is has expanded the availability of the Nappa leather seats in the Auburn color to the Grand Touring. Before, only the Launch Edition came with that interior combination.

The MX-5 Club trim now has the option of heated cloth seats with red contrast stitching. Club models that opt for the Brembo/BBS Package also come standard with heated black leather seats. Those wanting more of a track-ready machine can get Recaro sport seats with the Brembo/BBS Recaro Package.

Of course, Mazda won’t just give you these new body colors or offer the Auburn Nappa leather for free. Here is how the prices break down:

Option Cost
Auburn Nappa Leather $300
Soul Red Crystal $595
Machine Gray Metallic $300
Snowflake White Pearl Mica $200

Brembo/BBS Package


Mazda Updates the MX-5 For 2018; Adds Dark Cherry Soft Top Color - image 753895
“The front Brembo brakes are said to provide better heat resistance for track day duty”

A returning option for the 2018 MX-5 Club is the Brembo/BBS Package. As the name suggests, this is a big brake package with BBS wheels. The front Brembo brakes are said to provide better heat resistance for track day duty, though Mazda did not mention any better braking performance or a size increase in the brakes themselves. Those BBS wheels are multi-spoke, gunmetal gray 17-inch alloys. Like before, the Brembo/BBS Package adds exterior aerodynamic features like side sill extensions and a rear bumper skirt.

New to the 2018 MX-5 is the Brembo/BBS Recaro Package. Heated Recaro sport seats replace the heated leather seats that come with the standard Brembo/BBS Package. Those who frequently track their MX-5 should find the seats more appropriate for the task.

On-Sale Date


Mazda Updates the MX-5 For 2018; Adds Dark Cherry Soft Top Color - image 753894

The updated 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata will begin arriving in showrooms January 2018.
Prices start at $25,295, which is a $380 increase over the 2017 model.

6-Speed Manual Transmission 6-Speed Automatic Transmission
MX-5 Sport $25,295 $26,645
MX-5 Club $29,155 $29,755
• Club Brembo/BBS Package (6MT Only) $3,770
• Club Brembo/BBS RECARO Package (6MT Only) $4,470
MX-5 Grand Touring $30,195 $31,270

References

Mazda MX-5


2016 Mazda MX-5 - image 614529

Read our full review on the 2016 Mazda MX-5.


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Read more Mazda news.

PostHeaderIcon What Can We Expect From The Third-Generation Acura RDX?

The Acura RDX burst onto the scene in 2006, taking the reigns from the MDX as the brand’s entry-level crossover. 11 years and two generations later, the RDX is still a presence in its segment. The third-generation model is scheduled to make its debut at the 108 North American International Auto Show, and it’s entering a more competitive segment that now includes high-value offerings from the likes of Jaguar, Infiniti, and Volvo. The third-gen RDX needs to step up its game to compete in this segment, so ahead of its unveiling, we’ve pieced together a few of our expectations for one of Acura’s most important models.

A new design

“The introduction of the third-generation RDX is a big deal for Acura, especially in today’s competitive entry-level crossover segment”

This isn’t so much a prediction as it is a sign of things to come. With the new versions of the RLX sedan and MDX SUV getting the company’s new Precision Crafted Performance styling language, I expect the RDX to follow suit. That includes getting rid of the old model’s boring front grille and introducing a far better pentagon grille that’s shaped a lot like Superman’s crest. The new RDX should also receive more aggressive styling that’s similar to the presentation of both the RLX and MDX models. The introduction of the third-generation RDX is a big deal for Acura, especially in today’s competitive entry-level crossover segment. The luxury automaker needs to put its best foot forward. That starts with presenting a new RDX that can stylistically compete against the Jaguar F-Pace and the Volvo XC60.

Space shouldn’t be an issue


What Can We Expect From The Third-Generation Acura RDX? - image 753886
“The second-generation RDX never won any design awards, but one thing owners could always count on from the crossover was its interior space”

The second-generation RDX never won any design awards, but one thing owners could always count on from the crossover was its interior space. It’s one of the RDX’s best features, and with the third-generation model on the horizon, I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. If Acura adds a few creature comforts like reclining rear seats into the mix, that could elevate the status of the next-gen crossover. Given the public’s expectations, I don’t think Acura is going to move away from a formula that has worked in the past.

Turbos and hybrids

“The engine output should stay in the vicinity of 280 to 300 horsepower, but the return of the turbo should be useful in giving the crossover improved efficiency.”

The first-generation Acura RDX featured a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Curiously, Acura veered away from giving the second-gen model any turbos, opting instead to use a 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 that pumped out 273 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. It’s still a mystery to me why Acura made that move, but with the arrival of the third-generation model, I think the automaker will revert back to a turbocharged engine, specifically the 2.0-liter turbo four that’s already sitting under the hood of the 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T. The engine output should stay in the vicinity of 280 to 300 horsepower, but the return of the turbo should be useful in giving the crossover improved efficiency.

Speaking of efficiency, I’d be very surprised if Acura doesn’t offer a hybrid variant of the RDX. Hybrid crossovers have become popular in recent years, and Acura already has one on the table for the MDX SUV, and I can’t find a scenario where the MDX gets a hybrid variant and the new RDX doesn’t.

Plenty of tech


What Can We Expect From The Third-Generation Acura RDX? - image 753888
“Automakers have become very aggressive in fitting new-age technology into their cars”

Automakers have become very aggressive in fitting new-age technology into their cars. Acura has made great strides in that regard, fitting the MDX with a version of its Integrated Dynamics system. The IDS system is responsible for a myriad of driving settings available to the SUV. Depending on the settings, the system can manipulate the MDX’s steering, transmission, throttle sensitivity, and engine sound. Considering how important the RDX is, I think Acura will find a way to get the IDS system into its third-generation entry-level crossover.

Value for money

Pricing for the current Acura RDX starts at $35,800. Depending on the variant and the accompanying options, that price could go up to $44,000. No matter how you look at it, the RDX always provided tremendous value compared to some of its rivals. I don’t expect Acura to veer away from that strategy with the third-generation model. It may be priced a little higher than the crossover’s current price range, but it should remain competitive in a market that includes a Volvo XC60 that starts at just under $43,000 and a Jaguar F-Pace that’s priced from $42,000 to $54,000.

References

Acura RDX


2019 Acura RDX - image 722590

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Acura RDX.


2016 Acura RDX - image 616649

Read our full review on the 2017 Acura RDX.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon What Can We Expect From The Third-Generation Acura RDX?

The Acura RDX burst onto the scene in 2006, taking the reigns from the MDX as the brand’s entry-level crossover. 11 years and two generations later, the RDX is still a presence in its segment. The third-generation model is scheduled to make its debut at the 108 North American International Auto Show, and it’s entering a more competitive segment that now includes high-value offerings from the likes of Jaguar, Infiniti, and Volvo. The third-gen RDX needs to step up its game to compete in this segment, so ahead of its unveiling, we’ve pieced together a few of our expectations for one of Acura’s most important models.

A new design

“The introduction of the third-generation RDX is a big deal for Acura, especially in today’s competitive entry-level crossover segment”

This isn’t so much a prediction as it is a sign of things to come. With the new versions of the RLX sedan and MDX SUV getting the company’s new Precision Crafted Performance styling language, I expect the RDX to follow suit. That includes getting rid of the old model’s boring front grille and introducing a far better pentagon grille that’s shaped a lot like Superman’s crest. The new RDX should also receive more aggressive styling that’s similar to the presentation of both the RLX and MDX models. The introduction of the third-generation RDX is a big deal for Acura, especially in today’s competitive entry-level crossover segment. The luxury automaker needs to put its best foot forward. That starts with presenting a new RDX that can stylistically compete against the Jaguar F-Pace and the Volvo XC60.

Space shouldn’t be an issue


What Can We Expect From The Third-Generation Acura RDX? - image 753886
“The second-generation RDX never won any design awards, but one thing owners could always count on from the crossover was its interior space”

The second-generation RDX never won any design awards, but one thing owners could always count on from the crossover was its interior space. It’s one of the RDX’s best features, and with the third-generation model on the horizon, I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. If Acura adds a few creature comforts like reclining rear seats into the mix, that could elevate the status of the next-gen crossover. Given the public’s expectations, I don’t think Acura is going to move away from a formula that has worked in the past.

Turbos and hybrids

“The engine output should stay in the vicinity of 280 to 300 horsepower, but the return of the turbo should be useful in giving the crossover improved efficiency.”

The first-generation Acura RDX featured a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Curiously, Acura veered away from giving the second-gen model any turbos, opting instead to use a 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 that pumped out 273 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. It’s still a mystery to me why Acura made that move, but with the arrival of the third-generation model, I think the automaker will revert back to a turbocharged engine, specifically the 2.0-liter turbo four that’s already sitting under the hood of the 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T. The engine output should stay in the vicinity of 280 to 300 horsepower, but the return of the turbo should be useful in giving the crossover improved efficiency.

Speaking of efficiency, I’d be very surprised if Acura doesn’t offer a hybrid variant of the RDX. Hybrid crossovers have become popular in recent years, and Acura already has one on the table for the MDX SUV, and I can’t find a scenario where the MDX gets a hybrid variant and the new RDX doesn’t.

Plenty of tech


What Can We Expect From The Third-Generation Acura RDX? - image 753888
“Automakers have become very aggressive in fitting new-age technology into their cars”

Automakers have become very aggressive in fitting new-age technology into their cars. Acura has made great strides in that regard, fitting the MDX with a version of its Integrated Dynamics system. The IDS system is responsible for a myriad of driving settings available to the SUV. Depending on the settings, the system can manipulate the MDX’s steering, transmission, throttle sensitivity, and engine sound. Considering how important the RDX is, I think Acura will find a way to get the IDS system into its third-generation entry-level crossover.

Value for money

Pricing for the current Acura RDX starts at $35,800. Depending on the variant and the accompanying options, that price could go up to $44,000. No matter how you look at it, the RDX always provided tremendous value compared to some of its rivals. I don’t expect Acura to veer away from that strategy with the third-generation model. It may be priced a little higher than the crossover’s current price range, but it should remain competitive in a market that includes a Volvo XC60 that starts at just under $43,000 and a Jaguar F-Pace that’s priced from $42,000 to $54,000.

References

Acura RDX


2019 Acura RDX - image 722590

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Acura RDX.


2016 Acura RDX - image 616649

Read our full review on the 2017 Acura RDX.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Hurray, the Jeep Cherokee No Longer Looks Like It’s Sucking Lemons!

When it replaced the Liberty in 2013, Jeep decided to bring back the Cherokee name, which it had discontinued in 2001 in the U.S. The first Jeep to ride on the FCA Compact Wide platform, the KL-generation Cherokee shared underpinnings with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. But similarities with European cars didn’t stop here. Unlike its predecessors, the Cherokee dropped the traditional boxy design in favor of a more streamlined look. Some approved Jeep’s decision to step out of the box and offer a bolder design, but FCA also received a lot of heat for the scrunched up headlamps, the narrow grille, and the somewhat generic rear end. I’m not a big fan of it either, and I think it looks like it’s sucking on lemons. Well, Jeep just unveiled the mid-cycle facelift and I’m happy to see that the Cherokee’s face is no longer sour.


Hurray, the Jeep Cherokee No Longer Looks Like It's Sucking Lemons! - image 753488
“The main grille is now a bit taller, the slats are wider, and the headlamps are significantly bigger.”

Whether Jeep reacted to criticism or just wanted a fresh look remains unknown, but it’s good to the Cherokee move closer to its American roots design-wise. The main grille is now a bit taller, the slats are wider, and the headlamps are significantly bigger. Granted, the changes are by no means radical, and the Cherokee still looks out of place among other Jeeps, but it’s a big improvement over the outgoing model. Not that Jeep could have made it worse, but I can at least look at the new Cherokee without feeling sick.

Beyond fixing that terrible front end, Jeep made a few other improvements too. Around back, the crossover has new LED taillights with clear lenses and red accents, a repositioned license plate (not on the tailgate), a more upscale-looking bumper, and chrome-tipped exhaust pipes. The front bumper was also redesigned, together with the grille between the vents. All told, these changes are more than what I usually expect from a mid-cycle facelift (just look at the BMW i8).


Hurray, the Jeep Cherokee No Longer Looks Like It's Sucking Lemons! - image 753486

There isn’t much information as to what changes inside the cabin and under the hood, but we should get some new technology and maybe a new engine. Whatever happens, the revised front fascia makes up for everything.

References

Jeep Cherokee


2015 Jeep Cherokee - Driven - image 628279

Read our full driven review on the 2015 Jeep Cherokee.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Cadillac Could Drop the ATS Sedan in 2019 Because Coupes Rule

The Cadillac ATS is a good example of a car that needs a high sales volume in order to remain relevant in a competitive market. The coupe version of the entry-level model has been able to pull its own weight in that regard. Unfortunately, the sedan version hasn’t had as much success. It’s no wonder then that Cadillac appears to be ready to cut ties with this version of the ATS as documents received by The Truth About Cars show that Caddy’s 2019 product lineup will hit the market without the ATS sedan.


2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan - image 559232
“Cadillac sold a combined 21,505 units of the ATS in 2016 – a significant drop from the 38,319 units the American automaker sold in 2013”

This is what happens when a model doesn’t bring anywhere near the sales volume a brand expects. Hard decisions have to be made and based on VIN code documents submitted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; it does look like Caddy’s 2019 lineup will hit the market without the ATS sedan. As surprising as it is to see Caddy drop an important model, the numbers paint a bleak picture for the argument of keeping the ATS sedan.

According to Carsalesbase_data, Cadillac sold a combined 21,505 units of the ATS in 2016. It’s a decent number, but it also represents a significant drop from the 38,319 units the American automaker sold in 2013. Remember, the ATS coupe only arrived in 2015 so all the units of the ATS that Caddy sold four years ago came in sedan body styles. Unfortunately, 2017 has been much worse for the ATS as only around 12,000 units have been sold in the U.S. through November. In November alone, Cadillac sold only 831 ATS models, the lowest number since the model’s first month on the market. That was in September 2012. Unless Santa Claus decides to give 10,000 kids from all over the world with brand-new ATS models, it’s not going to come close to approaching the volume of models that the company sold in what was described as a “disappointing” 2016.


2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan - image 559213
“2017 has been much worse for the ATS as only around 12,000 units have been sold in the U.S. through November.”

The good news is that the coupe version of the ATS will live to see another year, perhaps even a few more. Cadillac didn’t comment on questions about the possible axing of the ATS sedan, but it probably doesn’t need to. The numbers already paint a damning picture of the sedan’s shortcomings. It’s a disappointing turn of events for fans of the ATS, but that’s what happens when you don’t perform. You get sent to the shed.

Fortunately, all’s not lost for Cadillac. The automaker still has plans to be involved in the entry-level sedan market with a new model that will compete against the Mercedes CLA-Class and the Audi A3. In the meantime, it looks like the new CT5 will have to hold down the fort for Caddy.

References

Cadillac ATS


2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan - image 559213

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac ATS.


maker logos - image 749325

Read more Cadillac news.

PostHeaderIcon 2019 Jeep Cherokee Coming to Detroit

Jeep will be introducing its updated 2019 Cherokee at the North American International Auto Show come January 16, 2018. The mid-size crossover receives a mild facelift with updated designs front and rear, along with more fuel-efficient powertrain options. Jeep didn’t go into detail about the powertrain changes or any other information, saying that news will become available when the 2019 Cherokee makes its appearance at the Detroit Auto Show.

Aesthetically, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee looks far more palatable, losing that ugly front end and odd headlight arrangement. The new front uses new one-piece headlights with the turn signals and daytime running lights integrated into the same housing. The fog lights now have a slightly larger scallop. The lower grille is now more streamlined. Despite the more handsome look, the hood and upper grille appear unchanged. It seems the Cherokee’s ugliness was all contained in those headlights.

Continue reading for more on the 2019 Cherokee.

What We Know


2019 Jeep Cherokee Coming to Detroit - image 753485
“The 2019 Cherokee has new LED taillights with clear lenses and red accents”

Around back, the 2019 Cherokee has new LED taillights with clear lenses and red accents. The license plate is moved from the bumper to the tailgate and the black-plastic bumper is replaced with a more upscale black and gray bumper with chrome trim and chrome-tipped dual exhaust. The rest of the 2019 Cherokee appears unchanged, though we expect new wheel options.

As for the powertrain, Jeep did not give clues as to what’s under the hood. The current Cherokee offers the 2.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder with 184 horsepower as standard and the 3.2-liter V-6 with electric stop/start and 271 horsepower as an option. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board. Front-wheel drive comes standard, too, but naturally, 4WD is optional on all models. Those who really want to explore the untraveled path will wan the Cherokee Trailhawk model with added ground clearance, a beefier 4WD system, added skid plating, and all-terrain tires.


2019 Jeep Cherokee Coming to Detroit - image 753487
“As for what 2019 brings, there’s a good chance the Cherokee will receive Jeep’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the 2018 Wrangler JL”

As for what 2019 brings, there’s a good chance the Cherokee will receive Jeep’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the 2018 Wrangler JL. The engine makes a very respectable 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque while saving fuel thanks to a mild hybrid system that uses an electric motor to help spin the crankshaft at lower engine speeds. This engine could very well replace the 3.2-liter V-6, whose torque only peaks at 239 pound-feet.

Only time will tell, so thankfully we’ve only got a few weeks to wait. The 2019 Jeep Cherokee will make its official debut at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show on January 16.

References

Jeep Cherokee


2015 Jeep Cherokee - Driven - image 628279

Read our full driven review on the 2015 Jeep Cherokee.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon All-New 2019 Hyundai Veloster Spotted in the Wild

Six years after it was first introduced, the Hyundai Veloster is officially getting a second-generation model. We already know about this bit. We’ve even seen it rock colorful camouflage as recently as a month ago. But we haven’t seen the all-new Veloster in its natural form, free from any camo that hides its body. Until now…

“It’s not a full-blown improvement from the previous-generation model, but it does have a more rounded design”

Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the new Hyundai Veloster. It’s not a full-blown improvement from the previous-generation model, but it does have a more rounded design that could appeal to buyers who were turned off by the last model’s quirkiness. The design of the front section is vastly different. The headlights are smaller and feature a different set of LED daytime running lights. Hyundai also removed the smiley-face grille from the previous-generation model, replacing it with a more traditional hexagon grille. My only complaint is that the grille looks a too big for the Veloster. Look how it completely dominates the real estate space in this section of the hatchback. It takes attention away from the new number and the vertical air intakes, two of the better aesthetic features of the new Veloster.

The rear section looks better than the previous version. The taillights look sharper and edgier. The rear bumper still rides high and appears to protrude from the tailgate. It’s a good aesthetic to look at from the outside, but the drawback to the bumper riding so high is that the window at the back looks ridiculously small. How can you see clearly with that small of a window?

“The 2019 Veloster will be unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show this coming January.”

Aesthetics aside, the next-gen Veloster is tipped to carry a pair of turbocharged engines — a 1.4-liter and a 1.6-liter — each to be paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. There’s no word on how much power these two mills will carry, but we’ll know soon enough because the 2019 Veloster will be unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show this coming January.

The early returns look promising. Now we wait to see if the hatchback really is as good as we think it’s going to be.

References

Hyundai Veloster


2014 Hyundai Veloster - image 540471

Read our full review on the current generation Hyundai Veloster.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Kicks – U.S. Spec

More subdued styling versus the Juke

Without a doubt, the SUV and crossover market is still running strong, prompting every automaker under the sun to fill their lineups to capacity with fresh tall-riding hatches in a bid to satisfy the public’s seemingly never-ending demand. Nissan is no different, offering U.S buyers no less than six different models in the segment, including the Juke, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Murano, Pathfinder, and Armada. Unfortunately, lovers of the funky and fun Juke won’t see the compact on the roster for much longer, as rumor has it Nissan is showing it the door in 2018. However, in its stead, Nissan will offer something fresh – enter the Kicks. The Kicks is Nissan’s very first new nameplate in 8 years, arriving as a new entry-level model in the Japanese automaker’s lineup with more room and a lower price tag than the Juke. It’s also got some nice technology, both for entertainment and for safety purposes.

The Kicks is already on sale in South America, but arrives stateside more or less unchanged in the hopes of enticing urban consumers, or as Nissan puts it, “singles or couples looking for unique styling, roominess, personal technology, smart functionality and advanced safety features at an affordable price.” So – how does it stack up?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Nissan Kicks.

Exterior

  • More subdued styling versus the Juke
  • Still stylish with two-tone paint options
  • Standard V-Motion grille
  • Floating roof design
  • Available 17-inch wheels higher in trim line
  • Optional LED headlights
  • Larger exterior dimensions versus the Juke

2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748286
“In terms of design, the Kicks is a bit more subdued than the Juke, with more of the traditional compact crossover cues”

In terms of design, the Kicks is a bit more subdued than the Juke, with more of the traditional compact crossover cues compared to the outgoing model’s rather, eh, “unique” style. Nissan calls it “Brazil-inspired design,” as its based on the Kicks Concept that dropped in 2014 at the Sao Paulo Motor Show. What’s more, Nissan Design America – Rio provided its expertise during the design process, with further collaboration coming from the California-based Nissan Design America and the Nissan Global Design Center in Japan.

Standout features include a “wheel-oriented stance” with crisp lines and an angular structure. In front, the Kicks gets the traditional V-Motion grille, which is an ever-present feature for a modern Nissan vehicle, while both the headlights and taillights get a sharp Boomerang shape, seen most prominently in the rear end.

Moving to the sides, the Kick’s floating roof becomes apparent, adding a dash of visual height to the machine thanks to blacked-out pillars and window surrounds. Complementing this is a “wrap-around visor” for the windshield, giving the greenhouse a more projecting presence. The C-pillars get a wide shape and a black finish to help them blend in with the rear hatch, while the wheel arches are plumped up a bit to give the Kicks a more muscular stance. The high waistline rises towards the tail, offering a distinctive rake to the car’s flanks and a pinched look underneath the roof line. Darker lower body trim is added as a nod to traditional crossover styling. Finally, wheel options include 16-inch steel units as standard on the base-level trim, as well as 17-inch aluminum alloy units on the SV and SR trim levels.


2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748285
“Moving to the sides, the Kick’s floating roof becomes apparent, adding a dash of visual height to the machine thanks to blacked-out pillars and window surrounds”

Nissan also says it developed the car’s exterior to reduce overall wind noise, which should definitely be a benefit to those inside. Given the styling differences between the Kicks and Juke, we’re not altogether surprised the former is more slippery than the latter.

Getting the technology right is a big factor for success in this segment, and the Kicks comes proper with standard Intelligent Auto Headlights that offer an adjustable sensitivity level and a timing feature. It’s also got automatic twilight and wiper activation, as well as a standard rear wiper and roof rails. Extra equipment includes optional LED low-beams for the headlights with LED signature accents, optional fog lights, optional heated side view mirrors with integrated turn signals, and an optional rear roof spoiler, all of which can be had depending on your trim level of choice.


2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748314
“There’s also seven exterior colors to choose from, plus as many as five two-tone combos if you wanna make it extra spicy”

There’s also seven exterior colors to choose from, plus as many as five two-tone combos if you wanna make it extra spicy. Three of those two-tones include a black roof with either white, orange, or red applied to the body, but you can also get the double tone with orange on the roof and gray for the body panels, or white on the roof with blue for the body panels.

Finally, the Kicks is a little larger than the Juke, which should help substantially with interior cargo room.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (Inches) 103.1
Length (Inches) 169.1
Width (Inches) 69.3
Height (Inches) 62.4
Track front/rear (Inches) 59.8/60.4

Interior

  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Gliding Wing dashboard
  • Available leather for the steering wheel and shift knob
  • Available front seat heating
  • Available underseat heater ducts for rear bench
  • Nice selection of safety technology features
  • Mid-grade gets 7.0-inch infotainment screen
  • Bluetooth and three USB ports
  • Available premium Bose sound system
  • Flat rear-floor design for enhanced practicality

2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 750830
“Drivers get to grips with a sporty-looking flat-bottom steering wheel, while a Gliding Wing dashboard design gives the cabin a more interesting appearance”

Step inside the Nissan kicks, and you’ll find seating for up to five passengers. Drivers get to grips with a sporty-looking flat-bottom steering wheel, while a Gliding Wing dashboard design gives the cabin a more interesting appearance. If you’re looking for an extra premium touch, available upgrades include leather for the steering wheel and shift knob, a tonneau cover, and Automatic Temperature Control. The SV trim levels also adds underseat heater ducts for rear-seated passengers. Go for the SR Premium Package and you’ll enjoy the heated feature for the front seats, as well as a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat and a 4-way adjustable front passenger seat.

High on the Kick’s list of equipment is a slew of safety and convenience features. For example, there’s Automatic Emergency Braking and a RearView monitor as standard, plus Forward Collision Warning on higher trim levels. Grab the SR model, and you’ll get a standard Intelligent Around View Monitor, with four cameras providing a bird’s-eye view around the car, thus enabling easier maneuvers in tight spaces. Both the SR and SV add in Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, while seven air bags are standard across the range.


2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748302
“The focus on technology continues with a 7.0-inch color display added to the dash of mid-grade and top-grade trims, plus Remote Engine Start and smartphone support via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.”

Complementing the safety and convenience stuff is a nice selection of infotainment features, such as Bluetooth connectivity and three USB connection ports. The focus on technology continues with a 7.0-inch color display added to the dash of mid-grade and top-grade trims, providing info on the mpg returns, the chassis dynamic control, radio and playlist info, and more. There’s also Remote Engine Start. Mid-grade gear also throws in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone support, while the NissanConnect system rounds out the platform options.

Grab the Kicks SR Premium Package, and you’ll get a Bose Personal Plus stereo, which offers enhanced sound thanks to 8 speakers, Bose signal processing, and a 360-degree sound feature. Part of the enhanced sound package is a duo of 2.5-inch Bose UltraNearfield neodymium speakers, which are mounted inside the driver’s seat headrest to get you up close and personal with the tunes. The package also adds in a 6.5-inch Bose Super65 speaker in each of the front doors and 1.0-inch tweeters in the A-pillar, plus 5.25-inch wide-range speakers in the rear doors. Adjusting the sound is a Bose PersonalSpace Control feature for more audiophile tweaks. Finally, the upgraded stereo stuff also throws in a digital amp, six-channel sound, and digital sound processing.


2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748297
“Practicality was also a big concern for the Kicks, and as such, the rear bench gets a 60/40 split for easier access to the flat rear floor design”

As you might expect, practicality was also a big concern for the Kicks, and as such, the rear bench gets a 60/40 split for easier access to the flat rear floor design. Nissan also boasts that the Kicks offers one of the largest load areas in the segment. Getting stuff in and out of the trunk is made easier thanks to the high-lift hatch, which Nissan says allows individuals as tall as 6 feet to grab what they need without ducking down – a small detail that could pay big dividends depending on the buyer.

Interior Dimensions

Headroom front/rear (Inches) 40.7/38.5
Legroom front/rear (Inches) 43.7/33.2
Hip room front/rear (Inches) 50.9/49.1
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 53.0/53.2
Cargo behind 2nd row (cu ft) 25.3
Total cargo room (cu ft) 119.2

Drivetrain

  • NA 1.6-liter four-cylinder is only engine option
  • 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque
  • CVT and FWD for drivetrain
  • No available AWD
  • 33 mpg combined

2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748292
“The standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine comes equipped with double overhead cams, 16 valves, and Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System, all of which help it produce upwards of 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque.”

Providing the, well, kick (sorry not sorry) is a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. This standard gas unit comes equipped with double overhead cams, 16 valves, and Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System, all of which help it produce upwards of 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque.

Compared to the Juke, that’s quite a bit of a downgrade, as the former model made 188 horses from a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-banger. However, the all-atmosphere unit should be much more efficient, with Nissan predicting upwards of 33 mpg combined compared to the Juke’s 26 mpg city and 31 mph highway.

Helping to pad the Kicks’ fuel returns is an Xtronic CVT transmission and FWD as standard. Nissan is also declining to offer AWD, which is probably not a big deal for urban buyers, but certainly bears mentioning in a segment jam-packed with aspiring off-roaders.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS)
Horsepower 125 HP
Torque 115 LB-FT
Transmission Xtronic
Drive configuration Front-wheel drive, standard Traction Control System (TCS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA)

Chassis And Handling

  • 7.0 inches of ground clearance
  • Strut front suspension, twist-beam rear suspension
  • Electric power steering

2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748295
“The Kicks still gets the lifted suspension of a traditional crossover, providing a very decent 7.0 inches of extra ground clearance”

Despite the lack of AWD grip, the Kicks still gets the lifted suspension of a traditional crossover, providing a very decent 7.0 inches of extra ground clearance. And while it’s not really totally necessary for a model aimed at urban customers (unless, of course, you’ve got some seriously screwed-up streets in your town), the set-up works well with the compact crossover aesthetic we’re used to seeing. Not really needed, but a nice to have.

Speaking of suspension, the Kicks comes equipped with a strut set-up in front plus a stabilizer bar, while in back, there’s a twist-beam set-up with twin-tube shocks plus a stabilizer bar.

Helping it turn is an electric power steering set-up. Fully locked, the rack helps the Kicks perform with a 34.1-foot turning radius, which ain’t bad for those close-quarter maneuvers, especially when complemented by the around-view monitor system.

To round it out, the Kicks comes with standard traction control, vehicle dynamic control, hill start assist, and ABS. It also includes an Integrated Dynamic-Control Module with Active Engine Brake, Active Trace Control, and Active Ride Control. Providing the stick is a set of all-season tires, with 206/60 sizing on the SV and 205/55 sizing on the SR.

Prices


2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 748288

The 2018 Nissan Kicks will be released June of 2018, and will come in three individual trim levels – the base-model S, the mid-grade SV, and the top-trim SR.

There’s no exact pricing announced as of yet, but word has it the base-model will slot in under $19,000. And that’s a decent chunk of change less than the Juke’s $20,250 price tag.

Competition

Kia Soul


2017 Kia Soul Turbo - image 694702

If you’re looking to get into an affordable compact crossover, one of your best bets comes from Kia with the Soul five-door. Power is derived from a 1.6-liter four making 130 horsepower, which routes output to the front axle by way of a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic. There’s also 161 horsepower from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and automatic combo, and if you’re feeling frisky, 201 horsepower from a turbocharged 1.6-liter option. Go for the power, and it’ll reach the ground through a seven-speed automatic. Interior space is ample, while the boxy styling is a standout in the segment. If you miss the fun of the Juke, but wanted it with more space, this might be the one for you.

Read our
full review on the 2017 Kia Soul.

Jeep Renegade


2015 Jeep Renegade - image 544607

Take the proven Jeep formula and apply it to a compact utility vehicle, and this is what you get – the Jeep Renegade. Powered by a 160-horsepower turbo four-cylinder or optional 180-horsepower four-cylinder, the Renegade gets FWD as standard, but can add on AWD if extra grip is a necessity. You can even get yours in full Trailhawk trim if you really need a slice of that off-roading goodness. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard features, and as a bonus, the Renegade looks the part of a Jeep in front.

Read our full review on the 2017 Jeep Renegade.

Conclusion


2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec - image 750816

On paper, the Nissan kicks has a lot to offer. The biggest draws have to be the impressive interior room, technology and equipment, efficiency, and most of all, affordable price tag, all qualities that new buyers in the segment are looking for. So that’s good.

However, the Kicks is certainly not without its faults, most of which stem from the lackluster powertrain and drivetrain. With just 125 horses on tap, the Kicks isn’t exactly quick, while the old-school suspension set-up will likely keep it from winning any awards in terms of handling or on-road refinement. Throw in the standard CVT and lack of optional AWD, and you can see what Nissan had to do to keep pricing under the $19K mark.

But for some buyers, that’s not a big deal. AWD isn’t a necessity for the target buyer on this thing, and if you’re looking for something that’s truly a hoot behind the wheel, the CUV segment probably isn’t the right spot to start.

The only question left is this – will the Kicks perform better than the Juke in terms of sales?

  • Leave it
    • * Quite slow
    • * No option for AWD
    • * CVT only

References

Nissan Kicks


2017 Nissan Kicks - image 674606

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Kicks – European version.

Nissan Juke


2011 Nissan Juke - image 347080

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Juke.


maker logos - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Stolen Honda HR-V Found With Lyft Stickers And 13,000 Miles On The Odometer

A brand new Honda HR-V that was stolen back in August in front of the apartment of its owners has been found abandoned on the side of a road for around two weeks. That in itself makes this a head-scratching case. But the story doesn’t end there. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the stolen HR-V had Lyft stickers on the front and rear windows, a sign that the HR-V was used as a Lyft vehicle at the time it was stolen.


Stolen Honda HR-V Found With Lyft Stickers And 13,000 Miles On The Odometer - image 578881
“The car’s mileage spiked from 2,000 miles at the time the car was stolen a few months ago to 13,000 miles when it was discovered recently”

This case is one for the books because of all the information that’s been revealed so far. Apart from the presence of the stickers, local authorities also noticed that the car’s mileage spiked from 2,000 miles at the time the car was stolen a few months ago to 13,000 miles when it was discovered recently. The HR-V also had a rattling hood, a few dents on the bodywork, and a cabin littered with a pillow, jacket, and stuffed animal. It’s unclear if the items found inside belonged to the owners, Josh and Cierra Barton.

For its part, Lyft denied any knowledge of the HR-V being used for ride-hailing purposes. Either way, the company issued a statement, saying that the “safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we take these allegations seriously.”


Stolen Honda HR-V Found With Lyft Stickers And 13,000 Miles On The Odometer - image 578883
“The HR-V also had a rattling hood, a few dents on the bodywork, and a cabin littered with a pillow, jacket, and stuffed animal”

“Given the information provided, we are unable to match this vehicle to any Lyft accounts in the area. We have reached out to Ms. Barton, and we stand ready to assist law enforcement in any investigation”, the company added.

This is an unusual crime on par with the thief who stole a set of tires from a Honda Accord owner twice in a span of a few days. It’s amusing to read about crimes like these from a distance, but they’re really nothing to joke about. Hopefully, the thief who jacked the HR-V is apprehended before he steals another car and uses it for nefarious reasons.

References

Honda HR-V


Stolen Honda HR-V Found With Lyft Stickers And 13,000 Miles On The Odometer - image 578892

Read our full review on the 2017 Honda HR-V.


maker logos - image 742500

Read more Honda news.

PostHeaderIcon First Ever Zero Star Rating on the Euro NCAP? Don’t Put Your Kids in a Fiat Punto

It’s rare for a car to be so bad at the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) that it scores zero stars in the crash tests. It has actually never happened in the 20 years NCAP has been crashing cars. History has arrived, though, in the form of the Fiat Punto. The aging hatchback doesn’t have many distinguishing traits about it, but from this day forth, it will now live in infamy as the first and only car to ever get a goose egg in the European crash tests.

“The third-generation hatchback has been around for 12 years with minimal updates to show for it”

I don’t usually follow the Euro NCAP because there’s too much going on in the auto industry. But every so often, the agency finds itself in the news for reasons like this one. It’s a worrying result for the Punto, but not one that’s entirely unexpected either. The third-generation hatchback has been around for 12 years with minimal updates to show for it. That’s one reason it scored so low in these tests. I’m not even exaggerating about how bad it gets for the dated model. It scored 51 percent for adult occupant safety, 43 percent for children occupant safety, and 52 percent for pedestrian protection. If those scores aren’t putrid enough, consider this: the Punto scored 0 percent on safety assist. In case you didn’t know, you can’t go any lower than 0 percent.


First Ever Zero Star Rating on the Euro NCAP? Don't Put Your Kids in a Fiat Punto - image 753151
“If those scores aren’t putrid enough, consider this: the Punto scored 0 percent on safety assist”

Michiel van Ratingen, the body’s secretary general, summarized the Punto’s abysmal results clearly. “The fact that older cars cannot compete illustrates the pace at which the vehicle industry is innovating safety and the willingness and ability of competitive manufacturers to meet the highest standards,” he said. Those who do not keep their cars up to the latest standards get left behind, as these results clearly show.”

There’s no going around it. Fiat needs to retire the Punto. It should’ve retired it years ago, but it continues to sell it well past its expiration date because the car somehow still sells. It’s not a good business practice, and the Italian automaker needs to be called out for it. The Italian automaker can’t even blame the more stringent tests carried out by the NCAP. The Punto is just a bad car. It’s the closest thing to a hazard on four wheels that we have in the industry.

Do the right thing, Fiat. Give the Punto the burial it deserves.

References


maker logos - image 753156

Read more Fiat news.

PostHeaderIcon Model Sondors

2018 Model Sondors

The world of all-electric vehicles seems to be in a constant state of flux as of late, evolving from quirky, eco-friendly transportation alternatives, to top-shelf luxury cars, to high-performance speed machines, and now, it looks like we’re coming full circle. Unveiled in a small corner booth at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, this is the Model Sondors, the first offering from the Sondors Electric Car Company. Sondors is best known for its popular line of electric bicycles, and currently enjoys a position as the largest electric bike manufacturer and distributor in the U.S. Now, it’s aiming at expanding into the electric car game, starting with this slick-looking three-wheeling three-seater. Simplicity is the name of the game, from the powertrain to the interior. Even the way its built and sold will be streamlined, all in the name of driving down costs to bring electric motivation to the masses.

“I believe affordable, clean transportation should be the norm, not the exception. You shouldn’t have to choose between a car you can afford and a car that’s electric. We can do better,” says the founder of Sondors Electric Car Company, Storm Sondors. So far, so good. The prototype you see here was built in just seven months, an outright blitz by industry standards, and we think it looks quite good at this early stage. But is it really?

Continue reading to learn more about Sondors three-wheel EV.

Exterior

  • Simplified three-wheeler exterior
  • Two wheels in front, one in back
  • No motorcycle license required
  • Aerodynamic efficiency a major focus
  • Teardrop shape helps cut through air
  • Available in five exterior colors

2018 Model Sondors - image 750799
“Having just three wheels allows for fewer bureaucratic hoops to jump through before bringing the vehicle to market”

First off, let’s discuss that three-wheeler exterior. This, along with the all-electric powertrain, is the defining feature of the Model Sondors, providing the framework to accomplish the upstart carmaker’s rather lofty goals.

So what’s the point of going with the trike format? For starters, having just three wheels allows for fewer bureaucratic hoops to jump through before bringing the vehicle to market, a vitally important characteristic for a new carmaker aiming at the budget consumer. The design also has the added benefit of reducing complexity, lowering overall weight, and increasing aerodynamic efficiency, all important things for the segment. Plus, you don’t need a motorcycle license to drive one.


2018 Model Sondors - image 750800
“The Model Sondors doesn’t necessarily look like what you’d expect from an all-electric three-wheeler. Penned by unnamed Italian designers, Sondors says grand tourer cars provided the inspiration for the aesthetic.”

That said, the Model Sondors doesn’t necessarily look like what you’d expect from an all-electric three-wheeler. The company went to unnamed Italian designers to create the exterior shape, and we think it looks pretty good. Sondors says grand tourer cars provided the inspiration for the aesthetic, and that much is evident from the lithe, streamlined appearance. The front end is particularly attractive, with a wide, low stance that stretches forward with smooth lines and a streamlined attitude. The headlights are set with a duo of projectors per side, extending the car’s visual breadth with thin, blade-like housings. A large, angular lower lip spoiler offsets in grey, adding sportiness, and complemented by small intakes in the hood.

Moving to the sides, we find the front wheels get a split multi-spoke design finished in a lighter grey, offering another nice splash of aggression. The roofline curves rearwards in a coupe-like fashion, while prominent side skirts match the front lip in their appearance.


2018 Model Sondors - image 750797
“In the rear, the fenders join up to form a teardrop shape, revealing a prominent rake to the stance.”

Finally, in the rear, the fenders join up to form a teardrop shape to the thing. Back here, the car’s prominent rake is evident, leaning forward at a steep angle. Minimalistic, slender taillights illuminate the rear end.

It definitely looks quite aerodynamic, with few frills and extraneous pieces to muck it up, and we hope the aesthetic doesn’t change much by the time it reaches production. Of course, that front lip looks like it might mess with the airflow and create a bit of unnecessary drag, but we think it looks good all the same. When the Model Sondors does finally roll off the production line, customers will have up to five exterior colors to choose from.

Interior

  • Two seats in front, one in the rear
  • Simplified dash with large block shapes
  • All-digital instrumentation behind the steering wheel
  • Surprisingly spacious
  • Lots of contrast stitching
  • Flat-bottom steering wheel

2018 Model Sondors - image 750789
“Climb into the cabin, and you’ll find three seats for passengers, with two in front and one in back”

Climb into the cabin, and you’ll find three seats for passengers, with two in front and one in back. Once again, simplicity and clean design pervade throughout, with a dash that looks almost like something out of a Lotus Elise in terms of its minimalism. A quartet of air vents lines the dash with a rounded shape and propeller-like directional fins. Solid shapes are used for the door panels and dead pedal, with the black spaces are offset by large patches of red and contrast stitching. The steering wheel is also decked-out in red contrast stitching, and gets a flat bottom and glossy black center section. The seats are draped in hide and look to offer decent lateral support. The single seat in back is placed towards the middle/rear of the car.

Although we weren’t offered a chance to sit in it, it looks as though the Model Sondors has a surprisingly spacious cabin for such a tiny vehicle. Thanks to the relatively compact packaging of its all-electric drivetrain, there’s no center tunnel to deal with, opening up legroom considerably for all passengers. There’s even a pair of windows in back to keep it feeling airy when stuffed into that rear seat.


2018 Model Sondors - image 750792
“Although we weren’t offered a chance to sit in it, it looks as though the Model Sondors has a surprisingly spacious cabin for such a tiny vehicle.”

The whole thing felt surprisingly well put together as well, and Sondors promises all the standard convenience features you’d expect from a modern vehicle. These include a push button starter, air conditioning, a heater, an AM/FM stereo, power windows, power locks, and inputs for your smartphone or music device. There’s also a digital gauge readout behind the steering wheel, and Sondors says it’ll offer optional luxury features like leather upholstery for a little more outaly.

As you might expect, don’t expect much in terms of practicality, as there’s pretty much no space for storage purposes. That said, Sondors says it might add a storage spot in the front (commonly referred to as a “frunk” in the EV world) some time in the future.

As for the safety side of things, Sondors says its first model will come with airbags, a passenger safety cell, and seat belts, plus a strict consideration for crash standards. “Our intent is to meet and exceed automotive safety standards,” the company says.

Finally, Sondors has aspirations to one day offer autonomous drive features, although tech like that is most likely a quite a ways off in the future. However, if autonomous systems really kick off in the next 5 years and become much cheaper, offered at the right price point for a budget-oriented EV like the Model Sondors, that could change. And indeed, a car like this would be well-suited to robot chauffeurism.

Drivetrain

  • Rear in-hub motor system
  • Lithium-ion battery pack
  • Multiple range options, between 75 and 200 miles per charge
  • 0 to 60 mph between 8 and 5 seconds depending on the battery
  • Might be a lot of fun in the corners

2018 Model Sondors - image 750798
“The Model Sondors has single-wheel all-electric drive, with the rear tire making its move by way of an in-hub motor system and lithium-ion battery pack”

To make it go, the Model Sondors has single-wheel all-electric drive, with the rear tire making its move by way of an in-hub motor system and lithium-ion battery pack. Meanwhile, the two front wheels turn and provide the majority of braking force. Specs are understandably light at this early stage, but we do know Sondors intends to offer a variety of powertrain options and range possibilities, starting with 75 miles per charge. Customers willing to spend a bit more will have a shot at 150 miles and 200 miles in the options list.

Acceleration will be greatly affected by the battery pack you choose, ranging between 8 seconds at the slow end and 5 seconds at the fast end. Not bad for a plucky little EV three-wheeler. Charge times will vary quite a bit as well, with both 110-volt and 240-volt options on the table. No word on DC quick charger options at this time.

“Acceleration will be greatly affected by the battery pack you choose, ranging between 8 seconds at the slow end and 5 seconds at the fast end. Not bad for a plucky little EV three-wheeler”

How does it handle? That’s a good question. The tri-pod platform can be an absolute riot if properly executed, as evidenced by examples like the Polaris Slingshot, Morgan Three-Wheeler, and Campagna T-Rex, but it depends on how aggressive Sondors wants to get with this supposedly commute-oriented first offering. We do know the Model Sondors will come with standards like ABS and traction control, and that with its low center of gravity and instant torque at a single rear wheel, it has the potential to be quite interesting in the corners.

Finally, there are disc brakes in front by the look of it. No word on regenerative capabilities yet.

Prices


2018 Model Sondors - image 750801
“Sondors says it isn’t taking pre-orders just yet, as it doesn’t want to “oversell and under-deliver.”

Financially speaking, Sondors is in a surprisingly good spot right now. The start-up went through a round of crowd funding last January and raised an impressive $1 million in just 30 days, money that fueled the creation of the prototype you see here. Now, Sondors hopes to ramp up with a second round of crowd funding, aiming to raise another $2 million for pre-production, with the ultimate goal being $20 million for tooling and a full-blown production Model Sondors.

However, Sondors says it isn’t taking pre-orders just yet, as it doesn’t want to “oversell and under-deliver,” which honestly seems like a jab at pretty much every other start-up EV producer out there. And it’s a bold move, to boot.

When it does eventually go on sale, the asking price will start around $10,000. Production numbers are hazy, but Sondors says between 60,000 and 100,000 units annually would make sense – ambitious numbers, if you ask us.

“When it does eventually go on sale, the asking price will start around $10,000.”

Additionally, Sondors will partner up with various worldwide manufacturing companies, rather than go through the money-intensive process of creating manufacturing facilities on its own. The first run of Model Sondors will be produced in Italy.

Ultimately, this all gets back to the underlying philosophy driving the company – “Additionally, we intend to design, develop, and source materials and components from some of the best manufacturers around the globe. This will allow us to not only have access to proven technologies but we will also be able to pass on supply chain warranties to the end customer,” Sondors says.

When the final production model is ready to roll, customers will be able to buy theirs online, including picking out each of their preferred options, and have it delivered straight to their front door. The point of this, of course, is to cut out the dealer middleman, thus lowering overall cost for the buyer.

Finally, Sondors says it hopes to begin putting together production vehicles by April of 2019.

Competitors

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive


2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
- image 689175

While there are a plethora of differences between the Model Sondors and the Electric Fortwo, at the heart of it, they both fly under the same philosophy – all-electric transportation that’s accessible to as many people as possible. Smart’s take adds a wheel, but deletes a seat, with just two passengers finding accommodation in the cabin. Range is also a bit low at 70 to 80 miles per charge, while price is more than double that of the Sondors at $23,800. Still, you can go out and buy a Smart right now, which is much more than you can say for the Sondors. The question is – where will Smart be when the Model Sondors finally hits the production line?

Read our full review on the 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Conclusion


2018 Model Sondors - image 750799
“At the end of the day, Sondors is taking an undeniably bold and aggressive path.”

Truth be told, history tells us the odds of success are most definitely not in Sondors’ favor. However, this first prototype is looking mighty impressive all the same. Indeed, even the company is relishing in its own successes. “We were told that it costs hundreds of millions to do what I did for a million dollars,” says the founder of Sondors Electric Car Company, Storm Sondors.

At the end of the day, Sondors is taking an undeniably bold and aggressive path. The company aspires to change the way cars are purchased, manufactured, and delivered, and that’s no simple task, no matter how you look at it.

Still, the company does have a few advantages to play. For one, it’s a leader in the electric bike industry, and there are sure to be many lessons learned there that apply to the business of making cars as well. The crowd funding angels also seem to be in the company’s corner, driving development without resorting to grandiose promises like some of the other EV startups. Sondors’ “electric for everyone” motto also looks overseas, and as demand increases for affordable personal transportation options, and various countries ban internal combustion altogether, the time might be right for a trike like the Model Sondors.

“Still, the company does have a few advantages to play.”

Our only real issue is with safety, which might be a bit questionable considering the car’s size and lightweight approach to moving about. That said, we’ll reserve final judgment until we see the crash test results for ourselves.

Here’s the thing though. Let’s consider another startup when weighing the odds of success for Model Sondors – Elio Motors, a company that should serve as a cautionary tale for potential Sondors fans. Established in 2009, Elio sought to offer a highly efficient three-wheeler dubbed the P4, tagging it with specs like 84 mpg on the highway and pricing set at about $7,500. However, in the 8 years since it launched, Elio Motors has repeatedly pushed back the delivery date for its first model time and again, with the latest estimate putting delivery at 2019, a full decade after it was initially founded and seven years after its initial speculative delivery date. Granted, there are several glaringly obvious differences between Sondors and Elio, but the point is this – building cars is hard. Does Sondors have what it takes to prove the naysayers wrong? We’ll find out eventually.

  • Leave it
    • * Still just a trike with a roof
    • * Safety could be an issue
    • * Just a prototype for now

References


maker logos - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes Will Present Next-Gen Infotainment System at the 2018 CES

Mercedes-Benz will be in attendance at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, and a big part of its presentation will revolve around its new infotainment system. It’s called “Mercedes-Benz User Experience,” or MBUX for short. More importantly, the new system will feature state-of-the-art technology that’s based on artificial intelligence and an intuitive operating system that will create a “pioneering in-car experience.” Yes, Mercedes is bringing the future to CES. We can’t wait.

From a purely functional standpoint, Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system is next level business. The German automaker didn’t elaborate on all the technological wizardry that this system will have at its disposal, but throwing out phrases like “artificial intelligence” and “intuitive operating system” is a good sign that there’s more to this new unit than we first expected.

As far as aesthetics go, we already know what it’s going to look like based on images that were shared of the next-generation A-Class’ interior. We can expect a pair of 7-inch displays on standard units while higher-trim models stand to get a pair of 10.25-inch displays or one 7-inch and another 10.25-inch screen. It’s a markedly different setup from the traditional panels we’ve seen in the past.

The new MUBX will also be used on a number of other models apart from the A-Class. The B-Class MPV will also get it, as will the CLA four-door coupe, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA, and possibly another crossover that has yet to be named.

Expectations are high for the MUBX system and all of its promised features. Here’s to hoping that it lives up to all the hype.

References

Mercedes A-Class


2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - image 719286

Read our full speculative review on the next generation 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.

PostHeaderIcon Watch the 2018 Jeep Wrangler’s Powertop Top in Action

Jeeps have always been open-air vehicles, but with the proliferation of the hardtop option, getting a breeze inside has become a bit more challenging. Yeah, Jeep now has the revised three-piece Freedom Top option that’s easier to work, but it doesn’t compare to the absolute breeze of the new Sky One-Touch Powertop.

It’s basically a hard top with its center section cut open and sealed with a power-retractable canvas cover. A single button transforms the Wrangler Unlimited from weatherproof to completely open. The operation can happen up to 60 mph and takes about 18 seconds in both directions.

Better still, the side windows are now removable – something the standard Freedom Top doesn’t do. Simply twist two L-brackets at the top of each window, and the entire piece comes out. Both windows will store in the cargo area. With both the canvas top pulled back and the windows removed, the Sky top offers just about as much open-air freedom as a bare Wrangler. The rear glass is the only remaining hindrance to that. Remove the aluminum doors, drop the windshield, and boom – the Wrangler Unlimited is about as open as a typical owner would ever want. Jeep does say the Sky top isn’t designed to be removed, so those selecting that factory option are married to that choice.

Jeep hasn’t announced the price for the Sky One-Touch Powertop, but it will be an option on the Sahara and four-door Rubicon models.

References

2018 Jeep Wrangler


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 742104

Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

2017 Jeep Wrangler


2017 Jeep Wrangler - image 687100

Read our full review on the JK-gen 2017 Jeep Wrangler

PostHeaderIcon Watch the 2018 Jeep Wrangler’s Freedom Top in Action

Jeep introduced the three-piece Freedom Top with the then-new 2007 Wrangler JK. It proved to be an instant hit thanks to its combination of security and weatherproof coverage with removable panels over the front seats. Now with the introduction of the all-new 2018 Wrangler JL, Jeep has reworked the Freedom Top to make it even easier and quicker to remove the panels.

First, jeep made the panels lighter. They weren’t overly heavy to begin with, but every ounce counts when lifting car parts overhead, espeaiclly in the rain as we’ve personally discovered. What’s more, the hand screws that secured the Freedom panels to the B-pillar horizontal bar are gone. Now the top just uses six L-brackets and the two main latches at the windshield header. No tools are required and forearms remain unsure. From there, the panels are easily lifted off and can be stored in the cargo area. Mopar and several aftermarket companies offer storage bags and even bracketry that secure the panels when stored.

And for those wanting the full open-air experience, the entire Freedom Top is still removable just like before. Its removal is still best done with at least two people since it’s rather bulky.

References

2018 Jeep Wrangler


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 742104

Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

2017 Jeep Wrangler


2017 Jeep Wrangler - image 687100

Read our full review on the JK-gen 2017 Jeep Wrangler

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Prepares to Test Self-Driving Taxis In Japan in 2018

Another day, another development in the race to put autonomous driving technology on the road. The latest bit of news comes from Nissan, which announced plans to roll out an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program with tech partner DeNA. The public test will take place in the Minatomirai district in Yokohama, Japan.

“The program, called Easy Ride, is envisioned as a service that works similarly with the autonomous ride sharing programs Uber and Waymo are already doing”

The program, called Easy Ride, is envisioned as a service that works similarly with the autonomous ride sharing programs Uber and Waymo are already doing. But before diving into deep waters, Nissan and DeNA will take things slowly, beginning with a two-week test run that will take place between March 5 and 18, 2018. Modified Nissan Leaf electric cars will be used in the program. Nissan and DeNA have also created a dedicated website where volunteers can sign up to be part of the program.

Eventually, Nissan envisions the Easy Ride program to become a full-fledged service that will supplement the current transportation services we have today. Robo-Taxis will sit at the forefront of this program, all of which can be used by the general public. It’s not clear if Nissan plans to build unique models for these autonomous cars in the future, but given that the company is using modified Leafs for this trial run, it’s likely that the electric car will get the first shot at bringing the Easy Ride program to life.

References

Nissan Leaf


2018 Nissan Leaf - image 729749

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Leaf.



Read more Nissan news.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Jeep Wrangler’s Three Infotainment Systems

Perhaps the most obvious improvement to the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is its new infotainment systems. Gone is the old and outdated radio and optional Uconnect 420N system found in the outgoing Wrangler JK. Now, the JL comes with three systems – all of which are far better and more user-friendly.

Regardless of the head unit, the Wrangler comes with eight speakers. An optional nine-speaker Alpine system with a subwoofer is available on the Sahara and Rubicon trims. The Wrangler Unlimited with the Alpine system now has its subwoofer located in the side panel of the cargo area, freeing up the floor space. The two-door Wrangler still has its sub in the floor. No worries, though, it’s weatherproof and has a strong metal grille protecting it from harm.

Continue reading for more on the Wrangler’s infotainment systems.

Uconnect 3 with 5.0-Inch Display


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler's Three Infotainment Systems - image 751623

The standard radio is similar to the base system found in other Fiat Chrysler products like the Ram pickups, Dodge cars, and other Jeep models. It uses a 5.0-inch touch screen with physical buttons lining each side of the screen. It offers AM/FM/SiriusXM/Bluetooth/AUX capability, along with phone connectivity. Even though it’s the base radio, it’s far prettier than the old Uconnect 420N found at the premium option in the JK.

Uconnect 4 with 7.0-inch Display


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler's Three Infotainment Systems - image 751637

This optional system brings upgraded technology wrapped in a prettier package with a larger screen. The interface looks more like the premium 8.4-inch system but doesn’t offer navigation. It does make Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard, though, something the 5.0-inch system doesn’t offer.

The 7.0-inch system also relocates the volume and tuning knobs near the climate controls system. This also means the 7.0-inch system makes dual-zone HVAC standard. The system also includes phone connectivity and all the usual radio bands and media connectivity. It’s certainly worth the extra coin if you can spring for it.

Uconnect 4 with 8.4-inch Display


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler's Three Infotainment Systems - image 751599

Not only does the 8.4-inch system has the largest display of the bunch, it also looks the best, making use of the entire area dedicated to the infotainment system. Graphic buttons are larger, more information is displayed, and the backup camera is downright crystal clear. The 8.4-inch system also brings navigation on board, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from the 7.0-inch system. UConnect 4 is FCA’s latest software, and it continues to be a leader in the automotive industry. Its intuitive menus, resolution, and user-friendliness are right up there with Chevrolet’s MyLink system.

Sound quality from the Alpine system we sampled was pretty good, even with the doors and top off running down the highway. That’s a great thing, since that’s the time with good music is best enjoyed.

References

2018 Jeep Wrangler


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 742104

Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

2017 Jeep Wrangler


2017 Jeep Wrangler - image 687100

Read our full review on the JK-gen 2017 Jeep Wrangler

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