2017 Toyota Camry XLE is the Best Camry To Date

With the debut of the next generation Camry at the North America International Auto Show in Detroit around the corner.  Recently I had week-long very pleasant visit with the current 2017 Camry that you can walk in to the dealer and purchase right now.

The 2017 Toyota Camry remains among the most poplar sedans for a wide range of buyers. Now celebrating its 35th year, there’s no one single reason why the Camry midsize sedan is among the bestselling vehicles in the nation, but rather a combination of winning factors. Whether you desire reliability, efficiency, easy driving manners, great resale value, or some of the latest safety features like automatic emergency braking, the Camry checks all the boxes. Like the Honda Accord, the Camry is available with 4- and 6-cylinder engines, as well a hybrid. The Camry excels as a no-fuss commuting companion and comfortable chariot for family and friends.

The Camry is very good at a lot of things, but it’s not necessarily the best at any one. Toyota’s midsize sedan isn’t as fun to drive as a Mazda Mazda6 or even an Accord, nor is it as fuel-efficient as either. If you want all-wheel drive for improved traction, look to the Subaru Legacy or Ford Fusion.

Thanks to revised suspension tuning that came with the 2015 revamp, the latest Camry sedan delivers a slightly livelier driving experience. But don’t confuse the Camry for a corner-carver: Its emphasis remains quiet and comfortable road manners. The standard 178-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that most Camry buyers will choose is more than adequate for everyday acceleration and passing power. Linked exclusively to a 6-speed automatic transmission, it is a willing and faithful partner in the city, on country roads, or on interstate highways around Orlando Florida or anywhere in North America.

The 5-passenger interior of the 2017 Camry isn’t as stylistically forward as its exterior might suggest, but it’s hardly bland. Moreover, it’s supremely functional.

Big cup holders and multiple storage nooks surround the sporty gear selector, and even the steering wheel has a familiar feel and looks more sophisticated now with its bevy of integrated controls. The Camry has good room for passengers up front and in back, and the trunk has a sizable 15.4 cubic feet of space.

The winning formula of the Camry is in my opinion due to the fact it is plain and simple.  For example the Camry uses traditional knobs and dials around its standard 6.1-inch or optional 7-inch display infotainment  screen. The controls are big, easy to read and simple to use. The standard JBL audio system in my test vehicle also was very good.

No doubt this is best looking Camry to date. The significant revisions to the sheet metal that arrived a couple of years ago still look fresh for 2017. Bookended by an eye-catching front end and a nicely detailed rear, the stylish but not outlandish  Camry is sure to attract new buyers without scaring away longtime devotees.

My test vehicle an XLE trim Camry has a choice of three powertrains. Most buyers will be more than satisfied with the standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that offers a good blend of performance and fuel economy.  Power is rated at 178 Hp along with 170 lb-ft of torque delivering an EPA average of 24 MPG city and 33 mpg pn the highway.  My XLE model starts  at a very reasonable $27, 145

If you enjoy a more sporty sedan I would recommend the Mazda6 but if you not an enthusiast driver.   Its taken me a long time bt now I understand better why Toyota sells so many Camry vehicles.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD 6 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Simple layout

Lowlights

Not a drivers car

The Best Camry ever but still a little bland

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 6

Braking 6
Fuel Economy 7
Stereo System 8

Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 8
Audio System 7

 

2016 Best Drives: Sharp Dressed Ride Lexus RC Coupe

Recently I have the opportunity to sample two impressive models from the Lexus RC portfolio. Both the RC 200t with the F sport package and the RC 350 with rear wheels drive. With the exception of the limited edition mega dollar super car the LFA, the Lexus brand has never offered such dramatically styled and beautiful vehicles as the 2016 RC series. It is worthy of one of the top drives of 2016 awards.

Now in its second year, the luxury sports coupe gets two new engines, broadening its appeal as an alternative to to folks shopping for a BMW 4 Series a Cadillac ATS or the A5 from Audi. Unlike previous Lexus coupes like the SC 400 from the 1990s, along with awkward styled SC 430  convertible. the 2016 Lexus RC emphasizes performance over comfortable grand touring.

It’s one of the most expressively styled Lexus cars to come along in decades, filling a gap in the Lexus lineup to entice younger, well-heeled buyers  who are seeking a 4-passenger premium sports coupe. While there’s a Lexus RC available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD) for just about anybody, the truly power-hungry will want the V8-powered monster known as the RC F.

It used to be that to get Lexus levels of reliability you had to sacrifice personality. One look at the 2016 RC tells you those days are long gone, and this aggressively styled luxury-sports coupe has the goods and the attitude discerning buyers demand, all starting in the mid-$40,000s.

The 2016 RC is definitely snug, but it’s comfortable, at least up front. There are four seatbelts, but in reality the rear seat is way too small for most adults, but is fine for small kids or an occasional adult passenger. Up front is a much different story. The seats are comfortable in all trims and feature extra bolstering in RC Sport and RC F models. With the 7-inch display, rounded dashboard and angled audio/climate control interface, the dash is busy but a wonderful place like the rest of interior to spend time..

While it’s great that Lexus is pushing its styling envelope, not everyone loves the new direction. In fact, it’s a little hard to believe this wild-looking luxury coupe is a Lexus at all, which may be the point. For the most part I think it works  great here. The angles and muscular bulges are eye-catching at the very least, and give this coupe a distinctive look compared to its European and American competitors,  Everywhere I drove around the Orlando Fl area I got nothing but positive feedback from people from all age and demographic groups.. From the Lexus “spindle” grille to the fins on the sides paying tribute to LFA super car, and other details, there’s nothing else like it on the road especially at this price range.

The 2016 RC comes as nicely equipped as you’d expect of a luxury-sports coupe. There are standard automatic climate control, a self-dimming rearview mirror, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch display screen, rearview camera, and Lexus Enform Service Connect service. The 10-speaker audio system includes HD Radio, dual USB inputs and Bluetooth streaming with Eyes Free iPhone integration.  My test drive the four cylinder 200t RC was equipped with the optional F sport package which gets get standard variable suspension and Sport+ driving mode plus heated and ventilated front seats, a suspension tuned for higher performance, and a power-adjust steering wheel.

The options list starts with a navigation system that uses a touch-pad controller and includes an upgraded Enform suite with services such as Yelp, Pandora and stock prices. There are also heated/ventilated front seats, a leather interior, heated steering wheel and a moonroof. The Mark Levinson premium audio system makes even your iPod or bluetooth streaming digital device sound quite good.Advanced safety features include blind-spot monitoring and a pre-collision system that can automatically brake the car.

For one week I was treated with the 200t RC with the great F Sport package. Thos vehicle is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 241 horsepower along 258 lb-ft of torque. It delivers 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The F sport package gives you access to the Sport + driving mode along with great deal of suspension tuning making the entry-level RC is a hoot to drive. Without the V6 engine under hood the weight savings add a playful feeling that was absent in the RC 350  model that I also drove for a week.

My other Lexus test drive for a week was the RC 350 with Rear wheel drive with a bit more power, but not much.  With two different incarnations of the 3.6 liter V-6 lineup my test vehicle put out 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.  So it loses some torque bt gains a ew ponies over the turbo for an  EPA city/highway fuel economy of: 19/26 mpg

Like the ZZ Top song “Sharp Dressed Man: written and performed by good friend Billy F Gibbons the RC series is a sharp dressed ride and one of best of 2016.

You can’t go wrong with any model in the lineup. I hope one of the days I get to sample the V-8 powered RC F.

The Long Drive Rankings The RC 350 and RC 200T

Front Engine-RWD 8 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Stereo System

Navigation

Lowlights

Snug interior for some

 

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 9
Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 9

Braking 7
Fuel Economy 6
Stereo System 9

Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 7

Navigation 9
Audio System 9

s

2016 Best Drives: Audi TTS Smooth Operator

I have always liked the Audi TT, the first generation was cute and at the same quirky.  Back in Boston,  I remember driving a coupe in sub-zero temperatures.  It was my first experience with a non exotic car- mainstream dual clutch DSG gear box.

Generation two of the TT was a major league step up in styling, my wife and I purchased a new 2008 silver TT with a 3.2 liter V6 with a six manual and 19 inch wheels.  When my daughter was born in 2010 for the first six months of her life, the TT was our family car. Since my car was a two seat Corvette. The back seat is usable for small adults and even in our case a rear facing infant car seat.

2016 marks the third generation of the Audi TT and the vehicle is all new for 2016. It enters its third generation with new design inside and out, cutting-edge technology such as an all-digital “virtual cockpit” instrument display, and revised quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system for better handling. My test vehicle is the flagship TTS Coupe thats offers higher-grade performance.

As a whole, the 2016 Audi TTS is a technological powerhouse and performance marvel. But you’d be hard-pressed to find another with the handling, technology and  at least in coupe form that has the everyday practicality of the Audi TTS.  It kinda of Audi R8 with fewer cylinders and without an exotic mid engine layout

Inside the TTS you will quickly realize this is no mere digital instrument display. Powered by an NVIDIA quad-core computer processor, this 12.3-inch display harnesses serious tech horsepower to display a multitude of information at 60 frames per second. This enables the driver to keep eyes focused forward instead of having to glance sideways for map directions.

The Quattro all-wheel-drive system has long been synonymous with the Audi itself, and its abilities have been proven in rally cars worldwide. Even if you’re not sliding an Audi TTS around a dirt track, it’s easy to appreciate this system’s grip in spirited drives or on slick roads during inclement weather.

The virtual cockpit is just one aspect of the TT’s captivating cabin. Even the vents are impressive and elegantly simple.  The dashboard is styled to resemble an airplane wing, and the TTS’s dash is grained with a more technical and futuristic pattern than in the entry-level TT. The materials are of high quality and feel upmarket without trying to mimic traditional luxury the centerpiece of the whole  is the instrument cluster..

This enables the driver to keep eyes focused forward instead of having to glance sideways for map direction. Another cool feature: The heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning controls, as well as those for the heated seats, are integrated into the design of the vents, which minimizes clutter. It’s all truly contemporary and rich-looking, the main downside being, well, a massive risk of distraction; it also essentially excludes the passenger from the proceedings, but we’ll let you decide if that’s a net win.The TT’s front seats offer great ergonomics.

The 3rd-gen TT has the squat, muscular shape of its predecessor but with newly taut lines, a big trapezoidal grille and features like full LED headlights. There are nods to the original TT’s Bauhaus-inspired design: prominently rounded wheel arches and exhaust outlets that sit near the middle of the car. As with the last-gen model, the Audi TT’s body is made from aluminum.

The 2016 Audi TT comes surprisingly well-equipped out the gate. Standard features include Audi’s virtual cockpit digital display and MMI touch-based control system, 9-speaker/155-watt AM/FM/CD/HD Radio with two USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, full LED headlights, leather interior with 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats, and rear park-assist system in lieu of a standard rearview camera. My test vehicle the top line 2016 Audi TTS comes with magnetic ride control, 19-inch wheels, and TTS-specific exterior and interior aesthetics.

The options list is mercifully short for the new TT. My TTS had the technology package ($3,250), which adds navigation, Audi’s connect 4G LTE service with Wi-Fi, the side-assist blind-spot monitoring system, and rearview camera. An audio deal comes in the form of the 12-speaker/680-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system  $950 has never sounded better. Other options include Nappa leather seating and 19-inch wheels  My loaded TTS came in at $57,250.00

The Audi TTS uses the familiar 2.0 liter four cylinder found in many VW group products.  But in the TTS is turned up full blast to make 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. That enables the 2016 TTS to blast from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. All 2016 Audi TT models come with quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) and Audi drive select, which lets you adjust the car for sportier or more relaxed driving styles. All models also use Audi’s 6-speed S tronic transmission, an excellent dual-clutch automatic. My TTS test vehicle achieved 23 mpg  city and 27 mpg highway.

Although it is based on the VW Group’s MQB front-wheel-drive platform, the TTS exhibits almost no understeer and turn-in is impressively quick. I was quite impressed by the electrically boosted power steering, which is accurate, weighty, super smooth and responsive enough that only the hardest-core purists will wish for a hydraulic setup. The TTS also stays nicely planted on all road surfaces thanks the excellent Quattro all wheel drive system.

As a daily drive with rear seats folded down the cope offers a lot of cargo room.  The smoothness of the steering along the great AWD system really impressed this driver.  Congratulations Audi on the all new TTS one the best drives of 2016

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD 6 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Dash Layout

Stereo System

Navigation

AWD

Lowlights

Snug interior for some

Cost

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 8

Braking 6
Fuel Economy 8
Stereo System 9

Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 9
Audio System 9.5

 

2016 Best Drives: The Sexy Cat Jaguar F Type R

A rare combination that only happens a few times  in ones lifetime is in my driveway. A vehicle that is both memorizing to look at and a magic carpet ride to drive. A while back, I sampled the 2015 Jaguar F Type R coupe and loved every minute of my time behind the wheel. Recently, for my birthday week, I had the pleasure of sampling the updated 2016 F Type R Coupe and I am blown away.

Everywhere I went in the greater Orlando FL area, people were waving at me, blinking their headlights and giving me thumbs up. Let’s begin with the sound of its 5.0 liter supercharged 550 Horsepower V-8 engine. Switch the F Type into Dynamic mode or flip a switch on the center console and you will be rewarded with the most glorious exhaust note in the entire automotive world.

This beautiful British Royal princess burbles like a NASCAR V-8 being tuned in a Daytona garage, snorts like an exotic Ferrari on steroids and generally raises cane all over town, An automotive radio talk host colleague of mine says “Oh, its too loud”, he could not be more wrong. I feel like a 5 year old on Christmas morning when it makes this glorious “snap, crackle, Boom” sound and it’s legal straight from the factory. I had people in an auto body repair shop running outside to see the motorcycle that was revving its engine. No, that’s no Motor Cycle that’s the F Type R.

For 2016, F Type receives a number of serious updates including standard all wheel drive in the R. On the street, that translates into mash the accelerator pedal and you will launch to sixty in 3.9 seconds or less. Accelerate hard into a corner no worries the power is at all 4 wheels and a suite of electronic aids including an active rear differential and electronic-assisted power steering make it a breeze. The F Type R for 2016 makes a bad driver good and a good driver a super hero and is simply a joy to drive.

The design penned by the brilliant Ian Callum is the automotive equivalent of a super model. It is beautiful from any and all angles

The driver-orientated cockpit of the 2016 Jaguar F-Type separates the passenger and driver with a wide console, and provides a left-hand grip for the passenger. The coupe’s high roof means good headroom even for tall folks, plus adequate legroom, too. Drivers get a large, visually sharper TFT display between the two gauges, with orange paddle shifters, a start button, and Dynamic mode selector on some models.

The infotainment touch screen’s simple interface conveys what you want to know, without the “Tokyo by night” neon overkill so common in today’s vehicles. The beautifully assembled interior boasts stitched leather throughout, including the headliner in coupes. Jaguar Smart Key and a 14-way power driver’s seat are new this year, as is the panoramic glass roof on the coupes.

My test vehicle was equipped with a $12,000 carbon-ceramic matrix brake upgrade. It was my first weeklong exposure to these exotic brakes optional on Porsche and a few other brands. Now I get what the fuss is all about. The Carbon Ceramic brakes provide not only shorter stopping distances but also zero brake fade even after numerous high-speed stops. There are worth every penny. If you can afford the Jaguar F Type R Coupe what is another 12 grand on the bottom line?

The 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 that resides under its glorious hood puts out 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 15-mpg city and 23 highway. During my week I averaged low 20’s MPG remarkable for this kind of power and performance. The 8 speed automatic is lightning fast and perfectly matched to the engine.

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, this is one of the finest cars in the world at ANY price. Speaking of price my loaded F Type R Coupe came in at a little over $128,000. If you can afford it buy it, and if you can’t start buying a few lottery tickets and start saving up for a ride of a lifetime.

Now I can’t wait to sample the new ultimate F Type the SVR for 2017

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD 8 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Stereo System

AWD

Lowlights

Cost

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 10

Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 9

Braking 10
Fuel Economy 5
Stereo System 10

Performance 10
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 9

2017 Jaguar XE Leaps into the Sports Sedan Marketplace

There are some brands that strike a cord deep within some ones soul and I must admit Jaguar is one of the handfuls of brands that does that for me personally. I recently had the opportunity to sample for a full week the Jaguar XE. It is newest, smallest and least expensive sedan from the British automaker. It s been a while since the X Type Jaguar which had its share of fans and foes who were just plain upset that the AWD small sedan shared underpinnings with an European Ford.  it was during this period 2000-2009 Jaguar was in Ford’s brand portfolio.

After being out of the entry-level, luxury-sedan game, the Jaguar XE arrives with the usual suspects in its sights including the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C- Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS. The new XE Jaguar sports sedan offers a host of premium amenities, advanced safety features and a variety of engines that range from a fuel-efficient diesel to a supercharged V6. The Jag stands out with classic yet contemporary looks, an impressive warranty. The 2017 Jaguar XE is all new. Along with the F-Pace compact SUV, it represents Jaguar’s aim to attract new buyers to the famous British brand via entry-level luxury cars. In this case, the XE hits that mark with a price starting under $36,000.

Not unlike the others in entry-level sports sedan lineup. The Jag XE’s road manners vary depending what’s under the hood and even whether you opt for all-wheel drive (AWD) vs. the standard rear-wheel drive (RWD). My test vehicle had the first ever for U.S. market 2.0-liter diesel engine coupled with an impressive all wheel drive system. It shouldn’t be a surprise the compact XE sedan looks like a smaller iteration of the XF midsize sedan. This is hardly a bad thing. We appreciate the XE’s classic yet beautiful sports-sedan lines: the long hood, downward sloping roof and curtailed tail.

This is perhaps contemporary design at its best. We also applaud Jag for not foisting a gaping grille on the XE. Not seen but also appreciated is Jaguar’s broad use of light-yet-strong aluminum, which makes for a vehicle that’s literally lighter on its feet.

 

Step into the least expensive Jaguar XE compact sports sedan and standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, rear-passenger vents, 17-inch alloy wheels and moon roof. The standard infotainment system consists of Jaguar’s In Control 8-inch touch-screen display and 6-speaker, 80-watt audio system with HD Radio, USB inputs and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Surprisingly, a rearview camera still costs extra. All new XE sedans come with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty and complimentary maintenance/roadside assistance. My test vehicle came with the 2017 Prestige package. Models equipped with this option get navigation, leather interior with heated front seats and heated steering wheel, keyless entry and power-adjustable steering column

The compact XE sedan looks like a smaller iteration of the second generation XF midsize sedan. This is hardly a bad thing. We appreciate the XE’s classic yet beautiful sports-sedan lines: the long hood, downward sloping roof and curtailed tail.  We also applaud Jag for not sporting a gaping grille on the XE. Not seen but also appreciated is Jaguar’s broad use of light-yet-strong aluminum, which makes for a vehicle that’s literally lighter on its feet.

On the road the heavy AWD system coupled with the turbocharged inline-4 diesel feels kind of sluggish at times. Horsepower is rated a 180 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm. Like all modern diesels great torque numbers the XE 2.0d putting out  massive 318 lb-ft of torque.

The interior has cockpit like feel with the driver and front seat passenger sitting low in the vehicle. The wraparound style of the dash reminds me of the old Porsche 928 and has an inviting enveloping feel. This small Jaguar sedan uses a good mix of a touch-based screen and traditional buttons for audio and climate controls.

The new XE turned heads wherever it went and was reasonable a priced at around  $ 44,000  with some decent options including the excellent Meridian sound system.

The 2017 EX is a great new entrant in the tough entry-level marketplace but one that deserves looking at if you in the market for a cool sexy small sedan.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD 8 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Fuel economy

Lowlights

Diesel delivers great mileage but feels sluggish at times

Snug interior for some

 

Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 8

Braking 6
Fuel Economy 9
Stereo System 6

Performance 6
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 8
Audio System 8

2016 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6 Outback Premium Crossover/Wagon Alternative

As a brand Subaru has come a long way since the initial models sold here in America during the late 60’s and 1970’s. I remember growing up on a middle class street in Needham MA when a college age neighbor purchased an early Subaru GL model. It was a rather awkward looking vehicle with a very low sticker price. Initially these Subaru models were front wheel drive with all wheel drive optional.

Living in Boston 99% of my life you get used to seeing a lot of Subaru standard AWD vehicles (except for BRZ sports car) on the road. As a matter of fact Subaru is best selling brand in all of New England. Bought my first Subaru in 2011 when the high performance coupe that my wife drove just could not handle a rear facing baby seat very well. I owned the Subaru for four years and it retained its value at trade in time better than any other vehicle have owned so far in my life.

With its flat four engine sitting low in my Forester the Subaru was a decent handling machine mated with an excellent standard all wheel drive. In the test car garage this week is an Ice Silver Metallic 3.6 Outback limited model and. This is by far the most technically advanced, luxurious Subaru’s 2016 Outback crossover wagon to date. The Outback Is one of the few crossover SUVs that can actually fulfill the promises made by its off roading look exterior pieces.

Unlike many other competitors’ in its segment the Outback’s all- wheel-drive system is designed to tackle more than just snowy roads and dusty trails. Its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and X- Mode off-road assist greatly assist the Outback’s ability. The 2016 Outback’s Limited luxurious interior combined with the latest driver-assist technology, such as Subaru’s amazing EyeSight collision-mitigation and active cruise control, elevate the Outback to the realm of many premium luxury SUVs. I used the active cruise control that work seamlessly on both the highway and clogged commuter highway traffic. The system hauling the Subaru down to complete stop and then picked up speed with the flow of the traffic moved forward down the highway. No input from driver’s foot pedals needed at all.

The Subaru Outback for 2016 delivers a comfortable ride, precise steering and lots more. For those families on a budget with rear facing car seat in the mix the large backseat combined with very good front seat travel make car seat hauling a breeze. Also if you are shopping for vehicle that excels in the areas of resale, fuel economy and safety, the 2016 Subaru Outback wagon is it. If you’re looking for a roomy family vehicle that can also tackle deep snow and off-road trails, the 2016 Subaru Outback can do that, too. Just remember this not a trail rated Jeep. If you need a serious off roader the Outback is not for you. But for most families its off road capillarity is perfect.

Living in Florida where it rains hard tropical style quite often. I was impressed when the roads turned nasty and you could feel the AWD system in play Overall I was impressed by our 2016 Subaru Outback crossover SUV’s quiet cabin, its car-like driving characteristics (based on the Legacy sedan) and its stable composure even in the most inhospitable driving conditions. Compared to the flat four engines, the 6-cylinder power plant provides a more sporty driving experience and is recommended for anyone who needs to tow.

On the road, Subaru’s Active Torque Vectoring enhances traction at higher speeds by automatically routing power for better stability. Off-road, the 2016 Subaru Outback’s true magic is revealed. Standard X-Mode bolsters low-speed traction while Hill Descent Control does all the braking on steep descents, allowing the driver to focus on piloting the vehicle. When not in use, the Outback’s roof-rack crossbars pivot to stow in the roof rails, thus reducing wind noise above the roof. The crossbars are also adjustable fore and aft.

The Subaru Outback crossover SUV for 2016 interior design and execution clean and functional, and  I like the latest touch- screen infotainment system’s design infotainment stereo system a first in Outback to date The seats are comfortable in all positions, especially the roomy, reclining rear seat (thanks to the Outback’s tall roof). Cargo space in this SUV is obviously leaps and bounds better than the Legacy sedan. That goes double with the seats folded.

It’s quieter than its predecessor, thanks in part to the way the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) mimics gear changes at full throttle Exterior styling wise this Subaru crossover-SUV wagon is definitely an improvement over the previous generation Outback.

The neatly integrated headlights and taillights blend with an upright, chunky look that incorporates Subaru’s new hexagonal grille and the Outback’s traditional round fog lights and rugged-looking lower body cladding. Cool features include grille shutters that close at speed to improve fuel economy, and LED taillights. Of course, there are the usual comfort and convenience features standard including power windows, air conditioning, power mirrors, cruise control, and so on. However, even the base Outback comes with a rearview camera and advanced safety features like under-seat-cushion airbags to prevent submarining in a crash.

Being a bit of audiophile I was very impressed with the 3.6 Limited’s optional upgraded is hands down the best system to date in any Subaru model I have ever experienced. It also includes air 7-inch screen, Aha, iHeart Radio, Pandora and, of course, Bluetooth, CD player and USB. Every Outback also comes with X-Mode, hill-descent control, active torque vectoring, and grille shutters. The EyeSight system, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane- departure warning, lane-keep assist, pre-collision braking and, on some models, steering-responsive fog lights. Also available is a power liftgate with a programmable maximum height, voice- activated navigation with a larger 7-inch screen, and a Rear Vehicle Detection System that combines blind-spot detection, lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alerts.

My test vehicle h a well executed is a leather interior trimmed with classy-looking faux wood. Sticker Price of my loaded test vehicle was $37,335.00 Under the Hood the 3.6-liter flat-6 puts out 256 horsepower and delivers 247 lb-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy numbers come in at 20-mpg city and 27 mpg highway. To me with extra engine punch is worth the added prime of admission.

Overall the Subaru lineup of vehicles continues to expand and improve, this is no doubt the best Outback to date. Premium crossover/SUV features at not so premium price.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine- AWD-CVT Automatic

Highlights

All Wheel Drive System

Resale Value

Roomy Backseat

Value

Lowlights

Some cheap plastics inside

OK but not great styling

Some might think Pricey for a Subaru

 

Scale 1 low-10 high

Exterior Styling 7

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 7

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 7

Stereo System 8 Navigation System 8

Performance 6

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 9

2017 Acura ILX is a Pleasant Surprise

I have been an automotive journalist receiving press vehicles every week for over 25 years. It takes a lot to surprise me but recently a 2017 Acura ILX with the Tech Plus & A-Spec packages did just that in a very positive way.

When I first got in the Acura I was greeting by the  look, feel and smell of a Honda family product. But once I drove away I was impressed by two items right away  for a front drive car this is very neutral good handling machine and wow this a true dual clutch transmission

The 2017 Acura ILX  is a  focused and comfortable compact sedan on the first rung of the Acura luxury ladder.

Last year, the Acura ILX received a slight refresh in front and back.  Inside for 2017 you will find improved interior materials and some changes at the center of the dash, where connectivity features have been given an upgrade with the introduction of Acura’s dual-screen infotainment systems to the ILX.  Also for 2017 gets the same 2.4-liter inline-4 and dual-clutch setup as Acura’s next-larger model the TLX. The power rating is 201 horsepower along with 180 pound-feet of torque (up 10 lb-ft over the previous 2.4-liter).

There’s solid-feeling construction throughout, with quality materials, and fit and finish is very good. Acura improved cabin refinement and quietness back in 2017 with thicker glass and noise-attenuating wheels; and that’s in addition to the smart active noise cancellation system Acura made standard for the lineup last year.

The 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox uses a torque converter for low-speed smoothness, yet its shifts are super-quick during high-performance driving, with rev-matched downshifts and good driver control through steering-wheel shift paddles. The dual-clutch transmission is superb and a near-perfect pairing of smoothness and responsiveness. Without question at this price point a true dual clutch unit is rare and it transform the way the drive performs when pushed hard, clicking off shifts at in a milli-second.

The 2017 ILX achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined with this powertrain.  Again this dual-clutch automatic transmission is a gem. It automates the function of a manual transmission for quicker shifting and, while similar transmissions are available from several manufacturers, the Acura version has a twist: There’s also an old-school torque converter, providing a torque boost and smoother operation overall.

The suspension and steering are equally fun just cruising around town, or exploring your favorite mountain road. This one of the better handling front drive vehicles on the road. at any price.

The Acura ILX is much quieter since its 2016 upgrade, making it less stressful to drive, and sportier since you can now hear the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder’s satisfying note. Beyond that the interior uses good materials, with only a few hard plastic touches as reminders that you bought on a budget. The comfortable front seats are matched with comfortable rears, and the driver’s controls are mostly easy to use.  My A-Spec test model seats had unique fabric and gray contrast stitching. along with 18 inch wheels and some suspension tweaks,

Acura calls its multi-lensed LED headlight treatment “Jewel Eye,” and it’s definitely distinctive.. The 2017 ILX adds a separate bar of LED running lights, and overall it looks nice. The grille treatment, taillights, front and rear bumpers, and the rest of the exterior design manage to look distinctly different from the Honda Civic upon which the ILX is based.

All 2017 Acura ILX models come standard with the 2.4-liter engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. They also come fairly well loaded with other features, including a rearview camera with multiple views, automatic headlights, dual-zone GPS-linked climate control, passive entry with push-button start, and an 8-way power driver’s seat. Even base models get heated front seats, and part of the ILX’s quiet is thanks to noise abating wheels and active noise cancellation.

A base 2017 Acura ILX will run you just under $29,000 when you include the $940 destination charge. Move up to the Premium Package and you’re looking at just under $31,000, and the Technology Plus model comes in at just under $34,000.   The ILX costs thousands less than the base model Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz CLA250, especially when you start adding options to those other cars.

Overall the 2017 Acura ILX is full of pleasant surprises which makes it a great value in compact entry-level luxury sedan world.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD

Highlights

Dual Clutch Transmission

Performance

Handling

Lowlights

Some find the infotainment system confusing

No manual option for purists

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 7

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 8.5

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 9

Audio System 7

Performance 7

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 7