Thursday, April 18, 2019

Honda HR-V Test Drive

 After driving the Mazda CX-3, I was really interested in comparing it to the Honda HR-V.
The HR-V is a much more popular choice since they sold over 85 000 of them last year.
Vs about 17 000 units if the CX-3.

I always thought the HR-V looked really good, and it still does.
It has very nice proportions and just the right amount of style to create its own personality.

Most people I talked to during my week test driving it really like the design.

 The interior is also very nice and has a very substantial feel to it.
Everything feels refined and solid. With plenty of soft-touch plastics. The Touring version especially does a good job at creating a rather upscale experience.
( A small detail, but I actually also appreciated the super muted/refined sound of the turn signal chime)

The 6 speaker stereo in my top of the line Limited unit sounded great.
Better than the Bose system in the Mazda CX-3.

While I am comparing the Honda to the CX-3. I have to say the whole interior seems more upscale.
And roomier. Especially in the back.
The rear seat is quite a surprise! As it is at least as roomy as may larger mid-sized SUV's.
The leg room is quite amazing for such a small car.

 Same thing with the trunk.
The long flat floor is really deep when the rear seats are down. And actually, if you slide the front seats forward, there is enough room in there for camping.

 While I still had the noisy experience from the CX-3 in mind, the first thing I noticed with the HR-V was how quiet and refined the engine sounded. Even when cold.

The car is also very quiet at speed and driving around town ( Honda added sound deadening as part of a 2019 model year revision)

While it is not as punchy as the Mazda, the HR-V always had enough power for anything.
Carrying a couple of people, stuff, merging on the freeway, etc... I never felt I needed more power.
The CVT isn't meant to be pushed. It actually reacts much better in relaxed driving.
And that 's basically what these cars are. (If you need a sporty car you shouldn't look at a compact crossover in the first place, really)

 The ride is slightly firm and always very comfortable and solid.
It doesn't even compare to the skateboard-like the experience of the Mazda CX-3.

The HR-V is also much better composed and secure at freeway speed.
Nice steering feel, comfortable and quiet ride and make for a nice freeway traveling experience.

The Honda HR-V AWD is rated at 26 City and 31 MPG Hwy.
While I did get up to 30 in the city, you will get mostly around 25 to 27.
But I very easily averaged over 40MPG on various freeway trips.
(I am actually not sure how you would get only 31...)

The loaded Touring model I was driving is not what you would call cheap. At over $29 000.
But it does come with pretty much everything (Although a power tailgate would be nice)
And it is similar to the competition. ( you can also get a very well equipped EX-L model for around $25 000)
The HR-V is also roomier than most.

I would definitely recommend the HR-V for anyone looking for a compact crossover. It is very easy to live with every day.
And can carry much more than its small size suggests. (competing with some more expensive mid-size models)
And you can actually travel with people in the back seat for long trips.

You can click on the picture above and see all the pricing details of the car I was driving.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Dumb & Dumber move: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel!

Just a few years ago, it seemed everyone wanted to sell diesel engines in the US.
There were announcements after announcements. Even Nissan claimed a Diesel Maxima was coming!
But, since the VW diesel scandal,  most of these have been officially canceled. Or they just quietly never mentioned them anymore.

Except for Mazda!

 Diesel sales in the US have plunged to an all-time low. But Mazda, after years of delays, has finally announced their new Diesel for the US!
It will be a $4000 (!!!) option on the Signature version of the Mazda CX-5.

Yes, this is no joke.
The Signature version is already available with the new Turbo engine. 
I cannot imagine one person buying this in the US over the turbo. Not one.

Diesel is getting more and more expensive. Many gas stations are actually dropping it and not selling it anymore.
And the Mazda 2.2 Diesel engine gets only about 15% better gas mileage!
Sure, "diesel torque". Well, the turbo version also has plenty of torque and I am sure the diesel isn't a better performer. For, again, about $4000 more!

This has to be the dumbest/weirdest move I have seen in years from a car manufacturer. 

Mazda really needs to get it together if they want to survive. Some sort of electrification is badly needed. This is where that precious diesel development money should have gone...

2020 Hyundai Venue

I think this is really cute.
And a more cohesive design than the Kona. (These rear lights on the Kona...)

It is about 5 inches shorter than the Kona. That's almost 10 inches shorter than the small Mazda CX-3!
So I am not sure what it actually competes with. Except maybe the Nissan Kicks, in price.
Although the Kicks is also about 10 inches long.
So this is actually really small...

It is powered by a 1.6 Liter engine with a 6-speed manual or a CVT.
And is supposed to be getting a 33MPG average. 
Which is about what the Knicks gets. 

The Kona starts at around $20 000. And the Kicks starts at $18 500. So the new Venue would surely be priced below the Nissan when it comes out later this year.

2020 Subaru Outback

The outback is basically the same thing over and over again. With small changes.
I think this 2020 model is an improvement. At least visually. I do like the more fluid look.
And the much-improved interior from the new sedan (Legacy) version. 

Otherwise, it is really too bad about the V6 being gone. As it was a super smooth engine.
Which the standard 2.5 liter was not, at least in the previous version.
Subaru says the base engine is almost all new, now with 182HP.
At least the turbo will match the V6 for power I guess. 

And I really don't understand the lack of a real panoramic sunroof (Something they were offering a few generations ago) in 2019.
No hybrid or plug-in version is offered. 
Again, sticking with that "same old" philosophy.
I am sure Subaru is right, at least in the short term. Why invest in something that sells so well the way it is?
(The Outback sold over 178 000 units last year)

But how long can it last? 
Electrification is coming in one form or another. To everything. 

2020 Lincoln Corsair

I will simply agree with most and say the new Lincoln Corsair looks great. 
The current MKC was already a good looking SUV. But turning it into a smaller version of the Aviator is a great idea.
And, giving it a real name! Like all new Lincoln models.
Again, this is what Cadillac needs to do ASAP!!!!

Lincoln seems to be beating Cadillac on all fronts these days. With attractive designs, more standard power, and names! (NAMES!!!)
Instead of "CT5" or "XT4". Someone at GM HAS to know this is bad right?

The new Corsair will come with a standard 2.0 Liter with 250HP. Which is really plenty.
But you'll still be able to get more with an optional 2.3 Liter with 280HP.
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions will be available as well.

And just like its 2020 Ford Escape cousin, its rear seat can be moved back up to 6 inches, providing more legroom than most larger mid-sized SUVs on the market. 
Inside, I still think they used too much chrome trim. It is way too shiny and actually ends up looking really cheap and cheezy. ( I saw this in person in the Aviator) Especially around the tablet. (Which is still a very lazy design)
Otherwise, this looks pretty great inside too.

This has to be a big winner for Lincoln.

Now if they could only come up with a really cool looking luxury sedan...

2020 Toyota Highlander

First I'd like to comment on the actual pictures.
These are Toyota's official photos of the all-new Highlander for 2020.
I didn't post everything that is available, but they only have a few of this blue one a photo set.
Nothing taken outside. Which is kind of strange and makes the car look kind of dead...

Same thing inside. Just very few pictures. All from that same studio, it seems. And nothing that shows the whole dash or doors etc...

I don't know, it just feels weird. Like they don't even want people to know they have a new Highlander out.

Otherwise, the design looks like a blend of the current Highlander and the new RAV-4. With a bit of the C-HR on the side and dashboard design.
So this really has zero personality of its own.
At least, the grille has not increased in size and seems a bit more restrained than it could have been.
(Maybe it is the beginning of a good trend for future Toyota models.)

Otherwise, it is powered by the same V6.
Or a hybrid system, of course. This version gets an average of 34MPG which is quite amazing.

The V6 will be available in December and the Hybrid in February 2020. (almost a year from now...)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

2020 Karma Reveno

The Karma Reveno is actually an all-new design for 2020. Not just a slight refresh...
It is especially obvious in the profile pictures above (2020 model on top)
and I think they did a very nice job.
As it is very hard to redesign such a stunning car.

From what I hear, the interior seems very similar to the older model though.
And I am not sure if they replaced the rather ridiculous solar panel roof with a 
real glass panel or not...

As far as powertrain, it now uses a BMW unit with an amazing 528HP.
Something much more worthy of its high price.

And the pure EV range is now a "quite amazing for a plug-in hybrid" 80 miles.

I think they did a really good job. And it is great news to know this gorgeous car is still being made and improved.

2020 Cadillac CT5 Interior

GM had released a few pictures of the new 200 Cadillac CT5 a while ago. But almost nothing of its interior.
Today we can finally see it. And it's fine.
It seems like a blend of every other current Cadillac models. But I have to say, I was expecting more.

Current Cadillac interiors are fine, but they don't exceed any expectations. Like a true Cadillac should.
You never sit inside and sit there for a few seconds, amazed.
As you should.

Sure, this is not as busy (or even vulgar) as a BMW interior. 
But this is not very inspiring either.

The worst part of it is that Cadillac does have wonderful designers that can actually come up with amazing interiors. Like the ones above from the Elmiraj and Escala concepts.
These came out years ago.
And none of Cadillac's current interiors resemble them in any way.

Such miss opportunities of one of the greatest name in the business...