Tuesday, September 25, 2018

2019 Volvo V60 Cross Country

The Cross Country "raised up " versions of Volvo wagons have always looked great.
(That is still the case with the large V90 Cross Country)

So of course, this all-new V60 Cross Country is a really nice looking wagon.
It is just about 3 inches higher than the regular V60 wagon. 
All-wheel drive is standard. 
It will be available in T5 and D4 (diesel ) versions in Europe.
(Fair to say the diesel won't be sold over here)
And a plug-in version will follow later. 

Looks like the 60 series is now complete. With a sedan, wagon, CC wagon and the XC60 SUV.
Next is the new 40 series. Which has already started with the XC40. It will also be followed by a sedan and a wagon.

Monday, September 24, 2018

2019 VW Jetta test drive coming up

I will be driving a brand new 2019 VW Jetta SE this week.

The SE is one up from the base S model. R-Line, SEL and SEL Premium models are available above my SE version.
So even though it is not exactly the absolute base model it is still pretty basic.
 Still, it does come with a push-button start, a very a large sunroof and LED lights.

Power comes from a 1.4-liter turbo with an 8 speed automatic.
(no more manual...)

As usual, I will drive it around all week and will try to answer any questions you might have.

So far... Pretty cheap.

2019 Honda Civic

Since the current Civic is so popular, Honda has decided on very few changes for its mid-cycle refresh.

There is now less chrome on the grille. 
And they didn't add weird spoilers or side skirts.

Inside, it is still the same great interior. Now with a new screen with buttons and volume knob. 
And a new, nicer trim on the dash.
Everything else is still so much better than most of its competition. (That's what a good design gets you in the first place.)

Otherwise, a new Sport version is available. Right under the EX model. 
It matches the 2.0 Liter engine to a 6 speed manual or a CVT. It gets a larger screen than the base model, Apple car play, 18 inch wheels and an 8 speaker audio. All for $22 045 for the manual. 
Which sounds like a really good price...

Acura RDX Test drive

 The all new 2019 RDX is a vast improvement over its predecessor.

The previous generation was a nice car dressed in a pretty invisible design. Which was too bad.
(I think the first generation was actually more interesting)

The 2019 model looks great in real life.
And I have to say, the new Acura grille design does fit the RDX quite nicely (And it is a real grille, unlike the one on the new Avalon...)
The version I had included the Advance package. With an extra $2000 accessory wheels.
(Not part of the sticker bellow)

While I am not a fan of all black cars, I must admit, this  RDX got a lot of looks.
We are far from the previous "invisible" design.

 The interior is one of the nicest around. Everything feels and looks upscale, solid and luxurious.

The sports seats are fantastic. With tons of adjustments all around. And it is all very easy to use thanks to an onscreen help that shows up every time you touch the seat controls.

The electronic gear shift is very similar to the one in the Honda Accord I drove a while ago. (Except the "D" switch is round on the RDX) It is still one of my favorite, and very intuitive.

The wide screen on top of the dash is great. But its is not a touch screen.

Instead, Acura chose to go with a TouchPad. Which at first, might not seem as easy and intuitive as the 
Touch Green they use on Honda models. While there is a bit of a learning curve,  I got very familiar with it. And using it was second nature.

 The rear seat is very roomy. With a flat floor.
There is really no need for anything larger to carry 4 or 5 people around.

The wood trim looks good. And there is not too much of it, 
It complements the interior very nicely. 

The metal trim also looks great and again, is not over done. (Unlike the sea of metal trim you see in most German cars these days...)

 The cabin is full of great small details. Like this with to turn the front or rear camera on or off. Not only it is useful, but it looks great! And, like everything, feels super solid and high end.

 The 16 speaker "ELS Audio 3D"system in the car was just amazing.

This is really the best sound I have heard inside a car in many years. It truly puts you in the center on the stage. Voices are extremely clear and the bass sound is close to perfect.
This is really a must have if you are considering the RDX.

A big thanks to Acura for providing a thumb drive with so many great "CD quality" samples. (Steely Dan has never sounded so good in a car...)

 Acura provides 3 driving modes, available through that big round switch in the middle of the upper console.

I used the "Comfort" mode most of the time. Since it is already quite sporty.
The ride is always smooth and very comfortable, yet on the slightly firm side.
The steering seems a bit light at first. But it does firm up nicely in turns, and is very steady on the highway.

"Sport" firms up the steering a bit more. Which is fun in mountain driving.

I though "Sport +" was a bit too much. Not that necessary, with a more artificial feel.

The engine is similar to the 2.0 Turbo in the Accord. And it is always smooth and quiet.
And with 272HP, it is more than enough for spirited driving.

The 10 speed auto is, again, as smooth and quick to downshift as it is in the Accord.
This is really a great, refined, powertrain.

The RDX does have a Start-Stop system (When the A/C is off).
And I found it a little more intrusive than others. But you can actually turn it off by not pressing the brake pedal all the way down (Bust still enough to stop the car)
It is a great way to let you be in control of the Start-Stop system.

 The 2.0 Turbo RDX is rated at 21 MPG City and 26 Highway.
21 is exactly what I got around town.

But I averaged between 30 and 32 on the freeway. Which is really good for such a powerful car.

 I took the RDX camping for a night. (Something I've been doing lately with some cars)
And with this "SUV air mattress", it was great. There was plenty of room for two people in the back with the rear seats down.

There is also a roomy hidden storage compartment under the trunk floor.

I had a great time with the 2019 RDX.
It is truly a pleasure to drive. All wrapped up in a classy, good-looking, luxurious package. It is also the right size.
Unless you really need 7 seats, this is really as big and roomy as it needs to be.

It is always very comfortable and quiet. You do hear the engine when you really push it, but it is very refined and sounds great.
Apparently, a bit of fake "sporty" noise is produced when you with to the "Sport" or "Sport +" mode.
But I couldn't really tell... (It is nothing like the loud sound in the sports mode of the Insight)

As you can see above, my loaded AWD version was priced at around $48 000. (You can click on the picture)
Which is cheaper than its competition.
Since a comparable BMW X3 (With less power and no premium audio) is almost $52 000. 
A comparable Audi Q5 is about $50 000. A Mercedes GLC is $48 500 and the Volvo XC60 is about $51 000.
But since most BMW and Mercedes buyers won't even look at anything else, the RDX's main competition might be the new Infiniti QX50. Which, at about $50 000 for the Essential version, still has fewer features than the RDX.

The Acura RDX is actually priced right. 
I can't really imagine any of its competition being better than this. 
It is truly one of the very best choices for the money...

One could also argue that a loaded Honda Accord would also compete with the RDX ( I know, it's a weird though).
But it has the same 2.0 Liter and 10 speed auto combo. The driving experience is also quite similar. (Both are great to drive)
Sure, in the Accord, you don't get the hatchback. The SUV higher driving position. 
The fantastic sports seats, the amazing 3d Audio or the glass roof.
But a loaded Accord is also quite a bit cheaper at about $37 000.

If you don't need or want an SUV, the Accord is one of the best cars around.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

2019 Toyota Supra

Here are a few new pictures of the all new Toyota Supra. of course, this is still a prototype with some camouflage on it. But it's all there.

And... It still looks very close the FT-1 concept. The one from 2014 (!)
So this will be a 5 year old design by the time it goes on sale.
A 5 year old design we have seen many, many times.

While I applaud the return of a cool car like the Supra, I am not sure that many people care.
I mean people who actually buy cars. I am afraid the press will be all over this car when it comes out (After waiting for it for 5 years), but not many people will actually get one.
Since it will also be expensive...

I know the Acura NSX is priced so "no one actually buys one", but they sold less than 600 of them last year. (Mercedes sold over 1600 units of the AMC GT that year)

I think Toyota will have a hard time moving an expensive, BMW based Supra...

Just as a reminder, here is the original 2014 Concept.

Pix of the Peugeot E-Legend with the 504 Coupe

 Even though the new concept is great, when pictured next to the original Pininfarina 504 Coupe, it does look very busy.
And actually a bit weird and quite overdone.

It just shows how so many modern designs have become quite brutal and aggressive in appearance.
Class and subtleties are not the focus anymore...

That blue velour interior is just crazy and great. So refreshing from the mandatory leather we get almost everywhere these days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Audi E-Tron GT

After their boring E-tron, Audi is now teasing us with something that already looks much better.
A sporty Electric sedan just called E-Tron GT.
And it looks like it could go head to head against the Tesla Model S.

Which would be a great move for Audi. As the Model S is getting pretty old. And many owners might soon be looking for that "something else" pretty soon.
A new good looking EV sedan from Audi might just be that car.

I will be seeing the real thing this November at the Los Angeles auto show and will, of course, report on it...

Peugeot E-Legend concept

I think this is quite amazing. To see a revival of the old (and still gorgeous) 504 Coupe design is simply a treat.
Sure, there are still some overdone bits. (Like pretty much all current Peugeot designs.)
Like the bottom of the car. Why so many bits and lines under that door???

But still, the personality of the old stuff is there. And the whole thing just feels really nice.
Too bad the interior is just pure crazy concept stuff. (Although that 70's blue velours looks fantastic)

This makes the new 508 sedan that came out just a few months ago look so sad and boring...
This is what Peugeot should be doing, right now.
They even brought back the old version of their logo!

As you have guessed, the "E" Legend is an EV. of course...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A few more pictures of the 2019 BMW Z4

Here are a few pictures of the model people will actually be getting. Not that fancy colored one we saw earlier, which was some limited "launch" edition.

This is still not the base 2.0 Liter model. But the M40i with a 6 cylinder.
(I guess pictures of the less expensive version are still not available...)

It does look nice. Although still not as "really nice" as the "concept' they had shown.
The interior is also fine. The center part of the dash looks a lot like the spy shots of the next 3 series we have seen for a while.
(I wonder if both cars actually share the dashboard...)

Otherwise, I am not sure this will pick up that many new buyers. Since the current model still looks almost as good.