Sometimes, in the wasteland that is the rental car lot of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, fate can smile upon you. Most of the time, however, it doesn’t. When I hopped off of the bus this past Monday, I was confronted by rows and rows of Altimas and Passats, each of them just as base and boring as the next.
I had just resigned myself to a week of paying the automotive price for whatever sins I had recently committed when I noticed a glistening, dripping wet 2016 Camaro being driven slowly into the Emerald Aisle by a lot attendant, practicing his best pimp lean and blasting XM Radio Hip-Hop from the pony car. I didn’t even wait for him to fully exit the car before positioning myself behind the rear bumper, ready to place my bags in the trunk. As I situated myself behind the wheel, I noticed that the Camaro had a whopping five miles on the clock. It looked like I’d be the one responsible for a gentle break-in period.
Luxury car companies are practiced at the art of completely redesigning a car, yet styling those new models so much like their predecessors that you’d need an illustrated guide to tell them apart. Jaguar was the king of this design exercise in the ’90s and 2000s. My personal 2005 Jaguar Super V8 may look like Jags of yore inside and out, but under the wood and leather is a thoroughly modern aluminum luxury chassis that — with updates — underpins the modern XJ.
On the other side of the equation we have the XF. The 2008 model signaled a major shift for Jaguar’s styling, but under the sleek and modern exterior sat a reworked Jaguar S-Type chassis. The first generation XF won praise for the M5-chasing XFR and a design that came to define the modern Jaguar.
For the second generation of the XF, Jaguar played it safe with an image retaining the bulk of the styling from the previous generation. Under the familiar styling is Jaguar’s all new, aluminum-intensive iQ platform that’ll be the basis for the XF, XE, F-Pace and two other mysterious Jaguar Land Rover products in the next few years.
There sure has been a lot of talk about crossovers around here lately, hasn’t there? Regardless of your opinion on owning a CUV, it’s hard to deny the functionality that a three-row CUV offers the business and/or pleasure rental customer. The ability to carry an entire sales team to a meeting, as well as some presentation materials and suitcases? Useful. The capability to take a family of five to the beach, including assorted coolers and pool toys? Valuable.
Therefore, gents, if you absolutely must have a crossover for your rental or personal needs, well, you might as well have the manliest damn crossover money can buy. That honor goes to the 2016 Dodge Durango. Ladies, I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy the big D, too. Allow me to share my thoughts with you from the week I spent in the ATL with FCA’s entry in the hotly-contested three-row segment.
Lexus has tended to prefer conservative design in almost every aspect of product development. Words like reliable and dependable usually spring to mind before sporty or exciting.
Yet, the brand has been trying to change that over the last few years with love-it-or-hate-it designs; in particular, Lexus’ new “Predator mouth.” The changes aren’t simply skin deep. The current-generation IS sedan also stepped outside the luxury brand’s comfort zone with sharp handling and a focus on dynamics. Of course, this is Lexus we’re talking about, so this change in a more aggressive direction is happening at, you guessed it, a conservative pace.
Now in its third year of production, the third-generation IS isn’t getting a refresh like we’d typically see in from ze Germans. Instead, Lexus has decided to focus its attention under the hood with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a de-tuned V-6 for mid-level shoppers.
Can a refreshed drivetrain help the IS stand out in a crowded segment? Let’s find out.
Kia gained a well-deserved reputation in the ’90s for cheap and nasty transportation, but lately they are the greatest social climber since Cinderella. “2016 Kia” and “1996 Kia” are totally different from one another. Even “2006 Kia” seems like a distant memory.
Unusual for a car company, Kia doesn’t shy away from its troubled beginnings in America, which can be seen both in its marketing toward the press and in its product portfolio.
The 2016 Sorento is a perfect example. While the model we were lent for a week is a solid contender to the Ford Edge, Toyota Highlander and even the Acura MDX, Kia also sells a model priced at $24,900, just above the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape.
Does this make the Sorento conflicted? Or is the Korean born, German designed and American built crossover the “just right” CUV?
OK, I’ll bite on your request for more queries. Here’s a couple:
Keep up the good work!
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.
Earlier this year, I got a weekend job doing what I always thought was a dream job — driving brand new cars around; almost all makes and models.
It turns out that even a “dream job” can quickly turn into “Oh great, I have to go to work again”. But forget that. The cool part is still cool and I still get to drive brand new VWs, Audis, BMW’s, Porsches, Hondas, everything. Everything except Cadillacs. I don’t think I’ve driven a new Caddy yet. That part is great!
There’s one catch to this job of mine. I have to stick to a speed limit. “Who doesn’t?” you may ask. Well, this speed limit is a little lower than most. I’m stuck doing 15 miles per hour. 15 mph. Oh, and no radio and rarely A/C.
Here’s what I’ve noticed: Driving slowly gives you a chance to learn the vehicle more. How’s the ride? How’s the interior? When you’re in traffic or on a back road, you’re busy worrying about deer, the guy on his cell phone, and what the road is doing ahead of you. I’m not worried about those things. It’s just me and the car. So what I’m trying out here is a unique spin on the car review. You’re not going to get handling at the limit. You’re not going to get maximum acceleration. You’re going to get what I notice while driving 2-5 miles at 15 miles per hour — a Slo-Mo Review.
Let’s start with a good one. The Jaguar F-TYPE V6.
Has there ever been a longer running runner-up in an automotive category than the Ford Expedition? The large three-row SUV has been outsold by the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL twins for years by as much as a 2:1 margin in the ever-shrinking large SUV segment. Throw in the Tahoe and regular Yukon numbers and the Expedition lags even further behind. The Expedition does outsell its luxo Lincoln stablemate, the Navigator, by about a 4:1 margin.
It may not be able to overcome the years of momentum and iconic brand image of the Suburban — proclaimed back in 1986 as the “ National Car Of Texas” — but the latest iteration of the Expedition is fighting back.
Looking at all the full-size sedans available in America is certainly a case of “one of these things is not like the other.” Dodge’s latest iteration of the LX-platformed, rear-wheel drive sedan sticks out like a sore thumb covered in beer and barbecue sauce.
The freshly facelifted, second-generation new Charger (it’s the seventh generation overall to use the nameplate) is exactly what I want in a pony car with four doors: mean looks, lots of power and a suspension more tuned for going in a straight line than around corners.
But, I am not going to say its better than the new Maxima — another full-size(-ish) sedan that makes a sporty claim. Actually, it’s definitely not as good as the Maxima.
And I couldn’t care less.
You kindly responded last year to me in regards to an inquiry I made about my 2006 Sonata with the V6. I am still in love with my old beastie. She is approaching 93,000 miles and I just had new plugs and upper front control arms put into the ol’ gal.
I read some forums that go on and on about this model year’s engine having problems with the Timing Chain Tensioner. I took her to the dealer to have it checked….they did not hear any odd noises to warrant my concerns. However, in my extreme car paranoia, I swear on cold mornings I hear a rattle coming from the engine. My question?
With the Lexus IS finally ditching its dated and overripe 2.5L V6 in favor of the new Atkinson/Otto-cycle 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the vehicle above will have the least powerful V6 engine in America: the 224 hp, 3.0L V6-powered Mitsubishi Outlander.
Making matters worse, it requires premium fuel … and that’s not the worst part.
Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their numbers, that is more F-150s than everything Hyundai sold in the USA put together.
Redesigning the F-150 isn’t just putting Ford’s profits on the line. Hundreds of suppliers and countless employees are worried about Ford’s aluminum gamble.
“From every angle, you’ll never mistake this for anything but a Camaro,” said Tom Peters, design director for the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro. That’s probably because it hasn’t changed that much, at least visually. Yet, under the skin, the new Camaro drops some 200 lbs thanks to its new Alpha platform bones and gains a new base engine – a 2.0L turbocharged Ecotec four-pot.
BMW moved over 140,000 3-Series’ last year in America. They didn’t do this by being the most luxurious option or by being the best handling option. (The truth is hard to hear, I’m sorry.) Instead, BMW did this by doing exactly what shoppers asked for; luxury car buyers want a comfy ride with a luxury logo on the front, good fuel economy and to read reviews that extol the track-day virtues of their car of choice. The average buyer will never be on a track, but it’s critical to know your car belongs there.
What BMW dealers don’t want you to know: there are two sedans in this segment that are arguably better on the track than a 328i or 335i and we’re talking about one of them today, the IS 350 F Sport.