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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Tesla Seems to Think that Trucks are Supercars, and It’s Wrong!

500-mile range towing 80,000 pounds

After years of rumors and speculation that Tesla might build a pickup truck or a Semi, the electric car manufacturer finally unveiled the latter in a press conference that also revealed the second-generation Roadster. And just as it happened in the past with the Model S, Model X, and Model 3, Elon Musk made some spectacular claims about the performances of both vehicles. Actually, I’d dare say he went farther than usual by calling the next Roadster the “quickest production car ever made. Period.” He also described the semi truck as a vehicle that “accelerates like nothing else.” Granted, both claims can become reality, but maybe Musk is talking a bit too much a bit too soon. And it seems to me that he’s considering the semi a sports car rather than truck that’s supposed to haul stuff the efficient way.

Sure, the fact that this truck won’t use expensive diesel to move about enables Tesla to think about other factors, including performance, but I still don’t get why a truck must accelerate like “nothing else.” Should it be about a truck that brakes like nothing else or an electric hauler that allows you to cover at least the same distance as a diesel truck on a tank of fuel? Musk also seems to be concerned about that fact that truckers must wait for 15 minutes while the tank gets filled at the gas station. Seriously now, have you heard of a trucker who fell asleep at the pump while his tank was gulping diesel? Trucks are high maintenance; I’m pretty sure a semi driver has plenty of chores to do at the gas stations.

More importantly, Musk ignored a few important facts about trucks in his speech.

Continue reading to find out what.

Trucks Need to Break


Tesla Debuts New Semi Truck - image 745865
“A vehicle that catches speed pretty fast needs to be able to come to a stop too, right?”

Musk brags that the semi-truck will be able to hit 60 mph in five seconds. That’s quicker than a lot of sports cars out there and definitely impressive. But what about braking? A vehicle that catches speed pretty fast needs to be able to come to a stop too, right? Trucks aren’t exactly impressive when it comes to braking, mostly because they’re quite heavy. A loaded trailer, which can weight up to 80,000 pounds, needs around 600 feet to stop from 60 mph. That’s an issue when another driver suddenly decided to change lanes or stop in front of you. So why is Must focusing on acceleration instead of ways to not turn cars in front of you into scrap metal? Marketing? Sure, I get that, but again, we’re talking trucks, not sports cars. It’s about shipping the goods in one piece, not just fast. There are airplanes for that.

What’s more, while a 400-mile range is darn impressive for an electric car, it won’t get you very far in a truck. All told, at least at first, Tesla’s semi will make a name for itself in short distance, stop-and-go traffic hauling. Think of carrying containers inside ports or to local distribution centers. These jobs do not require tremendous speed or insane acceleration. They require good maneuvrability, good visibility, and a battery that doesn’t overheat.

What’s with the Sports Car Cockpit?


2019 Tesla Semi - image 746093
“Why is this truck fitted with a center-mounted driver seat?”

Speaking of visibility, why is this truck fitted with a center-mounted driver seat? How is this practical? It certainly doesn’t improve visibility since a normally positioned seat is already a few feet above traffic. I’ve never driven a truck, but I’m pretty sure this positioning of the driver’s seat makes it difficult to look around the trucks in front. It’s like overtaking without knowing what is in the lane you want to use for a pass. I know technology evolves at a rapid pace and drivers need to adapt, but some things are better left unchanged, and the seating position in a semi truck is one of them. No side mirrors is another thing I could put on the “this doesn’t look right” list, but I guess the screens could do the job. It really depends on where the cameras are placed around the truck, though. The big problem here is that many drivers would rather lean out of the truck to watch the trailer as they back up, so it will be interesting to see Tesla’s solution to such complaints. The trucks we saw in the presentation simply can’t go into production like that.

References

Tesla Semi


2019 Tesla Semi - image 746088

Read our full review on the 2019 Tesla Semi.



Read more Tesla news.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 GMC Terrain’s E-Shifter Isn’t That Bad

When the 2018 GMC Terrain debuted at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, the automotive press took a collective gasp at the push-button shifter design GMC tried selling as “intuitive.” I even wrote an op-ed titled “Really GMC? This Shifter Idea Is Lame!” Needless to say I wasn’t impressed. Well, this week has the all-new 2018 GMC Terrain in my driveway and I have to admit it – the E-shifter isn’t as terrible as I expected it to be.

The buttons are logically arranged in the familiar PRNDL order, so there is no guessing at gear locations. Park is by far the simplest to engage. Just push the large button. Reverse and Drive are selected by pulling the toggle switch with a curved finger. Neutral and Low (which should really be labeled M for manual) are activated by pushes, as well. In manual mode, the (-) and (+) buttons do the obvious to the nine-speed automatic transmission.

Keep reading for more on the 2018 GMC Terrain’s E-Shifter.

In Practice

“I’ve found the E-Shifter doesn’t require extra brainpower to operate, but does require my eyes”

I’ve found the E-Shifter doesn’t require extra brainpower to operate, but does require my eyes. That would change the more I get used to where the buttons are located. Admittedly, the E-Shifter also frees up significant room in the center console yet doesn’t resort to the old-school column shift lever.

Still, the E-Shifter has its faults. I’ve found that prematurely pressing park before I’m completely stopped (maybe 1 or 2 mph) will still activate Park. At least GMC saves its transmission by simultaneously slamming on the front brakes. A better solution would to completely lock out the button until the Terrain is completely stopped.


The 2018 GMC Terrain's E-Shifter Isn't That Bad - image 744352
“Trying to control the transmission manually via the tiny -/+ buttons is laughably dumb”

Worse yet, trying to control the transmission manually via the tiny -/+ buttons is laughably dumb. Don’t even think about being all Fast & Furious trying to hot-rod the transmission – though the nine-speed gearbox almost has enough gears to be in the movies. Lastly, I can’t imagine how grimy the crevices behind the Reverse and Drive buttons will be after 100,000 miles. Seems like it would be hard to clean, too.

Still, even with its flaws, the E-Shifter isn’t all that bad. That’s something I’m happy about since I really do like the rest of the 2018 Terrain. Stick around for more stories on focused topics on the GMC’s all-new crossover.

References

GMC Terrain


2018 GMC Terrain - image 700491

Read our full review on the 2018 GMC Terrain.



Read more GMC news.

PostHeaderIcon Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Hypercars?

Last week, at the 2017 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Hennessey revealed the Venom F5, challenging the top echelon of the performance world with 1,600 horsepower and 1,300 pound-feet of torque from a mid-mounted, twin-turbo, 7.4-liter V-8. Stuffed into a lightweight carbon fiber shell, the Venom F5 promises over 300 mph at the top end, which, if achieved, would set an incredible new world record. Just a decade ago, something like this would have made some serious waves, but these days, a 300-mph, $1.6 million hypercar just feels like the natural progression of things, the inevitable result of a segment that’s practically overflowing with options.

Don’t get me wrong – the Hennessey Venom F5 is still absolutely a very big deal, especially if it can pull off that magical top speed run the Texas-based speed shop is bragging about. However, as the latest in a long line of incredible hypercars, the F5 is a bit lost in the shuffle. Just in the past few years, we’ve seen the introduction of the Bugatti Chiron, the Koenigsegg Regera, the Zenvo TS1, the Aston Martin Valkyrie, and the Mercedes-AMG Project One, among many, many others. Even all-electrics are getting in on the action, like the Rimac Concept_One. Each offers absurd power, rocketship-esque technology, and mind-boggling speed.

Which begs the question – is there such a thing as too many hypercars?

Continue reading for the full story.

Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Hypercars?

How’d We Get Here?


2006 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 - image 287563

Note: The model that kicked off the modern hypercar era: the Bugatti Veyron.

If we trace the modern hypercar era back to its roots, we’ll eventually end up at this – the Bugatti Veyron. Introduced in the early-2000’s, the Veyron was an absolute game changer, rocking a spec sheet unlike anything the world had ever seen. For example, output comes from an 8.0-liter, quad-turbo, W-16 engine, with nearly 1,000 horsepower on tap from the long skinny pedal. Top speed clocks in at 253 mph.

Nothing before the Veyron ever came close to matching it. You could argue that the legendary McLaren F1’s 240-mph top speed is the only real exception, although 627 horsepower seems like a pittance these days.

The next big change arrived in 2013, when Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche released three hybrid hypercars at nearly simultaneous intervals. Dubbed the LaFerrari, P1, and 918 Spyder respectively, these machines opened up the possibilities for even more power, and slowly but steadily, output figures began climbing above the four-figure mark.


2015 Koenigsegg One:1 - image 721120

Note: The venerable Koenigsegg One:1.

The Koenigsegg One:1 was yet another milestone, packing one horsepower for every kilogram of weight to achieve an incredible one-to-one power-to-weight ratio.

So now we’re almost done with 2017, and the hypercar segment shows no signs of slowing down.

What’s A Modern Hypercar?


2019 Hennessey Venom F5 - image 742051

Note: The Hennessey Venom F5: next stop, 300 mph?

To answer the question asked by the title, let’s first analyze what a hypercar is supposed to be. To begin, it’s gotta be fast. Like cartoonishly fast, the sort of fast usually reserved for vehicles you keep in a hangar, not a garage. It’s not so much about whether or not you’ll actually use that speed, it’s about the potential that lies in wait. Bragging rights are paramount here.

Next up, a hypercar must offer some sort of advanced technology or feature to advance the breed and make it stand out, such as the F1-derived engine spec in the Mercedes-AMG Project One, or the aero trickery in the Ferrari LaFerrari. It could even be something as simple as the top speed focus of the Hennessey Venom F5, with a reduced curb weight and less drag, plus monumental levels of power.


2014 Ferrari LaFerrari - image 496584
“A hypercar should be fast – the kind of fast usually reserved for vehicles you keep in a hangar, not a garage.”

Finally, a hypercar has to have the right aesthetic, with head-turning lines and a presence that looks like three times the speed limit while parked. And oh yeah – it should be expensive, too.

You mix all that together, and you got yourself a genuine hypercar on your hands.

Why So Many Hypercars These Days?


2020 Mercedes-AMG Project One - image 730644

Formula 1 tech for the street: the Mercedes-AMG Project One.

Long story short, the exponential growth we’ve seen in the hypercar segment as of late can be attributed to three major factors. The first is a revolution in automotive technology – following the release of the Veyron, 1,000 horsepower in a street car didn’t just become a possibility, it became both useable and reliable as well. Add in hybrid components, and four figures could even be relatively efficient.

Secondly, there’s a lot of very rich people in the world today, and their numbers are continuing to rise. Back in March, Forbes published an article on 195 new entries to its list of billionaires for 2017, while CNBC published a piece reporting that as of the end of 2016, there were a record-breaking 10.8 million millionaires in the U.S., 400,000 more than in 2015. That’s a lot of disposable income flying around, which means there’s plenty of folks that can afford to drop seven-figures on a toy.


2018 Aston Martin AM-RB 001 - image 722966
“There’s a lot of disposable income flying around, which means there’s plenty of folks that can afford to drop seven-figures on a toy.”

Finally, with looming concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and internal combustion efficiency, sports cars are becoming more and more of a luxury item. As such, the majority are being pushed to the margins of the industry, namely towards the top of the pricing pyramid.

You Still Haven’t Answered The Question…


2018 Apollo Intensa Emozione - image 743482

The carbon beauty that is the Apollo Intensa Emozione.

Is there such a thing as too many hypercars?

At this point, I don’t think so. Just so long as we keep pushing the limits of automotive technology, inspiring the creation of newer, better, badder, and faster four-wheeled creations, hypercars will continue to play a vital role in the industry. And while it’s true most enthusiasts won’t have a chance to experience these machines firsthand, the technology they bring to bear will almost certainly trickle its way down to more mundane applications that normal folks can buy.

“Here’s the most important thing – demand is only increasing.”

And here’s the most important thing – demand is only increasing. If no one were buying these things, they’d be gone by tomorrow, but as it is, all those fresh millionaires and billionaires gotta put their money somewhere. Why not dump a chunk into a fresh new hypercar?

Indeed, we live in some truly incredible times. And as the list of lust-worthy, drool-inducing hypercars continues to grow, I think the best has yet to come.

References

Hennessey Venom F5


2019 Hennessey Venom F5 - image 742068

Read our full review on the 2019 Hennessey Venom F5.

Bugatti Veyron


2006 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 - image 31367

Read our full review on the 2006 Bugatti Veyron.

Ferrari LaFerrari


2014 Ferrari LaFerrari - image 719975

Read our full review on the 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari.

McLaren P1


2014 McLaren P1 - image 525097

Read our full review on the 2014 McLaren P1.

Porsche 918 Spyder


2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
- image 522491

Read our full review on the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder.

Koenigsegg One:1


2015 Koenigsegg One:1 - image 716728

Read our full review on the 2015 Koenigsegg One:1.

Apollo Intensa Emozione


2018 Apollo Intensa Emozione - image 740639

Read our full review on the 2018 Apollo Intensa Emozione.

PostHeaderIcon The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac

The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac

Forget your grandfather’s 1985 Cadillac DeVille and even your neighbor’s 2011 DTS; the 2017 XT5 is the best iteration of the Cadillac spirit since the big fins and acres of chrome on the 1959 Eldorado. Sitting inside is where that feeling originates. The materials, the fit and finish, the in-dash technology, and the overall appearance impart a sense of luxury not found in prior generations.

The XT5 is completely new for 2017. Its clean-sheet architecture gave engineers the ability to bake in added comforts and features not seen Caddy’s previous crossovers. There’s an honestly new 3.6-liter V-6, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the techie part-time AWD system. But beyond the mechanics and greasy bits, the XT5’s interior simply feels a cut above. I recently spent time in a 2017 CTS-V – the 640-horsepower monster with the bones of Chevy Camaro ZL1. While it was insanely powerful, it can’t match the XT5 for luxury. Granted, the CTS-V’s aim isn’t to coddle, so I’ll give it a partial pass. Still, the XT5 just feels incredibly plush.

Continue reading for more opinions on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

  • The XT5 shares interior themes with the CT6 sedan
  • Improved controls with CUE system
  • Classy materials add a rich feel
  • 8.0-inch Infotainment screen
  • 4.2-inch Driver Information Display
  • Color head-up display
  • Reclining rear seats
  • Heated and vented front seats
  • Adjustable aluminum cargo partition
  • The XT5 is based on GM’s C1XX artchitecture
  • All-new 3.6-liter V-6
  • 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Part-time AWD system
  • 18 mpg city / 26 mpg hwy / 21 mpg combined
  • 5-Star NHTSA overall crash rating
  • Pricing from $39,395 to $70,000+

A New Time For Cadillac


The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac - image 743978
“Luxury can be defined by the utter usefulness and convenience something offers, not just how high-tech it is.”

The XT5 does share many of its internal materials with other Cadillacs and General Motors products, but a few key differences set it apart. The CUE system has been reworked to make its operation simpler. Toggle switches now control the main HVAC functions and only one “slider,” for the radio volume, remains. Even it feels easier to use than the CTS-V’s. See, luxury can be defined by the utter usefulness and convenience something offers, not just how high-tech it is or what material it’s made from. Simple is better, at least when it comes to a user interface.

Thankfully, the XT5 isn’t alone in this. The CT6 sedan, which debuted for the 2016 model year, also shares much of the XT5’s interior, including the new CUE system. I’m hoping to see Cadillac adopt this system (or something even better) on future vehicles.

As for the materials, things are impressive inside the XT5 Platinum, the range-topping trim offered on this crossover. It features suede on the headliner, on the dash, and on the door panels. The rest of the dash is covered in real leather, wood, and metal. Panel fitment is well done. Gaps are tight and annoying noises are completely absent. The heated and vented front seats provide hours of happy riding and the power-tilt and telescope steering column makes it easy to find the perfect driving position.


The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac - image 743999
“The heated and vented front seats provide hours of happy riding.”

I do have a couple complaints, though. The cream-colored leather dash does create a pretty annoying glare on the windshield during the mid-day and the electronic gear shifter doesn’t provide the most intuitive or enjoyable user experience. I also wish the cubby hole below the HVAC controls was about two inches deeper to accommodate larger cell phones. Lastly, I’m not the biggest fan of the XT5’s exterior. Its proportions feel bloated. I think it boils down to the front fascia’s low-hanging chin. The XT5’s front third just looks overweight. That’s a complete departure from the CT6 sedan, which is one of the sexiest sedans on the road today thanks to its low hood and angular lines that borrow from no one. But that’s another topic.


The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac - image 743991
“The cream-colored leather dash does create a pretty annoying glare on the windshield during the mid-day.”

When it comes to sitting in the back, Cadillac doesn’t treat you as second-class passengers. There is generous leg and headroom. The seats are well padded and can be reclined. Separate HVAC controls reside between the front seats and separate air vents make controlling airflow a breeze.

The XT5 is good at hauling cargo, too. My tester has the adjustable cargo bar that slides along the integrated floor rails. Moving it is simple and keeps your golf equipment from clubbing your groceries. A power liftgate makes for easy access, too. The rear seats are actually split 40/20/40 style, allowing each of the three seats to fold individually. That’s not a common feature these days, even in crossovers.

All told, the XT5 (along with the CT6) is a vast step forward for Cadillac’s interior quality and mind for luxury. It certainly feels worthy of the $67,155 MSRP attached to my tester.

What do you think? Do you like the Cadillac XT5? Would you buy this over the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, or even the Jaguar F-Pace? Let me know in the comments.

References


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743169

How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5’s AWD System


Cadillac Fixed CUE For The XT5 - image 742588

Cadillac Fixed CUE for the XT5

Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 645340

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

PostHeaderIcon How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5’s AWD System

The 2017 XT5 is Cadillac’s clean-sheet crossover designed to compete against some stiff competition that includes the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLE. Part of its secret sauce is its fancy all-wheel-drive system. Unlike most AWD systems, the XT5’s is actually a part-time system, meaning the driver can turn the system off manually. A Simple button near the gear shifter toggles through three modes – Tour, AWD, and Sport. In Tour, only the front wheels get power. The biggest advantage is fuel economy, of course, but I’ve found the FWD mode also heightens the liveliness of the 3.6-liter V-6 thanks to less parasitic loss in the driveline.

Being able to turn the AWD system on and off is a big deal, but it’s not the system’s crowning achievement. Rather, it’s the true torque vectoring abilities that help in vehicle control, both on slippery and dry surfaces. This isn’t some brake-activated cheater system, either. It uses a twin-clutch pack to progressively and precisely dial in the amount of power each axle gets. It’s pretty impressive, so let’s dive in.

Continue reading for more on the 2017 Cadillac XT5’s AWD system.

AWD With A PhD


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743167
“Cadillac gets its AWD system from GKN, a third-party supplier known for its driveline components”

Cadillac gets its AWD system from GKN, a third-party supplier known for its driveline components. Within GKN, the XT5’s AWD system, specifically the rear differential unit, is known as the Twinster due to its twin-clutch design. The Twinster system is also used in some other highbrow applications, too, including the Range Rover Evoque and Ford Focus RS. Yep, the same Focus RS with its crazy drift mode and outlandish grip uses nearly the same rear drive system as the XT5.

But back to the Caddy.

Let’s start from the top. Powering the 2017 XT5 is Cadillac’s new 3.6-liter V-6 also found in the ATS and CTS sedans. The all-new V-6 uses cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing on it dual overhead cams, direct fuel injection, and automatic start/stop. The engine makes 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. Backing the V-6 is GM’s eight-speed automatic transmission. The XT5 uses a transverse powertrain layout, meaning the front wheels are the default recipients of power.


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743166
“The all-new V-6 uses cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing on it dual overhead cams, direct fuel injection, and automatic start/stop”

The XT5 AWD is optional on the Luxury and Premium Luxury trims, standard on the range-topping Platinum, and not available on the base XT5. When optional, the AWD system adds $2,500 to the MSRP.

The AWD system originates at the transmission’s PTO, or power take-off. This coupling is where the magic happens with turning the AWD system on and off. When the driver toggles through the drive modes, the coupler will either connect or disconnect the rear driveshaft from the transmission. That means when in FWD mode, none of the rear drivetrain components are spinning. This improves fuel economy by reducing the parasitic losses within the drivetrain. FWD mode is also exclusively FWD, meaning even if the front tires lose grip, the rear tires won’t kick in.

By activating the AWD system, the rear driveshaft sends power to the GKN Twinster differential unit. The differential is electronically controlled and uses a high-pressure hydraulic pump to actuate the twin clutches. The system receives input from the XT5’s stability management and traction control systems in order to dial out the right amount of torque to each axle.


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743169
“The rear drive system is capable of getting 100 percent of the engine’s power and delivering up to 100 percent of torque to one wheel.”

The rear drive system is capable of getting 100 percent of the engine’s power and delivering up to 100 percent of torque to one wheel. What that means in slippery conditions like rain, snow, mud, or even ice is the tire with the most grip will be the most power. Even laterally between tires – say if the XT5 is parked on a soft shoulder with its right tires on slippery grass and the left tires are on the road. The system will detect the wheel slip, adjust the clutches, and send power to the tire with the most grip, all nearly instantly and without the driver having to do anything more than just having the system turned on.


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743168
“The rear drive unit will send more power to the outside wheel, which creates a yaw effect on the XT5, essentially giving the vehicle a push around the turn.”

The AWD system also has benefits in the dry. That torque vectoring aspect comes into play when turning. The rear drive unit will send more power to the outside wheel, which creates a yaw effect on the XT5, essentially giving the vehicle a push around the turn. This makes for spectacular handling, even despite the XT5’s tall stance and 4,350-pound curb weight.

As for the noticeable driving characteristics, I can definitely feel when the AWD is engaged. The V-6 feels just slightly more taxed, and it doesn’t rev quite as quickly. The normal person who isn’t paying attention won’t feel a thing while appreciating the added stability and traction. Throw on a set of good winter tires, and I’d bet the XT5 would scamper through the worst conditions imaginable.

Check back with TopSpeed for more info and the full review of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum.

References


Cadillac Fixed CUE For The XT5 - image 742588

Cadillac Fixed CUE for the XT5

Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 645340

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

PostHeaderIcon Come on Honda – Take on the Mazda Miata and Subaru BRZ with the Sports EV Concept

Will Honda Take on the Miata, BRZ, Z4, and Supra?

One could argue that the sports car market is slowly deteriorating, leaving us with nothing but slightly faded memories of our illustrious past in which we would dream of owning cars like the Nissan 350Z, Honda S2000, Toyota Supra, or Nissan Skyline. But, those days might as well be gone as the Nissan Z line is in danger of becoming a badge for the SUV, the Skyline (for intents and purposes in the sports car market) is dead, Honda has remained quiet about an S2000 successor, and it seems like every day another SUV is born, and even taking the name of once awesome cars (think of the abortion on wheels known as the Eclipse Cross, for example.) With the EV evolution slowing taking shape, however, we can find new hope in a future where sports cars may once again reign supreme or, at the very least, maintain a firm hold in a market that we hold so near and dear to our hearts.

Regardless of your taste in sports cars, or ideal price point, you can’t deny the fact that the offerings for sports cars seem to be dwindling unless you’re willing to pay out the ass for something like the Nissan GT-R, or Mercedes-AMG GT, for example. Even the Nissan 370Z has been practically untouched for the last decade, leaving it as a poor choice even if you could afford one. But, we still have cars like the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins, and Mazda recently hit us with the new MX-5 Miata. BMW and Toyota are about to bring a new Z4 and Supra to the market within the next year, so you could say things are starting to look better, but we’re still missing something. I’m talking about, of course, the Honda S2000. And, while Honda hasn’t said a word about a successor, we could have already seen a glimmer of hope in the 2017 Honda Sports EV Concept. The question is, does Honda have the balls to step back into the compact sports car market? Let’s talk some more about it!

Is the Sports EV a Future S2000?


2007 Honda S2000 - image 105510
“A specific segment or niche doesn’t need a lot of models competing”

Whether or not Honda will ever announce a successor to the Honda S2000 remains to be seen, but it’s certainly got its eye on the compact sports car market as seen with the Sports EV Concept that it brought to the Tokyo Motor Show. Sure, Honda didn’t say much about it, and it is electric, but that’s the future of the automotive industry, right? Why couldn’t Honda jump back into the market with its first, dead-to-rights all-electric vehicle? Well, it damn sure could, and the Sports EV would be a prime competitor.

Take this scenario for example. Honda manages to give this baby a range of about 350 miles and motors capable of delivering around 300 horsepower while keeping the weight in check. It could be rear-wheel drive or even all-wheel drive – it could be optioned either way. As a coupe, it would take on the BRZ and 86 twins, or as a hard-top convertible it could take on cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, Toyota Supra, or the BMW Z4. The latter would require the sports EV to have a little more power at its disposal, and it would have to be luxurious enough to compete, but it could certainly pose a serious threat. A specific segment or niche doesn’t need a lot of models competing – manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW have proved that with their funky coupe-ish crossovers, wagons, and sportbacks – so there’s no reason why the market has to die now that we have replacements for the Z4 and Supra coming. If Honda put this sports EV into production – even with a gasoline engine – it could be on point when this niche is at its strongest, and it could claim itself a pretty decent chunk of the pie too.

Taking it a Step Further


Come on Honda - Take on the Mazda Miata and Subaru BRZ with the Sports EV Concept - image 743170
“Honda needs something to compete in the little sports car market again, and the sports EV will provide the basis”

Let’s take the Sports EV Concept, and put it into production much quicker. I say, Honda keeps it front-wheel drive and drops the new Type-R drivetrain under the hood. Hell, it could do one even better and drop it into the rear, making it rear-engine, rear-wheel drive. That would be something, don’t you think? Think about this little compact with 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of turbocharged, four-cylinder, six-speed, three-pedaled Honda madness on tap. In the Civic Type R, that engine is enough to push the car up to 60 mph in as little as 4.9 seconds. It can also run the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds, with maximum speed (if you have a long-enough straightaway coming in at 169 mph. Take a lighter, more compact car like the Sports EV Concept with the same drivetrain, two seats, and plenty of weight reduction measures, and I bet that Type R engine will push it to 60 mph in close to four seconds, with the quarter-mile coming in less than 12.5 seconds. Top speed might even be a little higher too, but who cares about that – this little car will be fast, and that’s exactly what Honda needs. Honda needs something to compete in the little sports car market again, and the sports EV will provide the basis with battery packs or a gas tank – it doesn’t matter at this point as long as the brand does it.

2018 Honda Civic Type R Specs

Engine Type Turbocharged In-Line 4-Cylinder
Turbocharger Single-Scroll MHI TD04 with Internal Wastegate
Boost Pressure 22.8 psi
Displacement (cc) 1,996
Horsepower (SAE net) 306 HP @ 6,500 RPM
Torque (SAE net) 295 LB-FT @ 2,500-4,500 RPM
Fuel economy (City/Highway/Combined) (mpg) 22 / 28 / 25
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3,117
0 to 60 mph 4.9 seconds
Quarter-mile 13.5 seconds at 108 mph
Top Speed 169 mph

Oh, How I want to see this Happen


Come on Honda - Take on the Mazda Miata and Subaru BRZ with the Sports EV Concept - image 743176

Oh Honda, please please please make this happen. I would love to see the Sports EV come to market. I would even love to see it come to market as an according-to-Hoyle EV, but I’m willing to settle for getting it faster if you can just throw that Type R drivetrain under the hood. I’d really love to see it come in a rear-engine, rear-wheel configuration too. Will that ever happen? Well, I wouldn’t hold my breath, but having the Type R drivetrain up front or having it as an official EV that can take on the BRZ, 86, Z4 and Supra is well within the realm of reality. Someone over at Honda just needs to greenlight it and make it happen. Lord knows I’m waiting. What do you all think, though? Would the Sports EV be successful as a competitor against the cars currently on the market or about to be, assuming it delivers enough power? How about a rear-engined Honda? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

References


2017 Honda Sports EV Concept - image 740626

Read our full review on the 2017 Honda Sports EV Concept.

Honda Civic Type R


2017 Honda Civic Type R - image 719343

Read our full review on the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.



Read more Honda news.

PostHeaderIcon Cadillac Fixed CUE For The XT5

The Cadillac User Experience, or CUE system, has been dragged through the dirt for not being easy to use. Specifically, it’s the touch-sensitive radio and HVAC controls that leave critics in a bad mood. Cadillac models like the ATS, CTS, and even the Escalade all have nearly identical CUE systems that require sliding a finger across gloss-black plastic to adjust the radio volume and pressing on invisible buttons marked only with labels. Well, apparently Cadillac heard the complaints and decided to address the issue.

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 crossover I’m driving this week has an updated version of the CUE system – with actual buttons! In fact, the center stack is far simpler in design and feels less cluttered. The XT5’s HVAC system has chrome toggle switches that control fan speed and temperatures for the dual zones. Yes, other features like the heated and vented seats, defrost, and recirculation functions still rely on the invisible buttons, but their operation seems improved. The same is true with the radio slider. Yeah, it’s still there, but it somehow isn’t as frustrating to use as the one in the 2017 Cadillac CTS-V I tested a few weeks back.

Continue reading for more information.

Impressive Infotainment


Cadillac Fixed CUE For The XT5 - image 742589
“The 8.0-inch touchscreen runs similar software to the Chevrolet MyLink and GMC IntelliLink system”

Despite gripes about the CUE system’s touch-sensitive buttons on other models, the infotainment portion of the Cadillac User Experience is absolutely fantastic. The 8.0-inch touchscreen runs similar software to the Chevrolet MyLink and GMC IntelliLink system. All three are incredibly easy to use and have intuitive menus and features. The home screen icons can be moved around, and things like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, the weather, live traffic, SMS texting, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi all make the experience a memorable one.

And besides the XT5 crossover, Cadillac’s updated CUE system can be found in the CT6 sedan. You can read my review on that car here.

References

Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 645340

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

PostHeaderIcon Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo is making a comeback in the U.S. – and a rather strong one, at that. We’ve had the 4C sports coupe for a few years now, but it was the Giulia sedan in 2017 and this, the Stelvio crossover in 2018, that are bringing the Italian automaker to the American masses. Well, after spending a week with the Stelvio, I can say Alfa has done a fantastic job building a competitive crossover that butts heads against Germans like the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Porsche Macan.

Last year, I sampled the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the outrageously powerful version with a Ferrari-derived V-6 and two turbochargers stuffed under its carbon fiber bodywork. Not surprisingly, the Stelvio feels very similar to the Giulia, despite my Stelvio tester not having the Quadrifoglio package. And while there are things I really don’t like about the Stelvio (which you can read about in the Four Things I Hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio), there are also some aspects I truly love. So, without further ado, here are four things I love about the 2018 Stelvio.

Continue reading for more information.

4. The Heritage


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741586
“Alfa stands for “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” or in English, the Lombardy Automobile Factory Corporation”

The Alfa Romeo name is dripping with rich history dating back to 1910. The Italian automaker’s name is actually an acronym combined with Nicola Romeo’s last name, an Italian businessman who bought the company in 1915 and added his name in 1920. Alfa stands for “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” or in English, the Lombardy Automobile Factory Corporation. Early success in racing solidified Alfa Romeo as a rightful player in Europe’s budding automotive industry. In fact, Enzo Ferrari rose to fame racing for Alfa Romeo from 1920 to 1939 before leaving to start his own company – a little automaker you might have heard of.

For Americans, Alfa Romero also represents something different yet with that lovable European flair. Alfa isn’t a Mercedes-Benz or Audi or Porsche. They aren’t found in every parking lot in every suburban supermarket. They’re unique – at least for now. If FCA has its way, Alfa Romeo will become just as dominant as the German brands, though Alfa’s got a long way to go. In the meantime, we get to enjoy the exclusivity of Alfa’s new position in the U.S. market.

3. The Looks


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741592
“Alfa Romeo’s unique grille design pulls from its heritage; it’s a look that dates back more than 50 years”

Alfa Romeo’s unique grille design pulls from its heritage; it’s a look that dates back more than 50 years. Besides not looking like anything else on the road, it gives the crossover a slick appearance, even when it’s not moving. The sloping hood and bulging front fender help inject athleticism into the Stelvio’s nose. Its steeply raked windshield and sloping roofline mix well with its coke-bottle hips. Out back, the dual exhaust are well-placed within the black and satin chrome lower fascia.

Yet despite its sporty nature, the Stelvio doesn’t forget it’s a crossover. The fenders and rocker panels are lined with black plastic flares and it offers decent ground clearance. Overall, the Stelvio has a healthy mix of SUV and sports car. It’s certainly handsome enough to compete against the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

2. The Handling


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741553
“Even when pushed hard into a corner, the Stelvio’s all-season Continental tires hold on without complaint or plowing”

Despite its tallish stance, the Stelvio is extremely nimble on its feet. Body roll is kept to a minimum and the steering is impressively quick. Put on a back road, the Stelvio shows some impressive dance moves. Even when pushed hard into a corner, the Stelvio’s all-season Continental tires hold on without complaint or plowing. It’s pretty impressive, actually.

Of course, there’s a downside. Like I mentioned in my Four Things I Hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio article, the tight steering can make for a darty ride on the interstate. Still, that’s a small trade for an impressively stable crossover. Best of all, my tester is only the Stelvio Sport model. Imagine what the Stelvio Quadrifoglio will drive like!

1. The Powertrain


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741578
“The 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 280 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm”

All non-Quadrifoglio Stelvios in the U.S. are powered by a potent, longitudinally mounted four-cylinder. It’s an all-aluminum 2.0-liter with single-overhead camshafts operating four valves per cylinder with direct fuel injection squirting in premium fuel. The intercooled, twin-scroll turbocharger then fill the engine with boost for some very stout numbers.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 280 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm. The engine revs impressively fast, making its 6,200-rpm redline seem far too low. The turbo spools quickly with very little lag, giving power on request with no hesitation. The throttle can be dialed up to be more sensitive via the Alfa Romeo’s DNA selector knob. The D stands for Dynamic and is where all the fun can be had.

The tried and true ZF eight-speed automatic does the shifting, and boy, does it work well. The transmission shifts nice and smoothly around down with no fuss or jerkiness. Put the DNA selector in D and slap the shifter into manual mode, and the ZF fires off shifts like a dual-clutch! The only thing missing are cracking exhaust blats between shifts.


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741555
“Not only does it help when the weather turns sour, but this rear-biased system makes the Stelvio feel lively in the corners”

Behind that is the Stelvio’s Q4 AWD system. Not only does it help when the weather turns sour, but this rear-biased system makes the Stelvio feel lively in the corners. It allows the rear to slightly step out when in Dynamic mode, even with the traction control on. Rotate the DNA knob to the A, or Advanced Efficiency Mode, offers programming better suited for bad weather like heavy rain or in snow. There’s also the N, or Natural Mode, for normal daily driving.

In total, the drivetrain, matched with the tight suspension and steering, make the Stelvio a very capable back roads burner.

References

Alfa Romeo Stelvio


2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 716830

Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.



Read more Alfa Romeo news.

PostHeaderIcon Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

I’ve spent the week living with the all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. This new crossover is from a brand that’s new to the segment and new to mainstream consumer vehicles in the U.S. Under the watchful eye of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Alfa Romeo is trying hard to make its Stateside comeback with the Giulia sedan and this, the Stelvio crossover. While the Giulia is a fantastic sedan, it’s crossovers that are selling like hotcakes these days, so Alfa needs to nail the Stelvio. Thankfully for this Italian brand, there is plenty to love about the Stelvio, but there’s also a few things I just can’t stand.

Keep reading for my four things I hate about the 2018 Stelvio Sport. And as always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Continue reading for more information.

4. Finicky Infotainment System


Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741561
“Alfa has its own system that relies on a dial and two buttons for navigating through the menus”

The Alfa Romero Stelvio might be a member of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but it doesn’t get FCA’s highly regarded Uconnect system. Rather, Alfa has its own system that relies on a dial and two buttons for navigating through the menus. There’s no touchscreen here. For the most part, the system works okay and is fairly intuitive to get around within. In practice, though, downward clicks via the rotary knob don’t always elicit a response. The menu within the vehicle settings page is also odd, with some items getting a sub-menu, while others are controlled right from the main page.

The infotainment system also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And though the main rotary dial has a black face, it’s not a trackpad. Like Audi’s infotainment system, inputting an address or other information is done by rotating the dial and scrolling through the alphabet, however, unlike Audi, you can’t just write the letter or number. Entering an address just takes longer on the Alfa and requires more concentration.

Lastly, the system’s backup camera display is tiny relative to the screen’s 8.8-inch size. I found myself having to lean closer to the screen for a better view. The terrible resolution doesn’t help, either.

3. Twitchy Steering


Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741563
“The steering is some of the tightest and most rewarding I’ve sampled in a crossover”

The Stelvio is a sporty crossover, even without the Quadrifoglio trim. In addition to its potent turbocharged four-cylinder, its steering is set up for instant responsiveness and minimal turns lock-to-lock. Honestly, the steering is some of the tightest and most rewarding I’ve sampled in a crossover. it’s actually very enjoyable when driving with gusto.

But point the Stelvio down the open road, and the steering’s tightness becomes a downfall. Its on-center responsiveness is almost extreme. Even the smallest of inputs sends the Stelvio’s front tires changing direction. Combined with its taller stance and initial body lean, and the crossover can easily feel top heavy and boatish – sending occupants heads bobbling left and right. I couldn’t imagine being a second-row passenger with a steering-happy driver behind the wheel. Talk about getting carsick!

2. Interior Quality


Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741568
“The front seats could use a better design”

The Alfa Romeo’s interior, for the most part, is rather nice. The materials feel upscale and the fitment between panels is tight. However, there are a few details that spoil the overall experience. For one, the electronic shifter feels cheap. It even has a rough edge around the top and just isn’t satisfying to use. The front seats could use a better design. They are stiff and have almost no bolstering. The bottom cushion is too short and leaves thighs feeling unsupported. The infotainment system’s main control knob doesn’t have as rich a feel as it should, either.

Overall, the Stelvio’s interior is nice, but it has some things to improve upon.

1. Overly Sensitive Brakes


Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741585
“It’s nearly impossible to smoothly ease pressure off the pedal when slowing”

Topping my list of things I hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is its brakes. See, Alfa uses a brake-by-wire system, meaning there is no physical connection between the brake pedal and the hydraulic brake system. Behind the wheel, the brakes do a great job of stopping the Stelvio hard thanks to big four-piston Brembo calipers up front and single piston Brembos out back. On the highway, the brakes are easy to modulate, despite the brake pedal’s short travel. The problem comes with that short-travel pedal at lower speeds. It’s nearly impossible to smoothly ease pressure off the pedal when slowing. What feels like a millimeter of travel changes the braking from too little to too much. Slowing to a stop without a hard jolt at the end is basically impossible, regardless of how carefully I tried.

Besides being intensely frustrating for me as a driver, it proved rough on my passengers. Being stuck in stop-and-go traffic is a nightmare. I’d rather deal with a heavy clutch pedal than these brakes. Alfa seriously needs to dial in more pedal travel to help make the brake bite more progressive and even throughout the pedal travel.

Making it worse for Alfa, I had this same complaint with the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio I drove earlier this year. I even wrote an entire article ranting about it.

Dishonorable Mention: Annoying Noises


Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741564

On startup, the Stelvio beeps, bongs, chimes, and clangs for a good 10 seconds as the systems come online. Of the noises, the seatbelt reminder is the worst. It sounds like that ultra loud, mid-range-pitched bong that violently awakens airline passengers awake as the pilot needlessly breaks the cabin’s calm silence as the plane starts its initial descent. The Stelvio’s chime bad enough to induce a headache – or to retrain the driver to buckle up before turning the car on.

References

Alfa Romeo Stelvio


2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 716830

Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.



Read more Alfa Romeo news.

PostHeaderIcon The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado

The current Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has been around since the 2014 model year and has only received a minor facelift in 2016. But, this truck won’t be around much longer. Chevy is bringing an all-new Silverado for the 2019 model year, and with it, some big changes. It’s hard to know for sure what Chevy has up its sleeve at this point, but rumor suggests the pickup’s body will be aluminum while its bed remains steel. The fame will be new, too, lending to better ride comfort and strength for doing truck stuff. The rest is still a mystery.

So, in the darkness of the unknown, we have four ways Chevrolet could make the 2019 Silverado a better truck. Ranging from minor to major, these updated would also help the Bowtie compete against Ford’s ever-hot F-150, which just went under the knife in 2018 for a mid-cycle refresh. Ram is also debuting its next-generation 1500 for 2019, so the competition is certainly getting tense. Let’s hope Chevy (along with GMC and its Sierra) make these and other much-needed updates. And don’t forget to leave your ideas for updates in the comments below.

Continue reading for the top four things Chevy needs to change about the 2019 Silverado

1. The Key


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 741112
“The current Chevy Silverado does not offer a proximity key or push-button starting”

The current Chevy Silverado does not offer a proximity key or push-button starting. Nope, even the $60,000+ High Country trim comes with an old-school key fob you’ve got to remove from your pocket and push the unlock button to get inside. Then you’ve got to turn the key in the ignition. Yeah, it sounds like we’re spoiled millennials with no concept of how hard things used to be, but seriously, proximity keys and push-button starting is easy to get used to.

Making it worse for Chevy, only the Toyota Tundra still uses a conventional key. The rest of the Silverado’s competition offers the keyless system. That means Ford, Ram, and even Nissan have all moved into the 21st century.

2. Second-Row HVAC


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 739886
“The Chevy is the only full-size pickup to not have air vents for its second-row passengers”

While the Silverado has the Tundra keeping it company in the old-school key category, the Chevy is the only full-size pickup to not have air vents for its second-row passengers in its Crew Cab model with the first-row center console. Rather, Chevy just teases its sweaty or freezing second-class… err… second-row passengers with blank spots on the console. Chevy needs to give these rear passengers both air vents and their own HVAC controls, at least in high-trim models like the High Country.

3. A Flat Load Floor


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 739902
“The Silverado has a mostly flat load floor that’s great for hauling stuff too fragile for the cargo bed”

Still harping on the back seats of the Crew Cab model, the Silverado has a mostly flat load floor that’s great for hauling stuff too fragile for the cargo bed. However, the space is hindered by the bumps and unevenness in the floor. By comparison, the Ford F-150 has a completely flat load floor with acres of dead-flat load space. Fold those seats up and boom, it’s like a cargo van. Even better, the F-150’s rear seats are mounted high enough there’s tons of room under them for storing lesser used items. Ford even sells a cargo organizer for this area. Yes, the Chevy does have a similar space and cargo organizer, but it’s just not as cavernous as the Ford’s.

Granted, the Chevy still outranks the Ram and Nissan Titan in rear floor flatness. Both still rely on a foldout load floor that doesn’t completely extend to the front seats.

4. Fuel Economy


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 739892
“It’s rated at 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined when fitted to a Crew Cab truck with 4WD”

Of course, nobody can expect Prius-like fuel economy in a full-size pickup designed to tow 10,000 pounds and go off-road, but improvements can still be made. The Silverado 1500’s most popular engine option is the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8. It’s rated at 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined when fitted to a Crew Cab truck with 4WD. Granted, Chevy has worked some impressive tech into its classic small-block V-8 engine, including variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation, and direct fuel injection. Added up, these three advancements (hints the Ecotec3 name) do help the Silverado get competitive fuel economy against Ford and Ram’s V-8s.

However, adding its new 10-speed automatic transmission should help boost those fuel economy numbers up, at least by one or two mpg. Currently, the Silverado caps out with an eight-speed automatic, but it’s heavier than the new 10-speed and obviously has few gears to keep engine revs low when not doing big work.

Better yet, Chevy could revive the 4.5-liter Duramax V-8 turbodiesel it nearly put into product in 2009. This engine was ready to go, but the economy recession killed it from seeing dealership showrooms. With a few updates to pass modern emissions regulations, the baby Duramax could be a great engine for the half-ton Silverado. It was designed to make 310 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque while getting better fuel economy than a similar-sized gasoline V-8. These numbers aren’t far off from the 5.0-liter Cummins V-8 turbodiesel in the Nissan Titan XD, but that isn’t a half-ton truck.


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 739891
“Chevy could also make its eAssist mild-hybrid powertrain more robust and widespread through its Silverado lineup”

Ram already beat everyone to the half-ton diesel market with its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 in the Ram 1500. It makes 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and is capable of getting 29 mpg on the highway. Ford hot on Ram’s heels with its new 3.0-liter Power Stroke V-6 turbodiesel. It’s basically the same engine found in Jaguar Land Rover products like the Range Rover. In that application, the oil-burner makes 254 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque. Expect Ford to keep or slightly exceed those specs in the 2019 F-150 turbodiesel.

Chevy could also make its eAssist mild-hybrid powertrain more robust and widespread through its Silverado lineup, too. Currently, the Silverado eAssist is being produced in limited numbers and sold in limited areas, so not everybody can get one. The eAssist is combined with the 5.3-liter V-8 and eight-speed automatic to add 13 horsepower and 44 pound-feet of torque via a 0.45 kWh lithium-ion battery and an electric motor to help ease the burden on the V-8. The system is said to boost fuel economy by 13 percent, giving the 2WD Silverado 1500 eAssist an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. That’s not bad for a tiny hybrid system that only adds $500 to the Silverado’s price tag.

Conclusion


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 739906

These are just a few things we’d love to see Chevy (and GMC) add to its pickup for 2019. We’re expecting big things since we’ve seen some pretty exciting spy shots in the recent months. Chevy is scheduled to debut the 2019 Silverado 1500 at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show in January. After that, we can expect the same updates for the 2020 Silverado 2500 and 3500 HD.

What do you think? What changes should Chevy make for the 2019 Silverado? Let us know in the comments below.

References

Chevrolet Silverado


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview - image 739276

Read more about the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 in our previous overview.


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 739904

Find our more about the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition name


The Top 4 Things Chevy Needs To Fix for the 2019 Silverado - image 739906

Learn more about the handiest feature on the 2017 Chevy Silverado.


2016 Chevrolet Silverado - image 648477

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado.

PostHeaderIcon The Handiest Feature on the 2017 Chevy Silverado

Pickup trucks have gotten bigger and taller over the years, and an unfortunate side effect is the height of the cargo bed. For anyone less fit than a teenager or Olympic gymnast, climbing into the bed can be difficult. Automakers have combated this with various step designs like Ford’s fold-out tailgate step and Nissan’s adoption of aftermarket-style pop-out steps that hide under the fenders. But it’s Chevrolet that wins the simple-is-better prize with its integrated bumper steps.

I recently spent a week with the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LTZ Z71 Midnight Edition and found the steps to be an essential tool for using the cargo bed. My week included hauling coolers, folding lawn chairs, and Lacrosse equipment. Thanks to the Chevy’s nose-heavy rake, everything tended to gather around the bulkhead, making getting into the bed to retrieve things a necessity. The bumper steps proved absolutely invaluable.

Now, I’ve used Ford’s fold-out tailgate step plenty of times on several different F-Series trucks, and though it works, it’s just not as effective as Chevy’s bumper step. Ford’s obvious downfall is its step requires action to use it. I have to stop what I’m doing, empty my hands, and lower the step. It’s just not as slick, though, in Ford’s defense, I can climb up its step without using my hands – something I can’t say about the Chevy’s bumper step and stake pocket hand-grab.

Still, the Chevy’s bumper step takes the cake for the simplest design and one that isn’t going to break. The bumper step is also seen on General Motors’ other pickups, including the mid-size Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Sierra and Canyon. GM fans will remember the bumper step making its debut with the 2001 Chevrolet Avalanche.

References

Chevrolet Silverado


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview - image 739276

Read more about the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 in our previous overview.


2016 Chevrolet Silverado - image 648477

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado.


2015 Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition - image 612398

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition.

PostHeaderIcon The Handiest Feature on the 2017 Chevy Silverado

Pickup trucks have gotten bigger and taller over the years, and an unfortunate side effect is the height of the cargo bed. For anyone less fit than a teenager or Olympic gymnast, climbing into the bed can be difficult. Automakers have combated this with various step designs like Ford’s fold-out tailgate step and Nissan’s adoption of aftermarket-style pop-out steps that hide under the fenders. But it’s Chevrolet that wins the simple-is-better prize with its integrated bumper steps.

I recently spent a week with the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LTZ Z71 Midnight Edition and found the steps to be an essential tool for using the cargo bed. My week included hauling coolers, folding lawn chairs, and Lacrosse equipment. Thanks to the Chevy’s nose-heavy rake, everything tended to gather around the bulkhead, making getting into the bed to retrieve things a necessity. The bumper steps proved absolutely invaluable.

Now, I’ve used Ford’s fold-out tailgate step plenty of times on several different F-Series trucks, and though it works, it’s just not as effective as Chevy’s bumper step. Ford’s obvious downfall is its step requires action to use it. I have to stop what I’m doing, empty my hands, and lower the step. It’s just not as slick, though, in Ford’s defense, I can climb up its step without using my hands – something I can’t say about the Chevy’s bumper step and stake pocket hand-grab.

Still, the Chevy’s bumper step takes the cake for the simplest design and one that isn’t going to break. The bumper step is also seen on General Motors’ other pickups, including the mid-size Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Sierra and Canyon. GM fans will remember the bumper step making its debut with the 2001 Chevrolet Avalanche.

References

Chevrolet Silverado


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview - image 739276

Read more about the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 in our previous overview.


2016 Chevrolet Silverado - image 648477

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado.


2015 Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition - image 612398

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition.

PostHeaderIcon EIC Thoughts: Audi Finally Nails a Generational Shift with the New Audi A7

I will openly admit that I’ve been very harsh toward the German brands – all of them – for following the “same sausage, different length” philosophy (Audi, this is you) or for simply changing very little when it comes to facelifts or generational shifts. Admittedly, I expected the same from Audi when it came to the A7. But, while there are a lot of similarities to the A8, the A7 still stands out as its own model thanks to Audi’s ambition to provide simple evolutionary enhancements to not only the exterior but the interior too. In comparison to the A8, the A7 gets additional body lines on the hood but lacks the strong line below the waist. Inside, the dash is more defined, while things like the center console and trim panels have been tweaked just enough to keep things comfortable. Sure, it’s a bit smaller, but everything is so well proportioned inside and out that it’s almost like it was meant to be this way.

And, even better is the fact that there are options-a-plenty. You get the MMI system by default, but to get the Virtual cockpit you have to go with the MMI Nav Plus. I don’t necessarily like that idea, but it is what it is. A total of four sound systems are for the taking, including a very powerful Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system. You can also opt for the Audi Ai Parking Pilot and Remote Garage Pilot, but those won’t be activated until later on in 2018. What I really want to know is what engines will be available once the A7 goes into production. Audi already has the base 3.0-liter (hybridized, of course) that delivers 340 ponies and 368 pound-feet, but what else will be on the docket? I would love to see a turbo V-8, but I doubt it will happen. An S7 and RS7 are almost mandatory, and with any luck, the RS7 may get the turbo V-8 – eh, a man can hope anyway, right?

At the end of the day, the A7 certainly doesn’t disappoint, but I am worried about one thing. Considering the fact that the A7 borrows heavily from the A8, will the rest of the lineup eventually end up looking just like the two range-topping models? History tells me yes, and that’s a bad thing, as Audi could really use some diversity in its lineup, but at the same time, the brand’s strategy seems to be working so perhaps I should be less critical. Is this the world we live in now? Where every automaker makes one design, then copy and pastes it onto a proportionately smaller canvas? I really hope not, but who could blame you if you were starting to think that way? I certainly won’t because it seems to me like I see a lot of the same designs popping up model after model, and that doesn’t say a lot for individuality at all.

What do you guys think? Is the A7 a hit or a dud? Are automakers being too eager and pushy with their design consistency between models, changing little outside of size and engine output? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments section below.

References

Audi A7


EIC Thoughts: Audi Finally Nails a Generational Shift with the New Audi A7 - image 739611

Read our full review on the new, 2019 Audi A7.


2017 Audi A7 - image 673725

Read our full review on the previous 2017 Audi A7.

Audi S7


2019 Audi S7 - image 723160

Read our speculative review on the 2019 Audi S7.

PostHeaderIcon 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition: Dissecting The Name

Vehicle names can get incredibly long and confusing, especially when adding option packages or special edition trims. A perfect example is the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LTZ Z71 Midnight Edition. Yeah, that’s a long name for a pickup truck. Since I’m driving this truck for the week, I wanted to break down the name. Each piece means something and is essentially the DNA that determines the truck’s existence. This is especially important for a prospective owner trying to decipher Chevy’s convoluted naming system.

Let’s start at the top. Of course, this is the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado. It’s one year past a mid-cycle refresh that’s brought a new grille and… not much else. Still, the Silverado is aging well. The 1500 part is Chevy’s way of calling this a half-ton truck. It competes with things like the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150. Of course, there’s also 2500 and 3500 versions of the Silverado. Basically, it boils down to the truck’s weight class and how much it can tow and haul.

Now to the fun stuff – splitting out the LTZ from the Z71 and decoding what’s in a Midnight Edition. Keep reading for that.

LTZ


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition: Dissecting The Name - image 739894
“The LTZ is the second-highest trim offered on the Silverado, making it rather packed with features”

So, the LTZ is a trim package for the Silverado. Chevy offers a ton of other choices here, including the base WT, the LS, the Custom, the LT, the LT Z71, the LTZ, the LTZ Z71, and the High Country. In other words, the LTZ is the second-highest trim offered on the Silverado, making it rather packed with features. It can be had with or without the Z71 package, but more on that in a second.

Now, the LTZ package brings upgrades to both the outside and inside of the truck. You get all the goodies found in the lower LT trim, plus upgraded 18-inch wheels, chrome on the door handles, the mirror caps, the side moldings, the lower bumper, and chrome mesh in the grille. Basically, it takes a ho-hum-looking Silverado and gives it class.

You also get full LED projector-beam headlights and fog lights and the trailering package, which includes the hitch and wiring connectors, and automatic locking rear differential.


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition: Dissecting The Name - image 739881

Inside, the lovely 8.0-inch MyLink system comes standard, along with satellite and HD radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The nice 4.2-inch driver information screen in the gauge cluster is present, too. Comfort features include leather seats that are heated up front with a 10-way powered driver’s seat and a dual-zone climate system. Remote starting is standard, as well. Optionally, the LTZ offers the updated to front bucket seats with the super nice console that has tons of power ports and room for hanging file folders.

Z71


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition: Dissecting The Name - image 739893
“The name “Z71” is simply the RPO option code, or regular production option designator”

Okay, so the Z71 name has been around since 1988 when Chevy launched it as an off-road suspension package for its K1500 pickup. The name “Z71” is simply the RPO option code, or regular production option designator, used internally to label the package. Of course, General Motors has a long history of using RPO codes as marketing tools, tool. Think Z28, ZL1, Z06, ZR1, and ZR2.

As in the past, the Z71 package includes upgraded shock absorbers tuned for off-road use, skid plates, recovery hooks, a locking rear differential, and more aggressive tires. Specific to the 2017 Silverado 1500 Z71, the truck gets Rancho monotube shocks, a high-capacity air clearer, hill descent control, a spray-on bedliner, and the Z71 appearance package. The appearance package visually separates the Z71 apart by adding the body-colored grille with horizontal bars, body-colored bumpers, Z71-branded sill plates in the doors, and a Z71-branded gauge cluster.

Midnight Edition


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition: Dissecting The Name - image 739905
“The Z71 package might add some cool upgrades to the Silverado’s exterior, but the Midnight Edition makes the truck look sinister”

The Z71 package might add some cool upgrades to the Silverado’s exterior, but the Midnight Edition makes the truck look sinister. The special edition package adds black door trim, a black front skid plate, black Chevy bowties, and the big chrome Z71 badge on the door. Also included is the Front and Rear Park Assist feature with sonar sensors. Best of all, you get the black, five-spoke, 18-inch wheels and the aggressive Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires sized in 265/65. They are a good split between on-road comfort and off-road traction, plus they have the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake, meaning they are rated for winter driving. They have a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty in this size and are listed at $220 a piece on Goodyear’s website.

That price brings up a really good point; Chevy charges $1,050 for the Midnight Edition package. Of that cost, the tires along take up $880, meaning the black wheels, front and rear park assist, and all the black trim accounts for only $170. Of course, Chevy doesn’t pay retail prices for the Goodyears, and you can bet it’s making a healthy profit off the package, but for consumers, the Midnight Edition makes descent financial sense. That’s especially true if they plan on swapping on more aggressive tires anyway.

Conclusion


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition: Dissecting The Name - image 739864
“The hefty price is comparable to similar builds from Ford and Ram, so Chevy isn’t pricing itself too high.”

So, that’s what this Silverado’s full name means. Each little part plays a significant role in how this truck looks, drives, and costs. You might have guessed the price would be high, and you’d be right. A 2017 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab with the 5.3-liter V-8 and 4WD with the LTZ Z71 package lists for $48,890.

My tester then adds $5,415 worth of options, which includes the LTZ Plus Package for $770; the power sunroof for $995; the Enhanced Driver Alert Package for $945; heated and vented front seats for $650; front bucket seats with the full center console for $510, the navigation upgrade to the 8.0-inch MyLink infotainment system for $495; and the Midnight Edition for $1,050. Tack on the $1,295 destination charge, and this truck sits at $55,600. Still, the hefty price is comparable to similar builds from Ford and Ram, so Chevy isn’t pricing itself too high.

Be sure to stick around to TopSpeed as I’ll be having a ton more information on this truck in the coming days.

References

Chevrolet Silverado


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview - image 739276

Read more about the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 in our previous overview.


2016 Chevrolet Silverado - image 712066

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado.


2015 Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition - image 612398

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition.

PostHeaderIcon Apparently, Gran Turismo Sport Sucks

How unfair and cruel this world is… Gran Turismo Sport is the biggest letdown since Bill Clinton got some dome in the oval office. Seriously, this game flat out sucks. Sure, the graphics are good, but you would have thought that game makers would have learned from the Need for Speed reboot – no matter how badly you want it to work, strictly online car games aren’t going to happen. We don’t like them. In fact, we hate them. It’s annoying. Sure, maybe we’ll play online and race some folks on occasion, but we want a legitimate campaign, especially for a racing SIMULATOR not just some random driving\car game. It just doesn’t make sense. The guys over at Polyphony Digital should have known better, but oh no, you had to go and slaughter one of the best and most legendary titles out there. And to think, I went out and bought a PS4 for this piece of crap.

Okay, so that was a bit of a rant, but I mean, come on… The hype was real…. The feeling we got when we saw the trailers was real…. Now, we know it was all for nothing. Such a letdown and now the Gran Turismo name will be forever slandered because of this crap. Con artistry at its best – get us all hyped up, then deliver us some online-based game that is just embarrassing. There’s no car customization, VR mode doesn’t even give you points and is only you against one other car — JUST ONE — and the “Campaign Mode” is just your training and license tests that you have to take to race online, which you probably don’t want to do anyway.

Sony Interactive should be embarrassed, Polyphony Digital should be embarrassed, and Sony should be begging other platforms to take on Gran Turismo Sport as well because this game is going to do nothing for that exclusive games list the execs rub their nipples to every night. Don’t want to take my word for it, check out my screenshots of the Amazon reviews below, then go look at them all for yourself. Don’t waste your money.

References


2017 Peugeot L750 R HYbrid Vision Gran Turismo - image 737159

Read more Gran Turismo news.


UPDATED: Turn 10 Studios Drops List Of First 167 Cars On Forza 7 - image 725900

Read more car video games news.

PostHeaderIcon Apparently, Gran Turismo Sport Sucks

How unfair and cruel this world is… Gran Turismo Sport is the biggest letdown since Bill Clinton got some dome in the oval office. Seriously, this game flat out sucks. Sure, the graphics are good, but you would have thought that game makers would have learned from the Need for Speed reboot – no matter how badly you want it to work, strictly online car games aren’t going to happen. We don’t like them. In fact, we hate them. It’s annoying. Sure, maybe we’ll play online and race some folks on occasion, but we want a legitimate campaign, especially for a racing SIMULATOR not just some random driving\car game. It just doesn’t make sense. The guys over at Polyphony Digital should have known better, but oh no, you had to go and slaughter one of the best and most legendary titles out there. And to think, I went out and bought a PS4 for this piece of crap.

Okay, so that was a bit of a rant, but I mean, come on… The hype was real…. The feeling we got when we saw the trailers was real…. Now, we know it was all for nothing. Such a letdown and now the Gran Turismo name will be forever slandered because of this crap. Con artistry at its best – get us all hyped up, then deliver us some online-based game that is just embarrassing. There’s no car customization, VR mode doesn’t even give you points and is only you against one other car — JUST ONE — and the “Campaign Mode” is just your training and license tests that you have to take to race online, which you probably don’t want to do anyway.

Sony Interactive should be embarrassed, Polyphony Digital should be embarrassed, and Sony should be begging other platforms to take on Gran Turismo Sport as well because this game is going to do nothing for that exclusive games list the execs rub their nipples to every night. Don’t want to take my word for it, check out my screenshots of the Amazon reviews below, then go look at them all for yourself. Don’t waste your money.

References


2017 Peugeot L750 R HYbrid Vision Gran Turismo - image 737159

Read more Gran Turismo news.


UPDATED: Turn 10 Studios Drops List Of First 167 Cars On Forza 7 - image 725900

Read more car video games news.

PostHeaderIcon 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview

My driveway this week holds something sinister – something dark and powerful – the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Midnight Edition. This blacked-out pickup is also fitted with the LTZ trim package, which is the highest trim available with the Z71 Off-Road Package. Only the High Country trim outranks the LTZ. Don’t count the LTZ out though; it comes with just about every imaginable feature Chevy has available.

Pickup trucks might be workhorses, but modern examples have become thoroughbreds of luxury and creature comforts. My Silverado includes heated and vented front seats and leather over all five seating positions, memory settings for the driver’s seat, power-adjustable pedals, dual-zone and automatic climate controls, and room enough for four of the largest NFL linebackers and a scrawny waterboy in the middle seat in back. And let’s not forget handy features like four USB ports, three 12-volt chargers, a 110-volt household outlet, a center console designed for hanging file folders, and more cubbyholes and storage spots than most minivans.
Sure, tree huggers can argue against pickups since most people don’t use them for towing or hauling, but dadgummit, the Silverado is insanely practical.

But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. I do have a bone to pick with Chevy. Keep reading for that.

Continue reading for more information.

The 2017 Chevy Silverado LTZ Z71

“The Z71 package includes skid plates and recovery hooks for extra piece of mind.”

So, what’s my beef? Chevy apparently doesn’t think rear passengers need air vents. That might not be a big deal in Detroit, but in my home state of hot-as-heck Florida, anybody without direct airflow is sweating in the summer heat. Adding insult to injury, the Silverado (and its corporate twin, the GMC Sierra) is the only full-size pickup to not have rear air vents. Yep, the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Nissan Titan, and even the decade-old Toyota Tundra all keep their rear passengers comfortable.

Rants aside, the rest of the Silverado provides plenty to like. Its cargo bed is extremely easy to use thanks to those handy bumper steps and stake pocket hand-grabs. It has provisions for towing. The Z71 package includes skid plates and recovery hooks for extra piece of mind. Oh, and then there’s the engine.


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview - image 739275
“It boasts 355 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 383 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm.”

The Silverado is available with three engine choices: the 4.3-liter V-6, the 5.3-liter V-8, and the mighty 6.2-liter V-8. All belong to the EcoTec3 family, which represents the fifth-generation of small-block Chevy V-8s. (The 4.3-liter V-6 is essentially a 5.3-liter V-8 with two cylinders lobbed off.) The engines include variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, and cylinder deactivation. My tester came with the 5.3-liter, Chevy’s volume engine by far. It boasts 355 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 383 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. Somehow, the engine feels stouter than that, especially considering it’s moving 5,300 pounds around.
The sprint to 60 mph only takes 7.2 seconds. Sadly, Chevy limits the Silverado’s top speed to a measly 99 mph. Then again, the truck isn’t designed to bomb the Autobahn.

These days, the V-8 is mated with GM’s eight-speed automatic transmission. It shifts fine enough and is mostly invisible in the general driving experience. The extra gears certainly help with fuel economy, though. The EPA rates my 4WD tester at 20 mpg on the highway. Of course, in-city and mixed driving results in lower numbers – 15 mpg city and 17 mpg combined, to be exact. Still, that’s not bad for such an all-steel pickup with a fully boxed frame and a 9,100-pound tow rating. The truck can also lug 1,760 pounds in its bed.


2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview - image 739276

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71: An Overview - image 739279
“My tester has a starting price of $48,890 then adds $5,415 worth of options and another $1,295 in delivery fees.”

If things turn sour during a drive, the Silverado has a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It scored five stars in all but the rollover risk assessment, where it still earns a respectable four stars.

Of course, a loaded-out Silverado doesn’t come cheap. Sure, Chevy will sell you a base Silverado regular cab with zero options for $28,085, but unless you’re a fleet manager with a bottom line to meet, nobody buys a truck like that. My tester has a starting price of $48,890 then adds $5,415 worth of options and another $1,295 in delivery fees. The grand total comes to $55,600. While that is pricey, it’s in line with what the competition is charging for a comparable truck.

Anyway, this is just a quick look at the 2017 Chevy Silverado LTZ Z71 Midnight Edition that’s in my driveway this week. I’ll have a ton more in the coming days. Leave a comment if you have a question or want to see something specific.

References

Chevrolet Silverado


2016 Chevrolet Silverado - image 712066

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado.


2015 Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition - image 612398

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Silverado Midnight Edition.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car

This week has seen a 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE in my driveway. While there are plenty of interesting aspects to the car, the overarching theme is practicality wrapped in a reserved package. Where most compact sedans use flowy lines and outlandish styling to attract attention, the Jetta remains straight-laced. This no-nonsense approach to styling carries over into the car, making it about as honest as a family sedan can get. For that, I’ve got to give it props.

The Jetta might be labeled a compact sedan, but it offers 94 cubic feet of passenger volume and 16 cubic feet of trunk space. Rear passengers enjoy 38.1 inches of legroom, 37.1 inches of headroom, and 55.2 inches of shoulder room. Though I’m not a tall guy, I had plenty of space sitting behind the driver’s seat set adjusted for me. Comparatively, the 2017 Honda Civic, one of the most popular cars in the segment, has 97.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, an equal amount of rear-seat headroom, 55 inches of rear seat shoulder room, and 37.4 inches of rear legroom.
The Civic sedan is down about one cubic-foot of trunk space, too.

In practice, the Jetta is roomy for four adults. The rear bench can seat three in a pinch, but two is far more comfortable. My five-year-old daughter’s booster seat fits nicely back here, as well, snugly nestled between the side bolster and the seatbelt latch. The seatbelt is easy enough for her to use and buckle by herself. She can even open and close the rear door on her own, making the school pickup line much less stressful. Despite the roomy feel, the Jetta is small enough mom and dad can reach back and touch the kids – either to hand them something or “administer a hand of justice.”

Mom and dad also have plenty of room up front with plenty of storage spots. Best of all, the 2018 Jetta SE comes at a bargain. My tester had no options, preserving its $21,245 MSRP. Volkswagen does tack on $850 for destination and delivery, but that’s a typical price for any new vehicle. The Jetta’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is also inexpensive to fuel. The EPA estimates the Jetta with the five-speed manual to get 28 mpg city, an impressive 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined. I averaged right at 33 mpg during the week.

Stay tuned for the full, driven review of the 2018 VW Jetta and be sure to check out my other coverage of the car down below.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car - image 738484

Read more about it in our 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview.


How The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better - image 738525

Read how the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better.

PostHeaderIcon Ring in 2018 Already: 10 Models We’re Dying To See When The Calendar Flips A Page

With just a little over two months left before we say adieu to 2017, the wait for all 2018 model releases is hitting fever pitch. We can’t promise to make time move faster than it does, but what we can do is at least prepare everyone for what’s to come when the new year arrives. That said, let me be the first to say that 2018 is going to be a wild year for the auto industry, as old guards are retired, existing nameplates get their redesigns, and most importantly, all-new models are unleashed into the world.

Who knows, 2018 might even be the year when we take a big leap in electric and autonomous technology. A lot of things are at play when the new year rolls around so to keep the anticipation building, do check out this list of some of the hottest and most highly anticipated models to hit the streets next year. We can’t say that we like one of these models better over the other, but at least we’re giving you a good preview of what’s to come. Prepare those checkbooks, ladies and gentlemen, because some of these cars won’t come cheap.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Kia Stinger


2018 Kia Stinger - image 700374

Was there ever any doubt that the Kia Stinger would be on this list? Personally, I’ve been waiting for the Stinger to hit the streets for quite a while now just to see how it stacks up against the European competition. More than that is the excitement that comes with being the model that signals Kia’s entry into the performance sedan market that’s populated by the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, and Audi A4. Does the Kia Stinger and its 365-horsepower output hold up against the competition? We’re going to find out in 2018 and, for what it’s worth, I like Kia’s chances of making a statement when it debuts sometime around the fall of next year.

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Stinger.

Lexus LS


2018 Lexus LS 500 - image 700556

The Lexus LS flagship sedan is another late 2018 arrival and, just like the Stinger, there are a lot of expectations for this model to do well off the bat. The good news is that Lexus prepared it to meet those standards. For one, the LS is completely redesigned and features a longer, lower, and wider stance. That coupe-like dynamic should play well to those who weren’t fans of the outgoing version. Then there’s the engine, which isn’t anything to sneeze at. The LS will feature plenty of engine choices, beginning with a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo, V-6 that pumps out 415 horsepower and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. If that doesn’t suit your flight of fancy, Lexus is also offering a hybrid version in the form of the LS 500h. This variant will come with the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine to go with a couple of electric motors. Total output is rated at 354 horsepower, and while it isn’t as powerful or as fast as the gas version, it’s sporty enough that it shouldn’t matter. Besides, hybrid calls for better efficiency, so there’s a nice trade-off right there.

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus LS.

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon


2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon - image 729179

Ok, so this may be a little bit of a cheat here because deliveries of the Challenger SRT Demon are expected to start any time now if it hasn’t started already. But let’s face it: has there ever been a model this year that’s been hyped up to Timbuktu like the SRT Demon? I personally can’t think of one, though the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is making a late case for itself. Be that as it may, expect production – and the conversations about the Demon –
to bleed into the new year as customers slowly start receiving their cars. Without question, this super limited (only 3,000 units in the US) muscle car will dominate the narrative next year, especially if it lives up all the hype it has received since it was announced earlier this year. Hard to imagine going wrong with a car that can spit out 840 horsepower and 720 pound-feet of torque without so much as breaking a sweat in the process.

Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.

Tesla Model 3


2018 Tesla Model 3 - image 727971

Yet another model that’s actually already being delivered to the first batch of owners is the Tesla Model 3. And, like the Challenger SRT Demon, there’s tremendous hype surrounding the Model 3, though not exactly for boasting sinister power numbers. The Model 3, in essence, is Tesla’s entry-level offering for those who have been priced out of getting either the Model S sedan or the Model X SUV. There’s been a lot of news surrounding the Model 3 recently, particularly the car’s slower-than-expected production time, but rest assured, 2018 is going to be a huge year for the car because only then will it be determined if the Model 3 is the game-changing vehicle that Tesla has hyped it to be. Mark my words: the Model 3 will dominate plenty of discussions next year.

Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

Jeep Wrangler


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 669920

Oh, yes! It’s been 11 years since Jeep rolled out an all-new Wrangler, so you can understand why so many people are pumped up to see the next-generation model when it hits dealerships next year. As one of Jeep’s most popular models – Wrangler sales have consistently grown by roughly 20,000 units since 2011 – there are a lot of people waiting with baited breath to see if the new model can live up to the success of its predecessor. Needless to say, Jeep prepared it in such a way that it should be able to carry that burden. It’s already been announced that the new Wrangler will be available as a two-door, four-door Unlimited, and a pickup truck. Likewise, the model will feature a host of new engine choices, including the expected addition of a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 borrowed from the Ram 1500. This mil has up to 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque on tap and will work with a ZF eight-speed auto transmission for good measure.

Read more about the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

Alpine A110


2017 Renault Alpine A110 - image 708518

This is more of a personal choice than anything else because the model isn’t coming to the US. But, allow me to gush over the Alpine A110 one more time. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful sports cars I’ve seen in quite some time, and it’s upcoming release in 2018 has me wishing that I had a European address to go to so that I can get my hands on one. But alas, the A110 will remain across the pond, for now, depriving us the opportunity to gush over it in all its splendid beauty. Make no mistake though; the A110 is more than just eye-candy; it also features a 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbo engine that produces 252 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel it from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds before maxing out at a top speed of 155 mph. It really is a bummer that we can’t get our hands on the A110, but stranger things have happened. Cross your fingers that at least some of them find their way into the US. Legally, of course.

Read our full review on the Alpine A110.

Hyundai i30 N


2018 Hyundai i30 N - image 723127

Since we’re here lamenting about the status – or lack of one – of the Alpine A110 here in the US, how about we pour some salt in our wounds by also pointing out that the Hyundai i30 N is also unlikely to make its way to U.S. shores. This list has suddenly turned depressing. As I wipe my tears away, I should point out that the i30 N sits in a similar spot as the Kia Stinger being the first hot hatch offering to come out of Hyundai. And, just like the Stinger, there’s plenty of hype surrounding the i30 N and how it’s going to be able to stack up adjacent the establishment in its segment, which – by the way – includes titans like the Ford Focus ST and the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The i30 N certainly has the numbers to back up its hype – 246 ponies and 271 pound-feet of twist from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine – but only time will tell if the whole package translates into the car we all expect it to be. Good thing, then, that we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai i30 N.

Volvo XC40


2018 Volvo XC40 - image 733078

No list of mine is going to be complete without mentioning the latest upcoming release from Volvo. I’m not afraid to admit it either. Volvo has completely won me over, and the excitement I’m feeling in my body over the coming arrival of the XC40 is another indication that I’m fully on-board the bandwagon. I honestly don’t know what I’m most excited about when it comes to the XC40. It could be the fact that it’s actually Volvo’s first ever premium compact SUV. It could also be the fact that it has adopted Volvo’s new design language (one of the best in the business). It could also be that the crossover has enough advanced safety tech features that it helps to validate the automaker’s reputation. It might even be because the XC40 has enough engine options to make a prospective buyer’s head spin. Or, it could be a combination of all of the points I just mentioned. Either way, I’m excited to see the XC40 in full bloom and its arrival in 2018 is going to be cause for celebration in my household.

Read our full review on the Volvo XC40.

Chevrolet Equinox


2018 Chevrolet Equinox - image 689330

It’s not exactly an all-new model in the way some other cars on this list are, but still, let’s give some love to the 2018 Equinox. It’s only two years removed from getting the next-gen treatment, but already, Chevrolet is preparing the 2018 model to be 400 pounds lighter than its previous incarnation. On top of that, the steady choice of engine options remains one of its most important attributes, as is the returns owners get from any of these engines – 40 miles per gallon has been reported. It’s safe to say that the crossover and SUV markets will be as competitive as they’ve ever been in 2018 and the 2018 Equinox will definitely be in the thick of all the fighting.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Equinox.

Toyota Camry


2018 Toyota Camry - image 703838

The last spot is reserved for America’s best-selling car, or at least one of the best-selling: the Toyota Camry. Why am I excited for the 2018 release? There are enough reasons to be, including the model’s edgier styling, something that the Camry has never been the best at. Add that to its lineup of powerful and efficient engines, a wide array of advanced safety tech, and you’re looking at a model that’s fixing to keep its position as one of the most popular models in the US. It’s really as simple as that.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Camry.

PostHeaderIcon How The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better

This week I’m driving the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE – one trim up from the base model. It’s a no-frills sedan that doesn’t skimp on most modern “necessities” like power windows, keyless entry, and push-button start. There’s even a 6.3-inch touch screen with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. But one thing it’s missing is fancy controls for its HVAC system. Rather, this single-zone system has the three old-school knobs, three buttons, and nothing more. But you know what? It just works.

To understand my amazement of these simplistic controls, you’ve got to look at the Cadillac CTS-V I was driving last week. While I love that 640-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V-8, Cadillac’s CUE system spoiled my warm fuzzy feelings. Ask anyone and they’ll same the same – the CUE system is hard to use and requires taking eyes off the road and concentration in order to operate. Even the adjusting the HVAC’s temperature or fan speed settings is hard. The touch-sensitive, piano black surface of CUE sometimes didn’t respond to inputs and fingerprints were always visible.

Three minutes behind the Jetta’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, and I can operate the HVAC system without even looking. The knobs satisfyingly click as they rotate, making super simple to gauge how far you’ve turned them. What’s more, the direction and defrost knob allows for fine tuning between settings. For example, I can turn the knob one or two clicks towards the “feet” setting and still have the majority of air blowing at my face while my toes receive a slight breeze. It’s amazing.

So, here’s the thing. Automakers have a tendency to overcomplicate the little things. While this sometimes works in adding convenience, other times it only adds complexity and user frustration. I’d consider the Jetta’s HVAC controls more “luxurious” than the Cadillac’s CUE controls. Why? Simplicity wins out. Thankfully, Volkswagen’s upgraded HVAC controls with an automatic mode and dual-zone temperatures is just as simple to use, though it does lose out of the awesome adjustability between vent locations.

What do you think? Do you like simplicity over “high-tech,” yet complex controls? Do you consider simplicity a luxury? Let me know in the comments below.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

Read more about it in our 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview.

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