2016 Ford Shelby GT350R Review: Seems Awesome, But We Really Have No Idea
Have you ever heard of the word anticipointment? It’s one of those Urban Dictionary words that seem to be all the rage with the kids nowadays. Basically, it means that you look forward to something with great anticipation, but the experience ends up being incredibly disappointing.
Yeah, that’s kind of how I felt after attending the GT350 Track Tour at Sebring International Raceway. Let me count all the ways that this event wasn’t awesome.
2016 Audi A6 3.0T Review (With Video)
Audi is a brand associated with all-wheel drive, well-fitted interiors and design evolution that requires you to park a new model next to an old one to tell what has been changed. The 2016 A6 doesn’t diverge much from this formula despite being a thorough refresh of the outgoing A6.
This Audi plays in the crowded midsize luxury pool with competition coming from every angle. The big boys are, of course, the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but 2016 also brings an all-new and all-aluminum Jaguar XF. We also have Cadillac’s latest CTS, a Maserati Ghibli for those that want something less reliable than a Jag, the Lexus GS and Infiniti Q70 from the land of the rising sun and the Koreans have the Genesis — and that’s before we start including the more distant competition from Volvo, Acura, Lincoln, etc. The last A6 was a midsized luxury unicorn, because not even Nissan thought they could sell a front-wheel drive luxury car in America with a CVT. As it turns out, not even Audi could defend the CVT in a luxury entry, so 2016 sees the end of Audi’s dalliance with the cogless tranny. Fear not folks, the A6 is still the odd German out since the base model is still front-wheel drive.
2016 Infiniti QX50 RWD Review - Long, Strong, But Same Old Song
2016 Infiniti QX50 RWD
3.7-liter VQ37VHR V-6, with Variable Valve and Event Lift (325 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm; 267 pounds-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm)
7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching
17 city/24 highway/20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
19 mpg on the 70/30 city/hwy grocery loop (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Technology Package — $2,750 (Intelligent cruise, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning); Deluxe Touring Package — $2,400 (19-inch wheels, power folding up second-row seats); Illuminated Kick Plates — $440 (!); Premium Package — $500 (Bose 11-speaker sound system, maple interior accents, aluminum roof rails); Premium Plus Package — $2,000 (Navigation, 7-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth).
As Tested Price:
* All prices include $995 destination fee.
Cars will be built in China.
Scratch that — cars are being built in China already, but cars sold in America will soon be built in China.
It’s an inevitability that American car buyers will understand when Volvo brings over its long-wheelbase S60 that promises to be the first Chinese-made car sold in America. It’s already happened in most markets around the world — including Canada — but Americans are averse to cars being built in the C-word like, well, the C-word.
The 2016 Infiniti QX50 (formerly the EX35 in old-Infiniti nomenclature) was not built in China — but for all purposes that we’ll discuss, it was made in China. That’s because the car, which sold at a phenomenally slow pace in the U.S., has been thrown a lifeline from overseas. In China, the QX50 launched six months ago with a longer wheelbase to satisfy that country’s appetite for driving everyone, everywhere, all the time. It was a no-brainer for the U.S., but to justify significantly updating the car for our market, it needed sales — and to sell, it needed to be upgraded. And you can see where this is going.
We’ve had plenty of chances to buy one before now, it’s that just Infiniti hasn’t really ever given us a reason.
Rental Review: 2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8 TSI
This will likely come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who get your news through glass bottles tossed into the ocean and carried by persistent currents to the remote island on which you’ve been stranded by the crash of your FedEx plane, but Volkswagen is in a little bit of trouble due to some questions about diesel emissions. I think it’s a safe bet that the fellow I saw on Route 71 the other day with “TDI LOVE” as the license plate on his Jetta isn’t feelin’ it.
While the New New Beetle — now called just Beetle — was available as a TDI prior to the current kerfuffle, the version that I rented on Monday is powered by the same turbocharged gasoline engine that I liked in the Jetta TSI earlier this year. As tested, it’s $22,615.
So, should you buy one?
2016 Jaguar F-Type S Review - Row Your Own Kitty [w/ Video]
2016 Jaguar F-Type S 6-Speed Manual
3.0-liter AJ126 DOHC V-6, supercharged (380 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 339 lbs-ft @ 3,500-5,000 rpm)
6-speed ZF Manual
16 city / 24 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
20.1 (Observed, MPG)
* Prices include $995 destination charge.
Jaguar has long occupied an interesting niche in the luxury segment due to not being a full-line brand. With a few exceptions, the English brand’s primary targets have been the E-Class/5-Series, the S-Class/7-Series and whatever high-end coupe and convertible the Germans are selling at the moment. That is changing now that Jaguar has decided to expand their portfolio with the 3-Series fighting XE and the brand’s first crossover, the F-Pace. (Yes, I know that Jaguar has had SUVs for decades called Land Rovers, but I digress.)
Part of Jaguar’s renaissance has been product based, and part has been returning to Jaguar’s sporting roots. While many folks still think of Jaguar as the brand that makes the “English Town Car” (yes, that is a Lincoln reference) like the 2005 Super V8 that sits in my driveway, my “stuffily” styled Jag was actually the start of the modern Jaguar we’re seeing today. You see, the X350 generation XJ was all-aluminium and as a result it could actually be described as “light and nimble” compared to an S-Class of the era. The F-Type harkens back to the old E-Type Jaguars of yesteryear, but this time Jag skipped ye olde styling and created one of the sexiest looking Jags ever. For 2016, Jaguar has re-tweaked the coupé and convertible adding AWD and a manual transmission.
You heard that right manual lovers: this kitty has a stick.
2015 Volkswagen Golf R Review - Let's Get Serious
2015 Volkswagen Golf R
2-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, variable intake and exhaust timing, variable
exhaust-valve lift (292 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm; 280 pounds-feet of torque @ 1,800 rpm)
6-speed DSG automatic transmission
23 city/30 highway/26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
24 mpg on the 60/40 city/hwy, 45 percent boot-full of throttle everywhere (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Reflex Silver Metallic paint, Titan Black Leather interior; 6-speed DSG automatic transmission.
Base Price (Golf R):
As Tested Price:
* All prices include $820 destination fee.
Like walking in on your parents on a Saturday night, let’s take a minute to get this situation up to comfortable.
Volkswagen is in dire straits; there are no other words for it. For abusing consumer confidence and lying to the federal government, the German automaker will have to pay billions — and lose tens of billions more in repairs, buybacks, lawsuit payouts and expensive public mea culpas — before they can sniff legitimacy.
For lying and cheating their way through emissions standards with their diesel cars, anyone who has gone for a run in a metro area north of the Mason Dixon line in December for the last 10 years has a legitimate gripe against Volkswagen.
I won’t bury the lede here either: The 2015 Golf R isn’t the type of car that could forgive and forget all indiscretions, either. It’s too hard, too narrow and too expensive to be fit for mass-market consumption. It’s not the car that VW can ride through the rough stuff, mostly because it feels on the inside like it’s riding in a paint shaker.
But every atomic cloud has a silver lining.
For all that we’ve heard and read about Volkswagen over the last week, the larger picture remains: 4 out of 5 Volkswagen cars sold aren’t diesels, and as the world’s second-largest automaker (for now) there are a lot of cars that Volkswagen could talk about.
And we’re talking about the Golf R, and talk we shall.
2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty Review - Hauling Above The Limit [w/ Video]
2015 Ford F-350 King Ranch 4×4
6.7-liter OHV V-8, turbodiesel (440 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm; 860 lbs-ft @ 1,600 rpm)
6-speed 6R140 automatic
Not tested under EPA regulations*
14.1 (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: King Ranch trim, Super Crew cab, 4×4, 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine, 3.31 locking rear axle, Ruby Red paint, 5th wheel prep, spray-in bedliner, heated seats, upfitter switches
Base Price (F-350 XL Regular Cab 4×2 Flex-Fuel V-8):
* Heavy-duty pickups are exempt from EPA fuel economy ratings.
** Prices include $1,195 destination charge.
There was a time when a 1/2-ton pickup could haul around 1,000 pounds of payload and a 1-ton truck was good for around 2,000 pounds. Twenty years ago a good tow rating for a 1/2 ton truck was 7,500 pounds and 1-ton trucks were used by ranchers for hauling 14,000 pound cattle trailers around. Today things are different.
Now we have a Ford F-150 that can tow over 12,000 pounds and haul 3,300 pounds in the bed without batting an eye. In this world, we have 3/4- and 1-ton trucks boasting towing abilities that would have required a Class 5 medium-duty truck in the 1990s. It’s in this world that the F-350, F-450 and Ram 3500 now exist.
These trucks have pushed the envelope, boasting towing capabilities that 99 percent of pickup truck shoppers can’t even legally test. With massive turbodiesel torque figures, Ford and Chrysler’s latest trucks can tow 21,000 pounds more than my plain-old California Class C license allows. With the 2017 Ford Super Duty on the horizon sporting more aluminum than an Alcoa factory and Chrysler nearing the sale of their re-tweaked Cummins engine and its 900 lb-ft of torque, let’s deep-dive into the Super Duty you can buy now.
2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Review (With Video)
2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
1.75-liter DOHC I-4, direct injection, turbocharged, CVVT (237 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 2,200-4,250 rpm)
6-speed “Alfa TCT” dual-clutch automatic
24 city/34 highway/28 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
28.1 (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Rosso Alfa Red paint, Fascia Stone Protector, HID Headlamps, Carbon Fibre Trim Kit, Convenience Package, Racing Exhaust, Red Calipers, 18/19 Inch Staggered Wheels, Leather Package,
* Prices include $1,595 destination charge.
Up ’til now, if you wanted an Italian, mid-engined, street-legal track roadster made out of exotic materials, you needed to be a one-percenter to afford one. But all that is changing with the relaunch of the “other Italian brand,” Alfa Romeo. For the price of a single black-market organ “donation” you can get your hands on the new 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. Unlike Alfa’s last car sold in America — the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione — the 4C Spider is pronounceable, will be available in quantity, and is ostensibly attainable at $53,900 for the coupé and $63,900 for the rag top that we got our hands on.
Like the hardtop 4C, this exotic isn’t an enormous bruiser that’s as wide as Kansas, and it doesn’t have a V12. Instead Alfa opted for a small four-cylinder turbocharged engine and a serious dedication to lightweight construction. In some ways you might call this the Italian Lotus. Until we see the 2017 Alfa Romeo Guilia, FCA’s 3-Series fighter, the 4C and 4C Spider are spearheading the brand’s American reboot.
Is that good or bad?
2015 BMW I8 Review - Supercar for Environmentalists
2015 BMW i81.5-liter DOHC I-3, VANOS, hybrid (Gas engine: 228 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm, 236 lb-ft @ 3,700 rpm; Electric motor: 129 horsepower @ 4,800)6-speed automatic (rear) and 2-speed (front), Lithium ion battery
28 city/29 highway/28 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
27.4 mpg on the ‘I didn’t plug-in the plug-in’ cycle (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Giga World package
As Tested Price:
* Prices include $995 destination charge.
This is the car that people in the 1970s predicted we would be driving in the year 2000. Fifteen years after the turn of the millennium, the BMW i8 is the machine that looks like no other BMW — and certainly like no other car on the road. Its gasoline and plug-in electric powertrain compliment its looks, bringing together the efficiency of an electric car and the convenience of an internal combustion engine.
But there is a lot more to understand about what the BMW i8 is and is not. Is it an exotic supercar? Or is it a dream of the environmentally minded automotive enthusiast? Or is it something else altogether? Could this be the one vehicle which we cannot currently classify? Or is it all of these things?
Has the future finally arrived?
2016 Cadillac ATS Sedan Review - Bitter Medicine
2016 Cadillac ATS Sedan
3.6-liter LGX DOHC V-6, variable valve timing, active fuel management and cylinder deactivation (333 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm; 285 pounds-feet @ 4,800 rpm)
8-speed 8L45 automatic transmission
20 city/30 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
24.5 mpg combined in 60/40 city/highway, downtown traffic nightmare combined cycle (Observed MPG)
Tested Options: Driver Assist Package — $2,885 (Adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, seat belt tightening, electronic parking brake); Kona brown semi-aniline leather seating — $1,295; Power sunroof — $1,050; Cold weather package — $600 (heated seats, heated steering wheel); Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic Paint — $495.
As Tested Price:
* All prices include $995 destination fee (U.S.)
It’s easy to get caught up in the BMW-Mercedes-Audi hyperbole. Those automakers swap spec superlatives in generational battles for supremacy that, in all reality, won’t matter when it comes time for most of those buyers to pull the proverbial trigger.
In many ways, the Cadillac ATS gets left out in the cold. It doesn’t have the history, drama or marketing machine that the 3 Series and C-Class beat us over the head with everyday.
In fact, when Cadillac announced that it would take head-on those vaunted cars, most people laughed as long as it took for them to drive one. Then it became very real. Although the ATS competes with the Germans on price, it also competes in capability. The underpinnings are rock solid. The engine lineup is comparable. And the performance ATS-V is really damn good.
For 2016, little has changed with the ATS, but incremental improvements in interior tech and its top-of-the-range engine bring the car ever closer to being on par with — or in some cases better than — its German counterparts.
And for a lot of people, it’ll be an awkward, angular shaped pill to swallow for the future.
2015 Mercedes GLA 250 Review (With Video)
2015 Mercedes GLA 250 4Matic
2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, CVVT (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 1,250 rpm)
7-speed “7G-DCT” dual-clutch automatic
24 city/32 highway/27 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
26.5 (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: 4Matic AWD, Driver Assistance package, Active Parking, Blind Spot Assist, Wood Trim, HID Lamps
* Prices include $925 destination charge.
Every luxury manufacturer is in a relentless pursuit downmarket. There are a few reasons for this but the most important are increasing volume, amortizing common development costs and snagging life-long brand loyalists as early as possible. The Mercedes GLA is the latest entry in a growing segment: small luxury crossovers.
Small luxury branded vehicles are nothing new to our European friends, but until recently BMW and Mercedes kept anything small and front-wheel drive far away from American hands. Until now. In 2014, Mercedes took their A-Class FWD hatch and made a sedan out of it. Calling it a “CLA”, the Civic-sized sedan was a runaway success starting at $31,000. Since crossovers are the hot segment to be in these days, it didn’t take Mercedes long to jack the CLA up and add a rear hatch to create the GLA.
Does the GLA have enough luxury to convince Ford Escape shoppers to jump up to a Mercedes? And perhaps more importantly: is it a real Mercedes?
2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 Review - A Gimmick Wrapped in Nostalgia
2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4
2.4-liter Tigershark SOHC I-4, MultiAir 2 variable valve and lift timing (180 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm; 175 lbs-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm)
Nine-speed ZF 948TE automatic transmission w/ Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4
21 city/29 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
20.5 mpg on the 50/50 city/hwy, 100-percent frustrated driver cycle (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Trailer Tow Group, Premium Leather Group, Premium Navigation Group, Safety and Security Group, My Sky Open Air Roof System – Power/Removable Panels, Keyless Enter ‘n Go w/ Push Button Start, Black Hood Decal, 9 Amplified Speakers w/ Subwoofer, ParkView Rear Back-up Camera, Remote Start System.
Base Price (Trailhawk):
$26,990* (U.S.)/$32,795* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$33,255* (U.S.)/$39,525* (Canada)
* All prices include $995 destination fee (U.S.) or $1,795 destination fee and A/C tax (Canada).
There’s a reason why legions of buyers deplete their expendable income to welcome thousands upon thousands of Wranglers to their paved driveways in planned subdivisions every single year. Even if you never use all the capability offered by Jeep’s mainstay, you have the appearance of being able to tackle anything that comes your way, whether it be a blizzard in Southern Texas or spontaneous volcanic eruption in Manhattan. It also helps that you can take the top off, adopt the persona of one of those lightly bearded, unachievably cool college dropouts in the Jeep commercials, and see yourself living the perfect life that’s somewhere between Bear Grylls and Socality Barbie. (Though, pee-drinking endorser Grylls also endorses Land Rover over the much-romanticized Wrangler.)
So, what if you could have all that freedom in a more economical, slightly less brutish, equally colourful package? And what if it was “crafted” in Italy just like that Dolce and Gabbana bag that totally isn’t a Chinese knockoff?
Enter the Renegade. What used to be a special edition version of CJs and Wranglers is now a redressed Italian with more lifestyle gimmicks and kitch than one can fit in an artisanal Instagram feed.
2015 Audi S3 Review - Vorsprung Durch Volkswagen
2015 Audi S3 Prestige (U.S.)/Technik (Canada)
2.0-liter TFSI DOHC I-4, turbocharged, direct injection (292 horsepower @ 5,400-6,200 rpm; 280 lbs-ft of torque @ 1,900-5,300 rpm)
Six-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission w/ all-wheel drive
23 city/31 highway/26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
23.1 mpg on the GIVE ME ALL THE BOOST! cycle (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Technology Package, LED Headlights, 19-inch 5-Parallel Spoke S Wheels, Spang Blue Pearl Effect paint, Audi Magnetic Ride, Red Brake Calipers
Base Price (Prestige/Technik):
$47,895* (U.S.)/$49,595* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$52,395* (U.S.)/$54,845* (Canada)
* All prices include $895 destination fee (U.S.) or $2,095 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).
Inline, four-cylinder engine. Turbocharging. All-wheel drive. More than 250 horsepower.
Ten years ago, that combination was a rarity in the compact performance segment. Now you can have it all day, every day from Ford, Mitsubishi, Subaru (with a boxer engine) and Volkswagen.
If you have some extra cash laying around — as you do — Mercedes, BMW and Audi will certainly fill your order.
In this sea of choice, turbocharging is the norm, all-wheel drive is becoming more commonplace due to astronomical output numbers, and active differentials and suspensions are programmed to give you Group B levels of confidence.
So, what separates them all from one another? Horsepower, certainly, if you are the type of person to count each and every calculated output unit and declare the top performer — which is the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 — the winner. You could prefer the driving dynamics of rear-wheel drive, thus BMW would provide your only real option.
But, if you aren’t caught up in the numbers or mode of output, the Audi S3 does have a qualitative trick up its sleeve.
2016 Audi Q3 Quattro Review - New-To-You Utility [w/ Video]
2016 Audi Q3 Prestige
2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm)
6-speed Tiptronic automatic
20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package
* Prices include $925 destination charge.
Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. It was first launched in 2011 but didn’t make it to America until the 2015 model year. That’s because the Q3 plays in a segment that’s new to us — the even-smaller compact luxury crossover. This form factor isn’t new to the rest of the world, but until Land Rover brought the Range Rover Evoque to America and BMW followed up with the X1, there wasn’t a real focus on small luxury soft-roaders.
With crossovers being the latest craze and every luxury brand looking to move down-market to capture fresh young buyers, it was only a matter of time till Mercedes and Audi joined the party with the GLA and the Q3. With a “low” $33,700 starting MSRP, the baby Audi is the more practical counterpart to Audi’s sharp-looking A3 sedan. Although CamCord shoppers have to give up a great deal of room to upgrade to the A3, the Q3 has the potential to be a more sensible option.
Columnist: Consumer Reports 'Prostituted' Itself With Tesla Review
Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins (great name) slammed Consumer Reports for its glowing review and better-than-perfect score for the Tesla Model S P85D, in part, because the $127,000 car still qualifies for a government tax break.
“Prostitute is not too strong a word,” he wrote. “… (Consumer Reports) is shilling not only for the car but the government policies that subsidize it.”
Jenkins takes aim at the state and federal tax incentives still available for the vehicle — which are going away in many places — and at the magazine for hyping its review so heavily, and subsequently giving it away for free on its subscription-based website.