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Our 2017 Kia Sportage EX AWD looks good. After many months of driving the 2017 Sportage, I’m still a fan of its styling. It’s an important win for the Kia, which isn’t quite as spacious, quick, or efficient as others in the class.
What makes the 2017 Sportage’s design so appealing is that even the base LX incorporates most of what I like about the more expensive EX and SX trims. Unlike every single competitor in our 2016 Big Test comparison of compact crossovers, the Sportage lacks a rear quarter window behind the rear doors. It’s not a big deal, but it does help distinguish the Sportage from most other crossovers. Above the nicely sculpted door panels is my favorite design feature: the roofline that gently slopes downward as it reaches the rear of the crossover, giving it a sportier profile.
Move toward the crossover’s rear, and I have mixed thoughts. I love the shape of the black and body-colored roof spoiler and the way the car emphasizes the automaker’s badge by pushing down the license plate area, like in the Hyundai Tucson and Jeep Cherokee. I could do without the fake taillight strip, which connects the taillights on LX and EX trims (the SX adds a chrome strip), and I would love to see the SX’s wonderfully detailed LED taillights on the EX trim in a future model year.
What bugs me most about the Sportage’s design is something the Kia shares with our 2017 Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Bolt EV—its turn signals are mounted way too low in a lighting element some might assume is just a reflector. As someone who actually uses turn signals, I want them to illuminate as high up as possible for optimal visibility.
Up front, the 2017 Sportage’s styling is more controversial, and although I’ve warmed a bit to the headlights and grille, I don’t like how the EX’s circular foglights look much larger in the black area. What I love about the headlights on our Sportage EX is the cool pattern Kia added to the headlight cluster. Just like the grille’s interesting pattern, it’s another cool detail owners can appreciate as they walk to their car.A few people have told me the Kia Sportage’s front styling reminds them of the Porsche Macan.
Another feature I like about the Sportage—one that could only be found on a Kia—is the tabbed shape on the top of the front windshield. That notched cutline is also found on the new 2018 Stinger rear-drive sedan and is echoed by the Sportage’s silver trim around the air vents.
Spending many months with the 2017 Sportage hasn’t changed my opinion about the Kia’s styling. I still think exterior design is one of the car’s best features even if the location of the rear turn signals and the busy foglight area could be improved.More on our long-term Kia Sportage right here:
- Update 1: Feed Me!
- Update 2: Apple CarPlay and iOS 10
- Update 3: Staying Safe
- Update 4: Slow and Efficient, but…
- Update 5: So Many Features!
- Update 6: Storage Ups and Downs
- Update 7: Six Interior Details I’ve Come to Love
- Update 8: Splurge for the SX?
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Let’s face it. If you are going to bet big bucks, the car biz is one of the games with the lousiest odds. Tech startups are far glitzier and offer much looser slots (at least by price-to-earnings or value-to-sales yardsticks). Take your eye off the car-biz action for a minute, and you could find yourself crapping out $1 billion with a one-generation, over-incentivized Chrysler 200.
But some still have the cojones to play the game. And the savviest bettors these days are throwing down on compact CUVs—the largest and fastest-growing segment in the industry. Chevrolet has had a seat at the high-roller table with its Equinox, but even after 13 years it’s a perennial fifth-place seller. Cardsharp Honda cashes in more than 100,000 more sales per year. But Chevy’s all-new 2018 Equinox brings a fresh pile of chips to the game. We got a look at its initial hand last fall and found it encouraging; a recent drive of the mainstream powertrain offering has us ready to handicap its odds a bit more.
We’ve reported on the Equinox’s impressive 400-ish-pound weight loss, much of which was made possible by adopting a lighter four-cylinder-turbo-only engine lineup. First to market is a 1.5-liter version, created primarily as a Chinese-market tax darling. Rated at 170 horses, it cedes power leadership to the 1.5Ts in the best-selling Honda CR-V (190 hp) and No. 4 Ford Escape (179 hp), but the Chevy’s 203 lb-ft trumps both rivals by 24 lb-ft. (The second- and third-place Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue make similar power but lower torque from 2.4- and 2.5-liter naturally aspirated fours similar to the old Equinox’s base-model mill.)
The Equinox and Escape use a similar jointly developed six-speed automatic, and the CR-V gets a CVT. Its transmission might be the Equinox’s single biggest negative (and the best argument in favor of its sibling GMC Terrain, which pairs the 1.5T with a nine-speed). The transmission acts like it bears full responsibility for achieving the Equinox’s impressive EPA numbers (26/32/28 mpg city/hwy/combined with front-drive, 24/30/26 with AWD). No matter how hard you cane it, Chevy’s programming has it grabbing the highest plausible gear whenever the throttle lifts. There’s no sport mode and apparently no Performance Algorithm Shift learning. There’s no redline printed on the 8,000-rpm tach, but automatic shifts happen at 5,500 rpm—1,000 revs shy of fuel shutoff. This engine is no eager revver, so don’t bother manually delaying the shifts.
Chevy claims only a sub-9.0-second 0–60 time for the front-driver (an improvement from the old 2.4’s 9.5-second performance with AWD). That will put it in the hunt with the Escape, RAV4, and Rogue but more than a second slower than the far sweeter-revving CR-V and its ratio-optimizing CVT.
This summer, the Equinox doubles down on its powertrain offerings with a 252-hp, 260-lb-ft 2.0T version. That handily trumps the three top-sellers. Although it looks like a push compared to the Ford EcoBoost 2.0T’s 245 hp and 275 lb-ft, its nine-speed automatic should take the hand. Of course September’s 137-hp, 240-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbodiesel stands to bring completely new business to the segment, too.Chassis
The borderline obsessive-compulsive weight reduction program (the team used ritual shaming of any members falling short of its targets) produced a savvy chassis design with smarter materials and joining techniques and hard-mounted front and rear suspension and powertrain cradles. The result is an exceptionally rigid structure that attenuates bumps the way only German luxury sedans could a decade ago, with softer ride-control bushings that carpet over bumps better than before. The steering system points the car quite accurately. Sadly, the information coming through the wheel rim is better at corroborating the tachometer reading than describing the road surface. It’s worth noting that the impressive peak torque produces no discernible torque steer even on front-drive models.
The mechanical grip of the 19-inch Hankook tires on our top-drawer Premier test cars seemed appropriate for the class, and although the brakes felt a bit grabby at first, they were easy to acclimate to. Its weight loss brings the Equinox into rough parity with the Honda, undercutting the other top-sellers handily. This pays off in a nimble demeanor on twisty Carolina hill country roads. Of course, if handling is your top purchase priority for a CUV, check out Mazda’s CX-5.General impressions
The interior design and two-tone colors look upscale, but much of the interior plastic feels as hard as a poker chip. Based on design and ease of use of the infotainment screen alone, however, the Equinox deserves to advance a few spaces in the sales race. The new non-sliding rear seat offers great thigh support and two backrest recline angles, the lower of which feels more recumbent than a coach airplane seat. Visibility from the high back seats is superb, with a kid-friendly low beltline and available panorama roof. There’s room to stow stuff (including the cargo shade) under the cargo floor, but there are only two tie-downs, and they’re at the back. The drive didn’t include any inclement weather or bushwhacking, but we’re slightly dubious of an AWD system that will only engages after you press a button, albeit perhaps at the urging of a warning on the dash.Bottom line
Chevrolet has strengthened the Equinox’s hand considerably with an attractive exterior wrapped around an inviting, easy-to-use interior on a tight, smooth-riding, lithe-handling chassis. The price seems right—starting at $24,475, the Equinox undercuts the cheapest 1.5T variants of the Escape and CR-V by $1,673 and $3,160, respectively. And although the first-round powertrain might not win the class, the subsequent versions look very promising indeed.2018 Chevrolet Equinox (1.5T) BASE PRICE $24,475-$35,330 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINES 1.5L/170-hp/203-lb-ft* turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSIONS 6-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 3,350-3,500 lb (est) WHEELBASE 107.3 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 183.1 x 72.6 x 65.4 in 0-60 MPH 8.9-9.1 sec (MT est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 24-26/30-32/26-28 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 130-140/105-112 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.68-0.74 lb/mile ON SALE IN U.S. Currently *SAE certified
California will move forward with vehicle pollution targets set forth by the Obama administration, despite a move by current President Donald Trump to put those targets on hold.
On Friday, the California Air Resources Board voted to uphold Obama’s stricter emissions rules for the state. It also established a target for 15 percent of new vehicles to be powered by battery, fuel cell, or plug-in hybrid powertrains by 2025, up from about 3 percent today. The rules are part of CARB’s larger plan to bring greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels by 2030.
Earlier this month, Trump called for a review of pollution limits through the year 2025. California has the legal authority to set stricter targets than the federal government, a decision that nine other states are expected to follow. New York and New Jersey are among the other states that have pledged to join along with California’s stricter emissions goals.
Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board, chided automakers for siding with Trump. “What were you thinking when you threw yourselves on the mercy of the Trump administration to solve your problems?” she said during a hearing on Friday. “What did you mean when you said you don’t want to question the overall thrust of the standards? Why do another review if the current program is basically OK?”
Ahead of the CARB meeting, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers noted that EVs’ share of demand for new cars has remained flat for years. The group, which represents 12 major automakers, has criticized Obama’s fuel economy targets over concerns they could drive up costs and threaten jobs. It says it isn’t fighting against states setting their own emissions standards, though.
Differing pollution targets on the state and federal level could drive up costs for consumers and make it more difficult to move cars between state lines, as Automotive News points out. According to a previous report, a White House official wouldn’t rule out the possibility of rescinding California’s right to impose its own fuel economy rules. In fact, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans on reviewing the matter.
Comparing the situation to a breakup, CARB member Hector De La Torre said, “If a divorce is going to happen at some point, we are going to litigate that divorce strongly.”
“We tried very hard not to provoke or defy the national government and we’ve had a good past with the EPA,” Nichols said. “I don’t expect there to be a war on California.”
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
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Good news, residents of Beverly Hills: a new Bentley Continental GT is on its way. Not including the model refresh in 2014, the Conti is only on its second generation despite 14 years of continuous production. Those eager to see the third-gen coupe should be happy to hear that the new Bentley was recently spied during a winter testing session.
Bucking the trend of drab black paint and thick swirled cladding as camouflage, this Continental test mule surprisingly wears a coat of sharp blue paint. Visually, the new Continental is sleeker, pulling inspiration from the shapely EXP 10 Speed 6 concept shown at the 2015 Geneva auto show.
The EXP 10’s influence runs thick primarily in the front and rear ends, which feature updated head and tail lights that look similar to the concept’s. The signature quad-headlight layout returns, but we don’t see much of it thanks to Bentley’s use of ingenious plastic headlight covers as camouflage.
Underneath the new Flying B will be the new MSB platform, which it will share with the redesigned Porsche Panamera. Power is likely to come from either an updated 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 or the new 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 that made its debut in the Bentley Bentayga SUV.
The post Spied! Next-Gen Bentley Continental GT Caught Winter Testing appeared first on Motor Trend.
The Corvette is supposed to be the heaviest hitter in Chevrolet’s stable, but after driving the 2017 ZL1, senior features editor Jonny Lieberman believes that crown actually belongs to the Camaro. Find out why on this episode of “Ignition.”
The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 gets the same 650-hp, 650-lb-ft supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 as the Corvette Z06, but has the benefit of the sweet-handling GM Alpha platform. It also gets its magnetic suspension, summer tires, and electronically locking limited-slip differential from the Camaro 1LE, so the ZL1 is no longer a one-trick pony car. Still, it can definitely go fast in a straight line, as a drag race between the ZL1 and the 1LE shows. After that gross display of horsepower, Lieberman find some back roads to test out the ZL1’s real-world performance. He praises the slick optional 10-speed automatic transmission, and says the Camaro hasn’t experienced the same overheating issues that initially plagued the Corvette Z06, thanks mostly to the ZL1’s 11 heat exchangers.
To find out if the ZL1 is just as good on the track as it is on the street, Lieberman hands the keys over to Randy Pobst for some laps around Willow Springs. Pobst also has good things to say about the 10-speed automatic as well as the car’s handling, which lets him drift with no effort at all. The episode ends with a Head 2 Head-style lap battle between the 10-speed and six-speed manual versions of the ZL1. Find out which transmission is faster and which renowned sports cars the ZL1 beats on the track in the full episode below.
The post 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Hits the Track in New Ignition appeared first on Motor Trend.
The release of the 10th-generation Honda Civic Si is just around the corner. The automaker had hoped to keep the specs for the sport compact under wraps, but someone appears to have released its torque figure via an email to Civic Si fans a bit early. Whoops.
According to CivicX.com forum member Rickyg0731, an email that was sent out to the Civic faithful who signed up for Si updates through Honda stated that the upcoming Civic Si would feature 192 lb-ft of torque derived from its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A prototype for the Civic Si was shown in November at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show, but no specs for its powertrain were given.
That number represents a 15-lb-ft increase from the Civic Sport and Touring models. That’s not exactly a tire-scorching bump, especially considering the upcoming 2017 Civic Type R develops 295 lb-ft and 306 hp from its 2.0-liter turbo-four. This torque figure, which was confirmed to us by a Honda representative, is in line with expectations for the medium-heat Civic of the lineup.
Few other details are known, but when it unveiled the Si prototype, Honda did state that the 1.5-liter would be mated to a six-speed manual transmission and that the car would feature active dampers, active steering, and a “trick limited slip differential.”
Honda has already announced its New York auto show lineup, which will include the full Clarity sedan range and the North American debut of the Civic Type R, but a surprise appearance by the Civic Si is still possible. Stay tuned.
GM only provided one rear three quarter shot of the Velite 5, but that’s all we needed to learn this car will essentially be a rebadged second-generation Volt. The car uses the same direct-injected 1.5-liter I-4 gas range extender engine, which can charge the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack and drive the permanent-magnet electric motor. An electronically controlled CVT directs power to the wheels. GM estimates the Velite 5 will have an all-electric driving range of more than 100 km (roughly 62 miles), though it’s unclear by what standard. The Volt has an EPA-estimated EV range of 53 miles. Total range on the Velite 5 is estimated at over 750 km (466 miles).
The Velite 5 arrives on the heels of the Velite plug-in hybrid concept’s debut at the Guangzhou auto show last November. Though that car was a five-door hatch like the Velite 5, it didn’t look anything like a Chevy Volt. At the time, GM said the Velite concept was part of a mission to advance the new Buick Blue alternative energy strategy, which would include hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid, and EREV models. Perhaps Velite will be the branding we’ll see on all green Chinese-market Buicks going forward.
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Everyone may be clamoring for the new 2017 Ford GT, but it’s the older version that set an impressive benchmark last weekend in The Texas Mile. Reaching 293.6 mph, a 2006 Ford GT set a new standing mile world record, as you can see in the video below.
To help it hit such a high speed over the course of just one mile, the Ford GT received a little help from M2K Motorsports. The team plopped in an Accufab 5.4-liter V-8 with a MoTeC M800 engine control unit and force-fed by two large turbochargers. Motorsports tech company NCS Designs lent a hand for the wiring, tuning, and calibration, while Ahlman Engineering worked on the suspension and aerodynamics.
The finished product was enough to beat the Guinness standing mile record of 283.232 mph. That feat was achieved in October 2012 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and incidentally, by none other than a 2006 Ford GT.
The Texas Mile takes place on an open stretch of highway in Victoria, Texas. Cars are expected to achieve their top speed in one mile and shut down in the last half-mile. The event started in 2003 has attracted participants from all over the continent, according to The Texas Mile’s website.
Watch the video below to see the modified 2006 Ford GT set a new standing mile world record.
Source: NCS Designs
Photos: M2K Motorsports via Facebook
The post Watch a Twin-Turbo 2006 Ford GT Hit 293.6 MPH in the Standing Mile appeared first on Motor Trend.
Nissan is adding a third GT-R model that will slot in between the Premium trim and hotted-up NISMO. The 2017 Nissan GT-R Track Edition is heading to the New York auto show next month before going on sale this summer.
The name probably sounds familiar, and for good reason. Nissan previously offered a Track Edition GT-R in the U.S. for the 2014 model year.
The 2017 Track Edition model receives a host of upgrades taken from NISMO, including its special front fenders, 20-inch wheels, tires, and performance-oriented suspension tuning. But, like the base model, it produces “just” 565 hp from its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6, below the Nismo’s 600 hp.
The Track Edition also benefits from a dry carbon fiber rear spoiler and an additional adhesive bonding that increases body rigidity over the base model. Look inside and you’ll notice a unique red and black interior. Standard features include Recaro front seats, NissanConnect with Navigation, paddle shifters on the steering wheel, Bose sound system, RearView Monitor, and a titanium exhaust system. A new standard 8-inch touchscreen, added as part of a 2017 model-year update for the GT-R, helps drivers control infotainment and navigation functions.
If you don’t need the 600 hp offered by the NISMO, the Track Edition is a much less expensive option to consider. Priced at $129,585, the Track Edition is neatly placed between the $111,685 Premium and the $176,685 NISMO.
The 2017 Nissan GT-R Track Edition will be available late this summer by special order only. The limited-production model will be offered as one fully equipped model with no option packages. Buyers can choose from one of five different exterior colors, including red, black, silver, white, and an orangey Blaze Metallic.
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