Automoblog.net http://www.automoblog.net We Talk Cars. Sat, 21 Apr 2018 20:36:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 http://www.automoblog.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/automoblog-Twitter-profile-60x60.png Automoblog.net http://www.automoblog.net 32 32 8746165 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE AWD Review http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/21/2018-toyota-rav4-hybrid-se-awd-review/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/21/2018-toyota-rav4-hybrid-se-awd-review/#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 20:32:55 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96313

If you want efficiency, the RAV4 Hybrid is a fuel-stingy model for urban commuters. Don’t think that hybrid means slow on the go either. It’s peppy and has quick acceleration. With its hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive, it’s almost in a class by itself.

This week, we drove the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE AWD.

What’s New For 2018

The Hybrid can now be had in an LE base trim, further lowering its point of entry, while an Adventure trim is available for the first time. The SE also gains 0.4-inches of ground clearance.

Features & Options

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE AWD ($32,185) comes standard with a seven-inch touchscreen, heated outside mirrors, smartphone app integration, and satellite radio. It also comes with new safety systems like Pre-Collision, Lane Departure Alert, Lane Keeping Assist, pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control.

The SE adds sportier suspension tuning, 18-inch wheels, special exterior styling, and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems. SE trims also get automatic LED headlights, LED running lights and taillights, a height-adjustable power lift gate, an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustments, and heated front seats.

The Advanced Technology package ($2,785) added a bird’s-eye view parking camera, Entune Premium Audio with navigation and app suite, and for the SE, the parking sensors and auto-dimming mirror. Total MSRP on this Hybrid tester, including destination: $36,085.

Interior Highlights

The RAV4 cabin offers plenty of room with some soft-touch surfaces, but there are a lot of hard plastic areas. The instrument panel holds the digital display and a seven-inch touchscreen; the climate and audio controls are easy to figure out. The driver gets a car-like seating position on a fairly comfortable SofTex faux leather seat. Visibility is good in the RAV4 even with its raked roofline.

In the rear, passengers get enough room for three adults, but they may find the rear bench a little flat and hard for extended trips. The kids won’t notice a thing. The seat backs do recline and fold forward, making it a good cargo-hauling machine.

The large rear doors make it easy for adults to slide in and to load larger items. Cargo volume is cavernous: 38.4 cubic feet with all seats up, and 73.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The RAV4 is an ultra-practical small SUV for families with kids and dogs.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

This RAV4 hybrid is powered by a 154 horsepower, 2.5-liter engine coupled with the latest generation of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The RAV4 Hybrid delivers a total combined output of 194 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard on the Hybrid, with a separate electric motor driving the rear wheels. 

The new RAV4 Hybrid is more powerful than the standard models but still delivers an EPA-rated 34/33 city/highway and 32 combined mpg.

Driving Dynamics

When we “pushed” the push-button start there was just deafening quiet. We had to check to see if the RAV4 had really started! Once we got underway, the RAV4 Hybrid was responsive and had more power at takeoff than many of the gas-only competitors. The SE has firmer damping in the shock absorbers, but you can barely feel it. The ride is still good.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid can accelerate up to 20 mph on battery power alone, if driven mildly like we did through the parking lot this week. After that, the gas engine kicks in. If you aren’t real easy on the pedal, the gas engine is likely to kick in below 10 mph. We had fun playing with it to see how far we could get on battery power alone. We then pushed it hard up I-70 into the mountains west of Denver and it had plenty of power. Although, typical of Toyota hybrids, the gasoline engine connected to the Electronic CVT produces quite a howl when accelerating hard.

We had the option of shifting the transmission into EV, ECO, and Sport modes. Around town in heavy traffic, EV works well for saving fuel, ECO otherwise for most city driving, and Sport as we got onto the highway. Each serves their specific driving style and worked well. Responses are a bit sharper in Sport mode, as the transmission makes downshifts smoother by blipping the throttle momentarily.

Conclusion

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE AWD offers ample interior space and a powerful, yet fuel-stingy drivetrain. It comes with Toyota’s reputation for reliability and has loads of standard safety features. It offers families a fuel-efficient city hauler with all-weather capability.

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Gallery

2018 Toyota RAV4 Official Site.

Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/21/2018-toyota-rav4-hybrid-se-awd-review/feed/ 0 96313
New Study: Pet Owners Worry About Safety, Can Automakers Respond? http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/21/new-study-pet-owners-worry-about-safety-can-automakers-respond/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/21/new-study-pet-owners-worry-about-safety-can-automakers-respond/#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:22:42 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96125 Here at this publication, we love animals as much as we love cars. However, a new study from Volvo found some pet owners are hesitant to take a road trip with their best friend. Volvo Reports: Dogs, Cars and the People Who Love Them was recently conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Volvo among 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and above, including 1,342 pet owners.

“Our survey showed that pet parents want to travel with their furry friends, but worry about safety,” explained Jim Nichols, Product and Technology Communications Manager, Volvo Car USA.

Survey Says

The study found that more than a third (38 percent) of millennial pet owners worry about driving with their dog. Among all demographics, nearly a quarter (24 percent) say they keep their dog at home because of safety concerns. Not surprisingly, a majority of Americans (69 percent) view their pets as family members, with millennials being the most pet-conscious generation. Over 50 percent of millennial respondents said they buy better food for their dog than themselves. Nearly 50 percent said they would decline a night out if it meant leaving their dog at home.

“Overall, there is an awareness opportunity among pet parents,” Nichols said. “I was most surprised that nearly one in four would leave their dog home on long trips for fear about their safety.”

Addressing The Hype

In 2011, the Center for Pet Safety began crash testing pet safety products and launched a certification program for harnesses, crates, and carriers. The certification and crash testing programs, carried out by MGA Research Corporation, are voluntary and a rating is assigned accordingly. Passing products are given a designated seal for packaging.

We did a special report on the science of pet safety last year and were amazed at how easily consumers can be mislead. Often times, pet safety products hardly live up to their claims. In fact, during crash testing with a “dummy dog,” some of the products outright failed, leading to injury and certain death for the animal. The Center for Pet Safety published the results of their controlled testing, complete with videos and an analysis of the data. The videos are hard to stomach if you’re a pet lover.

“The pet products industry is a 70 billion dollar, highly unregulated industry,” explained Lindsey Wolko, Founder of the Center for Pet Safety. “When it comes to marketing it’s the Wild West.”

In a controlled crash test conducted by the Center for Pet Safety, a commonly sold dog restraint fails and launches the test puppy from the seat. Photo: Center for Pet Safety.

Essential Insights

Wolko advises consumers be mindful, even if pet safety products say “crash tested” or advocate to be in the pet’s best interest.

“The idea that properly secured pets are uncomfortable if restrained is a dangerous marketing tactic,” she said. “We have scientifically proven that extension tethers and ziplines increase the risk of injury to both the human passengers and their pets. This is a very real danger for pet owners who buy into the marketing hype behind a product.”

“Not only is the safety for your pets important but also the safety of everyone in the car,” explained Lauren Witt, a Detroit-based Automotive Product Specialist who works with major manufacturers. “If your dogs are not properly secured and have the ability to roam around, they could be a huge distraction for the driver.”

In Volvo’s survey, 97 percent admit to unsafe driving habits with their pets, including 48 percent who do not own any pet-specific safety gear. Another 41 percent let their dog ride in the front seat while only a mere five percent have a built-in pet safety system for their vehicle.

“Some pet owners seem to think their pets are immune to danger,” Wolko said. “Not that we wish this on anyone, but if they experienced what the people who have contacted us to report injuries and deaths of pets in car crashes have, we would have a much higher percentage who protect their pets while traveling.”

Meaningful Solutions

71 percent of respondents felt automakers should proactively include more pet-friendly safety features into their vehicles, especially for dogs. Another 46 percent believe vehicle manufacturers that do not offer these features do not care enough about pet safety.

“I wouldn’t say they don’t care – I think it’s just something that was never emphasized in the industry,” Witt said. “The automotive industry is always evolving and manufacturers are always trying to stay up-to-date and ahead of the game when it comes to safety.”

“We have to ensure the solutions are real and meaningful,” Wolko added. “I’ve seen several vehicle manufacturers offer travel ‘solutions’ for pets that were a joke – simply a marketing tactic. That’s not what we need.”

Volvo has pioneered a number of safety innovations – the iconic three-point seat belt, for example – and is examining what the survey’s results ultimately mean. Volvo already has pet safety accessories that directly tie into the vehicle, including a dog harness and gate, load compartment divider, and protective steel grill. The automaker says their safety systems work in unison to ensure occupants, furry or otherwise, are protected as much as possible.

“All accessories must past strict quality and testing requirements set by the company; the dog gate, divider, and rear grill are made of high-strength steel,” Nichols explained. “Volvo is the only manufacturer that has been developing protective steel grills and dog gates for over 20 years to keep pets in place in the event of an accident.”

Volvo’s pet safety products are available through the company’s retailers in the U.S. and Canada. Photo: Volvo Car USA.

Ongoing Work

Wolko notes that Volvo’s survey is revealing, but not necessarily surprising and believes more needs to be done. The Center for Pet Safety continues to team with vehicle brands in the interest of creating truly safe products for pet parents. She is optimistic that automakers can rise to the challenge, but has some reservations.

“The work we do at the Center for Pet Safety focuses on the aftermarket products for a reason, and I honestly feel the aftermarket brands that have achieved CPS Certification are far ahead of the vehicle manufacturers,” Wolko explained. “There are so many challenges for a vehicle manufacturer – their primary responsibility is to the safety of the human passenger – and that’s where the regulations around safety stop. The reality is that pet safety is not likely to be regulated.”

“Hopefully this survey will make manufacturers more aware of the importance of pet safety to their consumers,” Witt added. “It is worrisome there are not a lot of safe options for pet travel.”

How pet safety products are engineered and designed ultimately determines if they will be effective in protecting our furry family members. However, Wolko stresses the importance of communication and goes back to the marketing angles that ultimately influence buying decisions. She believes in this area automakers can truly set an example.

“Ideally, I’d like to tweak a few things in vehicles, but until we build consensus across the automotive industry it is unlikely to be a universal change,” Wolko said. “It’s important to focus on indirect messages of safety when pets are featured in vehicle commercials – they need to be properly secured while featured in those commercials. It doesn’t mean you lose the humor and charm of the commercial, but instead it becomes a familiar visual and an emotional element: it’s an ‘I protect you because I love you’ story in these commercials.”

“As shown in this survey, pets are part of the American family and we seek to protect what is important to those that drive a Volvo car,” Nichols added.

Future Considerations

The pet survey is the first in a series of Volvo Reports from the automaker and Harris Poll meant to examine the American opinion across four central automotive themes: design, safety, technology, and environment. While universal change with regard to pet safety and the automotive industry may seem a slow process, Volvo’s survey is promising. It shows how automakers need to remember our pets when designing future vehicles, and it shows an increasing awareness for the lovable creatures in our life.

“It makes me happy that a lot of people do take pet safety into consideration,” Witt said. “The best advice I could give is to make sure you think about your pets first.”

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/21/new-study-pet-owners-worry-about-safety-can-automakers-respond/feed/ 0 96125
Polestar 1 Heading To China After Intense Testing http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/20/polestar-1-heading-to-china-after-intense-testing/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/20/polestar-1-heading-to-china-after-intense-testing/#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 22:04:53 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96295 Test drivers and engineers recently spent two weeks in the freezing temperatures north of the Artctic Circle. The job? Put a Polestar 1 prototype through strict endurance testing in temperatures as low as -18 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the frigid temperatures and harsh conditions, the Prototype exceeded expectations.

“Our test drivers have given us some enthusiastic feedback on the handling and dynamics especially,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer, Polestar.

Testing & Analysis

The team analyzed how the car’s various components responded while in cold weather, from the chassis and suspension, to the drivetrain and batteries. Test drivers focused specifically on the Polestar 1’s torque vectoring system, enabled by two rear electric motors with individual planetary gear sets.

“Besides being very happy with the balance of the chassis, they are particularly excited about the torque vectoring,” Ingenlath continued. “We are now very confident about how this enhances the Polestar 1’s cornering responsiveness and accuracy.”

The location was also selected for the ability to test on ice, which gave the team a perspective on the handling dynamics.

“This is a driver’s car,” Ingenlath added.

A Polestar 1 prototype is subjected to rigorous testing in northern Sweden. Photo: Polestar.

In Person

The Polestar 1 is now heading to Beijing for Auto China 2018 although prototype testing will continue throughout this year. After making its global media debut in Shanghai last October, this is the first opportunity for the Chinese public to see the new performance hybrid. Auto China 2018 begins on April 25th and runs through May 4th. According to Ingenlath, Polestar’s presence at the show is crucial.

“We look forward to introducing the car to the Chinese public for the first time, a key market for Polestar,” he said.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Polestar.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/20/polestar-1-heading-to-china-after-intense-testing/feed/ 0 96295
Chapter 3: Teslas In The Middle of Nowhere http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/20/chapter-3-teslas-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/20/chapter-3-teslas-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:04:45 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96287 The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me is a gasoline-fueled narrative by automotive journalist Tony Borroz. It details the joys, thrills, and even the uncertainties of the car-obsessed lifestyle. In advance of the book’s release, we are previewing the first few chapters. Chapters one and two here

Thanks to the little voice in my head, okay, the voice from Google maps coming through my Bluetooth earpiece (a necessity in a soft-top, it’s loud in here), I’m bounced off the main route from southern Arizona through Phoenix and on into Palm Springs. Google says this is for traffic, and I believe it.

Besides, since my Miata is both black and lacks air conditioning (must save weight), the last thing I want is to get stuck in the middle of traffic, in the middle of Phoenix, in the middle of yet another broiling day in the desert.

Buzzard Buffet

So I’m shunted off towards Maricopa and Gila Bend and through the Sonoran Desert National Monument. It looks like a Road Runner cartoon. And, as predicted by Google, sparsely trafficked. I’m heading north doing my usual five-over the posted speed limit when a dark blue Tesla Model S blows by me.

“Well you don’t have range anxiety it seems,” I say to myself.

Maybe it’s too many experiences of having the finest in British electrical “systems” fail me in the middle of nowhere that I see this man – older white guy driving, not-as-older white gal in the passenger seat, both of them quaffed and polished, rich-looking, in a word – as being a little on the brave side at first. How far is he from a charging station? If he runs the batteries dry, will Tesla come out to rescue him? If they do, will they get to him before those buzzards do? (Side note: There are literal buzzards in the sky more often than not around here. When you see them wheeling down, closer and closer to the desert floor, you know something (or someone) is coming to a rather grizzly end.)

I figured he knows what he’s doing. The Tesla had Arizona plates, and everything about the guy said “Scottsdale” or “Chandler” or some other rich, white burbclave where you can drop 100K on a car and the rent-a-pigs at the front gate of your “community” stand athwart any of those people who make you feel uncomfortable. But still, it was the rarity of seeing an EV out in the middle of nowhere that caught me by surprise.

You see lots of Teslas in large metro areas. Lots in Phoenix and Tucson – and with the near-constant sunshine and dropping prices of solar panels, here’s the area where you could take your personal transportation completely off the grid. The Bay Area has a lot of them, per car-capita, but Seattle has tons of the things. I’m assuming the rich, well to-do buyers in places like Chicago and Los Angeles and Miami and such look upon Elon’s offerings with approval.

Still . . . desert + middle of nowhere + failing battery capacity = buzzard buffet.

“Well you don’t seem to have range anxiety.”

Tolling Bells

At least in my mind, I’m musing, when whoosh, another Tesla Model S goes stonking by me. Given my rate of speed, this second one must be pushing the ton. This one was white, again with an older white guy driving, but with no passengers. If the first guy was brave, in my initial, conservative estimation, this guy was braver than Indiana Jones.

But there it was: The Future.

That was my conclusion as the white Tesla disappeared into the vanishing point distance. If not one, but two people, and in quick succession at that, felt just fine driving an EV in this situation, then eventually everyone would.

They might not all be Teslas – and probably won’t, given Tesla’s shakiness (both in terms of falling quality at the moment and continued red ink) – but eventually EVs will become a larger and larger portion of what we see on the road. Eventually performance cars with internal combustion engines will be regarded by other drivers and by people walking down sidewalks with the same curiosity they show today when they see a Model T. “Look’it that, you have to start it with a crank!” “No airbags. Not one!” “Your Ferrari has twelve cylinders?!”

I hear our funeral dirge, far off in the distance, can you?

Oh well.

Fast & Furious

Performance cars were always a small slice of the pie. And who cares if nine out of ten drivers choose something with all the personality of a toaster to “drive?” I don’t. I’m actually quite rare for a gearhead: I love public transportation. It’s handy in big cities and, from a gearhead’s perspective, actually beneficial to us. The more people using public transportation, the fewer of them there are on the road. In front of me. Going five miles an hour under the speed limit. Texting. Causing my blood pressure to rise . . . to . . . breathe, breathe Tony. Calm down.

And in a way, a variation about that is how I feel about EVs. The facts of the matter are pretty clear by now: cars are poisoning our atmosphere and are a leading contributor to global warming. We are going to have to Deal with that, or it will Deal with us.

And EVs are fun, even if most people don’t realize it. I’ve played around with my fair share of Teslas and, in addition to being high-tech and flashy and Helping with the environment (with a capital “H”), they are GD Friggin’ fast! Teslas, and any EV with software set up that way, are a complete blast to drive. They almost feel like driving in a video game (Forza or Grand Turismo, take your choice). All you have to do is mash your right foot and point it. BOOM! You are Down The Road. And I mean like now, daddy-o.

Tesla Roadsters, for example, are frighteningly effective on an AutoX track. They’re small enough to fit between gates and around cones and, thanks to the physics of electric motors, all that torque (and there is a lot of it) comes in rightfrigginnow! Sure, the Roadster is heavy, no way to get around that. But as my oldest brother once said: “horsepower overcomes many handling deficiencies.”

Tesla Roadster. Photo: Tesla Motors.

The More Things Change . . .

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t there more EVs out there?

To me, there are two main factors: range and cost.

Range is something anyone can readily understand. The good thing is this is slowly being dealt with. Slowly, range is becoming greater and greater. That won’t be a problem. Eventually. Of course, this does run right into the concept of energy density. Energy density works like this: How much energy do you get out of a power source of a given size. Look at my 1994 Miata. It has an 11.5-gallon fuel tank about the size of an old hard-sided suitcase. Once full, I can drive 300 miles (easy) before it runs dry.

To get that same range (give or take) out of a Tesla (the current range performance benchmark) takes a battery pack the size of a futon that weighs right around half a ton. That is energy density. And that is the other engineering hurdle to be cleared after getting that range thing finally wired.

Cost, on the other hand, is more problematic. At the moment, the price point of these things, Teslas specifically, are high. Like right around $100,000 high. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives and yes, there is the (slowly) rolling out of the Tesla Model 3, but still, if you want to get what counts as “acceptable” in the EV world, you better have the cash. Is that really so bad? Yes, yes it is. In a way. Because I want one of these, but 100-large is still 100-large (and hey, I’m a writer, I don’t even have one-large at this point).

Of course the thing about electric cars is that you have to realize you’re paying for pretty much everything up front. Since there’s no (real) maintenance to speak of, manufactures build that in to their profit structure (i.e. no dealer profit streams). It’s sort of like you’re buying all the “gas” you’re ever going to need right up front too, in a way, since your electricity rates are (generally) pretty low. So if you factor that in, if you went and bought a Camry and had to pay for all the maintenance up front, and had to pay for all your gas up front too, Camrys wouldn’t be that cheap either.

The More They Stay The Same

But where would I have been a century ago? Would I have been standing on a sidewalk in a city, seeing a rich guy drive by in a Marmon and sighing wistfully, “Man, if only I had the bank account to afford that!” Yes, yes I would. Think about it. 100 years ago, cars were finicky, short-ranged toys for rich people to play around with and have bragging rights over their lessers. And today? Tell me a Tesla Model S or X doesn’t do the same thing. Sure, for now they’re 90 percent owned and operated by rich people, but soon enough, the Model T of the electric vehicle world will show up, and that will be the end of the ball game.

Soon there will be something that does 90 percent of what a Tesla Model S does, and it will be affordable to 75 percent of the public, and that will be that. Goodbye to minivans equipped with internal combustion engines. Good by to sedans and taxis and delivery trucks and school busses and SUVs equipped with internal combustion engines. They will be parked in museums next to horse-drawn wagons. So it goes.

Horse-drawn carriages on display at the Autoworld Museum, Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Carl Anthony for Automoblog.net.

Odd Couple

I’m outside of Blythe or Mesa Verde or Desert Center – who can tell, it’s miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. I’m stonking along at 85 or so. It’s hard to tell. Did you know first-gen Miata speedos are set a little low? They are. You’re always going about two miles per hour slower than indicated. Anyhoo, ahead of me in the right lane (keep right except to pass (or unless the pavement is too chewed up for a short wheelbase car)) is something red and low and loping along. It looks like a big red running shoe. As I gain on it, and I’m pulling it by the yard, I see what it is: A brand new Ferrari GTC4Lusso. The refined replacement for the rather odd Ferrari FF.

And I mean odd in a bunch of ways.

Both the FF and the GTC4Lusso (yeah, it’s all crammed together in one word like that) had this bizarre, if effective, four-wheel drive system. Sure, it works, but it’s complexity only brings visions of frighteningly large repair bills to my mind. I mean, “You have to re-do the entire foundation on my house?” large. The other odd thing is the way it looks. It’s an old style, shooting-brake, long roof kind of thing. In a way it works.

On the Ferrari, it looks sleek and rapid and well proportioned. And it does have a level of practicality to it. GTC4Lussos seat four (they say) and are, of all things, hatchbacks, so you can carry a fair amount of stuff. But from some angles, they look like a big clown shoe; la scarpa di buffo. Ferrari comes ever so close to pulling it off. So very, very close, but . . . la scarpa di buffo. Whataya gonna do?

Fat Cats, Fast Cars & False Assumptions

So I pull up on the GTC4 and ease around him without breaking my stride. Of course I’m thinking that if our situations were reversed, and I was driving something with a six-liter V12 painted Rosso Corsa I’d be going considerably faster than he was.

“C’mon old man, give it some boot!” I think as I pull alongside him. I glance over and see that he’s looking at me. Older. Well-heeled. Accessorized with a Rolex, a gold bracelet, and a gold neck chain. Money. Moneymoneymoney.

I know he couldn’t hear me, but at that moment he shot me a look like a Mother Superior mid-rage.

It was if he said, “How dare you, you insolent little urchin. You with your mass-produced car from a non-European country. Good day. I said good day!”

I snap my gaze back to the road ahead. The next vehicle is about 30 yards away, so no worries there. I get 15 yards on the GTC4, signal and pull back into the right lane. I swear as I look into the mirror I see the old guy slowly shaking his head at me. “Such an affront! I do say! Away with you, away!”

Immediately my mind drifts to what happens to those who possess his attitude unchecked. Gauzy visions of the Place de la Concorde and jeering crowds and a massive shiny blade held high in the morning sun. Le rasoir national attend, mon vieux! Le rasoir national attend! It’s amusing how the rich and entitled feel so secure and sheltered by their treasures and privileges. Antoinette felt that way; the czarina felt that way I think to myself as I leave the GTC4 in my rearview mirror.

Le rasoir national attend. Attention, ça t’attend!

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/20/chapter-3-teslas-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/feed/ 0 96287
Infiniti Promises New Models, Manufacturing, Electrification In China http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/infiniti-promises-new-models-manufacturing-electrification-in-china/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/infiniti-promises-new-models-manufacturing-electrification-in-china/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 23:50:28 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96272 Infiniti has announced plans to build five new vehicles in China in the next five years, beginning with the QX50 crossover. The news comes ahead of the Beijing International Motor Show and highlights the importance of the Chinese market and electrification for Infiniti.

“Over the next five years Infiniti is planning to localize five new vehicles in China, tripling our sales in our fastest growth market, globally,” explained Roland Krueger, Chairman and Global President, Infiniti Motor Company, Ltd. “As part of our roadmap to electrify our portfolio, we anticipate that by 2025, more than 50 percent of new Infiniti vehicles sold globally and in China will be electrified.”

Continued Growth

Infiniti operates in China via a partnership with Dongfeng Motor Company Ltd., China’s largest automotive joint venture. In 2017, Infiniti sold a record 48,408 vehicles in China, a 16 percent increase from the prior year.

“Together with our partner Dongfeng Motor Company Ltd., Infiniti is pursuing localization in China for China, expanding our network footprint and introducing new technologies, Krueger continued.

Before the Los Angeles Auto Show last year, Infiniti revealed the world’s first production variable compression engine for the 2019 QX50. The 2.0-liter engine, known as a “VC-Turbo,” adjusts its compression ratio to maximize performance. Infiniti says this challenges the notion that only hybrid and diesel powertrains can deliver high torque and efficiency.

“We will continue to strive to make Infiniti the top premium challenger brand in the market,” Krueger added. 

Infiniti spent 20 years developing Variable Compression-Turbocharged technology for production. Photo: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

Availability & In Person

During the Beijing International Motor Show the new QX50 will be unveiled for the first time in Asia. Local production of the QX50 will begin in the near future at the company’s manufacturing facility in Dalian, China. The QX50 crossovers built in China will be sold exclusively to the Chinese market and will be available for purchase later this year.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/infiniti-promises-new-models-manufacturing-electrification-in-china/feed/ 0 96272
2018 Ford F-150: EPA Figures Announced For Power Stroke Diesel Engine http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/2018-ford-f-150-epa-figures-announced-for-power-stroke-diesel-engine/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/2018-ford-f-150-epa-figures-announced-for-power-stroke-diesel-engine/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 22:44:44 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96263 Earlier this year, Ford revealed the performance specs for the F-150’s first 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. At the time, fuel economy ratings from the EPA were forthcoming but Ford says those have officially arrived. EPA-estimates come in at 22/30 city/highway and 25 combined mpg.

“Even a few years ago, customers wouldn’t have imagined an EPA-estimated rating of 30 mpg highway would be possible in a full-size pickup,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford Executive Vice President, Product Development and Purchasing.

The fuel economy ratings are achieved in part by the F-150’s aluminum-alloy body, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and the use of durable materials like compacted graphite iron throughout the engine. The 3.0-liter Power Stroke shares similar commercial-grade technologies with the larger 6.7 found in Ford’s Super Duty trucks.

“Our team of crazy-smart engineers rose to the challenge,” Thai-Tang said.

The 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel generates 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft. of torque to provide a best-in-class towing capability of 11,440 lbs., according to Ford. In addition to the tow rating, Ford says the new Power Stroke provides a best-in-class diesel payload of 2,020 lbs. for XL and XLT fleet applications, and 1,940 lbs. for retail applications.

The 2018 Ford F-150 with new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel will begin shipping to dealers in May.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/2018-ford-f-150-epa-figures-announced-for-power-stroke-diesel-engine/feed/ 0 96263
Chevrolet Cars Set For “Restyled” Faces http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/chevrolet-cars-set-for-restyled-faces/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/chevrolet-cars-set-for-restyled-faces/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:45:58 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96252 Coherency. Coherency is a good thing, especially when it comes to corporate brands and styling. Ideally, you want everything you make to have it. Take Chevrolet, for example. You wouldn’t want a Chevy Malibu to look way different from a Chevy Impala. So, when a car company, Chevrolet in this case, makes a styling update, that update has to propagate across the entire company line.

Special Characteristics

Mainly what we’re talking about here is styling cues; belt lines, overall greenhouse shapes, grill designs, badging and where the badges go, that sort of thing. Chevy says what they are going for in the immediate future is muscular designs, new features, and more choices.

“The restyled face of Chevy cars for 2019 is characterized by a family-like appearance, with each model honoring its Chevrolet heritage while showing off expressive designs,” said John Cafaro, Executive Director, Global Chevrolet Design.

And I can totally see where he’s coming from. ‘Family-like appearance‘ is the key here.

“We are committed to offering consumers a full lineup of products with fresh designs, new technologies, and efficient powertrain options,” added Brian Sweeney, U.S. Vice President of Chevrolet. “The investments we have made in Spark, Cruze, and Malibu will help position the brand for success in competitive segments that still make up a significant part of the total industry.”

2019 Chevy Malibu. Photo: Chevrolet.

Design Language

As Sweeny alluded to, Chevy’s first go ’round will start with the 2019 Malibu, Cruze, and Spark. To that end the cars will each offer a broad diversity of trims and packages from entry-level to high-end. And Chevy will also have to serve fleets since they represent a quarter of the industry’s retail market.

Chevy’s first task in shepherding the DNA of their fleet is restyling the faces of the cars with signature lighting that will make each instantly recognizable as a Chevy. The redesigned front ends for the Spark, Cruze, and Malibu will offer a more premium look while maintaining their athletic body sides. And yeah, this is the first time I’ve heard the phrase “athletic body” used in conjunction with the Spark and Cruze. Anyway, Chevy will give greater attention to detail like the intricate sculpting on the grilles and the brand’s signature dual-element taillamps.

Malibu RS

The Malibu RS, a first for this ‘Bu generation, will offer a sporty, personalized appearance propelled by blacked-out styling cues like the sport grille, bowtie emblems, rear spoiler, 18-inch machined wheels, and dual exhaust. The inside introduces a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, black cloth seats, and a standard eight-inch touchscreen for the Infotainment 3 system. There will also be a new CVT transmission standard on models that come with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine.

 

2019 Chevy Cruze and Cruze Hatchback. Photo: Chevrolet.

Cruze

The Chevy Cruze, along with the updated front fascia, welcomes new interior colors and a new infotainment system with a seven-inch color touchscreen. Remote start and automatic climate control are now standard on LT and Premier, but optional on other trims. The LS Hatch trim is added to the Cruze Hatch line for the first time. That sounds like a good move, since 20 percent of all Cruze sales in its first full year of production are the Hatchback.

Spark

The Spark, which sells by the train-load in its segment, gets new front-end styling with the same cues found on the updated Malibu and Cruze. New exterior color options will also be coming along with revised interior trim and an additional available safety feature called Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking. Chevy does not go into detail about what Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking is, but I bet it has something to do with hitting the brakes for you when you’re moving in a forward direction at lower speeds and aren’t paying attention.

Don’t hold me to that, though.

The 2019 Chevy Spark is powered by a 1.4-liter DOHC engine offered with either a manual or continuously variable transmission. Photo: Chevrolet.

Availability & In Person

You will be able to see the new design direction for the corporate automotive giant when the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, Cruze, and Spark go on sale later this year.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Chevrolet.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/19/chevrolet-cars-set-for-restyled-faces/feed/ 0 96252
Will Kia’s Wireless EV Charging System Change The World? http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/18/will-kias-wireless-ev-charging-system-change-the-world/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/18/will-kias-wireless-ev-charging-system-change-the-world/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 23:05:17 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96220 Kia has come up with a rather nifty wireless charging system for EVs and, honestly, this sounds pretty cool. As anyone who has ever messed with tangled power cords and such knows, wires can be a real pain. And I’m also willing to bet a chunk of people who are hesitant to buy EVs don’t like the idea of having to mess with chords and wires, and always having to plug them in all the time.

Bright Ideas

About a hundred years ago there was this half-crazy Serbian guy named Nikola Tesla. About half of his ideas made logical sense (alternating current, florescent lighting etc.) and the other half were borderline ya-ya (electric death rays, The Tesla Ozone Company etc.) but my favorite idea of his, borderline ya-ya or not, was power transmission without wires. No, I’m not sure how it was supposed to work, or even if it would work, but the idea itself was fantastic. No more wires, no more plugging things in, everything just runs.

What Kia and their tech partner in this, Mojo, have come up with isn’t a full on Tesla deal, but it’s still pretty cool. Kia rigged up a small fleet of its popular Soul to develop the wireless charging system. And the really neat thing about what they came up with is that not only is it wireless, it’s not nearly as finicky as you’d expect. Even when the Kia Soul is misaligned over the charger, the system can wirelessly charge cars with up to 85 percent efficiency.

The wireless charging system, which has been in development for three years already, is said to be an important step in the future of electric vehicles, according to Hyundai and Kia. And it’s easy to agree with them. If you can take another hassle out of owning an electric vehicle, the better our EV future will be. The project, a collaboration between Hyundai and Kia, Mojo Mobility Inc., and the U.S. Department of Energy, shows a way for future electric vehicles in which plugs are no longer necessary.

Photo: Kia Motors America.

Park & Charge

The system works by using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two coils. There’s a transmitter on the ground and a receiver on the bottom of the vehicle. You simply park your car above the transmitter to begin charging and the electrical energy is sent through an inductive coupling, which uses that energy to charge the battery. It’s the same way a Sonicare toothbrush charges, only on a much bigger scale. And again, even if there is some misalignment between the transmitter in the ground and the receiver in the car, charging can still happen.

It’s easy to see how this system could play out: every shopping mall and downtown parking lot will have an inductive charging pad buried in it. All you have to do is park your car as you normally would, and while you’re away, it’s automatically charging, no muss, no fuss.

2018 Kia Soul EV. Photo: Kia Motors America.

Future Considerations

Sadly, there are no current plans to offer the wireless charging system on production vehicles for sale to consumers. That makes sense, because while installing the wireless charging gear in the car would be pretty straight forward, it’s the parking space part of the equation where things get sticky. Sure, simply modifying parking spots is relatively easy, but it’s the number of parking spots that’s the potential problem.

There is also a downside on getting the charging pad installed for home use. The home high voltage charger for a Tesla, say, is easy to bolt into your wall and any competent electrician can hook it into your 220V line in a snap. The Kia system potentially means cutting into your garage floor to install the pad and run the wiring. That could be a hassle.

On the upside, if this system works out and becomes widely adopted, driving and charging – and therefore living with – your electric vehicle could become a lot easier.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Kia Motors America.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/18/will-kias-wireless-ev-charging-system-change-the-world/feed/ 0 96220
Letter From The UK: Influencing & The Art of Selling Cars http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/18/letter-from-the-uk-influencing-the-art-of-selling-cars/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/18/letter-from-the-uk-influencing-the-art-of-selling-cars/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 17:04:23 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96222

Gather round and harken unto this tale of woe . . .

A couple of weeks ago I took delivery of a brand new Audi A6 saloon to enjoy and discuss for seven days with a view to a review in due course. That’s what I do. That’s why car makers lend me cars; to promote their wares. It’s a win-win situation but it does cost the manufacturers a lot of money. Fortunately, being a small country, the cars can be same day delivered by road. It all adds up, one way and another, to around a thousand of our British Pounds to loan cars to tired old hacks like me.

So it doesn’t help when cars get damaged.

The Story of The A6

The sad story is that the A6 (pictured below) was parked (legally!) in the High Street of the attractive country town of Marlborough. While we were away a bizarre road traffic accident occurred and a vehicle broadsided the A6. When my wife and I came back to the car it was double-take time. This was not how we left it; surrounded by damaged motors, police, and an emergency ambulance.

The long and the short of it is that we were stranded. I phoned the Audi press officer and he sprang into action. Within a couple of hours, the stricken A6 had been lifted, the guilty party taken to the hospital, statements organised with the cops, and we were on our way home thanks to my son-in-law. Audi didn’t stop there though: That same afternoon a replacement car in the form of an A3 cabriolet was delivered to my house. How’s that for service? Insurance aside, how much money this must cost the company I shudder to think.

But I do wonder if this situation can continue for much longer and I blame YouTube.

The Audi A6 prior to the unfortunate accident. Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.

The Rise of The Influencer

It is indisputable that automotive media is changing. Later this year, this writer will be starting to video reviews and I have all the charisma of Elmer Fudd, but what can you do? It seems to me that “YouTuber” and “Influencer” are now proper jobs and the young bucks of motoring are taking advantage.

Mostly they are not trained in any way like we old magazine writers. The kit needed: cameras, a computer, even just a phone, plus a confident air are all that is required to make a low-rent car review.

In general, car manufacturers are very generous to motoring journalists and it is appreciated. We have access to press fleet cars and are invited to events and launches, all, or at least most, expenses paid. Recently, I was asked to attend, with VIP status, a prestigious motor racing event, for example. Very nice. Certainly the work can be demanding at times but you can’t fault the coffee and pastries upon arrival. How long now before this ends?

Car makers now invite these influencers to the same launches and events that the old-time hacks have been going to for decades. What has changed is the speed of production. What used to take maybe a month to get to print now can be online in glorious HD in just a matter of hours, as fresh as new paint. It is leading to tension. Old vs New. Changing Times. Sink or Swim.

Are Influencers Any Good?

Often, no. I have seen some truly terrible videos, purporting to be car reviews. I know how autos work; they clearly don’t. The trick seems to be to stand in a scenic place, the sun setting, pose, and talk a load of trendy nonsense. Self promotion as motoring journalism.

Conversely, there are some great new faces on YouTube promoting cars in a truly professional manner. Is it any wonder that car manufacturers like the idea. Firstly, the influencers come to them. They only need the car for a couple of hours or maybe a day. The effect is instant.

I do sometimes wonder who these online promotions are for though. Often times, young vibrant types are featured, frolicking, with little or no information about the car. Where is the sense in promoting a car to an audience who cannot afford to buy or lease it?

An example; I had the misfortune recently to witness a video of a young lad in skinny blue jeans and with very silly hair, speaking in a foreign language (in fact it was English, but not as we know it Jim) allegedly extolling the virtues of an F-Type Jaguar. I do not know any young people who could afford to buy this car. I can’t afford to buy this car. I do not know any older, financially viable people who would even watch this stuff; so who is it for?

Jaguar F-Type. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Sign of The Times

The plain unvarnished truth is that car companies don’t care. They just want it out there and it is not unreasonable of them to want to do it as cost effectively as possible. Vlogging works, there is no question of that. Many car magazines of old have dispensed with the costs associated with paper and circulation and are now online. That’s how you are reading this; that’s if you’ve gotten this far.

Yet some magazines have healthy circulation. In the UK we have two weekly mags and several monthlies and they are doing alright. It’s my view that as things stand, there is space enough for both the old and new . . . for now.

Older people still like to know about the vehicles themselves. They love the smell of petrol in the morning. Youth though are more influenced by the eco-lobby to whom cars are the work of the Devil. It’s a fact that car ownership among the young folk of Britain is falling. Generally, the car industry is in a state of flux. They want to give the people what they want while at the same time giving governments and the green movement what they demand.

All I want is a beer, a V8, and an open road, but that’s just me. I wouldn’t want to influence you.

Geoff Maxted is a motoring writer, photographer, and author of our Letter From The UK series. Follow his work on Twitter: @DriveWrite

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/18/letter-from-the-uk-influencing-the-art-of-selling-cars/feed/ 0 96222
Buick Enspire Concept Debuts In China http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/17/buick-enspire-concept-debuts-in-china/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/17/buick-enspire-concept-debuts-in-china/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 01:06:42 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96213 The Buick Enspire all-electric concept SUV has made its global debut in China, billed as an exploration of the brand’s design ideas and innovative technologies for future mobility. With the Enspire name, Buick retains the general practice of using the letter “e” for their SUV nomenclature; Enclave, Envision, and Encore.

Power & Performance

Buick was slim on the details but the Enspire has advanced propulsion technology, allowing the concept to travel 370 miles on a single charge. The propulsion system, dubbed “eMotion” by Buick, generates a maximum power output of 410 kW and can launch the vehicle to 60 in four seconds. Buick says the Enspire supports both fast and wireless charging, and the battery can be charged to 80 percent within 40 minutes.

2018 Buick Enspire Concept. Photo: Buick.

Styling & Technology

The “surround skyline” interior theme is really of note. Buick says this is a suspended theater-type seating arrangement, meant to open up the cabin for occupants. There is an OLED screen, an augmented reality heads-up display system, and 5G connectivity.

Judging by the press photos, the interior is smooth and streamlined with most of the vehicle’s functions being controlled either by voice, gesture, or touch. Although Buick did not specify, the interior looks befitting of an autonomous vehicle.

Typical to most concepts, the body is aerodynamic and nicely sculpted.

The “surround skyline” interior theme for the Buick Enspire Concept. Photo: Buick.

Availability & In Person

Unfortunately, Buick did not reveal their long-range plans for the Enspire. Given Buick’s presence and following in China, it’s likely to see a release there first if anywhere. No word on if it will arrive in the United States or other nations. In the meantime, the Enspire Concept will be on display at Auto China 2018 in Beijing from April 25th until May 4th.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Buick.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/17/buick-enspire-concept-debuts-in-china/feed/ 0 96213
2019 Honda Odyssey Arrives: A Brief Walk Around http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/17/2019-honda-odyssey-arrives-a-brief-walk-around/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/17/2019-honda-odyssey-arrives-a-brief-walk-around/#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 12:02:54 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96203 Families looking to upgrade their daily commuter may find a likely candidate in the 2019 Honda Odyssey. Honda’s top-selling minivan has arrived at dealerships with a variety of technology and safety features. Retail data from Urban Science shows Honda has lead the minivan segment for the last eight years. During our evaluation of the 2017 model, corresponding data from IHS Markit noted the Odyssey is the preferred minivan for buyers under 35.

Power & Performance

The new Odyssey has a 3.5-liter V6 engine, complete with direct injection and Honda’s i-VTEC and Variable Cylinder Management systems to increase performance and efficiency. The engine comes mated to either a nine- or ten-speed automatic, depending on trim level. The engine, which produces a healthy 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque, carries an EPA fuel economy rating of 19/28 city/highway and 22 combined.

During our extensive test drive of the current 2018 Odyssey, we believed the 3.5-liter V6 had enough power for all driving situations. We found the transmission was smooth-shifting and thought the rear sunshades were a nice touch.

2019 Honda Odyssey. Photo: Honda North America.

Safety & Technology

The Honda Sensing package of advanced safety features is standard and includes Collision and Road Departure Mitigation Systems, Lane Keeping Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control. On the tech front, there is everything from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to in-vehicle Wi-Fi and an entertainment system with Blu-Ray and streaming video.

Of note is the CabinWatch feature, available for the Touring and Elite. CabinWatch allows parents to view their kids in the back via the eight-inch display screen, and even talk to them through the rear speakers or wireless headphones if the Rear Entertainment System is equipped.

Pricing & Manufacturing

The entry-level Odyssey LX starts at $31,065, with the mid-range EX-L coming in at $38,585. At the top of the mountain are the Touring and Elite trims, coming in at $45,635 and $47,945 respectively.

The 2019 Honda Odyssey was researched, designed, and engineered by Honda R&D Americas in Raymond, Ohio. The Odyssey and its engine are produced exclusively by Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: Honda North America.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/17/2019-honda-odyssey-arrives-a-brief-walk-around/feed/ 0 96203
2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Review http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/16/2018-mazda-cx-5-grand-touring-awd-review/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/16/2018-mazda-cx-5-grand-touring-awd-review/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:04:01 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96136

The Mazda CX-5 is a driver-focused vehicle meant to deliver a different experience than your average small SUV. We think it offers a more satisfying experience than its chief rivals, the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Subaru Forester. And if looks have anything to do with it, we think it wins in exterior styling too.

Over the weekend, we drove the top trim, 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring with all-wheel drive.

What’s New For 2018

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 largely carries over from the previous model year, when it received a complete redesign. New for 2018 are standard features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Also new is cylinder-deactivation to improve fuel efficiency.

Features & Options

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD ($30,945) comes with acoustic front windows, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, an upgraded six-speaker sound system, rear USB ports, and blind-spot monitors. It also features keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. The vehicle also receives additional driver assistance features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams.

Grand Touring models add leather and 19-inch wheels to the above. The Premium Package on this tester ($1,306) added a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a heads-up display, power front passenger seat, and windshield wiper de-icer. Total MSRP including destination: $34,535.

Interior Highlights

This CX-5 Grand Touring interior takes a step forward over the standard trim with leather seating and stitching on the dash, console, and door panels. The quality of materials is excellent for this price point. The cabin is driver-focused with a new leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the shift-lever location fits the driver’s hand perfectly.

The seven-inch touchscreen resolution is sharp and it sits high atop the stylish dash, but it’s a bit too far away for our liking. There’s also an infotainment controller in the center console with a radio volume control knob that’s easy to find without taking your eyes off the road. The seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustments and support for long-distance driving. The steering wheel also offers a nice range of tilt-and-telescoping positions.

This weekend, we took a couple of six-foot gentlemen to lunch, and they commented on how there seems to be more shoulder room in the rear, likely due to the CX-5’s slightly wider track. The rear doors open wide, so they had no trouble entering and exiting the crossover. And thanks to scalloping in the back of the front seats, there was plenty of legroom for our riders.

If you need to carry cargo, the 40/20/40-split folding backseat reclines. Behind the rear seat, there’s 31 cubic feet of cargo storage, and 60 with the rear folded flat. It’s a bit less than competitors, including the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Subaru Forester.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2.5-liter SKYACTIV 4-cylinder engine produces 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. Our tester came with Mazda’s all-wheel drive system for all-weather capability, a nice feature for those who live in winter climates. The 2.5-liter engine gets cylinder-deactivation technology which automatically shuts down the two outside cylinders at cruising speeds to maximize efficiency. Fuel mileage has increased 1 mpg over last year’s model.

EPA fuel mileage estimates are 24/30 city/highway and 26 combined with all-wheel drive.

Driving Dynamics

We think the CX-5 is higher on the fun-to-drive meter than any other crossover out there. We took a weekend drive in the mountains west of Denver where this journalist lives, and the small SUV delivered a most satisfying experience. We tossed the CX-5 around the tight curves and it responded like a sports sedan.

The steering is precise, and the suspension is tuned for sporty driving over comfort. Be aware, the CX-5 is not going to win any races. The crossover has enough power for most driving situations, but was fairly tame when we pushed it hard up I-70. The naturally aspirated engine could use a turbo for those traveling up into the high country or hauling extra cargo over a high mountain pass. For normal commuting, you won’t have an issue.

The cabin was quiet when we got underway. It’s not as quiet as a luxury car, but it’s much improved when we pushed the pedal, especially at highway speeds. With the heated seats, steering wheel, and heads-up dispaly, this small SUV feels like a more expensive vehicle. Overall, it’s the most fun we’ve ever had in a compact crossover, having tested the competition. If you live where there’s lots of twisty roads, this is the vehicle for you.

Conclusion

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD nails it in driving dynamics, with a comfortable, quiet cabin, driver-focused interior, and strong exterior styling. If you like to drive, this crossover delivers a different, more pleasurable experience than your average small SUV.

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2018 Mazda CX-5 Gallery

2018 Mazda CX-5 Official Site.

Photos: Mazda North American Operations – (2017 models also shown).

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/16/2018-mazda-cx-5-grand-touring-awd-review/feed/ 0 96136
2019 Genesis G70 Launched In Russia http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/16/genesis-g70-launched-in-russia/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/16/genesis-g70-launched-in-russia/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:36:17 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96158 The 2019 Genesis G70 is headed to the Russian market following a recent ceremony at The Museum of Moscow. Over 500 guests and influencers joined the Genesis brand for a music festival that ultimately welcomed the G70 to Russia. In the Russian market, the G70 will come in five trim levels: Premier, Elegance, Advance, Sport, and Supreme.

“The launch of G70 in the Russian market confirms our strong commitment to deliver customer-oriented models that combine innovative technology, superior design, and the latest engineering advancements,” said Alexey Kalitsev, Managing Director of Genesis Brand in CIS.

Expansion & Design

The G70 is the brand’s foothold in an already competitive entry-level luxury segment. The car rounds out the Genesis sedan lineup alongside the G80, G80 Sport, and flagship G90.

“The brand will continue to expand its product portfolio to all areas of the luxury auto market,” reads a statement from Genesis.

The G70 is characterized by the company’s “Athletic Elegance” design language, which consists of a long hood, short overhangs, and high beltline. From the side, Genesis notes the “parabolic character line” that accents the curves and smooth surfaces alike. Similar its sedan stablemates, the G70 features the Genesis Crest Grille with LED daytime-running lights.

The 2019 Genesis G70 debuts in Russia. Photo: Genesis Motor America.

Power & Performance

The 2019 G70 for the Russian market will be offered with two different four-cylinder engines with 197 and 247 horsepower respectively. Engine availability will depend on trim level. In the United States, the G70 is offered in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, although Genesis was not exactly clear in their press materials if this would be the case in Russia.

The G70 will have a generous array of safety features with the Genesis Active Safety Control package.

Pricing (RUB)

In the basic version, the G70 is 1,949,000. The G70 in Elegance starts from 1,999,000. Advance (197 horsepower) – from 2,249,000 and the Supreme from 2,709,000. The G70 Sport is 2,899,000.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Genesis Motor America.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/16/genesis-g70-launched-in-russia/feed/ 0 96158
New Dodge Durango Package Keeps Departed Era Alive http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/14/new-dodge-durango-package-keeps-departed-era-alive/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/14/new-dodge-durango-package-keeps-departed-era-alive/#respond Sat, 14 Apr 2018 20:06:11 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96075 The Dodge Durango is one of the most underrated SUVs of our time. I’ve said this before, but “grown ups” who still love performance or muscle cars will find the Durango satisfying to their appetites. The modern day Durango has plenty of room, comfort, and technology for the family, but lots of grunt under the hood. It’s so nicely balanced on the spectrum: there’s luxury and technology, but also aggressive styling and raw power. Lots of raw power. Lots.

House of Power

For example, the 2018 Durango SRT features a 392 (cubic inches) HEMI V8 with 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque. It hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and runs the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds as certified by the National Hot Rod Association. Trips to the swimming pool, piano recital, and grocery store are now infinitely more exciting. The Dodge Durango laughs at the notion that family vehicles are boring vehicles. And Dodge is continuing to chuckle with the new Rallye Appearance Package for the 2018 Durango GT.

If this were any other SUV, a new appearance package might fly under the radar. New appearance packages sprout up like dandelions on a spring day, and understandably so since they do dress up a given vehicle nicely. Yet, for Dodge, announcements like this go just a bit farther, because they are the only automaker still carrying the muscle car torch. This was evidenced recently by the new Shakedown Package for the mighty Challenger, which gives the iconic car a Dominic Toretto, Brian O’Conner vibe.

The Dodge Shakedown Challenger mixes design cues from the past and present to create an original Mopar machine. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Light Em’ Up

Again, new packages like this are common, but for Dodge there is distinct purpose when they release one. It goes beyond trying to attract more people to the dealership, or to get the automotive press to talk about it, or to jazz up the front end so it looks pretty at the auto show. Yeah, it may well do all those things, but for Dodge it’s about adding one more layer as they stay true to the unembellished and fervent mantras that are the muscle car culture. The GT resides at the midpoint in the Durango lineup, but it’s no exception. It gets lit by that aforementioned torch just as the Challenger would.

“Many of our customers love the performance look of the Durango R/T and Durango SRT, but are happy with the award-winning Pentastar V6 engine’s 295 horsepower and the excellent fuel efficiency it delivers,” explained Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge/SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. “This new Durango GT Rallye Appearance Package gives those three-row SUV buyers the best of both worlds.”

The Durango GT’s new Rallye Appearance Package adds a performance-inspired hood with a cold air duct and two heat extractors. The front fascia and LED fog lamps have a look that mimics the R/T and SRT models, and it’s available with the popular Brass Monkey Wheels. That’s it. Simple. Simple but effective.

2018 Dodge Durango R/T (left) and 2018 Dodge Durango GT. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Performance & Technology

The Durango GT runs a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that generates 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, mated to a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic. When properly equipped, it can tow 6,200 lbs., a best-in-class figure according to Dodge. The Durango’s list of available features is nearly endless from Blu-ray and DVD players, to premium audio systems and navigation. Inside, driver’s have 85 cubic feet of cargo space and 50 different seating configurations at their disposal.

Pricing & Availability

The new Rallye Appearance Package for the Dodge Durango GT is $1,495 and is available now. If you add it to your Durango, do share a picture with us on Twitter.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/14/new-dodge-durango-package-keeps-departed-era-alive/feed/ 0 96075
Toyota & Alabama A&M University Partner On Mobility Initiative http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/14/toyota-alabama-am-university-partner-on-mobility-initiative/ http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/14/toyota-alabama-am-university-partner-on-mobility-initiative/#respond Sat, 14 Apr 2018 13:44:03 +0000 http://www.automoblog.net/?p=96118 Toyota Motor North America and Alabama A&M University (AAMU) are launching a “student-led mobility initiative,” which aims to strengthen the area’s connection and access to education, jobs, and clean vehicles. The initiative will unite an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty for the “Clean Low Emissions Approach & Novel Transportation Innovation Practice,” otherwise known as “CLEAN-TRIP.”

The effort is the first of similar initiatives Toyota is establishing across the United States.

“Creating a clean, safe and more efficient environment for the campus proper, as well as the immediate and larger community, has been a major thrust of AAMU for decades,” explained Dr. Ernst Cebert, facilitator of the project and professor within the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences. “Through this project, we will engage students with hands-on learning to address real world problems.”

“We partnered with AAMU because of their focus on renewable energy, strong STEAM programs, and history of preparing well-qualified graduates,” added Al Smith, Group Vice President, Toyota Social Innovation.

Toyota is providing an initial grant of $300,000, which includes scholarships for students accepted into the program.  In addition to monetary support, students will work with Toyota to learn the company’s approach to problem solving and critical thinking. Once in the program, students will interact with local residents to better understand their mobility challenges.

“By developing a mobility solution through collaboration with the community, we can help guide students to create better ways to move that also improve quality of life,” Smith said.

In 2017, AAMU received funding from the Federal Transportation Agency to purchase zero-emission electric buses. AAMU was founded in 1875 by a former slave, William Hooper Councill and opened as the Huntsville Normal School. Today, the university has nearly 5,000 undergraduates and over 800 graduate students, with 75 percent of those students already involved in community service projects.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photo & Source: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Alabama A&M University.

]]>
http://www.automoblog.net/2018/04/14/toyota-alabama-am-university-partner-on-mobility-initiative/feed/ 0 96118