Back in the 1960’s, the Beetle was a car at the bottom of the automotive food chain. If one wanted a cheap and reliable car the Beetle was an obvious choice. Problem was, the Beetle offered very few comfort and convenience features. VW replaced the Beetle with the highly successful Golf (known for a time as the Rabbit in the States). When the New Beetle hit the roads in the late 1990’s it was fully modern in features and retro in style. Problem was, it wasn’t the most manly of cars. VW decided to replace the New Beetle with a more macho car, one that had finally grown up. Indeed, this car is far more civilized and comfortable than any of its forbearers. The question remains, has it improved enough in the last decade and a half to remain relevant? Read more…
It is hard to believe that it has been 30 model years since Hyundai introduced the lowly Excel to the United States. Priced at $4995 it pretty much was undercut in price (and quality) by only the Yugo GV. The Excel has long left the market and Hyundai has slowly and surely been moving the top end of its brand upmarket. Rather than introduce a separate marque to sell premium cars Hyundai has simply added the range topping Equus. The ‘base’ Equus we piloted starts at $61,250. For that type of money one could purchase a whole fleet of Excels if one were skilled enough to find any unlikely survivors. And yet at just over sixty grand the Equus undercuts similarly spec’ed flagships like the 7-Series and A8. This pricing strategy mirrors that of Lexus in its inaugural 1989 model year. Has Hyundai truly refined its skills to offer a legitimate luxury cruiser capable of threatening the established BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus offerings? Will the well-to-do be willing to shop for their Equus in the same showroom as those who are negotiating for low monthly payments on an Elantra? Watch as we ponder these questions in the video above. Read more…
Lexus Builds a 2.0T and Wraps it in a Dynamic Crossover
Small crossovers don’t get a lot of love around the Automotive Trends office. They just don’t get our enthusiast blood boiling. We aren’t fans of the compromises that go hand in hand with blending an otherwise rugged or useful SUV with a sedan (sporty or not). We desire something that is nimble, poised and has room for a few child car seats as needed. A compact / midsized station wagon or hatchback better fits our definition of a “sport utility”. But Lexus presented us with something intriguing in Nashville, Tennessee of all places. Read more…
Lexus Makes a Big Entry into a Small Segment
It’s been a long time since Lexus offered a sport coupe. Too long, we’d say, since we’re not counting the folding hardtop luxury cruiser that the SC became in the 2000′s. Lexus knows that for years it sent prospective buyers seeking a stylish two-door to the likes of Audi and BMW, and it knows their new offering will have to be special to bring them back. The confident tone of the brand’s executives convinced us they’re certain the RC will now have the looks and performance to win new buyers to the brand. Based on our spirited drive through New York’s Hudson Valley and subsequent flogging around Monticello Motor Club’s 3.6-mile road course, the wait has been worth it. Read more…
It took a few tries, but Kia now has a legitimate competitor to the excellent Buick LaCrosse and it’s called the Cadenza. Kia has equipped the Cadenza with a strong V6 that uses 293 hp to move it around just as well as the slightly stronger Buick and, although the looks might not quite match the Lacrosse’s luscious lines, it smartly uses a little chrome to pass off as a player that belongs. Inside is where Kia really did their homework, offering all the appropriate features like an excellent Infinity audio system, heated seats all around, a heated steering wheel, panoramic roof, rear sunshade, even a driver’s ventilated seat. Done up nicely with two-tone black and cream leather and stylish dark wood, the Cadenza has to make no apologies for its quiet and comfortable cabin. If we snap into our hyper critical mode the switchgear on the center console lags the best of the competition and the front grille still lacks personality in our opinion, but consider the pluses and add in the value of a ten year warranty and the $42k sticker price is spot on.
If there is one word that could describe the Chevrolet Tahoe since its introduction in 1995, it would be ‘capable’. Based on the full-size Chevrolet pickups, its towing, seating and cargo capacities have been among the highest in the industry. Alas, these capabilities have come at a price. High curb weight, barn-like aerodynamics and massive size have contributed to high fuel consumption and poor on-road agility. As a result, consumers have left the full-size SUV segment for smaller and less capable crossovers. or 2015 Chevrolet has introduced its all-new Tahoe and Suburban. In doing so, Chevy has made some clear attempts to lessen the drawbacks of owning a traditional SUV, but is it enough to halt the consumer exodus to more compromising car-based crossovers? We inspect this shiny new truck from tire to luggage rack to find out.
Welcome to the Automotive Trends Infotainment Center: Episode 001. This pilot is our latest experiment in bringing you the latest automotive news highlights in an informative and concise video format.
In this episode we highlight:
2015 Kia Sorento
2015 Cadillac CTS
2015 Cadillac Escalade Platinum
2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
As well as the summer’s most anticipated car: the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The seemingly sensible 4-door alternative to the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
Both are packing 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2L V8′s, and both will blast their way past street legal speeds in search of the magic 200-mph number on street tires.
Also, on a more sensible note, we review the 2014 Mazda3 i Grand Touring sedan. Enjoy!
F Sport is Lexus talk for sport package equipment and styling layered onto one of their mainstream models. We’ve come to like the idea, especially in the GS F Sport configuration which feels far livelier and more rewarding to drive than lesser GS models. Unfortunately the IS 250 F Sport we just spent a week with doesn’t feel as comprehensively upgraded as it should. The result is a tidy little sedan that should be light on its feet and responsive being hampered by a transmission that shifts slowly even in sport mode and steering that doesn’t deliver the corner carving connection that you can find in other F Sport models. Of course the F Sport package does improve the IS’s looks with attractive wheels and the gauge cluster is one of the neatest on the market. We’re afraid it’s just not enough to win our recommendation for Lexus’ little sport sedan.
If you want style in the Volkswagen lineup you’re going to be shopping for a CC. One of the original “four door coupes” continues in 2014 as a entry level luxury sedan distinguished by sleek styling and an athletic turbo four cylinder that may be rated at only 200 hp but feels like closer to 250. During our week with the oft-verlooked Passat alternative we came to enjoy features like opening the trunk with a wave of your foot under the bumper, the easy to fold down back seats and the superb cabin materials. We didn’t find much love for the slow to respond infotainment screen or the couple rattles that materialized around the interior. With strong competition in the mid to upper $30k segment the CC has to rely on its looks to get by but for some buyers driving a car that isn’t found in every driveway in the community is appealing enough to sign on the dotted line.
Mazda knows how to build cars we like. From the rewarding 6 and consistently excellent 3 to the newcomer CX-5, which brings sporting dynamics to the crossover market, the little Japanese manufacturer keeps giving us what we want. So you can bet we were excited to get behind the wheel of the new 41 mpg third-generation 3 recently. Of course you’ll want to watch the video for all the details, but we’ll drop a spoiler here: if you buy another small car, you’ve made the wrong choice.