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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

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.


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 Why The Lexus LC500 Isn’t Perfect

Read nearly any online review of the 2018 Lexus LC500 and you’ll be left thinking the car is too heavy, too underpowered, and too expensive. And in defense of my fellow automotive journalists out there, they mean well but miss the LC’s essence – its thesis statement. Compared to many 2+2 luxury coupes with V-8 power and rear-wheel drive, the LC simply falls short in the performance category. Unfortunately, this narrow-angle view entirely misses the point of the LC’s existence.

Continue reading for more on the 2018 Lexus LC500.

The Right Vantage Point


Why The Lexus LC500 Isn't Perfect - image 767626
“In my view, at least, the LC500 was designed to be something akin to the “personal luxury coupes” of the 1960 and 1970s.”

Compare the 2018 Lexus LC500 to vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic, the Jaguar F-Type, or even the BMW M6 Convertible, and you’ll be left wanting more. You’ll want more than 471 horsepower, less than 4,280 pounds of curb weight, and a price tag that doesn’t start at $92,000.

Yet, this isn’t the proper way to view the Lexus LC500. Rather, the car is designed to be a Grand Touring Coupe that’s more than capable of burning down back roads and humming along at triple-digit speeds on the German Autobahn.

In my view, at least, the LC500 was designed to be something akin to the “personal luxury coupes” of the 1960 and 1970s. A large, plush car with realistic room for only two, a big engine, striking looks, and a fat price tag that lets onlookers know that its driver is someone special. The LC500 does fill that role rather well.


Why The Lexus LC500 Isn't Perfect - image 767649
“The LC500 also delivers more power and performance than most grand touring cars need”

Only it isn’t just a large, plush car with room for two. The LC500 also delivers more power and performance than most grand touring cars need. Even at 471 horsepower, the car feels peppier than it should. It sounds way more exciting than any Lexus short of the LFA has. It even looks the part of a proper sports coupe. But make no mistake, the LC500 is a grand touring coupe through and through.

References

Lexus LC


Why The Lexus LC500 Isn't Perfect - image 767625

The 2018 Lexus LC500 is the Definitive Grand Tourer


Why The Lexus LC500 Isn't Perfect - image 767649

What Lurks Under The Lexus LC500’s Hood


Why The Lexus LC500 Isn't Perfect - image 767653

The Lexus LC500’s Interior is Breathtaking


2018 Lexus LC 500 - image 710825

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus LC 500.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon Valentine’s Day Special – A Love Letter To The Subaru WRX

Welp, it’s Valentine’s Day, and as most of the country reaches for the champagne and chocolates, us car enthusiasts are a little too busy with the engine oil and spark plugs. And that makes it the perfect time to reflect on that one special model, the car that lit the fires of passion in your auto-loving bosom. For me, that car was the Subaru WRX.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


“Out of all the amazing machinery I saw in those tiny pixelated boxes on my laptop screen, one stood out from all the rest – the blue and gold Subaru WRX.”

I remember when I first learned about rally racing as a kid. My initial exposure to the sport encompassed brief clips downloaded off the Internet showing brightly color, sponsorship-sticker laden compacts flying through the air with reckless abandon. It was insane – the speeds, the terrain, the sideways-right-on-the-edge action. Here was a motorsport unlike any I’d ever seen before. I was immediately hooked. And out of all the amazing machinery I saw in those tiny pixelated boxes on my laptop screen, one stood out from all the rest – the blue and gold Subaru WRX.

Gradually, I learned more and more about the WRX’s turbo flat-four engine, its symmetrical AWD, and all the other good stuff that made it such a stout competitor in the World Rally Championship. At the time, I was quite the little import nerd, and considered the Nissan Skyline GT-R (back then, we just called it the “Skyline”) to be the biggest and baddest ride around. But while the Skyline was at the top of the pile, the WRX had all the same characteristics, but in a much more accessible, package.

Not only that, but the Suby was stout. I’d watch as pros like Colin McRae flung ’em through the corners, occasionally smashing into bits of the terrain, only to keep their foot in it and keep on goin’. As far as I was concerned, these small blue machines were simplyindestructible.

Unfortunately, they were was also perpetually out of reach, with sales restricted to those spoiled speed lovers over in Europe and Japan. Then, in the early 2000’s, Subaru brought the WRX to the States, and everything changed.


Suddenly, the WRX was everywhere. I couldn’t believe that here in the U.S., home of the V-8 and RWD drag racers, a high-strung AWD Japanese sedan was actually getting sold in dealers. Now I had a purpose. Now I had to own one.

Fast forward to today, and I do indeed have a WRX in my driveway, complete with the blue paint and gold wheels. It’s my project car, my daily driver, and my track machine, and even though the repair bills have been getting a bit pricey in the last few years, you can rest assured I’ll be holding onto it for the long term.

Yep. I love the Subaru WRX. What car do you love?

References

Subaru WRX


2018 Subaru WRX - image 702533

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Lexus LC500 is the Perfect Ride for a Valentine’s Day Date

It’s Valentine’s Day, and so long as you’re not celebrating Single’s Awareness Day, you’ve probably got a romantic date planned for tonight. While most people will ride to the restaurant in their Toyota Camry or Chevrolet Tahoe, they’re dreaming of arriving at the valet booth with something a bit more… upscale.

It seems the 2018 Lexus LC500 fits the bill rather perfectly. Let me explain.

Continue reading for more on the Lexus LC500.


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“The Lexus LC500 is a grand touring car more focused on luxury and prestige than performance and lap time records”

Like I detailed here, the Lexus LC500 is a grand touring car more focused on luxury and prestige than performance and lap time records. That means its suspension isn’t designed to shake your fillings lose or its drivetrain jerk your neck back with whiplash. Rather, the LC offers a perfect balance between cushy and sporty.

Inside, the LC500 offers comfortable front seats with eight-way power adjustments and both heating and ventilation. The bolsters are on the thick side, but your day shouldn’t have too hard a time getting out at the restaurant. Dual zone climate controls keep you both happy and the optional Mark Levinson sound system with its 13 speakers and 915 watts will play those sappy love ballads with the utmost authenticity and fidelity.


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“Inside, the LC500 offers comfortable front seats with eight-way power adjustments and both heating and ventilation”

And should your eyes be on your date more than the road, the Lexus LC will keep itself within its lane with its standard Lane Keep Assist and automatically stop should you fail to see something in the road ahead thanks to its Smart Stop system with pedestrian detection.

Of course, planning for worst-case scenarios isn’t great dinner conversation on Valentine’s Day. You’ll be more worried about making a big impression. The LC500 certainly has you covered there. From the moment you see it, the car looks special. That feeling continues when opening the doors and soaking in that lovely interior. And hearing it is a big part of the experience. Lexus’ active exhaust makes all the right noises.

Yeah, the LC500’s $92,000 starting price is rather steep for most folks to actually buy, but hey, it costs nothing to dream.

References

Lexus LC


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What Lurks Under The Lexus LC500’s Hood


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The Lexus LC500’s Interior is Breathtaking


2018 Lexus LC 500 - image 710825

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus LC 500.


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Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon The Lexus LC500’s Interior is Breathtaking

The 2018 Lexus LC500 is a beautiful car to behold. Just look at it – everything from those exterior lines and Coke bottle haunches to the interior’s deep bucket seats and intricate dashboard. The dash pulls cues and inspiration from the famed Lexus LFA while combining new elements and Lexus’ most modern take on the Enform infotainment system.

Continue reading for more on the 2018 Lexus LC500’s interior.

Not Your Grandmother’s Lexus


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“The Lexus brand might be synonymous with luxury-fied Toyotas with cushy seats and a frustrating infotainment system, that’s not the case here – well, mostly”

The Lexus brand might be synonymous with luxury-fied Toyotas with cushy seats and a frustrating infotainment system, that’s not the case here – well, mostly. The LC is decked out with high-end materials that feel and look more upscale than the average Lexus. Black leather abounds on nearly every surface and white contrast stitching adds detail. As a part of the $1,400 Sport Package, the seats come with Alcantara suede inserts and leather side bolsters. The suede continues onto the swoopy door panels and into the rear seats.

The Lexus LC500 has four interior colors to choose from: Black, Toasted Caramel, Bespoke White, and as on my tester, Rioja Red. Eight-way power adjustable front seats make getting comfy an easy task and the power-adjustable steering column allows the driver to achieve his optimum driving position.


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“Eight-way power adjustable front seats make getting comfy an easy task and the power-adjustable steering column allows the driver to achieve his optimum driving position”

Thanks to the LC’s low cowl, the view forward over the long, sloping hood is very generous. In fact, outward visibility is pretty impressive considering the LC’s thick C-pillars. The tall greenhouse and large side mirrors certainly help. Even the rear view isn’t terrible. Naturally, good outward views are conducive to added driver confidence, which ultimately aids overall performance.

The LC’s helm is a small-diameter steering wheel with three spokes and magnesium paddle shifters. The thick wheel is leather-wrapped with both solid and perforated leathers and has two-level heating for those cold winter drives.

Ergonomics are pretty good when simply driving. Thanks to the power seat and power steering column with both tilt and telescoping adjustments, the LC feels great to drive. However, things start going awry when doing other tasks besides burning down a back road.


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“The LC only has two cup holders – one of which is more of a square storage spot than a dedicated cup holder”

The LC only has two cup holders – one of which is more of a square storage spot than a dedicated cup holder. The main cup holder is found just ahead of the main radio volume knob near the Enform’s trackpad. Larger cups block the passenger’s access to their HVAC controls. The second “backup” cup holder is under the center armrest lid, which requires the lid be slid rearward.

More problems come with the Enform system. While its appearance is far more modern than other Enform systems in the Lexus family, its usability is still very questionable. Things like controls for the heated and vented seats are buried under the climate menu tab; changing a setting requires concentration and visual focus. Of course, that means the driver isn’t paying attention to the road. Other controls like selecting radio presets or imputing a destination into the navigation system is simply too involved. Thankfully, the large volume knob and the two metal toggle switches for the seat and tune features are a pleasure to use and make those adjustments very simple.


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“For the driver, the LFA-inspired gauge cluster is a beauty”

For the driver, the LFA-inspired gauge cluster is a beauty. The fully digital cluster uses a sliding tachometer screen that, when slid to the right via pressing a button, uncovers another screen for selecting and changing menu settings. Those functions are handled by the five-way keypad on the left-hand side of the wheel. And like the LFA (as well as Lexus F Sport models) the tachometer changes color and intensity when switching between the drive modes. A color head-up display is available and features a handy speed limit sign that helps keep drivers aware of traffic laws.

Back Seats for Nobody


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“Even with the front seats moved fairly far forward, the rear offers little to no legroom”

The Lexus LC500 is technically a 2+2 coupe with seating for four. Once inside, however, the proposition of carrying more than two people becomes laughable. Even with the front seats moved fairly far forward, the rear offers little to no legroom. I’m not a tall guy at five-foot, six-inches, but my normal seating position leaves zero legroom for my six-year-old daughter. She ended up propping her feet on the transmission tunnel.

While they’re cramped, the back seats are there just in case. More useful, though, would be storing an overnight bag or tossing a jacket back there. Thankfully, the LC500 has a decently large trunk. It’s big enough for a weekend’s worth of luggage. Its main drawback is its shallow depth. And as with many cars these days, there is no spare tire. The trunk’s most egregious offense is its missing release button. That’s right, if you want to open the trunk, you either have to use the button on the key fob or open the driver’s door and push the button near the steering wheel. That’s frustrating.


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“The LC500 has a decently large trunk.”

It’s also interesting how a $100,000 luxury coupe doesn’t come with a 360-degree camera system. The LC’s long nose ends somewhere over the horizon, so it’s hard to tell where to stop in a parking space. A front-facing camera would fix this. Side view cameras would also help ease the nerves when pulling near a curb with those lovely 21-inch wheels.

Final Thoughts


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“Despite its few minor complaints, the 2018 Lexus LC500 proves to be a worthwhile luxury coupe”

Despite its few minor (a couple of somewhat major) complaints, the 2018 Lexus LC500 proves to be a worthwhile luxury coupe. Its interior is befitting of the prestige and price tag Lexus is assigning to its new halo model.

It’s also fantastic to see a luxury automaker use more than just black leather in its interior. The Rioja Red interior might not have been my first choice, but it quickly grew on me and ended up being a highlight of the interior experience.

References

Lexus LC


2018 Lexus LC 500 - image 710825

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus LC 500.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon The new Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn is a Cowboy’s Dream of Luxury Come True

After a long day of riding hawses on the range and ropin’ dogies, a cowboy likes to kick his boots off and sit a spell. Well, Ram now has a pretty good place to relax. The new 2019 Ram 1500 is completely new, and with it comes a revised and upgraded version of the Laramie Longhorn trim.


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The high-class Laramie Longhorn places second only to the Limited in Ram’s trim level lineup. The trim brings a two-tone paint scheme and 20-inch or optional 22-inch wheels to the outside and an interior filled with full-grain leather, real metal, and open-pore wood. Outside of a luxury sedan or SUV, the Ram’s new interior is about as swanky as it gets.

Interior equipment includes the new 12-inch Uconnect screen, an upgraded center console with covered storage bins, and seats that boast both heating and venting in all outboard positions. The 2019 Ram 1500 is the first pickup to offer vented rear seats. Ram’s rear seats also recline, too, for a completely relaxed ride. Legroom and headroom are nothing short of limousine level.

Smaller details include leather seatback pockets with metal buckles, brushed-nickel metal badges with the Laramie Longhorn logo, and a branded Laramie Longhorn logo seared into the passenger side’s wood dash trim. For the connected cowboys, the Ram has 4G LTE Wi-Fi, five USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM radio. A 360-degree camera system is also present. Once the sun goes down, the cabin floods with ambient light.


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“The trim brings a two-tone paint scheme and 20-inch or optional 22-inch wheels to the outside and an interior filled with full-grain leather, real metal, and open-pore wood”

Like the other trim levels in the 2019 Ram 1500 lineup, the Laramie Longhorn’s available 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 can be had with the new mild hybrid system. The system replaces the alternator with a motor-generator and includes a 48-volt battery pack mounted to the cab’s rear bulkhead. During low-speed acceleration, the motor-generator helps turn the crankshaft via the accessory belt. Though it doesn’t help top-end power or torque, the system saves fuel at lower speeds and helps give the truck extra torque off the line. An upgraded eight-speed automatic comes standard and is controlled by an updated rotary shifter on the dash.

The 2019 Ram 1500 will go on sale by the end of Q1 2018. Prices have not been announced, but expect the Laramie Longhorn to increase in price over last years’ model, which held a base MSRP of $49,670.

References

Ram 1500


The new Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn is a Cowboy's Dream of Luxury Come True - image 763506

Read our full review on the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition.


All-New 2019 Ram 1500 Steals The Show at Detroit - image 758490

Read our full review on the 2019 Ram 1500.


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Read more Ram news.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus RX350 – Driven

The Lexus RX has been around since 1998 and basically invented the luxury crossover segment. It’s even appropriate to credit the RX with the boom in popularity for all crossover niches. But things have changed, of course, and the competition is fierce. Lexus brought its latest RX iteration to life for 2015, complete with the aggressive styling seen elsewhere in Lexus’ lineup.

Now as 2018 rolls on, the Lexus RX gets a new three-row version called the RX L. it’s available in the RX350 and RX450 configurations, meaning you can haul seven people with a standard V-6 or one connected to a hybrid system. If that’s not enough choice, Lexus will also let you have the F Sport package – and that’s all before getting into the optional features available within the cabin. Needleless to say, the RX offers customers plenty of choices.

But we’re testing the old standard – the RX350 in FWD without the appearance package or hybrid powertrain. This is the type of RX you’d find at any Lexus dealership without having to special order something. Let’s have a look.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior

  • Aggressively designed
  • 20-inch wheels
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Hands-free tailgate

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“Lexus’ current design language is nearly as polarizing as politics”

Lexus’ current design language is nearly as polarizing as politics. Some love the aggressive design while others thing the Spindle Grille should have been left in the Predator movies. Subjectively, I like it. It’s different and exciting without being overly flashy. It’s not elegant, but it’s hardly ugly, either. Looks are a matter of personal taste, so you’ll have to come to your own conclusion.

On the more objective side, the Lexus RX offers some great features. The front includes triple-beam LED headlights and LED fog lights. 20-inch alloy wheels fill the fenders and black plastic helps give the RX a more SUV-like appearance. All four door handles include passive entry sensors, including the tailgate. Rain-sensing wipers and headlight washers keep forward vision intact.

Around back, the taillights are LED, too, and have an aggressive light signature at night. The tailgate has a cool hands-free feature that responds to a hand or elbow being held over the Lexus emblem for a couple seconds. The tailgate’s push-to-close button also doubles as a door lock button, making it easy to walk away after closing the tailgate without having to touch a door handle or fumble for the key fob.


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Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 109.8 in.
Overall Length 192.5 in.
Overall Width 74.6 in.
Overall Height (unloaded) 67.7 in. (without roof rack)
Tread Width Front/Rear 64.4/64.0 in.
Ground Clearance 8.2 in.
Approach Angle 17.0 deg.
Departure Angle 24.9 deg.
Breakover Angle 16.8 deg.

Interior

  • Seating for five, respectable room for four
  • 12.3-inch Enform infotainment system
  • 10-way power front seats
  • Reclining second-row seatbacks
  • Nine-speaker audio system
  • 18.4 cubic feet of storage in cargo area
  • 56.3 cubic feet of storage with seats folded

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“Lexus is fantastic at making comfortable, ergonomic interiors and the RX 350 is no different”

Lexus is fantastic at making comfortable, ergonomic interiors and the RX 350 is no different. The buttons and controls are logically placed and comfy leather seats aid in long road trips. The Enform infotainment system has plenty of features and the 12.3-inch screen is pleasant to look at.

The RX has room for five people, though adults in the back seat will be more comfortable without a middle passenger. They enjoy an impressive 38 inches of legroom and enough headroom for someone over six-foot. A folding center armrest and reclining seatbacks pump up the RX’s comfort game.

The front seats are even more comfortable with 10-way power adjustment. The driver’s seat also has a three-position memory feature that remembers the positions of the power tilt and telescoping steering column and power-adjustable side mirrors.

The Lexus Enform infotainment includes all the standard barrage of features, including satellite radio, GPS navigation, a backup camera, traffic and weather information, gas prices, and vehicle maintenance scheduling. It does not, however, have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or any Wi-Fi connectivity system. That puts the Lexus at a disadvantage to many of its competitors.


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“I’m not a fan of Enform’s joystick controller.”

I’m not a fan of Enform’s joystick controller. It works, but its learning curve is steep and it requires extra attention than the driver should be dividing from driving. As I wrote in my close look at the Lexus Enform system, moving away from the joystick and adopting a touchscreen would serve Lexus well.

Another downside of the RX is cargo space. Compared to crossovers like the Audi Q5, Cadillac XT5, and Lincoln MKX, the RX falls way short. However, for those not needed to move massive amounts of cargo, the RX’s 18.4 cubic feet in the cargo area and 56.3 cubic feet with seats folded should be plenty.

All told, the Lexus RX’s interior is a wonderful place to spend time and affords a great view of the road and surrounding scenery. That’s especially true with the optional panoramic moonroof.


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Interior Dimensions

Seating Capacity 5
Headroom – Front (with moonroof)/Rear 39.4/39.1 in.
Legroom – Front/Rear 44.1/38.0 in.
Shoulder Room – Front/Rear 57.8/57.6 in.
Hip Room – Front/Rear 56.6/56.1 in.
Total Interior Volume 139.7 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume – Cargo area/ Rear seats folded down 18.4/56.3 cu. ft.

Drivetrain

  • 3.5-liter V-6
  • 295 horsepower & 267 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • 20 mpg city, 27 mpg hwy, 23 mpg comb
  • FWD & available AWD
  • Available hybrid powertrain

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“Behind that Spindle Grille is Lexus’ familiar 3.5-liter V-6”

Behind that Spindle Grille is Lexus’ familiar 3.5-liter V-6. The all-aluminum engine features dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing. Unlike Toyota’s latest technology, this engine still relies on port fuel injection. It will, however, switch between the fuel-sipping Atkinson combustion cycle and the power-production Otto cycle. Power is rated at 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque.

An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. AWD is an option on all RX variants. Fuel economy on the FWD model is a relatively respectable 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.

The V-6 and eight-speed combo do a great job moving the RX. The sprint to 60 mph takes only 7.7 seconds and the top speed maxes out at 124 mph. Of course, the RX is far more adept at comfortable cruising than autobahn burning. The suspension utilizes MacPherson struts up front and an independent coil spring arrangement in back, but it’s tuned for comfort over performance. Bumps are soaked up with ease and send very little harshness into the cabin.


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“The downside to the soft ride is body roll in the corners and nosedive during hard braking.”

The downside to the soft ride is body roll in the corners and nosedive during hard braking. It’s not terrible, but the RX is no sports car. For those wanting a more athletic driving experience, the RX F Sport is a great choice. Its suspension is firmer in the twisties thanks to adaptive dampers that coordinate with the drive modes.

Drive modes are also present in the standard RX. They include Eco, Normal, and Sport. Each provides different tuning to the engine and transmission computers, making the driving experience very different in each mode. I’ve expounded more on the driving experience here.


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Drivetrain Specifications

Engine Type, Materials V6, aluminum block and heads
Designation 2GR-FKS
Valvetrain DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW
Displacement 3.5 liter
Bore x Stroke 3.70 in. x 3.27 in.
Compression Ratio 11.8:1
Horsepower 295 HP @ 6,300 RPM
Torque 267 LB-FT@ 4,700 RPM
Maximum Engine Speed (redline) 6,300 rpm
Fuel System Sequential Multiport Fuel Injection (EFI, D-4S)
Fuel Requirement Performance Numbers achieved with 87-octane Unleaded fuel
Layout Front engine, full-time all-weather drive (AWD), or front engine, front-wheel drive (FWD)
Transmission Type 8-speed Automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission (ECT)
0-60 mph Acceleration (mfg. results) 7.9 sec. (AWD) 7.7 sec. (FWD)
Top Track Speed 124 mph – electronically limited
Estimated Fuel Economy (City/Hwy/Combined) 19/26/22(AWD) 20/28/23(FWD)
Coefficient of Drag (Cd) 0.34

Pricing


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Though my tester is a 2017 model, most consumers will find dealership lots filled with 2018 models by this time. That doesn’t make much difference, though, prices haven’t changed between the years.

My RX350 boasts a slew of optional extras that add a whopping $10,254 to the base price of $43,020. In reality, the RX isn’t offered in dedicated trim levels with set prices and lists of included features. Rather, Lexus allows customers to pick what option packages and stand-alone features they want. It could make the shopping experience potentially more frustrating with trying to refine search results by options rather than a well-defined trim level.


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Options on my tester include:

Blind Spot Monitoring w/ Intuitive Parking Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, & Auto Braking $1,065
Matte Linear Dark Mocha Interior Trim $400
20-inch Gray Alloy wheels $1,170
Touch Free Power Rear Door $200
Triple-Beam LED Headlights $1,615
Panorama Moonroof $1,600
Enform w/ Navigation & 12.3-inch display 2,120
Premium Package w/ Leather seats, folding mirrors, driver memory $960
Heated Matte Linear Dark Mocha Wood Steering Wheel $450
Illuminated Door Sill $375
Cargo Net, Cargo Mat, Wheel Locks & Key Glove $299

2018 Lexus RX

RX 350 FWD $43,270
RX 350 AWD $44,670
RX 350L FWD $47,670
RX 350L AWD $49,070
RX 350 F SPORT FWD $48,920
RX 350 F SPORT AWD $50,320
RX 450h AWD $45,695
RX 450h F SPORT AWD $51,055

The Competition

2018 Cadillac XT5


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The XT5 is Cadillac’s newest vehicle and a replacement for the SRX. It rides on the same C1XX platform as the GMC Acadia but shares no exterior or interior components. The interior is lined with leather and suede with room for five people, the CUE infotainment system is improved over other iterations in Caddy’ older models, and it includes welcomed features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-FI hotspot.

Power comes from GM’s familiar 3.6-liter V-6. Here it makes 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque sent to an eight-speed automatic transmission. FWD is standard, but the optional AWD is worth every penny since it has active torque vectoring for more control in both wet and dry driving.

Pricing for the 2018 XT5 starts at $41,590. Cadillac thankfully has trim levels to choose from, with the Luxury costing $47,590; the Premium Luxury costing $54,090; and the Platinum starting at $64,390.

Read our full review on the 2018 Cadillac XT5.

2018 Audi Q5


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The Q5 just underwent a massive update for 2018 and sports a sharpened, fresh appearance and a more high-tech interior. The dash now includes Audi’s lovely Digital Cockpit with Google Maps and various reconfigurable screens. The updated MMI system operates through a laptop-like mouse pad or via the touchscreen. High-end materials abound and the Audi’s German flair remains a big part of the Q5’s nature.

Under the hood of the Q5 resides a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to torque arriving at only 1,600 rpm, the Q5 feels very quick. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic turns all four wheels via Audi’s legendary Quattro AWD system.

Prices for the 2018 Q5 start at $41,500 for the Premium trim. The Premium Plus starts at $45,500 and the range-topping Prestige at $50,800. Check all the option boxes and the Q5 will nearly reach $60,000.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi Q5.

Conclusion


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The Lexus RX350 might not be perfect, but it is an incredibly smooth and comfortable luxury crossover that’s completely competent doing daily life and fully able to hit the road on a cross-country road trip. Add to that Lexus and Toyota’s legacy of reliability, and it’s easy to see why the RX finds nearly 110,000 homes in the U.S. every year.

Improvements to the Enform infotainment system and standard heated and vented front seats would make me appreciate the RX even more, but even still, it’s hard to complain about Lexus’ all-star crossover.

  • Leave it
    • * Frustrating infotainment system
    • * Pricy Options
    • * Super competitive segment

References

Lexus RX


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
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What it’s Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon What it’s Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350

This week we’re evaluating the Lexus RX350 in FWD and without all the extra stuff like the F Sport package and hybrid drivetrain. This is the RX in its purest form. It’s also the least-expensive way to have an RX and a build configuration that you’ll likely find stacked like cordwood at the local Lexus dealer.

It probably comes as no surprise to hear the Lexus RX 350 rides like a cloud on stilts. Lexus has always done a fantastic job building smooth-riding suspension systems for its sedans. That expertise carries over into the RX, along with the 20 years of experience Lexus has with build the luxury crossover. It’s almost hard to believe the RX nameplate is 20 years old in 2018.

Continue reading for our driving impressions.

Everyday Usability


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“Not surprisingly, the Lexus RX handles these daily challenges with a snap – mostly”

A major part of owning a vehicle is its performance when not driving. How easy is it getting in? Can young kids open the door and climb in without help? How comfortable are the seats? These are questions that have to be asked.

Not surprisingly, the Lexus RX handles these daily challenges with a snap – mostly. All four doors have passive entry exterior handles, so grabbing one with the key in your pocket will result in an unlocked door. Handy. The same is true for the rear tailgate.

Getting in does require a high leg lift. The doorsills are somewhat tall and take some getting used to. Once in, the seats cuddle backsides with very soft leather and cushy padding. The seats are old-school Lincoln Town Car soft where it’s hard to move, but they provide plenty of comfort regardless of time or distance. Sadly, Lexus hides its heated and vented front seat option behind a hefty price barrier, making customers shell out $640 for the option on top of requiring the $4,180 Luxury Package and the $1,350 Moonroof Package. That’s $6,170 added to the RX’s base price of $43,270 just to have heated and vented seats. Oh Vey! Oh, and then you’ll have to pay another $150 for a heated steering wheel.

Missing content and pricing aside, the RX’s front seats are very comfortable. The same is true for the second-row seats, too. Softly cushioned seats offer 38 inches of legroom, a folding center armrest, and reclining seatbacks. HVAC vents in the center console keep air blowing, though the temperature is set by the front passenger’s setting. The rear seats are not heated, either, regardless of how much money you throw at Lexus.


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“The rear seats work rather well for my six-year-old and her booster seat”

The rear seats work rather well for my six-year-old and her booster seat. She’s able to open the door, climb in, and buckle herself just fine. Partial credit is due to the width of the rear seats. The outboard positions have plenty wide for even full-grown adjust, so her booster has plenty of room between the buckle and door.

Cargo room is a downside to the RX, at least when compared to its main competitors. It offers 18.4 cubic feet in the cargo area and 56.3 cubic feet with the 60.40-split second row folded flat. You can read how it compares here, but just know the RX is the least spacious out of the Cadillac XT5, Audi Q5, and Lincoln MKX. Still, the RX has plenty of cargo space for a week’s worth of groceries or a trip to IKEA.

Behind the Wheel


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763368
“In addition to the comfortable front seats, the RX’s cockpit provides ergonomic controls that are logically arranged”

In addition to the comfortable front seats, the RX’s cockpit provides ergonomic controls that are logically arranged. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a pleasure to hold and its many buttons make short work of accessing common features.

The center stack has two real knobs for radio volume and tuning, making listening to the radio less stressful than some vehicles currently on the market. HVAC controls are well placed, though the buttons are on the small side and require a glance down to find. The infotainment system is, well, typical for the Lexus Enform system. You can read my full thoughts about it here.

The gauge cluster is mostly easy to read and the center information screen offers plenty of vehicle information. Unfortunately, it does not offer a digital speedometer. Opt for the F Sport package and the cluster is replaced with an LFA Supercar-inspired design, complete with a digital speedometer. There is also an optional head-up display if the F Sport isn’t your thing.


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763361
“Lastly, the RX has plenty of storage spots that make life more organized”

Lastly, the RX has plenty of storage spots that make life more organized. There’s a great spot ahead of the shifter for a cell phone. It’s even large enough to accommodate an iPhone Plus. The cup holders are well designed, as is the storage box under the armrest. A decently sized glove box and massive door pockets hold everything else. And as a bonus, Lexus includes hidden storage under the palm rest for the Enform’s joystick. It’s large enough for an older, non-plus iPhone or things like business cards or parking receipts.

Driving Impressions


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763383
“The Lexus RX’s smooth ride makes it a fantastic daily driver, both around town and on the highway”

The Lexus RX’s smooth ride makes it a fantastic daily driver, both around town and on the highway. The supple ride soaks up bumps and road imperfections without translating them into the cabin. Set the cruise control and watch the RX eat miles away. It would make a fantastic road trip machine for two people. The flip side of its smooth ride is body lean in turns and nose dive under hard braking. It’s hardly a problem, but it’s more pronounced than in the RX 350 F Sport. Most will never notice the extra movement. Road and tire noise are also kept to a minimum.

The RX 350’s power comes from the familiar 3.5-liter V-6. Here it produces 295 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque.
A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic sends power to the front wheels. The sprint to 60 mph takes only 7.7 seconds and its top speed is 124 mph. The torquey V-6 has no problems spinning the front tires from a stop, especially when turning. Torque steer is present, though it’s not detrimental to the overall driving experience. The brakes are equally impressive, hauling the RX to a stop with confidence. I especially like the pedal feel.


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763379
“Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined”

Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. Thanks to a 19.2-gallon fuel tank, the RX has a cruising range of roughly 518 miles. It’s a good thing those seats are comfy, right?

Stick around for our full review of the 2017 Lexus RX350.

References

Lexus RX


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon Price Check: Lexus RX350 vs the Competition

Luxury SUVs are expensive and it takes a hefty bank account to afford one, but even wealthy folks love a good deal. After all, saving and spending wisely are critical parts of becoming wealthy, right?

We’re comparing the 2018 Lexus RX350 to a four of its main rivals. These are the Cadillac XT5, Audi Q5, Lincoln MKX, and for a comparison to Lexus’ new three-row version of the RX, the Acura MDX.

Continue reading for the pricing wars.

Setting the Stage

The 2018 Lexus RX 350 is a two-row luxury crossover with a starting price of $43,270. Lexus’ new-for-2018 three-row RX, the RX L, offers seating for seven in a 2+3+2 arrangement and competes with some larger SUVs like the Acura MDX.

2018 Lexus RX


Price Check: Lexus RX350 vs the Competition - image 763383
RX 350 FWD $43,270
RX 350 AWD $44,670
RX 350L FWD $47,670
RX 350L AWD $49,070
RX 350 F SPORT FWD $48,920
RX 350 F SPORT AWD $50,320
RX 450h AWD $45,695
RX 450h F SPORT AWD $51,055

2018 Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 745088
2018 Cadillac XT5 $41,590
2018 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $47,590
2018 Cadillac XT5 Premium Luxury $54,090
2018 Cadillac XT5 Platinum $64,390

2018 Audi Q5


2017 Audi Q5 - image 690302
2018 Audi Q5 Premium $41,500
2018 Audi Q5 Premium Plus $45,500
2018 Audi Q5 Prestige $50,800

2018 Lincoln MKX


2016 Lincoln MKX - image 610797

The Lincoln MKX is the only SUV here offered with multiple non-hybrid and non-sporty engine options. Customers can choose between the standard 3.7-liter V-6 or the twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. The Audi does offer a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 in the performance-oriented SQ5 and the Lexus RX is available with a hybrid drivetrain in the RX450h trim.

2018 Lincoln MKX Premiere $39,035
2018 Lincoln MKX Select $42,550
2018 Lincoln MKX Reserve $46,560
2018 Lincoln MKX Black Label $54,230
2.7-liter EcoBoost I-4 $2,000
AWD $2,495

2018 Acura MDX


2017 - 2018 Acura MDX - image 680299

It’s important to not the Acura MDX doesn’t technically have trim levels, but rather uses large option packages to increase the vehicle’s luxury and add to its features.

2018 Acura MXD $44,200
AWD $2,000
Entertainment Package $2,000
Technology Package $4,400
Advance Package $6,050

References

Lexus RX


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


2018 Lexus RXL - image 748241

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX L.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon Cargo Space: This is how the Lexus RX350 Stacks Up

This week we’re evaluating the Lexus RX 350 luxury crossover. We’ve covered it Enform infotainment system, talked about its price verses it competition, and looked at how it drives. Now its time to compare the Lexus’ cargo-carrying abilities.

Four of the Lexus’ main competitors are the Cadillac XT5, Audi Q5, and Lincoln MKX. These two-row crossovers represent some of the hottest-selling in the luxury crossover segment, which itself is one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments in the entire automotive industry. We’re also including the three-row Acura MDX as a comparison against Lexus’ new three-row version of the RX, the RX L.

Continue reading for more information.

2018 Lexus RX350


Cargo Space: This is how the Lexus RX350 Stacks Up - image 763351
18.4 cubic feet cargo area
56.3 cubic feet seats folded

2018 Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 654747
30.0 cubic feet cargo area
63.0 cubic feet seats folded

2018 Audi Q5


2017 Audi Q5 - image 763397
26.8 cubic feet cargo area
60.4 cubic feet seats folded

2018 Lincoln MKX


2016 Lincoln MKX - image 763398
37.2 cubic feet cargo area
68.8 cubic feet seats folded

Third Row Variants

2018 Lexus RX L


2018 Lexus RXL - image 748251
7.45 cubic feet behind third row
23.0 cubic feet behind second row
58.5 cubic feet behind first row

2018 Acura MDX


2017 - 2018 Acura MDX - image 763399
15.8 cubic feet behind third row
45.1 cubic feet behind second row
90.9 cubic feet behind first row

Stacking the Result


Cargo Space: This is how the Lexus RX350 Stacks Up - image 763350
“Turns out the Lexus RX 350’s sloping roofline and short rear overhang play a detrimental role in decreasing the crossover’s ability to haul stuff”

Turns out the Lexus RX 350’s sloping roofline and short rear overhang play a detrimental role in decreasing the crossover’s ability to haul stuff. Admittedly, we think the outward design is striking and appealing, making the RX one of the more dynamic and eye-catching choices in the luxury crossover segment. At this price point, there is a lot to be said for that.

The 2018 Lincoln MKX is the big winner in the two-row category, offering 7.2 and 5.8 more cubic feet of room behind its second and first rows, respectively, than its nearest competitor, the Cadillac XT5.

When it comes to the three-row variants, the Acura MDX sweeps the floor with the Lexus RX L. The Acura boasts vastly more cubic feet in each area with a grand total of 32.4 cubic feet more of total cargo volume. As for legroom, the MDX offers 38.5 inches in the second row and 28.1 inches in the third row. Lexus hasn’t released legroom figures for the RX L, but should the second-row seats remain the same as the standard RX, it will offer 38.0 inches of legroom.

References

Lexus RX


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


2018 Lexus RXL - image 748241

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX L.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon A Brief Look at the Lexus RX350’s Infotainment System

The Lexus Enform system has been around a while, and unfortunately, its age is showing. While I can’t complain that it doesn’t work, the joystick-controlled system just isn’t the most pleasing to use or the most user-friendly. It takes a while to become comfortable with. Enform also lacks modern features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Still, for all its faults, it’s a decent system. It just goes about the whole user-input thing a bit differently than other systems on the market. It’s hard to criticize Lexus for trying something different, right? Maybe, but it seems Enform might be holding Lexus back. Let’s have a look.

Continue reading for more information.

What I Like


A Brief Look at the Lexus RX350's Infotainment System - image 763340
“I really appreciate Lexus’ large, 12.3-inch landscape display: it not only looks great but also allows for split-screen viewing of different applications”

I really appreciate Lexus’ large, 12.3-inch landscape display. It not only looks great but also allows for split-screen viewing of different applications. Navigation with its massive map can be running on the left, while the radio information is displayed on the right. It’s also awesome to have both split-screen views running the same application. For example, it allows for two different map views – one tight in and the other of an overview. With the radio, it allows for browsing of channel lists on the left while still seeing what’s currently playing on the right. It makes for an – informed – user experience.

Terrible puns aside, the system’s various menus and features are generally easy to find thanks to their logical arrangement within the system. Navigating through the menus is a slightly different story, however.

What I Don’t Like


A Brief Look at the Lexus RX350's Infotainment System - image 763346
“The joystick control seems like a good idea but put into practice, it fails to impress”

There is just something intangible I’m not fond of with Enform. The joystick control seems like a good idea but put into practice, it fails to impress. The 12.3-inch screen covers a lot of real estate and shows tons of information at once. While that’s great for the eyes, it makes scrolling and selecting just the right button more difficult.

The joystick selector has a force-feedback action that draws the controller to buttons, but even then, it takes concentration and visual focus to use. Of course, that means the user isn’t paying attention to the road. That’s fine for a passenger, but frustrating for the driver. Enform is not an infotainment system that can easily be used while driving – not that you should, anyway, right?

What’s the Solution?


A Brief Look at the Lexus RX350's Infotainment System - image 763338
“Probably the easiest and most doable solution would be replacing the joystick with a touchscreen”

I think the joystick idea is awesome in theory, but it’s the practical application that hinders Enform’s user experience. Probably the easiest and most doable solution would be replacing the joystick with a touchscreen.
Aside from fingerprints, using a touchscreen can be easier since, well, it’s your arm and finger doing the work without a middleman (the joystick) getting in the way.

Lexus would do well by taking cues from General Motors and Fiat Chrysler’s infotainment systems. The Chevrolet MyLInk system and Chrysler Uconnect are two of the most user-friendly systems on the market. They have large, graphic buttons, respond to multi-gestures like an Apple device, and have a modern look about them. Best of all – they are touchscreens. Just have a gander at the new 2019 Ram 1500’s massive 12-inch portrait display. That’s a beautiful way of incorporating a computer into the dashboard.

References

Lexus RX


Quick Specs: 2017 Lexus RX350 - image 763382

Quick Specs: 2017 Lexus RX350


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon Quick Specs: 2017 Lexus RX350

The Lexus RX has been around since 1998, but its most recent iteration came out for 2015. Traditionally a two-row crossover, the RX ventures into new territory for 2018 with a three-row version called the RX350 L. The two extra seats makes the RX L Lexus’ first three-row crossover. Of course, the LX SUV has boasted three rows for quite a while, but with a massive jump in price and less on-road refinement relative to the unibody-based RX.

This week we’re behind the wheel of the 2017 RX 350 in FWD. It’s technically the base model since it doesn’t have the F Sport package, AWD, or the hybrid drivetrain. That’s just fine, though, as Lexus sells a big number of FWD models without the sporty appearance package or expensive hybrid system.

We’re taking a look at the RX 350’s specs – from its 3.5-liter V-6 to its passenger volume. We’ll also be covering several other aspects of the RX, both objectively and subjectively, along with the full driven review. Stay tuned for that.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior

Wheelbase 109.8 in.
Overall Length 192.5 in.
Overall Width 74.6 in.
Overall Height (unloaded) 67.7 in. (without roof rack)
Tread Width Front/Rear 64.4/64.0 in.
Ground Clearance 8.2 in.
Approach Angle 17.0 deg.
Departure Angle 24.9 deg.
Breakover Angle 16.8 deg.

Interior

Seating Capacity 5
Headroom – Front (with moonroof)/Rear 39.4/39.1 in.
Legroom – Front/Rear 44.1/38.0 in.
Shoulder Room – Front/Rear 57.8/57.6 in.
Hip Room – Front/Rear 56.6/56.1 in.
Total Interior Volume 139.7 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume – Cargo area/ Rear seats folded down 18.4/56.3 cu. ft.

Drivetrain

Engine Type, Materials V6, aluminum block and heads
Designation 2GR-FKS
Valvetrain DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW
Displacement 3.5 liter
Bore x Stroke 3.70 in. x 3.27 in.
Compression Ratio 11.8:1
Horsepower 295 HP @ 6,300 RPM
Torque 267 LB-FT@ 4,700 RPM
Maximum Engine Speed (redline) 6,300 rpm
Fuel System Sequential Multiport Fuel Injection (EFI, D-4S)
Fuel Requirement Performance Numbers achieved with 87-octane Unleaded fuel
Layout Front engine, full-time all-weather drive (AWD), or front engine, front-wheel drive (FWD)
Transmission Type 8-speed Automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission (ECT)
0-60 mph Acceleration (mfg. results) 7.9 sec. (AWD) 7.7 sec. (FWD)
Top Track Speed 124 mph – electronically limited
Estimated Fuel Economy (City/Hwy/Combined) 19/26/22(AWD) 20/28/23(FWD)
Coefficient of Drag (Cd) 0.34

References

Lexus RX


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven

Mazda has always been an interesting automaker. Its combination of sportiness and affordability has given the car-buying public a good value for their dollar. Vehicles like the MX-5 Miata quickly come to mind. But the Miata isn’t Mazda’s only major success story. In fact, the Mazda3 has proven extremely successful since its introduction in 2004 thanks to is sedan and hatchback versions offering a fun-to-drive character with a reasonable sticker price. Now in its third generation, the 3 continues to offer those same attributes, but with an added level of refinement and class.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2018 Mazda3 5-Door equipped with the range-topping Grand Touring trim to see how Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” attitude was holding up. Happily, I can report the little car is a blast to drive and is impressively practical. See how the details shake out below.

Continue reading for more on the 2018 Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring.

Exterior

  • Mazda’s Kodo design language is sexy and swoopy
  • Upscale curb appeal
  • 18-inch wheels
  • Passive entry on front doors and hatch

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763127
“The Mazda3 5-Door has a distinctive appearance”

The Mazda3 5-Door has a distinctive appearance. Its sloped hood, sloping rear roofline, and curvy beltline that rises and falls nearly the entire length of the car gives it a very swoopy and stylish stance. Mix that with the large six-sided grille, projector-style LED headlights, chrome accents, and handsome 18-inch wheels, and the Mazda3 5-Door comes off as an execution of attention to detail.

Speaking of those LED headlights, the Grand Touring trim makes them adaptive, turning with the steering wheel to light the curves ahead. LED daytime running lights are also present, giving the 3 a sophisticated, though now common, accent.


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763131
“The rear hatch can be opened just by grabbing the electronic handle.”

Getting into the car is simple thanks to keyless enter. Small rubber buttons on the front door handles must be pushed to lock and unlock. They work well but don’t offer the most satisfying sense of touch. The rear hatch can be opened just by grabbing the electronic handle.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (inches) 106.3
Length (inches)
w/License Plate Holder
180.3
Width (inches) w/o Body Side Protector 70.7
Height, unladen (inches) 57.3
Track front/rear (inches) 61.2/61.4
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3,098

Interior

  • Beautiful two-tone interior
  • Heated leather seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • 7.0-inch Infotainment system with navigation
  • Nine-speaker Bose sound system
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • 20.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind second row
  • 47.1 cubic feet of cargo with second row folded

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763110
“While the Mazda3 5-Door’s exterior is pleasing to look at, it’s the interior that proves more attractive”

While the Mazda3 5-Door’s exterior is pleasing to look at, it’s the interior that proves more attractive. My tester came with white leather seats contrasted by the black dashboard, door panels, and carpet. Aluminum accents are seen on the vents, steering wheel, door handles, and on most of the controls in the center console. The brightwork and white leather work excellently at making the cabin feel light and airy.

The inviting cabin also proved comfortable. Front seat occupants have three-way heated seats, dual-zone climate controls, and the driver gets a heated steering wheel and a six-way powered seat. The steering column is infinitely adjustable, making anyone able to find a comfortable driving position.

Rear seat passengers enjoy a decent amount of legroom and headroom. A folding center armrest makes longer trips more pleasurable and offers a place for drinks. Sadly, the rear seat comfort is compromised by the lack of HVAC vents. Front seat folks will have to share the air.


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763112
“Naturally, being a hatchback, the Mazda3 5-Door offers plenty of space for cargo.”

Naturally, being a hatchback, the Mazda3 5-Door offers plenty of space for cargo. Behind the second row, the car boasts 20.2 cubic feet of room. The 60/40-split bench folds (mostly) flat and increases cargo space to 47.1 cubic feet of room. That’s plenty for a quick run to IKEA.

The 2018 Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring doesn’t skimp on technology, either. The 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Mazda Connect is standard, even on the base trim. While it is a touch screen, the rotary knob controller and shortcut buttons are incredibly intuitive and easy to use. It makes quick work of selecting different menu features, and I found myself using it more than the touchscreen. The only exception was Apple CarPlay, which thrives on touch controls. The nine-speaker Bose audio system proved nice to listen to.

The Mazda’s gauges are simplistic yet informative. The tach is mounted front and center, with speed relegated to a small digital screen. A head-up display also shows the speed, along with the posted speed limit read from traffic signs. Yep, the Grand Touring trim boasts traffic sign recognition. I will say the font of the ancillary gauges looks dated. The LCD screens are a green hue away from looking like an alarm clock.

Aside from its very few quirks, the Mazda3’s interior proved perfectly comfortable and an easy place to spend time. It back seat is plenty big for my six-year-old and her booster seat, too.


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763117

Interior Dimensions

Headroom, front/rear without Moonroof (inches) 38.6/37.6
Headroom, front/rear with Moonroof (inches) 37.6/37.5
Leg Room, front/rear (inches) 42.2/35.8
Shoulder Room, front/rear (inches) 57.2/54.4
Hip Room, front/rear (inches) 55.5/53.5
EPA Passenger Volume (cubic feet) 96.4
EPA Cargo Volume (cubic feet) 20.2
EPA Cargo Volume with rear seats down, (cubic feet) 47.1
EPA Total Volume (cubic feet) 116.6

Drivetrain

  • 2.0-liter SkyActive four-cylinder standard on Sport trim
  • 2.5-liter SkyActive I-4 standard on Touring & Grand Touring
  • 2.5-liter makes 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet
  • Six-speed manual transmission standard
  • Six-speed automatic is optional
  • Front-wheel drive
  • EPA rated at 26 city / 35 hwy / 30 combined

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763096
“The base Sport trim comes with a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder while the Touring and Grand Touring get more power thanks to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder”

Part of Mazda’s appeal is its SkyActiv engine technology. Without forced induction, the engines produce far more kick than their on-paper stats suggest while providing decent fuel economy.

The base Sport trim comes with a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder while the Touring and Grand Touring get more power thanks to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. This little engine makes a respectable 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque while getting an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined. Credit is due to the direct fuel injection and Atkinson combustion cycle. The engine is also light thanks to an aluminum block and cylinder head. A six-speed manual comes standard, but my tester had the six-speed automatic.

Thanks to the 2.5-liter’s torque peaking at only 3,250 rpm, the car feels rather quick. The sprint to 60 mph happens in 7.0 seconds, and its top speed is an impressive 132 mph. Much of the 3’s performance can be attributed to its light curb weight of only 3,100 pounds.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine Type-SKYACTIV-G 2.5L DOHC
Horsepower 184 HP @ 5,700 RPM
Torque 185 @ 3,250 RPM
Transmission SKYACTIV-MT 6-speed manual
Optional Trans SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic
Fuel economy 25 / 34 / 29 (Manual trans)
Fuel economy 26 / 35 / 30 (Automatic trans)
Top Speed 130 mph

Safety


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763123

The Mazda3 5-Door, especially in the Grand Touring trim, offers a bevy of active and passive safety systems. Mazda calls it the i-ACTIVESENSE. Combined with the Premium Package on the Grand Touring, it adds adaptive headlights, smart brake support, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Standard safety equipment includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and smart city brake support (which stops the car automatically between two and 18 mph if the driver doesn’t).

The 2018 Mazda3 5-Door is rated a 5-Star vehicle by the IIHS.

Behind the Wheel


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763119
“The Mazda3 might be a front-wheel-drive hatchback, but it offers a very composed and refined on-road experience”

The Mazda3 might be a front-wheel-drive hatchback, but it offers a very composed and refined on-road experience. It’s no Cadillac, but the ride is smooth, and the cabin is mostly free of wind or road noise. As mentioned, the engine feels more powerful than its on-paper stats suggest. Dumping the throttle is met with quick revs and matching movement. The six-speed automatic shifts quickly enough that manually shifting isn’t necessary. And while manual mode is offered via paddle shifters and the +/- on the shifter, slowish responses dull any extra good feelings manual control should bring.

The Mazda3 comes with a Sport mode, too. This greatly increases the car’s fun-to-drive factor. Mostly it boils down to an edgier throttle response and the transmission holding gears longer. Sadly, Sport Mode doesn’t help the transmission’s delayed responses to manual shifts. Don’t get me wrong, though; the response should feel perfectly fine for those not jaded by quick-shifting gearboxes in high-performance supercars. (Testing vehicles is a rough life, you know.)

Pricing


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763126

The Mazda3 5-Door starts at $19,345. Three trim levels are offered, starting with the Sport, Touring, and the Grand Touring. My Grand Touring tester with the automatic transmission carries a base price of $24,945. Both the Touring and Grand Touring come standard with the 2.5-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder.

My tester came with several stand-alone options. They add cost, but also add convenience and style. These items include the $75 cargo mat, the $300 Soul Red Paint, the $100 rear bumper guard, the $125 scuff plates and door sill trim plates.

The biggest cost-adder is the $1,600 Premium Equipment Package. It’s money well spent, however, as it adds GPS navigation, paddle shifters, adaptive front lighting, smart brake support, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, auto-dim rearview mirror with HomeLink, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

Add in the $875 destination fee, and the total price comes to $28,020.

Sport MT SKYACTIV-G 2.0L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $19,345
Sport AT Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $20,395
Touring MT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $20,840
Touring AT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $21,890
Grand Touring MT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $23,895
Grand Touring AT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $24,945

The Competition

Volkswagen Golf


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751678

The Volkswagen Golf is getting a fresh look for 2018, but we won’t get the new look until 2019. The current model is still a good vehicle that offers room for five, foldable rear seats, and a maximum of 52.7 cubic feet. Behind the second row, the Golf boasts 22.8 cubic feet. Both figures are more than the Mazda3 5-Door. While the little German might have the cargo-carrying advantage, the Mazda is certainly more sculpted on the outside and offers an arguably more refined interior. It also lacks several of the Mazda’s active safety features.

The Golf comes powered by 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard, but those averse to three pedals can get the six-speed automatic. Fuel economy is decent, with the Golf earning an EPA estimation of 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined with the automatic.

Prices for the VW start at $19,895 for the S trim. Only one other trim is available – the Wolfsburg – which starts at $22,415. Getting the automatic pushes the price north by $1,100

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf

Honda Civic Hatchback


2017 Honda Civic Hatchback - image 689347

The venerable Honda Civic Hatchback recently underwent a complete generational change, bringing with it some major updates. The new exterior is racy and aggressive, which looks pretty good on the big-dog Type R version. The interior is equally sporty, even without the high-performance trims. Users will likely complain about the missing volume knob on the radio, however. The touch-sensitive slider does take some getting used to. The interior offers a respectable amount of room, though. Five people easily fit, along with 25.7 cubic feet of stuff behind the second row. Fold the seats down, and the Civic Hatch offers 46.7 cubic feet of room.

Honda powers the Civic Hatch two engine options: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder worth 158 horsepower and a more lovable 1.5-liter turbo-four with 174 to 180 horsepower, depending on the trim. Of course, there’s the Type R with its 2.0-liter turbo-four worth an impressive 306 horsepower, too, but that isn’t quite in this category. The same can be said for the Volkswagen Golf R.

A six-speed manual is the standard gearbox here, while a CVT is an option. Power only runs to the front wheels.

Prices for the 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback start at $20,050 for the base LX trim. The most expensive non-Type R Civic Hatchback is the Sport Touring Trim. It costs $28,650.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback

Conclusion


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763131

The Mazda3 5-Door is an interesting car. It combines a sexy aesthetic with a rewarding driving experienced protected by some advanced active safety tech and finished off with an affordable price tag. Of course, adding the Grand Touring trim and several optional extras makes the price edge closer to $30,000, the total package feels worth it.

That’s especially true when compared to today’s expensive crossovers that offer little advantages over a traditional hatchback or wagon. Who really needs that extra ground clearance anyway? Unless you live up north and routinely drive through snow banks or down rutted roads, a crossover’s extra potential is never tapped.

The Mazda3 5-Door offers a better driving experience than a crossover at a lower price, boasts a respectable amount of cargo room, and rewards its owner with 30 mpg combined on regular gasoline. What’s not to love?

  • Leave it
    • * Passive entry buttons
    • * Gets somewhat pricy with options

References

Mazda3


The Mazda3 Grand Touring 5-Door Gives New Meaning to Affordable Luxury - image 757890

Price Check: Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring vs the Competition


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven - image 763135

The Mazda3 Grand Touring 5-Door Gives New Meaning to Affordable Luxury


2016 - 2018 Mazda3 - image 639252

Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda3.


maker logos - image 741756

Read more Mazda news.

PostHeaderIcon The New Toyota Avalon Is Basically A Grille On Wheels

I remember when Lexus first came out with its enormous “spindle grille” feature, thinking to myself “well, that won’t last very long.” Now, here we are some seven years later, and the ginormous intake hasn’t receded in the slightest. In fact, it’s actually growing, and not just in size, either. The rest of Toyota’s lineup seems to be infected with enlarged grille syndrome, as is evidenced by the recently debuted 2019 Avalon that just dropped at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.

This grille is simply massive. It stretches between the ends of the bumper like one of those giant rubber dam things that dentists use for root canals. The whole front end of the car is basically grille. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll take a strikingly assertive, arguably ugly design over something boring any day of the week. But I can’t help but take a step back and shake my head when I see this thing, like I just walked into the world’s biggest ball of twine or something. I mean, what the hell is the point.

Granted, the styling actually does its job, as it certainly makes the Toyota stand out from the crowd. Indeed, just one glance is more than enough to confirm the car’s origin. However, I’m worried scientists will start pointing their telescopes at it thinking they just discovered a new black hole.

What do you think of the new front end on the 2019 Toyota Avalon? Let us know in the comments.

References

Toyota Avalon


2019 Toyota Avalon Gets More Aggressive, Boasts New Tech at Detroit - image 758791

2019 Toyota Avalon Gets More Aggressive, Boasts New Tech at Detroit


2016 Toyota Avalon - image 616782

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Avalon


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 741755

Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Quick Specs

The Mazda3 has been around since 2003, but the current version debuted for the 2014 model year. Thankfully, Mazda hasn’t let it trudge through the last four years unchanged. Small updates each year have kept it fresh. The same is true for the 2018 model year, which is exactly why I wanted to test the latest version. Parked in my driveway is a 2018 Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring coated in Soul Red Metallic and equipped with the six-speed automatic and the well-equipped Premium Package.

Like before, the Grand Touring trim is the highest of the Mazda3 range, and when combined with the Premium Package, offers some pretty nice features, creature comforts, and a strikingly classy ambiance for well under $30,000. But before I dive into my subjective thoughts and impressions, I wanted to cover the objective stats and specs of this Japanese hatchback.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior Specs


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Quick Specs - image 757897

The 2018 Mazda3 5-Door is a compact hatchback with a small footprint. With a total length of 180 inches, the 3 will fit just about anywhere. Yet, thanks to its wheelbase of 106.3 inches and track of 61 inches, it has a stable ride at highway speeds and around corners. Best of all, the car is pretty light at only 3,098 pounds. That means its 184-horsepower four-cylinder has less to move. It also helps with fuel economy, too.

Wheelbase (inches) 106.3
Length (inches)
w/License Plate Holder
180.3
Width (inches) w/o Body Side Protector 70.7
Height, unladen (inches) 57.3
Track front/rear (inches) 61.2/61.4
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3,098

Interior Specs


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Quick Specs - image 757919

As compact as the Mazda3’s exterior is, its interior is impressively spacious. Front occupants have a good amount of room, with 42.2 inches of legroom and 38.6 inches of headroom. And despite the car’s track being only 61 inches wide, the front occupants enjoy 57.2 inches of shoulder room.

Rear passengers have a bit less room, though, measuring 35.8 inches in legroom, 37.6 inches of headroom, and 54.4 inches of shoulder room. Still, the back seat is just fine for kids and will easily accommodate two adults on anything shorter than a road trip.

The 5-Door’s advantage is cargo room. There are 20.2 cubic-feet of cargo room behind the second row and 47.1 cubic feet of room with the 60/40-split bench folded flat.

Headroom, front/rear without Moonroof (inches) 38.6/37.6
Headroom, front/rear with Moonroof (inches) 37.6/37.5
Leg Room, front/rear (inches) 42.2/35.8
Shoulder Room, front/rear (inches) 57.2/54.4
Hip Room, front/rear (inches) 55.5/53.5
EPA Passenger Volume (cubic feet) 96.4
EPA Cargo Volume (cubic feet) 20.2
EPA Cargo Volume with rear seats down, (cubic feet) 47.1
EPA Total Volume (cubic feet) 116.6

Drivetrain Specs


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Quick Specs - image 757901

While the Mazda3 comes standard with a 2.0-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder, the Touring and Grand Touring trims come with the more powerful 2.5-liter SkyActive four. The engine makes 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 pound-feet of torque at only 3,250 rpm. A silky smooth six-speed manual comes standard, but the optional six-speed automatic transmission is available.

The sprint to 60 mph takes only 6.8 seconds, and its top speed is listed at 130 mph. Fuel economy is slightly more impressive, though not class-leading. The EPA estimates the Mazda3 5-Door with the automatic at 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined. Staying with the manual transmission reduces each figure my one mpg.

Engine Type-SKYACTIV-G 2.5L DOHC
Horsepower 184 HP @ 5,700 RPM
Torque 185 @ 3,250 RPM
Transmission SKYACTIV-MT 6-speed manual
Optional Trans SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic
Fuel economy 25 / 34 / 29 (Manual trans)
Fuel economy 26 / 35 / 30 (Automatic trans)
Top Speed 130 mph

Pricing Specs


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Quick Specs - image 757894

The 2018 Mazda3 5-Door starts at $19,345. Comparatively speaking, that’s a reasonable price. The Volkswagen Golf starts at $20,715, the Honda Civic Hatchback starts at $19,730, the Hyundai Elantra GT starts at $20,235, and the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback starts at $22,195.

My Grand Touring tester with the automatic transmission carries a base price of $24,945. Several á la carte options add cost, but also add convenience and style. These items include the $75 cargo mat, the $300 Soul Red Paint, the $100 rear bumper guard, the $125 scuff plates and door sill trim plates, and the big one – the $1,600 Premium Equipment Package.

The Premium Equipment Package adds navigation, paddle shifters, adaptive front lighting, smart brake support, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, auto-dim rearview mirror with HomeLink, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Needless to say, that $1,600 is well spent.

Sport MT SKYACTIV-G 2.0L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $19,345
Sport AT Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $20,395
Touring MT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $20,840
Touring AT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $21,890
Grand Touring MT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $23,895
Grand Touring AT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $24,945

References

Mazda3


2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Quick Specs - image 757890

The Mazda3 Grand Touring 5-Door Gives New Meaning to Affordable Luxury


2016 - 2018 Mazda3 - image 639252

Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda3.


maker logos - image 741756

Read more Mazda news.

PostHeaderIcon The Mazda3 Grand Touring 5-Door Gives New Meaning to Affordable Luxury

Mazda has made a name for itself by offering affordable cars and crossovers with high-class styling and impressively put-together interiors. I’m reminded of that thanks to the 2018 Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring parked in my driveway this week. It’s fitted with just about every bell a whistle Mazda offers, which is just about everything you’d want in a sub-$30,000 hatchback.

As for the interior quality, the Grand Touring trim includes some rather soft leather seats with three-way heating and a heated steering wheel. The door panels and center console enjoy the same soft leather, making elbows happy. What isn’t leather is made from high-quality plastics. Piano black plastic surrounds the gearshift and door panel switches, while the dash, steering wheel, and infotainment controls are made from a low-sheen, soft touch material. A few metal accents are scattered through the cabin for a nice touch.

The Grand Touring trim, especially when combined with the $1,600 Premium Equipment Package, brings a ton if active and passive safety items, too. My tester has Adaptive Front lighting that follows the steering angle, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, automatic high-beams, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, and lane keep assist. The Mazda3 will even stop itself in low-speed traffic situations thanks to the Smart Brake Support.

But the Mazda3 is more than just a nice interior, safety systems, and a sculpted body. The driving experience feels more high end than its price would suggest. The steering is nicely weighted and the 2.5-liter SkyActiv’s 184 horsepower feels more like 200, especially in sport mode. The six-speed automatic transmission is well sorted and makes the most of the engine’s 185 pound-feet of torque. Holistically, the Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring offers tons of amenities with a price that’s well placed in its class.

As for cost, The Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring starts at $24,945. My tester stickers at $28,020, which includes several options and the $875 destination fee.

We will be covering the Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring this week, so post your questions and we’ll answer them.

References

Mazda3


2016 - 2018 Mazda3 - image 639252

Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda3.


maker logos - image 741756

Read more Mazda news.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus GS 200t F Sport – Driven

The Lexus GS has been around since 1991, and its latest generation raises the bar for Lexus’ mid-size luxury sedan. The fifth-generation GS debuted for the 2013 model year and underwent a refresh in 2015 as it gained the highly recognizable and polarizing Spindle grille. The refresh also brought the 200t variant and its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. When matched with the available F Sport package, which brings a sport-tuned suspension and more aggressive aesthetics, the GS truly shoulders the role of a proper sports sedan.

I just spent a week behind the wheel of a 2017 GS 200t F Sport covering some 200 miles of mixed driving over familiar Central Florida roads. From the grocery store parking lot to the high-speed Autobahn/demolition derby known as I-4, I put the Lexus through it all. Even the parent pick-up line at the kiddo’s elementary school saw some F Sport action. Here’s how things played out.

Continue reading for my driven review of the 2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport.

Exterior

  • F Sport package adds aggressive exterior
  • 19-inch wheels with summer tires
  • Adaptive dampers matched with drive modes
  • Passive entry
  • Optional power-lift trunk
  • Optional orange brake calipers

2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755920
“The current Lexus GS is a calm, subtle sedan with a somewhat large grille and the personality of a no-nonsense accountant who only makes practical decisions”

The current Lexus GS is a calm, subtle sedan with a somewhat large grille and the personality of a no-nonsense accountant who only makes practical decisions. The F Sport version, however, is like putting that accountant on a protein, carbs, and Red Bull regimen and sending him to the gym six days a week. The sedan’s entire theme moves from calm to confrontational.

The enlarged F Sport grille and side air intakes dominate the car’s face. The more aggressive appearance continues onto the side with sportier-looking 19-inch wheels wrapped in summer performance rubber and big brakes poking from behind the thin spokes.

Around back, the truck gets a deck lid spoiler and the dual exhaust tips are enhanced with chrome trim. A faux diffuser resides between the exhaust, finishing off the GS F Sport’s more menacing styling. For those who want even more, Lexus will happily point you to the V-8-powered GS F.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755919
“Besides its appearance, the GS offers plenty of functionality, too.”

Besides its appearance, the GS offers plenty of functionality, too. The side mirrors are large and easily dispel blind spots. The Blind Spot Monitoring system helps with that, as well. The large, wide windshield and tall side windows make the cabin feel airy. For those times when the sun is too bright, the rear window has a power-operated shade.

An optional power-operated trunk lid is available and a button on the key fob opens it, as does the button just above the license plate. One complaint, though: the release button is too small and placed far to the right rather than being centered under the Lexus badge. It’s just a poor design that Lexus should have fixed years ago. Thankfully, the touch-sensitive door locks are incredibly easy to use. The doors unlock quickly by reaching behind the handle, even before you have time to start pulling. Locking the doors happens just as quick with a light touch near the front of the handle. It makes getting into and out of the GS very simple.

My GS tester came with the $300 orange brake caliper upgrade. It might not be for everybody, but I really like the splash of color. It also helps accentuate the F Spot’s intended nature.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755922

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 112.2 in.
Overall Length 192.1 in.
Overall Width 72.4 in. (mirrors folded)
Overall Height (unloaded) 57.3 in. (AWD 57.9 in.)
Tread Width – Front/Rear 62.0/62.6 in.

Interior

  • F Sport package brings deeper front bucket seats
  • Heated & vented front seats
  • Entune Infotainment system with joystick controller
  • 12.3-inch screen
  • Head-Up display

2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755902
“The dash layout is familiar and easy to find controls”

The GS’ interior is typical Lexus – but that’s mostly a good thing. The dash layout is familiar and easy to find controls. The fit and finish is good, too, with the leather feeling soft and the plastics of decent quality. The F Sport package also brings deeper bucket seats with both heating and ventilation. The steering wheel also gets nifty F Sport badge to officially announce the car’s sportiness to the driver.

The back seats are remain the same between the F Sport and conventional GS, but provide a comfy spot to pass the miles. A folding center armrest makes elbows happy, but the fold-up cup holders seem a bit flimsy. Why Lexus chose a coin tray rather than cup holders is beyond me. Another disappointment are the non-folding seatbacks. There is a small pass-through behind the armrest, though.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755935
“The 12.3-inch screen is pretty and the ability to have a split screen is nice with some menu functions.”

Continuing with the negatives, I’m not too fond of the Entune infotainment system. Its joystick controller works, but isn’t the most user-friendly method of selecting items on the screen. The menus are a bit convoluted, too. It isn’t all bad, though. The 12.3-inch screen is pretty and the ability to have a split screen is nice with some menu functions. You can read more of my thoughts on the Entune system here.

From behind the wheel, the GS proved very comfortable thanks to the vast adjustability of the seat, the power-adjustable steering column, and the placement of the controls and buttons. The interior is also whisper quiet from both wind and road noise. The view outside is pretty good, as well. The large windshield and tall side windows offer good visibility and the blind spot monitoring system helps keep an eye out. The same is true with the lane departure warning and lane keep assist features.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755903

Interior Dimensions

Headroom – Front/Rear 38.0/37.8 in.
Legroom – Front/Rear 42.3/36.8 in.
Shoulder room – Front/Rear 57.3/55.7 in.
Hip room – Front/Rear 54.5/54.1 in.
EPA Cargo Volume 18.4 cu. ft.

Drivetrain

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • 241 horsepower & 258 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • 0 – 60 mph in 6.6 seconds
  • F Sport adds larger brakes, adaptive dampers

2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755910
“The engine makes a respectable 241 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at only 1,650 rpm”

The Lexus GS has four powertrains to choose from, including the mighty 5.0-liter V-8 in the GS F, the 3.5-liter V-6 in the GS 350, and the V-6 combined with a mild hybrid system in the GS 450h.

Here in the GS 200t – the standard powertrain configurations – power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine makes a respectable 241 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at only 1,650 rpm. The engine’s torque curve stays mostly flat through the rev range, offering a healthy dose of turbo-induced twist up to the peak horsepower.

The engine is a sweet piece of engineering and it doesn’t suffer from the grating noise that often plagues four-cylinders. Its only problem is some slight turbo lag that is exacerbated by the eight-speed automatic transmission’s lackadaisical downshifts on initial acceleration. Thankfully, selecting Sport or Sport+ with the drive mode knob makes things slightly better.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755915
“The F Sport package adds larger brakes to each corner, with the front getting 14.4-inch, two-piece rotors and four-piston calipers”

The GS 200t isn’t a slouch, though. It will sprint to 60 mph in roughly 6.6 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 95 mph – not bad for a 241-horsepower sedan that weighs nearly 3,900 pounds.

And thanks to the F Sport package, the GS 200t is very good at stopping. The F Sport package adds larger brakes to each corner, with the front getting 14.4-inch, two-piece rotors and four-piston calipers. Pay $300 and Lexus will paint the calipers orange.

The F Sport package also adds adaptive dampers. These shocks cater the ride to the drive modes, offering a smooth ride in Eco and Normal modes, while Sport and Sport+ have sharpened handling. Summer performance tires are included, too.

Fuel economy isn’t generally a big selling point on a $50,000+ luxury sedan, but the 2017 GS 200t doesn’t disappoint. The EPA estimates it gets 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. Premium fuel is recommended. In my hotshoe driving and idling for photos and in the parent pickup line a the kiddo’s school, I averaged 22.4 mpg over 200 miles.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755913

Drivetrain Specifications

Type, Materials In-line 4-cylinder aluminum block and cylinder heads
Designation 8AR-FTS
Valvetrain DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-iW
Displacement 2.0 liter twin-scroll turbocharged with intercooler (1,998 cc; 120.2 cu. in.)
Bore x Stroke 3.39 in x 3.39 in
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Horsepower (SAE) 241 HP @ 5,800 RPM
Torque 258 LB-FT @ 1,650-4,400 RPM
0-60 mph Acceleration 6.6 seconds
Top Speed 143 mph
Estimated Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined mpg) 22/33/26

Pricing


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755917

The GS 200t is the entry point in to the Lexus GS family. It carries a price of $46,310 for the rear-drive model. Adding the F Sport package pushes the price to $53,980. My tester came with a few á la carte options like a color head-up display for $900, the one-touch power trunk for $400, orange brake calipers for $300, Intuitive Park Assist for $500, illuminated door sills for $425, and a bundled cargo package that includes a trunk mat, cargo net, and wheel locks for $225.

Add in the $975 destination fee, and my tester stickers at $57,735.

The Competition

Cadillac CTS 2.0T


2017 Cadillac CTS - image 703853

Hailing from America, the Cadillac CTS
has been fighting the Germans and Japanese hard since the current version debuted for 2014. Its sleek “art and science” design gives it a unique flair not seen in its rivals. Its low-slung hood and crisp lines still look fresh four years later. The CTS is offered in several trim levels with four engine options. The Caddy’s interior is plush, though not on the Lexus GS’ level. Many complain about the CUE infotainment system’s slider controls for HVAC and radio settings, too. Still, the CTS is a bonafide luxury sedan.

While the CTS-V with its supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 is the most exciting, the most comparable engine to the GS 200t is the Caddy’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine is surprisingly closely matched to the Lexus, offering 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque backed by an eight-speed automatic that powers the rear wheels. AWD is available with the 2.0T, unlike the Lexus, which requires the V-6 to spin all four wheels.

The 2018 Cadillac CTS starts at $47,490 and comes standard with the 2.0-liter. Adding AWD adds $2,000. The mid-level Luxury trim starts at $55,190 and adds several welcomed features like heated and vented leather seating, navigation, a 13-speaker sound system, the UltraView sunroof, ambient interior lighting, and a handful of active safety systems. The Premium Luxury trim starts at $60,690 and adds Magnetic Ride Control, a head-up display, a 360 camera system, and tri-zone air conditioning.

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac CTS 2.0T.

2018 BMW 530i


2017 BMW 5 Series - image 703469

The BMW 5 Series comes in several flavors, including the hybrid 530e iPerformance, the inline-six 540i, the impressive M550i with its twin-turbo V-8, and the mighty M5. For this comparison, though, the 530i with its 2.0-liter turbo-four makes the most sense. Three trim levels are offered, with prices starting at $52,650 – a few grand more than the competition. There is the Sport Line Design, the Luxury Design, and the M Sport Design, the latter of which competes well with the GS’ F Sport package. That pushes the price to $58,000 – only $265 more than my Lexus GS 200t F Sport tester. For even more handling performance, BMW offers the $1,650 Dynamic Handling Package. It includes active dampers, M Sport brakes, and four-wheel steering.

As for that 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the engine makes 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, though BMW’s xDrive AWD system is available.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 5 Series.

Conclusion


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755925

The 2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport might not be the newest or most technologically advanced in its class, but it remains highly competitive and a solid performer. It combination of smooth luxury and aggressive appearance match the four-cylinder’s peppy nature and the F Sport suspension’s ability to handle twisty roads. The only letdowns include some turbo lag, a transmission that takes a second to downshift for acceleration, and an infotainment system that isn’t the most user-friendly and isn’t filled with the latest tech like Apple CarPlay or a 360-degree camera system.

Still, the GS 200t (now called the GS 300 for 2018) makes a fantastic, mild-mannered performance luxury sedan. For those wanting more power, the V-6 offers 311 horsepower and the V-8 brings 467, while the GS 450h combines the V-6 with a hybrid system for slightly better fuel economy at 29 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway.

  • Leave it
    • * Infotainment system needs improvment
    • * Slight turbo lag

References

Lexus GS


2016 Lexus GS - image 640431

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS.


2016 Lexus GS F - image 608999

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS F.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755908

Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car?


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755935

The Lexus GS 200t’s Infotainment System is its Weak Point


How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F - image 756363

How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F


Driven Opinion: How the Lexus GS 200t Compares to the Competition - image 756643

Driven Opinion: How the Lexus GS 200t Compares to the Competition

PostHeaderIcon The Fisker EMotion Is A Four-Door Lamborghini with Butterfly Doors

It’s been around seven years since the Fisker Karma was a still a thing, and Henrik Fisker appears to be back in business with another company. With Fisker Automotive bankrupt since 2013 and the Fisker Karma revived by a Chinese company under a different name, Henrik founded Fisker Inc. in 2016 and set out to develop an all-electric sports car. Less than two years have passed since then, and Fisker unveiled his first automobile in years. It’s called the EMotion, it’s gorgeous to look at, and it has the coolest set of four doors ever created.


The Fisker EMotion Is A Four-Door Lamborghini with Butterfly Doors - image 755946
“We've seen Lambos and McLarens with butterfly doors and Teslas with falcon doors, but the EMotion is probably the first four-door to bring together both designs”

We’ve seen Lambos and McLarens with butterfly doors and Teslas with falcon doors, but the EMotion is probably the first four-door to bring together both designs. It’s also the first production four-door to have unconventional doors (the Model X has regular doors up front). It’s like Fisker took the front half of a Lamborghini and welded it to the rear half of a Model X, and then redesigned the body until it came up with the hottest four-door coupe I’ve seen in years.

Butterfly doors go a long way back. While the Lamborghini Countach is probably the most iconic classic car to sport vertical doors, they were actually used for the first time by Alfa Romeo on the 33 Stradale, launched in 1967. Tesla’s falcon doors aren’t very original either. Mercedes first used them on a production model, the 300 SL “Gullwing,” in 1954 and since then we’ve seen them on a handful of cars, including the Bricklin SV-1 and the DeLorean DMC-12. What I’m trying to say is that Fisker Inc. took two classic design cues and gave them a modern twist on a four-door car. Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly revolutionary, but it’s the hottest thing since the Lambo Countach. Actually, it’s that four-door Lamborghini we’ve been dreaming of since forever.

Fisker Emotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693723

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker Emotion.


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.

PostHeaderIcon Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – Driven

Though the badge says “Hybrid,” the important thing to know about the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid right off the bat is this: It’s actually a PHEV. You plug it in, and it runs on electricity for the first several miles of your day.

As I found during a week at the wheel of the electrified minivan, if you have the right commuting or parking situation, you might find yourself using little or no gasoline.

It’s noteworthy Chrysler is the first automaker to put a PHEV minivan on sale in America. For a brand with only three models in its showroom nowadays, this was an even bigger home run than the non-hybrid Pacifica that birthed it. The hybrid takes a great, competitive minivan and makes it truly special — even buzzworthy.

Best of all, it’s the kind of plug-in vehicle that just makes sense for a huge number of families. It’s not much more expensive than any comparably equipped competitive minivan, yet it gets an EPA-estimated 84 MPGe. It’s remarkable because the Pacifica Hybrid squeezes that kind of efficiency out of a big, practically sized, attractive family hauler instead of a small, weirdly styled car wrought with compromises.

After spending a week with the Pacifica Hybrid, I find myself hoping I see a lot more of them on the roads — and hoping FCA has the good sense to adapt this powertrain to other vehicles we might not normally associate with hybrid efficiency. Chrysler 300? Ram 1500? Jeep Grand Cherokee? All have the potential to be transformed into segment-changing vehicles if they can incorporate the Pacifica’s hybrid system.

Design Notes


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756304
“From the outside, there's little to differentiate the Pacifica Hybrid from other Pacifica minivans”

From the outside, there’s little to differentiate the Pacifica Hybrid from other Pacifica minivans. That’s part of the appeal. You’re not driving some weird-looking special model. Though it does have a Hybrid badge or three, they’re not trying too hard to draw attention to the electrified powertrain.

That said, it’s worth pointing out minivans are a lot less “mini” than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and the Pacifica is no exception. It rides on a 121.6-inch wheelbase and is 203.8 inches long overall. It’s 79.6 inches wide without counting the mirrors. It’s 69.9 inches tall.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756293
“It will haul seven passengers in true comfort, and there's an ample cargo area of 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row”

But Chrysler, like other minivan manufacturers, is giving customers what they want: space. There’s a whopping 165 cubic feet of passenger space inside. It will haul seven passengers in true comfort, and there’s an ample cargo area of 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row — about twice as much cargo space as your typical family sedan. It’s enough to make one wonder why the “crossover” SUV craze is still a thing in America. No SUV has practical, uncompromised space like this. The only compromise made was the second-row seats, which don’t disappear into the floor like non-Hybrid Pacificas. Hey, they had to put the hybrid batteries somewhere.

Chrysler did great work with the exterior of the Pacifica. It has a nose that calls to mind the late Chrysler 200 midsize sedan. The windshield has a lot of sedan-like rake, too. It combines with the low, sloping, sculpted hood, to give driver and front passenger a pretty commanding view of the road. The side view has huge glass area that shrinks a little toward the rear to impart a sense of motion even when the van is parked, plus there’s a bevy of unmistakable character lines and creases. The rear hatch features cleanly integrated taillights and a surprisingly upright, yet narrow, glass.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756311
“It’s not trying to look like a sporty wagon (wink-wink, Honda Odyssey) but it's also not a boring, utilitarian box on wheels.”

My Pacifica Hybrid was Painted Silver Teal, which is probably the easiest way to spot a Hybrid model because it’s a Hybrid-exclusive color. I found the van very attractive. It’s not trying to look like a sporty wagon (wink-wink, Honda Odyssey) but it’s also not a boring, utilitarian box on wheels.

Drive Notes


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756324
“The Pacifica was so much better-engineered that it made me forget all about those previous disappointments”

This was the first time I had driven a mass-market PHEV, and honestly, it changed the way I thought about electrified powertrains.

My previous experience with PHEVs and Hybrids had suggested that both were best suited to city life, where they could make the most of their batteries. But I live in rural Tennessee, where I have to drive 20 miles round-trip just to get to a grocery store or to my office. Hybrids don’t often achieve their EPA fuel economy numbers when I drive them, perhaps thanks to the hills and highways in my part of the country taxing their gasoline engines.

Meanwhile, the couple of premium-brand PHEVs I have sampled in the past did not have sufficient electric range to even get me to town before the gasoline engine kicked in. That was disappointing since one of those PHEVs was a luxury car that cost more than my house, its price tag pumped to such levels mainly thanks to its tiny array of hybrid batteries and a couple of electric motors.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756303
“The electric motors — there are two — make enough power on their own to keep the pace with in-town traffic and even drive 70 mph on the highway for several miles in near-silence”

The Pacifica was so much better-engineered that it made me forget all about those previous disappointments. Why can’t every vehicle have a powertrain this well-done?

Its 33-mile electric range is commonsense stuff, given that the average American drives 29 miles a day. The electric motors — there are two — make enough power on their own to keep the pace with in-town traffic and even drive 70 mph on the highway for several miles in near-silence. There’s not much sound from the motors, and what little sound exists is soon squelched by the unintrusive white noise of wind and tires.

A word on the powertrain arrangement: feeding those electric motors is a 96-cell, 16-kWh battery pack hidden under the second row seats. Chrysler says the two electric motors are set up so that one serves as a primary power unit for the front wheels, and the other is used primarily to regenerate energy when the van is braking or coasting. However, unlike most hybrids, that smaller motor can be summoned to provide a few moments of extra oomph when needed, too.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756320
“I was always able to squeeze about 30 to 35 miles out of the batteries, even when I did a long hill-climb to take my boys to school”

The gasoline half of the powertrain is a highly modified version of FCA’s corporate 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. It makes an estimated 260 total system horsepower when it combines its full efforts with the electric motors. That’s slightly less power than the gasoline-only version of the Pacifica (287 horsepower), but trust me, you don’t miss the power. The instantaneous torque available from the electric motors makes up for it when you need to go deep into the throttle.

This was a surprise: The Pacifica Hybrid largely hit its EPA electric range estimate. I was always able to squeeze about 30 to 35 miles out of the batteries, even when I did a long hill-climb to take my boys to school and the babysitter or when I set the cruise control at 70 mph to travel to the grocery store 20 miles from home.

An even bigger surprise: I was able to drive almost my entire test week on electricity. The Pacifica Hybrid cut my gasoline use by about 75% over the course of a week. Considering the low cost of electricity where I live, the savings over the long term would be tangible. That’s especially true when considering the reduced cost of maintenance over the life of the vehicle. Fewer oil changes would be required because the engine would see relatively little use.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756322
“When the vehicle depletes its all-electric range, it defaults to hybrid mode, which makes the Pacifica Hybrid behave like a big Toyota Prius”

When the vehicle depletes its all-electric range, it defaults to hybrid mode, which makes the Pacifica Hybrid behave like a big Toyota Prius. The gasoline engine kicks in, but the car is always searching for ways to boost efficiency. Anytime it coasts for more than a few seconds, the engine will shut down as the hybrid battery pack receives a boost from regeneration. The engine also stops when the van stops at a traffic light, and will stay in EV mode for a few seconds after takeoff if the driver’s foot doesn’t get too heavy.

Chrysler did a good job of making the engine startup smooth. I barely noticed it when the engine kicked in. And when it did, the instantaneous fuel economy display — perhaps a bit optimistic, I admit — showed nearly 30 MPG in mostly highway driving. Impressive in a sea of 21-22 MPG minivans.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756298
“The 10.1-inch screens were tablet-like touchscreens and featured games like checkers and a modern take on the age-old license plate game”

But beyond the gee-whiz powertrain, how is it to live with the Pacifica Hybrid? In a word, easy. There’s plenty of room for six passengers and their stuff. In my case, I hauled two kids in the back who loved the Pacifica Hybrid’s optional dual-screen rear seat entertainment system. The 10.1-inch screens were tablet-like touchscreens and featured games like checkers and a modern take on the age-old license plate game. They also can play Blu-Ray movies from the disc drive, or you can hook up a couple of players via twin HDMI ports for more direct rear-seat control.

While the second row lost its Stow-’n’-Go capability because of the battery pack under the floor, the third row would easily fold into the floor. And accessing the third row — which was roomy enough for me to be comfortable, at 6’3” — was easy because the second-row seats would tilt forward and slide out of the way with an easy pull of a lever. Nicely done, Chrysler.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756313
“The ride is well-controlled for a big, heavy minivan”

As far as handling? Well, it’s a minivan, so I wasn’t expecting much. But most of the things I liked about the non-Hybrid Pacifica a few months earlier are still here. The ride is well-controlled for a big, heavy minivan. Rough pavement won’t upset the ride too much. The Hybrid’s electric continuously variable transmission is a great addition — smoother and more satisfying than the nine-speed automatic in other Pacificas. Steering feel, to my surprise, was not totally numb.

I ended the week saying I wanted one of these. Coming from a guy who usually says he wants his next car to be something small and weird like a Fiat 500, trust me, that’s high praise.

Competitors

It’s hard to compare the Pacifica Hybrid to other minivans, because so far, at least, nobody else is building a hybrid minivan for America. But with a federal $7,500 tax incentive, the Pacifica Hybrid really isn’t much more expensive than its non-hybrid competitors.

Honda Odyssey


2018 Honda Odyssey - image 718516
“Not surprisingly, it’s fuel economy where the Pacifica Hybrid will win over the Odyssey”

The Honda Odyssey is more sporty-looking than the Chrysler Pacifica, if that matters to you. It won’t really be more sporty to drive. These are minivans, after all.

Honda’s design inside the Odyssey is somewhat more sci-fi than the interior of the Pacifica Hybrid. I find the dashboard design of the new-for-2018 Odyssey less friendly to the eye than the one in the Pacifica Hybrid.

As for passenger and cargo space, it’s more or less a wash. There’s more than 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row seats in the Odyssey, and more than 80 cubic feet if you fold those third-row seats into the floor. Chrysler is not the only minivan manufacturer who knows that party trick nowadays. All three rows of seats are perfectly useful for adult passengers.

Not surprisingly, it’s fuel economy where the Pacifica Hybrid will win over the Odyssey. The Odyssey’s 3.5-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque — slightly more powerful than the 260 combined horsepower of the Pacifica Hybrid’s gas/electric powertrain. But you’re likely to see about 19 MPG city, 28 MPG highway, 22 MPG combined in the Odyssey, according to the EPA. If you’re comparing it to other non-hybrid minivans, that’s perfectly competitive. In fact, that’s what the regular Pacifica gets in EPA testing, too. But the Pacifica Hybrid’s 84 MPGe crushes that.

Odyssey can have a slight edge in price. The Pacifica Hybrid starts at $39,995. Take the $7,500 federal tax incentive and any state tax incentives into account before running the numbers, though. Where I live in Tennessee, we don’t have any state tax breaks for buying plug-in hybrid vehicles, but the federal incentive still lowers the net cost to $32,495. That’s a little more than the sub-$30,000 base Odyssey (starting price $29,990). But considering the fuel you might save, the difference isn’t large.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Odyssey.

Toyota Sienna


2018 Toyota Sienna - image 711154
“The Sienna has something no other minivan has in America at the time of this writing: all-wheel drive”

Toyota’s Sienna has aged a lot since the “Swagger Wagon” days. Other than the government fleet queen Dodge Grand Caravan, it’s the oldest minivan design on sale today.

But for some people, that much-respected Toyota reliability is a big selling point — especially when you’re comparing it against Chrysler, who hasn’t had the best reliability record where minivans are concerned.

The Sienna recently got a design refresh that mostly affected its face, with a slightly more aggressive front grille trim serving to give the van another year or two of relevancy before a total redesign, which I hope is coming soon for this aging platform. Inside got a few nice updates, too, including Toyota’s Entune 3.0 infotainment system that is a little easier to use and more up-to-date with the latest technologies. However, Toyota’s Entune still lacks Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability that Chrysler is starting to sneak into its Uconnect infotainment systems of late.

Like the Odyssey, the Sienna loses on fuel consumption to the Pacifica Hybrid. That’s not a completely fair comparison, but being that it’s the Pacifica Hybrid’s primary selling point, it bears repeating.

However, the Sienna has something no other minivan has in America at the time of this writing: all-wheel drive. If you want it, you can buy a Sienna that drives all four wheels when required. You’ll pay more at purchase time, and there’s a slight penalty in fuel economy, but if you live where snow is a regular feature of winter, it may very well be worth the additional cost.

Other advantages of the Sienna include easier-to-use child anchors and tethers, which you’ll appreciate if you have to move a baby seat in and out of the van frequently, and more cargo room than Pacifica behind the third row (39.1 cubic feet vs. the Pacifica’s 32.3 cubic feet.)

Overall, I find the Chrysler Pacifica — Hybrid or not — more comfortable. And it has better safety equipment by virtue of its more recent design. But the Sienna has definite appeal where practicality and value are concerned.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Sienna.

Kia Sedona


2015 Kia Sedona - image 548812
“The Sedona gets the worst fuel economy in the minivan segment, too, with EPA ratings of 18 MPG city, 24 MPG highway.”

The Kia Sedona came back after a brief hiatus a couple of years ago, so it is more up-to-date than the Toyota Sienna. And, true to form, Kia offers one of the strongest value propositions in the segment if your primary concern is price: The base Sedona starts about $2,000 cheaper than a base Pacifica.

Sedona does well with safety ratings, just like the Pacifica. And it offers competitive space for passengers and cargo. There’s slightly more of both in the Kia, in fact.

But where the Sedona disappoints is in its handling and powertrain. The Kia’s 3.3-liter V6 feels rougher and less-refined than Chrysler’s — doubly so when compared to the Pacifica Hybrid. Its handling is ponderous and feels awkward when hustled or when trying to navigate tight parking lots. The Pacifica feels much nicer to drive, Hybrid or not.

The Sedona gets the worst fuel economy in the minivan segment, too, with EPA ratings of 18 MPG city, 24 MPG highway.

But the pricing is what wins people over to Sedona. Kia dealers tend to be very discount-happy, and some comparison outlets show the base Sedona L regularly selling below $20,000. The difference in price buys a lot of gasoline.

I’m watching with interest to see whether Kia starts adopting its hybrid drive system to more of its models based on the early success of the Niro Hybrid. A plug-in Niro Hybrid is just coming to market at the time of this writing, and could easily lend some of its powertrain design to the Sedona to make a Chrysler competitor.

But that’s something Toyota could easily do, too, based on the preponderance of Prius hybrids and PHEVs it has sold in recent years. And despite persistent rumors that a Sienna Hybrid is “just around the corner,” it has yet to materialize. Will Kia beat Toyota to the punch to become the second hybrid minivan for sale in America? Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure, though: Kia learns quickly. Who would have thought the Soul would be the last of the subcompact boxcars to survive — and that it would survive because it’s nicer to drive, with better features and performance than the other players in that segment? Who would have said, five or 10 years ago, that the brand would build the Niro, one of the most buzzworthy hybrids and PHEVS in the industry?

Read our full review on the 2017 Kia Sedona.

Conclusion


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756312

Chrysler did a great thing when it put a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Pacifica. I already liked the Pacifica based on my test drive of the non-Hybrid version. But the Pacifica Hybrid made me fall in love.

This is the kind of practical PHEV America needs. It is my sincere hope that the auto industry takes the lessons learned in the Pacifica Hybrid and applies them to more vehicles in more segments. I didn’t realize how little gasoline I would need, even with a relatively modest 33-mile electric range.

What if a next-gen Pacifica Hybrid has a 50-mile electric range thanks to improved battery chemistry? Or what if Chrysler puts a big lump of batteries in the hole where the engine goes and gives us a 300-mile range on a Pacifica EV someday? The future is looking exciting.

If you’re shopping for a family hauler, I cannot recommend this enough: Test drive a Pacifica Hybrid. For about the price of a midsize or large crossover SUV, you can have a much more practical vehicle that will slash your gasoline expenses.

My tester had an MSRP of $47,885. The federal tax incentive would bring my net cost down to just a shade over $40,000. That’s a pretty strong deal in a world where it’s easy to find yourself shopping GMC Acadias or Nissan Pathfinders that often sell for around $40K with a few options.

It’s simple, really: The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid just makes sense.

Disclosure: Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel — of which I used only a couple of gallons — for this review.

References

Chrysler Pacifica


2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - image 662017

Read our full review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

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