December 14, 2015 |
Honda HR-V vs. Mazda CX-3 vs. Kia Soul vs. Buick Encore: Small-crossover four-way. This week: 2015 Kia Soul! Price: $26,715 as tested (more about options later). The trim-level price started at $20,700, and a base model can be had for as low as $15,690. Marketer's pitch: "Totally transformed. " Conventional wisdom: What's a little box like this doing in a comparison of small crossovers? Reality: A worthy adversary. Crossover? OK, OK, so whether the Soul is technically a crossover may be debatable.
November 29, 2015 |
Toyota's Scion brand is aimed at young, frequently first-time buyers, and its newest offering should appeal to that clientele. While it may not act quite as sporty as it looks, the brand-new Scion iM is one heck of a value. I mean, who would expect standard equipment like alloy wheels, a rear camera, heated power mirrors with LED turn-signal indicators, a leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic steering wheel, voice-recognition technology, dual-zone climate control, and a rear-window defogger for a base price of $18,460.
August 10, 2015 |
2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI vs. 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium vs. 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring: Cargo competition. This week: We're finally getting out on the road. Whee! Power: The SportWagen comes with choice of 1.8-liter turbocharged gasoline engine making 170 horsepower or a 150-horsepower TDI engine in the vehicle I tested. I found the SportWagen to offer even more power than the TDI in the Golf I recently tested, but this must be an illusion. The Subaru's 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder produces 175 horsepower.
May 4, 2015 |
German duo: A Volkswagen sedan and hatchback, sporting two vastly different turbocharged engines, go head to head - Week 2. This week: The 2015 VW Golf TDI SEL. Price: $31,605 as tested. (A basic Golf TDI can be had for $22,345, and a basic Golf for $17,995.) Marketer's pitch: "Progress takes on a whole new form. " Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the "versatile and roomy hatchback design; refined interior; strong acceleration; great fuel economy from available diesel engine" but not that the "gas engine's automatic transmission lacks refinement; slightly more expensive than rivals; lacks some more contemporary features.
April 12, 2015 |
For those preparing to take a test called the SAT (Strange Automotive Trivia), a knowledge of recent BMW nomenclature is essential. Bayerische Motoren Werke has traditionally employed even numbers when identifying coupe models - except when it doesn't. Until recently, the coupe version of the 3 Series sedan had a 3 in its name. But when BMW redesigned the 3 Series for the 2014 model year, it created a 4 Series designation for the coupe and its convertible stablemate. Then, for 2015, it re-muddied the waters by introducing the 4 Series Gran Coupe model that I just tested.
September 1, 2013 |
Do you remember when a Nissan was called a Datsun? If you do, you'll also recall that magical marketing moment in the early '80s when Nissan Motor Co. spent a Dumpster full of money on an advertising blitz informing us that it was now calling the Datsun a Nissan. Well, guess what? After a 30-year entombment, Nissan has rolled away the stone at the entrance to the Datsun Sepulchre and resurrected the nameplate. The Datsun will be a low-priced line for third-world customers who can't afford the vehicles built by Nissan and others for buyers in developed countries.
November 1, 2012 |
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Auto: A hatchback Elantra. Price: $25,365 as tested. A base Elantra GT starts at $19,395 with six-speed ShiftTronic transmission ($1,000 less for a stick). Marketer's pitch: "Elantra with a twist. " Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com says "Lots of features for the money; spacious and well-built interior"; but "not as sporty as some rivals; sluggish automatic transmission responses. " Reality: Definitely not living up to the GT portion of its name.
July 23, 2012 |
There's something antithetical about a sporty version of a 106-horsepower econobox that takes around 10 seconds to get from 0 to 60. On the other hand, the new Toyota Yaris SE model is markedly more fun to drive than its unsportified stablemates, a quality that probably won't be lost on its rather youthful clientele. The SE is an addition to the Yaris subcompact model line, and like its more prosaic (and less expensive) colleagues, it benefits from a refreshed exterior and interior.
February 29, 2012 |
2012 Kia Rio5 EX GDI vs. 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv Grand Touring vs. 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL sedan: The Driver's Seat off-brand fuel-sipper challenge. We're at Part Two of a three-part look at small challengers to the Civic-Corolla crown. This week, the Kia Rio5 EX. Price: $18,354 ($16,500 base). Conventional wisdom: A boring little box from South Korea, right? Marketer's pitch: Five doors - with great things behind every one. Reality: Somewhere in between, but definitely an upgrade for 2012.
December 21, 2011 |
Looking like a cross between an imperial storm trooper's helmet and a Dustbuster, the innovative 2012 Hyundai Veloster exudes offbeat charm, but needs refinement. A noisy interior, poor iPod and phone compatibility, and troublingly large blind spots reduce the appeal of its great looks, good handling, and appealing price. The Veloster's striking styling will win it plenty of fans. The aggressive front end features slots, scoops, and LED running lights. A tapering roofline and scalloped flanks create an equally attractive profile.