2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Edition is the Class Leader

The New Civic hatchback is nothing like we have even seen here in North America.  Built in England,Honda decided for the 2017 model year to bring the model into the marketplace and it is hands down the best Civic I have ever driven.  With some of the most dramatic styling ever on a  Civic complete with a great chassis and powertrain it is a game changer for Honda.  In my opinion perhaps worthy of new model name.

Honda stretched the wheelbase of the Civic’s new platform to 106.3 inches and created not just a more spacious package with 97.2 cubic feet of passenger volume, but also a more poised platform for serious driving. And it delivers a new kind of Honda performance with a 180-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged engine

Just one year after introducing the all-new 10th-generation Civic sedan and coupe, Honda introduces the new hatchback a new turbo power plant which is available with a manual transmission for enthusiast drivers

Whether you’re a student looking for an inexpensive, efficient and reliable commuter car or an enthusiast seeking a turbocharged manual gearbox equiped commuter car

The Civics CVT (continuously variable transmission) is among the best at mimicking a traditional one. A standard Civic can’t quite match a Mazda3 in cornering dynamics, but it’s still among the best in its class, as is its steering feel.

This suite of safety features and driving aids includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, road-departure mitigation, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist and the Collision Mitigation Braking System, which can automatically apply the brakes if a frontal collision appears imminent.

This latest-generation Civic is longer than the previous model, and it now boasts some of the best interior volume among compact cars, an interior enveloped in premium materials and top-notch plastics. The available navigation system runs through a large, easy-to-read screen, which also serves as the control center for audio, CarPlay and climate control. Rear-seat legroom is impressive in the sedan, but beware of the wide sills when entering and exiting. The  all new  Civic hatchback  which is  configuration we haven’t seen in nearly two decades for the U.S. market and it features a unique rear styling treatment. It also stands out with a high-mounted spoiler and gaping fake vents on each side of the rear bumper. Sport and Sport Touring hatchbacks also come complete with  center-mounted dual-exhaust outlets.

All  2017 Civics remain front-wheel drive and use regular unleaded gasoline. In the near future the lineup will offer performance variants with a return of the Civic Si and a Civic Type R ( long forbidden in the U.S until now,).

My loaded Grand Touring Hatchback had a 1.5 liter four cylinder engine with the  great CVT  putting out 180 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque.

 Fuel economy is rated at 30 Mpg city and 36 Mpg highway.  My test vehicle drew admiring stares all over greater Orlando with most never in their wildest dreams thinking it  was Civic Hatchback.  My loaded Sport Touring model came to non Civic like price of $29, 175 but worth every penny.  Recently awarded an Automobile Magazine All Star Award  for 217 and a Motor Week TV Drivers choice award for this year as well.  The Civic has won its share of awards and I personally would recommend this new Civic hatchback to anyone looking for a practical small car.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD CVT speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

resale value

Turbo engine

Chassis set up

Loaded with creature comforts, safety features and infotainment

All Arond Comfort

Lowlights

Pricey for a Civis in fully loaded Hatchback Sport Touring Trim

 

 

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 7

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 9

Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 9

Audio System 8

Value 9

2017 Lexus GS 200t Makes for a Great Luxury and Performance Sedan Choice

It amazes me just how far we have come with engine technology.  One of major trends we see today in 2017 is the shift towards small displacement four-cylinder engines that put out gobs of power.  The weeks test car has only a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 but churns out 241 horsepower along with 258 lb-ft of torque.  The Lexus GS is rear drive platform mid size luxury sedan packing lots of goodies which means lots of weight.  Despite the engines small size is moves the Lexus with great authority and becomes an interesting add to the portfolio of GS models

As is expected of a Lexus sedan, the new 2017 GS is loaded with luxury and technology features, as well as superior long-term reliability and resale figures.  My test vehicle spices it up with a  F-Sport performance package.. When pitted up against  the all new BMW 5 series, Cadillac CTS or Mercedes all new E class. The new GS proves a worthy competitor, offering similar levels of performance and technology.

For 2017, the Lexus Safety System+ package, introduced last year as an option, is now standard on the new GS 200t, as well as the GS 350 and GS 450h. The state-of-the-art system includes Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam (IHB) and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

After considerable time behind the wheel of GS 200t I found it to be a likable and competent performance sedan with impressive acceleration, cornering and braking response. It’s fun to drive and absolutely luxurious. The GS’s stiff structure, lightweight aluminum suspension and wide track all contribute to its level cornering and compliant ride. The 3-setting Drive Mode permits a choice among Eco, Normal and Sport, with each setting varying the degree of response from the steering and throttle. Adding the F-Sport package brings more aggressive ride and handling as well as opens the door to more upgrades, such as the Lexus Dynamic Handling system with Variable Gear Ratio Steering.

 

Although edgy on the outside, Lexus’ 2017 GS luxury sedan is all about comfort on the inside. Both front occupants enjoy 10-way-power seats, and LED ambient lighting is integrated into the door ornamentation and the console. Soft leather is everywhere and nice touches and details abound, from “Lexus”-stamped scuff plates on all doorsills to contrast stitching on the upper instrument panel, door panels and shift boot. The attractively shaped instrument panel includes analog Optitron gauges with a color Multi-Information Display and an 8- or 12.3-inch color high-resolution central-control screen that operates with the 2nd-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) control function.

Not designed for the shy, the new Lexus GS luxury performance sedan is a boldly styled piece of road-going art. It leads with an aggressive front-end treatment with an oversized grille, deep chin spoiler and intense expression. Distinctive headlights and LED tail lights fit its sporting image, as do its muscular lines, highly defined shapes and low stance. The  while the F Sport Package and GS F add 19-inch wheels.

All 2017 Lexus GS models include leather upholstery (NuLuxe simulated leather on the GS 200t), wood/metallic accent trim, power moonroof, multifunction steering wheel and energy-saving S-flow automatic climate control. The standard Lexus Premium Audio System has 12 speakers, AM/FM/DVD with HD Radio and WMA/MP3 capability, Bluetooth streaming, 5.1 Surround Sound and numerous other features.

The F Sport Package, which makes any Lexus more fun to drive. It adds a 16-way driver’s sport seat, custom-tuned AVS, bigger wheels, tires and brakes along with Variable Gear Ratio Steering.

 

The 2017 Lexus GS 200t sedan is powered by a twin-scroll 2.0-liter turbocharged engine sending power to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rated at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with the F Sport package.  The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2017 Lexus GS 200t starts just a shade over $47,000. my loaded test model came to $57,735.  The four-cylinder turbo makes the heavy GS feel lighter on its feet and is great fun to drive.  One of my favorite rear wheel drive sedans just got better with the addition of the new turbo variant.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-RWD 8 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Lexus Refinement and resale value

Turbo engine lightens the feel of the car

All Arond Comfort

Lowlights

A little more power would be great

Can Get Pricey

So-So Fuel Economy

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 7

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 8

Performance 7
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 7

Value 7

2017 Acura RDX AWD Leading the Crossover Marketplace with Value and Cool features

Acura’s  RDX SUV has been around for a number of years, all of which have seen sales success to make the competition green with envy. Where competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and Lexus NX use turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, the RDX sticks with a robust V6 teamed to a smooth-shifting 6 speed automatic powering either the front or all four wheels. With seating for five passengers and a decent-sized cargo bay, the RDX makes a great luxury SUV for those who don’t need the added size and extra cost of the larger MDX. Acura’s full suite of luxury, technology and safety features is here, as is its unimpeachable reputation for reliability and excellent resale.  My test vehicle is a load All wheel drive with the loaded advance package.

The cool thing about the RDX when equipped with the Advance Package that includes every available feature offered on the RDX in one simple grouping. Add in all-wheel drive and you’re looking at price tag around $45,000.

The 2017 Acura RDX gets a few color revisions to its interior trim this year, but that’s about it. Acura’s dual-screen infotainment system presents a cleanly styled interface without of the multitude of buttons found on some competitors. Other touches of note include soft-touch materials, an available 8-way-power passenger seat, 10-way-power driver’s seat and a smart use of space for both passengers and cargo. For example, if the comfortable rear seats aren’t holding passengers, they quickly fold forward to create up to about 77 cubic feet of cargo space.

Fresh from an update last year, the 2017 Acura RDX SUV carries over its subtle tweaks that bring it in line with the more modern design language of the brand. Brilliant Jewel Eye headlights flank a revised 3-dimensional grille design, while around back the RDX’s taillights have the same signature look as the rest of the Acura lineup.

Most of the luxury SUV competitors the RDX faces don’t have the long list of standard features as the Acura, and fewer still at the price. The 2017 Acura RDX comes with things like dual-zone climate control, a 10-way-power driver’s seat, active noise cancellation, a multi-view rearview camera, and a 7-speaker/360-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with a 5-inch LCD display, USB/auxiliary inputs, voice-activated text messaging and Pandora Internet radio. Safety features include six airbags, stability and traction control, and Acura’s ACE body structure, which has helped it earn top crash-test ratings from both the government and the insurance industry.
While Acura tends to divide its major options into different model levels, Acura’s 2017 RDX breaks with this rule by offering the AcuraWatch package as a stand-alone option on all models, except the Advance Package, which includes it. AcuraWatch bundles adaptive cruise control, forward-collision braking and warning, and lane-keeping assist and departure warning in one package. All-wheel drive (AWD) is also available across the board. Navigation is available on the Technology and Advance packages, while the Advance adds luxury touches like ventilated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, remote starting, and automatic windshield wipers.

Under the Hood the 3.5 liter V-6 is not a powerhouse putting to a modest 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is good  EPA city rated at 19 city and 27 highway with my test vehicles advanced all wheel drive system.

On the road the 3.5-liter V6 delivers its power smoothly with plenty of low-end torque for quick acceleration and passing.  Cruising long highway stretches is where the RDX feels most at home, although the suspension is appropriately tuned for aggressive driving. However, don’t expect the RDX to perform like a BMW X3 or an Infiniti QX30. Acura’s almost fanatic desire to silence the RDX’s cabin is achieved through ample insulation and an active noise-cancellation system, while the AcuraWatch system helps keep everyone safe via the adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, collision warning and mitigation and lane-keeping assist.

While Acura tends to divide its major options into different model levels, Acura’s 2017 RDX breaks with this rule by offering the AcuraWatch package as a stand-alone option on all models, except the Advance Package, which includes it. AcuraWatch bundles adaptive cruise control, forward-collision braking and warning, and lane-keeping assist and departure warning in one package. All-wheel drive (AWD) is also available across the board. Navigation is available on the Technology and Advance packages, while the Advance adds luxury touches like ventilated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, remote starting, and automatic windshield wipers.

Acura’s RDX might not lead the premium-compact SUV class in any one area, but this is a vehicle that does just about everything well. A refined drivetrain, a ride/handling balance that’s among the best in the class, and a roomy, well-appointed cabin are its biggest strengths. RDX offers lots of comfort, convenience, and safety features at reasonable-for-the-class prices. Value-conscious luxury buyers would do well to put this Acura at the top of their shopping lists.

Lets talk about the sound system with ELS Surround Sound. the RDX for 2017 doesn’t need 20 speakers in every door to pull off amazing sound quality. The Acura ELS audio system is so well-engineered and fine-tuned, it blows the coils off systems costing twice as much. Fortunately, it’s incredibly affordable.

The system is designed by my friend Elliot Scheiner recording engineer and producer or Steely Dan, Donald Fagen,  The Eagles, Sting, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters and dozens of others.  I have had pleasure of interviewing the “Master Of Sound” with 7 Grammys on his resume so far.many times.  He remains one of my personal favorite people to talk with about music or automotive surround sound.

Acura’s RDX might not lead the premium-compact SUV class in any one area, but this is a vehicle that does just about everything well. A refined drivetrain, a ride/handling balance that’s among the best in the class, and a roomy, well-appointed cabin are its biggest strengths. RDX offers lots of comfort, convenience, and safety features at reasonable-for-the-class prices. Value-conscious luxury buyers would do well to put this Acura at the top of their shopping lists. congratulations Acura  on the extremely well executed RDX.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD  6  speed automatic

Highlights

Value

ELS Surround Sond

All Arond Comfort

Lowlights

A little more power from V-6 would be great

So-So Fuel Economy

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 7

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 5

Performance 7
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 10

Value 10

All New 2017 Prius Four The Original Hybrid is Still The Best

 

In 2003, I was on the Motor Trend jury that selected the 2004 second generation Prius as the 2004 Motor Trend Car Of The Year.  I will always remember that it was a heated contest between the “rally twins” the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru WRX STi and hybrid Toyota.  But in the end, it was a bold move to choose the hybrid game changer. Today, is not such a big deal but going back more than deacde it was a big deal.

Fast forward to 2017 recently I had the opportunity to sample the all new 4th generation Prius for the first time.  The’s 2017 Prius hybrid embodies the original car’s same basic concept, that being an internal-combustion engine coupled to an electric motor, the latest version is both stylistically and technologically leaps and bounds better. The latest Prius now has lots of competition, but it remains the segment’s fuel-economy leader and is bolstered by a new model, the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Able to travel up to 25 miles solely on electric power, the Prime offers one more Prius competitor to challenge Ford’s C-Max Energi and Chevy’s Volt. With its slick new styling, refined interior, improved chassis and new standard suite of driver-assist technologies, the 2017 Toyota Prius remains the gold standard in hybrid automobiles.

Despite its small size and lightweight frame, Toyota’s 2017 Prius hybrid is amazingly rigid. A rigid chassis allows for a better suspension, which endows the Prius with surprising agility. Body roll in the corners is kept to a minimum and the steering, although not on par with the Mazda3 or Honda Civic, is light and precise.  I found the overalll driving experience to best to date of any Prius model to date.  .  A couple of minor egonormic areas of improvement include giving some adjstablibilty to height of the heads up color sisplay, and changing the location of the frony heated seat switches which now are located  too far ahead in the center console for my liking/

The Prius’ brakes are strong and capable and despite the skinny fel economy friendly tires hauled the Pruis down from speeds much better than anticapated. .. On the highway, the 2017 Prius hybrid delivers a smooth ride and a quiet cabin with very little wind or road noise evident. One downside is the Prius’ front seats that sit low to the floor, making entry and exit somewhat of a challenge for some drivers..

Although the shape seems familiar, with the same wedgy design theme, there’s more drama in the 2017 Toyota Prius compared to previous generations, which looked a little boring by comparison. Longer, lower and wider than its predecessors, with more character creases in the bodyside panels, the 4th-generation Prius has a strong curbside presence, as well as a distinctive going-away view. The lower hoodline contributes to improved aerodynamics the coefficient of drag (Cd) goes from 0.25 to 0.24and also enhances the driver’s forward sight lines.  That is amazing exotic sports car like Cd number.  I not a huge fan of the face of the vehicle but all other styling angles are grearly improved.

Some folks don’t care for the rear tailight treatment I myself like it and thinks it works quite well with the theme of the overall car.

The feature list for the basic Prius Two makes it clear that “basic” does not mean “stripper” for this car. Dual 4.2-inch customizable color information displays, 6.2-inch color touch screen, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD Entune audio, 2.0 USB port, Bluetooth streaming, Siri eyes-free, hands-free phone link, voice recognition, 3-mode driver pre-sets (EV, ECO, Power), cruise control, tilt/telescope steering column, cargo area tonneau cover, rearview camera, stability control, traction control and eight airbags. Toyota’s Safety Sense P includes full-speed dynamic cruise control, capable of bringing the car to a complete stop.

The interior on Toyota’s Prius Hybrid for 2017 employs two 4.2-inch color info screens with primary instrumentation parked atop the dashboard. Higher trims also include a color head-up display, as well as pedestrian detection. The instrument screens ride the center of the dashboard, reducing eye redirection, according to Toyota, though some think otherwise. Interior materials including the new synthetic leather was extra comfortable looking and feels quite rich. A low center-console height gives the front compartment a more open feeling, and the rear compartment feels roomier despite a very small reduction in interior volume and lower roofline compared to the previous generation.  Yes as always it has that funky dash monted transmission selector I hold out hope that genaration five will change that feature

My Prius Four model had the Advanced Technology package adds a power tilt/slide moon roof with a sliding sunshade, and the color head-up display. The Premium Convenience Package includes a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, Entune 10-speaker JBL audio, advanced voice recognition, as well as the standard Prius Two and Three features, and a good many others. Premium Convenience is limited to Prius Four and Prius Four Touring trims.

Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has been adapted to a number of the company’s vehicles. It’s also been licensed to other carmakers. The latest electric motor is rated at 71 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque. Combined system output is down 13 horsepower at 121 horsepower compared to generation three, but efficiency is up. On all but the base trim, the electrical side of the powertrain is supported by a lithium-ion battery pack.

Fuel economy was fanatstic, rated at 54 city and 50 mpg highway with a 52 MPG combined number which is quite impressive. This is the best Prius to date hands down. My well euqipeed test vehicle was priced at 32,216.00 making for a great value as well.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD Automatic

Highlights

Value

Fuel Economy

Comfortable Front seats

Lowlights

A  little slow 0-60 mph

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 5

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 10
Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 6

Value 10

 

2017 Kia Forte S Surprises with Huge Value

As a brand Kia has come a country mile here in North America from a struggling maker of entry-level cars to a very successful  full line automaker.  The power to surprise is one the advertising tag lines used in marketing campaigns it is quite appropriate.  Recently, I got to spend  a week behind the wheel of the 2017 Kia Forte S which surprised with its content level and performance as well as bang for the buck.

The second-generation Kia Forte was launched in 2013, alongside its Korean counterpart, the K3. Penned by former Audi designed Peter Schreyer, the second-gen Forte is a significant departure from its predecessor in just about any department. Sporting a modern appearance, a more upscale interior, and new engines, the new Forte has help change the way consumers think about Kia-badged compacts. The second-generation model received its mid-cycle facelift for the 2017 model year.

The new trim level is dubbed the “S” trim and is slated to sit between the entry-level LX trim and range-topping EX trim.

Kia didn’t change the Forte enough to make it that indistinguishable from the current model. Kia  claims that “the tiger nose grille has been extended to connect with the new headlights” . What was really extended was the headlights. On the 2016 model, there is spacing between the grille and the lower half of the headlight. On this 2017 model, the headlight isn’t quite as tall, and the entire inboard edge of the headlight meets the grille. It gives the car a much better look, but that isn’t all that changes up front.

For the most part, the hood has remained the same. It is able to sit a little lower on the sides thanks to the facts that the headlights aren’t as fat. Those headlights, by the way, still wrap around the front end, terminating on the fenders. Down below, the fascia has been changed dramatically. The fog lights have been moved inward and sit next to the air dam. It should be noted that those fog lights are a bit larger too. Now that the fog lights have been moved inward, Kia added a small air vent on each corner, giving the front end a much sportier look.

Looking at the back of the Forte S, there are minor changes. The deck lid has a slightly more pronounced lip, and the tail lights have a double-layered look to them. Down below, a small body line has been added to the corners, giving way to a sportier rear end, and the reflectors have been dropped down a little. The insert on the bottom of the rear fascia has a straight edge on top, and the exhaust outlet is now oval-shaped instead of round.

Exterior features are dependent on the trim model at hand. For instance, the new “S” trim receives 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust tip.

Inside, there isn’t that much change in comparison to the 2016 model. The gill-like styling on the door trim remains and has been added to the passenger side of the dash between the center stack and the passenger dash vent. The seats retain the same general design, however, technology and material features vary by trim level.  My test vehicle S trim, with the S trim receiving exclusive black cloth with white contrast stitching. The S trim also receives a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. y.

The S trim also come standard with UVO3 telematics, which is Kia’s infotainment system. It includes a seven-inch touchscreen and connects to mobile devices via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The coolest part of the new Forte is that every trim level comes with Drive Mode Select as a standard feature. This function changes the way the car shifts, accelerates, and performs dependent on your selection. Normal mode is pretty self-explanatory, Eco mode tunes the car to cut back on fuel usage, while sport mode will allow the car to have quick shifting and longer periods between shifts  allowing the car to take advantage of the entire rev range. Naturally, some fuel economy will be sacrificed in Sport mode.

For the  2017 model year, the Kia got rid of that old 1.8-liter four-cylinder. LX and S trim levels receive a new 2.0-liter, Atkinson four-cylinder. Both trim levels come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but a six-speed automatic as my test car had is optional.

Te new S trim receives a sport-tuned suspension.  At second glance The new grille and headlights on the 2017 Kia Forte look like they’re straight from the bigger Kia Optima sedan. This also true for the tail lights, which retain the original shape, but have been redesigned to look more like the Optima sedan

The new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder base engine in the Forte sedan puts out 147 horsepower and
132 lb-ft of torque  while delivering excellent feel economy numbers 29 mpg city and 38 mpg when connected to the 6 speed automatic.

The new Forte S model sedan starts at about $20,000 which is quite a great value for the dollar.  The Forte S sedan  surprised across the board.  It is fun, playful and affordable.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD  6 speed Automatic

Highlights

Value

Interior content and build quality

 

Lowlights

A few cheap plastics

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 5

Braking 5
Fuel Economy 9
Performance 6
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 6

Value 10

 

 

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander SE= Great Value

In the over 20 plus years that I have been receiving press vehicles to evaluate each week.   I have only had four Mitsubishi products to test out.  During my ten years at Motor Trend there was lot of exposure to one of the most sporting models from the brand history the Evo but not much else.

When I got word that I was going to be evaluating a new Mitsubishi product I was not overly excited and my expectations were low.  The automaker has stumbled in recent years and  I occasionally have heard rumors about a pulling out of the North American market place. However after a week by the wheel of a 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV my brand perceptions were dramatically changed and I find myself recommending this vehicle to listeners of my nationally syndicated radio show Autoworld.

The Outlander not be a well-known commodity, but when compared to the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Dodge Journey, it stands up surprisingly well. With a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines, two all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems and a host of cutting-edge safety and infotainment features, Mitsubishi’s Outlander crossover SUV proves both competent and affordable. With a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the Outlander’s coverage is nearly double that of the Subaru Outback, but identical to the Kia Sorento. A small dealer network may limit your buying options, but if a vehicle that rings spectacular value to the table the Mitsubishi gets raves from this journalist

For 2017, Mitsubishi’s Outlander SUV gains a number of upgrades. There’s a simplified AWD system on base models plus new features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, auto high beams and a multi-view camera system.

Behind the wheel the standard for cylinder engine paired with an excellent CVT transmission delivers surprisingly strong off-the-line acceleration and fuel economy up to 30-mpg highway. This is one of the best CVT automatics I have ever tested. The CVT is efficient, quiet and responsive, it squeezes every drop of power from the 2.4-liter engine while returning impressive fuel economy.

The 2.4-liter inline-4 cranks out 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque  while delivering in front wheel drive configuration 25 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
On the road the Outlander is not the best handling vehicle in the marketplacebt bt most average drivers they will never notice.  Braking is decent and the overall ride and drive is also pleasant

 

The Mitsubishi Outlander comes standard with seating for seven, who will enjoy an even nicer cabin for 2017. Controls are easy to use, and.interior has a more a more premium fee. The materials are nice, the design is clean and the interior is pleasantly quiet. Flipping and folding the second row is now easy, thanks to a system of straps and levers. That offers easy entrance to the very small third row. Fold down both rows and you create over 63 cubic feet of cargo space.

The styling revisions that debuted for 2016 carry over including the Outlander’s  aggressive nose and rear for a look that is unique, but isn’t universally loved. The angular nose, while definitely fitting into the Mitsubishi family, also hints at the looks of the Lexus NX SUV. Cool features like the electric windshield-wiper de-icer that helps keep ice and snow from building up n the wipers, a shark-fin antenna and power-folding side mirrors add an upscale feel.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander is available in four trims: ES, SE, SEL and GT. The vehicle ES model came with automatic climate control, keyless entry, 6-speaker touch-screen audio, rearview camera, Bluetooth, heated side mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels. My SE test model had a rearview camera, fog lights, dual climate control, heated front seats and push-button start. The Touring Package also includes navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, windshield-wiper de-icer, power-folding side mirrors, auto on-off headlights, a power tailgate, a heated steering wheel and power sunroof.

Attention  audiophiles,  the 2017 Outlander SUV offers a kicking 710-watt, 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio upgrade guaranteed to please the music lover in all of us. Deep bass is provided by a powered sub, and the system can be paired with a 40-gigabyte music-storage hard drive.  This system really impresses and fits the fun character of the vehicle as well.

My loaded test vehicle came to about $27,000 simply,  a tremendous value.  Want something different packed with a lot of vale in three row seven passenger SUV check ot the 2017 Outlander.

 

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD CVT Automatic

Highlights

Value

Simple layout

Rockford-Fostgage Sound System

Lowlights

A few cheap plastics

Not for those who vale great handling skills

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 5

Braking 5
Fuel Economy 9
Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 8
Audio System 9

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring is Pure Driving Joy

It’s hard to believe that the year 1989 was first year of the Mazda Miata.  It has gone on to become the best-selling roadster of all time and on any given weekend there are more Mx-5 Miata’s being raced or auto crossed in events across North America than any other car.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a whole week behind the wheel of the all new model which debuted for the 2016 model year.  This car is all about fun.  The all new Mazda MX-5 is a little smaller than its predecessor, weighs less and has a bit less power, yet it’s still as nimble, quick and fun as ever. Best of all, it has a newfound sense of refinement thanks to a modern interior inspired by the Mazda3, and an unprecedented focus on driver placement makes the new MX-5 comfortable even if you’re well over 6-feet tall.

Balance is the key to what makes the new Mazda MX-5 so wonderful to drive.. Since the original Mazda Miata, the MX-5 has never been a car for drag racing, or for maximum cornering loads, or any of the big-tire, big-engine shenanigans generally associated with Mustangs, Camaro’s or Challengers.

Instead, the new MX-5 carries on the tradition of offering enough power to be quick but not so much that the car’s a handful. The suspension is firm enough for spirited cornering, but not so harsh that it rattles your teeth. The steering is quick, and allows the driver to carve u  corners with ease.

The new Mazda MX-5 roadster has a simple, straightforward and modern interior. It’s similar to the new Mazda3, with an upright infotainment screen on the dash, push-button start on some models, and a surprising amount of soft-touch materials, considering last year’s hard-plastic everything. Mazda says it literally designed the car around the driver, and the MX-5 offers excellent steering-wheel, pedal and shifter placement. Despite the small size, it’s surprisingly accommodating for tall drivers, with a tilt steering wheel, and a convertible top that affords good headroom. There’s even a usefully sized trunk..

Hands down in my opinion this is the best looking MX-5 Miata to date.   The tiny headlights are LEDs, complemented by tail lights that look like miniaturized versions from the Jaguar F-Type. The profile keeps the classic long-hood/short-deck proportions.

All new MX-5 models come with LED headlights, push-button ignition, air conditioning, power windows and the  easy to use manual cloth top.   Cruise control is also standard, and the little steering wheel is packed with audio and cruise-control buttons. My Grand Touring test model also had leather upholstery and navigation. along with the excellent Mazda Connect infotainment system with its touch-screen display and multifunction knob, plus headrest speakers with Bose sound.

The only engine in the new Mazda MX-5 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. It comes standard with an all-new 6-speed manual transmission, and even if you don’t know how to drive a stick, it’s worth learning just so you can enjoy this one.

The action is light, the shifts are short, and the clutch operation is simply the best.  I love the clutch and the short throw gearbox combination..  There is no other manual gear box like it until you spend a lot more money.  It reminds me of six figure Porsche gear boxes.  Yes you can get an excellent 6 speed automatic but this one vehicle that I recommend highly with the manual.

The 2.0-liter inline-4 puts out 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque.  Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Despite its modest power the MX-5 does not feel slow in anyway.and for little over $31,000 loaded the MX-6 Miata is pure driving joy.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-RWD 6 speed Manual

Highlights

Styling

Simple layout

Manual Transmission

Lowlights

Could use a tad more power

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 9
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 9

Braking 7
Fuel Economy 7
Stereo System 8

Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 4

Navigation 8
Audio System 7