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Archive for the ‘midsize cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Kia Marketing Boss Confirms a Ceed SUV is in the Works

The all-new Kia Ceed will eventually grow into an entire family of new models that will include a compact SUV. The surprising revelation came from Artur Martins, Kia’s vice president of marketing, who told Auto Express that the new SUV will sit beneath Sportage and will act as the brand’s champion against models like the Volkswagen T-Roc. Details are still unclear, but the model is expected to arrive sometime in the middle of 2019.


Kia Marketing Boss Confirms a Ceed SUV is in the Works - image 768762
“Even with the rapid growth of the crossover and SUV markets, there was no sign from Kia that it was planning to add an SUV to the Ceed lineup”

Raise your hands if you saw this one coming. Even with the rapid growth of the crossover and SUV markets, there was no sign from Kia that it was planning to add an SUV to the Ceed lineup. But it’s happening, at least according to the automaker’s vice president of marketing, Artur Martins.

This is something we are putting on the table,” he said. “There will be no three-door with this car, so that gives us the chance to have another body type of the [Ceed] car.”

The inclusion of a Ceed SUV would raise the nameplate’s lineup to include a healthy of models. We already know about the hatchback and sedan versions. There’s also going to be a wagon version, a performance-based GT version of the hatchback, and a shooting brake estate that will be based on the Proceed Concept that we saw at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The variation across the Ceed lineup is a good thing for Kia as it continues to build on its goal of increasing its market share in all the affected segments. Clearly, Kia has big plans for the Ceed now that the third-generation model has arrived.


Kia Marketing Boss Confirms a Ceed SUV is in the Works - image 768767
“Clearly, Kia has big plans for the Ceed now that the third-generation model has arrived.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how Kia approaches this expansion in light of where the markets are at the moment. For his part, Martins thinks that to be relevant, Kia needs to take some swings and not limit itself to where it’s already comfortable. “We overperform in D-segment and SUVs – we have around 7 percent market share,” he said. “We have a chance to increase volume, but we have to change the recipe, we have to come with a different proposition, something more relevant.”

A Kia Ceed SUV would fit that proposition. Now it’s on Kia to make sure that the Ceed SUV lives up to the automaker’s own expectations.

References


2018 Kia Ceed - image 768654

Kia Shows off the All-New Kia Ceed Prior to its Geneva Debut


maker logos - image 745757

Read more Kia news.

PostHeaderIcon Subaru Outback 50th Anniversary Edition

The Subaru Outback isn’t making many headlines today, especially when compared to other wagons on the market, but it’s getting pretty good reviews. Sure, it’s not as fancy as the Volvo V90 Cross Country or the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, but it offers a spacious cabin, solid off-road ability, and a decent equipment package. And it’s more affordable than the aforementioned models too. Introduced in 2014, the latest model is still pretty fresh, but Subaru is giving it the limited-edition treatment for 2018 with the 50th Anniversary Edition.

No, the Outback nameplate isn’t 50 years old yet. It’s barely on its way to its 25th anniversary. Of all the existing model, the Legacy is the oldest, and it dates back to 1989. This limited-edition model was actually launched to celebrate half a century since Subaru of America was established. The Outback is only one of seven vehicles to get this treatment, as the celebrations include all nameplates offered in the U.S. (sans the upcoming Ascent). What does it have to offer on top of the regular model? Let’s find out below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Subaru Outback 50th Anniversary Edition.

What makes the Subaru Outback 50th Anniversary Edition special?

  • Heritage Blue paint
  • Satin chrome trim
  • Chrome mirror caps
  • Unique wheel design
  • Black upholstery with silver stitching
  • Silver seatbelts
  • Special logos on seats and floor mats
  • Extra standard features
  • Standard drivetrains

2018 Subaru Outback 50th Anniversary Edition - image 767862
“On the outside, the Outback sports a brand-new, light blue color that's called Heritage Blue”

While it has a couple of features to set it apart from the regular Outback, this crossover shares most of its special features with the rest of the 50th Anniversary Edition lineup. So it’s far from unique. On the outside, the Outback sports a brand-new, light blue color that’s called Heritage Blue. The new hue is complemented by satin chrome trim for the windows, matching badges, and similar mirror caps. Subaru did add a set of exclusive wheels, but that’s it. All the other features remain unchanged.

Inside the cabin, there’s black upholstery highlighted by silver stitching, silver seatbelts, and “50th Anniversary” logos on embroidered on the front seat headrests and the carpeted floor mats. Standard features vary depending on trim, as this limited-edition model can be had in either 2.5i Limited or 3.6R Limited guise. For instance, both get standard power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, and woodgrain-patterned, matte-finish accent trim.


2018 Subaru Outback 50th Anniversary Edition - image 767871
“Pricing for each model is set at $35,080 and $37,280, respectively.”

Engine options are standard. Go with the 2.5i Limited, and you get the 2.5-liter four-cylinder unit rated at 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. If you need more oomph, the 3.6-liter six-cylinder cranks out 256 horses and 247 pound-feet of twist.

Pricing for each model is set at $35,080 and $37,280, respectively. That’s only a tad higher than the models they are based on. But unlike the regular model, production is limited to only 800 units for the 2.5i Limited and 250 examples for the 3.6R Limited.

References

Subaru Outback


2015 - 2017 Subaru Outback - image 549739

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru Outback.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 741040

Read more Subaru news.

PostHeaderIcon Rendered: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe N – Will Hyundai Go All In?

The next-generation Hyundai Santa Fe is knocking at the door. It’s scheduled to make its world debut on February 21, but that hasn’t stopped rendering artist extraordinaire X-Tomi Design from reinventing the next-gen Santa Fe and giving it the full-spec N experience. To be clear, Hyundai has given no indication of the likelihood of developing a performance-bred version of the Santa Fe. This is all speculation, but still, you can’t blame us for letting our imaginations go crazy. The thought of a Hyundai Santa Fe N sounds incredible.


Hyundai Drops a Pair of Teasers for the Next-Gen Santa Fe - image 763754
“The renderings Hyundai released last month show a completely new Santa Fe that’s far more aggressive than anything we’ve ever seen from its previous iterations”

The idea of a Hyundai Santa Fe N is awesome on paper, but until we get confirmation from Hyundai that it’s actually doing it, we’re not getting caught up on the potential of one happening. The good news is that even without an N version, the all-new Santa Fe looks to be headed for big things. The renderings Hyundai released last month show a completely new Santa Fe that’s far more aggressive than anything we’ve ever seen from its previous iterations. You can tell that the automaker’s designers did their homework in making the crossover stand out. We still don’t know what the interior looks like, but there are rumors that Hyundai is going to be generous in giving the new Santa Fe a string of new technologies.

What’s clear is that new Santa Fe is generating a lot of buzz. That’s great for Hyundai. Sales of the crossover in the U.S. reached record-setting numbers — 133, 171 units — in 2017. Imagine what an all-new Santa Fe is going to do once it hits the market. Who knows, if the next-gen crossover proves to be a hot ticket item, Hyundai might consider turning it over to the people over at the N Division.

We can dream, right?

References

Hyundai Santa Fe


Hyundai Drops a Pair of Teasers for the Next-Gen Santa Fe - image 763753

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe.


2017 Hyundai Santa Fe - image 665174

Read our full review on the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe.


maker logos - image 744957

Read more Hyundai news.

PostHeaderIcon Ford Edge Titanium Elite

Introduced in 2014, the Ford Edge, one of the company’s key vehicles, gained a significant update for the 2019 model. Alongside the revised exterior, high-tech interior, and upgraded turbo engine, Ford also updated the model lineup with an ST model. Replacing the old Sport, the new Edge ST brings the performance-oriented “ST” badge into the SUV market for the first time. At the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, Ford unveiled a second new trim. It’s called the Titanium Elite and slots right between the Titanium and the ST.

Ford’s choice for a new trim seems rather awkward at first glance. Unlike other models, the Edge doesn’t have the luxury-oriented Platinum trim. The latter seemed to be the next logical step after the ST, but Ford chose to introduce a slight upgrade to the Titanium model. The Titanium Elite would make more sense if the Titanium were to be discontinued soon, but as things stand, I can’t really understand where Ford is going with this. But let’s have a closer look at what we already know about this new trim.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Edge Titanium Elite.

What makes the Ford Edge Titanium Elite special

  • Unique 20-inch wheels
  • Body-colored trim
  • Upgraded rear bumper skid plate
  • Standard features from Titanium model
  • EcoBoost four-cylinder engine
  • 250 horsepower
  • 275 pound-feet of torque
“The "Elite" badge adds a new set of 20-inch wheels, body-colored trim, and a "premium" skid plate”

Ford has yet to release the full details on this model, but we can see that the “Elite” badge adds a new set of 20-inch wheels. Unique to this model, they feature a twin five-spoke design and a two-tone finish. It also has various body-colored trim elements instead of the usual black, while the rear bumper sports a “premium” skid plate. Yeah, the latter sounds a bit ridiculous, but hey, I’m sure that the marketing people at Ford had their reasons.

No word on interior upgrades yet, but the Titanium Elite should get everything you can find in the regular Titanium model. So expect standard features like dual-zone climate control, a particulate air filter, leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power windows, garage door opener, carpeted floor mats, and a cargo management system. It comes with SYNC 3 infotainment, two 4.2-inch displays in the instrument cluster, and a 12-speaker audio system from Sony.

“The EcoBoost engine delivers 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque”

The Titanium Elite will use the 2019 Edge’s updated powertrain, which includes the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and new eight-speed automatic transmission. The EcoBoost received a five-horsepower gain, so now it delivers 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, and AWD remains an option.

Ford has yet to announce pricing, but with the 2018 Sport, which the ST replaces, starting at $41,670, and the Titanium priced from $36,925, the Titanium Elite is likely to retail from around $38,000.

References

Ford Edge


2019 Ford Edge - image 762315

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Edge.


2019 Ford Edge ST - image 757605

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Edge ST.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 744958

Read more Ford news.

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Will Debut an All-New Altima at the 2018 New York Auto Show

In case you didn’t know, Nissan is bringing a new Altima sedan to the 2018 New York Auto Show. The automaker made that abundantly clear when it released a new teaser video featuring the Empire State Building. So that’s happening. What’s less certain is our expectation of what the new Altima is going to be. Either way, save the date for March 28. The new Nissan Altima is on its way.


“The teaser video didn’t reveal much, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking out of the new Altima.”

Sedan’s might be on the decline in the U.S., but they still pull in heavy sales. The Altima, for example, sold 254,996 units in 2017. That’s a big total, even if it was down from its record sales year in 2014 when Nissan moved 335,644 units. Nissan still has big plans for its mid-size sedan, and we’re going to see the sixth-generation model when it hits the Big Apple in a little over a month’s time.

The teaser video didn’t reveal much, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking out of the new Altima. It should still receive a four-cylinder engine as a base powertrain. The likely candidate would be the same 2.5-liter four-banger that was used in the last model. Don’t be surprised, though, if Nissan opts to switch things up for the sixth-gen model. A 3.5-liter V-6 unit is also likely given the fact that the Altima has always had a version of that engine. Likewise, a hybrid version should also be in the cards. The sedan will also sport a front-wheel drive setup, but rumors have circulated that an all-wheel-drive system could be thrown into the mix as an option.


Nissan Will Debut an All-New Altima at the 2018 New York Auto Show - image 700596
“The new Altima will adopt styling cues from the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 Concept that the automaker unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show”

The design of the sixth-generation Altima is open to interpretation. We’ve seen prototype versions go on test runs in the past few months, but there’s growing belief that the new Altima will adopt styling cues from the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 Concept that the automaker unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show last month. It’s not likely to be as dramatic as the concept, but the Vmotion 2.0 is a good peg for the Altima if it’s really going to make a statement in its super competitive segment.

More details should arrive as we draw closer to the New York Auto Show. For now, check out the Vmotion 2.0 Concept and imagine how it’s going to look like as the sixth-generation Altima. Intriguing, right?

References

Nissan Altima


2016 - 2017 Nissan Altima - image 647604

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Altima.


Nissan Will Debut an All-New Altima at the 2018 New York Auto Show - image 700594

Read our full review on the
2017 Nissan Vmotion 2.0 Concept


maker logos - image 744955

Read more Nissan news.


maker logos - image 769406

Read more New York Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Maxima – Driven

The Nissan Maxima is something of an oddity in the automotive landscape. It used to be that the Max was the biggest car in Nissan’s lineup — hence its maximum name. But for the last couple of generations, the Maxima’s size has been matched by its cheaper sister, the Nissan Altima.

This creates all sorts of confusion for some consumers. A friend saw me comparing a Camry to an Altima and said, “Shouldn’t you compare Camry to Maxima?”

No, no you should not. The Maxima is much more of a driver’s car than any Camry, though I admit the new-for-2018 Camry closes the gap a little (more on that in a minute.)

As for anyone else who may be confused by Maxima’s place in the family sedan world, let me put it this way: It punches well above its weight — so much so that, if I were considering spending my money on an entry-level luxury car like a Mercedes CLA or Lexus ES, I’d honestly consider the Maxima in that same pack.

Design Notes


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768527
“When it was last redesigned in 2015, the Nissan Maxima set the standard by which all Nissan designs have been tweaked in the years since”

When it was last redesigned in 2015, the Nissan Maxima set the standard by which all Nissan designs have been tweaked in the years since. The prominent “V-motion” grille signature carries over into hood creases that flow back toward the A-pillars of the steeply raked windshield. If you look carefully at just about any new Nissan model in 2018, you’ll see a reflection of those elements.

Where the Maxima design succeeds is in its muscular execution. The Maxima’s athletic stance and chiseled lines have not quite trickled down to lesser Nissan cars. That’s a good thing if you like your car to look a little different from the crowd — as I do.

“Boomerang” head- and tail lights give the Maxima another signature design element. There are swoopy creases flowing from the front fenders and disappearing under the door handles. A rear crease gives the car its “hips”, starting in the upper middle of the rear door above the door handle and flowing back into the upper arm of that boomerang-shaped tail light lens. There’s a black trim strip on the C pillar that makes the roof look like it’s floating — a nice visual trick.


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768518
“The rear is equally well-done, with a subtle arch from tail light to tail light”

The rear is equally well-done, with a subtle arch from tail light to tail light. There’s a wide chrome strip between those lights, hiding license plate illumination and the trunk release. Big dual exhaust outlets signal the car’s demeanor.

Interior Notes


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768509
“Inside is where the Maxima truly sets itself apart from the herd of midsize family sedans”

Inside is where the Maxima truly sets itself apart from the herd of midsize family sedans. Sure, the interior is slightly smaller than its sister, the Altima. It’s also a lot nicer, especially for the driver.

The front seats feature extendable thigh support and thicker padding than most in the segment. They’re comfortable, offering support in the right places. The car I tested had leather seating surfaces with superb diamond-stitch details.

The steering wheel deserves special mention. It’s a flat-bottom, leather-wrapped wheel with aggressive grip cut-outs at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. It felt great in my hands and had all the relevant infotainment and cruise controls at my fingertips.

The dashboard is covered in leather (or something a lot like leather) and features stitching. The test car had leather on the top edges of the center console, right where my right knee wanted to rest while driving. That was far nicer than the rough, hard plastic many cars have in that spot.

Maxima’s rear-seat legroom is a couple inches less than the Altima, but I had an easy time putting my two kids back there. More notable for those who have adult-size passengers will be the headroom, where again Maxima (35.8 inches) lacks a few crucial millimeters compared to the less-sporty Altima (37.1 inches).


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768533
“Wood appliques on the dash and door panels added even more upscale ambiance to the interior of the 2018 Nissan Maxima Platinum”

Nissan deserves praise for finally including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the Maxima. I easily mirrored my Google Play Music and Google Maps apps on the car’s eight-inch touchscreen, and Android’s voice recognition made it easy to send responses to text messages while I was driving.

Wood appliques on the dash and door panels added even more upscale ambiance to the interior of the 2018 Nissan Maxima Platinum. Taken in concert, the Maxima feels about half a class nicer than most midsize cars in its price range.

Drive Notes


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768513
“I thought the steering was a bit numb, but not as dull as the last Camry I drove”

OK, maybe given Maxima’s 3,800-lb curb weight, I should choose another phrase besides “punches above its weight.” Let’s say the Maxima surprises a lot of skeptics when driven in a hurry.

Its fully independent rear suspension does a lot to improve the car’s handling and control in curves and on broken pavement. Front and rear stabilizer bars do their part, too.

I thought the steering was a bit numb, but not as dull as the last Camry I drove. It’s about on-par with the Volkswagen Passat, which I have previously praised for having a little more steering feel than most front-drive family sedans.

Critics deride that a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only transmission available in the so-called “Four-Door Sports Car.” True, it feels different than other performance-minded cars. I think the availability of a manual transmission would benefit this model’s street cred, even if few buyers ultimately purchased it. But the CVT does not deserve nearly the derision it gets from gearheads.

In fact, the CVT pays dividends in day-to-day driving: It’s smoother than most multi-gear transmissions, and it helps you get good fuel economy. EPA says the Maxima will get 30 MPG on the highway. Even with a long photo shoot and lots of engine idle time — not to mention driving the car harder than most — I got 28 MPG.


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768516
“EPA says the Maxima will get 30 MPG on the highway.”

To put that in perspective, I never broke 25 MPG last time I had a Lexus GS 350. I know that’s a rear-wheel drive car, but it also has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes barely more power than the Maxima — and it’s smaller and lighter.

It’s not like the Maxima is slow. There’s 300 horsepower on-tap. Nail the throttle, and the CVT spools the engine up to its peak horsepower-making RPM — then holds it there until you ease up on the gas. Speed piles on quickly when you want it. While it lacks the shift-shock of multi-gear transmissions, the CVT does a good job finding the best mix of power and economy for your driving style and throttle position.

I saw a magazine compare the Maxima to a BMW 340i a few months before my test. The magazine said the Max couldn’t turn in the same lap time as the BMW — it was off the pace by about three seconds. But the magazine’s professional race driver said the Max was easier to control and had a better handling feel, thanks in part to Nissan’s Active Trace Control, a system that helps the car stay on the intended cornering line by selectively applying pressure on individual brake discs. The rear-drive BMW was comparatively tail-happy and harder to control, the magazine reported.

A base 340i costs about the same as my loaded Maxima Platinum. Considering that and the much roomier innards of the Nissan, a three-second gap in lap time doesn’t seem like reason for BMW to brag. Out here in the real world, where very few take cars to the track, the Maxima is offering an awful lot of value and performance for the money.

Competitor Notes

Buick Regal


2018 Buick Regal Sportback - image 724863

The Regal is Buick’s Maxima. It’s slightly smaller than many front-wheel drive midsize cars on the inside, but it’s also slightly sportier and more luxurious than many in its price range.

The exterior styling is a toss-up between the Max and the Regal. Both are handsome cars. The Maxima has a little more futuristic edginess to it, while the Regal is a little smoother, more timelessly designed.

Inside, Buick is the master of quietness. Regal will be quieter on the highway than Maxima. Either will offer similar levels of interior luxury, with the Regal slightly outclassing the Maxima for passenger space. The Regal is offered in “Sportback” (liftback sedan) and “TourX” (wagon) formats, which means it can be more versatile for cargo, too.

Where Regal falls short is its engine — a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 250 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. If you opt for all-wheel drive, which the Maxima doesn’t offer, you get a bump up to 295 lb-ft of torque.

One wonders whether the Opel-based Regal will be as compelling in the future, now that Opel has been sold to PSA, makers of French cars Peugeot and Citroen. But for now, the Regal offers a slightly lower-horsepower — and also possibly more practical — take on the sporty front-wheel drive midsize family car.

Read our full review on the 2018 Buick Regal

Toyota Camry


2018 Toyota Camry - image 700800

Ah, Toyota Camry — the most appliancey of automotive appliances. But for 2018, the Camry has an all-new design that injects a dose of sportiness in it.

But to get a powertrain with the same kind of sportiness offered by the Maxima, you have to choose the Camry’s XLE V6 or XSE V6 trims. Those give you a 3.5-liter, 301-horsepower V6. The XLE V6 is slightly less sporty-looking than the XSE thanks to a few front fascia tweaks between the two models.

Camry offers a double-wishbone rear independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars, much like the Maxima. Expect the Camry to feel good in the curvy and bumpy stuff, for a front-wheel drive car. But you should also probably expect it to be slightly louder than the Maxima, and you should probably expect some of the interior features to be less luxurious than the Maxima. Toyota continues to stubbornly resist Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, for example.

The Camry does offer more trims and options than the Maxima. There’s no hybrid version of the Max, for example, while Toyota offers that. And the Camry is slightly larger inside, particularly in the rear. But overall, I find the Camry boring compared to the Maxima. Start penning those comments, Toyota fans.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Camry.

Kia Stinger


2018 Kia Stinger - image 734759

Here’s the oddball in my comparisons. The Kia Stinger is a rear-wheel drive car that’s being marketed as a competitor to European luxury cars. But remember the Maxima being compared favorably to a BMW 340i? I don’t think there’s as much space between the Maxima and the Stinger as Kia would have us believe.

On top of that, they’re both about the same size. Maxima actually offers slightly more space inside, particularly for front-seat occupants. Stinger will outpace the Maxima on the track or at the stoplight grand prix, however, with an available 365-horsepower, 376 lb-ft twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6.

But again, how many of us are really taking these cars to the track? The only thing the extra 65 horsepower does is helps you lose your license faster if you’re driving on public roads.

The Stinger is a compelling car that starts at about the same price as a base Maxima. If you go all-in for a V6 Stinger GT, you’ll spend a bit more than the MSRP of my loaded Maxima Platinum.

I’d have a hard time choosing between the two, honestly. But in a world too full of bland cars, that’s a good problem to have.

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Stinger

Conclusion


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768518

At an as-tested price of $42,270, the Nissan Maxima Platinum offered a lot of value. The interior and driving experience were nearly worthy of Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti.

The biggest competition for the Maxima might be the V6 Altima. Though relatively rare in the overall mix of Altimas you’ll find on your local Nissan lot, the V6 Altima offers the same powertrain you find in the Maxima. But thanks to its more affordable roots — and fewer luxury and handling goodies — the Altima V6 tends to undercut the Maxima in price.

That said, no Altima handles like the Maxima, and I find that there’s no Altima that can equal the Maxima’s attractive design or luxurious interior.

Disclosure: Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

References

Nissan Maxima


2016 - 2017 Nissan Maxima - image 625125

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Maxima.


maker logos - image 744955

Read more Nissan news.

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Maxima – Driven

The Nissan Maxima is something of an oddity in the automotive landscape. It used to be that the Max was the biggest car in Nissan’s lineup — hence its maximum name. But for the last couple of generations, the Maxima’s size has been matched by its cheaper sister, the Nissan Altima.

This creates all sorts of confusion for some consumers. A friend saw me comparing a Camry to an Altima and said, “Shouldn’t you compare Camry to Maxima?”

No, no you should not. The Maxima is much more of a driver’s car than any Camry, though I admit the new-for-2018 Camry closes the gap a little (more on that in a minute.)

As for anyone else who may be confused by Maxima’s place in the family sedan world, let me put it this way: It punches well above its weight — so much so that, if I were considering spending my money on an entry-level luxury car like a Mercedes CLA or Lexus ES, I’d honestly consider the Maxima in that same pack.

Design Notes


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768527
“When it was last redesigned in 2015, the Nissan Maxima set the standard by which all Nissan designs have been tweaked in the years since”

When it was last redesigned in 2015, the Nissan Maxima set the standard by which all Nissan designs have been tweaked in the years since. The prominent “V-motion” grille signature carries over into hood creases that flow back toward the A-pillars of the steeply raked windshield. If you look carefully at just about any new Nissan model in 2018, you’ll see a reflection of those elements.

Where the Maxima design succeeds is in its muscular execution. The Maxima’s athletic stance and chiseled lines have not quite trickled down to lesser Nissan cars. That’s a good thing if you like your car to look a little different from the crowd — as I do.

“Boomerang” head- and tail lights give the Maxima another signature design element. There are swoopy creases flowing from the front fenders and disappearing under the door handles. A rear crease gives the car its “hips”, starting in the upper middle of the rear door above the door handle and flowing back into the upper arm of that boomerang-shaped tail light lens. There’s a black trim strip on the C pillar that makes the roof look like it’s floating — a nice visual trick.


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“The rear is equally well-done, with a subtle arch from tail light to tail light”

The rear is equally well-done, with a subtle arch from tail light to tail light. There’s a wide chrome strip between those lights, hiding license plate illumination and the trunk release. Big dual exhaust outlets signal the car’s demeanor.

Interior Notes


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“Inside is where the Maxima truly sets itself apart from the herd of midsize family sedans”

Inside is where the Maxima truly sets itself apart from the herd of midsize family sedans. Sure, the interior is slightly smaller than its sister, the Altima. It’s also a lot nicer, especially for the driver.

The front seats feature extendable thigh support and thicker padding than most in the segment. They’re comfortable, offering support in the right places. The car I tested had leather seating surfaces with superb diamond-stitch details.

The steering wheel deserves special mention. It’s a flat-bottom, leather-wrapped wheel with aggressive grip cut-outs at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. It felt great in my hands and had all the relevant infotainment and cruise controls at my fingertips.

The dashboard is covered in leather (or something a lot like leather) and features stitching. The test car had leather on the top edges of the center console, right where my right knee wanted to rest while driving. That was far nicer than the rough, hard plastic many cars have in that spot.

Maxima’s rear-seat legroom is a couple inches less than the Altima, but I had an easy time putting my two kids back there. More notable for those who have adult-size passengers will be the headroom, where again Maxima (35.8 inches) lacks a few crucial millimeters compared to the less-sporty Altima (37.1 inches).


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“Wood appliques on the dash and door panels added even more upscale ambiance to the interior of the 2018 Nissan Maxima Platinum”

Nissan deserves praise for finally including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the Maxima. I easily mirrored my Google Play Music and Google Maps apps on the car’s eight-inch touchscreen, and Android’s voice recognition made it easy to send responses to text messages while I was driving.

Wood appliques on the dash and door panels added even more upscale ambiance to the interior of the 2018 Nissan Maxima Platinum. Taken in concert, the Maxima feels about half a class nicer than most midsize cars in its price range.

Drive Notes


2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven - image 768513
“I thought the steering was a bit numb, but not as dull as the last Camry I drove”

OK, maybe given Maxima’s 3,800-lb curb weight, I should choose another phrase besides “punches above its weight.” Let’s say the Maxima surprises a lot of skeptics when driven in a hurry.

Its fully independent rear suspension does a lot to improve the car’s handling and control in curves and on broken pavement. Front and rear stabilizer bars do their part, too.

I thought the steering was a bit numb, but not as dull as the last Camry I drove. It’s about on-par with the Volkswagen Passat, which I have previously praised for having a little more steering feel than most front-drive family sedans.

Critics deride that a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only transmission available in the so-called “Four-Door Sports Car.” True, it feels different than other performance-minded cars. I think the availability of a manual transmission would benefit this model’s street cred, even if few buyers ultimately purchased it. But the CVT does not deserve nearly the derision it gets from gearheads.

In fact, the CVT pays dividends in day-to-day driving: It’s smoother than most multi-gear transmissions, and it helps you get good fuel economy. EPA says the Maxima will get 30 MPG on the highway. Even with a long photo shoot and lots of engine idle time — not to mention driving the car harder than most — I got 28 MPG.


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“EPA says the Maxima will get 30 MPG on the highway.”

To put that in perspective, I never broke 25 MPG last time I had a Lexus GS 350. I know that’s a rear-wheel drive car, but it also has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes barely more power than the Maxima — and it’s smaller and lighter.

It’s not like the Maxima is slow. There’s 300 horsepower on-tap. Nail the throttle, and the CVT spools the engine up to its peak horsepower-making RPM — then holds it there until you ease up on the gas. Speed piles on quickly when you want it. While it lacks the shift-shock of multi-gear transmissions, the CVT does a good job finding the best mix of power and economy for your driving style and throttle position.

I saw a magazine compare the Maxima to a BMW 340i a few months before my test. The magazine said the Max couldn’t turn in the same lap time as the BMW — it was off the pace by about three seconds. But the magazine’s professional race driver said the Max was easier to control and had a better handling feel, thanks in part to Nissan’s Active Trace Control, a system that helps the car stay on the intended cornering line by selectively applying pressure on individual brake discs. The rear-drive BMW was comparatively tail-happy and harder to control, the magazine reported.

A base 340i costs about the same as my loaded Maxima Platinum. Considering that and the much roomier innards of the Nissan, a three-second gap in lap time doesn’t seem like reason for BMW to brag. Out here in the real world, where very few take cars to the track, the Maxima is offering an awful lot of value and performance for the money.

Competitor Notes

Buick Regal


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The Regal is Buick’s Maxima. It’s slightly smaller than many front-wheel drive midsize cars on the inside, but it’s also slightly sportier and more luxurious than many in its price range.

The exterior styling is a toss-up between the Max and the Regal. Both are handsome cars. The Maxima has a little more futuristic edginess to it, while the Regal is a little smoother, more timelessly designed.

Inside, Buick is the master of quietness. Regal will be quieter on the highway than Maxima. Either will offer similar levels of interior luxury, with the Regal slightly outclassing the Maxima for passenger space. The Regal is offered in “Sportback” (liftback sedan) and “TourX” (wagon) formats, which means it can be more versatile for cargo, too.

Where Regal falls short is its engine — a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 250 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. If you opt for all-wheel drive, which the Maxima doesn’t offer, you get a bump up to 295 lb-ft of torque.

One wonders whether the Opel-based Regal will be as compelling in the future, now that Opel has been sold to PSA, makers of French cars Peugeot and Citroen. But for now, the Regal offers a slightly lower-horsepower — and also possibly more practical — take on the sporty front-wheel drive midsize family car.

Read our full review on the 2018 Buick Regal

Toyota Camry


2018 Toyota Camry - image 700800

Ah, Toyota Camry — the most appliancey of automotive appliances. But for 2018, the Camry has an all-new design that injects a dose of sportiness in it.

But to get a powertrain with the same kind of sportiness offered by the Maxima, you have to choose the Camry’s XLE V6 or XSE V6 trims. Those give you a 3.5-liter, 301-horsepower V6. The XLE V6 is slightly less sporty-looking than the XSE thanks to a few front fascia tweaks between the two models.

Camry offers a double-wishbone rear independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars, much like the Maxima. Expect the Camry to feel good in the curvy and bumpy stuff, for a front-wheel drive car. But you should also probably expect it to be slightly louder than the Maxima, and you should probably expect some of the interior features to be less luxurious than the Maxima. Toyota continues to stubbornly resist Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, for example.

The Camry does offer more trims and options than the Maxima. There’s no hybrid version of the Max, for example, while Toyota offers that. And the Camry is slightly larger inside, particularly in the rear. But overall, I find the Camry boring compared to the Maxima. Start penning those comments, Toyota fans.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Camry.

Kia Stinger


2018 Kia Stinger - image 734759

Here’s the oddball in my comparisons. The Kia Stinger is a rear-wheel drive car that’s being marketed as a competitor to European luxury cars. But remember the Maxima being compared favorably to a BMW 340i? I don’t think there’s as much space between the Maxima and the Stinger as Kia would have us believe.

On top of that, they’re both about the same size. Maxima actually offers slightly more space inside, particularly for front-seat occupants. Stinger will outpace the Maxima on the track or at the stoplight grand prix, however, with an available 365-horsepower, 376 lb-ft twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6.

But again, how many of us are really taking these cars to the track? The only thing the extra 65 horsepower does is helps you lose your license faster if you’re driving on public roads.

The Stinger is a compelling car that starts at about the same price as a base Maxima. If you go all-in for a V6 Stinger GT, you’ll spend a bit more than the MSRP of my loaded Maxima Platinum.

I’d have a hard time choosing between the two, honestly. But in a world too full of bland cars, that’s a good problem to have.

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Stinger

Conclusion


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At an as-tested price of $42,270, the Nissan Maxima Platinum offered a lot of value. The interior and driving experience were nearly worthy of Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti.

The biggest competition for the Maxima might be the V6 Altima. Though relatively rare in the overall mix of Altimas you’ll find on your local Nissan lot, the V6 Altima offers the same powertrain you find in the Maxima. But thanks to its more affordable roots — and fewer luxury and handling goodies — the Altima V6 tends to undercut the Maxima in price.

That said, no Altima handles like the Maxima, and I find that there’s no Altima that can equal the Maxima’s attractive design or luxurious interior.

Disclosure: Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

References

Nissan Maxima


2016 - 2017 Nissan Maxima - image 625125

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Maxima.


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Read more Nissan news.

PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Sonata is one of those nameplates that just seems to stick around no matter what. First introduced in 1985 as a replacement for the Hyundai Stellar, the first generation only lasted two years before it got the axe. However, the second generation, which was introduced in 1988, fared far better, finding success in a variety of export markets, including North America and Australia. A third generation arrived in 1993, followed by the fourth in 1999, the fifth in 2004, and the sixth in 2010. The latest seventh generation arrived in New York just last year for the 2018 model year, but the hybridized variant was left conspicuously out of the lineup. Now, the new seventh-gen hybrid has arrived following a debut at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. While still framed as Hyundai’s near-premium mid-size four-door, this latest generational update brings improvements in the chassis and handling department, plus new exterior and interior bits, new safety features, and new features for connectivity and infotainment. All told, Hyundai is looking to take a more premium approach with the Sonata Hybrid, enhancing it with an upscale appearance, a nicer ride, and better equipment throughout.

Of course, with demand shifted primarily towards the crossover and SUV segment, competition among the sedans is ruthless right now, especially in the near-premium slot. The question is – where will the Sonata excel? Well, the hybrid gear is certainly a tempting proposition, but how good is it really? Read on to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

Exterior

  • New styling looks great
  • Germanic vibes throughout
  • LED lighting elements with optional high-tech headlights
  • New “eco-spoke” wheels, 16 to 17 inches
  • Reduced Cd improves efficiency

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“The seventh-gen Sonata hybrid brings with it a new exterior styling that definitely sets it apart from the outgoing model. The latest aesthetic is more rounded and sleek than before, almost gaining an Audi-esque vibe overall.”

As you might expect with any major generational changeover, the seventh-gen Sonata hybrid brings with it a new exterior styling that definitely sets it apart from the outgoing model. The latest aesthetic is more rounded and sleek than before, almost gaining an Audi-esque vibe overall. Not that it’s a ripoff of the German make by any means – rather, the new Sonata looks as though it has its own take on an aesthetic we’ve seen elsewhere, namely the German-sourced premium sedans.

Contributing to the cause is a new fascia in front, where the hood, the grille, the fenders, and the headlights are all redesigned for 2018. The hood gains numerous muscle lines that lead the eye rearward, adding a sort of streamlined look to the front end. The reshaped grille is the bit that reminds us the most of an Audi, although on the South Korean vehicle, it’s a whole lot smaller. The trapezoidal shape, though, is unmistakable.

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Note: 2018 Hyundai Sonata pictured on the left, Audi’s Singleframe grille pictured on the right.

The front fenders also get an update, although the character line started in the headlight housings is retained, stretching back into the car’s flanks to become part of the window surround. Speaking of the headlights, the housings are now slimmer in their appearance, ditching the older blocky, almost Mercedes-esque housings of the outgoing model and adopting a drawn-back appearance that reminds us a bit of one of the Sonata’s competitors, the Ford Fusion.

The headlights are clever too, and offer extra tech like a Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) feature when going for the optional LED lighting elements. DBL will actively turn the headlights as go through a bend, illuminating the road ahead in the process. Meanwhile, the LED taillights and LED daytime running lights come as standard.

In the sides, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets some handsome proportions, with a longer hood line, a short rear end, and a gently curving roofline that emphasizes the four-door’s almost coupe-like profile. Here we again find lots of high-end trim bits, including shiny polished trim around the windows and a complimentary character line closer to the ground as well. The door handles also get a brushed metal look to them. New for 2018 are the wheel designs, which get an “eco-spoke” layout that looks to reduce turbulence thanks to wider slabs of alloy. Wheel sizing ranges between 16 and 17 inches in diameter.


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“Step around the rear of the vehicle, and you'll find a new rear fascia and a new rear deck. The tail is rounded in its appearance, while the trailing edge of the trunk is turned upwards in a flick to help it appear a bit sportier.”

Step around the rear of the vehicle, and you’ll find a new rear fascia and a new rear deck. The tail is rounded in its appearance, while the trailing edge of the trunk is turned upwards in a flick to help it appear a bit sportier. A glossy black insert near the pavement visually tightens the rear end, while the taillights wrap around from the rear fenders, looking fancy with their clear inserts offsetting the LED lighting elements.

While the new look is definitely an improvement over the old, it’s surprisingly functional as well. All told, Hyundai managed to reduce the coefficient of drag down to 0.24, which is actually better than the 0.25 Cd you get in the Toyota Prius, all of which should do well the maximize the car’s overall efficiency – definitely the sort of thing you want in a hybrid.

Interior

  • New design for the center stack
  • More traditional three-spoke steering wheel design
  • Optional 8.0-inch color screen
  • Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Bluetooth connectivity, Qi wireless phone charging
  • Rear sunshade feature
  • Substantial amount of cargo room
  • Loads of advanced safety technology features

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“To coincide with the fresh exterior updates, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid also gets a slew of updates to the interior spec and layout as well”

To coincide with the fresh exterior updates, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid also gets a slew of updates to the interior spec and layout as well. These include a new instrument panel center stack design, and although the previous model’s three-tier approach is retained (HVAC inputs on the bottom, infotainment buttons in the middle, and infotainment screen above between two air vents), the surrounds and trim bits are updated in a meaningful way. The same is true for the steering wheel, which now gets a more traditional three-spoke layout for the 2018 model year. The steering wheel is also offered with an available heating feature, if desired.

Moving past the layout updates, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid comes with a solid selection of infotainment features, both new and updated. For example, the audio and navigation system now include a Bird’s Eye View map perspective, and buyers can get theirs with an optional 8.0-inch color touchscreen. As a compliment to the navigation system, the Sonata comes with loads of modern smartphone support, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as auxiliary inputs for your iPod and USB connected devices.

There’s also SiriusXM satellite radio for extra entertainment, and Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition and phone book transfer for added utility. If you decide to get the navigation-equipped 8.0-inch screen, it’ll come with a split-screen operation feature that’ll keep both the map and the music on screen at once – great for multitasking, if you’re a passenger. It’ll also let you record and rewind up to 22 minutes of a given broadcast, just in case you want to relive an important sportscast moment or catch some important news. Or if you just want to hear that one song again.

Further infotainment features include SiriusXM Travel Link, which provides traffic info, sports news, weather forecasts, and fuel prices, among other things. The Sonata is also optionally available with a nine-speaker stereo from Infinity, which includes an external amp and a sub-woofer to really bump the tunes.


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“The Sonata is also optionally available with a nine-speaker stereo from Infinity, which includes an external amp and a sub-woofer to really bump the tunes.”

Speaking of traffic, the Sonata also gets the HERE HD Traffic feature with real-time updates as part of a no-pay subscription service. There’s also a three-year complimentary subscription to Blue Link, which offers a variety of Connected Car features for both remote control and extra guidance. A list of the services includes Remote Start with climate control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Recovery. The app can be accessed from your smartphone or your smartwatch.

A Qi wireless phone charging system comes with models equipped with navigation. There’s also now an extra USB charge port in the rear. An electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold comes as part of the package, and there’s an Integrated Memory System for the driver’s seat and side mirrors. The rear windows get a sunshade feature, and the front seats are ventilated, complemented by power adjusting settings that include electric settings for the lumbar support.

Hyundai also says the hybrid model’s battery is mounted under the trunk floor, which provides a flat trunk floor as a result. That means the Sonata Hybrid still has a good amount of utility, and you can still load up and unload without too much trouble. Space in the rear is rated at 13.3 cubic feet of cargo room, while the whole package gets a segment-best total interior volume of 106.1 cubic feet. To enhance the car’s interior space, the rear bench gets a 60/40 split, and there’s an available Hands-free Smart Trunk feature as well.


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“The Sonata Hybrid has a good amount of utility, and the flat load floor means you can carry lots of stuff without too much trouble.”

In terms of safety and convenience, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid starts with a standard rear-view camera, as well as a standard blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert and Lane Change Assist. That’s all important stuff too, as technology and equipment in this segment can often determine the front-runners from the back markers.

The blind-spot monitor uses warning lights in the side-view mirrors to indicate a possible hazard. The system can also determine the closing speed of traffic coming up in an adjacent lane, and if a speeding car is detected, it issues an auditory warning. The lane-change assist uses forward-facing camera to do its duties. According to Hyundai, “If the system detects the vehicle is headed outside the lane markers, a warning on the instrument cluster illuminates and an audible sound alerts the driver.”

“Space in the rear is rated at 13.3 cubic feet of cargo room, while the whole package gets a segment-best total interior volume of 106.1 cubic feet.”

There’s also an optional Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist system, and an automatic high-beam assist as well. A Smart Cruise Control with start/stop feature keeps it all as efficient as possible, all of which is well appreciated in the segment. Finally, as a means of rounding out the safety gear, the Sonata gets seven standard airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS, and a TPMS. All pretty standard stuff, really.

Drivetrain

  • Both standard Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models available
  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder ICE burns the gas
  • Electric motor is mounted inside the six-speed automatic transmission
  • Upwards of 202 horsepower in net output
  • Plug-in offers 27 miles of all-electric range
  • Standard Hybrid offers 650 miles of range (including gas)
  • Not exactly fast, but still provides solid low-speed shove

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“Of course, while sleek exterior styling and a healthy amount of tech in the cabin are all well and good, the thing that really set the Sonata Hybrid apart it what it's got going on under the hood.”

Of course, while sleek exterior styling and a healthy amount of tech in the cabin are all well and good, the thing that really set the Sonata Hybrid apart it what it’s got going on under the hood. This include the option between both a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Let’s start with the hybrid, which burns the dino juice through a 2.0-liter Nu GDI four-cylinder engine. Mated to the ’four is a six-speed automatic transmission, but this isn’t just any normal slush box. Mounted inside the gearbox is a 38-kW electric motor and clutch rather than a traditional torque converter. Hyundai calls this the Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device, or TMED, and it’s intended to provide crisp power delivery, as well as lots of mpg at the pump. The transmission also uses an electric oil pump for even better efficiency. Put it into all-electric mode, and the Sonata Hybrid will decouple the gas engine from the drivetrain, enabling it to go as fast as 75 mph on electrons alone.

Specs include 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque for the Nu four-cylinder’s output levels, while the electric motor makes 38 kW, 51 horsepower, and 151 pound-feet of torque all by itself. Total output for the entire hybrid system comes to 193 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Hyundai also estimates it’ll return as much as 39 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, which comes to 42 mpg combined – not too shabby, if you ask us. Providing the all-electric juice is a lithium-ion battery pack rated at 1.76 kWh. With a primed battery pack and a topped-off gas tank, the Sonata will go 650 miles before requiring a refill.


2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - image 767582
“Hyundai estimates the Hybrid will return as much as 39 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, which comes to 42 mpg combined – not too shabby, if you ask us.”

Now lets check out the plug-in hybrid model, which offers more all-electric range than the standard Hybrid model. Hyundai says the Plug-in will provide upwards of 27 miles in local emissions-free driving on a full battery, which, again, is pretty solid, and could definitely fulfill the daily commute needs of many a buyer. Helping it accomplish that EV range is a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, which happens to be five times larger than the battery in the non-plug-in Sonata Hybrid.

When plugging the Sonata into a level-two charging point, the sedan can top off its battery in just three hours. Hyundai says “It offers the best of both worlds by providing the power delivery of a hybrid gasoline engine, perfect for long trips, with the additional benefit of environmentally-friendly all-electric range for commuting.”

We agree. Total range for the plug-in, which includes burning of the fossil fuels comes to 590 miles. The discrepancy here between the Plug-in and standard Hybrid is most likely due to the Plug’s smaller fuel tank, which sees a downsizing to make up for the extra space taken up by the larger battery pack. For reference, the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in gets a 14.5-gallon tank, while the standard Hybrid model gets a 15.9-gallon tank.


2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - image 767576
“Like the standard Hybrid, the Plug-in also uses a six-speed automatic transmission, which once again comes equipped with that previously mentioned TMED device for electric motivation.”

Like the standard Hybrid, the Plug-in also uses a six-speed automatic transmission, which once again comes equipped with that previously mentioned TMED device for electric motivation. This time around, though, the plug-in’s electric motor is rated at 50 kW and offers 32 percent more power than the standard Hybrid model, which “allows EV operation at higher engine load and speed.” On the internal combustion side of the equation is a 2.0-liter Nu gas burning engine, which produces 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Total system output is rated at 202 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, which is a modest increase over the standard Hybrid. However, we’re willing to bet the larger battery pack and more powerful motor will help the plug-in feel much more powerful thanks to oodles of low-end shove.

Chassis And Handling

  • Stiffer rear components improve the ride quality
  • Better steering feel livens up the experience a bit

2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - image 767584

When it comes to premium appearances, the way a sedan rides is crucial. To that end, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata gets a few tweaks to the suspension to give it that smooth sailing feel on the road. This includes a stiffer front anti-roll bar and a more rigid rear trailing arm design. The bushings were also tuned for better response and the steering assistance was re-calibrated for more feel. And although the Sonata isn’t exactly our first choice when it comes to any activity one could consider “sporty,” these enhancements should do well to make the Sonata slightly more interesting to drive.

Of course, it bears mentioning that if extra performance is what you really want from your Sonata, Hyundai is offering a sport-tuned suspension on the ICE-only, 245-horsepower Sport and Limited trim levels. Just sayin’.

Prices


2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - image 767565

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata will roll off the production line in Asan, South Korea. The hybrid will be available by the first quarter of 2018, followed by the plug-in hybrid in the second quarter of 2018.

Exact pricing is not yet available, but expect figures close to those seen with the outgoing model. For reference, the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid goes for $26,000, while the Plug-in is priced at a much more expensive $34,600.

Competition

Ford Fusion Hybrid


2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid - image 512557

Right off the bat, the Ford Fusion Hybrid looks to be a solid competitor for the Sonata, down to the exterior aesthetic similarities. The same goes for the equipment, with LEDs used for the Fusion’s exterior lighting bits, plus optional equipment that includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the dash, leather upholstery, and a few safety techs that come as standard on the Sonata (lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, etc.). Power is derived from a 2.0-liter four-banger making 141 horses and an electric motor making 118 horses. Pricing starts at $25,295.

Read our full review on the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Toyota Camry Hybrid


2018 Toyota Camry - image 700682

If Hyundai is gonna do well in this segment, it’s gonna need to take on one of the best-selling cars of all time – the Camry. Toyota sells these things in droves, and its even got a hybrid iteration to boot. While we think the Hyundai looks better than the grille-tastic Toyota, the Camry still gets loads of equipment, a nice interior, and 208 horsepower from a hybrid 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder powerplant. A continuously variable transmission ekes out every last mpg. Pricing starts at $27,800.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Camry.

Conclusion


2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - image 767553
“This is one Hyundai that's definitely worth checking out.”

Overall, this latest from Hyundai looks to be quite the nice package. We like the new styling, and feel it strikes a balance between unique aesthetic and crowd-pleasing generalities. The tweaks inside are also well-appreciated, and the equipment line-up is generous for the segment. Throw in the very usable storage space and solid engine line-up, and this is one Hyundai that’s definitely worth checking out.

Of course, rival products from Ford and Toyota are also strong contenders, offering their own benefits and advantages over the Sonata. That said, we feel the Hyundai is focused on all the right areas, and it’s a good bargain, which is important in the growing hybrid segment. The plug-in might be a bit on the pricey side, but it’s right in line with what we expect to pay to eke out extra miles. Overall, the Sonata Hybrid feels and acts like a normal sedan, even with the extra tech on board, and that makes it quite attractive.

  • Leave it
    • * Plug-in model is just a little pricey
    • * Strong rivals from other major makes
    • * Sedans not as popular these days

References

Hyundai Sonata


2018 Hyundai Sonata - image 720512

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Sonata.


maker logos - image 744957

Read more Hyundai news.


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Read more Chicago Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon BMW Quietly Releases the New X4 SUV

It’s been only four years since BMW introduced the X4 and the coupe-style SUV was redesigned from the ground up. Unveiled without much fuss today, it will make its public debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show in March.

So what’s with the rush? It might seem awkward at first glance, but it probably has to do with the fact that the previous X4 was released three years after the X3 which it was based on arrived. With a brand-new X3 launched in 2017, BMW probably wants the X4 to be on par with its sibling. On the other hand, it’s really awkward that BMW kept these plans hidden and unveiled the X4 without the usual teasers and marketing campaign.

Be that as it may, let’s have a closer look at the changes.

Continue reading for the full story.

What’s New on the Outside?

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“The X4 borrows more than 90 percent of its features from the X3”

Not surprisingly, the X4 borrows more than 90 percent of its features from the X3. The front fascia is actually identical so you won’t be able to set it apart until you look at the profile. This is good news though, as the latest X3 looks fresh and sporty thanks to the larger, more stylish grille, the organic-looking headlamps, and the aggressive bumper with large vents. The X4 begins to stand out once you move onto the sides. It’s here where it retains the styling of the first-generation model, itself based on the larger X6. Specifically, it’s again similar to the X3 from the nose to the B-pillars, but the glasshouse and the roof changes toward the back.

Much like the old model, the sloping roof and the short decklid place the X4 between a raised coupe and fastback styling-wise. But the new model feels sportier, whereas the first-gen X4 had a slightly boxier look. The rear fascia is tall as usual, but the bigger spoiler and the slimmer taillights give it a more modern look. Below, we can see a more aggressive diffuser-like element with big exhaust pipes on the M Sport model. The standard version has a milder appearance, but it’s still significantly more appealing that the outgoing X4.

What about the Interior?


BMW Quietly Releases the New X4 SUV - image 768408
“The new X4 is identical to the X3 inside the cabin. Down to every little detail”

We’ve seen this before, right? Yes, the new X4 is identical to the X3 inside the cabin. Down to every little detail, except for limited rearward visibility and the coupe roofline that decreases headroom for rear-seat passengers. Just like the X3, it comes with various trims that include different equipment lines, with the M Sport X or M Sport models getting more leather and fancier materials. A panoramic glass roof is finally available in the X4, alongside heated and cooled seats, and a three-zone climate control system.

It also gets the latest iDrive system, which includes a free-standing 6.5-inch display on top of the dashboard. You can upgrade to the Professional system, which brings a 10.25-inch touchscreen, and order gesture control from the options list. The ConnectedDrive services allow the car to work with Apple and Android smartphones, the Amazon Alexa, and Google Home personal assistants. Rear legroom has grown by 27 mm (1.06 inches), while the trunk now offers 525 liters (18.5 cubic feet), 25 more than the outgoing model. Fold the seats and the trunk can take up to 1,430 liters (50.5 cubic feet) of luggage, 30 more than the old X4. However, that’s 200 liters (seven cubic feet) less than he X3.

Engines?


BMW Quietly Releases the New X4 SUV - image 768396
“North American variants should include the X4 xDrive30i and the X4 M40i”

Yes, the drivetrain range is also similar to the X3. U.S. data is not yet available, but the Euro-spec model will get xDrive20d, xDrive30d, xDrive20i, and xDrive30i versions. North American variants should include the X4 xDrive30i and the X4 M40i. The former will get its juice from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Expect this model to hit 60 mph in six seconds. The M-inspired model will use a 3.0-liter six-cylinder unit that generates 355 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of twist. In this configuration, the sprint from 0 to 60 mph will be achieved in 4.6 seconds. Both models will use an eight-speed automatic transmission.

References

BMW X4


BMW Quietly Releases the New X4 SUV - image 768443

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X4.


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Read more BMW news.


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Read more Geneva Motor Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Kona EV Promises Better Range than Chevy Bolt and base Tesla Model 3

Unveiled in June 2017 as the company first subcompact crossover, the Hyundai Kona will get an all-electric drivetrain later this month. The news comes straight from the Korean automaker, which revealed that that the mini SUV based on the i30 platform will be unveiled on February 2018, ahead of a public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The Kona Electric joins the already available Ioniq Electric and the hydrogen-powered Nexo in the company’s all-electric lineup. The big news is that it will have a range of almost 300 miles on a single charge.

The Company’s First Electric SUV


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742860
“The Kona is smaller than the Kia Niro, so they won't compete against each other”

Combining two of the fastest growing trends in the automotive industry, SUV body styles, and electrification, the Kona doesn’t share underpinnings with a similar vehicle from Kia. This is a rare feat, as the two brands offer a large number of sister models. The Kia Niro, for instance, is closely related to the Ioniq, despite the fact that the two compete in different segments. The Kona is also smaller than the Kia Niro, so they won’t compete against each other.

Already available with an internal combustion engine, the Kona is a sporty, modern-looking crossover aimed at younger crowds. Although the Kona Electric has yet to be unveiled, the teaser suggests that it will be almost identical. I can spot a different mesh for the front grille, but other than that and the badges, it should boast the same exterior design.

Hyundai says that the all-electric SUV will come with a “wide range of convenience and connectivity features as well as active safety and driving assistance technologies,” but it’s safe to say that it will get the same features as the standard model.

Better than the Chevy Bolt?


2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV - image 660933
“An EPA range is difficult to estimate at this point, but it should be rated at more than 240 miles”

Hyundai didn’t have much to say about the Kona Electric’s drivetrain, but it did mention that the crossover will get two powertrain options. The range-topping model will have “one of the most powerful electric motors on the market” and a “class leading range of almost 470 km.” This converts to 292 miles on the new European World Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). If this figure turns out to be accurate, the Kona will surpass the Opel Ampera-e by a full 90 km (60 miles). Impressive!

An EPA range is difficult to estimate at this point, but it should be rated at more than 240 miles. This means that Hyundai’s EV will return a tad more miles than the U.S.-spec Chevrolet Bolt, which is rated by the EPA at 238 miles. It will also sit atop the base version of the Tesla Model 3, rated at 220 miles.

When Can You Buy It?

Hyundai says that the Kona Electric will become available in the summer of 2018. There’s no word on pricing yet, but we should find out more at the official unveiling. So stay tuned for updates.

References

Hyundai Kona


2018 Hyundai Kona - image 748938

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.


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Read more Hyundai news.


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Read more Geneva Motor Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Has Eyes on Two More SUVs in the U.S.

Volkswagen’s crossover and SUV lineup is potent enough as it is. It has the Tiguan and the Atlas here in the U.S. An all-new Volkswagen Touareg is scheduled to debut this year. It’s not coming to America anymore because it’s been replaced by the Altas, but the presence of two SUVs in this market should be enough, right? Well, it’s not, because Volkswagen is planning to introduce two new SUVs in the U.S. by the end of the decade.


Volkswagen Has Eyes on Two More SUVs in the U.S. - image 711920
“The plan to beef up its crossover and SUV offerings in America isn’t news itself.”

The plan to beef up its crossover and SUV offerings in America isn’t news itself. We’ve already known about VW’s plans since last year because it always talked about it. What we did get was confirmation from Volkswagen North America CEO Hinrich Woebcken at the recently concluded Chicago Auto Show. “We will bring another B SUV, another A SUV, besides the Atlas and the Tiguan,” he said. “We easily can bring a second midsize SUV and a second compact SUV into the market.” In other words, “we are doubling up in these strong segments,” Woebcken added.

These comments bring us to what exactly Volkswagen’s plans are. Late last year, the German automaker said that it was planning to build a family of crossovers and SUVs under the “Atlas” name. It didn’t specify anything more than that, but that admission was preceded by trademark applications the automaker made for the names “Atlas Cross Sport” and “Atlas Allsport.” It’s still unclear how Volkswagen plans to use these names, but they do fit into its plans to introduce new Atlas-based crossover and SUV variants into the fold. Volkswagen also applied to trademark the name “Apollo,” which could also turn into a crossover for the U.S. market.


Volkswagen Tries to Impress with the CROZZ II – Because One Ugly SUV Wasn't Enough - image 730434
“Considering how much activity Volkswagen has had in the U.S. in recent years, it’s difficult to see how it’s going to deal with this crossover and SUV invasion”

Considering how much activity Volkswagen has had in the U.S. in recent years, it’s difficult to see how it’s going to deal with this crossover and SUV invasion. We do know that neither of the two models will be electric because VW has different plans for that with the 2020 release of the I.D. Crozz.

Regardless of where it is and where it wants to go, it’s clear that Volkswagen is keen on turning a new page in the U.S. To no one’s surprise, it’s using its lineup of current and future crossovers and SUVs to do that.

References


Volkswagen Has Eyes on Two More SUVs in the U.S. - image 711944

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas.


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Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon New Mazda6 Tourer Heading To The Geneva Auto Show!

Mazda just introduced the refreshed Mazda6 sedan at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, and with its unveiling, the brand also dropped a long list of updates and upgrades. Long story short, we like what we see. In fact, we like it so much, we decided to give it a spot on our Best In Show list. Now, Mazda is giving us a look at the refreshed wagon Tourer model, which is headed to this year’s Geneva Motor Show sporting several of the sedan’s various updates.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


New Mazda6 Tourer Heading To The Geneva Auto Show! - image 765687
“The changes are so significant, you could call the latest model year the 3.5 generation.”

Mazda first introduced the 6 back in 2002 as a replacement for the 626, and since then, we’ve seen three generations make their appearance. The latest was introduced in 2012, which makes this new refresh more or less a mid-cycle update. However, the changes are so significant, you could call the latest model year the 3.5 generation.

Let’s start outside, where the 6 gains several changes to the exterior styling. The looks is sleek and mean, falling in line with Mazda’s Kodo design language, something that we’re pretty big fans of. In front is a large elliptical front grille, which comes with a metal mesh grille insert that looks great on the front end. There’s also plenty of chrome details and LED headlights to boot.

While you probably won’t confuse the 6 with a European luxury car any time soon, the updates still manage to enhance the car’s sense of “premiumness,” a characteristic emphasized even further by what’s waiting inside the cabin.

Step into the interior of the new 6, and you’ll find a brand-new design sporting a horizontal layout. Long lines are laid left to right in unbroken shapes, cleaning up the look while simultaneously enhancing the car’s spacious feel. There’s new switchgear in the center console that looks like it was plucked from Audi, plus new seats that are more comfortable and supportive than before.


New Mazda6 Tourer Heading To The Geneva Auto Show! - image 765686
“Long lines are laid left to right in unbroken shapes, cleaning up the look while simultaneously enhancing the car's spacious feel.”

There’s also new infotainment technology as wielded by an 8.0-inch touchscreen mounted high on the dash. Buyers are offered an optional 7.0-inch TFT screen in the gauge cluster, while the i-Activsense safety feature suite adds convenience and driver assistance tech to the package, including stuff like a 360-degree top-down camera.

We’re also looking forward to seeing what Mazda’s got in terms of the 6’s updated powertrains. Details on the Tourer’s engine lineup are still unannounced, but it’s expected the wagon will offer a freshened 2.2-liter diesel and a 2.0-liter gas engine. It’s also possible Mazda will toss in the new turbocharged 2.5-liter that we’re so lucky to get here in the U.S., a mill that produces 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

Cog swaps come courtesy of a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed automatic for those who prefer just two pedals to work. Standard spec routes all output to the front wheels exclusively, while extra grip can be had with the optional AWD system. There’s also new suspension bits and suspension tuning for higher levels of comfort and handling prowess.

In addition to the new 6 Tourer, Mazda will also be bringing its latest concept cars to the show, which includes the stunning Vision Coupe and exciting Kai, both of which
provided inspiration for the exterior styling on the new 6.

All we can say is – bring the wagon over here, Mazda!

Look for further updates when the Geneva Motor Show kicks off next month.

References

Mazda 6


2018 Mazda6 - image 748259

Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda6.


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Read more Geneva Motor Show news.


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Read more Mazda news.

PostHeaderIcon Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins?

Almost a year after making its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Volkswagen Arteon finally touched down in America when it was unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. If you’re wondering what caused the long delay of its U.S. debut, you’re better off channeling your curiosity somewhere else. The delay isn’t important. What’s important is that it’s finally here. If there is a question to ask about the Arteon, it’s this: is it worth it to get one?


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766404
“It looks like what a proper, all-new four-door sedan is supposed to look like.”

The optics of the Volkswagen Arteon are very promising. It looks like what a proper, all-new four-door sedan is supposed to look like. It has a fresh design that reminds of the Volkswagen Atlas. Both models depart heavily from VW’s current design language, and that’s precisely why they stand out. I suppose this was an intentional move by Volkswagen because it is putting a lot of eggs in the baskets of the Arteon and Atlas to be the models that will jolt some life to the brand after the debilitating fiasco that was Dieselgate.

On that end, Volkswagen scored big with the Arteon’s look. I’d say it’s worth it based on its design.


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766398
“On the technical and mechanical fronts, the Arteon sits on Volkswagen's new MBQ platform.”

On the technical and mechanical fronts, the Arteon sits on Volkswagen’s new MBQ platform. It’s the same platform that a lot of new VW models are using, including the Atlas. It also happens to be versatile enough to be set up for use on a sedan. The new platform also helps VW fit its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four engine into the Arteon. This mill gives the sedan an impressive 270 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, much more than the 208-horsepower Volkswagen CC, the widely panned sedan that it’s replacing in the U.S. Once again, I’d say the Arteon is a good purchase based on its power and performance abilities.

Now, is it better than the competition it’s going to go up against? That remains to be seen, especially when you consider that the “competition” includes the BMW 320i, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50, Lincoln MKZ, Acura TLX, Buick Regal, and Volvo S60. That’s a lot of competition. It’s too early to say if the Arteon is as good as any of its worthy rivals, but it sure has its work cut out for it.


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766402
“Ultimately, any questions related to the worth of buying a new car depends exclusively on how much the car is going to cost”

Ultimately, any questions related to the worth of buying a new car depends exclusively on how much the car is going to cost. Volkswagen has yet to announce the pricing details of the U.S.-spec Arteon, but there have been numerous reports that the sedan will command just under $40,000 for the base trim option.

If that’s the case, the Arteon would fall on the higher end of prices compared to the models mentioned above. Check out the table below to see what I mean.

Model Price ($)
Audi A4 $36,975
BMW 320i $35,895
Acura TLX $33,965
Buick Regal $27,990
Volvo S60 $35,095
Cadillac ATS $36,490
Infiniti Q50 $35,195
Lincoln MKZ $36,530
Volkswagen Arteon $37,000 (estimate)

So, the Volkswagen Arteon will undoubtedly sit on the higher-range of this segment. We won’t know for sure until Volkswagen releases the official price list for its models and trims. From the looks of it, though, you may want to stretch your funds if you want to get a hold of Volkswagen’s latest four-door sedan.

References

Volkswagen Arteon


2018 Volkswagen Arteon - image 707939

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon.


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766398

Volkswagen Arteon Finally Makes U.S. Debut in Chicago!


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Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


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Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon The 2019 Ford Edge Gets Gussied-Up Titanium Elite Trim in Chicago

Ford has seen a healthy eight-percent increase in sales of the Edge crossover with higher trims over the last four years. As a response, the 2019 Edge is getting a new luxury-minded trim package that should help boost consumer interest in the two-row crossover. It’s the Titanium Elite and it slots between the current Titanium and the new performance-oriented Edge ST.

Continue reading for more on the 2019 Ford Edge Titanium Elite.

A More Luxurious Ride to Soccer Practice


The 2019 Ford Edge Gets Gussied-Up Titanium Elite Trim in Chicago - image 766218
“The new trim brings 20-inch wheels with a unique design, more upscale “skid plate” on the rear bumper, and body-color trim around the entire outside”

While Ford fans might find it odd the automaker didn’t choose the Platinum name for the new trim, as it has with many other vehicles, the Edge Titanium Elite moves into new territory for the intrinsically family-friendly SUV.

The new trim brings 20-inch wheels with a unique design, more upscale “skid plate” on the rear bumper, and body-color trim around the entire outside. Ford hasn’t released information regarding interior improvements, but we expect more news as the 2018 Chicago Auto Show rolls along. We know it will have the updated seen elsewhere in the 2019 Edge lineup, including the new rotary gearshifter and updates to the SYNC 3 infotainment. Connectivity upgrades will include the new FordPass system and the Ford+Alexa AI personal assistant.


The 2019 Ford Edge Gets Gussied-Up Titanium Elite Trim in Chicago - image 766222

The Titanium Elite will use the 2019 Edge’s updated powertrain, which includes the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and new eight-speed automatic transmission. The EcoBoost received a five-horsepower gain of the 2018 model, making it worth 250 horsepower and an unchanged 275 pound-feet of torque. The Edge comes standard with front-wheel drive and AWD remains an option.

Ford did not release pricing for the 2019 Edge Titanium Elite, but we’re expecting a modest increase over the standard Titanium trim. For 2018, the Edge Titanium starts at $35,930. Given the 2019 model is getting a significant mid-cycle refresh, which generally is accompanied by a price increase, the new Titanium Elite will probably start around $37,500.

We’ll have more as Ford makes the information available.

References

Ford Edge


2019 Ford Edge - image 762315

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Edge.


2019 Ford Edge ST - image 757605

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Edge ST.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


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Read more Ford news.

PostHeaderIcon Chevy Traverse RS Looks Like The Better Daily Driver In Chicago

The 2018 Chicago Auto Show is now in full swing, bringing with it a fresh batch of debuts to ogle and pick apart. Chevrolet is showing up to the party with a new RS version of its Traverse mid-size SUV, and as you might have guessed from the addition of the two letters to the tail, it’s a more aggressive iteration of the high-riding utility vehicle. However, despite the sporty connotations, the Traverse RS isn’t really all that impressive when it comes to its performance. Rather, we think the extra torque, new styling bits, and fancy tech in the cabin make it better suited for the rigors of daily driving.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


Chevy Traverse RS Looks Like The Better Daily Driver In Chicago - image 766315
“While losing more than 50 horsepower is usually a surefire way to get on our bad side, the Traverse was never really anyone's go-to for coaxing out those performance giggles.”

Let’s jump right into it with a look at what the Traverse RS has under the hood. The RS is actually the first Traverse model to come equipped with a turbocharged engine, with Chevy installing a 2.0-liter Ecotec four-banger under the hood for motivation. Put your foot down, and it’ll make upwards of 257 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, with 90 percent of the available twist arriving at just 2,100 rpm.

Compared to the 3.6-liter V-6 you’d normally find in the engine bay, that’s a full 29 pound-feet upgrade, a not-so-insignificant sum, even for a heavy SUV. Unfortunately, horsepower is down a whopping 53 ponies.

The thing is, we’re okay with that. While losing more than 50 horsepower is usually a surefire way to get on our bad side, the Traverse was never really anyone’s go-to for coaxing out those performance giggles. Rather, this thing is all about practicality, and more torque is really what you want for around-town driving. The extra grunt down low will make it feel like there’s a bigger engine under the hood, and should help buyers perform passing maneuvers and quick on-ramp merging.

Routing it all to the ground is a nine-speed automatic transmission. Up front there are active grille shutters that help the Traverse become more streamlined at speed, cutting into fuel consumption. Unfortunately, the loss of two cylinders doesn’t do a whole lot for mileage, with the RS managing 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Compared to the ’six, those numbers represent a small 1-mpg loss on the highway, and a small 2-mpg improvement in the city. Once again, though, if this is your daily and you use it for errands, the extra stop-and-go miles are what you really want.


Chevy Traverse RS Looks Like The Better Daily Driver In Chicago - image 766306
“When making something an “RS” model, Chevy has a pretty straight-forward formula – add black. Such is the case with the RS, and we think it's stuff that shoulda been added from the factory”

Next up, let’s take a look at the styling improvements. When making something an “RS” model, Chevy has a pretty straight-forward formula – add black. Such is the case with the RS, and we think it’s stuff that shoulda been added from the factory.

For example, there’s a black grille, black window trim, black roof rails, black Chevy bowtie emblems, and the 20-inch aluminum wheels get a “Dark Android” (basically a dark gun metal) finish. It looks good on the SUV, and should help the model strut its stuff while out and about.

Further standard features include HID headlights and LED daytime running lights, both solid compliments to the dark trim pieces.

Meanwhile, the cabin gets all the usual SUV features. Max cargo room is set at 98.2 cubic feet, which isn’t bad for the segment. There’s also a power liftgate to assist loading and unloading. The upholstery include black leather, while the front seats are heated. There’s also three-zone climate control.


Chevy Traverse RS Looks Like The Better Daily Driver In Chicago - image 766312
“The Chevrolet Traverse RS starts at $43,095”

The tech is on point too, and includes an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation plus 4G Wi-Fi and an optional hot spot. Finally, the driver assist tech throws in all the right stuff for the daily grind, including remote start, Lane Change Alert and blind spot monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Park Assist, Surround Vision, Rear Camera Mirror, Rear Seat Reminder, and a Teen Driver function.

The Chevrolet Traverse RS starts at $43,095, landing it more or less in the middle of the range and broadening it to six trim choices total.

References

Chevrolet Traverse


2018 Chevrolet Traverse - image 700701

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.


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Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


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Read more Chevrolet news.

PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Gets More Power, Better Mileage in Chicago

Introduced in 2015, the current-generation Sonata replaced a model that was around for only five years. Unlike its predecessor, the current sedan is set to hang around a bit longer, having received a consistent facelift in 2017. With the almost redesigned Sonata in dealerships, Hyundai is rolling out similar updates for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. Both were unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.

Not surprisingly, exterior updates are similar to the regular model. The front fascia now sports larger, more aggressive headlamps, a bigger grille with a new mesh, and a reshaped engine hood. The new headlamps features LED technology with dynamic cornering function. A new decklid and taillights round off the rear section, while the sides get new 16- and 17-inch “eco-spoke” wheel designs.

The cabin boasts a new center stack and steering wheel, the latter available with heating. The upgraded navigation system includes new Bird’s Eye View map perspective. Models equipped with navigation get wireless phone charging, while a rear USB charging port is available for all trims. Blind-spot detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist are standard, while Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Keep Assist are available as options for the first time.

Continue reading for the full story.

What About Power?


Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Gets More Power, Better Mileage in Chicago - image 766155
“Total range for the Hybrid model is estimated at "more than 650 miles"”

The Sonata Hybrid gets its juice from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission that houses a 38-kW electric motor and clutch. The gas engine cranks out 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, while the motor adds 51 horses and 151 pound-feet. Hybrid net system power is rated at 193 horsepower. EPA estimates aren’t yet available, but internal testing returned estimates of 39 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway, and 42 mpg combined. Total range is estimated at “more than 650 miles,” a 50-mile improvement over the outgoing model. The hybrid can be operated on electric power only at speeds of up to 75 mph.


Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Gets More Power, Better Mileage in Chicago - image 766154
“The 9.8-kWh lithium-ion battery is more than five times larger than the Hybrid's battery and gives the sedan an all-electric range of up to 27 miles”

The Plug-in Hybrid model gets the same gas engine, but a different electric motor and extended range. The 9.8-kWh lithium-ion battery is more than five times larger than the Hybrid’s battery and gives the sedan an all-electric range of up to 27 miles. Recharging the batter takes only three hours with a level-two charger. The total range is slightly lower than the Hybrid, however, being estimated at 590 miles. The 50-kW electric motor is 32 percent more powerful than the motor used in the Hybrid, which increases total system output to 202 horsepower.

References

Hyundai Sonata


2018 Hyundai Sonata - image 720512

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Sonata.


maker logos - image 744957

Read more Hyundai news.


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Read more Chicago Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro

Toyota is giving its TRD Pro trio – Tundra, Tacoma, and 4Runner. – a mild update for the 2019 model year. The changes are mostly minor but help keep the already capable vehicles fresh in customers’ minds. That’s definitely needed considering how hot the off-road pickup segment is getting.

Continue reading for more on the 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

The Taco Supreme


Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro - image 766130
“Toyota has injected its 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro with more of the secret sauce”

Toyota has injected its 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro with more of the secret sauce. The truck’s most noticeable new feature is, of course, that snorkel. Toyota’s lawyers likely stopped the term from being used in an effort to avoid lawsuits of waterlogged Tacomas, but that’s the common term used for this raised air intake. Toyota officially calls it the TRD Desert Air Intake. While perhaps counterintuitive, the name is actually fitting. A snorkel is also good at grabbing clean air that’s above the dirt and dust that generally fills an engine bay when off-roading. This helps extend the life of the engine’s air filter and thereby maintaining better performance through better breathing and ultimately the potential for longer engine life. Sand and dirt will wreak havoc on an engine’s internal components, after all.

Aside from the optional TRD Desert air Intake, the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro gets a few other exterior upgrades. The front skid plate has been upgraded with red lettering within its stamped TRD logo. The standard TRD cat-back exhaust now has a Black Chrome tip.


Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro - image 766125
“Of course, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its headlining feature: the 2.5-inch Fox Racing Shocks and upgraded suspension components”

The 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro’s interior retains all the appearance upgrades found on the previous model. There is a TRD shift knob and TRD Pro logos on the floor mats and front seat headrests. Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with navigation and the App Suite come standard here, as does the premium JBL Audio system.

Of course, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its headlining feature: the 2.5-inch Fox Racing Shocks and upgraded suspension components. The shocks use 46mm pistons for strength and have eight bypass zones along its travel. Five of the zones are for compression and three are for rebound. Basically, the more compressed the shock becomes, the harder it fights being compressed. This gives the shocks a smooth, supple ride over normal bumps and protects the truck from bottoming out on larger bumps and even jumps.

The front shocks work alongside coil springs inside a MacPherson strut-style arrangement. Out back, the Fox shocks complement leaf springs shared with the Tacoma TRD Off-Road model. For 2019, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its 16-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in 265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar All-Terrain tires. The wheels have more offset than the Tacoma’s standard wheels, giving the TRD Pro an extra inch of track width.


Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro - image 766137
“For 2019, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its 16-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in 265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar All-Terrain tires”

Nothing changes with the Tacoma’s powertrain, either. The 3.5-liter V-6 comes standard and offers 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a six-speed automatic is optional.

While most enthusiasts would gravitate toward the manual, the automatic does add handy off-road features that include Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. The Multi-Terrain Select gives the driver more control over the engine and transmission tuning, along with added control over the traction control and ABS system thanks to drive modes. Crawl Control is basically a low-speed cruise control for off-roading. It not only maintains a certain speed but also sends power to whatever wheel needs it most based on traction.

Toyota has not released pricing for the 2019 Tacoma TRD pro, but it’s expected to only rise slightly. The 2018 model starts at $41,520. Choosing the automatic (which also brings the handy off-roading features) adds $2,000 to the price. We’ll bring you updating pricing as Toyota releases it closer to the truck’s arrival in showrooms in the fall of 2018.

References

Toyota Tacoma


2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Driven - image 706490

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.


2016 Toyota Tacoma - image 609397

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Tacoma.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 741755

Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro

Toyota is giving its TRD Pro trio – Tundra, Tacoma, and 4Runner. – a mild update for the 2019 model year. The changes are mostly minor but help keep the already capable vehicles fresh in customers’ minds. That’s definitely needed considering how hot the off-road pickup segment is getting.

Continue reading for more on the 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

The Taco Supreme


Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro - image 766130
“Toyota has injected its 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro with more of the secret sauce”

Toyota has injected its 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro with more of the secret sauce. The truck’s most noticeable new feature is, of course, that snorkel. Toyota’s lawyers likely stopped the term from being used in an effort to avoid lawsuits of waterlogged Tacomas, but that’s the common term used for this raised air intake. Toyota officially calls it the TRD Desert Air Intake. While perhaps counterintuitive, the name is actually fitting. A snorkel is also good at grabbing clean air that’s above the dirt and dust that generally fills an engine bay when off-roading. This helps extend the life of the engine’s air filter and thereby maintaining better performance through better breathing and ultimately the potential for longer engine life. Sand and dirt will wreak havoc on an engine’s internal components, after all.

Aside from the optional TRD Desert air Intake, the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro gets a few other exterior upgrades. The front skid plate has been upgraded with red lettering within its stamped TRD logo. The standard TRD cat-back exhaust now has a Black Chrome tip.


Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro - image 766125
“Of course, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its headlining feature: the 2.5-inch Fox Racing Shocks and upgraded suspension components”

The 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro’s interior retains all the appearance upgrades found on the previous model. There is a TRD shift knob and TRD Pro logos on the floor mats and front seat headrests. Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with navigation and the App Suite come standard here, as does the premium JBL Audio system.

Of course, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its headlining feature: the 2.5-inch Fox Racing Shocks and upgraded suspension components. The shocks use 46mm pistons for strength and have eight bypass zones along its travel. Five of the zones are for compression and three are for rebound. Basically, the more compressed the shock becomes, the harder it fights being compressed. This gives the shocks a smooth, supple ride over normal bumps and protects the truck from bottoming out on larger bumps and even jumps.

The front shocks work alongside coil springs inside a MacPherson strut-style arrangement. Out back, the Fox shocks complement leaf springs shared with the Tacoma TRD Off-Road model. For 2019, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its 16-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in 265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar All-Terrain tires. The wheels have more offset than the Tacoma’s standard wheels, giving the TRD Pro an extra inch of track width.


Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro - image 766137
“For 2019, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps its 16-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in 265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar All-Terrain tires”

Nothing changes with the Tacoma’s powertrain, either. The 3.5-liter V-6 comes standard and offers 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a six-speed automatic is optional.

While most enthusiasts would gravitate toward the manual, the automatic does add handy off-road features that include Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. The Multi-Terrain Select gives the driver more control over the engine and transmission tuning, along with added control over the traction control and ABS system thanks to drive modes. Crawl Control is basically a low-speed cruise control for off-roading. It not only maintains a certain speed but also sends power to whatever wheel needs it most based on traction.

Toyota has not released pricing for the 2019 Tacoma TRD pro, but it’s expected to only rise slightly. The 2018 model starts at $41,520. Choosing the automatic (which also brings the handy off-roading features) adds $2,000 to the price. We’ll bring you updating pricing as Toyota releases it closer to the truck’s arrival in showrooms in the fall of 2018.

References

Toyota Tacoma


2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Driven - image 706490

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.


2016 Toyota Tacoma - image 609397

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Tacoma.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 741755

Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Teases TRD Pro Lineup Ahead of Big Debut at Chicago Auto Show

Toyota has just dropped a massive teaser of the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro in anticipation for its big debut at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. There, Toyota will be announcing updates to the entire TRD Pro lineup, which includes the Tundra, Tacoma, and 4Runner.

Currently, the only solid lead we have is the dusty image Toyota released of the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro. The glaringly obvious change is the snorkel mounted along the passenger-side A-pillar. It’s a big deal as it makes Toyota the only automaker to make a snorkel part of a production vehicle in the U.S. While we don’t know if the raised air intake will be an option or actually standard equipment, we’re definitely leaning toward the former. It’s worth noting, however, that Mopar does offer a snorkel kit for the Jeep Wrangler that can be installed by a Jeep dealership.

Technicalities aside, the snorkel will likely give the Tacoma TRD Pro a deeper water fording depth and should help to keep the air filter cleaner thanks to its higher, more dust-free location. Of course, Tacoma owners will have other components to worry about getting wet. Generally, things like computers, electrical connections, and interior bits don’t like getting wet.

Other updates to the TRD Pro lineup could include improved suspension systems, new wheel and tire combinations, updated traction management systems, and even new interior accents. Currently, TRD Pro models receive interior changes like TRD-branded shift knobs, floor mats, embroidered headrests, and other small niceties.

We will know way more come this Thursday, February 8. Toyota will have its press conference at 9 a.m. CST.

References

Toyota Tacoma


2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Driven - image 706490

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.


2016 Toyota Tacoma - image 609397

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Tacoma.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 741755

Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon Chrysler to Send Thousands of Pacifica Minivans to Waymo

Fiat Chrysler is supplying Google’s self-driving division, Waymo, with “thousands” of Chrysler Pacifica minivans for testing on public roasts. Waymo already has a fleet of 600 FCA vehicles, which were supplied after the two companies formed a partnership in 2016. The fleet already includes vehicles capable of fully self-driving thanks to Waymo’s autonomous driving systems were installed.

John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, said, “With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development to operations and deployment. These additional vehicles will help us scale.”

Continue reading for more information.


“Testing on public roads without drivers is already taking place in 25 U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Detroit, and Atlanta.”

Waymo’s plans of scaling up to a large-scale fleet of autonomous ride-hailing vehicles are seemingly getting closer thanks to FCA’s major contribution of Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Automotive News reports the vans are specifically designed to integrate with Waymo’s proprietary hardware and software.

This doesn’t appear to be a pipe dream, either. Back in November of 2017, Waymo stated it would begin removing safety driver from its small-scale ride-hailing fleet in Chandler, Arizona. That means a Pacifica can arrive at your location by request without a driver behind the wheel. Testing on public roads without drivers is already taking place in 25 U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Detroit, and Atlanta.


Chrysler to Send Thousands of Pacifica Minivans to Waymo - image 764217

Many industry analysts predict ride-hailing services and shared vehicles will be the extremely prevalent in the future, with individual vehicle ownership decreasing dramatically. Autonomous vehicles are an integral part of that prediction and it seems the chips are falling into place.

References

Chrysler Pacifica


2017 Chrysler Pacifica - image 661184

Read our full review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756305

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

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