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Archive for the ‘TopSpeed Tested’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Chevrolet Cruze RS – Driven

The Chevrolet Cruze was not hurting for fans. As its first generation neared the end of its run in 2014, Cruze sales reached their high point, with more than 273,000 copies sold. Curious, then, that the Cruze suffered a setback in sales when it was redesigned in 2016 for the 2017 model year. Having spent a week with it recently, I can say that confuses me. The Cruze got sexy new sheet metal, a more-efficient powertrain, a new hatchback model, and improved ride and handling when it was redesigned. Yet, it sold fewer than 200,000 copies for the first time ever in 2016, if you don’t count its late introduction in 2010 when it was on sale for just three months. So, what gives?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze RS.


PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Santa Fe – Driven

Midsize crossovers are plentiful. They’re among the most popular vehicles on our roads today. As such, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe has its work cut out for it. After all, this is the segment of such titans as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander.

Those who pay attention to the vehicles around them on the road every day probably see a lot of midsize crossovers. It’s a super-popular class. Right-sized and relatively budget-friendly, these are the station wagons of our day.

With so much competition, it would be easy to get lost in the crowd. Ask Mazda’s CX-9 – the slowest-selling in this class in the 2016 calendar year, not counting the oddball, high-priced Volkswagen Touareg. With that in mind, Korean automaker Hyundai has its act together, and sales bear this out: The company moved 131,257 Santa Fes in 2016, an 11.1-percent increase over the year prior.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon The 2017 Kia Cadenza is Impressively Swanky

Kia isn’t known for its luxury sedans, but that might be changing soon. The automaker’s new-for-2017, second-generation Cadenza moves the bar well beyond anything previously found in its lineup. Even the range-topping K900 lacks some of the niceties found inside this BMW 5 Series competitor. Just look at that quilted leather!

I’ve been driving the 2017 Cadenza for the last week. The car has not only impressed my cynical, jaded journalist self, but also everyone who’s sat inside. Aside from the quilted bolsters, the leather seats are butter soft, not to mention heated and cooled up front. Rear passengers enjoy tons of legroom, while a padded center armrest makes elbows happy. A suede headliner frames the massive panoramic moonroof. Even the detailing around the switches and trim work is outstandingly posh. Sure, its no S-Class Maybach, but you’d be forgiven to mistake its fit and finish for a standard E-Class.

Real metal accents are placed where it counts – at high-touch areas like the gearshifter and steering wheel controls. These contrast well with the leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, too. Oh, and that steering wheel is heated as well.

Now the Cadenza isn’t perfect. The piano black plastic along the center console shows the smallest specks of dust and even signs of scratches, despite the car’s young odometer reading. This might be the telltale wear point for pre-owned Cadenza shoppers. Nevertheless, the interior – as a whole – is genuinely striking. Even more so considering the price. Kia charges right at $45,000 for the range-topping Limited trim, like my tester. You’d pay $6,000 more just to have a base-trimmed 5 Series. A highly equipped Lexus ES costs nearly $49,000. So needless to say, the Kia represents value.

Of course, what the Cadenza provides in luxury, the Kia name still represents bargain vehicles. That will continue to change, just as it has over the last 15 years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kia finally shake its econobox stigma by the decade’s end.


PostHeaderIcon Fiat 124 Spider Lusso – Driven

Much has been made in the automotive press about the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider’s close relationship with the Mazda Miata. But the so-called “Fiata” is no mere badge-engineered Miata. In some ways, the 124 is better than the Miata with which it shares its chassis and a production line.

Continue reading to learn more about the Fiat 124 Spider Lusso.


PostHeaderIcon Texas Auto Writers Association Names the 2016 Car of Texas & Family Car of Texas

Every spring, dozens of journalists from all over Texas and around the U.S. gather to compare, test, and crown the winner of the “Car of Texas” competition. The hard-fought award comes from the Texas Auto Writers Association as a result from its Springtime Auto Roundup, signifying the winner’s importance to the Texas people. On top of that, several other vehicles walked away with segment awards, including TAWA’s “Family Car of Texas” award.

As a member of TAWA, I traveled to Fort Worth, home of the Texas Motor Speedway, for some seat time in 51 cars and crossovers before evaluating each one on its performance of intended function and how it stacks up against its competition.

The list of competitors was certainly thick, with each category having multiple entries, some of which are new or heavily revised for the 2016 or 2017 model years. The compact car category had the largest number of contenders, with eight entries, followed by both the performance sedan and activity vehicle segments, each having six entries. There was one loner, the 2016 Dodge Viper GTC, holding down the supercar category.

Beyond the categories, there were also competitions for the best new feature and best new interior. Presiding above them all were the top honors – the Car of Texas and the Family Car of Texas. What vehicles were crowned? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for the results break-down


PostHeaderIcon Toyota Sienna Premium AWD: Driven

The stigma of the minivan over the years has gone from being smart, capable people hauler to “I wouldn’t be caught dead in one.” Why is that?

Why do we shun a segment of the auto industry that’s probably the only segment that consistently makes sense? For some reason we’re okay with putting four-cylinder engines in muscle cars, adding 20 inch wheels to family sedans, or with BMW->http://www.topspeed.com/cars/bmw/index115.html] limiting functionality in the name of style with the X6, but we just aren’t okay with minivans. We prefer less-practical, less-versatile and less-roomy SUVs. We’re okay with stuffing third-row seats back there that 85 percent of people can’t fit in just so we can say that we’re not driving a minivan.

As a result of our turned-up noses, minivans have been axed from major manufacturer’s lineups over the past 10 years. Ford’s Freestar admittedly wasn’t its best effort, but it still was more practical (and cheaper) than an Explorer. The GM threesome of of the Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Chevrolet Uplander were likely even worse, but they held their own on the cheaper end of the minivan market. And Hyundai’s first minivan, the Entourage, didn’t even make it to a second generation.

But there has been one minivan that has consistently been the lesser of all the supposed evils, though: the Toyota Sienna.

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota Sienna Premium AWD.

Toyota Sienna Premium AWD: Driven originally appeared on topspeed.com on Sunday, 8 March 2015 12:00 EST.

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PostHeaderIcon I Tortured Cooper Winter Tires

I am testing a set of winter tires from Cooper Tire to see how much benefit a driver in the snow belt will receive, and so far I have learned a lot. With lots of ice, slush and just plain freezing temps on clear roads, I have discovered why winter tires are a smart purchase. That said, I really can’t give a full review of these tires unless I get a chance to test them in real heavy winter conditions. As it happens, Cooper was holding a winter-tire testing event in Canada, and our tires were on the list of included products.

I asked if I could follow the team up to Canada to give the tires a good flogging on ice and snow, and they were more than happy to oblige. As a bonus I got a chance to test out a new all-season tire that is supposed to be nearly as good as winter rubber in the snow, I was able to test a more performance-oriented SUV winter tire, and I even learned how to drift a BMW on ice. If you remember the mayhem that happened the last time I got to be a tire tester, well, it happened again. This time we killed a Jeep though, not a Corvette.

Continue reading to find out more about the Cooper Tire Winter Tire Testing Program

I Tortured Cooper Winter Tires originally appeared on topspeed.com on Friday, 27 February 2015 17:00 EST.

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PostHeaderIcon Product Review: Empire Covers Titan 5L Car Cover

We put the Titan 5L car cover from Empire Covers to the test. Made with five layers of waterproof material and lined with fleece, this car cover is designed to protect against the elements.

Product Review: Empire Covers Titan 5L Car Cover originally appeared on topspeed.com on Thursday, 26 February 2015 16:30 EST.

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PostHeaderIcon TopSpeed Tested – Lemur BlueDriver Bluetooth OBD-II Tester

We’ve all been there. You get up to head to work, or your driving down the highway when suddenly your car dings and there is a lovely check-engine light on the dash. This is soon followed by a trip to a local parts store to have the code checked for free, followed by a lengthy discussion with some mechanic somewhere about the problem with your car. Unfortunately many shops, especially dealers, don’t want to take your word for it and demand to run the codes themselves, at a cost to you.

If you are a fan of doing things yourself, and you want to put an end to annoying scenarios like this, maybe you should check out this nifty little device from Lemur. It’s called the BlueDriver, and it’s a Bluetooth-enabled OBD-II scanner that pairs to your smartphone. Not only is it a tiny tool that is always connected to your car, it lets you show your diagnostic codes to any mechanic on the spot. No more arguing about what the code reader at the parts store said. We have seen tools like this before, but Lemur thinks theirs is one of the best.

I’ve been testing one for a few months now. I’ve had it in everything from my Volkswagen Golf to a Porsche 911, and I have a lot to say about this little thing.

Read on to learn more about the Lemur BlueDriver OBD-II reader.

TopSpeed Tested – Lemur BlueDriver Bluetooth OBD-II Tester originally appeared on topspeed.com on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 19:00 EST.

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PostHeaderIcon One Month With The Cooper Tire WM-SA2

A few weeks ago I asked if you should use winter tires on your car, even if you don’t see that much snow. Well I have since slapped a set of winter rubber from Cooper Tire on my daily driver and have spent a few weeks trekking through the gray, wet and slushy mess that is winter in East Tennessee. So far the tires have seen rain storms that turned to ice storms, snow in the Appalachian mountains, clear roads but with temperatures in the single digits, and even a few random warm days with temps near 60.

Overall in the last month or so, I have experienced three of the four seasons with my winter tires and I have lived to tell the tale. But more than that, I have learned a lot about what makes my tire choice a smart decision in this climate, and what makes it seem less intelligent.

Continue reading to learn more about the Cooper Tire WM-SA2

One Month With The Cooper Tire WM-SA2 originally appeared on topspeed.com on Tuesday, 3 February 2015 19:00 EST.

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PostHeaderIcon TopSpeed Tested – MXGP: The Official Motocross Video Game

If you love cars, you are pretty well catered-for in the world of video games. With long-standing franchises like Need for Speed, Forza Motorsports, Grid, and Gran Turismo, and more coming every year, it is very easy to get your four-wheeled fix in a digital space. If you prefer the two-wheeled world of motorcycles though, you are left a little wanting. There are some great games out there, like the Moto GP series and Trials HD, but the pickings are much more slim. Well, gaming developer Milestone is looking to bolster the market a bit with the new game MXGP. MXGP is the officially licensed game for Motocross, and as such it features tracks and riders from the current championship series.

That means you get 60 riders, 60 bikes, and 14 different tracks.

What makes MXGP interesting is a focus on the special characteristics that make Motocross interesting and exciting. While car sims focus on tire physics, MXGP has a dirt physics system that sees the tracks get molded, altered and formed by the bikes, just as you would see in a real race. Couple this with a fun and advanced control scheme that takes driver balance into consideration, and you end up with a game that doesn’t really feel or play like anything else on the market.

Being different is not enough to make a game great though. I spent a few weeks digging through the various racing series, modes and features that MXGP has on offer to decide if its worth a buy, or if it’s little more than some fancy features wrapped around a boring game.

Read on to learn more about MXGP: The Official Motocross Video Game

TopSpeed Tested – MXGP: The Official Motocross Video Game originally appeared on topspeed.com on Monday, 2 February 2015 15:00 EST.

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