The Time of Auto Shows

Susan Frissell

As the auto show season kicks off for 2018, there will be lots of shows to attend. Wherever you reside and whichever show you partake of, be on the look out for several new models on the horizon.

Heading the major auto show circuit was the Los Angeles show, which took palace in early December. The Los Angeles show has grown in the last 20 years to a respectable, place-to-be and be-seen auto show. Followed by the now famous North American International Auto Show, out of the Motor City, Detroit in early January.

And, if you’re in or around Chicago, be sure to take in the other ‘biggie,’ the Chicago Auto Show-the nation’s largest consumer show-beginning February 10-19.

Some of the new offerings you’ll see include the following:

*2018 Jeep Wrangler-a new redesign, the Wrangler will be available with three engine choices, including a hybrid and diesel version, and far updated technology. In two-and-four-door versions, the Wrangler’s new look has been a long time coming, making this ever-popular jeep feel more like a daily driver.

*2019 BMW i8 Roadster-This plug-in, hybrid sports coupe will get a soft top, offer a 18-mile range, and a 369-hp. powertrain.

*2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-A four-door sport coupe, the CLS gets a redesign, new inline six-cylinder engine and hybrid system.

*2019 Subaru Ascent-yet, another crossover on the market! This three-row family SUV is the largest offered by Subaru. Standard AWD, all new 2.4-liter turbo-charged Boxer engine, CVT transmission, and 260-hp. Expect to be able to tow your boat, too, with capacity up to 5,000 pounds.

2019 Subaru Ascent

*2019 Lincoln Nautillus-a funny name for this crossover; formerly known as the MKX. This new Lincoln will have semi-autonomous technology, enabling drivers to stop-and-go”non-driving.” Making it more high tech, the Nautillus will have precollision braking (“evasive steer assist”).

2019 Lincoln Nautillus

*2019 Infiniti QX50-The brand’s successful midsize crossover will be the first to show off Infiniti’s new platform, and include the new variable-compression-ratio engine (2-liter, 4-cylinder VC Turbo). This AWD SUV offers 268 hp. and fuel economy of 26 mpg.

*2019 Porsche Panamera Turbo SE-Hybrid Sport Turismo-one of our favorites, the Panamera adds a ‘wagon’ model complete with 680-hp. twin-turbo V8, 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Different than other Panamera offerings, this new beauty is not only practical, but handsome, and starts at $188,400.

*2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible-long awaited, the Vette ZR1 gets a drop-top (additional $4,000). At 755-hp., this baby will fly topless and no doubt, be much sought-after. Adding about 60 pounds to the ZR1’s weight, this version will still hit 0-60 in under three seconds, and reach speeds of over 210 mph. At $123,995, you can bet owners will be sleeping in the garge with this monster.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible

*2018 Hyundai Kona-Again, another Hyundai crossover vehicle added to the fleet, fulfilling their promise of adding many new crossovers. As an entry-level, the Kona is available with AWD and a turbo 4-cylinder, 175 hp. engine.

*2018 Nissan Kicks-Funny name for this entry-level crossover. Following in Nissan’s successful Rogue series footsteps, the Kicks uses the same engine (1.6-liter 4-cylinder borrowed from Versa, and estimated 33 mpg.).

2018 Nissan Kicks SUV

*2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross-Now with three models to offer, Mitsubishi introduces a new crossover with an old name. Complete with tech offerings for the
Millenials, this crossover offers an available turbo 4-cylinder, 152 hp. engine.

If you can believe what you read, rumors suggest some other possible models appearing in 2018-19-20, which although remain to be seen have certainly been explored. Among those possible up-and-comers are the 2019 Toyota Supra, 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, the 2018 Ford Mustang GT460, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and the 2019 Ford Ranger Truck and 2020 Ford Bronco.

If you missed any of the above auto shows, perhaps you can make it to New York in April for the ever-popular New York Auto Show.

The 104th Indianapolis Auto Show

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Whether or not you are in the market for a new car, or like us, you’re a car lover, you’ve got the annual Indianapolis Auto Show right in town. Beginning the day after Christmas, December 26 and running through January 1, this should be on your to-do list.

The 104th annual Indianapolis Auto Show returns to the Indiana Convention Center on Tuesday and thousand of lookers are expected to attend. Twenty-one automotive manufactureres from around the globe will be there to introduce their new and improved 2018-19 models. Expect to see 400-some cars and trucks on display at Indy’s Convention Center on Capitol St.

This year’s show highlights include specialty cars, auto product specialists, as well as interactive games. Bring the kids as there is plenty to see and do.

Also on hand will be the Indiana Blood Center, taking donations through their blood mobile.
Show hours:
Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Adults: $7.00
Children: 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult
Active Duty Police and Fire personnel, Military, active guard and reserve, all free

For more information about the 2018 Indianapolis Auto Show, visit the website at

What better place to spend the day during these frigid cold temps?

Hope to see you there!

GM first to offer Marketplace App

DETROIT December 2017 — General Motors is launching a new in-vehicle app named Marketplace that will allow drivers to pay for goods such as gasoline or coffee and schedule service through their infotainment systems.

Free technology-the industry’s first-is expected to expand quickly. Beginning with about 12 offerings, the App has such popular offerings as Dunkin’ Donuts, and TGI Fridays. In addition, dealership services (think oil changes), are onboard. Those big names who have signed up for Marketplace include the likes of Shell, Wingstop, ExxonMobil,, Parkopedia, Applebee’s, IHOP and Starbucks is expected to be added in early 2018.

With the intention of ‘improving how GM’s customers interact with the vehicle and the dealership network, Marketplace, states Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of global connected customer experience, “will have “secure connections, and is not meant to be an in-vehicle digital billboard.” Marketplace, adds, Chamorro, is designed to work while people are driving.

A matter of discussion among car companies for years, in-vehicle marketplaces and app-based services will now be able to complete financial transactions. Currently, GM is remotely sending Marketplace wirelessly to all 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles equipped with the automaker’s new MyLink infotainment system. According to GM, owners must agree to the update; a data plan is not required.

Being able to pick up Dunkin’ Donuts, for instance, will require the driver to open an account or profile with the franchise. Marketplace uses recent and favorite foods and settings from the profiles to customize the offerings for the driver.

“Shared mobility” is moving quickly and will present rapid change in the global auto industry. Connected, and self-driving vehicles are the future. Deals and membership rewards are currently available from gas stations, and dealership services (scheduling oil changes or other maintenance) will be coming as early as next year. Those drivers who choose can be alerted to the need for services, and to schedule them.

Also featured with Marketplace is a “Shop” section dedicated to offers specific to GM vehicles, such as purchasing Wi-Fi data, discounts for an oil change or deals on GM accessories. All in all, customer convenience will be largely increased. And, as GM hopes, so will client retention.

GM expects the number of Marketplace-capable vehicles in the Unites States to increase from about 1.9 million today to about 4 million by the end of next year.
(Article reported by Mike Wayland on Twitter)

Brittany Force captures NHRA Top Fuel championship

Dani Ben-Ari

These days, when you think about “fast” women, the first name that should come to mind is Brittany Force after she became the NHRA’s 2nd female Top Fuel season champion during the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomoma November 12, 2017, when she beat Shawn Langdon with a 3.668-second pass at 330.07 mph. It may have only been her 4th victory of the 2017 season (after winning 3 of the season’s final 5 events) but it was enough to put her in the record books. . The only other woman to earn the coveted title was Shirley Muldowney who won it 3-times between 1977-82.

Brittany Force’s prowess behind the wheel seems to come naturally. After all, she is the daughter of 16-time Funny Car champ John Force, and sister of renowned drivers Ashley and Courtney Force. Still, the 31-year old former schoolteacher from Cal State Fullerton has proven she is a “force to be reckoned with” in her own right. Debuting in 2013, she became the first John Force Racing driver to pilot Top Fuel, and just 3-years set a new NHRA Top Fuel drag racing record with a run of 3.676 seconds over 1,000 feet at Heartland Park Topeka, Kansas on May 20, 2016. She also became the first woman to win the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals that same year.

“I can’t believe we are here, it seems like a dream,” Force commented after the race. “The reason we are here is because of that Monster* team and all the support I have and all the sponsors. Everyone at JFR and that is the reason we are here. We struggled, we had our ups and downs, but we pulled it together when it mattered most. I give all of it up to my crew chiefs, Alan Johnson and Brian Husen; they are the ones that made this possible. They always had my back and they kept pushing me.”

It should also be mentioned that Brittany’s victory wasn’t the only one celebrated by the Force Family that day. He brother-in-law, Robert Hight (married to her other sister Adria) took his second Funny Car title, after, pulling away from defending champion Ron Capps during the elimination races, then surviving a huge accident in the semifinals when his Chevy burst into flames at the end of its 1,000-foot sprint.

In addition to sponsoring Force, Monster Energy Drinks will continue as the title sponsor for the NASCAR Championship series in 2018. The company also supports individual drivers in other race car drivers worldwide, including current Stewart Haas’s No. 41 car driven by Kurt Busch; the No. 54 Xfinity Series car of Joe Gibbs Racing/Kyle Busch Motorsports, and Mercedes F1 drivers 4-time champ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, to name a few

Hyundai Offers New “Brand Promise” with Shopper Assurance

Susan Frissell

This last October Hyundai introduced a new type of “brand promise” to better serve their customers. An industry-first nationwide program called Shopper Assurance streamlines and modernizes the car-buying experience. Many car buyers become frustrated trying to negotiate that infamous car purchase and are looking for new and easier ways to buy a car.

To summarize, Shopper Assurance focuses on four elements, assisting in the process:

*Transparent Pricing: participating dealers post the fair market pricing (MSRP minus incentives and any dealer offered discounts), on dealer websites. This way, customers know what the market pricing is which can help to reduce the time it takes to negotiate a price and eliminate frustration of all the advertised incentives.

*Flexible Test Drive: Customers are given the option to conduct a test drive for any new vehicle on their own terms through Hyundai Drive. This platform allows a test drive to be scheduled by contacting the dealer on their website, by phone or by using a custom-built app (in available markets). The selected test-drive vehicle can be at a location of the customer’s choosing, such as their home, their office or a coffee shop.

*Streamlined Purchase: Reduces the time customers spend at the dealer by allowing car buyers to complete most of the paperwork online prior to visiting the dealership for a vehicle in the dealer’s inventory, including applying for financing, obtaining credit approvals, calculating payment estimates and valuing trade-ins.

*Three-Day Money Back Guarantee: Any customer not satisfied with their purchase is given a three-day buy-back period to return the car for a full refund, contingent upon a dealer inspection and the vehicle having fewer than 300 miles since the purchase/lease date.

Hoping to offer ‘peace of mind,’ and a better car-buying experience, Hyundai is the first to take steps toward taking the dread out of car buying; the experience many consumers hate, right up there with going to the dentist.

Hyundai likes to think of themselves as a progressive car manufacturer, as well as synonymous with “redefining the car ownership experience. Shopper Assurance is the next step in that tradition and is car buying made simple. Hyundai claims to have done their homework as research shows that 84 percent of people would visit a dealership that offered all four features above over one that did not. There is little questions that this is the future of car buying. Hyundai is committed to creating a “flexible, efficient and better way to purchase a car in partnership with our dealer body.”

As Hyundai tells it, their customers want convenience and simplicity when it comes to buying a car. According to Andrew DiFeo, Chairman, Hyundai National Dealer Council and dealer principal of St. Agustine , “Shopper Assurance is going to give our dealers the tools we need to exceed the expectations of today’s shopper.”
“With a strong lineup of new cars and CUVs, we expect that Shopper Assurance will give us a competitive advantage and help turn prospects into buyers. We are creating a modern purchasing process where transparency and convenience are paramount,” notes DiFeo.

Shopper Assurance is available for any new model in the Hyundai lineup and will initially launch in dealerships in four markets: Miami, Orlando, Dallas and Houston. It will be live nationwide by early 2018.

For more details on Hyundai Shopper Assurance and to find participating dealers, please visit

2017 Toyota Prius Two Eco

/>Susan Frissell

It’s been a little bit since spending a week in the Toyota Prius. While I’ve never been crazy about its looks, I think I like the previous iteration better than the 2017 update. But, I suspect, when aiming for the purchase or lease of a Toyota Prius, or any other hybrid, one isn’t necessarily thinking about its style.

In talking with other automotive press, it’s no secret many have never favored the Prius. On the up side, though, most are astonished how good a car this is, and that they walk away feeling positive about what it offers; not to mention the over 50 miles-per-gallon fact.

Each time I have the pleasure of test-driving the Prius, I 100 percent understand what makes this buyer tick. This is one of the easiest vehicles to maneuver; not only is it agile, it is quiet and comfortable, has a great turning radius and most importantly, one does not climb out of it feeling tired.

The last time I test drove a Prius, I packed it up and drove to Vermont. Unbelievable how many things I toted in this vehicle. As much, or more than any SUV (note: even more cargo than what I packed into a $84,000 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser).

2017 Toyota Prius Two Eco interior

The pros one notices when driving the Prius Two Eco include the improved ride for 2017, its efficiency, lots of storage (in spite of a battery), and comfort. As with all vehicles on the market, one can find cons, and the Prius has a few, including the exterior design (need we say it again), an underwhelming interior trim, and while obvious, it’s no racer.

The cabin is quiet, even when running on gasoline, and the amount of high-tech safety equipment is impressive.

One has to admit though, that each year, the Prius vehicle gets better. The ‘gold standard’ of hybrids, the Prius has been unmistakable since its inception in 2004. Always with a focus on efficiency first and foremost, the Prius didn’t have much competition in its early years (Honda Insight). That isn’t the case now-a-days-all manufacturers want to get in on the market, which includes Lexus CT, Ford C-Max, the new Hyundai Ioniq, Chevy Cruze Diesel and Kia Niro, to name a few.

Not much has changed, looks-wise for 2017, as the Prius was overhauled in 2016. Those changes included switching the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack for lighter, industry-standard lithium-ion cells in most models, a multilink rear suspension (to improve the ride), and, of course, the questionable exterior redesign.

Entune Premium audio system with navigation and access to the app suite is the sound system, along with 4.2-inch color dual Multi-info display. While small, it’s adequate. Also standard is the Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging capability. The steering wheel is draped in soft-touch synthetic leather, with audio control buttons. A CD-player, auxiliary jack, Bluetooth compatibility and USB Port are standard. On those models at trim level Three and above, Entune’s premium version is standard, adding navigation, Toyota’s App Suite, and a Qi compatible wireless charging pad.

Perhaps what needs to happen next to Prius is a more inviting, upscale interior, and a few exterior tweaks. We did like the Prius’ fabric-trimmed seats. We found it fun and different, yet worried that such a light color would no doubt show all the dirt. Our driver’s seat was 8-way adjustable, with 4-way adjustable passenger seat. The split rear fold-down seats are practical and allowed for stashing tons of cargo, to the ceiling.

The Prius Prime, introduced this year, is an all-new model in the lineup. This plug-in version has an all-new drivetrain, longer EV range and quicker recharge time, along with better looks, fuel economy and more high-tech interior.

There are seven trim levels in the Prius lineup, some of which include the Two ($24,685), Two Eco (our test vehicle, starting at $26,030), the Prius Three ($27,735), Three Touring ($28,115), Four ($29,135), and Four Touring $30,015.

It was especially entertaining watching all that comes up on the display. At one time, while driving with my foot on the brake (and accelerator!), I was reminded by the dash monitor. Amusing. Even little vehicles have a sense of humor.


MSRP: $25,185; total vehicle price $28,544; destination $865
Engine: 1.8-liter DOCH 16valve, VVT,i-4 4-cylinder
Transmission: Hybrid Synergy Drive System, AT-PZEV
Length: 178.7 in.
Height: 58.1 in.
Width: 69.3 in.
EPA fuel Economy: 58/53 mpg.
Wheels: 15-inch alloy with covers
Tires: P195/65R15
Warranty: 25 yrs/25,000-miles Complete Scheduled Maintenance, 3 yrs/36,000-miles limited, 8 yrs/100,000-miles hybrid component, 5 yrs/unlimited miles corrosion protection, 2 yrs/unlimited roadside assistance, 5 yrs/60,000-miles powertrain

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL S-AWC

Susan Frissell

Our test 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL SUV came equipped with all that is new in technology today, and for a total vehicle price of $32,390, this SUV is one of the best deals on the market. It may take some buyers a fair nudge to walk into the Mitsubishi showroom, but remembering the reputation Mitsu engines have had in the past might be a motivator.

Granted, the car as a whole, while a nice enough SUV, may not appeal to many who go after brand names and quality construction. The SUV seemed a little lighter weight (with a tinny sound?), but is an improvement over previous models. All around, the 2017 Outlander is an attractive SUV, and in Diamond White Pearl, a handsome ride.

2017 Mitsu Outlander SELinterior

Options on our test SEL included the SEL Touring Package, including multi-view camera system, forward-collision mitigation adaptive cruise control, Lane Departure Warning, Auto high beam, LED headlights, heated steering wheel, Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist ($4,000). Other standard safety features include Active Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, Electric Parking Brake, Traction Control Logic and Stability Control, as well as ABS.

The Outlander is available in four trim levels: ES, SE, SEL, and GT. The ES trim which comes with the 2.4-liter engine is the entry level vehicle. When opting for the SE and SEL trim levels, expect more features, but with the same engine. Top of the lineup belongs to the GT S-AWC, equipped with the larger V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. All versions-except top-of-the-line GT S-AWC, come equipped with optional front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. The GT S-AWC is only available with all-wheel drive.

A three-row crossover SUV, the Outlander seats up to seven people and can be configured in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It can be optioned with one of two engines: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder (166 hp., 224 lb-ft torque), or a 3.0-liter V-6 engine (224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque). The lower trim levels and smaller engine are equipped with a CVT transmission; the 3.0-liter engine with a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. After several delays, a PH EV version arrived this summer.

NHTSA gave the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander a 5-star rating overall, in the all-wheel-drive version, and a 4-star rating in the front-wheel-drive version.

The Outlander SEL comes equipped with the 710 Rockford Forgate Premium Audio System, with nine speakers (including a good size speaker in the trunk). Of course, all is power, including windows, doors and mirrors. The outside mirrors fold in when out of the vehicle. We think this is a feature that should be standard in all vehicles today, given the size of the mirrors. Rearview camera is also standard, and needed with today’s larger vehicles.

Other features expected, and standard on the Outlander SEL include fog lights, heated and power adjustable side view mirrors, Shark fin antenna and silver roof rails.

The Outlander features a 7.0-inch Smartphone Link Display, audio system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Inside, the Outlander has a standard cloth fabric interior with a 60/40 split-folding second-row seat and a 50/50 split-folding third-row seat. The center stack features a standard multimedia system that includes a 6.1-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio, and a USB port. It can be upgraded with a 7-inch display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, along with the Rockford Fosgate premium audio system.

Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather wrapped steering wheel, power windows/locks, cruise control, and remote keyless entry. Leather-trim upholstery, a FAST-Key passive entry system, push-button start, a heated steering wheel, and power/heated front seats are available as well.

Some of the new updates for 2017 include updated technology, including support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a suite of updated safety technology.

Those things appealing to many buyers include decent fuel efficiency, a relatively quiet cabin, lots of interior space and comfortable seating. Styling also gets an A for 2017. What they may not appreciate are build quality-the SUV has a flimsy, tinny feel to it. When adding passengers, the vehicle feels loaded down and the engine strains. This 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is too small an engine for this SUV. And, with many 7-passenger SUV’s, the third row is small.

The Outlander received a front-end facelift, matching the other Mitsubishi models with the “Dynamic Shield” concept. It gets plenty of outside chrome accents and gloss-black surfaces. Silver garnishes at the front, sides, and rear contrast the black-clad underbody trim. It is a much updated and needed redo.

Key competitors for the Mitsubishi Outlander include Honda CRV, Nissan Rogue, Didge Journey, Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4.


MSRP: $27,495, total vehicle price $32,390, options $4,000
Engine: 2.4L, MVEC SOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder, 166 hp.
Transmission: CVT w/OD (available six-speed in GT trim model)
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Length: 184.8 in.
Width: 71.3 in.
Curb Weight: 3,373 lbs.
EPA Fuel Economy: 24/29 mpg., avg. 26 mpg.
Tires: 225/55R18
Wheels: 18-inch two-tone, alloy, wheel arch moldings
Tow Capacity: 1,500 lbs.
Warranty: 10 yr./100,000 miles powertrain, 5 yr./60,000-miles new vehicle limited, 7 yr./100,000-miles corrosion perforation, 5 yr./unlimited Roadside Assistance.

2017 Kia Cadenza

>Susan Frissell

We had no official Monroney on the new 2017 Kia Cadenza. Our model, the Limited is purported to start at $45,290. We knew it had to be ‘up there,’ given its ‘rich’ feel. The color-Pluto Brown—was exceptional and a real looker. The styling, different for 2017, is better than the previous Cadenza iteration. However, we think it’s a tad stodgy. Hey, but nice car.

A full-size sedan, the Kia Cadenza fits, we’re not sure, in the lineup. With Optima, Azera (Hyundai), etc, it would almost seem superfluous. Quiet and almost Lexus-like, the 2017 Cadenza Limited is quiet, smooth and comfortable. Why, my passenger told me I looked very comfortable driving the Cadenza. Almost as if I wasn’t even driving! Easy.

No longer the go-to family car, the large sedans still can command a place in the market. Trust me, after you reach a certain age, two-door coupes no longer apply. Having a generous four-door sedan is Heaven.

The 2017 Kia Cadenza is second-generation-only! Seems as though it’s been around longer, doesn’t it? Driving the Cadenza feels so much more, well, sophisticated. Why, with both heated and ventilated seats, what more could you ask for? Kia has done a lot right in the new 2017 Cadenza; a market we even considered unneeded a few years back. So many choices? From one manufacturer.

Perhaps appealing to all ages, the Cadenza provides a lot of cars in one: Highway cruiser, around-town shopper, easy to park and maneuver. The lines are taut and conventional; hardly daring, but will wear well with time. The interior is upscale, with very attractive leather seating, generous space and the upscale technology.

Lots of competition exists in this large sedan category; namely, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and perhaps, the Dodge Charger. Or the Fiat Chrysler 300. Chevrolet Impala, all new and redesigned could also be considered, along with Hyundai’s Azera and Nissan Maxima. Rear-wheel-drive is attractive to many consumers-this writer included-so there is still a market. And, one can probably get a great deal now on ANY sedan; as long as it’s not a SUV.

Kia sold about 28,000 Cadenza’s in its first generation; apparently, enough to continue its existence. The second generation, though, is much more luxurious, and in our mind, desirable. It would really be hard to make a choice today.

Although the new Cadenza won’t ‘define’ any segment, it is a nice sedan. It represents the best of the family sedan; reasonable, but no cheap, by any means. It surely offers a lot of space, high-end features, smooth ride and quiet that would be hard to match. We are assuming dependability, also.

The 2017 Kia Cadenza is clearly a different vehicle; if only in looks alone. Complete with several eye-catching features such as multi-element headlights, a new concave grille with one of two inserts (depending on the model), Z-shaped LED lights and a totally different profile. It lies somewhere between the sporty Optima and the Kia 900.

The dash is two-layered with gauges and infotainment screen split. We kept hitting the radio buttons when we wanted the climate controls, and vica versa. Bummer. Otherwise, it’s fairly simple to master. The Cadenza is complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a great Harman/Kardon audio system that we made sure to have one each time we entered the vehicle. We often had the benefit of the brake assist warning; apparently getting too close to the car in front of us! The cruise control and blind spot warnings also let us know they were around. We’re getting accustomed to the flash in the side mirrors, letting us know a car is approaching.

Just taking a glimpse into the rear seat announces all the available room. Man, long-legged driers would be happy. There is ample headroom, legroom and because the floor is mostly flat-not much of a hump-the middle-seat passenger can relax in comfort.

Equipped with Kia’s 3.3-liter V6 engine, this four-door sedan has 290 horse with 253 lb. ft. of torque; plenty of get-up-and-go for the road. Kia matches this V6 with a new 8-speed automatic transmission, making its debut in the 2017 Cadenza. Kia’s new shock absorbers us what is known at Kia as Amplitude Selective Damping. Apparently, they adjust to different conditions. Combined with an internal Hydraulic Rebound stopper, the structure is stiffer so that the the ride is smoother over harsh surfaces. We found the Cadenza to be the ultimate daily driver, taking all roads effortlessly.

Kia doesn’t bill the Cadenza as a sport sedan, despite shift paddles on the steering wheel and selectable driving mode function that includes “Sport.” Drive it however you want, it’s a great sedan on the highway, or through town.

As with all new vehicles today, you can expect the highest in technology. The Technology model starts at $39,890, and the fully-loaded Cadenza (like our test vehicle) commands $45,290. Yikes. Apparently, this pricing is highly competitive. We’ll never see it, but it’s great to be able to spend a week in the new Cadenza and enjoy its capability.

We liked the 2017 Kia Cadenza, much more than expected. Probably out of our price range, though, it’s not a contender, but would certainly consider it.


MSRP: $45,290
Engine 3.3-liter, V6, 290 horse, 253 lb. ft. torque
Transmission: eight-speed shiftable automatic, FWD
Wheelbase: 112.4 in.
Length: 195.7 in.
Width: 73.6 in.
Height: 57.9 in.
Curb Weight: 3,770 lbs.
Fuel Tank capacity: 18.5 GAL.
EPA Fuel Economy: 20 /28 MPG.
Tires: P245/40R19
Wheels: 19-inch diameter
Warranty: 5 yr/60,00-miles basic, 5 yr./60,000-miles roadside assistance, 5 yrs/100,000-miles rust, 10 yr./100,000-miles powertrain, 10 yrs./100,000-miles drivetrain.

2017 Hyundai Tucson Night SUV AWD

Susan Frissell

Our 2017 Hyundai Tucson Night came in Caribbean Blue, a real looker, with black cladding and black wheels. We rather liked it. All-new and slightly larger for 2016, the Tucson was restyled (sheetmetal), and now gets better fuel economy, handles much sharper and offers more interior space.

What may be most noticeable in the 2017 Hyundai Tucson is the ride. One almost feels as though she is floating over bumps, with little or no jarring and a much more pleasant ride.

One thing that always stood out in the early Tucson models was how hard it rode. Not anymore. This compact crossover is one of Hyundai’s most popular vehicles, competing with lots of others including the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Trax, and of course, Honda CR-V.

The 2017 Hyundai Tucson comes standard with a direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder, pumping out 164 horsepower, with 151 pound-feet of torque, and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Three driving modes (Eco, Regular, Sport) are standard; we stayed mostly in Eco, but went back/forth with Sport mode.

Our test Tucson Night came equipped with the optional turbocharged direct-injection
1.6-liter (175 horsepower, 195 pound-feet torque), and Hyundai’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Not terribly peppy, the turbocharged 1.6-liter performed well, with few hesitations, and smoothness. The 2.0-liter engine is rated at 23/31 mpg., and 26 mpg combined with FWD. The 1.6-liter turbo is rated 25/30/27 mpg when equipped with 19-inch wheels (like ours). When opting for the 17-inch tire, the 1.6-liter gets 26/33/29 mpg.
Hyundai has built in more high-strength steel in this year’s redesign of the Tucson, thus safety ratings are expected to be better. As with all vehicles today, the Tucson has six airbags and standard rearview camera.

Available in four model choices, the Tucson can be had in SE, ECO, Sport and Limited. The SE trim level is equipped with the 2.0-liter engine; the Limited model with the Ultimate package includes ventilated leather seats and a panoramic roof.

The 2017 Tucson now has a sculpted style, bringing it more into the fray of upscale small SUV’s. The design is the best yet, and with the 19-inch black wheels and black cladding, this is one sharp SUV.

You won’t mistake the hexagonal grille of the Hyundai; much like the infamous Lexus grille. Geometric headlights stand out, as well, and the rear is also Hyundai. The new horizontal lines in the fascia are noticeable and updated. The look is ‘upscale.’

For the most part, Tucson’s cabin is quiet, certainly by comparison to older models. The dashboard and console are simple, yet handsome. Controls are well-placed, easy to handle, however, the screen in our test Tucson is very small-3.5-inch LCD information display. Our Night test Tucson didn’t come with the Nav system. Bluetooth, AM/FM/CD/MP3 Audio system with iPod/USB/Aux input jacks, Sirius Radio are all included.

We especially liked the Panoramic sunroof, which is assumed comes with the Night edition. The only option on our test Tucson was the carpeted floor mats ($125). Otherwise, for just over $30,000, one gets a lot of vehicle.

All the safety equipment one expects is standard, including Electronic Stability Control, ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, Downhill Brake Control and Hillstart Assist Control, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, side airbags and rollover sensors.

The cabin is serenely quiet, and roomy with four adults, but there isn’t as much cargo space as in some other compact crossovers, for example the CR-V, RAV4 and Escape. The split 60/40 rear seats create 62 cubic feet of cargo space when they’re folded, and 30 cubic feet then they’re up. To accommodate taller items, the cargo floor can be lowered with a lever by two inches. The liftgate on the Sport and Limited opens with the key fob.
Driving Impression

We got a few hundred miles of seat time in a Limited with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, and the power is adequate in most situations, but the response is sluggish under hard acceleration. Surprisingly, the three different driving modes don’t have much effect on performance. In any mode, the shifts by the 7-speed dual clutch transmission shifts are almost imperceptible.


MSRP: $29,300; total vehicle price $30,220; destination $895
Engine: 1.6-liter i-4 turbo, 175 hp., 195 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 7-speed automatic shift, manual with OD
Wheelbase: 105.1in.
Length: 176.2 in.
Height: 64.8 in.
Gross weight: 4,784 lbs., curb weight: 3,686 lbs.
Width: 72.8 in.
Towing capacity: 1,000 lbs.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.4 gal.
EPA Fuel Economy: 25/30 mpg.
Tires: 245/45R19
Wheels: 19-inch Rays Black Finish alloy
Warranty: 5 yrs/60,000-miles new vehicle; 10 yrs/100,000-miles powertrain; 7 yrs./unlimited mileage Anti-perforation; 5 yrs/unlimited mileage roadside assistance

2017 Lexus ES350

Susan Frissell

As is the case with most, if not all Lexus products, it’s just hard to go wrong with whatever model you choose; particularly, the ES350. Not a sedan we have been very excited about in the past-notwindstanding all its good points-the new 2017 styling finally hits the mark. Just driving it this morning, I was thinking to myself, “I could drive this every day and be very satisfied.”

Consumers will be well-satisfied once at least giving the competition a test drive, including the Acura TLX, Buick Lacrosse and Genesis G80. Die-hard Lexus buyers won’t have to question themselves. As many do, they just trade in the old one for a new model: Always the same ES, never dissatisfied. Some are just creatures of habit!

While there are a number of pros to the 2017 ES350, we found a few small frustrations, such as the optional remote touch interface, less than “exciting” handling, and a trunk that is smaller than most. We prefer a performance sedan, yet, the ES350 appeals, probably, to a great many more drivers; especially when in it on a daily basis.

On the other hand, there are ‘pros’ worth noting, and not a surprise to ES350 groupies, such as a quiet and well-equipped cabin, enthusiastic and quiet V6 engine and powertrain, and an expected Lexus-like tops in ride quality. Lexus’ 3.5-liter, V6 engine has been a great engine, dependable and trouble-free, and acceleration is impressive.

Legroom in the ES350 is generous and will be appreciated by those with long legs. The advanced electronic safety systems on the ES are standard equipment, and the interior is upscale and well laid out. The luxury version of the Toyota Camry, the ES350’s looks do vary some, and the new styling on the Camry is probably a tad more attractive.

We resonated with the updated interior design, soft materials and top stitching. The stitching design has crossed manufacturer lines and we like it, in general. It not only adds a luxo-touch, but it is also sporty. And perhaps a little European? Many don’t appreciate the Lexus mouse-like remote touch interface, but we’re accustomed to it now and find it fairly easy to manipulate, even though easier done when not behind the wheel.

Standard features on the ES350 include four wheel ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist. Safety features also include dual front airbags, dual front knee airbags, front/rear seat-curtain airbags, Supplemental Restraint System, and 3-point safety belts for all passengers. Vehicle Stability Control with traction, Smart Stop Technology, Pre Collision System w/pedestrian detection, high-speed dynamic radar cruise, lane departure alert with steering assist, and intelligent high-beam headlamps are also standard.

One of the optional packages on our test 2017 Lexus ES350 included the Premium Package (Lexus Memory System for driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel, wood interior trim, remote keyless entry-linked memory, $730). Other options included the Blind Spot Monitor w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert ($500), 18-inch wheels with High Gloss Finish ($880), Navigation System/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package (Lexus Enform Destinations, Lexus Enform App Suite ($2,590), Intuitive Parking Assist ($500), Wood/Leather-trimmed steering wheel ($300), carpet trunk mat ($105), Illuminated Door Sill ($379), and Body Side Moldings ($199). A lot of options at high prices. While one could do without many of them, try finding a ES350 equipped with less.

The 2017 Lexus ES350 is a desirable sedan that many consumers opt to drive, year after year. And though there are others now in this category just as nice, it would be difficult, if not impossible to convince any long-time ES owners to defect to the other side. Admitted, we hated giving it up after the week.


MSRP: $38,900; total vehicle price $46,058, destination $975
Engine: 3.5-liter, 24-valve, V-6, all-aluminum construction, Dal VVT-I, 288 hp.,
Transmission: six-speed shiftable automatic
Wheelbase: 110.2 in.
Height: 56.3 in.
Length: 184.3 in.
Width: 71.3 in.
Wheels: 17-in. aluminum alloy, split 10-spoke
Tires: 215/56R17 all-season
EPA fuel economy: 21/30 mpg., avg. 24 mpg.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.4 gal.
Curb weight: 3,593 lbs.
Warranty: 4 yr/50,000-miles basic; 6 yr/70,000-miles powertrain