Having driven the 2015 Toyota Sienna (see review on website), we had a good idea about what this minivan offers. Probably the second most popular minivan on the road (only to Honda’s Odyssey), the Sienna is a beautiful ‘boat,’ complete with all the amenities one needs when navigating around-town and on the road.
There isn’t anything better than a minivan when you’re road-tripping. Comfortable, quiet, flexible and complete with all the space one needs. Oh, yeah, and the audio/video equipment for entertainment, the seating choices and versatility can’t be beat.
For 2016, Toyota made a few changes in their ever-popular family-hauler, including a more modern style, new powertrain, projector beam headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels. We especially liked the dual moonroof and 180-degree backup camera. The all-wheel-drive would be especially appreciated during those winter months of unpredictable snow/ice.
What’s new for 2016 on the Sienna: an updated and improved interior and the Siri Eyes Free System for the iPhone users. Certain models also have the Scout GPS Link app which displays smartphone nav on the central display. ]
We particularly like the Sienna’s versatile second row with slide-back Captain’s chairs. The touch-screen interface is fairly easy to operate and cargo volume is 150 cu. Ft., plenty to haul any manner of items. The all-wheel-drive we suspect will be handy during those icy/snowy months in Chicago.
The second row is versatile and the third row folds very easily. This was appreciated many times when last minute carrying of larger items was needed.
Carrying over 5,000 lbs of weight, the Toyota V6 engine worked effortlessly. Paired with Toyota’s 6-speed automatic transmission, the Sienna is easy to drive and maneuver.There are many (16?) trim levels of this minivan, and at all price points. The vehicle ranges from $29,800-up over $46,000. That seems like a lot to pay for a minivan, but when one considers the versatility and how long this particular hauler will remain in the household, one makes allowances. The catch of course, is that many consumers will have to have the latest available in options and technology. Once you get used to that, it’s hard to go backwards.Opting for a base model, however, features are sparse.
SRP: $40,815; total vehicle price $42,761; destination $900
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve, Dual VVT-1 V6, 266 hp.,
Transmission: 6-speed Electronically Controlled Auto Overdrive w/Intelligence (ECT-1)
Length: 200.2 in.
Width: 78.1 in.
Height: 68.9 in.
Tires: 235/55TR18; 23/50VR 19
Wheels: 19 in. alloy
Trailer tow: 3,500 lbs.
Weight: 5,995 lbs.
Warranty: 24 mths/25,000 maintenance; 36/36,000 basic; 2 mth/limited distance roadside assistance; 60/unlimited corrosion perforation; 60/60,000 powertrain
On its 18-stop tour, the one-millionth MX-5 Miata is coming through the Chicago area. On Saturday September 3, the MX-5 will be displayed at C.J. Wilson Countryside dealership in Countryside, IL. (See the complete tour list below).
The 18-stop tour began at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Monterey Motorsports Reunion from August 18-21. The car will travel the country, ending at the same venue October 1-2 for Miatas at Mazda Raceway. Mazda expects thousands of loyal MX-5 Miata owners, along with some ‘influential people’ throughout the MX-5’s history and development, to be in attendance.
At each stop-along the way-the first 240 owners and fans will have the opportunity to sign the one-millionth MX-5. The first 400 attendees will receive a commemorative “Millionth Miata Celebration Tour” T-shirt at each tour stop. The locations on the tour were chosen based on MX-5 sales history, as well as overwhelmingly successful owners; clubs that expressed an interest in the tour.
One of the biggest Miata clubs in the country, Chicago’s Windy City Miata Club will mostly likely be out in full force. The club boasts 310 members (2015) and 211 Miatas.
The one-millionth MX-5 Miata was built last April. To celebrate this historic milestone, Mazda has been taking the vehicle on a worldwide appreciation tour to thank fans and owners for their loyalty toward making the MX-5 Miata the best-selling roadster of all time.
According to Robert Davis, Senior VP, U.S. Operations, Mazda North American Operations, “Last year was the ‘Year of the Miata’ with the launch of the all-new 2016 MX-5, but even a year into the sales of the fourth-generation roadster, that momentum has continued.
Davis notes, “From winning the 2016 World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year, to the introduction of the all-new 2017 MX-5 RF, to our one-millionth Miata milestone, the MX-5 continues to symbolize the innovation and spirit that propels Mazda. With the Millionth Miata Celebration, we’re excited to give back to those who, like us, continue to believe that driving matters.”
For the entirety of the Millionth Miata Celebration Tour, the one-millionth car, which is a right-hand-drive Japanese-specification soft top equipped with a 1.5-liter SKYACTIV-G engine, will be traveling with the 15th Miata ever built: A Classic Red 1990 model that made its world debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. This 27-year-old classic is owned by Mazda North American Operations and is part of the company’s Heritage Collection.
For more information and updates on the Tour, go to InsideMazda.MazdaUSA.com. You can also track the one-millionth MX-5, and follow conversation on Social Media.
TOUR STOPS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Date City Location
August 18-21 Monterey, California Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
August 25 Boston, Massachusetts Quirk Mazda
August 27 New York, New York Wayne Mazda
August 28 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Young Mazda
September 2 Cleveland, Ohio Classic Mazda
September 3 Countryside, Il CJ Wilson Countryside
September 6 Indianapolis, Indiana Tom Roush Mazda
September 7 Columbus, Ohio Germain Mazda
September 8 Charlotte, North Carolina Mazda of South Charlotte
September 9 Atlanta, Georgia Mall of Georgia Mazda
September 10 Jacksonville, Florida Duval Mazda at the Avenues
September 17 Daytona Beach, Florida Daytona Mazda
September 23 Houston, Texas Grandsport Speedway
September 24 Austin, Texas Roger Beasley Mazda
September 25 Dallas, Texas Globe Life Stadium
September 27 Phoenix, Arizona Earnhardt Mazda
September 28 Los Angeles, California Galpin Mazda
October 1-2 Monterey, California Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Miatas at Mazda Raceway
Known always for safety, the 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 is one of the better choices for a small luxury crossover SUV, in terms of the latest in safety developments. Carrying over from 2015, the XC60 has few changes for 2016, and in fact, has dropped some: The fold-down front passenger seat is no longer.
Pros for the SC60 T6 include strong and efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engines; great crash test scores; supportive seats; generous cargo space.
It’s been hard for family vehicles to be anything but boring (think minivans, I guess), although we don’t necessarily think so. However, Volvo offers a nice alternative in the XC60 SUV, with sleek looks, a stylish and upscale cabin, as well as a solid vehicle. Introduced in 2010, the XC60 has it all, albeit at a fairly robust price. Compared with some of the competition, though, the XC60 still comes in less than Audi 5 or Mercedes GLC-Class.
With no shortage of competitors, the XC60 also competes with the Acura RDX, BMW X3, and Lexus NX 200t, the new Jaguar F-Pace, among others.
As with all good comes a little disappointment. And so it is with the Volvo XC60. We found the handling less than stellar, discovered we couldn’t take our eyes off the road for fear it would drift off. Power and performance are there in the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder Turbo-charged, super-charged engine. Paired with Volvo’s all-wheel-drive via a six-speed automatic transmission.
We felt the Volvo turn off and on; Volvo’s automatic stop-start system that shuts down the engine to save fuel when coming to a stop. Much like a hybrid, the turbo engine feels less like a turbo. Horsepower is at 302, and torque at 295, making it a strong performer when you need it. We had no trouble taking off and passing when indicated. Midway through the model year, Volvo offered the 2.0-liter Turbo engine with AWD, rated at 23 mpg. combined.
The early build of the XC60 T6 AWD models (sans the Drive-E), have a turbocharged 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, producing 300 hp and 325 lb-ft. torque
Our test Volvo XC was the T6 Drive-E, AWD with several pricy options. The Platinum package, at $4,400 came with power tailgate with programmable setting, Active dual Xenon headlights and washers, Auto-dimming rearview mirrors, and Rear Park assist camera. Other options included the Convenience Package with HomeLink, garage door opener, cargo cover, grocery bag holder, 12V power outlet in cargo area, power retractable exterior mirrors, Electric folding rear headrests, Accent lighting, Harmen Kardon Premium Sound System, Adaptive Cruise Control with brake assist, Pedestrian, Cyclist Detection, distance alert, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Control, Active High Beams, Road Sign Information.
The other option was the Climate Package and Child Booster Seat ($1,550) and included heated front seats, Dual Two-stage child booster seats, power child locks, heated windshield washer nozzles, interior air quality system, heated steering wheel and heated windshield. We could actually see the heating coils in the windshield under certain light.
Contour seats and charcoal head rests ($600), Metallic paint ($60), Linear Walnut Wood Inlay ($400), and 19-inch LESATH D/C wheel ($750) all brought our test XC60 up to $52,605.
Twenty-inch wheels come on the T6 AWD R-Design edition. Our AWD Drive-E version come equipped with 18-inch all-season tires, and 18-inch alloy wheels; with the option on this car, the wheels were 19-inch.
A five-passenger SUV, the XC60 offers plenty of interior space, all the features you could want, and excellence in safety. Of course. If you elect to get into the XC60 FWD Drive-E T5 and T6 versions, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most impressive EPA fuel economy (26 mpg combined). You sacrifice a few mpg’s with the AWD models, but mileage still averages around 22 mpg.
A small crossover in classification, the XC60 is available in many versions; something like 16 choices! Trim levels correspond to engine and drivetrain, including the T5 Drive-E, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E, T6 AWD and T6 AWD R-Design. You can also move up to the XC60’s big brother, the XC80, if you want more room. All versions of the T6 have a Platinum trim level ( and in our test vehicle, an optional package).
The Premier package for the T5 Drive-E and T5 AWD adds a panoramic sunroof, rear privacy glass, leather upholstery, configurable digital gauges, a navigation system and an auto-dimming mirror.
The T6 Platinum trim adds a power liftgate, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, a premium 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, interior accent lighting and Volvo’s Technology and Convenience packages (explained below).
Volvo’s Technology package, standard on Platinum models and an option on all other trims, adds adaptive cruise control, an upgraded forward collision mitigation system, driver alertness and lane departure warning systems and automatic high beam headlight control.
Of course, all XC60s offer standard traction and stability control, ABS, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, whiplash-protection front seats, along with the standard City Safety system-a low-speed forward collision warning and mitigation system with automatic braking. The XC60 received a five-star rating in government crash tests, and a “superior” rating for its frontal crash prevention technology.
As with all Volvo products, the seats are very comfortable and supportive. Switches and controls are intuitive. The audio system pad may seem somewhat dated, but is simple to operate. We liked the dial-around nav system and although a tad laborious, is simple to figure out.
The 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E delivers respectable acceleration and very good fuel economy. The turbocharged engine offers plenty of power, but takes a little getting used to when shutting on/off, if you’ve never driven a hybrid vehicle. The ride is smooth, takes all manner of roads with little effort, is quiet, yet firm.
You’ll know the XC60 is a Volvo-by look and feel. But that’s not a bad thing. It still feels like a Scandanavian vehicle, with looks, comfort and class.
MSRP: $43,350; total vehicle price $52,605; destination $995
Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Super and Turbo-Charged, Direct-Injection, 302 hp., 295 lb. ft. torque, 2100 RPM
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic Geartronic, w/Advanced Quick Shift, AWD, instant traction
Wheelbase: 109.2 in.
Width: 74 in.
Length: 183 in.
Height: 67 in.
Tires: P235/60HR18, all-season, standard
Wheels: 19-inch LESATH D/C
EPA Fuel economy: 19/27 mpg., 22 mpg avg.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.5 gal.
Warranty: 4 years, 50,000-miles Basic and Drivetrain; roadside assistance 4 yrs/unlimited mileage; Corrosion 12 yrs/unlimited mileage; Maintenance 3 yrs/36,000-miles
Others have said it before this writer: This is the best Prius ever. Coming from someone who had little use for hybrid vehicles (give me a good V-8 any day), my week in the beautiful Hypersonic Red 2016 Prius made me a believer. So much so, in fact, I’ve seriously considered replacing my 13 year-old Infiniti with this little do-it-all hybrid.
It’s fair to say that two years ago when driving a 2014 Prius back and forth from Chicago to Vermont, I was pretty impressed with all this car can do. We packed it full of ‘stuff’ to bring back/forth and it never missed a beat; averaging somewhere around 58 mpg. Who could argue with those numbers?
I appreciated all that the 2016 improved Prius offers; I enjoyed driving it, riding in it, maneuvering it, on and on. The new restyled look is up-to-date, edgy and less like a boring hybrid shape. The color added to first impressions, and the ride is practically flawless. The driver’s seat is one of the most comfortable this writer has ever encountered. Soft, yet supportive, and the 8-way power-adjusted driver seat with lumbar made it possible to get just the right angle/fit.
Am I gushing? I guess so. But I was surprised at how much I resonated with the Prius. For the first time in my life, I have no idea which car I would buy at this time. Many choices, of course. In the past, I always knew exactly what vehicle I was going to purchase next.
Our 2016 Prius Four Touring press car came equipped with a few options, including the Special Hypersonic Red color ($395), Cargo net ($49), Door Edge Guards ($125), Wheel locks ($65), Rear Bumper Applique ($69), and Body Side Molding ($289). All these options brought the car‘s total price close to $32,000, but consumers can buy the Prius for quite a bit less.
As one would assume, much is standard on the Prius, including rain-sensitive/intermittent wipers, Auto on/off Bi-LED headlights, Heated power outside mirrors, 7-inch high-res display premium audio with navigation, Entune, App Suite, backup camera, AM/FM/CD, SXM, Bluetooth, fold-down rear seating, Ql-compatible Wireless Smartphone Chrg, Tilt/Telescoping steering wheel with controls, 3-Door Smart Key, cargo area tonneau cover, tire repair kit, and power doors/locks/mirrors.
Of course, the latest in safety which earns the Prius a 4-5 star rating from the NHTS including vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS, Electric Brake-Force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart-Stop Technology. While driving, apparently we came a little too close to the car in front of us and up popped a warning: BRAKES!. A little alarming at first, but I suppose a good idea, especially for texters!
Several airbags are standard fair, including knee bags, active headrests and side curtain airbags.
When first introduced, the Prius was a hybrid. Period. The second generation offered much more, with higher technology, as-promised miles-per-gallon that couldn’t be beat. Now, 12 years later, hybrids aren’t as sought after. With cheaper gasoline prices, and many other types of vehicles offered, the standard hybrid had to keep up and offer more.
The redesigned Prius has a combination of both space and efficiency, and no one can dismiss its achievable fuel economy of 50 mpg, at high and low speeds. Some have said it lacks ‘fun,’ but I think this 2016 Prius has much more to it than previous models. I so enjoyed driving it that I had to pinch myself.
Braking seemed somewhat vague; hence, the reason for the “BRAKES” on the windshield. Improved road manners can be attributed to Toyota’s TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). Enabling a lower center of gravity and sophisticated suspension, both improving ride and handling, the Prius feels more like a ‘sedan.’ One you’d want to get into each morning.
The ride is noticeably better. The rear suspension gets an independent trailing-arm arrangement, replacing the previous torsion-beam axle. The ride is better controlled, and impacts are soaked up more soundly. The steering isn’t terribly communicative, but then it’s a hybrid, not a performance vehicle. Turns are easily executed, and the Prius is just easy to drive.
Commuters will benefit from the Prius’s superb interior space and upgrades. As mentioned earlier, when driving the Prius from Chicago to Vermont and back, the Prius excelled in availability of room for all matter of objects. Beyond the liftgate is a low, flat cargo floor; the 60/40-split rear seats fold easily the expand the available space to 66 cubic feet; much like a crossover. Cyclists can easily fit their bike in the rear space.
Competition is considerable, compared to the Prius’ first few years on the market, and includes the Ford C-Max ($25,045-$32,645), Prius V ($27,510-$31,770), Lexus CT ($32,000), Chevy Volt (33,995-$38,445), Prius C ($29,394-$25,330). As you can see from the pricing, they all fall into the same price range.
MSRP: $30,000; total vehicle price $31, 827; destination $835
Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive System, AT-PZEV, 1.8-liter DOHC, 16v, VVT, 1-4 cylinder, EV/ECO/POWER modes, 121 hp., torque, 105; FWD. Gas/Electric
Class: Hatchback, 5-passenger
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Width: 69.3 in.
Height: 58.1 in.
Length: 178.7 in.
Weight: 3,075 lbs.
Tires: P215/45R17 all-season
Wheels: 17-inch alloy
Warranty: Roadside: unlimited; Full: 36 mths/36,000-miles; maintenance: 25,000 miles; Corrosion; unlimited miles/24 months; Powertrain, 60 mths/60,000-miles
EPA fuel economy: 54/50 mpg.
Wearing the new Lexus design, the 2016 NX 200t F Sport is a head-turner. Edgy and modern, the NX is a much more relaxed drive than the Lexus RX; at least for this writer. Over all these years the ever-popular RX has gotten ever more larger, almost too much for some. While there is little to criticize when in a Lexus vehicle, one has to admit the styling needed updating. Dull and square, the new look is high-tech and appealing.
As expected in every Lexus product, the cabin is as up-to-date as would allow, construction is top-notch and there is generous room in the back seat. The cabin is quiet on the road, and the engine quiet and smooth, for the most part. We did experience once, that lag in the turbo.
Don’t plan on carrying several passengers or cargo in the NX. Capacity is smaller than some CUV’s in this category. We couldn’t warm up to the Remote Touch interface, and discovered trying to navigate radio stations isn’t the easiest task while driving.
For 2016, the NX 200t offers broader smartphone connectivity through Lexus’ Enform products, but otherwise remains unchanged since its introduction.
The NX model is an all-new compact luxury crossover, which while it joins a fairly crowded category, seems to be gaining popularity. Competing with such CUV’s as Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX and Volvo XC60, the Lexus NX features even bolder styling than its competition. Loaded with all kinds of tech equipment, the NX is a sexy, sporty CUV.
As always, our test vehicles generally come in the top of the line configuration. Nice for us, but boy, it spoils! Our test NX 200t came equipped in the F Sport trim level. The sportiest of the NX lineup, the F Sport rides a little harder and feels performance-oriented with its tuned suspension. The Premium F Sport package includes heated front seats, power tilt/slide moonroof, memory power/tile/telescoping steering column, power 10-2ay driver’s seat, w/lumbar support, leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters.
One would assume any driver could find a comfortable nitch in the Lexus 10-way power adjustable seat, but this driver couldn’t seem to get it just right. When the seat back kept me close enough to the steering wheel, I felt the back of the seat hitting my head.
We played around with the various Eco/Normal/Sport choices for ride level. We didn’t notice much difference, and defaulted back to Eco. Fuel economy hovers around 22-24 mpg in town, with 28 mpg on highway driving. Should buyers need better numbers, they can opt for the hybrid version, NXN 300h.
The other options on our $46,000 NX 200t F Sport included Qi Compatible Wireless Charger, $220, Electrochromatic inside rear view mirror, Lexus Homelink Garage Door Opener, $125, LED headlamps w/o auto high beams, $1,160, Navigation Package (Remote Touch Interface, Lexus Enform Remote/Destination/App Suite, 10-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System, $1,875, Electronic outer mirrors with Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Tilt, Heated memory, $660, Pre-Collision System w/Speed Cruise Control, $900, Premium F Sport Package, $2,045, Heated Perforated Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel with paddle shifters, $150. Over $7,000 of options on this baby!
Sharing a few parts from the Toyota bin, the NX is all new with some RAV4 borrowed items. Lexus’ first attempt at competing in the CUV market segment, the NX has been well received. Five inches shorter than the RX SUV, the NX falls into the compact, rather than the midsize category.
Lexus offers two engines in the NX, including the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, 235 horse power, and the 2.5-liter gas/electric hybrid, 4-cylinder with 194 hp. (NX 300h). Lexus has gone out on a design limb to attempt to attract a younger buyer to the NX CUV. Much more bold than Lexus designs have ever dared to be, the NX does stand out.
One would assume the NX, particularly in the F Sport version is a “sporty” CUV, but the 2.0-liter Turbocharged 4-cylinder isn’t the sportiest of engines. The least powerful engine in its class, the 2.0-liter falls short of any sporty feeling or power. Consider its competition: the Mercedes GLK 350’s 6-cylinder, 302-horsepower, the V6, 273 hp. Acura RDX, Volvo XC60 T6’s turbocharged 6-cylinder with 302 horse, and Audi Q5’s supercharged V6 engine with 272 hp.
The 6-speed automatic transmission in the NX doesn’t have a sporty dual clutch, either which makes the NX less of a sporty offering than its competitors. Fuel economy was most likely a consideration, and the NX is the leader here, at 22/28 mpg. We suspect, too, that Lexus loyalists will opt for the NX, not for its sportiness, or lack thereof, but rather, because it is a Lexus.
The NX 300h has an issue that may send shoppers elsewhere: pricing. Lexus announced that the split between gas and hybrid models will be 90 percent gas and 10 percent hybrids, and while the automaker hasn’t yet announced pricing, the Lexus officials that we spoke to explained that the primary reason for the huge imbalance is the hybrid model’s relatively high MSRP.
No question Lexus excels at interior design and quality of materials, comfort, resale, generous legroom, and high technology. Most auto enthusiasts know you can’t go wrong with a Lexus product. Base and F Sport versions are available, and the hybrid.
While all Lexus infotainment systems are top notch, we weren’t crazy about the remote touch controller. Difficult to use, and operates with just a light tap, made changing channels and sources not much fun. We prefer the joystick to the touchpad. Perhaps it’s just familiarity with one system or another. Some drivers, I’m sure, would prefer the touchscreen.
MSRP: $38,365; total vehicle price $46,440, delivery $940
Engine: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC, Dual VVT, 235 hp., 258 lb.ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel-Drive
Wheelbase: 104 in.
Height: 64.8 in.
Weight: Curb, 4,050 lbs.
Length: 182.3 in.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9 gal.
Width: 73.6 in.
Wheels: 18×7.5 in. split 5-spoke alloy w/machined finish
Warranty: 7 yrs/70,000-miles drivetrain, 4 yr/50,000-miles base
Biggest Recall in History of Automotive Industry: What Should Consumers Do?
Jack Gillis, CFA’s Automotive Expert and author of The Car Book Available for Comment
Washington D.C. — “There is good news and bad news with the announcement of the Takata air bag recall: the good news, millions more Americans are covered for a fix to this serious problem, the bad news, it could take years to get safe parts manufactured and replaced in affected vehicles,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s automotive expert and author of The Car Book, published with the Center for Auto Safety.
What Consumers Need to Do:
1. Obtain your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) by looking in at your dash from the outside of the driver’s side or on the outer edge of the driver’s door. (It is also available on your registration card.)
2. Go to www.safercar.gov/vin and type in your VIN.
3. If your vehicle is part of the recall, contact ANY dealer of your vehicle immediately to schedule a replacement appointment—there is no charge for this fix.
4. Ask your dealer (or the manufacturer of your vehicle) for a ‘loaner vehicle’ while parts are being manufactured.
Important Note: If your vehicle is NOT currently listed as being involved in this recall, it is important to check back on a regular basis to see if it gets added.
“The sooner you contact a dealer, the sooner you’ll get on the list for repairs,” said Gillis. “Traditional recall response rates are around 70%, so in the end, if consumers don’t respond to this recall, there could potentially be over 10 million vehicles with this dangerous defect on the road.”
“While the root cause of this problem is not fully understood, humid regions with high moisture in the air can exacerbate the problem. Consumers in those areas have likely already received a recall notice and should respond immediately,” added Gillis.
CFA is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy and education.
Robert Reed shared an interesting piece recently with his readership at The Car Connection: The results of market research firm Strategic Vision who surveyed thousands of car owners across the U.S.
The question: “How much do you love your car? Could you put a number on that?” This is what they discovered:
The folks at Strategic Vision surveyed 44,000 new-vehicle owners, asking them to score their vehicles on a number of areas. The market research firm tabulated those responses to create their “Customer Love Index” (or CLI) and found the followings:
•Millennials may not be buying as many cars as their parents and grandparents, but they are enthusiastic about the cars they do drive. On average, respondents under 40 years of age gave their vehicles CLI scores of 470 (in contrast with the responses of older drivers which averaged around 500).
•Hybrid owners aren’t necessarily “in love” with their vehicles. While APT (alternative powertrain) cars deliver good fuel economy, they frequently fail to satisfy on other levels, such as (no surprise), styling.
•As Strategic Vision noted: “Even minivans , which are often disparaged as being bland, boring, and completely uncool, obtained higher CLI scores than most hybrid vehicles”.
The Toyota Prius outshines the competition in part because of its unique looks and high-tech features.
•Strategic Vision found that economy-minded shoppers tend to prefer Asian models, while luxury fans gravitate toward European vehicles. Folks who like trucks, SUVs, and convertibles are more often drawn to brands from Detroit.
•Volkswagen (the group, not the VW brand) was the best-loved car company overall. However, Strategic Vision is careful to note that this survey was taken before news of the Dieselgate scandal broke.
Following is a list of the best-loved cars, arranged by segment from smallest to largest:
Micro Car: Fiat 500 Hatchback (449)
Small Car: Mazda3 Sedan (438)
Small Multi-Function Car: Kia Soul (408)
Small APT Car: Fiat 500e (408)
Mid-Size Car: Subaru WRX (451)
Mid-Size Multi-Function Car: Subaru Outback (408)
Mid-Size APT Car: Toyota Prius / Toyota Camry Hybrid (354 / 354)
Full-Size Car: Dodge Charger (543)
Near-Luxury Car: Mercedes CLA-Class (564)
Near-Luxury APT Car: BMW i3 (474)
Luxury Car: Mercedes S-Class Sedan (563)
Luxury Multi-Function Car: BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo (466)
Specialty Coupe: MINI Cooper Hardtop (547)
Premium Coupe: Chevrolet Corvette Coupe (598)
Standard Convertible: Ford Mustang Convertible (564)
Premium Convertible/Roadster: Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (617)
Standard Pickup: Chevrolet Colorado (423)
Full-Size Pickup: Nissan Titan (482)
Heavy Duty Pickup: GMC Sierra 2500/3500 (467)
Entry SUV: Jeep Renegade (490)
Entry CUV: Hyundai Tucson (451)
Mid-Size SUV: Dodge Durango (465)
Mid-Size CUV: Ford Flex (460)
Full-Size Utility: GMC Yukon XL (483)
Near-Luxury Utility: Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 5-Door (516)
Luxury SUV: Infiniti QX80 (524)
Luxury CUV: Porsche Macan (629)
Minivan: Kia Sedona (391)
Best Model: Porsche Macan (629)
Best Full-Line Corporation: Volkswagen Group of America (422)
Americans are driving more than ever. Miles traveled jumped 3.5 percent in 2015 from the year before, hitting an all-time high (Department of Transportation). This year, more people traveled on Memorial Day than have since 2005 (80 percent of them by car).
More so than any other time of year, summer is a favorite season for road trips. With fuel prices expected to stay low throughout the summer, many travelers are planning interstate and local car trips. In fact, it is estimated that roughly 64 percent of people are planning a road trip. According to Euromonitor, road travel for leisure has outpaced air travel over the five years through 2014.
Five times as many recreational vehicles were sold in 2015 as in the depths of the recession. Also getting a boost are campgrounds, restaurants and hotels. And, according to the 2015 North American Camper Reports, families that camp on occasion has jumped six percentage points since 2014, to 44 percent.
With this in mind, travelers need to have a reliable vehicle when road tripping. With the average age of cars on the road today at 11.5 years old, many buyers may need to upgrade. When it comes to buying a new vehicle, keeping their credit score in mind is very important. Tips important to remember include:
*Credit is important for qualifying for a loan. Car dealers usually run a prospective buyers credit score before qualifying them for financing. Before visiting the dealership, buyers should understand where their credit stands.
*Checking your credit score is easy. One can access a credit history directly through the credit bureaus. At Experian, for instance, one can access his or her credit report and FICO Score.
*Lenders use a buyer’s credit score to determine a borrower’s ability to repay a loan. The better the credit score, the better the financing and rates. Interest rates on a loan vary based on the credit score, which can make a big difference over the life of a loan.
*Managing your credit can definitely save you money. If you don’t have the best rating, you can take steps to put your credit on the right track. While it takes time, paying bills on time, for instance, can improve your score. Not carrying a card balance can also improve credit ratings, as can a low utilization of the card. And finally, avoiding opening any new accounts can also improve your credit score over time. Hard credit inquiries can temporarily lower a score.
Overall, understanding how credit works helps to keep your score high and benefit from the best financing available. A new car is a big investment, and saving on interest is possible with attention paid to detail.
(See www.Experian.com for more details)
With styling updates for 2016, the Lexus RX SUV gets better and better. There isn’t much to dislike about the RX sport-ute and one can easily determine the reason-or reasons this model is so popular; and remains so, year after year.
Our test RX 450h F-Sport Hybrid version, with the F-Sport package, suits this writer just fine. Standard equipment alone is enough to satisfy most drivers, but this hybrid model added several nice options.
Lexus took a chance and dared to update the styling of this ever-popular sport-ute for 2016. While some may not like the new front grille, it is different, and stands out a little bit more from the rest. This is a good thing, as the RX was resting on its laurels, not changing much, including boring styling.
A technological leap forward, the 2016 RX sports a 3.5-liter V-6 engine (w/Hybrid drive, in this case), teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test car came equipped with On-Demand all-wheel-drive; front-drive is standard on the RX. The RX cabin uses interior materials that can only be construed as ‘upscale.’ The F-Sport package adds supportive seats, among many other upgrades.
While it’s hard for this writer to opt for such a ‘commonly’ available vehicle choice, we couldn’t help but realize the RX would be a keeper. The pricing of today’s vehicles is beyond many people’s reach; the Lexus products among those sought after, hard-to-reconcile price tags. But, there is a good argument for keeping a vehicle when that vehicle is a Lexus product. Although some may say, “Why would you want to keep a car forever?” It isn’t so unusual these days. In fact, statistics demonstrate that the average car on the road is now 11 years old. This writer found herself saying, “I could keep this car for 30 years, and still be pleased.”
While Lexus was the first to bring this RX sport-ute to market, there have been since, several to join the category, including the BMW X4 ($46,245-$58,795), the new Jaguar F-Pace ($41,985-$70,695), Porsche Macan ($53,650), Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class ($39,8750$41,875), Cadillace XT5 ($39,990-$63,495), among others.
Although the public appears to be less interested in choosing a hybrid vehicle, due to lower gas prices, there is still a market, and one with so many other choices in 2016. Lexus has made some changes and additions to the RX 450h version to interest those still looking for ultimate efficiency. Since 2005, Lexus has offered the RX hybrid version, and this year has combined the hybrid feature with their F-Sport trim, for the first time.
We love the F-Sport package ($3410), and grew to appreciate its appeal in the Lexus IS 200t model. When added to other all-wheel-drive models, the F-Sport package includes such things as adaptive variable suspension, F-Sport+ setting for drive modes, a restyled lower front fascia, rear bumper and 20-inch wheels. Visuals like the black mesh grille and black side-mirror caps are also thrown in, with a F-Sport steering wheel. The different drive settings change the throttle response and climate-control function (in Eco mode). Normal and Sport or Sport+ are other choices.
Not sure how many drivers actually engage all these modes, but we like the idea of a “sportier” Lexus. We imagine driving a performance vehicle. While we’re not sure it fits in a SUV, we sure enjoyed the added ‘perceived’ performance in the Lexus IS 200t and now RX sport-ute.
Options on our already $57,045 RX 450h included Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Panoramic View Monitor ($800), Color Heads-up Display ($600), Lexus Safety System+ and
Adaptive Front Lighting System Headlamps ($1,050), Panoramic Moonroof ($500), Navigation System w/12.3 in. multimedia display, Lexus Enform Destinations ($430), F-Sport steering wheel ($50) and credit for All-Weather Drive Performance ($1,400).
In December of 2015, Lexus announced the 2016 RX would be the first sport-ute to offer the optional Lexus Safety System+ (LSS). Equipped with adaptive cruise, forward collision alert, auto high beams, auto-braking with pedestrian detection and lane-departure warning, the system was estimated to cost between $500-$635; as noted above, packaged with the Front Lighting System Headlamps, is at $1,050.
We found the pedestrian detection system to be very sensitive. While sitting in a driveway, a few feet from the road, the system went off each time a car passed. Toyota offers the system on the RAV4 and Avalon models, calling it the Safety Sense P Package. The LSS package was available in 2015 on the Lexus LS sedan; the only model that can come to a complete stop upon braking, accompanied by the pedestrian detection feature.
Having experienced this feature, it’s quite mind-boggling. Being able to come to a full stop at 25 miles-per-hour when detecting stationary vehicles, is impressive technology. Also, Lexus’ pedestrian detection from 19 mph offers a secure feeling when navigating busy areas. As someone who walks dogs in busy areas, these new features help drivers pay attention and be more alert. Always active between seven and 50 miles-per-hour, the LSS technology also controls the steering to maintain the vehicle place within lane markers.
It is near impossible to find negatives surrounding the Lexus RX lineup; the Hybrid has few exceptions. Although we found the hybrid system to be a tad noisy upon start-up; at idle, not so. Getting up to highway speeds is impressive and of course, the cabin is quieter than most. This vehicle is near perfection, particularly when raising the windows; they go up so quietly and unobtrusively. Fit and finish are top-notch, the interior rich-looking and the rear seat, roomy.
Rumor has it that Lexus may add third-row seating to the RX models; we hope not. Trying to be all things to all people doesn’t necessarily turn out well.
While it goes without saying, the standard features on the RX 450h are plentiful and include the expected ABS w/Electronic Brakeforce distribution and Brake Assist, Automatic On/Off Bi-LED
Headlamps/integrated LED fog lamps/LED daytime running lamps, Vehicle Theft-Deterrent System with Engine Immobilizer, Lexus Enform Safety Connect/Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location Emergency Button, Roadside Assistance, Lexus Enform Service Connect, Lexus Enform Remote, Lexus2-speaker Premium Display Audio System HD radio with iTunes tagging, dual USB Control, Sirius XM Radio; Backup Camera, Auto Dual Zone Climate Control, Moonroof, Power back door, Rear View Mirror/Auto Dimming/Homelink Garage Door opener, Smart/Access with push button Start/Stop, Carpeted Floor Mats.
We found the Lexus display helpful and easy to read, however, not very intuitive to operate. We also became accustomed to the heads-up monitor, displaying not only the local speed limit, but the driver’s speed and a compass. An additional compass is available on the display.
MSRP: $57,045; total vehicle price $60,015; destination $940
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V-6 with VVT Front Electric Drive Motor’s w/Lexus Hybrid Drive, 308 hp.
Transmission: Electronically-controlled Continuously variable with Intelligence ECVT-I, 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 109.8 in.
Length: 192.5 in.
Width: 74.6 in.
Height: 67.7 in.
Curb weight: 4,857 lbs.
Zero-60 MPH: 7.1 seconds
EPA Fuel economy: 30/28 mpg.
Fuel tank capacity: 17.2 gal.
Warranty: 4 yr/50,000-mile Basic; 6 yr/unlimited corrosion; 6 yr/70,000-miles drivetrain; 1 yr/10,000-mile maintenance; 4 yr/unlimited roadside assistance
Every new iteration of this Mitsubish favorite is better and better. As is the case with the 2016 Outlander Sport GT, equipped with Mitsubishi’s 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Interior features and quality have improved, although, somewhat dated, and the standard three-row seating fits family needs; although one has to be agile and/or small to access it. Optional advanced safety technologies are also available to make Outlander compatible with its many rivals in the SUV marketplace. It remains to be seen what happens next for Mitsubishi after a recent statement that at Mitsubishi Motors in Tokyo employees allegedly improperly manipulated fuel-economy data to inflate mileage results on at least 625,000 vehicles.
The company also said it had violated Japanese law by deploying an improper fuel-economy testing method in some vehicles in Japan since 2002. It remains unclear at this time whether this affected fuel-economy information was provided to customers. An investigation will follow.
New for 2016 is the revised exterior styling-which is handsome, and standard LED headlights for the GT trim level. A revised navigation interface and more user-friendly folding arrangement in the second-row seating. Also new this year is a SEL midgrade trim level offering.
Cons? They all have them and the Outlander is no exception. Performance is wanting, and if one wants higher level features, he/she must opt for the GT Model. We could not warm up to the Rockford-Fosgate sound system. In spite of its 710-watt premium sound system with 9 speakers, the sound was good but not so the operation of the radio choices. This writer could not get the menu right so wasn’t able to determine song titles or performers. A minor point you might think, but it drove us crazy. We also could not locate the nav system, so assumed there wasn’t one; hard to believe in a GT trim level.
However, Mitsubishi gets credit for staying in the marketplace. Many times, the threat to leave the U.S. market looms. After just two years on the market, the Outlander received an upgrade and redesign; commendable. Considering the Outlander from a distance is favorable; it’s a good looking little SUV.
Our test vehicle was the GT version, with the 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine. If under serious consideration, we would most likely opt for the 6-cylinder. According to Mitsubishi, they also made improvements to the ride and handling, both which aren’t bad, but not A-plus. We found the car wandering on highway drives and felt as though it was a lightweight. The ride is quiet and smooth, and the car easy to handle, however, there is some road noise.
A seven-passenger SUV, the Outlander is available in four different levels: ES, SE, SEL and GT. The V-6 engine is only available in the GT, as is AWD. Mitsubishi offers a lengthy warranty, standard third-row seating and many standard features. Rival crossovers include the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester (standard AWD) and Kia Sorento. It’s hard to make headway in the Honda or Subaru market these days; both the CR-V and Forester and Outback are widely popular.
The Nissan Rogue also offers a third-row in the same price range.
The ES comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, cruise control, automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding second-row seat that slides and reclines, 50/50-split third-row seat, Mitsubishi’s “Fuse” voice-command system (for phone and audio controls), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with CD player (becoming more rare), and USB port.
The SE adds foglights, body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless ignition and entry, a color trip computer, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and HD radio.
Added to the SEL are black roof rails, gloss-black interior trim, leather upholstery and a power driver seat. Many options are also available. Power folding mirrors are also included in two different packages, and our GT test vehicle came equipped with them. This is a great feature and another peace-of-mind invention.
When opting for the SEL Touring package, one gets a 7-inch touchscreen with nav., upgraded. Pricing for the Outlander ranges from $22,95-$30,995.
The GT comes standard with most options except the touchscreen navigation system and the advanced safety technologies (adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and lane-departure warning), all of which are included in the optional GT Touring package. Exclusive standard features on the GT include LED headlights, silver roof rails, chrome exterior beltline accents, shift paddles and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with two available engines. The ES, SE and SEL get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque that is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). ES models are front-wheel-drive only, while the SE and SEL can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive SEL accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, a slower time than many rivals.
Not sure why our test GT vehicle came equipped with the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and not the 3.0-liter V6. As said earlier, the six would be a big improvement. Our test vehicle was the six-speed automatic with shift paddles, and standard AWD.
Standard safety features on the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander are comparable to other vehicles in this price range and include antilock disc brakes, traction/stability control, hill-start assist, driver knee airbag, side curtain airbags-first/second row, and front-seat side airbags. Consumers can opt for electronic safety features including lane-departure warning and forward collision mitigation.
The Outlander is in general an agreeable crossover. Where there isn’t anything to really dislike about it, there isn’t anything that makes it special. But then, that goes with the territory. How can any manufacturer compete in today’s over-crowded SUV category.
MSRP: $27,395; total vehicle price $28,345; options: Wheel locks, $55; destination $895
Engine: 2.4-liter MIVEC DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder, 166 hp., 162 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with O/D, AWC, Sportronic steering wheel paddle shifters
Wheelbase: 105 in.
Length: 184.8 in.
Width: 71.3 in.
Height: 66.1 in.
Fuel tank capacity: 16.6 gal.
Wheels: 18-inch two-tone alloy
Tires: 22/555R18 all-season
EPA fuel economy: 24/29 mpg.
Towing capacity: 1,500 lbs.
Warranty: 10 yr/100,000-mile powertrain; 7 yr/100,000-mile corrosive perforation; 5 yr/60,000-mile new vehicle limited; 5 yr/unlimited roadside assistance.