Sunday, October 23, 2016

2018 Chevrolet Camaro Review

It's been 30 years since the Chevy Camaro last had a four-cylinder engine under its hood, the infamous Iron Duke that topped out with 92 horsepower. That was the engine you got if you were worried about gas mileage or couldn't afford anything better. Fast forward to 2016, andChevy again is offering a four-banger. Only now it's something that's worth your time.

The 2016 Camaro offers a turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine rated at 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It will hustle to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds, gets up to 31 miles per gallon on the highway, and in the words of chief engineer Al Oppenheiser, it's a "no-excuses" engine.

That's a cliché, but he's right. Driving the Camaro 2.0T is not something you need to apologize for as an enthusiast. The sports car has plenty of power, handles well, and it even sounds decent for a turbo four (okay, that's an excuse). It's a different kind of energy for the Camaro, and it underscores the car's transition from hefty American muscle to something more sinewy and sophisticated.

We tested the four-banger on the curvy street course at Spring Mountain in Nevada, and then navigated the dusty desert roads leading to Death Valley in California. We even hopped in a convertible, which like its hardtop sibling is better and more refined than before. Four cylinders are fine with the top down, too.

Driving Notes

The 2.0-liter engine uses variable-valve timing and direct injection. Maximum torque comes on at 3,000 rpm, and you get more of it than you do when the 284-lb-ft V6 climaxes at 5,300 rpm. For enthusiasts, this is why you buy this car: the low-end torque. It makes the turbo Camaro feel more lively out of the gate than the V6, even though models with the larger engine are still quicker, getting to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds.
The four-cylinder's get-up was evident on the track, especially with the six-speed manual transmission. We left the Camaro in third gear most of the time, and there was always plenty of grunt as we built speed coming out of corners. Upshifting on the brief straightaways, we wished for the higher output of the 335-hp V6. Or a V8.
Speaking of the track, the four-cylinder model and its 3,339-pound curb weight (with the eight-speed automatic) is more than up for aggressive driving. We tossed it through the tight corners at Spring Mountain, let the tail come out a little bit, and enjoyed the lithe Camaro. We drove the new V6 model, which weighs 3,435 pounds with the automatic, around the Indycar circuit in Detroit and came away with similar impressions.
The Camaro is in shape, there's no doubt about it. That's reflected in the steering, which feels more connected, and the suspension, which stays flat and controlled for longer (unless you want to skid through a corner or two). The brakes offer plenty of grab, bailing us out when we're a little late slowing at the end of a straight.
You do have to live with the turbo sound. That's fine. It's not bad. Not as good as the V6 or V8, but what turbo four is? The Camaro starts out with a buzzy noise, then as it accelerates, the pitch evens out and it sounds better. You won't be embarrassed by it.
Believe it or not, we did drive the Camaro 2.0T on public roads after reluctantly leaving Spring Mountain. It's plenty capable for passing when we dropped down a couple of gears and ventured across the dotted line to pickoff lethargic traffic. It's strong when pulling away from stoplights and will hum along smoothly at 70 mph around 2,000 rpm.
So the turbo engine is the spotlight feature for enthusiasts, but we also briefly sampled the Camaro convertible during the road-test portion of our drive, which did have the I4, too. Our bright yellow tester blended with the wildflowers, which were blooming in Death Valley for the first time in nearly a decade. Once on the open road, we dropped the top. You can do that at up to 30 mph, and it works flawlessly. In fact, it flagged us when we crept up over 30. As native Michiganders, we found the roads are embarrassingly smooth in Nevada, so it was difficult to detect a huge difference in structural integrity compared to the coupe. The convertible was slightly looser, but we'll need to rattle over a few potholes to confirm that in greater detail.
The ragtop now features an attractive hard tonneau cover that smoothes out the rear design aesthetic. It's clean and well-considered, and it makes the Camaro look much better with the top down. A new remote feature allows you crack the top off using the key fob, which is just kind of cool. We timed the operation. It opened for us in about 11 seconds and closed in 14 seconds, in line with Chevy's claims. The convertible also aids visibility. The gen six Camaro coupe is so hunkered down and the roof is so raked, it can be a challenge to see out of it. One solution: get a convertible.
Regardless of your roof choice, the new I4 is a strong, energetic engine. It's something to consider as a fuel-economy option, though the overall gains are not spectacular (25 mpg combined for the I4 vs. 23 mpg combined for the V6). The EcoBoost I4 Mustang, which is slotted in the middle of Ford's pony car line, feels more potent, as its 310-hp rating would indicate.
The I4 engine is the entry point to the Camaro line. For $1,495 more you can get the 335-hp V6. The 60-hp difference is noticeable, as you would expect. The naturally aspirated engine sounds exponentially better. As much as we like the turbo four – and we really do – the V6 Camaro is where we'd spend our money.

Toyota Tundra Review 2016

The full-size pickup truck is an unabashedly and proudly American creation. Baseball, apple pie, pickup trucks, etc. So it is perhaps understandable, then, that the 2016 Toyota Tundra finds itself at a disadvantage compared to the full-size trucks from Ford, GM and Ram. But it's actually not because the Tundra is from a Japanese company (though it's built in Texas).

Age has a lot to do with it. The Tundra underwent a thorough update two years ago that brought revised styling, an improved cabin and updated features, but it was largely akin to a kitchen remodel as compared to breaking out the wrecking ball and fully rebuilding up from the foundation. The revisions just weren't enough to fix flaws or make notable advances. In contrast, the Ford F-150 now has a lightweight aluminum body and turbocharged engines, and the Ram 1500 has a smooth-riding coil spring suspension and efficient turbodiesel V6. The recently redesigned Chevrolet Silverado wasn't especially innovative, but its incremental improvements in just about every vehicular facet have allowed it to soundly keep up with the Joneses.

The Tundra does not. Its V8 engines definitely get the job done, but they trail their competitors, especially in terms of fuel economy. There also isn't a V6 option, nor a fuel-efficient alternative such as the aforementioned Ford EcoBoost V6 or Ram EcoDiesel. Then there's the driving experience. The Tundra feels more like a classic, stiff-riding truck of the past while traversing broken pavement, with bumps big and small easily being felt by all in the cabin. This is the result of a stiff rear suspension admittedly up to the task of stout hauling duties, but if it's just the family making its way across town, the jostling will get old.

In all fairness, the Tundra does indeed offer truck buyers an awful lot to value. Its double cab is one of the more spacious extended cabs on the market, while the CrewMax is legitimately sprawl-out comfortable, with not only copious legroom but also the added comfort of a reclining seatback. Those interested in venturing off road would also be wise to consider the capable TRD Pro trim level.

Yet, for the most part, the Edmunds "B"-rated 2016 Toyota Tundra quite simply falls short of the current crop of top-notch pickups: the "A"-rated Ram 1500 and Ford F-150, as well as the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. The2016 Nissan Titan XD, with its diesel-powered engine, also promises a degree of innovation the Tundra lacks and may stand a better chance of countering the argument that only American companies can build such a quintessentially American vehicle.

Mitsubishi Pajero 2016 Review

The Mitsubishi Pajero has been part of Australia’s greatest adventures since 1983. Its revolutionary technology has been tested to triumph over and over in the most gruelling conditions in the Dakar Rally. Whatever you put in front of Pajero, it will prevail. Bold, elegant, tough and reliable, you will have the confidence to take on the world.

Pajero’s Smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA)^ technology is a true extension of your Smart Phone via Android Auto™1or Apple CarPlay2. Connected to Pajero’s 7” touch screen you can access your phone’s compatible Apps and get directions, make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music. To ensure safety while you drive, the primary call and music streaming functions can be controlled by voice command or by the steering wheel controls, so your eyes stay focused on the road ahead.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

2018 Ford Mustang Review

"It's just a V6 Mustang." That phrase, so often spoken with derision and disdain, has haunted owners of Ford's more affordable and economical pony car since roughly April of 1964. Even after Dearborn finally paid some attention to its entry-level muscle car by eliminating telltale V6 features – the company fit dual exhausts in place of the single-exit pipe in 2011, negating the budget offering's biggest visual giveaway – the car was still hard pressed to shake its reputation as a hairdresser's car and rental fleet queen.

For the Mustang's 50th year in service, Ford went back to the drawing board, we think with the distinct goal of eliminating the stigma of the non-V8 Mustang. While the V6 is still being offered (your local Avis and Enterprise lots wouldn't be the same without them), it's best to think of the new, four-cylinder, turbocharged Mustang EcoBoost as the entry-level model.

But will the addition of forced induction – from an engine that will see action in the upcoming, enthusiast-centricFocus RS, no less – be enough to appease those pony car fans that believe that only Mustangs with eight cylinders are worthy of the galloping stallion badge? After a week at the helm, we certainly think it is.

The new Mustang's looks have been covered ad nauseam. Chances are good that you either love the fastback styling, or you think the original pony car now looks a lot like a Fusion Coupe. We'll ignore the bigger styling remarks for the 2015 Mustang, and instead, focus on what's done right with the EcoBoost model.

Like the V6 before it, certain boxes are correctly ticked. Dual exhausts? Check. 18-inch alloys? Check. (Our EcoBoost Premium model even shares its wheels with the base GT). HID headlamps? Check. Up front, there's a surprisingly meaty chin spoiler while the muscular lines of the 'Stang's long hood tie in nicely with the fastback shape, which terminates in a neat rear spoiler. There's even a body-colored diffuser at the back, between the chromed exhaust tips. The bottom line is, unless you're a true Mustang aficionado, you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference between the turbocharged car and its 435-horsepower brother.

Simply sitting in the redesigned cabin isn't enough to give the EcoBoost away, either. The leather-trimmed seats (standard on the Premium trim) are cozy and supportive, with plenty of bolstering to help keep both driver and passenger in place while the 'Stang exhibits its newly enhanced cornering abilities. For the first time in recent memory, dropping $1,595 for the optional Recaro seats is no longer a no-brainer, as we found these seats quite pleasing as the miles and Gs piled on. Regardless of trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard, with its small diameter and thicker rim making it a willing accomplice during our testing.

2017 Toyota Sienna Review

For sensible family transportation, you can't do much better than the 2016 Toyota Sienna. One of the best minivans in the business, it offers seating for eight and class-exclusive available all-wheel drive. Overall, the Sienna effortlessly holds its own against its fellow top-rated minivans, the Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona.

With seating for eight and available all-wheel drive, the 2016 Toyota Sienna is an ultra-practical family hauler.

The Sienna was significantly refreshed last year, and we took special notice of the heavily revised interior that featured more user-friendly center stack controls. They're located closer to the driver than before, and the climate controls are easier to understand and use. Toyota also substantially improved interior materials quality, making the van seem like you're truly getting your money's worth.

Delivering a comfortable ride has always been a Sienna high point, and last year's structural and suspension improvements make it ride and handle even better than before. And if you want a minivan that feels less like a minivan, the SE version boasts sharper steering and a more controlled suspension. It's definitely not sporty, but it's one of the best of its kind to drive. We also appreciate that unlike in the past, the SE is available with most of the creature comforts found on other Sienna trims. As such, it's the one we'd most recommend.

As agreeable as the 2016 Toyota Sienna is, however, it's wise to check out the handful of other choices. The2016 Honda Odyssey is the most direct rival, with similar pricing and a few exclusive features of its own. Top value can be found with the 2016 Kia Sedona, which gives up little (if anything) to the Honda and Toyota, while costing less. All of the above also offer seating for eight passengers. If you can make do with seven seats, consider the funky and efficient 2016 Nissan Quest, but we would steer clear of the aging 2016 Chrysler Town & Country and its Dodge Grand Caravan sibling.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2018 Honda HRV Release Date

The SUV-ification of the automobile market continues apace, with buyers in even the smallest segment now deciding that they, too, want the higher seating position and (in all-wheel-drive versions) the bad-weather capability afforded by a crossover-type vehicle. Honda is showing more hustle than usual with the new 2016 HR-V, getting into this game in the still-early innings. The Nissan Juke, the Mini Countryman, and the Buick Encore were the pioneers but in the past year the size of the field has more than doubled, with new entrants such as the Chevy Trax,the Jeep Renegade, the Fiat 500X, and the upcoming Mazda CX-3. The HR-V crossover, which slots in below the wildly popular CR-V in size and price, promises to be a strong entrant in this burgeoning field.
Solid Feel

Whereas the CR-V is based on the Civic, the HR-V shares its platform with the Fit subcompact. The HR-V, however, is a whole order of magnitude more solid- and substantial-feeling than that waif-like little box. The cabin is much wider, the windshield isn’t miles away, and the interior design and materials are better. If you never looked behind you, you could easily be convinced that this is a new CR-V.

Indeed, the HR-V is substantially larger than the wee Fit. Its wheelbase is longer by 3.2 inches, its front track wider by 2.1 inches, and the rear track is up by 2.6 inches. Overall, the HR-V casts a shadow 9.1 inches longer and 2.8 inches wider than the Fit, and it stands 3.2 inches taller.

Those extra inches, of course, bring with them more weight. Compared to the Fit, the HR-V is nearly 400 pounds heavier by Honda’s measurements. Even so, its curb weight of roughly 3000 pounds is svelte for this class.

Not So Speedy

In other markets, the Honda HR-V uses the Fit’s 130-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder, but for the United States Honda wisely bypassed that engine in favor of the larger, 1.8-liter unit from the Civic. Alas, the 1.8-liter’s output isn’t that much greater, mustering 141 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 127 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm—figures that are near the bottom of the baby-ute pile. It’s no surprise, then, that the HR-V is slow, with zero-to-60 times likely falling in the nine-to-10-second range. The CVT automatic, which is the only available transmission with AWD, sends revs soaring and keeps them there while one waits for speed to build. (Or one can flap through the paddles, which causes the transmission to run through seven preset ratios.)

Suzuki Swift Specs, Release and Review

The 2017 Suzuki Swift has been spotted testing ahead of making its debut at the Geneva motor show next year.

The fourth-generation hatchback is expected to be lighter and smaller than the 935kg Baleno, which it will also share some engines with.

The 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine will be carried over to the new Swift. It's likely the 1.4-litre unit will be used for the new Swift Sport, but the manufacturer is yet to confirm if the 1.2-litre Dualjet would be used. Suzuki also remains tight-lipped on the prospect of hybrid technology being used on the model in the future.

The spy shots show the car’s evolution to a more grown-up design than the current Swift, despite the similar features, such as the 'floating' roof. The majority of the changes have taken place at the front of the car, where there's a new nose with a hexagonal grille and large air intakes. The headlights are also new, and mirror a similar design used on the upcoming Baleno.

Inside the new Swift, there's an upgraded interior, but the model in these shots does not have a touchscreen infotainment system previously shown in leaked design images which also showed its Swift Sport counterpart. Suzuki says the next-generation Swift will be as generously equipped as the current model.

The dimensions of the next Swift will be very similar to the current generation in order to avoid any encroachment on the Baleno, which Suzuki describes as the more practical choice, with the Swift as the 'emotional' choice. The spy pictures show a five-door variant of the Swift with hidden rear door handles and, with that model accounting for the vast majority of sales, it is possible that the three-door version could be axed from the range.

There's no word on official pricing yet, but if the car loses a three-door variant then it's likely the entry-level Swift will be pricier than the £8,999 for the current base model. Suzuki says it will remain competitively priced, though.

Production of the 2017 Swift will start by May next year; a public debut is slated for the Geneva motor show in March.

The Swift Sport will come up to a year after the standard supermini is launched.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2018 Toyota Auris Review

The Toyota Auris is a five-door family hatchback that competes with a broad spectrum of rivals, including the Ford Focus, Nissan Pulsar, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf.

It is available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, although the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol and 1.6-litre diesel give the best blend of performance and fuel economy.

Something of a rarity in this class is the petrol-electric hybrid version, which combines a 1.8-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. Business users in particular favour this option, because its low CO2 emissions keep benefit-in-kind (BIK) costs low.

On the whole, the Auris is a decent car, but it doesn’t excel in any key areas. There are better-value propositions, such as the Nissan Pulsar and Skoda Octavia, while the Ford Focus and VW Golf are better to drive. It’s not particularly spacious, either, with the Pulsar and Octavia offering a fair amount more cabin and boot space.

Toyota’s reliability record and the Auris’s five-year warranty are plus points, though, and if these appeal we’d suggest you go for the 1.2-litre petrol engine because it offers the best performance and refinement. Icon trim makes the most sense if you’re looking for a decent amount of kit for a reasonable price, but if you want sat-nav, it makes sense to upgrade to Business Edition trim.

Toyota Supra Review

What It Is: The reborn Toyota Supra, which is the product of a joint venture between Toyota and BMW that also will produce a successor to the Z4.

Why It Matters: It’s hard to remember now, but Toyota wasn’t always a purveyor exclusively of reliable, soulless transportation devices. Although the company today is defined by the appliance-like Camry and the ultra-green Prius, back in the 1970s and ’80s, someone asked to name a Toyota model might very well say, “Celica,” which was sort of a Japanese Ford Mustang. That popular, sporty car reached its zenith as the Celica Supra, before the Supra was later spun off as a separate, high-performance coupe that lasted through 1998 (2002 in Japan). Adding emotional appeal back into the Toyota lineup is a stated goal of Toyota global president and CEO Akio Toyoda, and there’s only so much that can be done with sport-themed trim levels for the Camry and Corolla. To give any credence to the CEO’s goal, Toyota needs a sports car.

Platform: The reality of small sales volumes and not-so-small engineering costs make for tough economics in developing a new sports coupe. That’s why we’ve seen joint ventures pop up: Toyota and Subaru teamed up for the Scion FR-S (now Toyota 86) and Subaru BRZ, while Mazda spun off a variant of its Miata for Fiat Chrysler to sell as the Fiat 124 Spider. Similarly, we have Toyota pairing up here with BMW. Toyota will get a new Supra out of the deal, while BMW’s version will replace the Z4, with the new model to take the name Z5. The uptick in BMW nomenclature is indicative of the fact that the Supra/Z5 will be larger than today’s Z4. We believe the car captured in these photos is indeed the Toyota—despite the BMW switchgear—largely because of its proportions and front styling that appears to carry a whiff of the dramatic Toyota FT-1 concept that serves as inspiration for this car.

Powertrain: Both four- and six-cylinder engines are expected, although they won’t be shared. The Supra will use a Toyota four-cylinder in the most affordable variants, while higher-zoot versions will get a new V-6 (code name 943F) bolstered by a pair of turbos that will push output to 400 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. A performance-themed hybrid setup—which would be shared—also is a possibility. More sharing would take place in the transmissions, suspension, and other chassis components. In these spy pictures, we even see a BMW steering wheel, column stalks, and gauges. Although the final cars may share these cabin parts, they could simply be stand-ins being used during development.

Competition: Audi TT, BMW Z5, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray,Ford Mustang, Porsche 718 Cayman. Basically all relatively affordable performance sports coupes.

Estimated Arrival and Price: Reports indicate that the cars will be assembled on what could be considered the neutral ground of Austria, by Magna Steyr. Production—at an annual rate of 60,000 cars in total—is due to begin sometime in 2018, and we expect the cars to arrive as 2019 models. It’s likely that Toyota will want to keep the starting price of the Supra near the $40,000 mark—which is considerably less than what the old model cost toward the end of its life span—although high-performance variants would drift far upward from there.

2018 Toyota Avensis Review


The facelift in 2012 seems to have worked for Toyota's Avensis. Tragically dull, but not without merit


Yes, you can still buy a brand new 2018 Toyota Avensis. We know, us neither. In true Toyota fashion, it’s about as much fun as a 50-plus swingers party. That said, the Avensis is not without merit.


More of the same from the mid-size Toyota in that it ticks most of the boxes, but as soon as you ask more from it, the Avensis just gives up early. You won’t be excited driving this car - there’s too much understeer that has to be controlled by the electronics. Good for munching through the motorway network, because that’s the job description - though it doesn’t like cross winds. Drive it through corners and you find initial liveliness but detached steering and strange inconsistent sogginess as it loads up.

Great on motorways, where the Avensis can iron out the bumps, but there’s a deal of wind noise when the going gets faster. The suspension is a bit niggly on smaller roads - it gets crashy and unrefined - and the steering is numb, so it’s a mixed bag.

The 2.2-litre diesel delivers 148bhp and 250lb ft of torque, 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and 131mph top end. It’s noisy and the auto ‘box takes a while to get the gist of what you want it to do. We’d stick with the 2.0-litre diesel, which you can have with a manual gearbox (unlike the 2.2). It’s substantially more economical not that much slower.


The good news is that the new Avensis has nicked some cues from the Lexus IS, so the dials and dash look much better. Dated, yes, but better. There’s nothing wrong with the Avensis’ quality - it’s just boring.

It’s got a big boot, decent space all round. Erm. That’s it, we’ve fallen asleep. Zzzz.


The fleet-type stats are impressive: 119g/km and over 60mpg for the 2.0 diesel make the financial controller a happy man. Insurance is low because nobody ever steals them even if the keys are left taped to the door. This silver cloud is small and not particularly shiny.