Friday, August 31, 2018

"Dead BEFORE arrival": 2020 Ford Focus Active

That's right. Ford has announced that, due to a 25% tariff on Chinese goods, they will not sell the upcoming all new Focus Active in the US.
The raised up Active model was going to be the only version of the new Focus sold in the US.
And the only car, besides the Mustang, in Ford's US line up past next year.

I think this is sad, as I hate to see cars disappear . Especially for political reasons.
GM has asked for an exemption for the Buick Envision, while Ford had not done so for the Focus.
( I guess they didn't care either way and had made up their mind about killing all cars anyway).

The next 2021 Mustang will use the new platform from the next Explorer/Aviator, so it is still safe.

While most cars sold in the US are not made in China, almost every car use Chinese made parts. (Including US made cars) And lost of them.
I wonder what other models will be discontinued next...
Or get a huge price hike.

Here is a video of the new Focus, currently on sale in Europe (And getting mostly very good reviews)
The Active version can be seen in the later part of the video.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2019 Lexus RC

 it seems that Lexus had already made a few changes to the RC Coupe not that long ago.
So now we have another "facelift".
The 2019 model is the top picture. With new all LED lights integrated in one single unit.
And of course, a new bumper.

 Same thing in the back. New lights and bumper... (2019 on top)

Inside... Things look almost exactly the same (2019 on top)

This is the 4th model year for the RC coupe.
I guess Lexus is at least keeping it around for a while.

They sold a bit over 15 000 of them back in 2015. But sales went way down to 7363 units last year.
And only 2008 so far in 2018.
That is pretty bad.

So I actually applaud Lexus for not giving up on the coupe market. Considering these super low numbers.
Although I wouldn't count on a second generation....

Mercedes EQC Interior

Looks like Mercedes will not be re-inventing the wheel with their new EQ line.
At least design wise.

It is actually very exciting to be witnessing the birth of their first all EV model (Besides that weirdo B-Class from a few years ago, with Tesla power)

But so far the interior looks like any other "non EV" new Mercedes.
That big wide screen, and lots of small buttons on the console.

Looks like they chose to play it rather safe. Why not...

Renault Arkana concept

This "concept' is pretty much the production model that will go on sale in Europe next year.
With maybe smaller wheels and larger mirrors...

It looks both OK and weird to me. 
The "fake coupe" shape is fine, but the car just sits way too high. It almost looks ridiculous. 

I guess this is the first of many. So far, it seems that only BMW and Mercedes have offered that "SUV Coupe" design.
Now that affordable brands are jumping on the idea, these things will be everywhere...

I wonder who will be the first affordable brand in the US to offer one...

Let's not forget the real ancestor to all these raised up AWD cars: The AMC Eagle.
AMC started fitting all their "compact" models, sedans wagons and coupes, with an AWD system in the late 70's.

Almost 40 years later, they still looks great today.
And, it IS a real coupe. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Honda Insight test drive

The all new Insight is quite a good looking sedan.
Although it looks very similar to the current Civic, it has a more grown up and sophisticated feel to it.
With less lines, scoops and fake vents. 

This obviously caters to a more mature audience. (Especially in black, like my test car)

 I was actually surprise to see how good the Insight looked in that Malibu parking lot, surrounded by other, much more expensive,  black European sedans.
(I think the Honda looks at least as expensive as the A4 next to it...)

 Inside, Honda has made efforts to make sure it doesn't look like a Civic.
The dashboard does look a bit more upscale and quite different.

The Insight fits between the Civic and the Accord price wise. It is quite a job to make sure it feels and look better than a Civic, but maybe not as great as the Accord.
It does have the really nice and easy to use electronic shifter from the Accord 2.0.
Everything feels nice and solid.
Although the bass from the upgraded stereo on my Touring model was a bit weak. But easy to adjust.
Otherwise the stereo sounds great.

My main complain was the armrest that does not adjust up or down. And it was just a bit too low for me.
I also was not crazy about that "brown interior". Which is too dark and close to black.
(But they also offer a great cream/black combo)

The driver seat also has no lumbar adjustment. (Which is a strange omission). But the seats are very comfortable and I really did not miss it.

It is also good to see a big, useful glove compartment for once...

 The rear seat is very roomy. And again, comfortable.
Although Honda could have added rear AC vents. Which would have helped make the car a bit more upscale than the regular Civic.

 The trunk is pretty huge. Especially for a Hybrid.
Thanks to the batteries under the rear seat.

 The first impression you get is a great one, from the really nice thick leather steering wheel.
Once you get going, you realize the steering actually has weight to it and a very nice feel.

The ride is always comfortable and solid. The whole thing does feel quite upscale.

The one weird small thing I did notice is how weak the horn sounds. It's a detail, but still.
I think a horn should be loud, if you're going to use it to get notice and avoid something, or someone...

I am not really used to hybrid cars, and was a bit surprised at first about the engine revving so high at random. (Something the Cadillac CT6 was doing as well)

It is actually perfectly normal for the Insight and something you do get used to . And also something you can learn to control . With your right foot of course, but also with the paddle "shifters" around the steering wheel, that control the amount of regenerative braking you are using.

The regular engine is mostly very quiet, and hard to hear when it starts. The car is almost EV quiet when cruising on the highway. (Except up hill when the engine revs up to feed the electric motor)

The "sport" mode is actually a real sport mode, for once.
There is a really big difference when it is turned on.
The car is much quicker (although it is not slow in "normal" or even "eco" modes)
It feels more like a full EV with much more torque available.

The only complaint I have about it, is the fake "sporty" sound that comes with it. It just sounds cheezy, not sporty. And I really don't think anyone interested in the Insight actually wants that in the first place... It would be fine if you could turn it off.

But, the extra power is great and super responsive. That sport mode is really fun to drive and really transform the car.

The Insight comes with Honda's Sensing system. Which includes what they call "lane keeping assist system".
Which is basically a side camera. Every time you use the turn signal, the screen switches to a picture of the side of the car.
(Which I found distracting and just turned off after a while.)

 The main point of any hybrid is the gas mileage.

The official numbers for the new Insight are 51 City and 45 Why.
The best I got in the city was almost 60MPG. (It is very easy to get over 55 ).

On average, I always got at least 50 on the freeway. (55 on my Malibu drive) And actually was able to get almost 65 on a long return drive which was of course mostly flat, and some downhill.

Like other hybrid cars, mileage can vary a lot.
I drove the Insight like what it is: a hybrid sedan. Like most buyers will. Not like a sports car.
I was never slow but observed speed limits. I always kept up with traffic. Even used the "sport mode" quite a bit.
And found acceleration from a stand still was very good in "eco"and "normal". (And great in "sport")
The car never felt too slow, like the Prius does...

In a quick test drive, potential buyers might be surprised, or even put off, by the sound of the sudden engine revving. But as I mentioned earlier, this is something that you not only get used to, but also learn to control after a while.
Like all hybrid cars, there is a bit of compromise.
I think a little noise once in a while is a great and easy compromise for such great gas mileage.

The new Insight is  a very nice sedan.
The amazing mileage is just icing on top of an excellent car.
It is roomy, very solid, drives great and looks good.

When compared directly to an equivalent Civic, the Insight Touring is only about $1200 more.
(Gone are the times when a Hybrid version of a car was at least $5000 more)

The Turbo Civic is rated at 31MPG City and 42 Why.
The numbers I got were much better with the Insight.
So that $1200 difference would actually be worth it.

Sure, there are few things Honda could have done to make the Insight a bit more upscale or special next to the Civic. Like memory seats, lumbar adjustment, rear AC vents, a glass roof or even a hatchback.

Still, the new Insight is its own car. It is even roomy enough to compares with some mid size sedans out there.
And is priced very well.

Unlike many other hybrid models out there, the Insight is for people who actually enjoy driving.
A great, fun to drive sedan that happened to get me almost 60MPG in the city and over 50 on the freeway.

And it all starts at under $23 000.

Click on the picture above for all the pricing details of the Insight Touring I was driving this past week.
(Although they gave me a different car. Since mine was black with a brown/black interior...)

R.I.P Toyota Auris. Long live the Corolla!

Toyota has been selling a hatchback similar to the Corolla in Europe as the Auris since 2006.
The second generation was sold in the US as a Scion (later a Toyota)

Now that the Auris and new Corolla are actually the same car, Toyota is getting rid of the "Auris" name for Europe.

Why not....

Monday, August 27, 2018

2019 Fiat 500X

The Fiat 500X SUV is getting some minute changes for the new model year.
Besides new lights, I can't really see anything really new up front.
(2019 on top)

 Same thing in the back. The 500X is getting the cool LED lights the regular 500 got in Europe years ago. (The ones the US model still does NOT have...)

Inside, I really can't see anything new.

The Fiat PR BS describes the 2019 model as : "an entirely refreshed exterior with new LED light cluster and full LED headlights, and updated interiors".

Apparently, it also has "an all new family of 3 and 4 cylinder engines". At least in Europe...
Not sure if, or when, any of these changes will make it to the US.

I have always liked the design of the 500X. I personally think it looks nicer than most of its competition.
But Fiat has only sold less than 8000 of them in the US last year!
From a high of just 12 599 in 2016.
These are just terrible numbers! (Even the Chevrolet Trax sold almost 80 000 units last year)

What is wrong with this company that they cannot figure out how to sell a good looking small SUV in an "SUV crazy" market.
Its cousin, the Jeep Renegade (Basically the same car underneath) sold over 103 000 units last year alone!

Are they really still trying to kill every brand they own except Jeep???

Sunday, August 26, 2018

All new Honda Crider

The Crider fits between the Civic and the Accord.
And thank God, this is, so far, a Chinese market model only.
As it is currently, maybe the worst Honda design. 

The "big car/small wheels" look has never worked before. And it still doesn't work here.
The  design looks like it wants to be inspired by the Accord. But ends up being just weird and disproportionate.
(That may be a thing in China, who knows...)

Inside, things are better. Where the interior seems a bit more upscale and well made. 
(It uses the same revised screen as Honda's 2019 models in the US)

It is powered by a small 1.0 Liter Turbo engine .

We have to thank Honda for not selling this in the US. Instead, filling the space between the Civic and Accord with the classy new Insight. 

As a reminder, here is the previous version of the Crider.
(As you can see, it has always looked pretty bad..)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

2019/20 Jeep Wrangler Pick up

Yes. More pictures of that pick up version of the new Jeep Wrangler.

It seems we have seen this for so many years now. A pick up version of the Wrangler seems like such a no brainer. It is actually amazing it took so long for Jeep to figure it out.

It was the same thing with a 4 door version of the Wrangler. Something we now take for granted. But there were rumors for many, many  years about it before it came out.