Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Cadillac XT4 – Driven

Back in 2018, Cadillac finally decided that it was tired of missing out on sales in the compact SUV market and launched the XT4. This compact crossover was designed to compete against the best in the market, including the BMW X1, Mercedes GLC, Infiniti QX50, and Lexus NX, among others. Now that the XT4 has been on the market for well over a year, we decided it was time to get behind the wheel and see how it really holds up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem to hold water against models from BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t compete in the market at all. This means there are a lot of questions to answer: How does the Cadillac XT4 drive, does it have enough passenger space, and what about cargo room? What models does the XT4 actually compete against? Well, we spent a week with the XT4, and we’re here to answer all those questions and more . This is what we’ve learned after spending a week with Cadillac’s latest compact crossover.

PostHeaderIcon Infiniti QX50 – Driven

Infiniti was early to what has become one of the industry’s hottest market segments: the compact luxury crossover. The 2008 EX35 was much more of a car than an SUV, a slightly elevated, slightly roomier version of the acclaimed G35 sports sedan. Infiniti bet big that buyers would sacrifice utility for performance — and it bet wrong. Despite beating most competitors to the market, and even after numerous upgrades over the years (including a longer wheelbase and a name change to QX50), it never made a splash. Later arrivals were able to emulate the more successful compact luxury crossovers and avoid Infiniti’s mistakes.

So not surprisingly, for its first full redesign in more than a decade, the 2019 Infiniti QX50 similarly gravitates toward the class norm. It became taller and wider, adopting more SUV-like proportions. It switched from a V6 engine and a rear-wheel-drive platform to a turbocharged four-cylinder and front-wheel-drive (still with optional all-wheel-drive). All of that mirrors such top rivals as the Acura RDX, Lexus NX, and Cadillac XT4, though a few other competitors still have rear-wheel-drive roots.

But beyond being merely typical, the QX50 is decidedly ordinary as well. It checks general boxes for the luxury crossover class without managing to dazzle. It neither fun and sporty nor vault-like in its serenity. Its infotainment isn’t cutting-edge. It has advanced engineering behind its variable-compression engine, but the real-world effect is less notable.

To be sure, calling a luxury car “ordinary” compared to its peers is no great insult. That means it’s meeting the high standards of its class, even if it doesn’t exceed them. So if you’re looking for a comfortable, quiet, respectably spacious, and generally easy-to-drive small luxury crossover, the QX50 is one of many potentially attractive choices. Prices start at $37,645 including destination change.

PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Elantra Sport – Driven

The Hyundai Elantra isn’t exactly a spring chicken, being on the market for two decades as of 2020. Over the years, it’s gone through five generational shifts, with the most recent taking place in 2015 with a major facelift happening in 2019. The Elantra of today is completely different than the car it once was and has moved on from its econobox roots into all-new territory where its design and driving dynamics can compete with great authority over the models it competes with, including the Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze, and even the Volkswagen Jetta. These days, the range-topping model in the lineup is the Elantra Sport, and we’ve been wondering just how sporty it really is. Well, we’ve finally had a chance to spend some time with it, and this is our experience.

PostHeaderIcon Driving the New Jeep Wrangler JL on a Harsh Off-Road Course Is a Confidence Boosting Experience

The newJeep Wrangler JL has been around for some time but we had the chance to put it to (hard) work where it belongs the most: that is, way off the beaten path. So we were handed a couple of Wrangler JL Saharas and encouraged to roam freely on an obstacle course that made sure neither we or the cars had it easy. Here’s what we can report in the wake of this off-roading experience.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Prius – Driven

Every morning when I get to work, I wind my way up to the roof of a six-story parking garage. And every evening, I wind my way back down. It’s a good half-mile round trip at plodding speeds. In a normal car, I watch the trip computer’s fuel economy readout tick down as I circle round and round through the garage. But in the 2019 Toyota Prius, I can go all of the way down and even most of the way up using purely electric power — burning no gas at all.

That’s the beauty of a well-executed hybrid: It often uses the least gas in circumstances where normal cars would use the most: Bumper-to-bumper traffic, neighborhoods with a four-way stop at every corner, or crowded parking lots. As long as you keep a gentle touch on the throttle — and in these conditions, there’s no reason not to — you can watch your mileage rise rather than fall. And this isn’t a plug-in hybrid that costs more and requires charging infrastructure; the Prius’s battery recharges as you drive normally, capturing energy from the gasoline engine and braking friction.

To be sure, the Prius hatchback is hardly the only hybrid on the market on which such technology achieves similar results. The Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, Kia Niro wagon/crossover, and the Honda Insight sedan are all newer designs than the current Prius, which dates back to 2016. There’s even an all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which puts the Prius mechanicals in the body of a brand-new sedan. All these models rival or even beat the Prius’s EPA fuel economy ratings, and they all cost a little less; the 2019 Prius starts at $24,725. But the Prius still has the best blend of real-world utility and efficiency. It’s impressively spacious, and it’s more willing to putter around with its gasoline engine shut off than the Honda, Hyundai or Kia are.

Toyota has added another unique strength for 2019: a class-exclusive all-wheel-drive system, which is optional equipment on certain Prius trim levels. The car’s controversial exterior design also got a makeover this year, though its equally contentious interior design (and aging infotainment system) did not. Nor did it get a horsepower boost to address complaints about leisurely acceleration. Let’s go through the full rundown on how the iconic hybrid fares in today’s marketplace.

PostHeaderIcon BMW M340i – Driven

BMW Introduced the seventh-generation G20 3 Series for the 2019 model year and with it came a new design language, update engines, and some features from models like the 5 Series and X5, among others. To top all this off, it’s also just a bit larger and more aggressive than the seven-year-old F30 3 Series that it replaced. We didn’t get a chance to run the new 3 Series prototype around the track on the original pre-release test days, so we’ve been itching to see just how much better new the 3 Series is and whether or not all that new technology and new driving dynamics live up to the hype. So, we started reaching out in hopes of getting our hands on a new 3 Series tester, and BMW delivered. In fact, it delivered so well, that we got to spend a week with none other than the new 2020 BMW M340i – the best model you can get without going full-on M.

So, is the M340i really a poor man’s M3? Does it really compete against the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 or the Audi S5 Sportback? Does the M340i really deserve its time in the limelight? Well, after a week of a weird, love-hate affair with the 2020 BMW M340i, we have answers to all these questions and more. Here’s our experience….

PostHeaderIcon 2020 Ferrari F8 Spider – Quirks and Facts

Although somewhat overshadowed by the reveal of the last front-engined V-12 Ferrari convertible – the 812 GTS – the new Ferrari F8 Spider still enchanted the right people. Largely favorable reactions to its exterior appearance demonstrate that Ferrari Design Studio knows a thing or two about design even without the help from Pininfarina. Interestingly enough, neither the 812 nor the F8 Spider wore the trademark Rosso Corsa color at their reveal, but they have still picked up a lot of publicity.

The F8 Spider, despite gorgeous, isn’t exactly a lot different compared to the F8 Tributo. The only notable change is, of course, the removable hardtop that stows under the rear tonneau cover in 14 seconds. It needs the same time to fold like the one in the Ferrari 812 GTS.

PostHeaderIcon Here’s a List of Cool Cars You Can Get for the Price of the $33,000 Baby Bugatti II

As a special 110th anniversary gift to itself and its customers, Bugatti revealed the super-cool Bugatti Baby II. It is a small kids’ toy that also honors the past and the birth of the first Bugatti Baby, produced back in 1926.

The new one is, however, a bit more than a toy. Based on top of the design of the Bugatti Type 35 from the 1920s, the Baby II is a modern, three-quarter-size interpretation of the most successful racing car in history. Bugatti needed three weeks to sell all the build slots and allocations for the Baby II, because that is the world we live in. I mean, if you have the Chiron, it is only reasonable to have a $33,000 official Bugatti toy as well. Interestingly enough, the 500 units of the Bugatti Baby II cost almost as much as one Bugatti La Voiture Noire.

All in all, this ghastly expensive toy gave me something to think about – I wonder just what kind of real, cool cars you can buy for the price of one Bugatti Baby II. Here’s the list.

PostHeaderIcon Ford Mustang GT

The Ford Mustang has a rich history that dates all the way back to the 1962 Ford Mustang I two-seater concept. It wasn’t until mid-1964 that it was introduced in production form (just two weeks after Plymouth introduced the first Barracuda) and has been in production ever since, with the sixth-generation model, the model you see here, being introduced in 2015. For one reason or another, we haven’t had a chance to get our hands on a sixth-gen model, but all that has changed now, and we happened to be graced with the 2019 Ford Mustang GT Convertible. With the bright green pony car sitting in our parking lot, we couldn’t wait to drive it. And, despite the fact that we had a whole week to get acquainted, we got right to putting the GT Convertible, and its 5.0-liter V-8 to the test.

Does it compete well with the Chevy Camaro Convertible? What about, on the other end of the spectrum, the BMW 4 Series Cabriolet? Well, this is our experience and what we thought about it. Strap in folks, this is going to be one long ride.

PostHeaderIcon Cool Quirks About The New Ferrari 812 GTS

Just a day after the first Ferrari F1 Scuderia win at Monza since 2010, the Maranello-based car producer revealed two astonishing open-top cars. The elite of the world got a chance to buy, or the hope they’ll be able to buy the V-12 powered 812 GTS and the F8 Spider. Interestingly enough, the F8, as a mid-engine, V-8 powered Spider captures the essence of Ferrari’s future.

On the other hand, the 812 GTS, as the first production V-12 powered, front-engined open-top Ferrari in almost fifty years, is the one that wholeheartedly captures the essence of the brand. With an overpowered V-12 that develops 790 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, and a roof that opens in 14 seconds, the 812 GTS is a swan song. The Ferrari 812 GTS may well be the last new V-12 powered open-top car we ever see. This alone makes it far more appealing than any other open-top car on the market.

PostHeaderIcon Peugeot 508 Allure 2.0 BlueHDi 180 S&S EAT8 Driven

It was 2010 when the rules changed after two Peugeot models were killed off: the 607, which was almost completely based on the 605 model from 1989, and the 407, which seemed like it was roaming between segments in an attempt to get into the wallets of two social strata. It wasn’t like Peugeot roamed around wearing blindfolds, though. This was more of an attempt at creating a global trend founded on personal identity; however, Peugeot couldn’t find its ground when it came to cars whose length was more than 4,5 meters (177 inches).

Mind you, Peugeot wasn’t the only one, as similar strategies were employed by Volvo, Renault, and even Ford. And then they were back with another attempt – one car that would be interesting to those in need of a spacious family car, but also those who were in search for a business saloon or the second best thing at least. As the wheelbase for the 607 was 2.800 mm (110.23 in), and 2.725 mm (107.28 in) for the 407, Peugeot found itself in uncharted territories in 2010 given that its 508 (albeit shorter than the 607), had a wheelbase of 2.817 mm.

So, the two generations of the 508 model found its way to more than 400,000 buyers in Europe alone. Despite steadily declining sales figures, Peugeot wasn’t ready to euthanize the model. Instead, the company decided to cut the administrative costs, and adequately entice its designers and engineers. They came up with a new product and Peugeot revealed it in March 2018 at the Geneva International Auto Show as the new 508.

PostHeaderIcon Porsche Taycan Quirks and Features

The problem with small craft beer companies isn’t about the quality of their products or the innovation behind it. It is about the scale. When the demand picks up, they cannot deliver – the quality goes down, and waiting time goes up. That is why not many alcohol drink representatives want to work with small scale craft beer producers. I am telling you this because we have something similar in the car world as well. When the demand picked up for the Tesla-produced cars, the company could not meet the expectations. No matter what it did. So, when a car like the Porsche Taycan comes to the market, it is a whole different story. It has Porsche and the entire Volkswagen Group behind it. These people do meet expectations, and these are all the quirks and features you need to know about the Taycan to believe it.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 AMG Line – Driven

Mercedes has really improved the CLA sedan in its second generation. It looks better, it’s considerably more comfortable and it packs even more tech than before too. It’s not quite perfect, but given how sleek and fancy it looks, you won’t have troubles forgiving the few flaws that it does have.

You’ll definitely notice the all-new interior, which is basically the same as in all current compact Mercedes models. It’s such a big improvement over the so-so interior of its predecessor and higher-spec examples now feel properly posh inside – this was never the case with the first generation CLA, whose interior was lackluster by Mercedes standards, whichever way you specced it.

However, while the exterior and interior pack quite a visual punch, what’s happened under the CLA’s skin is equally significant – whereas the previous model had a jarring ride and may have felt overly-sharp to some drivers, this new CLA has a softer, slightly more relaxed edge to it. It still feels sporty, but it doesn’t punish you for it like the old car did.

My tester was a 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 with the AMG Line pack and it felt really special to be in. Sure, maybe the €15,000 worth of extras it had on it helped seal the deal, but I was able to channel them out and focus on the core experience – and it was still good, still compelling and overall a solid car, even while ignoring the bells and whistles.

PostHeaderIcon Land Rover Range Rover Sport – Driven

Despite offering one of the most premium cabins in its SUVs, Land Rover is still not recalled as a luxurious brand. It is, however, synonymous with reliable, tough off-roaders. But, if you have spent some time with any of the latest models, you will realize that the brand has come a long way in terms of spoiling and pampering the customer. It can give the big three Germans a tough fight in this aspect. And the Land Rover Range Rover Sport further strengthens this faith. Just like any other model in its lineup, the Range Rover Sport will definitely age gracefully and blend well with the upcoming new crop of EVs that look like they belong to another planet. But is the Range Rover Sport all about the aesthetics and luxuriousness? We laid our hands on it and our answer is…of course not!

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes V300d – Driven

Mercedes pitches the V-Class (known as the Metris in North America) as a cavernous van that can cater for both people and cargo carrying duties. And because it is a Mercedes, the passenger versions can be specced up to an almost unbelievable level, with comfort and luxury features you’d normally associate with the brand’s flagship S-Class sedan, or one of their other top-tier models.

The V-Class was recently lightly facelifted, but the refresh is so light that it’s clear Mercedes thought it was already quite good as it was. On the outside, the facelift only changed the front bumpers you can have on your V, depending on which version you opt for, as well as four all-new wheel designs that range in size from 17 to 19 inches – that’s it.

But Mercedes wasn’t sloppy in its effort to improve the V-Class (which in its third and current generation was introduced in 2014) and it mainly concentrated on improving its interior. For Europe, Mercedes swapped out the older 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel available in several states of tune, replacing it with a new (and better) 2.0-liter that is just better in every single way.

My tester was a V300d, motivated by the new four-pot oil-burner in its most powerful guise, in Avantgarde trim and with the AMG Line pack fitted on. The latter transforms the look of the big V, especially since it swaps out the front bumper for a sportier looking one that is as aggressive as on any other AMG pack-equipped Mercedes. Essentially, it adds an AMG pack-specific grille and AMG pack-specific rims (in this case seven-twin-spoke 19-inch rims that have a silver-black two-tone finish and they really match the vehicle’s silver paint).

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster – Driven

When you see one on the street, you can’t stop staring. The long hood, the aggressive nose with the classic-looking grille, the big wheels hiding sizeable brakes and the short tail. It’s got all the ingredients of a Gran Turismo built by the book and, in Roadster trim, it offers limitless headroom for those endless summer days.

The AMG GT is everything the SLS was plus some more and the AMG GT C Roadster is the most powerful and fastest AMG GT with a drop-top that you can get Stateside for now, as no GT S Roadster is offered for the 2019 model year. Still, with 550 horsepower and a top speed that comes perilously close to 200 mph, it’s hard to see why you’d want more. The good news is that, in spite of all of the muscle, the AMG GT C Roadster still offers all the refinement you’d expect coming from a product of the Mercedes house.

If you want to enjoy the best that Affalterbach’s got to offer, you can’t go wrong with the Mercedes-AMG GT, the two-door sports car from the brand with the three-pointed star that’s ready to take on all of the GTs on the market, including the 911, the Corvette, and the Audi R8 – and do it with an added dose of style. Yes, the gullwing doors that made the SLS feel extra special are no more but let’s not forget Lamborghini isn’t offering scissor doors on all its models either – and you can hardly complain when behind the wheel of one. The chassis is on point, as is the paddle-controlled automatic transmission that helps you get from naught to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. We tested one to see if the $34,150 price gap between the standard AMG GT Roadster and the C version is worth it. Read on to find out.

PostHeaderIcon 2020 Bugatti Centodieci Quirks and Features

After the no-compromise racing machine called Divo and the ultimate expression of exclusivity known as the La Voiture Noire, Bugatti revealed yet another special vehicle – the Centodieci. Crafted to catch the imagination of the most enthusiastic Bugatti connoisseur, the Centodieci comes to match the uncompromised performance of the Divo, with style reminiscent of the well-known Bugatti from the nineties – the EB110. Not only did Bugatti imagine the car to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the company, but it also walked a path that honors a supercar that was at the pinnacle of car design in the nineties. These are cool facts and features you simply have to know about the Bugatti Centodieci.

PostHeaderIcon 10 Highly Anticipated Cars That Were Complete Let-Downs

There’s a saying in the auto industry that “every new idea is a good idea.” There’s a kernel of truth in that because the best and most popular cars are all born from ideas. But there’s a flip side to that saying, too. Just because every new idea is a good idea, it doesn’t mean that these good ideas end up as good products. Time and again, we’ve seen automakers take a promising concept and lose the plot completely when the production version comes out. Every company has experienced something along these lines, but we’ve singled out ten vehicles that serve as the best examples of highly anticipated cars that turned out to be let-downs. Granted, some of these vehicles had their moments in the sun, but those moments were fleeting. In the end, we all remember them for what they could’ve been. They’re not necessarily lemons, but they still leave a sour taste in our mouths.

PostHeaderIcon Does the 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette Stingray 1LT have an Alarm or Not?

The fleet ordering guide for the 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette has finally surfaced and it’s told us a lot about Chevy’s next-generation halo car. Over a total of 36 pages, we’ve learned that there are three trim levels – 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT – while the list of standard and available options is rather extensive. As I was going over all 36 pages, something I noticed was a small block toward the end that made it appear that the entry-level Stingray 1LT doesn’t isn’t even available with a theft-deterrent system – the theft deterrent sensors for vehicle inclination and interior movement are also unavailable for the 1LT. All three are standard on the other trims, so what gives? Is the 1LT Stingray really landing into showrooms without a stock alarm system?

I have to admit that I’m rather disturbed by this and even made a few social media posts to express my discord toward Chevy for doing such a thing. The truth is, though, I was wrong and missed one vital entry across 36 pages of RPO codes, features, and options. Let me explain…

PostHeaderIcon The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is a New Life Line for the Chevy Camaro – Here Are 5 Reasons Why

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It’s safe to say that Chevrolet accomplished what it initially set out to do with the all-new Chevrolet Corvette C8. The move to make the next-generation Corvette a mid-engine performance car has so far been met with positive reviews. The reactions are still fluid and will remain fluid for at least a few more years, but as far as the initial salvo’s concerned, the Bowtie nailed this one out of the park. Unfortunately, this is no time for celebration for Chevy because it has another important decision on its hands regarding the fate of its other iconic performance nameplate: the Camaro muscle car. Unless you’ve been consumed with anything and everything about the Corvette C8, there are rumors that Chevy is killing the Camaro yet again. Development for a seventh-generation Camaro started, but the automaker decided to cancel the program and stretch this generation’s life a few more years until it fades off into the sunset. It would be a very undignified way for the Camaro to go, but what if — of all things — the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 comes in and saves the Camaro from getting its head chopped off. It’d make for a great story, sure, but there are legitimate reasons — we thought of five of them — why it could happen, too.

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