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Tested: 2013 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

Wednesday September 4th, 2013 at 12:99 PM
Posted by: Francois

Description

The Honda Odyssey is a the latest in a series of minivans from Honda. The Odyssey has changed with the times as it has grown bigger and bigger and then it toned down to be lower and sleeker. It grew in abilities but then it toned down and became easier to drive and live with. The electronics have aged quite a bit as it is not up to par with the latest integrated navigation screens from Europe and Korea. But the driving experience still remains as one of the most comfortable, responsive and easy to drive in its class.

YouTube Preview Image Video: Review by Kelley Blue Book

Pros:

  • Massive, highly usable interior
  • Seating for up to eight
  • Quick acceleration
  • Exceptional driving comfort

Cons:

  • Lower than expected fuel economy
  • Polarizing body design

Price

Odyssey Touring Elite ($43,675) is a Touring model with blind-spot warning system, HID headlamps, and a dual-input 16.2-inch widescreen rear entertainment system linked to a 650-watt, 12-speaker 5.1 surround sound system.

What’s New

Backup camera, Bluetooth handsfree, 8-inch information display and USB input now standard on base LX model.

Although the 2013 Honda Odyssey arrives mostly unchanged from the previous model year, the popular minivan has come a long way from the 5-door hatchback that first hit the market in 1995. Instead of sliding doors like a regular minivan, that first Odyssey had front-hinged doors that opened like the doors on a sedan. It wasn’t until the 1999 introduction of the second generation model that the Odyssey got the traditional minivan sliding doors.

Honda launched the current, fourth-generation Odyssey in 2010 with updated body lines and a new overall design. What was once a banal body with a flat window line was transformed into a more bulbous and modern-looking family hauler. Although some have applauded Honda for taking a design risk with the new Odyssey, others have derided the current model’s looks.

The 2013 Odyssey is available in LX, EX, EX-L (which has available rear entertainment system or navigation options), Touring and Touring Elite versions. The LX includes new standard features like Bluetooth handsfree, a backup camera, an 8-inch information display and a USB input. The rest of the lineup is unchanged. The 2013 Odyssey starts at $28,575 and tops out at $43,925.

Comfort & Utility

The Odyssey’s interior and features are much like those of nearly every other minivan on the market. The most notable difference between the Odyssey and its competitors is its interior build quality. The seats, dash, storage compartments and trim in the Odyssey are all surprisingly well constructed. Every surface in the Odyssey looks and feels sturdy.

The interior of the 2013 Odyssey is cavernous, with 172.6 cu-ft of total passenger volume and 148.5 cu-ft of cargo volume behind the front seats. With comfortable and flexible seating configurations, numerous storage bins and pockets and up to 15 beverage holders, the Odyssey is ready for whatever a family can ask of it.

The third row, which Honda calls a Magic Seat, is 60/40 split folding and enables the Odyssey to quickly and easily adapt between passenger and cargo hauling. It can accommodate three passengers and still provide 38.4 cu-ft of cargo volume behind the seats, or it can fold completely flat into the floor, creating 93.1 cu-ft of cargo volume behind the second row. Maximizing the Odyssey’s cargo space requires removing the second-row seats. Total interior volume, with passenger and cargo volume combined, measures 210.0 cu-ft.

Technology

The 2013 Odyssey is available with most every modern technological treat a customer could desire from a minivan. The Odyssey can be optioned with satellite navigation, a rear-seat DVD screen that folds down from the headliner and a “cool box” for chilling drinks.

All models now include an improved multi-information display with on-screen custom programming of functions like interior lighting and door locking, Bluetooth handsfree, USB inputs and a backup camera.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The Odyssey is powered by a a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, and there are two transmission choices. On the LX, EX and EX-L, Honda offers a 5-speed automatic transmission. On the Touring and Touring Elite models, the Odyssey is fitted with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The EPA estimates the Odyssey LX’s fuel economy at 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The Odyssey Touring, thanks to its 6-speed automatic transmission, does slightly better at 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Safety

The 2013 Odyssey features dual-stage, multiple-threshold front, side curtain and dual-chamber front and side airbags with Honda’s passenger-side occupant position detection system. A vehicle stability assist system, active front-seat head restraints and pedestrian injury mitigation are all standard. So is Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure. It helps the Odyssey better absorb collision energy, especially in a front-end crash. That structure is now in its second generation in the Odyssey.

Driving Impressions

Many people promise themselves they’ll never own a minivan. But for millions of Americans, family life necessitates owning one. Should they climb behind the wheel of the Odyssey, they’ll be pleasantly surprised by its excellent driving characteristics. Most impressive is the power output from the 3.5-liter V6.

When a driver puts his or her foot to the floor in the Odyssey, it doesn’t rocket forward in a jerk of power. Instead, it builds like a force of nature beneath the driver, sending the vehicle smoothly forward across the landscape. Power delivery is linear, intense and quite satisfying.

During hard off-the-line acceleration, the Odyssey does suffer from some front-wheel slippage. But that is to be expected from a 248-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine wedged into the front end of a big family vehicle.

Unfortunately, the fuel mileage we observed wasn’t as good as advertised. We suspect it will take a soft-footed, Zen-like driver to get close to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s fuel economy estimates.

Other Cars to Consider

Toyota Sienna: Starting at $26,435, the base Sienna L is one of the cheapest minivans on the market. But it doesn’t beat the Odyssey by much. For 2013, the base 4-cylinder engine is discontinued, replaced by a standard V6. The Sienna can be equipped with all-wheel drive for those who need extra traction for winter weather or slippery roads.

Chrysler Town & Country: Starting at $29,995, the Town & Country is an old favorite among minivan buyers–with an emphasis on old; the Town & Country hasn’t been updated since 2007.

Nissan Quest: Starting at $25,990, the Quest comes standard with a 260-hp 3.5-liter V6 mated to a continuously variable transmission. We think the Quest is far and away the best competitor for the Odyssey, with comparable power, efficiency, utility and technology.

Bottom Line

We think even the base 2013 Honda Odyssey is fantastic at $28,575. But budget allowing, we’d definitely upgrade to the Odyssey Touring for $41,180. The Touring includes satellite navigation, rear entertainment and the 6-speed transmission. The 6-speed automatic makes the Odyssey not only more fuel-efficient but also more enjoyable to drive.

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2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

Sunday September 1st, 2013 at 9:99 PM
Posted by: Francois

Introduction

The outgoing Santa Fe was not much to look at.  This new Santa Fe however is in the 90th percentile of good looks when compared to its SUV Crossover peers.  It looks good from every angle and it fits in with the Hyundai brand’s styling direction

But now it’s the Santa Fe Sport’s turn, and we think this is one of the best-looking Hyundais yet, a sleekly sophisticated vehicle in a segment better known for boxiness. It has all the sculpted lines of the new Hyundai’s but none of the overly sharp edges.  It’s easy on the eyes inside and out.

The revolution continues inside, where a curvaceous dashboard and quality materials give the Santa Fe Sport a surprisingly premium feel, especially relative to its generic predecessor. As expected from Hyundai, standard features are plentiful, including iPod/Bluetooth connectivity and the Blue Link telematics suite with features like voice text-messaging, local business search and turn-by-turn navigation.

Hyundai’s lineup is top-to-bottom impressive these days, but the 2013 Santa Fe Sport stands out even among its distinguished relatives. If rival crossover SUVs could express emotion, they’d be none too pleased about Hyundai’s latest.

Pros:

  • Upscale styling inside and out
  • spacious interior
  • tons of features
  • good power and fuel economy.

Cons:

  • Can get pricey

 

Engine Options

The new Santa Fe Sport offers a pair of Hyundai’s Theta II GDI inline-4 engines that also are found in the Sonata sedan. Both direct-injected fours feature continuously variable valve timing to further enhance operating efficiency. The base engine is a 190-horsepower 2.4-liter while the Sport 2.0T carries a 264-horsepower version of the turbocharged 2.0-liter. The sole transmission is a smooth, responsive 6-speed automatic with a Shiftronic manual-style gate. The impressive weight-reduction program imparts a new measure of quickness across the board, along with improved fuel economy.

2.4-liter inline-4
190 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
181lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg (FWD ), 20/26 mpg (AWD)

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
264 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD ), 19/24 mpg (AWD)

 

Comfort & Utility

The 2-row Santa Fe Sport is offered in base or 2.0T trim.

Feature highlights for the base Sport include a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine; 17-inch alloy wheels; LED headlight and taillight accents; a rear spoiler; air conditioning; electronically adjustable steering effort; power accessories; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; cruise control; a trip computer; Bluetooth; and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio and iPod/USB connectivity.

The Sport 2.0T adds a high-powered 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; dual exhaust outlets; 19-in alloy wheels; heated exterior mirrors; automatic headlights; fog lights; keyless entry with push-button ignition; an electroluminescent gauge cluster with a color LCD information screen; a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; and heated front seats with 8-way driver power adjustments.

Some notable Santa Fe Sport options are a panoramic sunroof, a 4.3-in touchscreen audio display, a navigation system with an 8-in touchscreen, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power front passenger seat, a sliding back seat and a 2.0T-exclusive Infinity audio system with 12 speakers.

In our interior evaluation, we found the Santa Fe Sport’s front seats to be notably more supportive than last year’s forgettably flat offerings. As ever, the seats are mounted high, so you get that SUV-style commanding view of the road that many shoppers want. Thankfully, the Santa Fe Sport comes standard with a tilting/telescoping steering wheel (not all Hyundais do), so you can adjust the wheel for reach as well as angle. There’s even some woodgrain trim sprinkled around the cabin that adds a touch of class. Overall materials quality has improved as well.

Whereas the old Santa Fe Sport’s gauges and controls were rental-car generic, the new one’s are a quantum leap forward. The dashboard is full of appealing angles and curves, while the deeply hooded gauges with available electroluminescent backlighting further attest to the Santa Fe Sport’s suaveness. Fortunately, the controls remain straightforward and easy to use despite the dramatically different look.

The Santa Fe Sport’s back seat has a pleasantly elevated bottom cushion and ample room for adult passengers. Hyundai emphasizes that even the 2-row Sport is considerably larger than rivals like the Ford Escape, and that’s evident in the airy feel inside. We’re pleased that a sliding back seat is available for 2013; the old model’s back seat was fixed.

On the hauling front, the Sport offers 35.4 cu-ft of cargo space behind the back seat and 71.5 cu-ft with the rear seatbacks folded. That’s a lot of cubes at this price point.

A properly equipped Santa Fe Sport can tow up to 3,500 lb.

 

Technology

The outgoing Santa Fe actually had a respectable roster of standard equipment, but it seemed like a band-aid given how dated everything looked. That’s obviously not an issue with the 2013 Santa Fe Sport. Like we said, there’s a thoroughly modern dashboard this time around, and it’s bursting with desirable standard and optional technology features, including iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, Blue Link telematics, a color LCD driver information screen and a crisp 8-in touchscreen navigation system.

Blue Link is standard in one form or another on every Santa Fe Sport, and it deserves a paragraph of its own. Using the built-in voice-recognition software, you can search for local points of interest, send text messages or have them read to you, follow turn-by-turn directions to your destination and get help in an emergency. Blue Link also allows you to check the weather, receive traffic alerts and keep track of your driving habits to improve fuel economy. Hyundai’s even got operators standing by to provide assistance. It’s pretty neat.

Performance & Fuel Economy

All Santa Fe models come with a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission and are available with either front- or all-wheel drive.

Standard on the base Santa Fe Sport is a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 190 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Blessed with a broad powerband and good manners, this is largely the same engine that we’ve lauded in the Sonata midsize sedan. The Santa Fe has a little more weight to lug around, of course, but it’s a lot lighter than it used to be, and this engine is more powerful than the old 2.4-liter four. Fuel economy is a praiseworthy 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway with FWD and 21/28 mpg with AWD.

If “satisfactory” isn’t going to cut it, the Sport 2.0T solves that problem with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 good for 264 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to twin-scroll technology, the 2.0T delivers every bit of that torque starting at just 1,750 rpm, so there’s not really any turbo lag in the traditional sense. It just pulls hard on demand, and it’s smooth enough that one well-respected colleague of ours initially mistook it for a V6. Fuel economy is also a strong suit, checking in at 21 mpg city/31 highway with FWD and 20/27 mpg with AWD.

Safety

The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, active front head restraints and seven airbags (front, front side, driver knee, and full-length side curtain).

The Santa Fe Sport had not been crash tested as of this writing.

Driving Impressions

On the road, the Santa Fe Sport is about as good as it gets for a crossover at this price. The highway ride is quiet and smooth, while bumps are dispatched with impressive poise. The handling isn’t bad either, as the new suspension adds a welcome carlike athleticism. AWD models even get what Hyundai calls Torque Vectoring Cornering Control, a system that can send either extra torque or braking power to individual wheels, limiting understeer and generally making the Santa Fe Sport feel more responsive.

Conclusion

Unless we needed a third-row seat, our pick would be the Sport 2.0T. The little turbo is a great motor, and Santa Fe models so equipped are reasonably priced alternatives to a wide range of costlier crossovers.

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Tested: 2013 Mitsubishi i-MIEV

Tuesday August 27th, 2013 at 8:88 AM
Posted by: Francois

What is it

The Miev is an electric car suitable for short trips in the city. It is small and tall and is zippy around town with its high torque electric motor. It is roomy enough with 5 doors and a high roof line.

But get it on the open road and it is not happy. It’s small wheels and high wind profile make it jittery on the freeway. And the range is no joke as 60 miles is really just a best case guideline. Get on throttle or tackle some hills and this can easily drop below 50 miles. So charging stations are your friend and like the Nissan Leaf, you will get to know them and your fellow electric car drivers well.

YouTube Preview Image Video: The Charging Point Test Drive

The Japanese domestic market (JDM) version of the i has been on sale in Japan as the i-MiEV since July 2009. Mitsubishi put the popular i on a bodybuilder program to beef it up for the U.S. market and to meet North American crash regulations and make it more suitable for freeway driving. Adding 4.3 inches through the longitudinal center of the i pushes the width to 62.4 inches. It’s still about two inches narrower than a Fiat 500, but the gains in width translate into much more elbow room than the Japanese version has. Additional front and rear crash structure adds about nine inches of overall length but no additional interior room. The North American i weighs in at a feathery 2500 pounds despite carrying 88 steel-encased lithium-ion batteries under the floor.

Strengths

The North American Miev enjoys a larger beam that makes the already-tall interior genuinely comfortable for four. Stretching an interior is tough and expensive, but Mitsubishi engineers devised a clever cost-saving move that frames the dash from the skinnier left-hand drive version sold in Europe with another layer of dashboard that makes the extra width appear like it was planned from the car’s outset, which it wasn’t. Look for the telltale gap filler at the base of the A-pillars.

Weaknesses

Understeer and squealing front tires greet drivers who push the i hard into corners. The car’s staggered tires (145/65R15 front, 175/65R15 rear) and softly sprung chassis exacerbate the plowing, a trait that sucks the driving fun from the i’s otherwise cheery countenance.
And the 60 mile range really makes it difficult on US roads. Cities may be ok, but the sprawling peninsulas often require more range and buffer than 60 miles.

YouTube Preview Image Video: Making of i-MIEV

Tech Details

If you’ve ever driven an electric golf car, you probably remember the jumpy throttle response, a characteristic of electric motors producing maximum torque at zero rpm. The Miev’s Smooth Start Control electronically regulates torque from a stop to eliminate jolting starts, making the car feel more polished than some EVs.

YouTube Preview Image Video: Kelley Blue Book Review

Driving Character

While the Miev’s electric propulsion may seem advanced, driving it is simple as a golf cart. Turning the conventional column-mounted key activates the circuitry. Putting the car in drive engages the motor. Flooring the amp pedal moves the car out smoothly with linear thrust. The lack of gear changes or a traditional powertrain noise adds refinement. The electrically assisted power steering feels light, as do the vacuum-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes. (Since there is no intake manifold vacuum to power the brakes as on the JDM gasoline-powered i, Mitsubishi uses an electric vacuum pump for boosting duties on the EVs.) The seamless transition between regenerative and mechanical braking also deserves kudos. Unfortunately, the lack of excitement is palpable, with 0-60 mph clocking in at about 15 seconds. We saw 81 mph as the governed top speed.

Other Cars to Consider

Nissan Leaf

The Bottom Line

With a price that undercuts the Nissan Leaf by more than $5000 and superior efficiency, Mitsubishi’s North American version of the Miev electric vehicle may attract a broader audience than simply urban-dwelling environmentalists who view personal transportation as a necessary evil. The EPA estimates that drivers will spend just $495 dollars to drive the i 15,000 miles—though putting 15,000 miles on this car is a formidable task, as the i’s practical range is just 62 miles. And that distance must vary quite a bit depending how you use the i: Just 15 minutes of hard driving at Mitsubishi’s Nagoya proving grounds erased four of the 16 energy bars in the i’s “fuel” gauge. Still, Mitsubishi’s management is fixated on helping the world become a greener place, and the practical changes they’ve made to the i will make the $27,990 car more palatable for American drivers and driving environs.

But in the end, this car can use a few hundred pounds more of battery weight and range. The car is a bit fidgety on the freeway and the 80 mph top speed can barely get you out of some tricky merging situations.

The range is the most difficult pill to swallow of all. 60 mile round trip commutes are out of the question without a lunch time charge. And on weekend jaunts, the 60 mile range can drop to 40 miles when going through some hills and mountains. Just like a petrol car, mileage drops significantly when climbing a hill. But if you don’t make it back to the descent because of the range, then you won’t get that lost mileage back to descend the hill.

Specifications

  • Price: $27,990 – $33,230
  • Powertrain: 49 kw (66 hp) AC synchronous electric motor; 16 kwh lithium-ion battery pack; RWD
  • EPA Fuel Economy/Range: 112 mpge; 62 miles

Posted in Electric, Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Mitsubishi |Tags:, , || No Comments »


Tested: 2014 Kia Sorento V6

Monday August 26th, 2013 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: Francois

What’s New

Wow, color us surprised. The exterior did not wow us but we got in the car, and fell in love within our first day with the Sorento. It’s a kind of car that just keeps surpassing expectations from the moment you mash the throttle, throw it into a corner or open the sunroof. Every aspect of the car overdelivers except the sticker price. And one thing we love is the option list is empty and does not come with a $6000 price tage. Most everything is included in our trim level package.

The Sorento gains standard leather seating in EX trim, while the LX V6 now comes standard with a third-row seat.

From the outside, the Sorento lacks the visual pop of Kia’s other products, such as the stylish Soul and Optima. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it may widen the Sorento’s appeal to more mainstream buyers. Step inside the Sorento and it’s a different story. The interior simply outshines the competition with an elegant design, rich materials and fabric choices–such as white-on-ebony leather–features usually reserved for more expensive luxury models.

In addition to its ability to carry seven passengers, the Sorento’s fuel economy and horsepower are near the top of its class. And its pricing undercuts just about everything comparable. The Sorento also comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile vehicle warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that is virtually unmatched. And for those who feel strongly about buying American, it will come as welcome news that the Sorento is built at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia.

Pros

  • Powerful 4-cylinder engine
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Low price
  • Impressive standard equipment list
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick

Cons

  • Side curtain airbags don’t cover the third row
  • No blind spot warning system
  • Somewhat sedated and boxy exterior styling
YouTube Preview Image Video: Edmunds.com Review

Comfort & Utility

Kia packs a lot of utility into the Sorento, giving it an available third-row seat and 60/40 split folding, second-row seats. Although the third-row seat expands passenger occupancy to seven, it’s really only suitable for young children. With the third-row seat in the up position, the Sorento’s generous 37 cu ft of cargo space dwindles to around 9.1 cu ft.

On the comfort side of the equation, the Sorento exceeds expectations. Base LX models are nicely equipped with such standard features as a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, USB interface and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. The EX trim adds dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver’s seat, fog lamps and a backup camera. Move to the top-of-the line SX and you’ll get full leather seating, Kia’s navigation radio and a 10-speaker 550-watt Infinity audio system. Options for the Sorento include all-wheel drive, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, an air-cooled driver’s seat, power folding side mirrors and a panoramic glass moonroof.

Technology

Powered by Microsoft, the UVO information and entertainment system allows voice control of Bluetooth-enabled cell phones as well as a portable music devices like an iPod or iPhone. Add the available navigation system and you’ll enjoy SiriusXM Traffic free for three months (after that, you’ll need to pay for a subscription). SiriusXM Traffic uses the navigation system to alert you of approaching traffic problems. If there’s a delay, the navigation can be used to calculate a new route around the jam.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The Sorento’s standard engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder good for 175 horsepower and 169 lb-ft of torque. Available only on the LX, this engine may help the Sorento achieve a low starting price, but it won’t do much to help move it along when fully loaded. A better choice is the 2.4-liter GDI gasoline direct injection 4-cylinder (optional on the Sorento LX, standard on the EX), which bumps horsepower to 191 and torque to 181 lb-ft. GDI technology boosts horsepower while also offering better fuel efficiency. Fuel economy for the 2.4-liter is rated at 21-mpg city/29-mpg highway (front-wheel drive) and 21/27 mpg (all-wheel drive). The GDI changes those figures to 21/30 mpg and 20/26 mpg, respectively.

The Sorento’s 3.5-liter V6 is available on the LX, EX and SX models. With 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, this engine has the muscle to move a loaded Sorento with ease. Yet its fuel economy figures of 20-mpg city/26-mpg highway are not far below the 4-cylinder’s figures. The all-wheel drive (AWD) model attains slightly lower marks of 18/24 mpg.

No matter which engine you choose, it will be connected to Kia’s electronically controlled Sportmatic 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. Those who opt for the AWD option will get a full-time on-demand system with a lockable center differential that’s useful when driving slowly through heavy snow or light off-road duty.

Safety

The 2013 Kia Sorento offers a full complement of standard safety equipment, including electronic traction and stability control, 4-wheel ABS, front seat side-impact airbags, first- and second-row side curtain airbags (the third-row seat is not protected) and Hill Start Assist to keep the vehicle from rolling backward when pulling away on a steep grade. The Kia Sorento is also an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, getting top marks in the frontal offset, side impact and roof strength crash tests.

Driving Impressions

Despite its size, the Sorento rides and drives like a midsize sedan. With its wide track and independent front and rear suspension, the Sorento delivers a smooth, controlled ride. Excessive body lean was observed only during extreme hard cornering maneuvers. The Sorento’s unobtrusive stability control allows for somewhat sporty driving. But when the road gets rougher, we did notice more noise and impact harshness than in comparable SUVs. We also found that the Sorento’s steering wheel feels a bit heavy to turn, and its suspension favors the softer side of the spectrum. If you’re looking for an SUV with a firmer suspension and a sportier attitude, we suggest the Ford Edge or the Mazda CX-5 (though neither offers third-row seating).

We’re not big fans of the standard 2.4-liter’s performance, but we do like the GDI version, which offers better off-the-line acceleration and passing power. The Sorento’s 3.5-liter V6 not only ups performance but also increases the maximum tow rating from 1,650 to 3,500 pounds.

Other Cars to Consider

Dodge Journey: The Journey offers more room for its third-row occupants and can match the Sorento’s feature and content offerings. But the Sorento gets better fuel economy and has a more powerful 4-cylinder engine.
Ford Edge: The Ford Edge has a more buttoned-down feel to it, with a sportier ride and an available turbocharged engine; however, the Edge doesn’t offer a third-row seat option, and its pricing starts well above the Sorento.
Toyota Highlander:  The Highlander holds its value better than the Sorento, but a comparably equipped model costs a bit more and doesn’t offer as good a warranty.

The Bottom Line

Step up to the SX or Limited models from $35,850 and $38,850 respectively, and AWD can be added as an option to all trim levels for an extra $1,700.
All in, the 2014 Sorento is a decent SUV. Though undeniably improved, it doesn’t look it, and that could be its biggest drawback. Continuing to be a strong value package with checkmarks in both the plus and minus columns, in a sea of attractive new offerings the Sorento fails to deliver any wows.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.3L V6
  • Power: 290 HP / 252 LB-FT
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
  • MSRP: $31,700 (base)

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Kia |Tags:, || No Comments »


Tested: 2014 Acura RLX

Friday August 23rd, 2013 at 4:88 PM
Posted by: Francois

What’s New

All new for 2014, the Acura RLX is a full-size luxury sedan powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 310 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. A smooth ride is made possible by a double wishbone suspension and Precision All Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system. FWD is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters to enable an EPA estimated range of 20 mpg city to 34 mpg highway. Features include multi-view rear view camera, Jewel Eye LED headlights, rear sunshades, keyless start, Krell audio system, and navigation.

The RLX replaces the aging RL sedan. It’s an entirely new design with a new 3.5-liter V6, all-wheel steering and a host of new electronic safety and infotainment features.

The 2014 Acura RLX replaces the aging and rather forgettable RL sedan and it comes none to soon. The RL, while competent, had fallen behind most of the major luxury brands in terms of features, power and price. It was even in danger or being run over by Hyundai’s high-end models. But the RLX remedies all that, with an elegant new cabin, lots of electronic goodies and best of all, performance handling that places it near the top of its field. Acura’s new Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS) employs electronic actuators that steer the rear wheels in conjunction with the front. The result is one of the best handling front-drive cars we’ve driven. Of course, we doubt many RLX drivers will ever push their cars to the limits we did, but it’s nice to know that when spirited drives or emergency maneuvers arise, the RLX has the athleticism to handle whatever is thrown its way. It remains to be seen, however, if consumers will be willing to pony up as much as $60,000 (the starting price is around $48,000) for a car with rather subdued styling and no V8 engine option.

Pros

  • Luxury car ride with performance car handling; huge interior; cutting edge infotainment and audio options; super comfy front seats

Cons

  • Pricing is a bit high; poor city fuel economy figures; subdued styling and interior color choices

Comfort & Utility

Nobody likes a cramped luxury car, least of all Americans. We need room to stretch and sprawl, which is why we think Americans will love what Acura has created inside the RLX. The car’s cabin has all the prerequisite bells and whistles, along with copious amounts of leather on the seats, doors, dash and console. But what really stands out are the supremely supportive and comfortable front seats and the abundance of space, not just for legs and heads, but elbows and hips too. In fact, there is so much space between the driver’s seat and the door armrest that my arm kept falling into the gulch separating the two. This same theme carries over to the rear seat, where two fairly tall adults can comfortably sit for hours.

From the driver’s seat, the RLX controls are numerous, but logically arranged and fairly intuitive. Immediately to the driver’s right are two large LCD screens, one that operates controls for heating and ventilation, audio and Bluetooth cell phone functions and the other to display the available navigation screen. We like this setup and wish more manufacturers would follow suit, although we must complain that there are too many menu-driven steps to perform simple functions like adjusting the fan speed. Sometimes, a simple rotary knob is all that is required. The RLX model’s steering wheel is festooned with buttons, some redundant for the audio and some primary for the adaptive cruise control and Bluetooth, as well as the multi-tasking information screen. We didn’t like that the primary stalks for the headlights, wipers and turn signals were obscured from view, making it nearly impossible to read their functions.

One last observation pertains to the cabin at highway speed. Where we expect an Acura to be quiet, the RLX goes above and beyond, isolating out the most annoying noises while still allowing in just the right amount of engine and exhaust notes so as not to give the impression you’re driving a cocoon.

Technology

Technology is always a strong suit with Acura and the 2014 RLX doesn’t disappoint. The list begins with a suite of active safety features designed to help keep the driver’s attention on the road ahead. Included in the group are Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Information (BLIS), Adaptive Cruise Control (maintains a safe distance between you and the traffic ahead) and Collision Mitigation Braking. However, to get the BLIS system requires purchasing the Technology Package, while the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist can only be had by purchasing the Advance Package option.

The Krell Audio Package brings a high-end Krell audio system with 14 speakers, while the Navigation Package adds a voice-activated navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen. Included with the navigation package is AcuraLink, a system with real-time traffic updates, as well as 2-way communication with the web and apps through a cloud based service. For a slight fee, users can add more features, including automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, in-vehicle local search or search by voice and a personal assistant featuring a live person on call 24/7 to assist you.

Other available features of note include jewel-eyed LED headlamps, power retractable side mirrors, a rearview camera, Smart Key entry with push-button start, heated rear seats, rain sensing wipers and rear parking sensors.

Performance & Fuel Economy

To power its new luxury sedan, Acura conjured up an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine equipped with direct-injection technology. Direct injection provides a better way to deliver fuel to the engine resulting in more power and better fuel economy. Rated at 310 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque, the RLX model’s V6 is no slouch, although it still doesn’t offer up the kind of gut-punching start you feel with a nice, torque happy V8. Fuel economy figures are a mixed bag, with a rather dismal city rating of just 20 miles per gallon, but a much better highway figure approaching 31 mpg.

Safety

Acura has taken pains to ensure the RLX will sail through all its crash tests, anticipating a 5 star rating from the government and a good rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Standard safety equipment includes full airbag protection, including a driver’s side front knee airbag. Additional equipment such as Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning can help avoid accidents, as can the advanced suspension and steering assists.

Driving Impressions

Over long stretches of paved roadway, the RLX cruises effortlessly, almost serenely, as it absorbs bumps and blemishes and delivers a first class luxury car ride. The trick up its sleeve, however, comes when the road begins to twist and wind. Where other luxury cars become wallowing marshmallows with tires squealing at every turn, the RLX carves through s-shaped asphalt like a scalpel-wielding surgeon late for his tee off time. The RLX model’s electrically-assisted power steering feels direct and precise and the 6-speed automatic transmission is responsive and quick to pick the right gear when extra throttle is administered. But it’s the RLX model’s P-AWS coupled with the Agile Handling Assist (it uses active braking to help keep the RLX traveling on the intended path) that really gives this big sedan its moves. A front double wishbone suspension and multi-link rear suspension setup fits this car perfectly, allowing us to tear around corners on an enclosed track with abilities previously known only to Acura’s legendary sport coupe, the NSX.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 5 Series: The 5 Series isn’t as roomy inside as the RLX and its ride tends be a bit on the stiff side. However, the rear-drive 5 Series still feels a bit more agile in the curves and it can be had with a manual transmission and V8 engine.

Audi A6: Although the A6 isn’t as powerful as the RLX and its suspension feels somewhat softer, the A6 model’s interior outshines the RLX, as does its exterior styling.

Infiniti M37: A nicely equipped M37 costs about the same as the RLX with the Advanced Package and offers more hp but worse fuel economy. The M model’s color palate is rather drab and its rear seat is not as accommodating as in the RLX.

Bottom Line

It’s not an incredible car handling experience but it is a sophisticated and satisfying driving experience. The Krell stereo is truly world class and the use of LED headlights is ground-breaking indeed. The RL is looking for a strong model identity and this is a step in the right direction.

Specifications

  • Base price: $49,345
  • Price as tested: $61,345
  • Powertrain: Naturally aspirated direct-injection 3.5-liter SOHC 60-degree V6 with variable valve timing and lift and variable cylinder management; six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode; front-wheel drive
  • Horsepower/torque: 310 hp at 6,500 rpm; 272 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm
  • Length/weight: 196.1 inches/3,997 pounds
  • Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
  • 0-60 mph: 7 seconds
  • EPA fuel economy: 20/31/24 mpg, city/highway/combined
  • Cargo capacity: 15.1 cubic feet (with Krell audio and Advance package)
  • MSRP: $54,450 (base)

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2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review

Thursday August 1st, 2013 at 10:88 AM
Posted by: Francois

 

Pros:

  • The “sport” aspect of this crossover stands out with a nice, tight suspension
  • The panoramic roof spans an impressive length of the roof, providing sunlight to both the front and back seats.
  • The Outlander Sport boasts a nice stance, looking like it’s prepared for virtually any conditions with aesthetic cues from the iconic Evolution line of rally bred street cars

Cons:

  • Underwhelming power – rated at 143hp, but not until 6000rpm.
  • The Outlander Sport seems to be plagued by hard plastics and bland designs giving it a cheap interior feel
  • Raked rear window and tiny cargo space limits usable volume

One day. Two Crossovers. Five Guinness World Records.
I admit to being fully intrigued the first time I saw the commercial for the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Clearly Mitsubishi was having fun with this marketing campaign, but the underlying message that I heard was that this is going to be an exciting, sporty, compact SUV that packs enough performance to make the driving experience stimulating.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Mitsubishi |Tags:, , , , || 2 Comments »


Review: 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i

Wednesday July 24th, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Sportiest BMW SUV, Stop/Start Override Switch Relocated
Gripes: Tilted-Down Wheel Obscures Turn Signal Lights

BMW’s most petite SUV, the X1, is available in 3 varieties: 28i front wheel drive (base price $30,650), 28i all wheel drive ($32,350) and 35i AWD ($38,450). The major difference between the 28i and 35i models lies under the hood. The 28i uses the same four cylinder engine found in the base model 3-Series sedan, a 2.0 liter, direct injected, inline 4 that depends on twin turbos to make 240hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The more expensive 35i houses a turbocharged straight 6 which ups horsepower to 300hp and torque to 300 lb.-ft. You get a standard 8-speed steptronic automatic transmission in the 28i, and a 6-speed automatic in the 35i.

We spent a week driving the AWD or “xDrive” 28i. Even though this variant checked in with a base price of $32,350, a slew of expensive options easily floated the final sales price to $45,245, well past the base price of the top line 35i. The “M Sport Line” group, for example, adds $3,000 to the sticker, but provides such niceties as a fat rimmed “M” steering wheel equipped with paddle shifts, sports suspension, raised top speed limiter, and 18 inch “M-style” alloy rims with Pirelli P7 run flat tires (225/45R18 front, 255/40R18 rear). BMW even throws in a few cosmetic touches like shadowline exterior trim, M branded entry sill plates and a substantial M-emblazoned aluminum dead pedal.

The aggressive Pirelli tires muster enough lateral gForce to give the uprated, M-calibrated springs, dampers and sway bars a real workout. During quick back road jaunts, you’ll enjoy the light and agile nature of this SUV. While ride remains firm and somewhat choppy due to the X1’s stiff M suspension and short 108.7 inch wheelbase, the tradeoff in comfort is well worth the payoff in handling. The M Sport equipped X1 does a great job of emulating a 1 or 3 Series BMW sports sedan, and because it is shorter, narrower and lighter (3,527 lbs.) than the X3 (4,112 lbs.), the X1 wins the BMW SUV sport contest hands down.

Because performance of the small displacement turbo 4 is very dependent on rpm range for thrust, you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on gear choice. If given its druthers, the X1’s steptronic gearbox will always defer to top (8th) gear when you select “D,” which means you’ll be trundling along at 1,000rpm with almost no immediate forward thrust available unless you floor the gas or downshift manually. To obviate this problem, just slide the floor stick into the manual shift gate, pop a series of downchanges with the paddles, and keep the little four banger on full boil at 3,000rpm or so. If you do decide to take the slacker’s route to easy driving, you can let the steptronic select top gear and expect to average 26 MPG in mixed driving cycles.

Despite the fact that this is an entry level BMW, there is no evidence of penuriousness in the interior. Lovely, faintly cross-hatched matte aluminum trim graces the dash, door panels and center console, while pebbled and grippy “Nevada” leather covers the ultra comfortable M front seats. The only instance where you might feel short changed is the inaccessible rearward positioning of the center console bin, and the fact that its interior is mostly occupied by a phone platform. The rear seats slouch just enough to make extended travel for adults reasonable, with the caveat that headroom is extremely limited for ingress and egress.

The X1 carries BMW’s 4 year/50,000 mile “Full Maintenance Program,” which includes Roadside Assistance. When we first started driving this X1, the steering effort required to turn the wheel seemed high, so we stopped by our local dealer, Sonnen BMW in San Rafael, for a check. Without hesitation, the service advisor took the X1 for a turn around the lot, then asked his technician for a drive and opinion. The technician checked the front tire pressures, drove the X1 and pronounced it AOK. He said that steering on the AWD model is slightly heavier than that of the FWD version because AWD still uses a hydraulic pump versus the FWD’s electric power steering. After a day or so, I became used to the high effort steering, but after a week, I was still impressed with the gracious and helpful treatment I received at the hands of Sonnen BMW.

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter in line 4, 16 valve, twin turbocharged, direct injection
  • Horsepower: 240 hp
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/33 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,245
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO

Tuesday July 23rd, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Makeover Deluxe, Killer Seats, Curve Hungry
Gripes: Nav Panel Too Bright At Night

The first time I saw a Juke I wanted to puke. But before I could issue a stern rebuke, I discovered that Nissan’s fluke has became kind of a nuke. Rhyme time aside, NISMO, the motorsports arm of Nissan, has managed to transform the Juke from an ugly frog into a snappy swan. Monochromatic Sapphire Black paint morphs the Juke’s hunchback posture into visually tolerable awkwardness. While the fender top headlights remain protuberant, special NISMO front and rear fascia panels and hatch top spoiler convert the base Juke’s clownish countenance into a grimace that’s purposeful if not ferocious. A “Signature Red Accent Stripe” circles the lower circumference of the revised bodywork, visually reducing the Juke’s tall proportions. Matching red mirror covers tie disparate elements of the styling theme together.

Step inside the NISMO’s refettled cabin and you’re in for an even more pleasant surprise. The front seats have been bolstered to feel like Swedish massage chairs. They’re so good that you can’t wait to get in and hate to get out. Each one features a NISMO inscription on the headrest which matches similar logos affixed to the shift console and gauge faces. Best of all, a special competition-style steering wheel covered in Alcantara and leather sports a dead giveaway of NISMO’s racing heritage: a red leather marker ring stitched to the 12 o’clock position on the wheel – so you never lose visual track of where top dead center is located. Porsche saves this trick for its $150,000 GT3. The Juke’s rear seats are usable thanks to ingenious rear doors actuated via small release handles embedded in the rearmost C posts. The back seats are 60/40 fold down splits which work well in conjunction with the Juke’s sizeable rear hatchback door. Not only is the revised Juke handsome, but practical as well.

But this hot hatchback was designed primarily to please the enthusiast driver, and it succeeds estimably in that mission. The NISMO Juke makes you want to spend the day at the race track. The handling of this lightweight buzz bomb is impeccable, thanks in part to a retuned NISMO suspension system riding on Continental SportContact 225/45R18 tires. The Contis are mounted on special NISMO black alloy rims with polished outer spoke tips. Nissan engineers have also quickened the Juke’s steering ratio and re-tuned the 1.6 liter turbo motor for superior response. Although you’re always aware of the Juke’s front-wheel-drive layout, there’s never any torque steer, and the front tires do a consummate job of providing solid traction and direction information. This hot hatch will scoot with the best in class from VW’s GTI to Audi’s A3. And the best news is that instead of spending more than $30,000, the base Juke NISMO retails for just $22,990. Equipped with a bargain 5 inch screen Navigation Package ($1,170) the Juke NISMO’s out-the-door cost is $25,195. The Navigation Package also includes XM Satellite Radio and Traffic, plus a throaty Rockford Fosgate “ecoPUNCH” premium audio, with subwoofer and USB connection port for iPods. My early rock ‘n roll CD of Link Wray and the Raymen, played via the Juke’s in-dash slot, seemed tonally suited to the thumping output of the Rockford file.

The NISMO Juke is a joyous little transportation device. While it still looks a bit like a squid on steroids, it has enough tentacles to embrace the racer you, the family you and the bargain you all at the same time. You can’t do much better than that, and for this price you can’t do all that anywhere else but your Nissan dealer.

2013 Nissan Juke NISMO

  • Engine: 1.6 liter inline 4, direct injection, turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 188hp
  • Torque: 177 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 25 MPG City/31 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $25,195
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i

Monday July 22nd, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Aero-Chisel Looks, Practical Interior Space, Vernier Handling
Gripes: Cheesy Seatback Pockets, Manual Steering Wheel Adjust

Just by accident, we found our 2013 X3 parked next to a first edition X3. Although both vehicles go by the same name and remain identically sized, the 2013’s wealth of ingenious stylistic changes make it look like a completely different SUV. In place of the first generation’s unappealing matte black front and rear fascia panels, the latest offering’s sculpted and chromed sheet metal looks like a scythe compared to a butter knife. BMW offers the latest flame surfaced X3 in 2 flavors, both all-wheel-drive (or “xDrive” in BMW-speak). The entry level offering which we drove is powered by a 4 cylinder twin turbo motor that displaces 2.0 liters and makes 240hp. This 28i version retails for $38,500, but you’ll have no problem optioning it to well over $50,000. Our test X3, with several expensive option packages, chimed in at $54,030. Stepping up to a 35i model ups the base price to $43,600 but gives you a traditional BMW straight six cylinder turbo motor which makes 300hp. The 28i returns the best fuel mileage (21 MPG City/28 MPG Highway) compared to 19/26 for the 35i.

In all phases of daily driving, the 28i’s engine offers responsive, strong acceleration when needed. The standard 8-speed automatic gearbox makes maximum use of the engine’s peaky torque curve to provide gratifying thrust. You can let a gearbox downshift take care of your need for speed by simply flooring the accelerator, or oversee the operation yourself by slotting the transmission into manual mode and bumping the stubby stick forward for downshifts and rearward for upshifts. Despite the fact that our X3 was equipped with a $3,000 “M Sport Package,” BMW did not include steering wheel paddles for transmission control. But the package did supply such niceties as Dynamic Damper Control, 19 inch double-spoked “M” alloy rims (complete with 245/45R19 Run-Flat LS2 Goodyear Eagles), high gloss roof rails, sports seats, Siena wood trim, external aerodynamic refinements, and a charcoal headliner.

The M Package is definitely worth the extra money because the front seats it provides are sublime. In top formula car race circles like F1 and Indycar, teams custom fit seats to drivers by filling seat mold bladders while drivers sit immobile until the liquid hardens around them. The X3’s sports seats fit like F1/Indycar custom pours, enveloping your tail, thighs and butt like an invisible sandbox. The M Sport’s “Fineline Siena” wood trim, which graces upper front door panels, center console and right dash, is exquisitely grained and lovely to behold. The cockpit controls are workmanlike and understated, with a simple, fat-rimmed, M-spoked leather steering wheel affording ample control over the sensitive feedback of the Servotronic vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering. Another nice touch is the M-branded aluminum dead pedal which adds a note of distinction to the driver’s side footwell.

BMW has instituted Stop/Start technology on the X3 model line, and while it may gain some incremental fuel saving, it’s not worth the price you must pay in disconcertion and inconvenience at every traffic light. That’s because when the system automatically kills the engine after a brief period of immobility, the X3 shudders into silence, only to replay the twitch when the engine refires as you drive off. You can eliminate this entire drama by defeating Stop/Start via a tiny button next to the ignition switch, but this in itself is annoying since you have to do this every time you restart the BMW. It’s also too easy to confuse the ignition switch button with that of the S/S defeat button. Do that at a traffic light and you’ll instantly incite a chorus of horn honkers.

The M Sport version of the X3 is the closest SUV you’ll find to a sportscar. It’s level of grip, instant responsiveness to steering input, flat cornering stance, and shock absorber override function, make it just the ticket for 3 Series wannabees who needs more room for stuff. The X3 offers a whopping 56.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded flat. While it may look like an SUV, this BMW has the soul of a sports car.

2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC, 16 valve, twin turbocharged Inline 4
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $54,095
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Volvo C30 T5 R Design

Sunday July 21st, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Hottest Hatch You Can Buy
Gripes: Hard to Access Rear Seat, Flimsy Trunk Cover

In a performance world adrift in a sea of ever wider tires, Volvo’s choice of petite 205/50R17 Michelin MXM4 rubber for its top performance hatchback, the R Design C30, seems inexplicable. Choosing such a modest width of 205mm front and rear would appear to hobble this Volvo before it ever gets out of the starting gate. Well, guess what? The handling and responsiveness of the R Design C30 puts most other front engine, front wheel drive hot hatchbacks to shame. Without question, this limited edition (250) Polestar-tweaked Volvo proves that you do not need a huge tire footprint to leave an indelible imprint in your memory bank. Great handling is all about balance, and this diminutive 4 seater has that asset in spades.

Polestar is the factory affiliated tuning department at Volvo, and for this very special model, they’ve dialed in the suspension of the already competent C30 by stiffening the chassis and firming up the suspension. The Polestar Limited Edition uses 17 inch STYX matte black alloys, and sports R Design front and rear roof spoilers. Handsome exterior cosmetic touches include matte aluminum grill surround and polished 3.5 inch dual exhaust tips. Inside, two-tone leather seating surfaces distinguish this special model, with light gray leather centers contrasting against black side bolsters. “R Design” monikers are embossed into the front headrests, sparkling blue watch dial instrument faces make the gauge cluster pop, and spiffy alloy sport pedals grab your rubber sole. The unique leather and alloy rimmed steering wheel sports an “R Design” badge on its lower rim, and a Polestar Limited Edition numbered plaque graces the dash (ours was 249/250).

On top of all these delectable cosmetic improvements, the best part of the Polestar package lies unseen, beneath the hood. Unlike so many hot hatchbacks in this price range, the C30 boasts an hydraulic hood strut instead of a chintzy manual prop rod. When you lift that sleek hood, you’re gazing at a substantially reworked inline 5 cylinder turbo engine, Although sharing the base C30’s 2.5 liter displacement, this one boosts horsepower from 227 to 236, and torque from 236 lb.-ft. to 273 lb.-ft. With its undersquare bore/stroke dimension of 83mm x 93mm, the Polestar-tweaked B5254T7 engine is a real torque monster, producing maximum output from throttle tip-in of 1,500rpm all the way to 5,000rpm. Although Volvo supplies 6 perfectly spaced ratios in its delightful manual gearbox, you hardly need more than one of them to keep this little tiger on full boil.

Compared to the hideous, overly complicated interior treatments common to most of today’s cars, the design ethos of the Volvo seems to be from another planet. There’s a wonderfully simplified center stack here, for example, which stresses utility, with its obvious knob placement for HVAC and radio controls. The symmetrical layout is clear, concise, and diametrically opposed to the ridiculous cell-phone dashboard emulations that have become so popular today. Volvo designers place a premium on safety, which begins with the sensible design of the cockpit. This is one company that will never be faulted for inciting distracted driving. But should you ever lose control of the C30, the safeguards Volvo has included will stand you in good stead. Standard are inflatable curtain side impact bags, front AND rear dual stage bags, and whiplash protection for both front seats.

Even with the addition of a $5,000 Platinum package that provides Navigation, Premium sound, SIRIUS radio, Power Moonroof and Dual Xenon headlights, the C30 R Design totals just $35,545. In a world full of Sofa City products, the C30 R is like taking a rejuvenating trip through the spa at IKEA.

2013 Volvo C30 T5 R Design

  • Engine: 2.5 liter inline 5, Turbocharged with Continuous Variable Valve Timing and Intake
  • Horsepower: 236 hp
  • Torque: 273 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/29 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $35,545
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Volvo |Tags:, || No Comments »


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