Wednesday, July 18, 2018

2019 Chevrolet Orlando

The previous generation Orlando was never sold in the US. It came out in 2011 and was sold pretty much everywhere except the US.

Now there is a new one. Which will be mostly for, of course, the Chinese market.
I have not heard of plans for US sales yet.

The old Orlando looked more like a wagon than an SUV, and the new one seems to be design the same way.
Which is fine. I just don't know where something like that would fit into the US Chevrolet line up.
Between the Tax and Equinox??

As a reminder, here is the first generation Orlando.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chevrolet Traverse test drive

The traverse is a petty impressive looking SUV in the flesh. It is only about 5 inches longer than the Mazda CX-5 or Nissan Pathfinder. But somehow is looks even larger.

The design is very nice and modern. 

The version I drove was a loaded Premier model with the optionalRedLine Edition package. Which is not what I would personally pick. Since I really don't like black wheels and the "no chrome" look.

But I have to admit, it gives the Traverse quite a boost of personality in real life. 

 The interior is also very nice. Most of the materials are of high quality. (While some of the hard plastic bits could still be better)
Again, I would actually prefer a lighter colored interior. And wouldn't pick black with red stitching.
But that's just a matter of taste.

The seats are really comfortable.

Apple Car play worked very well. The Bose system sounds great. And of course, there is tons of storage everywhere.
 I drove it mostly with 2 people on board.
But took 6 people out one evening, and everyone had plenty of room. Even in the 3rd row seat.

 The drive, of course, the Traverse is very similar to its Buick Enclave cousin I drove a while ago.
Everything is always smooth and quiet. The whole thing feels very solid.

The 9 speed Auto is one of the smoothest around. And also very eager to downshift.
Steering is nothing amazing, but above what you'd expect. (And miles ahead of the lumpy Nissan Pathfinder...)

 The traverse 3.6 Liter is rated at 17/25MPG.
I did get around 16/17 around town. And 29/30 on the freeway.
Which is really good for this really big and roomy SUV.

I also noticed the Traverse gas mileage was only about a couple of MPGs worse than the VW Tiguan I was driving the week before.
The much smaller, rougher, noisier and slower 2.0 Liter Tiguan was almost as thirsty as the Travers's 3.6 Liter V6 with 310HP...

I think the Chevrolet Traverse is a great choice if you are looking for a 3 row SUV.
It has a very comfortable ride,  plenty of power all the time. It feels really solid and looks quite nice inside and out.

But I also think that, at a bit over $50 000, the version I tested is pushing it a bit...
You can save almost $2000 but not getting the RedLine option. And maybe the same amount by getting the FWD version.
Or getting a pretty loaded LT leather model with the double sunroof option for about $44 000.

The Buick Enclave is actually the Traverse's most serious competition.
It has all the good stuff of the Chevrolet, but in my opinion, wrapped up in a much nicer design and interior. And even rides a bit smoother.
Although a similar Enclave would be at least $3000 more, the more upscale interior and general feel is, I think, well worth it.

On the other side of the spectrum, the base Traverse starts at $31 000. Only about $2000 more than the VW Tiguan I drove last week.
I am just saying...

That super powerful and smooth V6.
The great 9 speed auto.
The much nicer interior.
The actually usable 3rd row.

All this is really well worth the $2000 extra over the poor Tiguan if you are driving more that 5 people around...
Here are all the details of the Chevrolet Traverse I was driving (Just click on the picture)

2019 VW Tayron

The new Chinese market Tayron does look familiar. Since it is the production version of the concept we saw a few months ago in China (Bottom pic)
(I mean, it is exactly the same car...)
 But it also looks a lot like the Atlas Cross Sport Concept we saw in the US.
Which is supposed to be coming soon as a production model.

 When comparing the Tayron and the Cross Sport concept, of course they are not exactly the same car.
But I just wonder if VW will just sell us the Tayron as thew Cross Sport in the US anyway and call it a day...

They are very similar. And usually, the US and China are now mostly getting the same models.
Or they'll just redesign that rear side window and fender to make it look a little bit more like the concept?

2020 Ford Explorer

From the first picture, it looks like the interior will include a tablet sticking up. Just like the Aviator concept did. (And the new Focus)
Actually, I am calling this the 2020 Explorer, but it could also be the Aviator. 
Since these will be very closely related. Like the Expedition and Navigator are. 

Who knows...

Monday, July 16, 2018

More pictures of the new VW Tharu

These are pictures of the production version of the new VW Tharu SUV I mentioned just yesterday.
A "smaller that Tiguan" model for China. And probably the US. (Since we are mostly getting the same VW models)

Again, this is not an ugly design. Just almost exactly the same as the Tiguan. And very close to the Atlas. Basically invisible cars without of any form of style. 

The Tiguan is already sub-par when compared to its competition. I cannot imagine this being really great when compared to a Mazda CX-3 or Honda HR-V.

The Chinese model will be available with 1.2 Liter, 1.4 Liter and 2.0 Liter engines.
I expect the US version to be available with the Jetta's 1.4 Liter. 

Let's hope were are at least getting another name as well...

2019 Honda Pilot

Honda released a few more pictures of the revised 2019 Pilot.
As expected, it is pretty much the same car. Most changes are upfront, where they are trying to make it a bit more aggressive. Yet a bit cleaner. With a bit more of an off road look.

Honda sold almost 130 000 of them last year. Pretty good. 
Compared to the Chevrolet Traverse with sold 123 506 units.
But not when compared to the super popular Toyota Highlander with almost 215 000.

All these far behind the aging Ford Explorer. They sold over 270 000 of them last year (!)

I am not sure Honda did enough with the Pilot. 
A few more changes would have been welcome. 
I guess they are saving all the good stuff for the next one in a couple of years.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

2019 VW Tharu interior

Yes, so far, this is just a prototype. So that interior is not "all there" yet.
Still, so far this looks pretty bad...

VW has already said we are not getting the T-Roc. But we're not getting the Polo based (slightly smaller)  T-Cross either.
Instead, we are probably getting a US version of the upcoming Tharu for China pictured here.
(Since VW sees Chinese and American tastes as exactly the same)

As a reminder, here is what the Tharu will look like.
Seems like VW is so in love with the Tiguan design, as they are using it over and over.

Not sure what this will compete with, since VW claims the T-Roc and T-Cross are both too small for us.
(Just 5 inches shorter than the New Nissan Kicks)

So we will be getting this instead. A tiny Tiguan with an even cheaper interior...

Friday, July 13, 2018

2020/21 Ford Fusion

Just when we though the Fusion was dead, it isn't really.

Ford has decided to kill the Fusion in the US. But it's sister car in Europe and other countries, the Mondeo, will get a redesign for the 2020 or 2021 model year.
And just like the current Mondeo, Ford will offer a wagon version.
Like the current trend (Regal Tour X) Ford will also offer a raised up version of the wagon, with AWD as an option. Called the Mondeo Active.

So, just like the new Focus, we are only getting this Active version. Which in the US can probably qualify as a truck. (Less regulations and more profits)

The new "Fusion Active" will be competing with the next generation Subaru Outback. And of course, the Buick Regal Tour X in the US.

Not sure where the US version will be built. The Focus Active we are getting here next year will be built in China exclusively.

Here is the current version of the European Mondeo Wagon.

2019 Fiat 500X

The 500X compact SUV is getting a small refresh for the new year. Just like its Jeep Renegade cousin did.
It looks like it is getting the same tail lights the regular 500 got a few years ago.
(For sone reason, the US version of the 500 never got this new design)

Otherwise, small changes up front and a larger screen inside. And for Europe, same new engines as the 2019 Renegade.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Chevrolet Traverse test drive coming up

I am driving a larger SUV this week.
A Chevrolet Traverse. The one I have is a loaded AWD Premier version with the $1845 "redline Edition" package.

So far so good. Things are quiet, smooth and comfortable. The Enclave "cheaper" cousin is of course very similar to the Buick version. Which is a good thing.
A "fun" detail, the Base model of the Traverse is just about $1000 more than the VW Tiguan I drove last week. And that Tiguan did feel like a basic model. Even in its most basic form, the Traverse would be a much, much better way to drive 7 people around...

As usual, I will answer any questions you might have....

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

2019 Chevrolet Blazer driving around

Looking quite nice in real life. Even in white.
The new Blazer seems to be mostly a polarizing design. Many people seem to really like it while many others hate it.
I think it's fine. At least it is trying something. Without ending up as weird as most Lexus SUV designs.

Head over HERE for many more pictures of the new Blazer driving around.
And HERE for official pix. 

2019 Hyundai Elantra

Just a couple more pictures of the "facelifted" Elantra for 2019.
Things look pretty drastically different up front. (So much that it might be now too different from the rest of the car) 

The back end is your usual "new light and bumper" fare. 

Hyundai has mentioned a while ago that each model will have their own design language from now on. I guess this is a first step to make the Elantra look different....

Monday, July 09, 2018

2019 DS 3 Crossback

I guess the DS 3 hatchback will be morphing into a 4 door small SUV thing next year.
(Since everything else does...)

I have seen the DS 3 in my travels in Europe and always think it looks pretty cute.
But this looks way overdone. That front end, the shapes of the headlights. 
All these lines on the side. The fake vents. 

This basically caters more to the ever expending Chinese market now. And its different design taste. I am just not sure if this will be that popular in Europe...

Let's hope the DS brand latest designs doesn't spill over the "regular" Citroen models...

VW Tiguan test drive

The "new" Tiguan is not an ugly car. But I struggle how to describe it. "boring", "generic", "lazy" come to mind.
I guess it is all that...
 It basically looks like these generic cars you see on architectural renderings. Where they make sure vehicles look like nothing specific.

The Tiguan designers did their best to remove any trace of personality. And they succeeded.

Same thing inside. Where, aside from the screen, you could be in a VW from around 10 or 15 years ago.

Again, nothing could be described as "ugly". It's just not as interesting or nice as the previous Tiguan. (Or any of the competition)
It just looks like it was designed by a teenager with a ruler, or a robot.
Not actual humans.

The interior gives out a very boring/old vibe. (I am sure my black vinyl interior test car color didn't help and things could be a little better in a different color combo )

The vinyl seats are pretty flat. Although they feel OK.
Many of the hard plastic bits have cheap feel and look to them (Although there are plenty of nicer soft plastics around too)
The center armrest is also not adjustable...

This is really not in the same league as the Mazda CX-5 interior. (Although it is about the same price)
Or even the Honda CR-V and many others. In my opinion, pretty much any of the competition has a nicer interior.

That center console/shifter looks like the one in all VWs in the past 10 years or so. 

I was really able to test the A/C since we had super hot days here in L.A (up to 117 a few days ago!)
With such heat, the A/C was struggling to cool things down. 

Also, a couple of times, when getting back into the car, the A/C would set itself to 72 (As shown above)
Not 60 where it was before.  
It didn't do it all the time. Just when it felt like it...

The CarPlay screen also gave up. Not the whole screen, only when using CarPlay. The songs were playing, but the screen went black one evening. I restarted the radio, even the car. Nothing worked...
Things were fine the next day. Just weird.

Otherwise I have to stay the standard stereo on the SE model I had sounded great (Except for an annoying small buzz from the front left speaker at times)

Inside the glove compartment. A wild old-timey CD player/flash card reader. (???)

The back seat is roomy enough.
But smaller than in the Jetta.
And the seat itself is pretty flat.

The 3rd row is not that easy to get into, and really uncomfortable for any over the age of 6.

Behind that 3rd row, there isn't much trunk space left.
And there is this weird raised cover. Which makes you think there might be an additional hidden storage underneath .
But no...
Things get better with the 3rd row flat.
But the floor is still pretty high. Making it pretty hard to load heavy items.

Also, that hatch is the heaviest I have ever used. The power feature should really be standard...
(Especially for almost $30 000)
The very first thing I noticed was how crude the engine sounded.
The new version of VW's 2.0 Liter Turbo is one of the worst. (VW seems to keep coming up with new versions of their 2.0 Liter turbo every couple of years or so) And is less powerful than the previous one.

Things really gets rough and noisy as soon as you reach 2000RPM. (like some older 90's car)
Which the 8 speed auto transmission is trying to avoid at all cost.
By mostly refusing to downshift unless you really floor it. And, by then, it gets pretty confused and shifts pretty abruptly.

So as long as you drive slow, keep things under 2000RPM, you'll be OK. Otherwise that drone from the noisy engine will be quite tiresome.
Again, this is much less refined than the competition.

I know people have criticized the new Tiguan for lack of power. I though it was just fine.
(Sure, I had only now or 2 people on board, and it might be a different story when loaded.)

The steering is very light. Too light to have any feel to it. Again, light years behind the Mazda CX-5.
And not what you would expect of a "German" car.
The suspension is not really comfortable. It's not terrible, but not a smooth ride.
And a noisy one. (while most bumps on the road are felt, all of them are heard)

The Tiguan is rated at 22/27 MPG.

I got mostly 18/20 around town. (While being very careful) But had no problem getting 33 on the highway.

I am not really sure who the new Tiguan is for. The previous model was much more engaging in every way.
If you use all the seats, the trunk is just too small for almost anything.
I guess this is mostly for carpooling moms.

The pricing is also a bit strange to me. While the base model starts at $24 500, my SE version was $28 930. (Before optional wheels) That's about $4000 for only a few more things. (And the base cloth looks nicer than the SE's vinyl)

Even though most of the competition starts at around the same price.
They offer a lot more by the time you reach around $29 000.
The CX-5 Grand Touring is $29 645 and comes with a sunroof, leather seats, power hatch, Bose audio etc...
The CR-V EX-L also comes with pretty much the same stuff.

Next to these, that Tiguan SE is pretty bare bone.
It is also noisier, not as nice to drive, and not as comfortable.

If you must get a VW Tiguan, VW still offers the "old" one (but not for long) called the Tiguan Limited.
It only comes with a couple of options. But starts at about $2000 less. Is a nicer car to drive and still has the better and more powerful "old" version of the 2.0 Liter engine.

I have to say, the current Tiguan was a bit of a disappointment.
It seems like a step back from the previous version in almost every way.

If you have never driven any of its competition, and if your quick test drive at the dealership doesn't allow you to push it past 2000RPM, you might like it.
Otherwise, like Hemingway used to say: "life is too short to drive blah..."