The Truth About Cars » 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:26:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Alfa Romeo Readies New Engines For 2015 Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-readies-new-engines-2015-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-readies-new-engines-2015-debut/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962314 Aside from rebuilding itself in North America, Alfa Romeo is set to introduce a new family of high-performance engines into the lineup, the first of which will come in the next six months. Automotive News Europe reports three of those engines — two gasoline, one diesel — will debut with the automaker’s new midsize sedan […]

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Aside from rebuilding itself in North America, Alfa Romeo is set to introduce a new family of high-performance engines into the lineup, the first of which will come in the next six months.

Automotive News Europe reports three of those engines — two gasoline, one diesel — will debut with the automaker’s new midsize sedan in June 2015, hitting showrooms sometime in 2016.

The main unit will be a direct-injection 2-liter turbo-four with MultiAir VVT on-board. That engine, dubbed the Global Medium Engine, is expected to produce 180-330 horsepower, with the power directed to the back or all four corners via a range of automatic and manual transmissions. A 2.2-liter turbodiesel four-pot will also be available, delivering 135 to 210 horses in the same manner.

The crown jewel, however, will be a 2.9-liter direct-injection twin-turbo V6 — remade from Ferrari’s 3-liter unit found in the Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli — which will throw down up to 480 stallions for the trouble.

VM Motori has also been called upon, working with Alfa to develop a new version of the 3-liter V6 diesel found in a handful of Jeep and Maserati products. Two variants are expected, ranging from 275 horsepower — like the current mill — to 340 horsepower. The engines will be used in AWD applications, and will only be found under the hoods of a large sedan and midsize SUV down the road.

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Seven Finalists Announced For Europe’s 2015 Car of the Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961993 After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists. Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Citroën C4 Cactus Ford Mondeo Mercedes-Benz C-Class Nissan Qashqai Renault Twingo Volkswagen Passat The […]

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After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists.

Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year:

  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
  • Citroën C4 Cactus
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Renault Twingo
  • Volkswagen Passat

The winner will be announced during the 2015 Geneva Auto Show this coming March. Previous winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Ampera, with the first title awarded 50 years ago to the 1964 Rover 2000.

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Two-Tier Wage System Targeted For 2015 UAW Negotiations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/two-tier-wage-system-targeted-2015-uaw-negotiations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/two-tier-wage-system-targeted-2015-uaw-negotiations/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961777 2015 is only 15 days away, which means new contract negotiations between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers are coming, the main focus being the elimination the two-tier wage system implemented in 2007. The Detroit News reports the UAW’s hourly members are calling for the abolition of the system, which has done nothing […]

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Dennis Williams

2015 is only 15 days away, which means new contract negotiations between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers are coming, the main focus being the elimination the two-tier wage system implemented in 2007.

The Detroit News reports the UAW’s hourly members are calling for the abolition of the system, which has done nothing but “cause a divide” up and down the roll “on both sides of the aisle,” per Local 2209 president Brian Hartman.

There may be trouble within, however, as Tier 2 employees receive bonuses and profit-sharing checks in lieu of being on parity with Tier 1 workers. The former may not be so willing to see lowered or disappeared bonuses just to level up to those making more, while the latter would like to not only see the system die, but to gain a raise in pay — including the restoration of holiday and cost-of-living adjustment payments — in so doing.

Other issues on the table for 2015 include securing overtime pay after eight hours per day — instead of overtime after 40 hours per week — ensuring all employees receive a defined pension scheme, and hiring temporary employees for permanent positions after 90 days.

The environment for the negotiations will be different compared to those held since 2007: UAW workers at General Motors and Chrysler Group will be able to strike for the first time since 2011, while non-union employees now have the right to remain as such via Michigan’s right-to-work law. UAW president Dennis Williams hasn’t focused too much on the right-to-work situation, believing that if one does their job in representing those under their care, the people would give their undying support to the leadership.

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Iowa DOT Introducing Driver’s License App In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/iowa-dot-introducing-drivers-license-app-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/iowa-dot-introducing-drivers-license-app-2015/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=959217 Live and drive in Iowa? The state’s DOT will soon have an app that will act as your license. The Des Moines Register reports the app will be free of charge to all Iowa drivers when it arrives sometime next year, and is as official as the traditional plastic license card one receives after waiting […]

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Iowa Drivers License App

Live and drive in Iowa? The state’s DOT will soon have an app that will act as your license.

The Des Moines Register reports the app will be free of charge to all Iowa drivers when it arrives sometime next year, and is as official as the traditional plastic license card one receives after waiting forever and a day in the DMV; drivers can still get the more tangible version if so desired.

Iowa is also one of 30 states that allows drivers to present insurance information in electronic form during a traffic stop. Per Iowa DOT director Paul Trombino, having a digital license is only logical. He adds that the app will be secure via PIN verification, and will be accepted by security in Iowa’s airports, as well.

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GM Laying Off 100 More From Lansing Grand River This January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/gm-laying-off-100-lansing-grand-river-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/gm-laying-off-100-lansing-grand-river-january/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957362 General Motors will lay off 100 more employees from its Lansing Grand River facility next month, joining the 350 already scheduled for said action. Detroit Free Press reports the layoffs are the result of the second shift at Lansing Grand River being cut due to low sales of the Cadillac ATS and CTS, both of […]

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General Motors will lay off 100 more employees from its Lansing Grand River facility next month, joining the 350 already scheduled for said action.

Detroit Free Press reports the layoffs are the result of the second shift at Lansing Grand River being cut due to low sales of the Cadillac ATS and CTS, both of which are assembled at the plant. Most of those being laid off are new hires.

GM plans to move 200 of the workers to the nearby Lansing Delta Township plant, where the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia are assembled, with the remainder to be transferred elsewhere.

The layoffs are expected to be temporary, with employees brought back to Lansing Grand River when production of the next-gen Chevrolet Camaro begins sometime around the fall of 2015 at the earliest. GM could lay off more or fewer employees still, however, as the automaker is still working out the final total.

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Review: 2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-5-volvo-xc60-t6-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-5-volvo-xc60-t6-awd/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 17:24:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955474 Volvo is in midst of a turnaround. Sold by Ford and acquired by Chinese Geely Automobile, Volvo representatives see the company heading on a path similar to Jaguar and Land Rover. With this fresh injection of money, in recent years we have seen many concept cars, existing product updates, amazing new engines, and the first all-new […]

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2015 volvo xc60 t6 side 2

Volvo is in midst of a turnaround. Sold by Ford and acquired by Chinese Geely Automobile, Volvo representatives see the company heading on a path similar to Jaguar and Land Rover. With this fresh injection of money, in recent years we have seen many concept cars, existing product updates, amazing new engines, and the first all-new post-Ford model, the handsome XC90. Refreshed for 2014, the 2015.5 XC60 receives further minor upgrades, including an app!

2015 volvo iphone app screenshot

Smart phones, as they are called, are all the rage among kids these days. They say that kids even care more about their fancy phones with intentionally cracked screens than they do about cars, which is equally sad and puzzling. Automakers have their hands full with cell phones, too. From distracted driving, proper connectivity, to charging ports and cubbies, cars must be fully cell phone friendly. Several automakers have even gone as far as integrating cell phone-like apps into their infotainment systems and even developing their own apps, which is what Volvo just did.

This app, available on iOS, Android, or Windows Phone (respect and apologies to all the BlackBerry users) enables to user to get vehicle information, location, status, as well as remote unlocking and start. It’s basically all the information that is selectable on the gauge cluster of most modern vehicles, in the palm of your hand. It even sends you push notifications if your Volvo is unlocked. Its best feature is probably being able to unlock and start the car from your phone and spy on its location when it is used by someone else. VIN number, user passcode, and code generated by the vehicle were needed for the initial setup. Only the user passcode was needed for further usage. The app is part of the 2015.5 update which includes Sensus Connect, an OnStar-like service which I did not try out.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 front

Recently Volvo has also introduced a new family engines called Drive-E. I had a chance to drive an S60 with the 302hp supercharged and turbocharged version of that engine and simply fell in love with it. The engine had plenty of low-end power and pulled to the redline with authority, all while achieving almost 30mpg overall. Unfortunately the Drive-E engines are currently available only in FWD configuration. The vehicle in pictures is an AWD T6 model powered by an older 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 300hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a powerful engine, and it moves the boxy XC60 with ease, but it is neither as refined as the new Drive-E nor nearly as efficient at 17mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway.

Despite its age, the recently updated XC60 still looks fresh and really stood out when I parked in a garage full of gray generic cars. It’s still a modern and handsome design, one that draws attention but is also quickly forgotten, and almost invisible to cops. It’s also unmistakably Volvo, thanks to the family headlight and grill design, as well as the huge six inch male symbol logo front and center.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 dash

The driver and passengers are rather isolated from road in the XC60. The vehicle is very quiet and the body feels very stiff, allowing only deep thumps from road imperfections to be transmitted inside. The ride is very comfortable overall but the twenty-inch wheels and 255/45 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires are a bit of overkill and probably not the best choice for winter. The few buyers who will throw the XC60 into a curve at speed will be rewarded with minimal body roll and general composure similar to many European sedans.

The interior has premium and solid feel to it. All of the interior materials are soft and nice to touch, gauges are easy to read, and the two-tone sports seats are very comfortable and supportive, finished in soft leather. Rear passengers might complain about legroom, and fitting three booster seats across the bench seat will be challenging. The center stack is full of small buttons but the primary controls are performed via the four big knobs and steering wheel controls. The infotainment system could use a bigger screen and it could be a bit higher in the dash.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 interior details

The 2015 Volvo XC60 T5 Drive-E FWD starts at $36,200. The vehicle reviewed here is $42,400. Platinum package is $4400 and it includes a power tailgate, Xenon headlights, keyless entry, backup camera, HomeLink™, Harmon Kardon audio, adaptive cruise control and many other active safety features such as collision warning and avoidance, pedestrian/cyclist detection, and lane departure warning. Climate Package & Child Booster Seats is $1550, sport seats are $500Blind Spot Information System Package is another item that should be standard on a Volvo but costs $900. Metallic paint is $550, dub wheels are $1000, and the destination/delivery charge is $925. The total for the tested vehicle comes to $52,225. The top of the line XC60 T6 AWD R-Design Platinum is $50,750 before options.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 trunk

For decades Volvo has been know as the safety brand. Looking at the Monroney sticker and where the company is today, I would love to see all of those new active safety features become standard across the model range. Furthermore, all of that technology and those great new engines are not going to contribute to additional sales if price is significantly higher than the sales leaders such as Jeep’s equally equipped Grand Cherokee or the Lexus RX 350. The XC60 is a pleasurable vehicle to live with but it is out-pricing itself in a very competitive market segment.

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 rear 34 2

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Alfa Romeo Sedan Entering Showrooms Next June http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/alfa-romeo-sedan-entering-showrooms-next-june/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/alfa-romeo-sedan-entering-showrooms-next-june/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951881 Right now, the only Alfa Romeo anyone in the United States can buy is the 4C, a model one of our B&B recently talked about in their ownership AMA. By next June, though, a sedan could be on the showroom floor, as well. Automotive News Europe reports the sedan — codenamed 952 — will be […]

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Right now, the only Alfa Romeo anyone in the United States can buy is the 4C, a model one of our B&B recently talked about in their ownership AMA. By next June, though, a sedan could be on the showroom floor, as well.

Automotive News Europe reports the sedan — codenamed 952 — will be the successor to the 159, and will be positioned between the BMW 3 and 5 series. As for the name, it was to have been dubbed the Giulia when it was expected to go on sale this year, but will have a new name instead.

The new sedan is part of eight models set to help build up Alfa Romeo’s portfolio by 2018, leading field that will include a midsize SUV and a large flagship sedan. The portfolio expansion is part of an overall plan to boost the brand’s sales, with a goal of 400,000 sold annually by 2018, and a jump from nil to 150,000/year in the North American market in the same period.

As for the 4C, the first few U.S.-bound models will sell for $70,000 once they leave the container dock, while the $55,000 base model will follow later. Those cars will head for 84 Fiat and Maserati dealers in the U.S. and Canada, a number that will expand to 200 by the end of 2015.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:30:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949281 For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo. Thanks to a finer focus on […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (4 of 30)

For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo.

Thanks to a finer focus on fuel efficiency — a strength the five-pot did not possess — the base 2.5-litre is now gone. Instead, we have a new 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, dubbed 1.8T or 1.8 TSI, delivering the same amount of horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy than the outgoing 2.5 five-cylinder.

Our tester for the week, a 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Comfortline (Canada), is the mid-trim option in the Golf lineup and equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Ticking off the optional Convenience Package adds automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control, light assist, Panorama tilt and slide power sunroof, and rain sensing wipers. The whole package before taxes and freight rings in at $24,590 CAD.

(For you folks living in Canada’s pants bemoaning my Canadian pricing, it’s hard to find an equivalent in the US Golf trim matrix that matches up, so you’ll have to do a little digging on your own.)

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (28 of 30)

The new 1.8 TSI is a fantastic little motor but does miss some of the charm of the old 2.5 inline-5. Thanks to the wizardry of turbocharging, the four-cylinder produces a very healthy 170 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. It also does duty in other Volkswagen lineup models, such as the Beetle and Jetta.

It won’t leave your wallet empty at the pumps either, returning 7.6L/100km (31 MPG) and running on regular gas instead of premium.

The rush of torque comes on fairly early and the most fun is had when shifting at least 1,000 rpm before redline so you can feel the torque through each gear change. This is a car that will actually reward you for shifting slowly and letting the revs drop a bit.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (17 of 30)

The five-speed manual is crisp, notchy, and great for people who actually enjoy rowing their way through the gears. With solid feedback and tight gating, the gearbox might be a little too much for the novice driver though. I’d suggest the Fiesta with its long throws and lighter feedback for that crowd. But, for those who’ve already mastered the third pedal, this is as good a choice as any, except for the fact it is down a gear versus a few of its competitors.

Being the first Golf to ride on the new MQB Volkswagen platform also brings with it new characteristics in ride and handling. The Golf now rides like a much bigger car, smoothing out the bumps in the road while the body stays relatively stable. The softer ride does mean the Golf suffers slightly when chucking it around corners. But, unless you are trying to recreate the car chase scene from Ronin, you should be just fine.

There are two trends Volkswagen has bucked with the new Golf — one for the better and the other for the worse.

The first one comes down to design, as the Golf eschews the sloped rear glass used by the Mazda3 Sport and other hatchbacks in favour of a more two-box silhouette. This gives the Golf decent cargo space in the rear. Also, and this is the big kicker, Volkswagen hasn’t brought the beltline up to such a level that makes it hard to see out of the rear of the car. While the Golf gets a nifty backup camera hidden behind the VW badge, you don’t need to rely on the camera to reverse from a parking space. That’s a very welcomed surprise.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (6 of 30)

But, the one trend where Volkswagen really needs to play catch up is from an infotainment point of you. Specifically, the Golf has a serious lack of USB ports, and by that I mean it has exactly zero of them. Instead, Volkswagen still wants you to use the proprietary iPod connector and a car charger that pops into the plug that used to be a cigarette lighter. VW — you should really know better.

Also a point of pain is the beige-and-black two tone interior available on Comfortline models in Canada. While the materials are top drawer, the two-tone scheme cheapens it all just a bit. Again, VW — you should really know better.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (14 of 30)

Even with these slight issues, the Golf is a solid contender (though, if I were at Motor Trend, I wouldn’t be giving the Golf a Car of the Year award). For those who enjoy driving but don’t necessarily enjoy the firm ride, compromised visibility, or stick-on infotainment screen of the Mazda3, this is your next choice. Also, turbocharging makes everything a bit more fun.

But, if you desire something with slightly sharper handling, USB ports, or an interior that doesn’t mutter how boring you are, there are other options.

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McKenna: MINI Coupe, Roadster Dead By 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mckenna-mini-coupe-roadster-dead-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mckenna-mini-coupe-roadster-dead-2015/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950897 The backwards-cap-wearing MINI Coupe and its Roadster brother are being taken out behind the shed, both going out of production next year. AutoGuide reports MINI USA product chief Patrick McKenna made the announcement during last week’s LA Auto Show, proclaiming both had “run their life cycle.” The duo also were redundant compared with the hardtop […]

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The backwards-cap-wearing MINI Coupe and its Roadster brother are being taken out behind the shed, both going out of production next year.

AutoGuide reports MINI USA product chief Patrick McKenna made the announcement during last week’s LA Auto Show, proclaiming both had “run their life cycle.” The duo also were redundant compared with the hardtop and convertible already in the portfolio, and differences in styling and price didn’t attract many customers.

In their place, McKenna says higher-volume models over niche product will be the order of the day going forward, beginning with the launch of a four-door MINI for those who feel claustrophobic inside the main two-door unit.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes Benz GLA45 AMG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945145 Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with […]

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Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG side

Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with this until I pulled up next to a cross-over SUV called Range Rover at a light and noticed that its door handle was above this cute-ute’s roofline. Truth is that it doesn’t matter what you call it because it’s a blast!

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG engine

The 2.0-liter 355hp engine sounds mean at startup, letting everyone know that this isn’t a plain olde’ Benzito, but it doesn’t sound like a tuned child’s toy either (Fiat 500 Abarth, I’m looking at you).  Select sport mode, start driving and you really wouldn’t know what is under the hood. There is plenty of low-end power and the engine is not screaming in agony on its way to a relatively low 6250rpm redline. It doesn’t feel like any 2.0-liter or turbo motor I have ever experienced; smooth and linear power from idle to redline. Very impressive.

The gear changes from the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission are fast, accompanied by exotic car-like gurgling backfire noises that were clearly designed in the most sophisticated of anechoic chambers. These noises may not be to everyone’s liking but will let the slower drivers know that they have just been passed by something special. The transmission’s only issues were at very low speeds, where it sometimes couldn’t decide exactly which gear to chose or when to fully disengage the clutch.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG dash

The speed and power of this vehicle are really deceptive, especially on the highway where triple-digit speeds are achieved rather effortlessly. Surprisingly, even in sport mode, it doesn’t launch off the line with authority (I didn’t abuse the vehicle by holding both pedals in) but then really takes off once it built up some speed. Buff books say that a quarter mile run can completed in high 12-second range, which was exotic car territory just a few years ago, now accomplished in a four-banger hatchback with a transversely mounted engine.

Toss this SUV wagon hatchback vehicle into a highway on-ramp and it will stick surprisingly well, with minimum body roll. The steering is very quick and direct, and may just be one of the best of FWD/AWD-based cars. On public roads I obviously didn’t drive anywhere near its or my own limits, but even then the little Benz telegraphed its intended part of travel and tire adhesion very well, with safe and predictable intentions toward understeer. There is a downside to all that fancy handling, however. When the smooth pavement ends, the bumpy ride begins. It’s not as bad as some so-called sport sedans with stiff springs and no-profile tires, but it’s certainly worse than any MB I have ever been in – something like GM’s Magnetic Ride Control would make a huge improvement.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG interior details

The interior will be familiar to anyone who has recently sat in a new MB. The infotainment system is heavy in buttons but generally easy to use, similar to other German makers, with the use of large console mounted knob but with Ford-esque steering wheel buttons. The sports seats are supportive and comfortable, a combination that is not always exclusive. Other AMG cues are visible in big clear gauges, flattened steering wheel, shifter paddles, and a really nice carbonfiber trim.

Forward visibility is not great, with large A-pillars and low sitting position and/or high beltline. The mirrors are rather small, too. From the driver’s seat, the hood has a visible dome in it but I am not sure if it is there to reaffirm that this is a sports, in a WRX sort of way, car or a truck in a 4Runner sort of way. Things get worse looking back; small windows and huge C-pillar make reversing or parallel parking downright challenging. There are sensors and a back-up camera to help assist with this, but the overall process is more difficult than it should be.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG exterior details

To test this vehicle’s abilities to do SUV things I filled up the trunk with week’s worth of groceries, a booster seat and a toddler seat in the back seat, and then instructed everyone to take their seats, with my wife in the front. Shockingly, everyone was comfortable. The back seat is short on legroom but the kids didn’t care. The trunk is small but swallowed up the groceries and a diaper bag. It may not be a large vehicle, but it is functional in a typical hatchback fashion.

The base Mercedes-Benz GLA250 starts at $33,300. But this GLA45 AMG is anything but base and therefore it starts at $48,300. Add to that your choice of packages: Premium Package, Driver’s Assistance Package, Multimedia Package, and/or Aerodynamic Package, and the total price can easily surpass the $60,000 mark. That is a lot of coin for a car that Mercedes representatives themselves referred to as “a Subaru WRX for grownups”, which may just be the best way to classify this vehicle.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG front 34

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG rear 34

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Jaguar Launches New Historic Racing Series For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/jaguar-launches-new-historic-racing-series-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/jaguar-launches-new-historic-racing-series-2015/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946170 Own a particular, race-ready Jaguar from the mid-1960s or earlier? The English brand is preparing a racing series just for you. Dubbed the Jaguar Heritage Challenge, the five-race historic series will begin its first season next year, and is open to XK, C-Type, D-Type, pre-1966 E-Type, MK I and MK II models. Per Jaguar Land […]

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Jaguar Heritage Challenge

Own a particular, race-ready Jaguar from the mid-1960s or earlier? The English brand is preparing a racing series just for you.

Dubbed the Jaguar Heritage Challenge, the five-race historic series will begin its first season next year, and is open to XK, C-Type, D-Type, pre-1966 E-Type, MK I and MK II models. Per Jaguar Land Rover Heritage Business Director Derek Weale, the race series further boosts Jaguar’s presence on the heritage racing scene, which includes famed events like the Mille Miglia and Goodwood Revival.

Operated by the Silverstone, England-based Historic Sports Car Club, the Jaguar Heritage Classic will hold four of its five races in the U.K. in 2015, with the remaining race held somewhere in Continental Europe. Dates, classes and venues are expected to come in the near future.

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Acura May Unleash New Integra As Early As 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943465 The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall. Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an […]

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Honda Integra Type R DC2

The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall.

Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an accessible sport car. Not a sports car, but a sport car.” While the flagship — the NSX — is set to leave Ohio beginning next year, the reincarnated Integra/RSX would likely begin its return to the showroom floor in 2017 at the earliest.

Though Marek couldn’t be more specific regarding the supporting actor, he did acknowledge that Honda went the wrong way in making Acura too upscale, not at all helped by the Great Recession that turned what would have been the next NSX into a non-homologated Super GT combatant.

Meanwhile, Acura will debut a refreshed ILX next week at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, which he says is a harbinger of things to come:

There are changes coming, and then there are more changes coming. It’s not what our direction is going to be, but it’s a step in that direction. There are lots of resources and activity going into making Acura back into what it was.

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Williams: UAW To Be More Open Before Members, Public http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/williams-uaw-open-members-public/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/williams-uaw-open-members-public/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943433 With major negotiations between the Detroit Three coming up in 2015, United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams has vowed to be more open before the union’s membership and the general public in his leadership. Reuters reports Williams established a small social media department to help communicate with the 390,000 members during the upcoming negotiations: I […]

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United Auto Workers (UAW) union president Dennis Williams poses for a portrait in Detroit

With major negotiations between the Detroit Three coming up in 2015, United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams has vowed to be more open before the union’s membership and the general public in his leadership.

Reuters reports Williams established a small social media department to help communicate with the 390,000 members during the upcoming negotiations:

I don’t have a Twitter account. I don’t have a Facebook or any of that. I’m not an expert on it, that’s why we hire experts.

The inspiration to create the department likely came after a recent meeting with UAW relations chief for General Motors, Cindy Estrada, who showed photos of workers using their smartphones or tablets in the break room. Williams wanted to make sure the union was able to talk to these workers in the venues the workers were likely to visit.

The union is no stranger to social media, having used the tools available in 2011 during its last round of negotiations under the leadership of now-former president Bob King.

Outside of the social network, Williams recently brought on-board Brian Rothenberg into the role of head of communications, with the aim of being more open to the press [including those of us at the TTAC Zaibatsu, we hope – CA]. Rothenberg was the executive director of non-profit liberal super PAC ProgressOhio, a group he founded in 2006.

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FCA Spinning Ferrari Off From Parent Company By 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fca-spinning-ferrari-parent-company-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fca-spinning-ferrari-parent-company-2015/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:19:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938057 By this time next year, Ferrari will no longer be a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, thanks to a plan announced today that will spin the exotic brand off from the rest of the Italo-American automaker. Bloomberg reports FCA will sell 10 percent of its stake to the public, giving the remaining 90 percent to […]

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Ferrari-458-Speciale-A-1

By this time next year, Ferrari will no longer be a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, thanks to a plan announced today that will spin the exotic brand off from the rest of the Italo-American automaker.

Bloomberg reports FCA will sell 10 percent of its stake to the public, giving the remaining 90 percent to the automaker’s own shareholders. The shares will be listed in the United States stock market, with Europe possibly receiving some of those shares, as well.

According to Morningstar analyst Richard Hilgert, the split “unlocks the value” in the Ferrari brand, which could be worth as much as $7.4 billion. He adds that the move helps pull Ferrari out of the shadow of FCA, citing “the street’s perception of low profitability to no profitability” regarding the automaker’s market performance.

Speaking of performance, FCA stock climbed to $11.56 Wednesday after opening at $11.31, falling to $10.85 at the closing bell. Ferrari stock, meanwhile, would go for $5.90/share for FCA shareholders.

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Georgia EV Supporters Prepare To Defend State Credit In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934722 EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year. According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is […]

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fisker-and-tesla-and-coda-georgia-electric-car-show

EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year.

According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is due to the state’s credit of up to $5,000 on EVs, helping to take off $12,500 from the bottom line when the $7,500 federal credit is taken into account.

Were the state credit have been cut, EV sales would fall dramatically. EV Club of the South board member Michael Beinenson says the credit — and not wanting to feel like Ed Begley Jr. — is the main draw for consumers in Georgia. He also hopes that the credit’s terms are merely changed instead of the entire credit being guillotined when the state’s legislature meets again next year, and is preparing to defend it to the bitter end with other like-minded supporters.

The credit was set to be removed from the books in 2014, citing lost revenue in the millions of dollars as the reason; the bill that would have made it so died hours before the 2014 session drew to a close.

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Porsche Injecting Diesel Power Into Macan For US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-injecting-diesel-power-macan-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-injecting-diesel-power-macan-us-market/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931418 Porsche Macan enthusiasts in the United States who want diesel power will be able to order such a thing over a year from now, as Porsche is now hard at work bringing a diesel Macan to life. Automotive News reports the diesel-powered crossover will get its power from a reworked 3-liter turbo V6 diesel sold […]

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porsche-macan-2013-la-auto-show-13

Porsche Macan enthusiasts in the United States who want diesel power will be able to order such a thing over a year from now, as Porsche is now hard at work bringing a diesel Macan to life.

Automotive News reports the diesel-powered crossover will get its power from a reworked 3-liter turbo V6 diesel sold in its native Europe and other markets, delivering at least 245 horsepower to all four corners. The vehicle would slot between the S and Turbo models as far as price is concerned, coming in at around $60,000 to start; the S has an MSRP of just over $49,000, while the Turbo begins at $72,300.

As for when the diesel Macan would arrive, the crossover may debut at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show before entering the showroom near the end of 2015 or at the start of 2016.

Meanwhile, those hoping for a base Macan in the U.S. will be waiting to exhale for quite some time. Porsche Cars North America vice president of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen, says there isn’t enough capacity to build the base model, sold in the United Kingdom and China, and won’t be under consideration “for the foreseeable future.”

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Vellum Venom Vignette: 2015 Camry Regression Analysis (Part II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/vellum-venom-vignette-2015-camry-regression-analysis-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/vellum-venom-vignette-2015-camry-regression-analysis-part-ii/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 13:19:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=929970   I was wrong about the 2015 Camry: it’s a handsome family sedan. But not for us, for the Russians.    This.  This is how you mildly refresh an existing model. Yes, Toyota made a uniquely ugly 2015 Camry for us Yankees.  They styled to the lowest common denominator (i.e. every frickin’ cliche in a modern designer’s toolkit) while the “Global” 2015 […]

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Capture

I was wrong about the 2015 Camry: it’s a handsome family sedan. But not for us, for the Russians.   

2015-Toyota-Camry-4

This. 

This is how you mildly refresh an existing model.

Yes, Toyota made a uniquely ugly 2015 Camry for us Yankees.  They styled to the lowest common denominator (i.e. every frickin’ cliche in a modern designer’s toolkit) while the “Global” 2015 Camry has an upmarket presense.  It apes the price point where Less is More, the place where Audi survives and thrives.

Sure, the Global 2015 Camry is no Audi. But it’s an object of desire relative to our imminent future of seeing the US-spec model on every highway, clogging our pores with mindless amounts of DLO FAIL for no good reason. Even the fascias are quite fetching, forgoing our Camry’s fake-Audi-Lexus schnoz.

Peep this video:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Now compare to what we get:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Is the grass greener on the other side? Off to you, Best and Brightest.

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Manley: Jeep Grand Wagoneer On Its Way http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/manley-jeep-grand-wagoneer-way/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/manley-jeep-grand-wagoneer-way/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927594 Town & Country PHEVs not your bag? Jeep’s Mike Manley might have a Grand Wagoneer waiting for you in late 2015 for the 2016 model year. Motoring.com.au reports the three-row, seven- to eight-passenger SUV will serve as the brand’s flagship, competing against the likes of the Mercedes GL-Class and the upcoming BMW X7 as Jeep […]

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1978-jeep-wagoneer

Town & Country PHEVs not your bag? Jeep’s Mike Manley might have a Grand Wagoneer waiting for you in late 2015 for the 2016 model year.

Motoring.com.au reports the three-row, seven- to eight-passenger SUV will serve as the brand’s flagship, competing against the likes of the Mercedes GL-Class and the upcoming BMW X7 as Jeep grows its market share in the United States, Brazil and Australia.

Speaking of the BMW X Series, Manley says the Grand Cherokee proved to all that Jeep could “compete at the very premium end of the segment,” citing the cross-shop between it and the X5 in the U.S. market as “phenomenal.” He’s also considering models aimed at the X4 and X6, believing such vehicles would be beneficial to the lineup:

If you consider the styling of Cherokee and Renegade, there’s perhaps [even] more of a market in D [segment] than E SUV [for sportier models]. I think it can fit with the brand.

As far as sales go, Manley says Jeep is on its way to selling over 1 million units in 2014, with a goal of doubling that number by 2018. When asked about 2015, however, all he stated was that there was an expectation for Jeep to continue climbing up the global market trail.

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Next-Gen Chrysler Town & Country PHEV Debuting A Year Early http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-chrysler-town-country-phev-debuting-year-early/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-chrysler-town-country-phev-debuting-year-early/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927345 Minivan shoppers will have a new option to consider in 2015, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed plans to introduce a PHEV variant of the Chrysler Town & Country late into the coming year. Automotive News reports the PHEV will be based on the next-generation Town & Country, originally scheduled for arrival in […]

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2014 Chrysler Town & Country

Minivan shoppers will have a new option to consider in 2015, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed plans to introduce a PHEV variant of the Chrysler Town & Country late into the coming year.

Automotive News reports the PHEV will be based on the next-generation Town & Country, originally scheduled for arrival in 2016 as stated by Marchionne during FCA’s investor day back in May. Other PHEVs are also in the works, including a full-size crossover for Chrysler. That said, Marchionne warns that electrification can’t fix everything:

I think you need to be very, very careful if you think that electrification, given its inherent limitations on range, especially in markets like the U.S., will effectively displace combustion. It will never provide the travel distance that you require, especially based on what we know today about the storage capabilities of batteries.

I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t. You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars.

The new PHEV, powered by a gasoline/battery pack combo, might outgun the Toyota Prius in the fuel economy game, according to Chrysler brand chief Al Gardner. The ur-hybrid in PHEV form for 2015 nets 95 mpg in electric-only mode, and 50 mpg combined in hybrid mode.

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UAW Prepares For Autumn 2015 Detroit Three Negotiatons http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-prepares-autumn-2015-detroit-three-negotiatons/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-prepares-autumn-2015-detroit-three-negotiatons/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926465 Autumn 2015 will be a big moment for the United Auto Workers, as the union prepares to negotiate new contracts with the Detroit Three, with the aim of improving pay for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 members under conditions that weren’t there in the year prior to the Great Recession. The Detroit News reports […]

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UAW-logo-outside-Union-Solidarity-House

Autumn 2015 will be a big moment for the United Auto Workers, as the union prepares to negotiate new contracts with the Detroit Three, with the aim of improving pay for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 members under conditions that weren’t there in the year prior to the Great Recession.

The Detroit News reports the UAW wants the Detroit Three to give Tier 1 employees the first raise since 2007, as well as add more jobs to the factory floor. Meanwhile, the union is also facing pressure to improve the financial state of Tier 2 employees, who earn less than those grandfathered by the 2007 contracts, with benefits to match.

On the other side of the table, the Detroit Three want to reduce pension costs among those on the floor as they had with those who retired. GM and Ford offered buyouts for employees who agreed to forgo future benefits, while Chrysler froze its plans for 8,000 salaried employees in 2013.

Outside the conference room, Michigan’s right-to-work law will give current union members and new employees the right to not be a part of a union. That said, UAW president Dennis Williams says members in other right-to-work states have remained members despite the option to opt-out, and won’t focus all of his energy on this issue.

As far as striking is concerned, Williams want to avoid using that option “unnecessarily,” but does want the Detroit Three to know that his membership “have sacrificed,” and that new members “want a higher standard of living.” The union recently raised dues 25 percent to replenish its strike fund — having fallen to $600 million — to remind companies how serious the threat of work stoppage can be.

Finally, the UAW will continue to bring aboard transplants in the Southeastern United States, like those working for Volkswagen, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, as well as suppliers, employees in the gaming industry, and those in higher education.

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Quick Look: 2015 Honda CR-V http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/quick-look-2015-honda-cr-v/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/quick-look-2015-honda-cr-v/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 16:21:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922257 It’s hard to believe that the CR-V has been on sale for nearly two decades when the 1985 Civic Wagonvan 4WD is still fresh in mind. But Honda has steadily grown the CR-V from a mere 66,000 units in 1997 to over 300,000 units last year. As it stands, the CR-V is the 7th best-selling vehicle […]

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2015 honda cr-v front left

It’s hard to believe that the CR-V has been on sale for nearly two decades when the 1985 Civic Wagonvan 4WD is still fresh in mind. But Honda has steadily grown the CR-V from a mere 66,000 units in 1997 to over 300,000 units last year. As it stands, the CR-V is the 7th best-selling vehicle in the United States.

2015 honda cr-v rear right

The CR-V gets a typical midlife facelift for 2015, which consists of new headlights (LEDs on all but the low LX trim), a new grille, bumper covers, and taillights. There are also bigger, wheels and a new trim level, dubbed “Touring”. Inside there is an upgraded dashboard with a new infotainment interface, rear seat air vents, and new dynamic safety features. Overall, one really needs to see the 2014 and 2015 CR-V side-by-side to see all the differences.

2015 honda cr-v exterior details

More importantly, Honda made changes that have a greater impact on fuel economy, power, comfort, and safety.

The 2.4L DOHC iVTEC engine now sports direct fuel injection and has a higher compression ratio. This translates to the same 185hp, but an increase in torque from 163 to 181 ft-lbs. Both horsepower and torque now peak at lower engine speeds, and the torque curve is flatter. The five-speed automatic was replaced with a CVT. The fuel economy improves to 27/34/29 mpg on front-wheel-drive models and 26/33/28 mpg on AWD models, both increasing +4/+3/+3 mpg over 2014 models.

Interior improvements consist of more sound insulation for a quieter ride, something that was apparently a frequent source of complaints for customers. There are now air vents for rear passengers but there are no separate controls. The infotainment system is also updated, bringing it in line with current Hondas. It is not a system that I personally love; it has too many options, too many settings, and there is no volume knob, just buttons. A back-up camera is standard.

2015 honda cr-v interior details

Honda has also thrown a slew of active safety features into the 2014 CR-V, all designed to avoid accidents. These include: Forward Collision Warning with Collision Mitigation Braking System (it will stop a car if it sense an accident), Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and Honda LaneWatch. The last is a camera mounted in the passenger side mirror which displays everything that is typically in the blind spot on the infotainment system. These new features are only available on the Touring, which also adds a power liftgate and memory seats – if you want the full suite of driver aides, you’ll have to shell out the big bucks.

During my quick highway drive the car did feel quiet, and a sound measure test performed by my friend did confirm that interior noise has been reduced. A full review will arrive once I spend some more time with the car, but so far, my biggest complaint rests with the CVT. I’m not a huge fan of them, for the usual reasons, but I doubt that buyers of the CR-V will know what a CVT is or even care that it uses one.

In 1999 my mother was shopping for a new car. The then new and hot E46 3-series was high on her list, as was the Acura TL. She ended up with a blue ‘99 Honda CR-V EX (CR-V EX is a horrible nomenclature, by the way, Honda) with a 5-speed manual transmission. The CR-V of that era was spacious, efficient, and affordable. There was a picnic table in the trunk and seats that folded into a bed, a pop-up rear window and full-size spare tire mounted in the tailgate. We take the CR-V and its ilk for granted now, dismissing them as just another soulless CUV. At the time, it was revolutionary.

The 2015 CR-V is a much different and much improved vehicle. But along with those changes it lost some of its personality. It seems that Honda is making more attempts at staying competitive rather than being a leader in independent design. Whether that is relevant or not is up for a debate as sales of each model are higher than ever. The truth is that CR-V buyers, new and repeat, will be getting a much improved vehicle which will only contribute to its popularity. The 2015 CR-V starts at $23,320 for a FWD LX model and goes up $32,770 for the new loaded Touring model with AWD. It is on sale as of today.

2015 honda cr-v dash

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Review: 2014 Lexus GX 460 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/review-2014-lexus-gx-460/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/review-2014-lexus-gx-460/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916530 The various models of the Toyota Land Cruiser are some of the most respected off-roaders in the world. But what works elsewhere in the world does not necessarily work in North America. Dressed up in what is perceived to be luxury, how does this fancy Land Cruiser Prado, as its known everywhere else in the […]

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2014 lexus gs 460 side

The various models of the Toyota Land Cruiser are some of the most respected off-roaders in the world. But what works elsewhere in the world does not necessarily work in North America. Dressed up in what is perceived to be luxury, how does this fancy Land Cruiser Prado, as its known everywhere else in the world, perform in the United States?

2014 lexus gs 460 front

Get in and right away you realize that this is a truck and not a car disguised to look like one. It drives like a truck, it handles like a truck, and it feels like a truck. Guess what, it’s a truck. If that’s not your thing please stop reading and consider buying the excellent Toyota Highlander.

The exterior shape is a classic SUV two cube design. Being a Lexus, it has body cladding and running boards which are supposed to make it look upscale and softer in order to attract someone other than rich adventure travelers. New for 2014 is a Lexus family grill, the contours of which do not match vehicle’s utilitarian side profile, and frankly it looks like an add-on made by an Eastern European aftermarket company.

2014 lexus gs 460 dash interior

Hop into the driver’s seat and you will be greeted by a high seating position and large windows which yield a very commanding, Range Rover-like, sitting position. The whole dash has a very vertical feel to it, much different than anything else on the road. I was disappointed to see that the dash felt more like a Toyota, good quality but not pleasant to the senses, rather than any of the excellent new Lexus cars. All the commonly used controls are nicely laid out and very easy to use. Unfortunately the infotainment screen feels old due to its low resolution and inability to perform more than one task at a time. Instead of a new grill Lexus should have invested the money into the dash.

The rear bench is big, soft, and flat – exactly what it’s supposed to be in a vehicle like this. It does not slide, despite being on rails to allow third row access. The two-passenger third row seats are best used for short rides due to difficultly of access and lack of legroom. The third row folds in an interesting way; the bottom cushions slide under the rear cargo floor and then the seat-backs fold flat to form the cargo floor. With the third row folded, the cargo area is large and tall, something rarely seen in the days of sporty CUVs with sloping roofs. The floor is raised several inches, like on the Yukon, to accommodate the folded rear seats. There is no hatch but rather a large door hinged on the right which is a little heavy to operate. The rear window pops up for quick access, but I wish it rolled down into the door like on the 4Runner.

2014 lexus gs 460 third row cargo hatch details

Power comes from an aluminum 4.6-liter DOHC port-injected V8 which puts out 301hp and 329 lb.-ft. The engine feels heavy and it sounds loud, like a truck is supposed to. Several years ago this power would have been sufficient, but now it is lagging behind its competition. The only transmission choice is a six-speed automatic that is connected to a two-speed full-time 4WD transfercase. Compounded by a 5128 lb. curb weight, the GX gets 15mpg in the city and 20mpg on the highway. It’s not a fast vehicle, as it does not like abrupt full-throttle application, but it is smooth at any speed.

Start driving and you will immediately notice the soft suspension, a trait common to vehicles with real off-road abilities in order to allow axle articulation and traction. All potholes, no matter the size get absorbed, even at high speed but at the expense of handling. It’s not that the handling is bad; it’s just truck-like and not CUV-like. Steering feel and braking are also truck-like. To put it simply, the GX 460 requires a certain amount of respect – don’t drive it like a lunatic.

2014 lexus gs 460 interior details

Astute readers and buyers will be interested in how the Lexus GX 460 compares to the Toyota 4Runner. Underneath the sheet metal, those two are basically the same vehicles. Mechanically, the biggest difference is that the Lexus has a V8 engine, standard third row seats, and a hinged rear door. The 4Runner comes only with a V6 engine but offers a choice of 2WD and 4WD, optional third row seats, and has a tailgate with a roll-down rear window. The difference in power is not really noticeable because of the Lexus’ extra 400lb of luxury weight and the two vehicles drive nearly the same. GX’s advantage comes in maximum trailer towing: 6500 lbs. versus 4Runner’s 4700lbs. People who think of actually taking their vehicles off pavement may want to look into the new 4Runner TRD Pro which comes with locking diffs, fancy suspension, and proper mud tires.

2014 lexus gs 460 front side

The 2014 Lexus GX 460 starts at $49,085. As shown here, $4710 Premium Package adds leather, wood, automatic wipers, LED fog-lights, parking sensors, heated/cooled seats, and touch-screen nav. The somewhat flimsy cargo cover is $150 and the wheel locks are pretty pricey at $81. Total comes down to $54,826 before $910 delivery fee. A Luxury model starts at $60,715 and it includes nicer leather, air suspension, fancy headlights, and many other minor upgrades. If you have been noticing more new GX 460s on the road, it is likely because Lexus has had very aggressive lease rates on them, comparable to a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, a much less expensive vehicle.

Despite what seems like a lot faults, I personally like this truck, but I do have a general bias toward proven off-roaders. It’s honest; it does not try to be all things to all people like, say, the BMW X5. It feels strong and solid, like it could take a lot of abuse and just shrug it off. Fortunately for those disagreeing with me, the market is full of cars that resemble trucks.

2014 lexus gs 460 rear side

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. provided the vehicle for this review.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Ford Escape Titanium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-ford-escape-titanium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-ford-escape-titanium/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914362 Today’s cute compact crossovers are slowly replacing mid-size sedans as the most popular vehicle on the market, and with good reason too. They have smaller footprints, are easier to drive, are more versatile, more economical, and AWD systems provide a piece of mind during foul weather. Is the Escape a…wait for it…game changer?   The […]

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Today’s cute compact crossovers are slowly replacing mid-size sedans as the most popular vehicle on the market, and with good reason too. They have smaller footprints, are easier to drive, are more versatile, more economical, and AWD systems provide a piece of mind during foul weather. Is the Escape a…wait for it…game changer?

 

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost dash interior

The interior is unmistakably Ford, with clear analog gauges and the MyFord Touch system high and center. The seats are very comfortable, heated in the front, and the angle of the headrests is adjustable so they will not press against the back of your head like some other Fords. The rear seat is best for two passengers but three adult butts or three booster seats will fit. The rear bench folds flat and is split 60:40. The dash is made of at least four different types of materials which do not always complement one another or match up perfectly, such as where the A-pillar meets the dash. HVAC controls and other buttons are small, low in the dash, and obscured by the shifter. At night the interior ambiance lighting can be adjusted in color and intensity to match your mood.

The MyFord Touch system received a slew of upgrades over the years and is now actually usable by a novice. Some of the touch-screen buttons are small and shorter drivers may need to stretch to touch the screen. Those truly adventurous can opt to shout at the system to get it to do what they want. The system easily connected to my phone and offers a ton of options and features which will likely go unused by most buyers. An Audi or Lexus-like knob would make this one of the best systems on the market.

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost interior details

The previous generation had large square windows but this one, like the rest of the auto industry, has smaller windows all around. Despite that, visibility in all directions remains surprisingly good. Doors are large and open wide, making the chore of loading kids into the car a task that won’t break your back. Auto up and down on all windows, as opposed to just the driver’s window, is a nice touch. The rear bumper height is low, making loading and unloading easy. The big rear power hatch can be opened by waving your foot under the bumper, but it is slower in operation than other cars.

The top engine choice is a 240hp and 270lb-ft 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder which is very nicely matched to the vehicle; smooth, quick, and responsive. The six-speed automatic has two driving modes, D and S. In S it downshifts sooner and holds the gears longer, but not too long, where it becomes annoying. The ride is smooth and when tossed into a highway ramp, the Escpape remains neutral and composed, if a bit top-heavy. In this 4WD configuration, the EPA rates the Escape at 21mpg city and 28mpg on the highway. When equipped with a Class II trailer tow package, the little Escape can tow a 3500lb trailer.

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost exterior details

The 2015 Ford Escape starts at $22,610 for the base SE model with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine and 2WD. Those wanting 4WD need to step up to the SE with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine (178hp/184tq) which starts at $26,810. Our Titanium model, with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost ($1195 over the 1.6-liter), starts at $31,965. Equipment Group 301A adds HID headlights, blind-spot detection, automatic wipers, and parking sensors for $1735. Navigation system is $795 and destination charges are $895 for a total MSRP of $35,150. At the time of this writing there was a $750 factory incentive.

The Escape is a nice vehicle overall, but aside from the peppy engine it does not bring anything new to the market. While none of its competitors feel more exciting in any comparable way, it feels like Ford decided to make just another vehicle to fill the market niche. The powerful engine is nice, but this is a price driven category where competitors offer one engine at a much lower overall price.

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost rear side

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Ford provided the vehicle for this review.

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Geely FIA-Certified To Supply Engines For Global Formula 4 Series http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/geely-fia-certified-supply-engines-global-formula-4-series/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/geely-fia-certified-supply-engines-global-formula-4-series/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913634 While Formula 1 fans contend with the new, quieter turbo era — a result of rule changes regarding power for the 2014 season — Chinese Formula 4 fans may be celebrating in the stands next year when Geely-powered competitors roar off the starting line. In a partnership with Narcar, the automaker will begin supplying its […]

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While Formula 1 fans contend with the new, quieter turbo era — a result of rule changes regarding power for the 2014 season — Chinese Formula 4 fans may be celebrating in the stands next year when Geely-powered competitors roar off the starting line.

In a partnership with Narcar, the automaker will begin supplying its 2-liter naturally aspirated motor to the Chinese and global Formula 4 series beginning in 2014. The engine is currently found in both the GX7 SUV and Emgrand EC8 sedan.

Geely’s entry as engine supplier marks the first time any Asian manufacturer has been certified by the by the FIA to provide engines for Formula 4, and will be joining three European manufacturers on the global stage from 2015 forward.

Meanwhile, the engines will help power the local Formula 4 series when the seven-race season begins later this year. The automaker recently provided chassis and engine support to the China Formula Grand Prix, which has been ongoing since 2006.

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Reuss: Cadillac F-Segment Flagship Is A Go http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/reuss-cadillac-f-segment-flagship-go/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/reuss-cadillac-f-segment-flagship-go/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897282 General Motors global product development chief Mark Reuss revealed Tuesday that Cadillac will press ahead with an F-segment sedan built upon a new platform. The Detroit News reports the new Cadillac will slot above the full-size XTS, and will throw down against the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series. Reuss adds that the flagship sedan […]

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General Motors global product development chief Mark Reuss revealed Tuesday that Cadillac will press ahead with an F-segment sedan built upon a new platform.

The Detroit News reports the new Cadillac will slot above the full-size XTS, and will throw down against the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series.

Reuss adds that the flagship sedan is important for the brand “if it is to compete as a serious luxury carmaker” in the top luxury segment:

What we do there has got to be a symbol of excellence… This is a car that Cadillac needs that will define this brand in terms of innovation and excellence.

The flagship Cadillac is expected to go into production near the end of 2015, and will likely be joined by a compact slotted below the ATS for the lower end of the luxury segment.

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