Just Car Blog
|2015 Subaru WRX STI Review & Test Drive||
In my days of driving cars on the road and on the track, it becomes apparent each time of jumping behind the wheel of one that there is an ongoing performance-car balancing act to make everyone happy. This battle endures on the track and on those spirited drives down local roads. For many to even experience a vehicle that attempts to balance track life or every-day grocery-getter duties, a little extra cash is usually required. In the tradition of Subaru, curiosity has always sparked an interest in enthusiasts when it comes to the WRX STI, a relatively affordable and quick car that serves double duty without much of a fuss. All-new for 2015, the Subaru WRX STI embarks on a journey to bring that balancing act back into focus where it still lacks a definitive placement on the road or track, but that is a good thing.
The all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STI is a gem of a car. I know that may sound a bit corny, but take my word for it, this is one vehicle that infringes upon the old ‘best bang for the buck’ statement. The 2015 Subaru WRX STI doesn’t reinvent what Subaru is known for in their symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and the rally-inspired disposition of their vehicles over many years. To put it one way, all other Subaru vehicles look up to the WRX STI with it being the king of performance for the brand and proudly wearing that title for the completely redesigned 2015 model.
My adventure in the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition took me for a loop when I had to take the vehicle to a neighboring city a few towns east of Jacksonville, FL. I found myself driving what was first perceived as a much more solid and somewhat refined WRX STI than a 2013 model I drove last year. Of course there were many familiarities, those being mostly the good traits of the outgoing model. Though, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI was a new beast even though it carried over the 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder engine. That unique and delightful burbled sound was there, SI-Drive mode settings were there, and the adjustable limited-slip differential for its advanced all-wheel-drive system was there. Taking the 2015 Subaru WRX STI out on the road for the first time I noticed that the 6-speed transmission was somewhat familiar too, in a good way. The steering rack was a bit different, it was a tad quicker (13:1:0 ratio) through a retained hydraulic-assisted setup, taking only 2.5 turns from lock to lock – which is a major benefit for track days with this all-wheel-drive rocket. This 2015 Subaru WRX STI was just better in every way.
Power delivery from the 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4-cylinder comes constrained in a specific rpm range, just as it always has. Though, power delivery is predictable especially above 3,500 rpm. Interestingly enough, power is plentiful just shy of redline at 6,700 rpm. In my estimate it seems as if power begins a slight drop off at 6,500 rpm, which is where I set the configurable shift-light and audible alarm to sound indicating my desired shift point. I will say it, achieving a consistent 0-60 mph time is not an easy task in the WRX STI. I saw times ranging from 5.8 seconds to a best at 5.2 seconds. The jury is still out on the 60 mph acceleration but rest assured, the new WRX STI is no slouch even though it has gained a minuscule 2 pounds (Launch Edition without power seats) from the last generation. Some will post times as fast as 4.8 seconds, either way, a 3rd gear shift is required to reach 60 mph.
It was only on my return trip to Jacksonville after about a 100-mile long haul that I really had time to experience what the 2015 Subaru WRX STI had to offer for performance. The highway drive was pleasing enough showing a nice livable and commuter side of the WRX STI. The RPM level remained high in 6th gear hovering around 2,800 rpm at 70 mph. Nevertheless, that was a good thing considering how the turbo spools up fast enough at that rpm to give you a nice surge of power when leaving it in 6th gear. The exhaust note from the quad-tailpipes didn’t drone or carry through the cabin much, or not nearly as much when the engine is just above idle (around 1,300-1,600 rpm). Stability was excellent at highway speeds and the ride may have been a bit harsh at times but not to the point of really making me uncomfortable while resting my posterior in the firmly supportive and heavily bolstered heated sport seats up front with alcantara inserts and leather trim. The firm suspension, however, is a joy to master around twisty roads at a decent speed especially having all four wheels pulling you out of turns. The new rigid chassis, a major improvement you notice if you recall a time you drove the last generation WRX STI, also aids to limit body flex and emanate a proficient handling dynamic.
Pushing the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI to the limit is almost an unachievable goal in the confides of local roads. Though, you would want to assure that you have the wits to pull off an event where you break loose the sticky 18-inch 245/40 Dunlop Sport Maxx tires wrapping light-weight forged BBS wheels. Basically, the WRX STI emits a feeling of the vehicle being on rails. Putting the WRX STI into a sharp turn and holding it through the bend makes you appreciate its advanced center differential with six locking settings. With the center differential in auto mode and the power split set to a rear bias via a flip of the + / – setting into the minus position, the chassis still cooperates like an all-wheel-drive vehicle. To put it lightly, the WRX STI will still understeer at the mercy of its tires but reaching that point is a long stretch for lighthearted enthusiasts. Forget about oversteer, unless you are at the track. Even then, wagging the tail will only be coupled with a quick correction by use of the throttle as the center diff quickly sorts things out. Using the surge of torque to throttle the vehicle into turns is a pure delight as it carries through without any drama only pushing back at the slight adjustments and corrections of the center differential via Active Torque Vectoring, which utilizes an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch for distribution of power to the front and rear. Just make sure your paws are firmly planted on the leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel – the WRX STI goes where you point it without giving you any second chances. Over-all, the WRX STI handles extremely well with as much as 0.98 g of lateral grip. Braking is strong, too – at the benefit of Brembo brakes and virtually no fade on heavy repeated stops.
The 6-speed manual of the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is the only available transmission, which pays tribute to the WRX STI remaining a purist vehicle and a rarity in today’s automotive market. The clutch pedal travel was short and somewhat stiff but manageable for an enthusiast used to a vehicle that does not break the wheels loose on hard acceleration. Much about the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STI has been repeated but with a touch of panache where the interior is no longer laced in plastic hell and some of the retained rawness of the outgoing model does not ruin the limited luxurious side of the WRX STI, if there really is such a thing. Still, you can enjoy the clatter and harmony of the drivetrain and exhaust in acceptable quantities. Inside of the new 2015 WRX STI you will find a padded dashboard, padded trim on the door panels, a new gauge cluster with a central color LCD information screen, center-dashboard color information LCD screen with an interactive boost gauge and dedicated dual-zone climate control readout. Within the center-dash information screen the rear-view camera is displayed as well as vehicle mpg and center differential power-split output diagram. Of course the mpg readout never saw a tick over 22 mpg during my time with the new 2015 WRX STI, even on the highway. It’s not to say the EPA estimated 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway numbers are totally unattainable, it is just that the WRX STI is too much fun to land what is still an uninspiring number for any sedan. I will leave that test to whoever wants to waste their time and completely ignore the WRX STI’s eagerness to make you drive it like you stole it.
To summarize the welcomed redesign of the 2015 WRX STI’s interior, it is leaps and bounds better than the outgoing model. The seating area is usable for 5 adults, possibly by means of the middle-backseat passenger being a bit smaller than average to make way for a comfortable spot for each occupant. Visibility of the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI is also a slight improvement where my only qualm would be the massive rear spoiler, or in this case due to its size, the large ‘wing’. At times I found myself second guessing a quick check of my blind spot thinking that the rear wing was a vehicle. It took some getting used to but could you imagine how large my neck muscles will be after a week of those exercise in addition to the g-forces emitted on some daring and adventure drives I guessed up on a few back roads?
The Subaru WRX STI is where the automaker injects all of its fun attributes and sets the competition bar a bit higher in the perspective of compact sports cars. Subaru has done its homework and taken a few revamped pages from their inspired World Rally Cross Country STI (Subaru Tecnica International) heritage over many years to make, in my opinion, the best vehicle carrying the STI badge for the street yet. Some will argue this point due to the newly sculpted design and front end housing LED low-beam headlights possibly resembling other vehicles. No doubt that the new 2015 WRX STI has been re-molded, refined, and assembled with some carry-over parts. To put it in perspective, the WRX STI was never a bad vehicle. Subaru has just taken that formula and reworked it for a better outcome while retaining many principles as to avoid making it unrecognizable visually and performance wise. Moreover, the price point has remained to stay in a respectable range starting at $34,495 for the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STI base trim.
Copyright: 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base WRX STI Sedan $34,295 / As-Tested WRX STI Launch Edition $38,000 *estimate
- Engine: 2.5-liter Flat 4-cylinder 305 horsepower @ 6000 rpm 290 ft-lbs. torque @ 4000 rpm
- Drive: AWD (All-Wheel-Drive)
- Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
- Total length: 180.9 in.
- Total width: 70.7 in.
- Total height: 58.1 in.
- Track: f/r-60.2/60.6 in.
- Headroom: f/r-39.8/37.1 in.
- Legroom: f/r-43.3/35.4 in.
- MPG est.: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway
- Fuel tank: 15.9 gallons
- 0-60 mph: 4.8 – 5.3 seconds
- EPA cargo volume: 12.0 cu.ft.
- Curb Weight: 3,419 lbs.
|2014 Volkswagen Touareg V6 R-Line Review & Test Drive||
In Volkswagen’s aim to be at the forefront of the automotive sales force around the world, the latest vehicles from the German automaker have taken on a new approach in agreeing with what consumers desire in their day-to-day transportation. Probably one of the overlooked changes within the Volkswagen line remains to be the Touareg, which entered into its 2nd generation for the 2011 model year and carries that basic design for the latest 2014 model. The new 2014 Volkswagen Touareg has embarked on a journey thought to have been overshadowed by predominant competitors in the crossover utility vehicle segment but still holds its own and some by offering many different trim levels and three engine choices with more of a focused task for on-road duties.
The new 2014 Volkswagen Touareg receives a new R-Line trim, which is the choice for my test vehicle. Capturing the new face of Volkswagen is the signature grill embodying the VW emblem, chiseled front fascia and unique to the automaker rear tail lights, which all encase the ‘new look’ for easy recognition of the brand. The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is no different in sportier its R-Line trim featuring a unique body kit, sport-tuned suspension and LED taillights. My 2014 Volkswagen Touareg R-Line features the standard 3.6-liter V6 engine generating 280 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. The use of the V6 engine with a 15-degree configuration (VR6), now just a 10.6-degree V, pays homage to the long line of well praised narrow-angle 6-cylinder engines from Volkswagen produced over many decades. The use of the V6 (VR6) aids in consistent power output through the rpm band and a good amount of torque surging through the drivetrain at a relatively low rpm initially maxing out at just 2,500 rpm.
In terms of engine choices for the new Volkswagen Touareg aside from the standard V6, there remains the variety of a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 diesel (TDI) with 204-horsepower and an abundance of torque at 406 lb-ft. In addition ,the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid gets its own supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine (333 hp/325 lbs-ft torque) paired with a 47 hp and 221 lbs-ft of torque electric motor for a total output of 380 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque, the obvious monster of the bunch but with a bit of extra weight (over 400 lbs. more than V6 R-Line trim). With the wide range of engine choices and a multitude of trim levels (Sport, Lux, R-Line, Executive and Hybrid), the new Volkswagen Touareg attempts to provide something to appease everyone in the premium crossover utility vehicle market. Moreover, the sporty R-Line trim can be had with the torque-monster TDI diesel engine.
As far as the new 2014 Volkswagen Touareg V6 R-Line’s road-going mannerism, it is perceived to be an enjoyable experience over-all. The new Volkswagen Touareg R-Line hugs the road with its stylish 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in beefy 275/45 R20 Continental rubber. The retuned sport suspension of the Touareg R-Line takes a different approach from other trims providing a stiffer and more planted ride. The suspension damning is somewhat aggressive but not to the point of being overly harsh at cruising speeds. With the benefit of the Touareg R-Line’s sport suspension, the handling and confidence instilled in you as a driver is reassured the instant you navigate through paved roads with a nicely weighted steering wheel, decent power fed through all four wheels and excellent braking performance due to large 13-inch brake rotors on in all four corners while the fronts get 4-piston calipers and 2-piston rear.
The 3.6-liter VR6 engine is nicely matched to a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Together the power delivery is adequate with a surprising initial surge through first gear to really move all 4,711 pounds of German engineering forward. Through all 8 forward gears the Touareg pulls nicely but not with the consistency of the extra grunt it exerts through first gear. Basically, after hitting 2nd gear the Touareg plays catch up to finish what little bit of the extra momentum was expended through the short 1st gear. Though, the Touareg does give you some confidence in overtaking vehicles on the highway and having the ability to tow up to 7,000 pounds is also an added plus. Another surprising aspect of the new 2014 Touareg R-Line is its sport suspension’s ability to keep the body roll to a minimum for an SUV of this stature. The size of the new 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is not realized until you sit in the cabin, which is highly competitive in over-all space among its direct competition exhibiting only 2 rows of seats. On the flip side of things, the Touareg R-Line’s competent road characteristics virtually shrink the SUV to emit a slight dash of nimbleness. A dedicated off-road mode takes the 4Motion full-time all-wheel-drive system to a new level through the adaptive Torsen center Limited-Slip differential. In normal on-road mode the power split is 40% front and 60% rear. Off-road mode will allow the split to vary dependent on where slip is detected to rout additional power to the wheels with grip. Additionally, off-road mode displays a dedicated steering angle meter on the dashboard. On the road-going prowl, the new 2014 Volkswagen Touareg V6 gets an EPA estimated 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. Though those are not impressive figures, I was able to better the highway mileage to get almost 24 mpg with an average of 23.7 mpg over a 25 mile local highway trip. Though, at interstate speeds the mpg average declines quickly to about 22 mpg traveling just above 70 mph. Around the city I saw a steady 17.2 mpg to match the EPA estimate.
The unique Touareg R-Line is a mid-level trim where it adds onto the V6 Lux trim tacking on brushed aluminum interior trim, LED taillights, 20-inch alloy wheels, Sport suspension, unique R-Line badging and a sport body kit. Other highlighted feature subsets within the V6 Lux trim, all included on my V6 R-Line Touareg, include a rearview camera, touchscreen navigation system, power-liftgate (R-Line takes away the hands-free foot-activation liftgate option), keyless access with push-button start, Bi-Xenon HID headlights with adaptive front lighting (turns headlights in direction of steering wheel angle), 12-way power adjustable heated front Vienna leather seats, heated and power-folding outside mirrors and a massively large tilting-and-sliding panoramic sunroof encompassing almost 85% of the roof with a power sunshade.
The interior is nicely appointed with decent fit and finish and a good use of contrasting soft-touch plastics with the brushed aluminum trim. Much of the button layout is easy to access without much of a guessing game while a slight redundancy of controls through the touch-screen and physical buttons give the driver and front passenger a choice of operation for some features. The latest iteration of Volkswagen’s GPS navigation system and integration of infotainment controls operates smoothly with added detail to roads. Advanced dragging functions also aid in its ease of use through an abundance of menu sets for system settings and over-all operation. The seating areas are spacious and substantial for 5 adults with enough cargo to fill up just over 32-cubic-feet of space with all seats in place. Folding down the 60/40 split rear seat backs, either manually or using the power release at the rear of the vehicle, allows for 64 cubic-feet of storage.
The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is somewhat of an underdog in the full scheme of SUV offerings in its current segment. Being more focused on paved roads versus off-roading – more than it has ever been, places the Touareg in a position to go head-to-head with other midsized SUVs built to have the driving attitude of a car without taking too much away from the SUV versatility and ruggedness. As a luxury SUV, the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg R-Line provides more of a sportier side than many others in this class. The Touareg R-Line initially serves up sporty looks and ends with a unique over-all driving personality taken from the books of its German heritage.
The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg starts at $44,570 for the base V6 Sport. My 2014 Touareg R-Line with the additional included equipment starts at $54,111 and gets an as-tested price of $55,021 with the $910 destination charge.
Copyright 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base Touareg Sport V6 $45,480 / As-Tested Touareg R-Line V6 $55,021
- Vehicle layout: Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, SUV
- Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC 24-valve (VR6 – 10.6-degree V) 280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm / 266 ft-lbs. @ 2,500 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 4,711 lbs.
- Wheelbase: 113.9 in
- Length x width x height: 188.8 x 76.4 x 68.2 in.
- Ground Clearance: 7.9 in.
- Headroom: f/r-39.6 in./38.9 in.
- Legroom: f/r-41.4 in./36.9 in.
- 0-60 mph: 7.8 sec
- EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 17 mpg / 23 mpg
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 26.4 gallons
|2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Review & Test Drive||
When I say ‘cheap thrills’ I mean that I can’t find any other two-seat pure sports roadster for under $30,000.00 that gives so much sports car thrills and driving pleasure with a power-retracting hardtop. I just finished testing and photographing the new Club model and it is a real ‘kick-in-the-pants’. For a pure two-seat sports car the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata ‘Club’ has it all.
The Club model that I tested has styling that is pure with a wide-mouth front grille finished with a piano black upper brow, black splitter with a flat underside, an aluminum hood, projector-beam headlamp clusters with black bezels, new projector-beam foglamps with black matte surrounds, flared fenders stuffed with 17X7 inch dark gunmetal alloy wheels wrapped with Bridgestone 205/45R17 inch street-sticky Potenza RE050A low-profile performance tires, body-color pull-out door handles, black power-remote outside mirrors, black ‘MX-5’ lower strip, a ‘Club’ medallion on each fender, seat back bar garnish is displayed in a glossy dark gray motif, rear diffuser and finished with dual sport-tuned, polished stainless steel exhaust tips. The power hard-top is painted in glossy black to give the body a bolder look. The power hard-top just takes 15-seconds to raise or lower and I just have to release the center lock on the inside and push a lighted button.
Power and performance easily back up the bold looks starting with the high-revving (7,200rpm redline), MZR 2.0 liter, all-aluminum, DOHC, four-cylinder engine with VVT for excellent low-end torque. It generates a healthy 167hp at 7,000rpm and 140lb.ft. of torque at 5,000rpm. I tested the engine mated to the six-speed, short-throw manual transmission that comes with an Induction Sound Enhancer that consists of a series of tuned pipes and a passive resonance membrane. It delivers the engine’s natural induction sound to the cowl, just ahead of the windshield, so more attractive engine sounds can be heard at a satisfying volume without resorting to simply being a loud, obtrusive noise. Mounted front mid-ship for precise handling and balance, additional engine features include a forged steel crankcase, forged steel connecting rods with floating wrist pins, and revised pistons with stronger wrist pin bosses, stiffer valve springs and engine oil cooler when exercising the MX-5 for long periods of time on the backroads.
The stubby, leather-wrapped, short-throw six-speed manual that was mated to my test MX-5 was perfectly placed and a pleasure to use. Each time I changed gears to the next I felt a push to my back, the harder I pushed on the throttle, the more the push back into my seatback. The MX-5 also comes standard with aluminum Power Plant Frame for exceptional stiffness and weight saving, plus a limited-slip differential to put the power down to the pavement.
The MX-5 ‘Club’ comes standard with a sport-tuned fully independent suspension for precise handling when cornering and a solid feel when driving at triple-digits on the highway. Even though the weight is only 2,511 pounds the MX-5 feels like it is riding on wheels. Up front is a double-wishbone setup with forged aluminum arms, coil springs, monotube gas-filled Bilstein shocks and a stabilizer bar. The rear features a multi-link setup with an aluminum baring support, monotube gas-filled Bilstein shocks, coil springs, tubular control arms, an aluminum knuckle and a stabilizer bar. For added stiffness and control the MX-5 comes standard with front/rear subframes, a monocoque unibody with a backbone frame construction. These items further eliminated any noise, vibration and harshness when driving.
Away we go with a perfectly calibrated electronic power-assisted rack & pinion -steering system that moves the MX-5 exactly where I want the car to head-just a little tug on the leather-wrapped/tilting steering wheel moves its direction with precision. A front strut tower brace further adds to the stiffness and cornering prowess. On-center feel and my feel for the road are exceptional. This system is just perfect for the MX-5 to keep it up-to-date and pure.
Quickly and safely slowing the MX-5 ‘Club’ down from speed are power-assisted, steel disc brakes. Up front are 11.4 inch vented discs clamped with large single-piston aluminum-housed calipers with the rear equipped with 11 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston aluminum-housed calipers. Standard brake enhancements include ABS, EBD, Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control. For real pulse-quickening times I shut off the Stability/Traction Control system off to let rear slid out when exiting a steep corner.
On the inside the ‘Club’ theme continues with a body-color-matching decoration panel feature trim-specific graphics, red contrast stitching on the deeply cut yet comfortable cloth bucket seats with manual adjustments and driver’s-side height adjuster, a dark gray contoured surround meter around the stunning gauges, A/C, power express down windows, power door locks, cruise control and AM-FM-CD-MP3-WMA-Sirius radio controls on the steering wheel, rear center console storage, storage baskets at the bottom of each door, mesh aero board, center console with dual cupholders and storage bin, front open storage tray, map light, dual vanity mirrors, auxiliary audio input jack, remote keyless entry, trip computer and floor mats. All buttons, switches and dials are easy to reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel.
Standard safety systems include 3-point safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters, advanced dual front and side airbags, front/rear crumple zones, anti-theft engine immobilizer and side-impact door beams.
The new 2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Hardtop Convertible is one of the best values in two-seat sport roadsters. More than 900,000 consumers have purchased the MX-5 so far and the owners that I spoke to raved about the fun-to-drive elements. I would recommend that consumers over 6ft. 3in. get inside first with the top up before a purchase because I had only ½ inch of headroom and I am 6ft. 3in. Other than that its ZOOM-ZOOM fun!
COPYRIGHT: 2014: HARVEY SCHWARTZ
- Price: $28,665.00 as tested
- Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4-cylinder 167 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm / 140 ft-lbs. of torque @ 5,000 rpm
- Wheelbase: 91.7 inches
- Total length: 157.3 inches
- Total width: 67.7 inches
- Total height: 49.4 inches
- Headroom: 37 inches
- Legroom: 43.1 inches
- Turning circle: 30.8 feet
- Ground clearance: 5 inches
- Fuel tank: 12.7 gallons
- EPA fuel mileage: 21mpg/city, 28mpg/highway
- 0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
|2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4WD Review & Test Drive||
If the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, Cherokee or four door Wrangler 4X4’s are above your price line and with each a little too much off-road capability, then look to the new 2014 Jeep Patriot with the Latitude Package.
The Patriot stays true to the iconic Jeep styling with its seven-slot grille with black mesh backing, the two round halogen headlamps, round lower foglamps, stand-up windshield A-pillars, horizontal flared fenders, pull-out body-color door handles, black contrasting lower bodykit, front skid plate/rear diffuser and a flat roof with black roof rails. The 2014 Patriot is unmistakably a Jeep and is designed to appeal to compact SUV consumers who want its traditional Jeep styling with best-in-class off-road capability at an affordable price. The Patriot offers consumers segment-leading 4X4 capability and excellent fuel efficiency along with the above-mentioned styling and clever interior features. The Patriot Latitude 4X4 with the upgraded powertrain starts at just $23,795.00.
The new Patriot Latitude is powered by the 2.4 liter inline-4-cylinder all-aluminum engine with DOHC’s, a tuned intake manifold with electronic active charge motion control valve and dual variable valve time (VVT) on both the intake and exhaust camshafts which helps optimize the torque curve at all speeds and produces more power, better fuel economy and smooth, quieter operation than engines without VVT. It generates 172hp at 6,000rpm and 165lb.ft. of toque at just 4,400rpm. This potent four-banger is mated, for the first time, to the world-class 6F24 six-speed automatic with AutoStick sequential shifting, standard. Independently developed by PowerTech and is refined for application in the 2014Patriot. Compact and lightweight, the 6F24 eliminated many potential extra engineering efforts from a packaging standpoint with the chassis layout. Overall length of the transmission is only 378.5mm. The six-speed features a closely aligned 5.46b gear spread that provides nearly imperceptible shifting from launch through highway speeds. With a 4.21 first gear and standard AutoStick for manual-like shifting, accelerating characteristics deliver more fun-to-drive excitement. With a 0.77 sixth gear, engine rpm is significantly reduced at highway speeds for optimal fuel efficiency. The steeped shift schedule across all six gears is designed for optimal fuel economy-21mpg/city, 27mpg/highway. I really noticed the extremely quiet operation throughout the gear ranges with the use of noise-resistant gears that effectively reduced noise, vibration and harshness. This new six-speed also helps reduce cost of ownership and maintenance costs with its ‘fill-for-life’ design. There is no transmission dipstick, and transmission filter or fluid changes are not required under normal driving conditions. Low-viscosity fluid is used to improve fuel economy by enabling quicker operating temperatures on the transmission to reduce drag on internal components.
My 2014 Jeep Patriot 4X4 Latitude came equipped with the Freedom Drive I 4X4 that is a full-time, active four-wheel drive system with lock mode designed to give me year-round assurance with the ability to handle rough weather and lower traction conditions. This active four-wheel-drive system is recommended for daily use, including slick conditions that come with rain and light snow. Freedom Drive I also features a lockable center coupling giving me the ability to put the Jeep Patriot in four-wheel-drive lock mode to handle deep snow, sand and other low traction surfaces.
The fun-to-drive attitude comes from the fully independent suspension, the hydraulic power assist precise rack & pinion steering system, the power-assisted steel disc brakes, Hill Start Assist and electronic stability control. The new Patriot rides like a refined Jeep Wrangler 4X4 four-door with the more comfortable fully independent suspension. Up front are MacPherson struts, coil springs over gas-charged shocks and a solid stabilizer bar. The rear multi-link setup features coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar and gas-charged shocks. Mated to the proven hydraulic power assist rack & pinion steering I felt more precision and quick reaction when cornering, a smooth, solid, and quiet ride at highway speeds.
My confident when driving at high speeds or when going into a curve was heighted by the powerful all-steel disc brakes with standard ABS and BA. Up front are 11.5 inch vented rotors clamped with single-piston calipers and 10.3 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear. When slowing down from high speed or when traveling around slow city traffic the feel is very linear, the more I push on the pedal the more stopping power I felt. The 2014 Jeep Patriot 4X4 Latitude rides on 17X6.5 inch five-spoke, painted aluminum wheels wrapped with Firestone 215/60R17 inch Affinity tires for excellent grip and a smooth, quiet ride.
The interior is roomy, comfortable with the latest in connectivity features. Tasteful use of chrome trim around the round air-vents, door handle, shifter gate and the open storage bin just above the deep and wide glovebox. The premium cloth/heated front bucket seats are very comfortable and cut to keep my snug with cornering. Both are manual adjustable with my seat height adjustable for the perfect fit. The leather-wrapped/tilting, 3-spoke steering wheel feels great in my hands and features controls for the audio system and cruise control. The gauge cluster is retro designed with black background with white lettering and orange needles. More standard equipment includes interior removable/rechargeable rear lamps/flashlight, dual map lights, dual vanity mirrors, grab handles above each door, illuminated entry, variable speed wipers/washers/rear wiper/washer, keyless entry, 12-volt power plug, 115-volt power plug, programmable retained power, driver personalization, A/C, rear 60/40 split reclining seats, power windows with driver’s-side express down, programmable power door locks, front-passenger fold-flat seat, Jeep signature front floor mats/rear floor mats, illuminated front dual cupholders, center armrest with dual-tiered storage box, rear dual cupholders, power-remote/heated sideview mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror and dark tined rear side windows/rear window.
The optional Customer Preferred Package that my test Patriot came with includes a one-touch power sunroof, 9-Boston Acoustic speakers and two articulating speakers mounted to the inside of the rear liftgate, Sirius Satellite Radio, electronic vehicle information center, universal garage door opener, tire pressure monitor system, soft tonneau cargo cover and U-connect handsfree Bluetooth phone with iPod connectivity, 6.5-inch touch screen 40GB hard drive with 28 GB available, AM-FM-CD/DVD/MP3/HDD audio system.
Standard safety features include advanced multi-stage front and supplemental side-curtain front/rear airbags, supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags, active front head restraints, height-adjustable 3-point safety belts up front with pretensioners/load limiters, 3-3-point rear safety belts, front/rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door and electronic roll mitigation.
The new 2014 Jeep Patriot 2.4 liter 4X4 Latitude edition comes with the right amount of Jeep signature styling, power, performance, and a comfortable interior with all the connectivity that a young consumer is looking for starting well under $25,000.00, and $26,380.00 not including destination charges that can vary with dealers.
COPYRIGHT: 2014: HARVEY SCHWARTZ
- Price: $26,380
- Engine: 2.4-liter inline-4-cylinder DOHC 172 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm / 165 lb.ft. of toque @ 4,400 rpm
- Wheelbase: 103.7 inches
- Track: f/r-59.8/59.8 inches
- Overall length: 173.8 inches
- Overall width: 69.2 inches
- Overall height: 66.8 inches
- Approach angle: 26.4
- Breakover angle: 20.9
- Departure angle: 28.5
- Ground clearance: 8.1 inches
- Curb weight: 3,378 pounds
- Fuel tank: 13.5 gallons
- Headroom: f/r-39.1/39.9 inches
- Legroom: f/r-40.6/39.4 inches
- Turing circle: 35.6 feet
- SAE interior volume: 104.4 cu.ft.
- Cargo volume: rear-seats up-23/rear-seats folded-53.5 cu.ft.
- EPA interior volume 124.4 cu.ft.
- Trunk lift-over height: 30.7 inches
- Cargo volume with front passenger seat folded-flat and rear-seat folded-63.4 cu.ft.
- Towing: up to 2,000 pounds
|2014 BMW 428i M Sport Review & Test Drive||
The all-new 2014 BMW 4 Series has been introduced into the Bavarian line of vehicles to replace the outgoing 3 Series coupe while the sedan variation retains the 3 series nomenclature. In this exclusive replacement, the new 4 Series takes on a growing approach for being the highly sought-after ultimate 2-door driving machine, and they have pulled of this accomplishment with great success.
I set off on a week-long journey to wrap my day-to-day lifestyle around the all-new 2014 BMW 428i with the M Sport package, and in doing so it was a well-perceived adventure. In this escapade, I found plenty of space for my family of 3, by means of a simplistic interior layout, and best of all, a refreshed driving nature dedicated to being the best driving vehicle in this class.
It isn’t very easy for me to give the best driving crown to any vehicle, even though I have been biased towards BMWs ever since I picked up my first BMW in the form of a 2002 M3 about 12 years ago. Evading my biased nature, my new BMW 428i M Sport test vehicle was given a fair chance through my open mind to balance my over-all perception. I can walk away in knowing BMW has not lost its touch in building a vehicle that puts the way it drives ahead of everything else without compromise in other areas.
The new 2014 BMW 428i gets a decent powerplant for the start of the 4 Series line featuring a 2.0-liter direct injection turbocharged inline-4-cylinder producing 241 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft. of torque as low as 1,250 rpm. The power delivery, at the cost of a callous audible note, is linear through the band with a nice pull but somewhat diminishing at about 6,600 rpm till redline and fuel cut at 7,000 rpm. Power is directed to the rear wheels through a new ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission that exhibits lightning-fast shifting and very minimal use of the torque converter to mimic the snappy shifts and direct connection of a dual-clutch transmission. The new 8-speed automatic is the fastest and most responsive of any automatic transmission with 8 forward gears I have experienced. Even the ECU mapping of the transmission controller is a gem in that it never wastes time hunting for the proper gear or limits your steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddle inputs when reaching the limitations of the RPM band. Basically, it lets you bury the RPM needle right next to redline in its perfectly executed rev-matched downshifts. Additionally, in full Sport+ mode the transmission will let the rpms fly up to fuel cut giving the driver unadulterated control. The direct connection of the 8-speed automatic aides in the direct-injection twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine to get 35 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in the city. These figures were easily attainable and on the highway I was able to better the EPA figure to get a nice 36.4 mpg at highway speed limits.
The new 2014 BMW 428i happily fulfills the placement of the go-to and benchmark luxury sports coupe, which has worn a variation of the 3 Series badge for about 4 decades now. Enthusiasts will delightfully praise how the 428i, and more-powerful 435i (300 horsepower 3.0-liter inline-6-cylinder), has carried the 3 Series coupe’s enthusiastic tradition with a steady forward momentum where it left off. This forward momentum is evident in the 428i M Sport package setting itself apart from the normal 428i with more aggressive aerodynamics (different front/rear bumper and diffuser), larger 18-inch staggered aluminum wheels wrapped in 225/45/R18’s up front and wider 255/40/R18 tires in back. The M Sport package also adds on adaptive M suspension (adaptive and adjustable dampers according to selectable ecopro-normal-sport-sport+ drive mode), sports seats, dark Burl walnut wood trim, M steering wheel, shadowline exterior trim (darkened trim), anthracite headliner, and a separate M Sport brakes add-on option featuring larger rotors all around, blue-painted 4-piston calipers up front and 2-piston rear. The Dynamic Handling Package added to my 428i M Sport test vehicle adds variable sport steering, basically dialing in the steering ratio for a perfect quick-steering balance and a nice weighted feel from the new electric-power-assisted steering rack. The adaptive dampers were very subtle in their variation from the selectable driver modes (eco pro, normal, sport, sport+) where the most noticeable change in the modes where found in the transmission’s shifting patterns, throttle position and steering wheel weightiness. In either mode the adaptive dampers provided a competent ride quality where Sport+ mode was better at keeping the 3,470 pounds in check around hard corners. Speaking of weight, the difference in the 6-speed manual transmission equipped 428i vs. my 8-speed automatic is only 50 pounds with the advantage being the lighter manual transmission.
Even though the new 2014 BMW 428i M Sport Package is focused more on being an enthusiast-oriented driving machine, the handling limits can be found in subtle hints when the rear end is broken loose due to the lack of a limited slip differential. The new 428i gets an open differential, which takes an extra bit of effort to allow the rear to communicate to the driver at times when dynamic stability control is disabled. Of course, the DSC handling dynamic mode allows you to slip the rear out for a second or two before the system clamps the rear brake calipers down on the large rotors and saps your throttle input for a quick moment acting as your proactive safety blanket. Nevertheless, the lack of a limited slip diff does not take away from the 428i’s astonishing handling capabilities. Apart from this slight shortcoming, the new BMW 428i is a well-planted vehicle able to tackle just about every road-going obstacle you can throw at it with confidence to spare. This is evident in the almost perfect 50/50 front-rear weight balance, an enthusiast-sought-after characteristic that BMW has prided themselves for pioneering on road cars for many decades now.
The interior of the all-new BMW 428i carries that unique BMW livery starting from the traditional-styled gauge cluster, which does not require illumination during the daytime by use of sharply printed large dials. The seating area is larger in every direction when compared to the outgoing 3 series coupe where the front sports seats give the front occupants a wide range of adjustability and over 42-inches of legroom. The new BMW 428i’s versatility within its luxury sports coupe form factor is among the best in the business. The rear seating, although slightly short on space, still proves to fit two normal-sized adults where they can access the seating surprisingly easy through the power-slide-retracting front seats.
Dashboard controls, receiving a fine tuning on their placement, are easily accessed while the minimized and scaled-down iDrive control on my test vehicle, lacking the optional navigation system, backup camera, streaming Bluetooth audio and a few other highly-sought-after feature sets, still utilize the same centralized controller and high-resolution center-mounted LCD screen accustomed to BMW. Use of the system still takes a while to familiarize yourself, yet it becomes quite the intuitive system after 10 or more minutes of trial and error. Many options and amenities missing on my test vehicle, as previously mentioned, were somewhat of an afterthought for me as the BMW 428i proves to be such an enjoyable driving machine. In knowing how the new 428i can stack up several options and feature packages to your liking, mostly in an A-La-Carte fashion, makes the new 4 series an attractive buy for those who want the full spectrum of luxury from a benchmarked luxury sports coupe.
As far as monetary value, the all-new 2014 BMW 428i isn’t shy about defining its audience as the MSRP starts at $40,500, while my test vehicle equipped with the M Sport package, Dynamic Handling Package, M Sport Brakes, a $500 charge for the Melbourne Red Metallic paint job and a $925 destination charge, it comes to an as tested price of $47,125. Though, this pricing scale may not balance well with those looking for their entry into the luxury brand, the 4 series has undoubtedly grown into a much more sophisticated luxury sports coupe deserving of its admission fee due to its adventitious and enthusiastic ride qualities, unique styling, worry-free maintenance plan (4-year/50,000 miles no-charge factory-recommended maintenance), and admirable personalization options.
Copyright 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base 428i $40,500 / As-Tested 428i M Sport $47,125
- Vehicle layout: Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe
- Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve turbocharged inline-4-cylinder 241 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm / 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 3,470 lbs.
- Wheelbase: 110.6 in
- Length x width x height: 182.6 x 71.9 x 54.2 in
- Headroom: f/r-29.8 in./36.1 in.
- Legroom: f/r-42.2 in./33.7 in.
- 0-60 mph: 5.7 sec
- EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 23 mpg / 35 mpg (8-sp automatic tranmission)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.8 gallons
|2014 Acura TL Special Edition Review & Test Drive||
First introduced in model year 2013, I didn’t get a chance to test drive the new Special Edition Acura TL until now. I just picked up the 2014 model and it is just how I like Acura’s to look, perform and please me driving a sporty luxury sport sedan. What the Special Edition does is offer a step up from the standard TL, with the addition of highly desirable feature upgrades, creating an excellent value in the luxury four-door sedan segment.
This front-wheel-drive TL Special Edition features unique 10-spoke dark chrome 18X8 inch alloy wheels wrapped with Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 245/45R18 inch low-profile high-performing tires for excellent grip and a quiet, smooth ride. Just four paint colors are available for the Special Edition and my test model came with Crystal Black Pearl with full leather-appointed Ebony interior with contrasting stitching. The body also features a color-matched deck lid spoiler and trunk-mounted Special Edition badge. Standard keyless access with pushbutton start adds convenience and ease of use. The keyless access system lets me enter the car without having to handle a key or fob. The keyless access remote has a unique digital identity that is automatically communicated to the car; I simply pull one of the front door handles while the remote is in my possession, and the door unlocks and opens. The trunk can be unlocked and opened by pressing a button located on the TL Special Edition rear spoiler. Another great feature is that the system identifies which of the two supplied fobs is in use each time the driver’s door is opened (even if it is already unlocked) and then automatically sets the driver’s seat, outside mirrors, climate control and audio system, including audio system presets, to a profile preset by the driver using the fob.
The front-wheel drive TL Special Edition come standard with Acura’s 3.5 liter, all-aluminum SOHC 24-valve V6 with intake valves actuated by Acura’s VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) system for excellent low-end torque. This compact and efficient engine produces 280hp at 6,200rpm and 254lb.ft. of toque at 5,000rpm. It is mated to a sporty Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission operated by a straight-gate style console-mounted leather-wrapped/baseball stitched shifter. For more fun a racing-inspired steering wheel paddle shifter system is standard. Besides Drive mode, there is Sport mode that increases rpms and remaps the gear shift pattern to hold the gears longer for quicker acceleration and more pulse quickening performance.
On the inside the TL Special Edition illustrates Acura’s driver-oriented sport-sedan philosophy. Sweeping shapes and high-quality materials blend a luxury aesthetic with a feeling of advanced technology. Deeply cut and comfortable/heated sport leather bucket seats are standard and feature 10-way adjustable power driver’s side and an 8-way adjustable power front passenger’s seat. The sporty leather-wrapped/heated/tilt/telescopic, 3-spoke steering wheel features baseball stitching, audio, Bluetooth, and cruise control buttons. The rallye gauges are easy to see and understand. A power moonroof, 276-watt AM-FM-CD audio system with eight speakers, dual-zone climate control system with automatic humidity control are also standard. The TL Special Edition comes well-equipped with standard technology features including a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink wireless telephone interface, USB connectivity and a high-resolution Multi-Information Display above the center stack. The rear seats feature a pull-down center armrest with dual cupholders, air-vents from the rear of the center console and a pass-through for longer items needing transport stored in the trunk. Other standard equipment not mentioned above includes XM satellite radio, MP3 auxiliary input jack, two driver memory, HomeLink system, power windows with front express up/down, power door locks, self-dimming rearview mirrors, heated/power remote sideview mirrors with turn signal indicators, dual map lights, dual lighted vanity mirrors, variable speed wipers/washers, trip computer with readouts in the center of the gauge cluster, aluminum door sill plates, a center console with dual cupholders under an accordion sliding cover, armrest and deep lighted storage box, lighted glovebox, grab handles above each door, easy to use center stack buttons and dials with all buttons, switches and dials fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel, signature front floor mats and rear floor mats, remote trunk/fuel filler buttons and storage slots in each door.
Under the skin of the TL Special Edition is what I would expect from Acura-performance and smoothness. The suspension is fully independent with a front double-wishbone setup with coil springs, twin-tube gas-charged shocks and a 1.18mm hollow stabilizer bar. The rear is a multi-link setup with twin-tube gas-charged shocks, coil springs and a 0.75mm. Matched with an electric variable power-assisted rack and pinion steering system the response is quick and precise. Assisting my handling is the Vehicle Stability Assist that works with the throttle control and brake control that utilizes yaw, lateral g, speed and steering sensors for traction and stability enhancement when I take curves a little faster than the recommended speed. It virtually eliminates any torque steer at launch.
Speaking of excellent brakes, the new TL Special Edition has them standard. Up front are 12.6 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers and 13.1 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers. Keeping me in control of my direction during severe braking times is standard ABS, EBD and BA.
The exterior is up-to-date with the signature ‘overbite’ front grille, front Xenon High-Intensity Discharge front headlights, daytime running lights, front bumper integrated foglamps, rear LED lamps, steeply raked windshield A-pillars, a full-perimeter chrome strip around the greenhouse, another chrome strip that runs along the drip rail from the hood back to the center of the trunk, big pullout door handles, and deep lower side extensions. The rear shows a thick chrome strip just below the trunk lid, a rear diffuser and 7 inch wide dual rectangular chrome exhaust finishers.
Standard safety features include dual-stage /multiple-threshold front airbags, front-side airbags, side curtain airbags for all outboard seats, 5-3-point safety belts with front seatbelts utilizing automatic tensioning and load limiters, LATCH system for child seats, front/rear crumple zones, a tire pressure monitoring system, steel beams in each door, and daytime running lamps.
Priced at just $37,405.00 the 2014 Acura TL Special Edition is a great looking, comfortable, luxurious high-performing mid-size sport sedan. It comes equipped with everything to keep me and any other enthusiast happy behind the wheel.
Acura is getting ready to introduce an all-new 2015 TLX luxury sport sedan that will probably cost more than the Special Edition so take my hint and check one out before they are all gone, besides Special Edition, it is also a Limited Edition.
COPYRIGHT: 2014: HARVEY SCHWARTZ
- Price: Base TL $36,925 / As-Tested TL Special Edition $38,905
- Engine: 3.5-liter SOHC 24-valve V6 VTEC 280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm / 254 lb.ft. of toque @ 5,000 rpm
- Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
- Total length: 194 inches
- Total height: 57.2 inches
- Total width: 74 inches
- Track: f/r-63.2/63.8 inches
- Minimum ground clearance: 6.1 inches
- Headroom: f/r-38.4/36.7 inches
- Legroom: f/r-42.5/36.2 inches
- Turning circle: 38.4 inches
- Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
- Curb weight: 3,726 pounds
- EPA mileage: 20mpg/city, 29mpg/highway
- 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
|2014 Toyota Highlander Quick Adventure Drive and Review||
I had to chance to take a trek to Charleston, South Carolina for an adventure in the all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander. The folks at Toyota provided me a new Lexus RX350 F-Sport to take a trip down during the winter vortex to avoid extensive flight delays. It was an interesting beginning to what proved to be an enjoyable trip despite the questionable weather at times. My trip set off in a new Lexus RX naturally raised my expectations for the all-new 2014 Highlander, considering how the Lexus was the familiar ‘luxury’ crossover that the Highlander strived to be in the minds of some consumers in the two previous generations of the Highlander’s existence.
Getting in Charleston around 4pm I had a bit of time to digest the warm welcome of locals who were hunkered down for the light ice-covered roads while schools were canceled and many businesses were on a temporarily hiatus. After a quick presentation of what the new 2014 Highlander was all about, Toyota was eager to get me behind the wheel of their latest crossover creation, which now can seat up to 8 passengers. Not only that, but new design language and a sportier driving aptitude were all purposefully incorporated in the 2014 Highlander to better conciliate a wider audience who may expect a Lexus-level of refinement. Did they pull it off. In my opinion they did.
The all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which I first took a drive down the old Charleston ice-paved roads, puts its utilitarian foot right in front of its eco-minded demeanor. The new 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid separates itself from the pack with its electric motor feeding additional power to the 3.5-liter V6 engine through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) in a harmony to all 4-wheels (total of 280 horsepower). Although I am not a fan of CVTs, the unit in the new Highlander hybrid makes sense for all of the behind-the-scenes tasks of power management all in an economical fashion. Testing out the all-wheel-drive system on a few patches of ice was actually reassuring of how well planted the new Highlander hybrid is. Even though I didn’t get real-world fuel consumption numbers from my limited drive, the system performed flawlessly without any abrupt transitions from the engine power to electric or use of the start-stop technology. I thought of it like an over-powered Toyota Prius that grew a couple times bigger to seat 8 people with a bit of storage room to spare. Only, the new Highlander hybrid had a fun side with its new chiseled looks and sportier character on the road.
On my next adventure on a much longer route I took out the new 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited loaded up with all of the available amenities including radar cruise control (also features collision warning and mitigation), lane departure warning, blind spot notification, 2nd row captain’s chairs (7-passenger configuration), powered a 270 horsepower V6 engine with 248 ft-lbs. of torque transmitted to all wheels through an electronic differential and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Having actual gears in the new Highlander as opposed to a CVT found in some of its direct competition, really adds some value for light-hearted enthusiasts considering how much of a deal-breaker CVTs are. Though, in the Highlander Hybrid the CVT is more of a technical necessity to achieve an EPA estimated 27 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway. The V6 models get 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive configuration and 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the all-wheel-drive models.
Driving the new Highlander Limited started me off on an adventure around the old country of Charleston down back roads. Some of the most noticeable changes and improvements on the Highlander was how quiet the cabin is and how well dampened the chassis felt on those back roads. Many new aspects of the Highlander shined during my drive through the city exuding many traits from Lexus SUV vehicles. The 3.5-liter V6 proved its willingness to put things in motion without much drama or lack of power. However, the all-wheel-drive system’s added weight seemed to diminish the over-all acceleration of the new Highlander. Basically, it was not as fast off of the line as the front-wheel drive variation. Though, the all-wheel-drive Highlander Limited felt a bit more planted with very limited wheel spin, especially when put to the true test on some of the local icy roads. The over-all stability and handling of the Highlander are as sporty as it has ever been. My enthusiast view of the Highlander is much praised by its stable handling and use of a 6-speed automatic transmission instead of opting for a CVT unit.
The new redesign interior of the 2014 Highlander is spacious for front and 2nd row passengers. The captain’s seats all prove to have a hidden agenda of supporting you more than its initial looks. The seats where redesigned to make them thinner for additional leg room but without sacrificing comfort. The middle removable seat for the 2nd row is functional but limited for a smaller structured person or children. The 3rd row seating, made available to seat 3, may work for 2 adults just fine but is probably an impossible mission for 3 averaged to large sized adults. This is not to say the 3rd row is completely cramped, it is just limited on its full functionality and comfort for 3 full-sized occupants. However, it is the perfect size for 3 children or two adults and one child. Much of the storage area, in addition to the massively large front center console armrest compartment, can be a versatile space for just about anything you would haul or store in a midsized SUV. With the 3rd row in place in the back, you still have some usable space for 4 to 5 stacked bags before closing the power lift gate down.
There is no doubt that with the benefits of seating up to 8 passengers, the all-new Toyota Highlander has embarked on a new journey with added possibilities. Toyota’s new “Let’s Go Places” slogan is very relevant with the new Highlander and it deserves a thorough look for those who may be seeking a competent alternative to large minivans or other 8-passenger SUVs. The redesign is a nice hat tip to male figures who want to solidify their experience in driving the family vehicle on those lone trips. Nevertheless, the rest of the family should have no qualms with the new exterior styling. The solid unibody construction, Lexus-like luxury, and many exceptional features that set the Highlander apart from its competition all add to its value.
The vehicles driven during my single day Toyota adventure included the Highlander XLE front-wheel drive, Highlander Hybrid all-wheel-drive (standard AWD for Hybrid models) and the top-end Highlander Limited all-wheel-drive. A 4-cylinder Highlander is offered in limited supply, which I did not get to experience. The starting price for the base Highlander XLE V6 is $36,040, $47,300 for the Hybrid and $39,640 for the Highlander Limited. The base Highlander LE starts at just $29,215 and $32,740 for the LE Plus trim, all respectable price points for an 8 passenger midsized crossover utility vehicle.
Copyright: 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: $36,060 MSRP XLE V6
- Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6 24-valve 270 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm / 248 ft-lbs. torque @ 4,700 rpm
- Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
- Total length: 191.1 inches
- Total width: 75.8 inches
- Total height: 70.1 inches
- Track: f/r-64.4/64 inches
- Headroom: font-39.5 / rear-39.6 inches
- Legroom: front-44.2/ middle row-38.4 / 3rd row- inches
- Total interior volume: 156.5 cu.ft.
- Cargo volume: 13.8 cu.ft. 3rd row seats up / 78.6 cu.ft. all seats folded
- Curb weight: 4,464 pounds
- Maximum towing: 5,000 pounds
- Fuel capacity: 19.2 gallons
- Turning circle: 38.7 ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds est.
- EPA mileage: 19 mpg/city, 25 mpg/highway XLE V6 FWD
|Confessions of a Former Mini-Van Hater: The Toyota Sienna XLE||
I have always considered myself a car guy. I truly enjoy the smell of gasoline rich exhaust and I am solidly convinced that “new car paint” would make a fantastic air freshener scent. I have a long history with tiny two seat sports cars. When my first daughter was born, I bought what I considered a “family car,” a lowered and heavily modified 1988 300zx with the 2+2 option (that’s car talk for the postage stamp size back seat that helps you get cheaper car insurance and provides a longer wheel base for racing). Shoe horning the car seat back there was a chore, but actually placing the baby in the seat was a combination of two of my favorite childhood games, Twister and Operation. At 40, I guess I have matured a bit. With two kids, one a teenager, the family car is a Sublime 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona with some engine mods, a cold air induction system and modified exhaust. Sure the car stands out in a crowd, but at least it has a massive back seat. The truth is, I have never been a grown up car/van/truck kind of guy. Furthermore, I have a bit of a reputation for teasing my friends who are. Which means when I contacted my friend at Toyota and requested a mini-van to review, he almost did not believe me.
My plan was simple, I had a bunch of family coming in for the holiday and I wanted a vehicle that would comfortably fit everyone for some local sight seeing trips. As much as I love the Charger, without using the trunk there is simply no way of fitting more than five people in there. Well you can fit them I guess, but it is illegal and everyone gets cranky.
My contact at Toyota, once he made me pinky swear that I really wanted a mini-van, set me up with a nicely equipped eight passenger 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE with a 6-speed automatic. Toyota delivered the van on a Friday afternoon, dropping off the “predawn gray mica” people mover just in time for me to use it to pick up the kids from school. For a moment, when I first sat in the drivers seat, I felt as if I had become the middle age stereotype that I had fought so hard to avoid. What had I done? Maybe I did not think this through. Then it happened…I started the van, drove down the road, and began to realize why people invest hard earned money in these things.
The massive leather captain’s chair had me sitting high above traffic and it was rather comfortable. The V6 engine that Toyota is using in the Sienna is quite powerful (266 horsepower) and rather torguey (245 ft-lbs). The transmission was quick to shift and smooth. In full disclosure, I found myself punching the throttle a few times on the way to the elementary school and giggling a bit. It is one thing to chirp the tires in a Hemi powered pony car, but when you are driving an eight-passenger mini-van, you cannot help but smile. The handling, while not a race-car, was responsive and more car-like than I expected.
When I pulled into the car pool lane, it took my daughter a while to soak in the shock of seeing her dad in a brownish-gray mini-van. I almost had to show my valid drivers license before she felt comfortable getting in the car. However, once she did it was a little magical. Truth is, I do not think she had ever sat that high up in a vehicle in her life! Suddenly my ten year old was on top of the world, enjoying the comfort of her very own overstuffed leather captain’s chair. The car that we were reviewing for some odd reason did not come equipped with a video entertainment system, but she seemed more than content to stare out the windows and down at the world she had been missing all this time.
As the week progressed, the 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE proved a truly pleasant family friendly driving experience. The road trip that I planned to see the holiday lights turned into two trips, including one with my “Automotive Addicts family.” On both sightseeing trips, everyone truly enjoyed the comfort and convenience of the seating, the dual powered side doors, the individual climate controls, large windows, and ample cargo space. We took the Toyota to church on Sunday; all eight of us, and everyone enjoyed the ride. Gas mileage was about the same as the hemi powered Charger that I normally drive, but for a large family I can see the value. You simply can do more per mile when you have seating for 8 or seating for two and an additional 150 cubic feet of total cargo space.
In the end, I was a little sad to see the 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE go. I will always be a performance car guy, but I have to admit, the Toyota surprisingly won me over. I get it. Matter of fact, with a contrite heart, I put together a little confessional video. Whether or not I ever purchase a mini-van for myself is a story I still have to write, but if I do, I would feel comfortable purchasing a new Toyota Sienna. More importantly, my kids and extended family would be happy with the decision. Enjoy the video!
- Price: Base Sienna XLE $33,645 / As-Tested $35,695
- Vehicle layout: Front-engine, FWD, 4-door, 8-passanger van
- Engine: 3.5-liter 24 valve V6 with Dual VVT-i, 266 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm / 245 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/ OD
- Curb weight: 4,465 lbs.
- Wheelbase: 119.3 in
- Length x width x height: 200.2 x 78.1 x 70.7 in
- Headroom: f/r/rr-39.1 in./39.7 in./38.3 in.
- Legroom: f/r/rr-40.5 in./37.6 in./36.3 in.
- Maximum Cargo Capacity: behind front/second-row/third-row seats 150.0 cu.ft./87.1 cu.ft./39.1 cu.ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.9 sec
- EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 18 mpg / 25 mpg
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gallons
|2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Review & Test Drive||
A new generation of vehicle design is upon us as automakers are looking into innovative and fresh designs where sedans now emulate the stylish look of sports-coupes. Within this segment, off of the heals of the prided CLS sedan, Mercedes-Benz has paved the road to introduce the all-new CLA, their first front-wheel-drive sedan for a respectable low price point and gateway into the luxury brand for younger consumers.
The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 has set forth a new movement among many other German automotive counterparts where Audi has their new A3 and BMW sets sight on the coupe-esq sedan generation with a 4 Series Gran Coupe. Paving the trail first has its benefit as Mercedes-Benz looks to take the market by storm with the new CLA starting with the turbo-charged CLA250 riding on a front-wheel-drive platform.
The new 2014 CLA250 is still everything that you expect from a Mercedes-Benz in the aspects of the streamlined interior layout, masterfully sculpted exterior lines to foreshadow its more expensive brethren, and the driving dynamics that make it a pleasurable ride on the German autobahn and American highway system.
As a new entry point for consumers to step into the luxury brand, the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA250 exhibits a starting price of just $30,000 getting you a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with direct injection pumping out 208 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque starting at an extremely low 1,250 rpm.
Power delivery to the front wheels comes about through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The use of the dual-clutch unit, another pioneered first for Mercedes-Benz, adds to the unsurpassed efficiency of the new CLA250 where it gets an EPA estimated 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. That efficiency is filtered through the automated 7-speed dual-clutch transmission’s ability to have more of a direct connection with the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine. Together they work in harmony to propel the CLS250 to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, emulating a vehicle with much more horsepower than stated on paper.
During my week-long drive in the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250 the powertrain had me surprised as it was more than willing to break the front wheels loose without unwanted torque steer. Basically, the new CLA250 is a peppy performer eager to quench the thirst of mild enthusiasts. The front-wheel drive setup was more than adequate to appease my enthusiast background with a bit of added fun banging through the 7 gears via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Stability and comfort was a well-perceived balance I noticed in the new CLA250’s driving characteristics. The chassis proved to be balanced enough to remain civil and somewhat flat through light corners. Pushing the lateral-handling envelope on the new CLA250 showed some of its stumbles with a slight profusion of understeer but not without a predictable fight entering into a hard turn. Nevertheless, overall handling of the new CLA250 is great scoring a 0.92g on lateral acceleration tests.
Having a relatively low starting price point for a vehicle that proudly wears the three-point star emblem on its front grill you might expect a serious compromise. Surprisingly, with the all-new CLA250, the $30,000 price point gets you a nice list of standard features. However, with my test vehicle having an options list for just over $5,000, the CLA250 felt like it was still lacking that final touch that even an entry-level vehicle should have. Some of the highlighted standard features of the new CLA250 included the Eco Start/Stop system, 17-inch alloy wheels shod with all-season tires, Bluetooth connectivity for phones and audio streaming, front MB-Tex simulated leather power seats with lumbar support and memory, rain-sensing intermittent wipers, ambient lighting (accent lights under each seat’s headrest and soft lighting for each door panel/handle), collision prevention assist and attention assist (alerts you audibly and visually upon approaching an object too fast in front – applies brake pressure if a front-end collision is eminent), mbrace2 telematics system (connectivity to agents to assist with emergencies or vehicle issues), and split-folding rear seats.
The interior remains functional for 5 occupants but the rear seating is on the small side with drastically diminished leg and headroom when compared to many compact sedans on the market. Simply put, anyone near 6-feet tall should avoid the back seats all-together because you won’t fit. The front seats, fortunately, have ample room for tall individuals and the standard seats are supportive and comfortable for long trips but with some slight firmness.
The highlighted options equipped on my test vehicle, keeping the price at a respectable $36k, include Burl Walnut trim, 18-inch alloy wheels with high-performance tires, panorama sunroof, blind spot monitor, and a premium package with Harmon Kardon Surround Sound system w/SiriusXM, media interface (iPod/USB connections and Bluetooth audio streaming), heated front seats, driver’s side and interior auto-dim review mirrors, and dual-zone auto climate controls. This brings the complete package to a total of $36,700 including a $925 destination and delivery charge.
The basis of the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is solid proving to be a nice platform to either retain its low entry-level luxury price tag or satisfy the luxury enthusiast with an onslaught of optional amenities and feature sets. At the top end of the options spectrum you could outfit a new CLA250 to reach upwards of $46,000 without breaking a sweat. These options, including some as simple as a rearview backup camera and GPS navigation system, would fulfill CLA250’s initial impression instead of leaving you desiring the finished luxury touch. This becomes evident as the high-mounted high-resolution LCD screen in the center of the dashboard remained unused except for audio control display and a minimal set of vehicle settings. Not to mention, the screen seems visually detached much like an aftermarket navigation system suction-cupped to the dashboard. This is not to say the CLA250 falls short on delivering an agreeable entry-level luxury experience, there is just more to be expected within the familiar Mercedes-Benz atmosphere. Initial impressions of the CLA250’s interior may fall short for few after the discovery of missing expectations – until you factor in the Benz-price scale. However, at a starting price of around $30,000 for a base CLA250, there really isn’t much else on the market carrying a prestigious name to contend with that has a solid driving platform and remarkable fuel economy. The CLA250, after all, is a true Mercedes-Benz that reaches into a new spectrum gravitating towards younger buyers yet retaining the cutting eye of traditional Mercedes-Benz patrons and curious luxury seekers looking for an unrivaled value. Not to mention, you get the stunning looks of a sports coupe wrapped up in an affordable luxury sedan package sporting the Mercedes-Benz name.
Copyright: 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base CLA250 29,995* / As-Tested $36,700
- Vehicle layout: Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
- Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4-cylinder 208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm / 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed automated manual dual-clutch
- Curb weight: 3,262 lbs.
- Wheelbase: 106.3 in
- Length x width x height: 182.3 x 70 x 56.6 in
- Headroom: f/r-38.2 in./35.4 in.
- Legroom: f/r-40.2 in./27.1 in.
- 0-60 mph: 6.2 sec
- EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 26 mpg / 38 mpg
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.1 gallons
|2014 Dodge Durango Rallye RWD Review & Test Drive||
The new 2014 Dodge Durango SUV gets major upgrades to its exterior, interior and powertrain this year to keep it ahead of the pack in its SUV segment. I tested the new V6 powered Rallye Package that gives the Durango bolder styling with its sinister monochromatic Granite Crystal Metallic clear coat paint, aggressive lower aero bodykit, class-exclusive 20X9 inch Hyper Black alloy wheels shod with 265/50R20 inch Goodyear all-season performance tires and rear dual bright exhaust tips. Also new this year is the segment’s first eight-speed automatic transmission with a rotary shifter dial located on the center console to differentiate the Durango transmission shifter from the Grand Cherokee’s T-handle eight-speed shifter and allows for an up to 9% improvement in fuel economy and a more refined driving experience. There is also the class-exclusive Dodge ‘racetrack’ LED tail lamps with 192 LEDs, a new front fascia with floating signature Dodge crosshair grille, new projector headlamps with LED running lamps, an 8.4-inch color touchscreen with class-exclusive Uconnect Access including Wi-Fi capability, mobile apps, handsfree calling, handsfree texting, streaming music via Bluetooth, a remote USB port, Pandora and iHeartradio, voice recognition and navigation with 3D mapping. The new instrument panel is a class-exclusive 7-inch customizable thin-film transistor (TFT) full-color cluster, a new sporty/tilt-telescopic/heated/leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with standard aluminum paddle shifters, audio and cruise-control buttons. My test Durango featured the optional second-row captain’s chair with a standard pass-through center console that makes for easy travel between second-and third-row seats. A new capless fuel fill make for even easier fuel fill up, and more than 60 available safety and security features including Auto Crash notification 911 call button, Adaptive Cruise Control with stop function and Forward Collision Warning with collision Mitigation.
The new look conveys how advanced the Durango is, while maintaining the muscular body and confident driving experience customers expect from Dodge. The new face is still distinctly Dodge and features a new, slimmer ‘split crosshair’ grille with black mesh textures. Combined with the redesigned projector-beam headlamps and a raised front bumper with splitter and spoiler at the bottom, the new Durango has an even more sinister look than before. The sculpted hood and grille complete the unique to Dodge forward-leaning profile that continues through the deeply browed headlamps. The Rallye is also equipped with dark-tinted headlamp bezels, body-color front and rear lower fascias, wheel flares, grille and side moldings. LED daytime running lamps run horizontally along the bottom edge of the headlamp to form a unique ‘hockey-stick shape. Furthermore, the new front-end design features new projector foglamps and fog lamp surrounds and matching crosshair grille texture. Combined with a taller front bumper, the new lower fascia gives the 2014 Dodge Durango Rallye a wider and more aggressive look. The side profile maintains its powerful shape, accented by muscular fender arches and curves that flow back in through the doors, resembling the iconic shape of a coke bottle. The profile also features steeply racked A-pillars, a greenhouse that blends seamlessly into the body, pull-out door handles, and power-remote/heated sideview mirrors. The rear fascia contains the new ‘Race-Track’ LED lights, LED backup lamps, a step-up bumper and a new body-color rear spoiler that significantly reduces drag while the new rear has been re-sculpted to fully integrate the trailer hitch. This gives the Durango a cleaner, more premium look and more aggressive with large 3.5-inch dual exhaust tips.
The new 2014 Durango continues to deliver excitement and refinement at the wheel with world-class suspension and performance. Benchmarked against premium performance SUV’s in the market, Durango delivers modernized refinement with electronics, suspension and structural characteristics that are usually found at much higher prices. The unibody structure is built with a selection of high-strength and ultra-high strength steels that improve driving dynamics by integrating the suspension with the body-reducing flex and weight when compared to body-on-frame designs. The short/long arm front suspension includes gas-charged twin-tube coil-over shocks, upper & lower control arms. The isolated multi-link rear suspension features coil springs, twin-tube gas-charged shocks, aluminum lower control arm, independent upper link (tension/camber) and a separate toe link. The suspension also features isolated front and rear cradles to deliver even more precise on-road handling and comfort with less NVH (noise, vibration, harshness). The four-wheel independent suspension combined with Durango’s nearly 50/50 weight distribution, transmits to a solid driving feel and fun-to-drive characteristics. Durango also delivers on the pavement with aggressive shock and spring rates and large front/rear sway bars that easily handle body roll in hard turning maneuvers. The electro-hydraulic rack & pinion steering system is very quick and precise with each turn of the wheel and the unique caster and camber settings along with standard electronic stability control also contribute to maintain maximum tire grip and vehicle stability. The new Durango handles cornering like a new Dodge Charger.
A robust structure, impressive 13-inch front vented disc brakes clamped with dual-piston calipers and 13-inch solid rear discs clamped with single-piston calipers contribute to Durango’s great stopping power and Durango’s best-in-class trailer tow capability of up to 6,200 pounds when powered by the 3.6 liter V6 engine.
Named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines for three years, the standard 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine features DOHC’s, 24-valves, all-aluminum block and heads with VVT for excellent low-end torque. It generates 295hp at 6,400rpm in the Rallye Package with 260lb.ft. of torque at 4,800rpm. Mated to the award-winning V6 engine is the Chrysler Group’s new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with rotary shifter and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. This state-of-the-art transmission improves fuel economy along with enhanced performance and smoother shifts. These all figure into Durango’s fun-to-drive ability. Fully electronic, the eight-speed automatic features on-the-fly shift map changing, with manual shifting capability using the steering wheel paddles. More than 40 individual shift maps for specific conditions optimize shift quality and shift points for fuel economy, performance and drivability. The intelligent software is attuned to the performance requirements of almost any driving demand. The transmission efficiency and wide ratio spread provide the best possible fuel economy by operating at a lower rpm in both city and highway environments. The addition of more gear ratios also helps reduce the gaps normally associated with upshifting and downshifting-it’s so smooth! Furthermore, gear changes are nearly imperceptible due to the evenly spaced gear steps between each gear ratio. Internally, the transmission has for gear seats and five shifts elements (multi-disc clutches and brakes). Only two shift elements are open at any time. With fewer open shift elements, drag losses due to multiple parts rotating relative to one another are reduced, improving fuel efficiency. The new Durango also features a new Eco Mode that further contributes to its improved fuel economy. Eco Mode optimizes the transmission’s shift schedule as well as throttle sensitivity. The Eco Mode also manages interactive deceleration fuel shut-off (EDFSO), which cuts fuel delivery when the vehicle is coasting to reduce fuel consumption. The Pentastar V6 and new eight-speed are an incredible combination of performance and fuel efficiency!
The interior is roomy, comfortable, luxurious beyond its base price, ergonomic, high-tech connectivity savvy and very safe in the event of a collision. Dodge designers are bringing Durango to the forefront of technology in the three-row SUV segment, while taking nothing away from the utility, build quality and attention to detail for which Durango is known. I am surrounded by quality soft-to-the-touch materials, chrome and aluminum trim. The front bucket seats are very comfortable and cut deep to keep me and my passenger snug during hard cornering. Families with three of more children will find the Durango’s available captain’s chair with pass through especially helpful as two car seats can stay latched into the second row seats, and there’s still easy pass-through for passengers to walk between to get to the third row. The second-row captain’s chairs will also make adults feel like they are riding in first-class, with comfortable bucket seats with individual armrests, rear dual cupholders and air-vents behind the center console. The available second-row console features dual-hinged door/armrest that when flipped forward, features a hard surface so that the armrest is not damaged by cargo. It also offers class-exclusive storage and features, including USB ports for charging electronics. A fold-flat front passenger seat is standard and by folding forward, the passenger seat provides more utility, which lets customers load and carry longer objects. Once flat, the seat back panel also serves as a convenient utility table. A new active head restraint system adds to the long list of available safety and security features. The third-row seat features a 50/50 split and is easily folded from the rear.
An 8.4-inch touchscreen, a customizable 7-inch TFT gauge display, forward collision warning with crash mitigation, adaptive cruise control with stop and the latest generation of Uconnect Access Via Mobile are just some of the 2014 Durango’s available state-of-the-art features. Uconnect Access connects vehicle occupants directly with police, fire department or ambulance service dispatcher with the push of the ‘911’ button on the Durango’s self-dimming rearview mirror. One push of the ‘ASSIST’ button summons help directly from Chrysler Group’s roadside assistance provider or the Vehicle Customer Care Center. Uconnect also allows me to execute many of the normal functions, such as climate, audio and Bluetooth, all by voice. The Cloud also enables voice texting, a breakthrough feature of Uconnect Access. The center stack contains the climate control dials and features the 8.4-inch navigation screen with the same advanced voice-recognition protocol that simplifies the often-problematic process of entering navigation-system destinations with both hands on the wheel. The system will accept continuous single-sentence instructions, such as “Navigate to Ross Boulevard, Dodge City, Kansas.” The Durango’s navigation system also features new 3D maps with graphic representations as well-known landmarks and terrain, designed to make on-road travel even easier to navigate.
The most looked at area of the interior, the instrument cluster, also has a premium high-tech appearance with the new dynamic gauge cluster. Standard on all models and featuring a customizable 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid-crystal display, the cluster can be configured more than 100-ways for the ultimate driver-customizable experience. Navigation, audio and fuel economy information and warning indicators can all be displayed in the 7-inch screen. You’ll only find the TFT display in high-priced luxury vehicles.
Standard equipment in my Rallye packaged Durango includes power windows with express up/down up front/power door locks, 3-zone climate control, variable speed wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer, dual map lamps up front and reading lamps for the second and third rows, grab handles above each door up front and at the side in the second doors, dual vanity mirrors, a center console with dual cupholders with ring lighting, a deep and wide dual-tiered storage bin that is lighted, a lighted glovebox, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, hill-decent gearing, a six-speaker AM-FM-CD with Sirius Satellite radio, a lighted open storage bin in front of the center console, storage in each door, carpeted floor mats front and rear including an underfloor storage bin in the rear.
Standard safety features include front/rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, front airbags, front-seat mounted side thorax airbags, ABS, BA, ESC, Traction Control, three-row side-curtain airbags, 6-three-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, front-row active head restraints and a tire pressure warning system.
The new 2014 Dodge Durango with the Rallye Package is pure boldness, fun-to-drive around town or on the highway with the latest in comfort, connectivity, automotive high-technology and safety systems to make my time spent behind the wheel even more enjoyable than ever!
COPYRIGHT: 2014: HARVEY SCHWARTZ
- Price: $32,990.00/$34,480.00 as tested
- Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC Pentastar V6 295 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm / 260l b.ft. of torque @ 4,800 rpm
- Wheelbase: 119.8 inches
- Track: f/r-63.9/64.1 inches
- Overall length: 201.2 inches
- Overall width: 75.8 inches
- Overall height: 70.9 inches
- Sill step height: 20.5 inches
- Ground clearance: 8.1 inches
- Approach angle: 16.3
- Departure angle: 21.5
- Ramp Breakover: 18.1
- Fuel tank: 24.6 gallons
- Turning circle: 37.1 feet
- Headroom: f/m/r-39.9/39.8/37.8 inches
- Legroom: f/m/r-40.3/38.6/31.5 inches
- Cargo volume: 17.2-behind third row/47.7-behind second row/84.5cu.ft. behind all seats folded
- Curb weight: 4,756 pounds
- Payload: 1,330 pounds
- EPA mileage: 18mpg/city, 25mpg/highway
|Quick Drive In A Tesla Model S Envisions the Future for Us||
By now you probably know all there is to know about the new Tesla Model S. You’ve read that the top-end P85+ (performance-plus 416hp/443 lb-ft of torque) trim has the ability to reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and top out at 130 mph. You’ve heard all about the cruising range of 300+ miles on a single charge. Sure, I’ve heard it all before as well, and it sounds pretty good until you reach the part about the car costing $100k (Starting Prices – Model S 60 kWh $62K, 85 kWh $72K, 85 kWh Performance $85K). Even with the tax refund, that is still a ton of cash. Is the car that good? Well, after spending a while behind the wheel of the new Tesla Model S P85+ we are surely impressed and almost ready take advantage of the Tesla financing and bring one home.
The new Tesla Model S is a marvel in itself despite all of the naysayers and critics with a negative opinion. The Model S does exactly what it is advertised to do – provide transportation in a 100% electric vehicle ranking to be the safest on the road with impeccable performance wrapped up in a luxury sedan package. The interior of the new Model S is a slightly lower grade than those we expect from the likings of our prided luxury brands in America, but still acceptable for such a vehicle. As far as the fully-electric drivetrain goes, it is simply a thrill ride in the confines of a heavy sedan that emulates a much lighter platform to the driver. Instant torque is almost like an addictive drug, you must have more of it, and more of it is given at the press of the firm ‘gas’ pedal (accelerator pedal for those who want to be technical about it). Deceleration is unlike any other vehicle in the default regenerative braking/deceleration mode. One could literally avoid use of the brake pedal altogether and just use the natural deceleration of the ‘gas’ pedal in place of a brake because it is just that aggressive, which is why the LED brake lights automatically come on when letting off of the pedal.
I won’t bore you with all of the Model S statistics or get into a discussion on the recent headline news stories featuring blown out of proportion accidents in which all occupants walked away unharmed. All of that has been covered in abundance. What I will tell you, is that there is a future in electric vehicle technology. The amazement you get driving such a vehicle could help boost our country into a time when we finally begin to wean off our oil consumption. Of course, I like a big V8 engine as much as the next guy and nothing will ever replace the sound of a whistling supercharger or the angry exhaust of a gas powered muscle car as far as I am concerned. However, Tesla, with the visionary Elon Musk at the helm, has created a remarkable product with the Model S. This electrifying luxury-sports sedan is well deserved of a serious look for those who only speculate, criticize and meander the Internet full of misinformed information. The Tesla Model S exhibits a gateway to our future and things can only get better.
During my short time driving the new Tesla Model S I was able to envision a time where 95% of all the US population is able to visit a nearby supercharger station and recharge their Tesla Model S (or other new Tesla vehicles) and travel to whatever destination in the USA they choose without that nagging range anxiety in the back of your mind. Furthermore, we can now move a little closer to a day when electric powered vehicles, or another alternative fuel powered vehicle, takes the primary place as our main mode of local transportation. The Model S is, after all, an American made product and instead of continually criticizing the forward-thinking movements of such a company, we should stand behind it a bit more for the sake of our next generation of enthusiasts and every-day consumers.
|2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Review & Test Drive||
The iconic Chevrolet Corvette has captivated enthusiasts for many decades but now the captivation takes a new road, one that has redefined the Corvette’s purpose as a true American sports car deserving of the North American Car of the Year award. After spending just about a week behind the wheel of the all-new 2014 Corvette (C7) Stingray, I can walk away with the certainty of knowing that it is at the top of its game in the scope of sports cars with an added and unsurpassed value without compromise.
The all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray carries is iconic name proudly with its unmistakable styling in one hand and in the other a massive iron hammer of shear performance. To start things off the proper way, jumping to the stats that matter to enthusiasts, the new Corvette Stingray with the Z51 package reaches 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Additionally, it holds its lateral movements with a force of 1.08g, reaches a top speed of 190 mph (est.), and does all this while the driver and passenger bask in a cabin full of leather, brushed aluminum, carbon fiber dashboard trim, delightfully accented stitching throughout, heated and cooled seats, and a limited amount of soft-touch plastics. No longer is the Corvette getting ridiculed for a lackluster interior, the new Stingray exudes quality craftsmanship, functionality for two occupants, and enough gadgetry to keep your techie senses happy on twisty roads, highways and the track.
The new Chevy Corvette Stingray starts off with its base 1LT trim with several notable standard features including two 8-inch high-definition color screens (one for the center gauge cluster and other for center-dash navigation, audio, phone and settings. The base model also gets keyless access with push-button start, rearview backup camera, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 7-speed manual transmission with active rev matching and launch control, carbon fiber hood and a 9-speaker Bose audio system. Moving up to the 2LT trim or 3LT adds amenities like Nappa leather seating surfaces, colored instrument panels, heads-up display, memory package, auto-dimming mirrors, and navigation system. The Z51 package can be coupled with any trim level (1LT, 2LT, 3LT), which adds: larger diameter slotted brake rotors, dry sump oil system, electronic limited slip differential, upgraded performance suspension, heavy duty cooling, and 19-inch front 20-inch rear wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP tires – 245/35ZR19 front 285/30ZR20 rear.
When we first drove the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray in Miami several months ago, we knew Chevrolet had something special and it made us feel proud to be American all over again. Our drive at that time was very limited so we could not conclude our thoughts without taking the new Corvette Stingray home with us. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to spend a little more quality time with the new Stingray and I have walked away giving the proper respect and honor to a serious sports car on the road that means business.
The business end of the new 2014 Corvette Stingray starts with its standard 6.2-liter OHC direct-injection V8 engine producing 455 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs. of torque. In my Z51-equipped Corvette Stingray the power is upped to 460 horsepower and 465 ft-lbs. of torque. Sure, the new V8 engine uses older push-rod technology as for one reason it keeps the height of the engine down for a low-slung hood. Conversely, this masterfully crafted engine is wrapped in modern tech with direct injection, cylinder deactivation (V4 mode), variable valve timing, and enough power and thunderous sound to envelope you with pure excitement that only a top-tier roller-coaster emanate. Throughout the power band the engine is meaty with peak torque kicking in at 4,600 rpm and its muscular 460 horsepower at 6,000 up to its redline at 6,500 rpm. Combined with direct injection and cylinder deactivation, the monstrous V8 and amazing aerodynamics of the composite body panels, carbon fiber hood and roof, all add to the lightweight equation to get 28 mpg on the highway. EPA estimates for city driving come in at 16 mpg. I was able to see 15.6 mpg around town and a steady 27.5 on the highway. Of course those figures dropped drastically when I let loose and had a little fun on some back roads where my 10 mile trip returned 11 mpg.
The new 2014 Corvette Stingray is undoubtedly a thrill ride in more ways than one. The driver mode selection is a convenient way of setting the vehicle up for your desired driving preference. The handling of the new Stingray coupled with the optional magnetic ride control adaptive dampers is amazing as well as the soft ride when the driver mode set to Touring, Weather, Eco or Sport. Placing the mode to Track makes the Corvette Stingray even meaner with stiffened dampers, heavy-weighted steering, and performance shifting of the optional 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The driver information center cluster 8-inch LCD primarily displays the RPM gauge along with various vehicle information and settings. The fixed speedometer to the left, fix fuel and engine temp gauge to the right, all surround the high-resolution 8-inch screen in the cluster. The gauge setup within the driver information screen is customized according to the driver select mode switch with the option of separating the modes and manually setting up your desired display regardless of the driver mode selection. This is a nice touch to the screen setup giving you the option to manually configure the type of display whether it is the touring, sport or track display theme. An optional color heads-up display, equipped on my test vehicle as part of its 2LT trim package, simulates the sport and track display themes with a digital speedometer, RPM gauge, lateral g-force meter and a multi-stage shift light in track display mode.
The room in the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s cabin is ideal for two adults just over 6-feet tall. However, moving around in the cabin can be a task as the cockpit-styled cabin limits any lower body adjustments aside from moving the power seats and power steering column. I found my 6 foot 3-inch frame fitting perfectly into the driver’s seat but not with much room to spare considering my knees had about one and a half inch of clearance from the dashboard. Though, I could easily wear a helmet without hitting the roof panel. My other qualm would be the positioning of the trunk release button on the dashboard – I must have accidentally pressed the button with my left knee about 8 times during the course of my week-long driving experience. Fortunately, the trunk release is disabled when driving as are the power-release buttons on the doors when the vehicle is locked to prevent accidental opening while cruising down the road.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is extremely adaptive according to the drive modes the new Corvette Stingray is placed into. Though, the 6-speed automatic’s torque converter seems to perform a lot of slipping to modulate torque fluctuations before it locks up. This torque converter slipping becomes even more apparent when in manual mode and you step on the gas moderately. It is almost unnerving until you hear the deep droning exhaust note when the rpm raises momentarily. To put things into better perspective with what you will expect from the new Stingray with an automatic transmission, you must focus your attention on its unique drive mode settings. Starting off in Weather or Touring modes the transmission shifts are predictable in a mild manner. Eco mode brings up-shifts on sooner for conserving fuel while the throttle mapping is subdued for a less aggressive profile. In Sport and Track modes the transmission is able to automatically select a performance-shifting mode in the event of aggressive gas pedal action. Using the steering wheel paddle shifters allows you to rev-match downshifts and execute lighting-fast up-shifts in Sport and Track modes. Each full throttle up-shift is followed with a harmonizing and thunderous clatter from the exhaust note and transmission doing its thing in the rear of the Corvette. To make things even more extreme, track mode offers additional competition handling modes when the traction control button is pressed twice. Doing so will enable an extra set of competition track modes: wet, dry, sport 1 & 2 or race mode. Each mode places stability and traction control into a limited state – just to intervene when things get exceedingly dicey. Speaking of being out of control, the new Corvette Stingray’s stability control system is rather progressive in each drive mode where sport and track modes allow the rear wheels to spin for a couple seconds before taking action, which is never too harsh to sap all of your fun or disturb the 50/50 weight balance of the lightweight 3,444 pound Stingray. The use of carbon fiber bits keep things light and are all in the right places, such as the hood and removable targa top. Hardly any stones were left unturned when it came to designing the new Corvette basically consisting of all new parts from the ground up.
An active sound management is an added benefit for those who don’t want to wake the neighbors when driving through your neighborhood or starting up the LT1 V8 engine. Active sound management controls additional exhaust valves in the rear to quiet things down or open up during full throttle. The drive select modes can control the system automatically or you may manual disable it (open up the valves) and let the roaring sound of the V8 rumble to your hearts delight – just the way I like it.
The styling of the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray harkens back to the 60’s and 70’s Corvette Stingray. As far as the styling, the idea of the Stingray taking cues from other exotic vehicles is a serious debate that will continue to play out for years to come as on-looking enthusiasts see the new Stingray in person. Either way, borrowed design cues or not, the exterior design serves many purposes with a surprising functional aspect to every sculpted and vented line. Some of the surprising functional elements of the new Corvette Stingray start with the front hood vented air intake, to the top-rear vents channeling air to cool the rear-mounted transmission and electronic differential. Even the rear taillight’s vents and diffuser’s side vents have a purpose of venting air to keep the working mechanics cool while adding slight stability without taking away from the progressive downforce. The new square-shaped LED taillights may draw some controversy for the slow adopters but actually have an added visual depth to their close-up brightly lit appearance. The new LED daytime running lamps up front encased in the exotic-styled headlamp housing simulate the outline of Italian exotic vehicles at a reasonable distance, which isn’t a bad thing considering the new Corvette Stingray’s target competition for an unmatched price.
In comparison of my first quick drive of the new 2014 Corvette Stingray Z51 with the 7-speed manual transmission several months ago, the new Corvette Stingray Z51 with an automatic transmission keeps things almost as entertaining without much of a guessing game. The automatic shifts fast enough to rival some dual-clutch transmissions. Additionally, the ease of use factor come into play when you have so much power available over a broad rpm range to lay down on the pavement through the rear wheels.
Part of the all-new Corvette Stingray’s iconic statement expands beyond its consistent and respected exotic-car performance statistics. The new Corvette Stingray exhibits the best bang for your dollar being that the same V8 engine and impeccable performance can be had in the base Stingray starting at just $51,000. For that price there isn’t much that can compete, which makes the iconic American sports car shine even brighter when pitted against its competition. No doubt that the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a returned contender with an exceptional value at the best of its game. My 2014 Chevrolet Stingray Z51 test vehicle has an as-tested price of $65,530 including a $995 destination charge.
Copyright: 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base Corvette Stingray $51,000 / As-Tested Corvette Stingray Z51 $65,530
- Engine: 6.2-liter OHC V8 460 (Z51) horsepower @ 6,000 rpm / 465 ft-lbs. torque @ 4,600 rpm
- Wheelbase: 106.7 inches
- Total length: 176.9 inches
- Total width: 73.9 inches
- Total height: 48.8 inches
- EPA cargo volume: 15.0 cu.ft.
- Curb weight: 3,444 pounds
- Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
- 0-60mph: 3.8 seconds (Z51 automatic transmission)
- Top Speed: 190 mph (estimated)
- EPA mileage: 17 mpg city / 28 mpg highway (automatic transmission)
|2014 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner Access Cab V6 RWD TRD Test Drive||
The new 2014 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup truck continues to lead the pack in this important pickup truck segment. Even though there are no new important changes to the 2014 model, enthusiasts will be kept happy with all of the packages available. I tested a brand new Tacoma PreRunner V6 in the Access cab configuration and the optional TRD Sport Package for on-road fun. The Tacoma PreRunner has been the best-selling compact pickup truck in the U.S. since 2005 but it is getting a little bit old inside and outside. The real bad news for some enthusiasts is that the Tacoma X-Runner sport truck is discontinued for 2014. The good new though is that I tested the new TRD Extra Value Sport Package. The package includes a sport suspension with Bilstein gas-filled shocks, 17X7.5 inch alloy wheels, Dunlop 265/65R17 inch all-season radial tires, a hood scoop, color-keyed grille surround/bumpers, power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators/door handles/overfenders/sliding rear window with privacy glass/15V400W deck mounted AC power, foglamps, remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers/washers, overhead console with dual map lamps and two sunglass storage, water resistant sport bucket seats with 4-way adjustments and driver’s-side lumbar support, metallic tone instrument panel with rallye gauge cluster, a beefy/tilt/telescopic/leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls/Bluetooth controls, a great located stick shifter, dual lighted sunvisors with extenders, tailgate handle, integrated backup camera and TRD Sport Graphics. This package is priced at $3,575.00 a bit high but worth it. My truck also came with these options-a tow hitch-$550.00, cargo net-$49.00, carpet floor mats and door sill protector-$195.00, VIP-RS3200 Plus Security System-$359.00 and a bed mat-$119.00. My test Tacoma also came equipped with the Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite that includes the Entune Multimedia Bundle-a 6.1 inch high-resolution touch-screen with Split Screen Display, AM-FM-CD Player with 6-speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 Port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, Phone Book Access and Music Streaming via Bluetooth Wireless technology, HD radio, HD Predictive Traffic and Doppler Weather Overlay, Sirius Satellite radio, GraceNote, AM-FM Cache Radio and Album Cover Art. The base price for my test Tacoma is $23,560.00 and with the Extra Value Discount of $385.00, my test Tacoma was priced at $30,183.00 including delivery, processing and handling. These packages will be a joy for all enthusiasts and tekkes.
The exterior of the Tacoma PreRunner is well known with the bold front grille, hood scoop, flared fenders, mud flaps behind each wheel. Highlights include front halogen headlamps and rear LED tail and brakes lamps. The composite inner bed is made from a sheet-molded composite deck and touch, durable walls that are 10% lighter than steel. The bed deck features two-tier loading and an integrated deck-rail utility with four standard adjustable tie-down cleats. The rails are compatible with Genuine Toyota Accessories including cargo bed cross bars, a fork-mounted bike rack and diamond-plate storage boxes. My PreRunner came with a 115/400W power point that further extends the bed’s utility.
Power to move my PreRunner comes from the 4.0 liter DOHC, EFI, 24-valve, all-aluminum V6 engine with VVT-i for exceptional low-end torque. That torque is rated at 266lb.ft. at 4,000rpm and horsepower is rated at 236 at 5,200rpm. Channeling all of the torque to the rear wheels is a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission with ECT but I think it is time to load a 6-speed automatic to keep the truck more current and enhance mpg specs. When equipped with the V6 tow package, Access Cab models boast a SAE-certified maximum tow capacity of up to 6,500 pounds. An automatic Limited-slip Differential (Auto LSD) uses brake intervention to help reduce tire slippage at the rear wheels and is standard.
Giving the Tacoma PreRunner great handling and a smooth ride is the front coil-over Bilstein gas-filled shocks double-wishbone suspension with a solid 1.18 inch stabilizer bar. The rear setup features leaf springs and low-mount and staggered Bilstein gas-filled shocks. With the standard hydraulic rack & pinion steering system turn-in is sharp and precise but maybe an electric power-assisted steering system would decrease weight and enhance fuel economy.
Slowing my test Tacoma PreRunner down from speed are power brakes. Up front are 10.82 inch vented rotors clamped with dual-pistons calipers and 10 inch drum brakes in the rear. I think it is time to equip the truck with all disc brakes for extra braking power. This braking system comes standard with ABS, EBD, BA, Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control to help keep me in control of the truck’s direction when braking hard over wet or slick pavement. The mechanicals work great together but I think it is time to upgrade some of the components mentioned above.
The interior is simple and comfortable once you get inside. With a high step-in height and low exterior height I had to ‘shoe-horn’ myself onto the sport bucket seats. I am 6ft. 3in. and would recommend that consumers looking at the PreRunner be shorter than 6ft. for easy entry and exit. Once I settled into my seat I felt comfortable in the sport bucket seat that is also cut deep to hug me when I enter tight turns. All buttons, dials and switches are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel. I was a little disappointed with all of the hard plastic and would like to see a soft-to-the-touch material on the dashboard face. The center console features a metallic material with gated shifter, 3-cupholders, deep and wide storage box and open storage bins in front and at the left. Standard equipment inside not mentioned above includes storage slots in each door, power windows with driver’s-side express down, rear tow hook, power door locks, dome light, a full-size spare tires, 2-speed wipers/washers, A/C, dual 12V power plugs and a digital clock. The Access Cab came with swing-out doors that extend 80-degrees out for easy access and exit with fold-up jump seats and dual cupholders.
Standard safety features include 4-3-point safety belts , front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, roll-sensing side curtain airbags including a cut-off switch and standard active headrests for the front seats which move up and forward almost instantly in the event of certain rear-end collisions, side-door impact beams, daytime running lamps, engine immobilizer and a tire pressure monitor.
The Toyota Tacoma PreRunner pickup truck has been the industry leader since 2005 for good reasons. It has bold good looks, a powerful V6 engine, comfortable and simple interior and a versatile cargo box for work or play. With GM coming out with an all-new Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon and Ford ready to introduce an all-new Ranger, Toyota will have to move forward with a total update of the Tacoma to keep its lead in the segment.
COPYRIGHT: 2014: HARVEY SCHWARTZ
- Price: Base Tacoma PreRunner Access Cab $23,560 / As-Tested $30,183
- Engine: 4.0 liter DOHC, EFI, 24-valve, all-aluminum V6 w/ VVT-i 236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm / 266lb.ft. ft-lbs. of torque @ 4,000 rpm
- Wheelbase: 127.4 inches
- Total length: 208.1 inches
- Total width: 74.6 inches
- Total height: 70.3 inches
- Inside bed length: 73.5 inches
- Track: f/r-61/61 inches
- Ground clearance: 7.9 inches
- Approach angle: 27
- Departure angle: 20
- Breakover angle: 20
- Headroom: f/r-40/34.9 inches
- Legroom: f/r-41.7/24.6 inches
- Turning circle: 42 feet
- Fuel tank: 21.1 gallons
- Curb weight: 3,645 pounds
- Payload: 1,440 pounds
- EPA mileage: 17mpg/city, 21mpg/highway
|2014 Buick Regal GS Review & Test Drive||
“This isn’t your grandfathers Buick!” That seems to be the statement circulating around my 2014 Buick Regal GS 6-speed manual test vehicle at our recent Automotive Addicts Cars and Coffee event in Jacksonville, FL. As onlookers goggled over the new Regal GS, they not only took notice to its sporty appearance and aggressive stance, but they we taken by my test vehicle being equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission and Brembo brakes up front. It is no doubt that the new Regal GS is an attention-grabber among enthusiasts as it takes them back on a reminiscing journey of vehicles like the Buick Regal Grand National and GNX.
The new 2014 Buick Regal GS embodies that spirited drive found in enthusiasts who can remember when Buick had rear-wheel-drive performance cars roaming the streets of America. Today, the new Regal GS sports its aggressive styling and a dash of that old performance inspiration wrapped up in a well-handling front-wheel-drive sedan package all powered by a new 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder engine.
The new engine in the 2014 Buick Regal GS is much improved over the outgoing powerplant in that it is made up all-new mechanics for better efficiency of its power output. Total power for the new 2.0-liter turbo 4 comes to 259 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 295 ft-lbs. of torque through a range of 2,500 rpm to 5000 rpm. With a wide range of torque directed to the front wheels (or all 4 via an optional new Haldex all-wheel-drive system with an electronic limited slip differential), the new Regal GS gives you the reassurance of its ability to overtake on the highway or quickly get out of the hole from a dead stop. Additionally, to keep that reassurance in tack, torque steer is absent as well as any upset or unwanted reverberation in the chassis.
Building off of the solid platform of the new 2014 Buick Regal Turbo, which I was able to experience and share my positive outlook in a previous review, the new Regal GS is tweaked to put forth its hidden athleticism to the pavement. Over all, the new Regal GS is a soft vehicle when it comes to how it lays down its power and ample 295 ft-lbs. of torque. I found that the power is substantial for its size and weight, but does require an extra effort on the driver’s part to extract the best parts of its available performance. You could say that the most apparent aspects of its softness is the predictable clutch engagement and long-throw 6-speed manual transmission ending with the Regal GS’ quiet whistle of the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The GS is never going to set off any car alarms from its faint exhaust note at any rpm. Rowing through the 6-speed manual transmission will require you adapt to the long throws and manage the slip of the front wheels with traction control disabled.
One of the highlighted benefits of the all-new Regal GS in the performance arena is the Interactive Drive Control system, which has 3 settings being the default normal mode, Sport mode, and GS mode. Changing the modes via top-dashboard-mounted buttons firms up the dampers for more aggressive characteristics of the suspension system. Sport mode mildly firms up the dampers while the aggressive GS mode firms them up even further but not to the point of any harshness. In a way, GS mode still provides a very smooth yet competent ride quality really making the solid chassis of the Regal GS shine and prove its willingness to compete on those occasional autocross or light track duty days. The Interactive Drive Control system also firms up the steering wheel effort to simulate an aggressive steering rack with a bit more feedback and required effort. I found that GS mode was more of a necessity for enthusiasts or even the casual driver who likes to have a little fun.
The balance and handling of the new Buick Regal GS is surprising. The four-link independent rear suspension combined with wide-patched P245/40R19 tires at all four corners (or optional P255/35-ZR20 summer performance tires and polished alloy 20-inch wheels) and active Computer Damping Control, all aid in the lateral handling abilities of the new Buick Regal GS. Of course by selecting the GS Interactive Driving Control mode it makes things more competent during spirited driving with firmed dampers and heavier steering effort, which seems to translate the road to the driver a bit better than in normal mode. Putting the 2014 Regal GS into a hard turn can actually emit a slight bit of oversteer, something not expectant from a front wheel drive vehicle. Of course you can quickly change things around in a hard turn with a bit of gas pedal action to thrash the front wheels for an abundance of understeer. Keeping things in a straight line you find the Regal GS putting down a 0-60 mph time of about 6.3 seconds. Achieving that number is not always an easy task as you find different shift points within the large rpm range of peak torque. The all-new direct-injected turbocharged 2.0-liter engine pleasantly fulfills its pulling duties all the way up redline at 7,000 rpm without much of a lag or threshold where some turbo engines tend to fall flat.
The many surprises expressed verbally from onlookers at our local Automotive Addicts Cars and Coffee show was a gift that kept on giving when it came to our new Regal GS test vehicle. Not only did the 6-speed manual transmission and Brembo brakes take folks by surprise, but the interior also had its own duty to raise eyebrows once again. The thick flat-bottom leather-wrapped heated steering wheel combined with the uniquely patterned and well-bolstered sports seats up front and aluminum sport pedals of the Regal GS, all added to the sports appeal of this Buick. At the end of it all, after explaining to others that our new Regal GS had a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 295-ft-lbs. of torque, I quickly lost count of how many times the phrase “this is not your grandfather’s Buick” was uttered out of onlooker’s mouths. The new refreshed dashboard for 2014, mimicking the rest of the Buick Regal line, consisted of many soft-touch plastics and a perception of top-notch fit and finish quality. The new refreshing of the 2014 Regal’s dashboard cleans things up and places more emphasis on ease of usability and a better focus on the large high-resolution 8-inch LCD touchscreen mounted high in the center of the dash. Exclusive to the Regal GS was a large center gauge cluster color LCD screen for readout of the speedometer and configurable vehicle information including g-force metering.
As far as efficiency goes, the new 2014 Regal GS actually beats out the Turbo Regal by one mpg on the highway in front-wheel-drive configuration. The new Regal GS gets an EPA estimated 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. My highway drive up interstate 95 returned an average of 29.7 mpg and around town I saw a steady 21 mpg over the course of a closely-monitored 8 miles of downtown Jacksonville streets.
The complete balancing act of bringing that Buick performance passion back to the market with the new Buick Regal GS may seem like a complicated task. Though, the new 2014 Buick Regal GS is an excellent start but its over-all softness and lacking ability to really keep up with competitors on spirited drives and track endeavors may be its single disappointment. On the other hand, I fail to remember a time when a grandfather could fun driving a 6-speed manual turbocharged Regal with 295 ft-lbs. of torque. I know my grandfather or father wouldn’t turn down that opportunity.
Being that the Regal GS is the top end of the trim levels, it includes all features found on the Premium 2 trim in addition to GS specific add-ons to set it apart as the performance oriented vehicle of the bunch, such as the addition of adaptive dampers and selectable modes for the Interactive Driver Control system. The aggressive and unique exterior styling is also an added benefit for the Regal GS’ performance aptitude ending with standard 19-inch alloy wheels or the optional polished 20-inchers.
The new 2014 Buick Regal GS is priced perfectly in line as the top trim for the Regal bringing in a base price of $36,905 and my test vehicle having an as-tested price of $40,715 including a $925 destination charge. As far as value perception, the new Regal GS prides its soft-touched performance edge behind the Buick nameplate to characterize a visual and sensual-performance surprise to shatter the brand’s old preconceptions.
Copyright: 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base Regal GS $36,905 / As-Tested Regal GS FWD $40,715
- Vehicle layout: Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
- Engine: 2.0-liter direct-injection DOHC 16-valve inline-4-cylinder 259 horsepower @ 5300 rpm / 295-lb-ft @ 2500-4000 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual (optional 6-speed automatic)
- Curb weight: 3,710 lbs. est.
- Wheelbase: 107.8 in
- Length x width x height: 190.2 x 73.1 x 58.4 in
- Headroom: f/r-38.8in./37.3in.
- Legroom: f/r-42.1in./37.3in.
- 0-60 mph: 6.3 sec
- EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 20 mpg / 31 mpg
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.0 gallons
|2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i Review & Test Drive||
In 1999 BMW introduced the industry’s first Sport Activity Vehicle segment with its go any place at any time attitude. Since that time BMW has sold about 1.3 million X5 vehicles and after my seven-day test drive, this third-generation edition is the best so far. As seen before this all-new 3rd. generation X5 sets new standards for luxury, versatility and of course, BMW’s fabled driving dynamics. The class leading driving dynamics features BMW’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive that can be complemented by BMW’s Dynamic Performance Control as part of the optional (my test X5 has it) Dynamic Handling Package that includes Active Roll Stabilization providing an additional edge to the X5’s sporty handling attributes as well as Dynamic Damper Control and its rear-axle air spring suspension. I have a choice of Comfort or Sport setting by pushing a console-mounted button. There is also an Eco mode button to increase my mpg specs. Besides being all-new, the X5 sDrive35i model is the first with rear-wheel drive.
Among the elements that have set the BMW X5 apart in the SUV segment is its unique blend of sporty, elegant exterior styling and its luxurious, flexible interior ambiance. These attributes have been enhanced with an entirely new design, inside and out. Stunning, head-turning new styling is seen from any angle and the all-new X5 is outfitted with the latest in LED front and rear lighting technology. Its distinctive appearance is once again defined by a short front overhang, long wheelbase, raked A-pillars and the short distance between the front axle and the leading edge of the front door. The three dimensional design of the BMW kidney grille, set within the triangle of the dual round headlights and front foglamps, and the bumper’s X-shaped contour lines also identify it as a standout BMW. The new X5 has a broad-set kidney grille that extends all the way to the headlight clusters which extend from the kidney grille all the way into the front fenders. The signature four round headlights are trimmed by LED accent rings. To provide a new look, the light rings are flattened along the bottom edge and overlapped at the top edge. Sweeping chrome inserts and the prominently three-dimensional design of the lights underline the vehicle’s sophisticated character. LED front foglamps come standard and my test X5 came equipped with the optional adaptive LED headlights that are identified by the horizontal light sources in the center of the rings. The front apron with working side slits are positioned far to its outer edges and accentuate the wide track and planted stance of the new X5. The striking underbody protection elements also provide a nod to its tough character. Drag-reducing Air Curtains make their debut on a BMW X model. These vertical apertures guide the incoming air around the wheel arches, where it creates a curtain of air over the wheels before making a controlled escape through the Air Breathers in the side of the front fenders. The designs of the X5’s sides reflect the BMW X5’s power and sporting ability. Precisely drawn lines rising up toward the rear build a wedge shape that draws attention to the dynamic character of the X5 and breaks up the taut surfaces around the flared front fenders, doors and rear wheel arches. Each wheel arch features black contrasted trim pieces. The resulting light and shadow effect brings out the athleticism and agility of this very fine Sports Activity Vehicle. The upright nose of the X5, with its forward-thrusting BMW kidney grille, cuts an arresting figure from the side. The familiar BMW character line rises steadily from the headlight units, through the door pulls and into the tail lights. It combines with the character line extending from the upper edge of the Air Breathers and another, more obvious crease above the side skirts to stretch the figure-hugging surfaces of the car’s flanks powerfully to the rear. Underbody panels enhance front to rear airflow for excellent stability at high speed. The large windows let in light giving the interior a more spacious feel and are fully wrapped with a thick chrome strip to enhance its luxury exterior look. Also featured outside are the integral aluminum with rubber inserts running boards, body-colored pull-out door handles with LED lights for easy nighttime use. Horizontal lines on the two-section power tailgate and around the rear apron emphasize the wide and robust stance. The thin, three-dimensional LED light strips of the two-section, L-shaped rear lights create a striking nighttime look. Plus, the new X5 is the brand’s first model to feature Aero Blades. These black air-channeling elements are contiguous with the roof spoiler and help to optimize the car’s aerodynamic properties. Up top are standard aluminum roof rails to extend the cargo-carrying capacity of the X5. Down below the rear bumper are two, 4-inch round aluminum exhaust tips cut out at each end. My test X5 came painted with new Sparkling Brown Metallic.
The interior is both elegant and spacious with lots of light coming through the windows and the double panoramic sunroof that opens to the rear seating section. The horizontal structure of the layered surfaces underlines the broad sweep of the instrument panel and reflects the impressive amount of space available on board. The interior materials selected for the new X5 also play a role in shaping the exclusive onboard ambience. The trim strip and accent strip extend into the front door panels and are picked up again in the rear door panels. Red ambient lighting gives the interior a soft glow at night. The dark Oak Wood Trim now sits atop a high-gloss black surface, which is bordered on its lower edge by an accent strip in Pearl Gloss Chrome. The BMW Navigation system includes a touchpad and a freestanding 10.2 inch Control Display Monitor. The displays for the dual-zone climate control/ventilation systems feature black panel technology. The newly designed Dakota leather/heated seat surfaces are super comfortable and very supportive with 10-way power adjustment and 4-way lumbar support for comfortable long drives and features a 3-person memory with also includes the great leather-wrapped/power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and power-remote/heated/self-dimming sideview mirrors. When I turned the X5 off the power steering column moved up and away for easy exit and entry. Furthermore, I started the X5 by pushing the above mentioned dash-mounted button. The signature BMW instrument cluster is straight-ahead and easy to see and understand with colored LEDs warning of system or safety failures. My X5 test model also came with BMWs Head Up display which enables me to see my speed and other pertinent data without taking my eyes off the road. The center console features dual cupholders and a deep storage bin with LED light and dual-opening armrest. The stick shifter is perfectly placed and ergonomic to make using it so comfortable and direct. The rear seats are split 40:20:40 which allows for load capacity to be increased in stages from 23cu.ft. to 66cu.ft. This is 7% more than the last X5 model. The rear also features heated outboard seats and a fold-down armrest with dual cupholders. Additional storage compartments and door pockets can accommodate 1.5 liter bottles up front and 1-liter bottles in the rear that contribute to X5’s functionality both in day-to-day use and on longer trips. The new X5 again comes with a split two-section tailgate. The lower element can be folded down horizontally to form a single level with the load surface and the power tailgate operation for the upper section is standard. All buttons, dials and switches are fully illuminated for safe nighttime traveling.
Standard features inside not mentioned above includes all power express up/down windows, power door locks, self-dimming rearview mirror, soft close automatic doors, Bluetooth hands-free phone, satellite radio, universal garage door opener, enhanced USB connection, heated steering wheel, rear air outlets behind the front center console, dual lighted vanity mirrors, flip-down sunglass holder, grab handles above each door, dual map lights, rear LED reading lights, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, rain-sensing wipers/washers with a rear wiper/washer/ front headlight washers, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player audio system with HD radio and Surround Sound Speakers,
My test all-new 2014 BMW xDrive35i is powered by BMW’s 3.0 liter TwinPower Turbo inline-6 engine. It develops a maximum output of 300hp at 5,800rpm with peak torque of 300lb.ft. from 1,200-5,000rpm for excellent low end power. The engine was the first BMW inline-6 to combine turbocharging, High Precision direct fuel injection and Valvetronic Double-VANOS steplessly variable intake technology. It features a single, mid-sized turbocharger with a ‘twin-scroll’ housing to boost performance and minimize response lag. Using Valvetronic for the first time on a turbocharged inline-6 allows the engine to ‘inhale’ air more efficiently for combustion with virtually no delay and with reduced pumping loss. The new X5 xDrive35i accelerates from 0-60mph in just 6.2 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than last year’s model.
All X5 models come standard with a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting and whose high internal efficiency, precision and short shift time helps to improve both efficiency and responsiveness. There are three diving modes-Sport/Comfort/ECO PRO that I activated by pushing a console mounted button. In ECO PRO mode, the engine management, accelerator response and transmission characteristics are systematically tailored to support a particularly fuel-efficient, low rpm driving style. At the same time, ECO PRO mode also programs electrically powered functions like the climate control, heated seats and heated exterior mirrors for extra-efficient energy management. In ECO PRO mode, a coasting function periodically decouples the engine from the rest of the powertrain whenever I eased off the accelerator at speeds between 30-100mph without then applying the brakes. This allows the new BMW X5 to coast without engine braking, for maximized fuel efficiency. In conjunction with the standard Navigation system, high fuel efficient ECO PRO navigation routes can be selected. When the navigation system is activated the Proactive Driving Assistant function also tells me exactly when to ease off the accelerator when approaching corners or a speed –restricted section of road, in order to save fuel. Along with the additional ECO PRO mode functions, the new BMW X5 also comes with many other BMW EfficientDynamics features. These include Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start/Stop, on-demand operation of ancillary units, Electric Power Steering, and a variety of weight-and-drag reducing features. Along with other measures, use of ultra-high-tensile steels in the body structure, thermoplastics in the front fenders, aluminum in the hood and magnesium in the instrument panel support all help to reduce curb weight (4,790lbs.). Intelligent lightweight design also means that the increase in standard equipment compared to before does not translate to increased vehicle weight. The curb weights of the X5 xDrive35i are reduced by approximately 170 pounds. The BMW X5 also offers best-in-class aerodynamic design with standard air curtains, the air breather system, vertical aero blades at the rear window, air deflectors on the front wheel arches and a range of other detail improvements reduce drag and enhance fuel mileage to 18mpg/city and 27mpg/highway.
The X5 xDrive35i comes with the xDrive that active manages the drive power split between the front and rear wheels at all times. The latest power version of the xDrive power divider boasts optimized efficiency and a three pound reduction in weight. xDrive’s control logic uses information about road speed, wheel speeds, steering angle and accelerator position to accurately interpret both the driver’s intentions and what the vehicle is actually doing, and then apportions power front-to-rear in order to get as much power as possible to the road. BMW xDrive maximizes both traction and stability whatever the road and weather conditions, and also offers improved cornering dynamics by working to help counteract oversteer before I am even aware of the need. With the optional Dynamic Performance Control, the drive power split can be even more finely controlled. The electronically control DPC is integrated into the rear differential. In combination with xDrive it takes handling dynamics and directional stability to new levels. Dynamic Performance Control seamlessly varies the drive power split between the rear wheels (torque vectoring), with significant benefits in terms of steering response and road-holding at all speeds. The stabilizing action of DPC remains in effect even when you lift off the accelerator while cornering.
The electronically controlled power steering system is so responsive thanks to the 3-strut tower braces in the engine bay. Two are attached in the rear and the front of the engine features a 1 inch thick brace for incredible rigidity that helps with keeping the front end flat during cornering. These three strut tower braces also enhance the fully independent front double-wishbone and rear a multi-link suspension that features dynamic damper control and automatic rear self-leveling air-springs enhanced by the electronic logic system that adapts the damping characteristics to changing road condition and driving situations. The Dynamic Handling Package maximizes both comfort and dynamics combining the components of Dynamic Damper Control, automatic rear self-leveling suspension, Dynamic Performance Control and Active Roll Stabilization. The Dynamic Stability Control includes brake fade compensation, start-off assistant, brake drying and brake stand-by features with dynamic traction control and dynamic brake control. The power-assisted brakes measure 13.6 inches up front with vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers and 12.5 inch vented discs clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear. My all-new X5 xDrive35i came shod with giant 19X8.5 inch light alloy wheels wrapped with 255.55R19 inch Goodyear Eagle RS all-season radial tires for a smooth quiet ride with excellent traction and grip.
Standard safety system aboard includes front/rear crumple zones with steel beams in each door, front active headrests, front airbags, front side impact airbags, front/rear side-curtain airbags, rear side impact airbags for outboard seats, 5-3-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, LATCH system for child seats, tire pressure monitoring, front/rear distance assist, a rear backup camera and BMW Assist eCall with a 10-year subscription.
Well that’s a mouthful but the all-new 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i has a lot to offer the consumer with loads of interior comfort, luxury and safety; stunning new looks, a high-tech powertrain, the latest in 4-wheel drive control and suspension technologies. Starting price for the model is $55.100.00 and my loaded model stickered at $67,375.00. This new BMW X5 was hard to give up after my seven-day test drive.
COPYRIGHT: 2014: HARVEY SCHWARTZ
- Price: Base X5 xDrive35i $55,100 / As-Tested $67,375
- Engine: 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-6-cylinder 300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm / 300 lb.ft. torque 1,200-5,000 rpm
- Wheelbase: 115.5 inches
- Total length: 193.2 inches
- Total width: 76.3 inches
- Total height: 62.4 inches
- Track: f/r-64.7/65 inches
- Ground clearance: 8.2 inches
- Approach angle: 26-degress
- Departure angle: 23-degrees
- Ramp Breakover angle: 20-degress
- Headroom: f/r-40.5/35.8 inches
- Legroom: f/r-40.4/35.6 inches
- Fuel tank: 22.4 gallons
- Turning circle: 41.7 feet
- Curb weight: 4,790 pounds