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MotorWeek’s 2018 “Best of the Year” Revealed: Kia Stinger
Announced at the Chicago Auto Show, nation’s largest consumer auto show
CHICAGO – The all-new Kia Stinger is MotorWeek’s 2018 Drivers’ Choice Award winner for “Best of the Year,” announced today in Chicago at the nation’s largest consumer automotive showcase. Over an unprecedented 37 years of bringing weekly automotive news to consumers, MotorWeek has evaluated thousands of distinctive cars, all potentially deserving of their “best of” moniker. Every year, the pressure is on to thin the herd to a handful and then to just one winner overall.
The Kia Stinger luxury-sport sedan aimed itself squarely at the compact European sport sedan segment – and with its design team based in Germany, there is little doubt that it earned its style points alongside traditional luxury-performance brands while also looking very different from other cars in the Kia stable.
“Dynamic in both design and quality, the Stinger is a superlative example of how to successfully break into the established European sport sedan market – no easy task – but the Stinger proves it has what it takes,” says MotorWeek creator and host John Davis. “Delivering on both style and drive, the Stinger is incredibly responsive with great power as well as solid handling and brakes. That’s why the Stinger won our staff’s vote in the “Best Sport Sedan” category, which then put it in the running for our ‘Best of the Year’ honor.”
By design, Kia engineers skipped the typical four-door sedan formula and went directly to the five-door coupe-roofed hatchback so popular outside of America. Then they added capable power from a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 for the top level Stinger GT, while base Stingers get a still-potent 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
“Kia knows it takes some splash to get noticed in the sport sedan segment, and they’ve delivered,” says Davis. “MotorWeek followers count on our awards to steer them towards the cars that are the most fun to drive – after all, that’s the point of our awards.”
In Stinger, the fast-roofed skin cloaks a finely-balanced, rear-drive chassis. Either of the two engine choices found under the long hood is paired with an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Both powertrains can also be fitted with all-wheel drive, a great benefit for buyers in the Midwest and Northeast especially.
“While the 2.0 is no slouch, the GT’s V6 powertrain really impressed us with its overall smoothness. Even the paddle shifters work with a quick precision we didn’t expect,” says Davis.
Starting at around $32,000 for the 2.0-liter and $40,000 for the GT, Kia has married good looks and a great drive with affordability.
All Drivers’ Choice Award winners are featured on Motorweek.org, and will appear on a special episode (#3723) of MotorWeek airing on public television stations beginning February 10, and on cable’s Velocity beginning February 20. MotorWeek and the 2018 Drivers’ Choice Awards are nationally sponsored by The Tire Rack, WeatherTech, RockAuto, State Farm and Hum by Verizon.
One of the auto industry’s most coveted honors, MotorWeek’s Drivers’ Choice Awards were announced at the largest consumer-driven auto show in North America, the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. In selecting the annual Drivers’ Choice Awards, the MotorWeek’s editorial staff evaluates more than 150 cars, trucks, and sports utility vehicles every year. Winners are chosen based on driving performance, technology, practicality, fuel efficiency, and value for the dollar.
2018 Drivers’ Choice Award Winners:
Best Small Car - Honda Civic**
Best Family Sedan - Honda Accord
Best Convertible - Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Best Luxury Sedan - BMW 5 Series
Best Sport Sedan - Kia Stinger
Best Sport Coupe - Lexus LC 500
Best Performance Car - Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Best Small Utility - Mazda CX-5
Best Large Utility - Volkswagen Atlas
Best Luxury Utility - Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Best Minivan - Honda Odyssey
Best Pickup Truck - Ford F-150
Best Eco-Friendly - Chevrolet Bolt EV*
Best Dream Machine - Aston Martin DB11, Porsche 911 GT2 RS, Mercedes-Benz G550 4X4²
MotorWeek is television’s longest-running and most-respected automotive series. Debuting in 1981, MotorWeek launched a new television genre by becoming the first weekly series to offer consumer-oriented car and truck reviews, do-it-yourself car care tips, and the latest auto industry news. Produced by Maryland Public Television, the award-winning series is now in its 37th season. The winner of numerous automotive journalism awards, MotorWeek is a reliable source of automotive news on television and on the web.
Distributed nationwide and overseas by Maryland Public Television, MotorWeek airs on 92 percent of PBS broadcast stations and can also be seen on the Velocity cable channel. Program excerpts are available to viewers on the program’s website, motorweek.org, and on its YouTube Channel, youtube.com/Motorweek. Fans can like MotorWeek on Facebook and also follow MotorWeek on Instagram and Twitter.
*Denotes Repeat Winner from 2017 **Denotes Repeat Winner from 2016 & 2017
# # #
A phrase that I hear from lots of drivers all the time, I think my car needs a front wheel alignment. Alright well, does it really? See there’s more to a modern car than just a front wheel alignment.
Now let’s see what we’re talking about. We have this little imitation car we’ve got the wheels properly aligned on it, we push it down the road and it goes straight. But let’s misalign the rear wheels. Let’s get this here, and now we can see that the rear wheels are off on an angle like that, the front wheels they’re still straight ahead. So we push it down the road now and what happens? Well the rear wheels steer the car right off of the road. Or it might steer it into the center of the road depending on how the car is out of alignment and that means that as we go down to compensate for this we have to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction so when the car is moving the steering wheel is no longer properly centered. So that’s sometimes an indication of the rear wheels being out of alignment.
So what do we do? Well we take the car into the shop and the shop has to put it on an alignment machine and check the adjustment of the rear wheels in order to know if they are in alignment or out of alignment. If they are out of alignment we align the rear wheels first. Then we use those as a reference to align the front wheels. Now we have aligned all four wheels and it is a four wheel alignment. And when we get done the steering wheel, well it should be just nice and centered no matter what we are doing other than steering the wheel. The big thing, remember, you don’t know if it needs a four wheel alignment til after it has been checked. And keep in mind that virtually all modern cars have arms and adjusters and stuff here in the back that can be turned to adjust the rear wheel so all of this works properly. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.
In MotorWeek Podcast 174, John Davis and the gang talk about a trio of American muscle cars: the Ford Mustang GT, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Wide- body, and the Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE. Plus, Greg talks about his recent drive of the new Jeep Wrangler, and the group answers a viewer question about autonomous cars and black ice.
NAIAS Part 1: Domestic Debuts
Over the Edge: Electrified Muscle
Goss' Garage: Autonomous Maintenance
NAIAS Part 2: Import Debuts
Road Test: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek
When Jaguar entered the SUV world with their F-Pace, most auto writers raved about the excellence of their mostly-all-new design. After all, they could have simply rebadged a utility from their corporate cousin Land Rover. Now, as it turns out, it’s Land Rover doing some reverse engineering, with a new crossover utility based on the F-Pace, the Range Rover Velar.
If you’re not a Land Rover enthusiast, you might wonder where this 2018 Range Rover Velar fits in the lineup. Well, it’s a true midsize entry, slotting in between the larger Range Rover Sport and compact Evoque.
Engine choices are in step with the Jaguar F-Pace; 2.0-liter turbo-4s, one diesel one gas, and a 3.0-liter supercharged V6. All work with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
While Land Rover engineers did indeed start with the bare bones of the Jag F-Pace, including maintaining its stock wheelbase, from there they created an all-new Range Rover. There is no obvious resemblance to the F-Pace. There are, however, plenty of styling cues from other Land Rovers, including a trendy floating roof design.
Extra emphasis was put on off-road performance as well. So, in addition to standard all-wheel-drive, the Velar is available with Terrain Response 2, and gets an electronic air suspension setup not on the F-Pace.
While some handling prowess may have been lost in the process, as the Velar doesn’t feel quite as light on its feet as the F-Pace, ride quality is truly sublime.
Of course you’re well-swaddled in Range Rover luxury no matter where you drive. There are numerous leather packages to cover the supremely comfortable front seats.
They face Land Rover’s new InControl Touch Pro Duo with twin 10-inch touchscreens. With few traditional physical controls, it can be intimidating when you first hop in, but it’s a mostly-logical setup.
Rear seat passengers don’t miss out on the luxury treatment either, as overall people space, as well as cargo room, are among the best in class.
For our complete road test of the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3724 that begins airing February 16, 2018. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.
Land Rover has been building posh off-roaders for longer than everybody, so it’s always good to see what they’re up to next. Now it’s up to the rest of the luxury SUV segment to try and keep up with the Velar.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 145 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 10.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 17.5 seconds @ 79 mph
Admittedly, it was a bit of a stretch calling the ruggedized Subaru Impreza Crosstrek a crossover utility, but it has sure behaved and sold like one. And now for ’18, it gets an all-new chassis that debuted last year in the redesigned Impreza. So let’s find out if there’s more for us to like in one of our favorite little Subarus.
Ever since we first drove the all-new Subaru Impreza last year, we’ve been counting the days until this one arrived, the all-new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek.
It still has the same basic look of an Impreza hatchback with added ground clearance and cladding; but riding on a longer 104.9-inch wheelbase, its overall length is now ½ an inch longer. It is also almost a full inch wider, which gives it more presence and stability, plus helps it feel much roomier inside.
So we were a little surprised to see that some interior measurements are actually down; but the extra wheelbase does allow for more rear seat legroom which is much appreciated.
It seems to have come at the expense however, of cargo space, as it falls from 22.3 cubic-ft. to 20.8. Max volume is way up however, from 51.9 to 55.3 cubic-ft.; and it’s all accessed via a wide opening hatch that allows for super easy access.
We’ve spent a lot of time in the outgoing Crosstrek, as we’re wrapping up a 12-month long term test. And if you were following along at home, you’d know that some additional power was high on our wish list.
And indeed we did get it, but just barely. It’s the same 2.0-liter flat-4, but it adds direct-injection among other tweaks to raise output by all of four horsepower, to a still modest 152, with the identical 145 lb-ft. of torque. The result is perhaps a little more adequate, though still far from thrilling; but hey, we’ll take anything!
Standard transmission is now a 6-speed manual; but most will be Cross trekking with an updated CVT automatic as in our test car. All-wheel-drive remains standard.
At our test track, it all translated to a leisurely 0-60 time of 10.0 seconds flat. That’s actually 2-tenths slower than the original XV Crosstrek we tested.
It feels strong off the line, but quickly settles into its eco-minded CVT mediocrity. Eventually, we cleared the ¼ in the same 17.5-seconds as before, at 79 miles-per-hour.
On the handling front, all Crosstreks now get Active Torque Vectoring, and it certainly helps things on curves; feeling brisk and grippy through the cones. We had to push plenty hard before finding notable understeer; and as soon as it arrived, it was swiftly dealt with by stability control. Steering is light and quick with just enough feel through the wheel.
With an average stopping distance of 110-feet, brakes are quite good; despite some mild fade after repeated runs.
Like the updated exterior, the interior looks much better as well; with the same basic layout getting a redo with nicer materials and much easier to use standard Starlink multimedia system. Our only wish, and this is a repeat, a little more seat comfort.
As before, the Crosstrek feels solid and capable; whether eating miles on the slab, or tackling some light off road terrain. But like most Subarus, they could have gone a little farther with noise control.
The Active Torque Vectoring helps it feel better on curvy roads as well; and when combined with the noticeably quicker steering, it makes for a much nimbler driving experience.
And of course, Subaru’s comprehensive and highly-regarded EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is available.
Base pricing is up about a hundred bucks over last year, starting at $22,710 for a base 2.0i; with top level Limited starting at $27,210.
Call it an SUV if you must, but the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is a great little hatchback that delivers exactly what most people are looking for in a compact utility; go-anywhere capability with enough room for taking along the necessities. It may not be measurably better in every way, but then it didn’t need to. Now, if luxury is high on your wish list, look elsewhere. But, if you’re a typical small-car buyer, with lots of exploring to do, and need a rugged runabout to do it in; the Crosstrek should be at the top of your list.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 years than you have certainly heard terms like smart mobility, V to V, or vehicle to vehicle communication, or autonomous automobiles, and things like that.
Well these are all things that are coming reality rather quickly, and as they become reality you are going to find that your vehicle may need some different services not the least of which is cleaning services.
Now here’s what I’m talking about, a lot of modern cars have cameras. Cameras for things like lane keep assist, and autonomous driving.
Those cameras are often mounted inside the car up behind the rear-view mirror, now what that means as the windshield the inside of the windshield gets dirty It may block the signal that those cameras are looking for; and if you happen to be a smoker that brown film that builds up we’ve seen some of these where it completely shuts down these systems because the windshield is too clouded with the tobacco, an smoke residue and the system just shuts down.
Now not all of these things are inside of the car. A lot of them are outside of the car like on this Mercedes we have sensors in the front bumpers to read things ahead of the car. We have sensors in that star in the center of the grill now that means that these things need to be kept clean too. If you happen to live in an area where you get salt, and snow, and so on. Snow, and Ice can build up over these sensors, and you get false readings, and if you’re not in an area where there is snow the sensors still should be kept clean because of mud, dirt, and road debris can block these sensors. So we have to keep all of these things clean in order for these systems to work.
That brings up another point do not give up your driving skills. Just because you have blind spots doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look over your shoulder to make sure that there is nothing in that blind spot. None of these systems are in fallible so you have to make up the safe part of all of this.
And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line. Right here, at MotorWeek.
Downsizing engines in order to save fuel can deliver a drive we’re not exactly fond of. So, many smaller mills are adding a turbocharger. But, that can still leave a lack of torque at low rpm. Borg Warner Turbo Systems set out to solve this problem, with their own e-booster. Let’s go over the edge with Zach Maskell to see how an electric compressor may finally kill-off dreaded turbo lag.
ZACH MASKELL: Outside of Ashville, North Carolina… we’re driving a 2015 Eco-boost Mustang… with more power than its V8 counterpart. That’s thanks to a bigger turbo and this secret weapon from Borg Warner.
The EBooster is a separate, all electric compressor that forces the engine-fed turbo to spool faster… giving you near instant power. Think of it as a supercharger for the low RPM’s… or as a twin turbo set up where one smaller turbo spools the bigger one. Or like the “turbo” button in a video game.
This Mustang is a demo car… to prove what this “Ebooster” could do in an aftermarket application. So, don’t whip out your credit card… just yet. This is the only one running around… for now.
“Our first OEM launch is going to be with the Mercedes-Benz S-class in the coming model years, something we’re really excited about that’s going to allow us to give the customers the drivability of a much larger engine in a much smaller, more fuel efficient package.
“So as opposed to a regular supercharger… this one is not using the engine… therefore we’re not losing any power?”
“Yeah exactly. This is a small electric motor. This one is 5 kilowatts. It spins to a peak speed of around 70,000 RPM. Since its electric we can mount it wherever, and we can activate it on demand… so it’s really boost on demand.”
The Ebooster pushes 7 psi into the engine. With air added instantaneously… more fuel is burning… which means more energy for the big turbine to do its thing.
“It’s no secret you can put a larger turbocharger on a small engine to make big power numbers. Hot rodders have been doing that for ages. But when you do that, you lose the low end torque. And throttle response that most drivers demand.”
The Ebooster is active only for a few short seconds until the turbo catches up. This 48-volt system uses a battery the size of a shoe box… and can recharge during mild brake regeneration.
“There’s a whole bunch of gear heads that work in Borg Warner, definitely in the turbo system business unit. We’d all love to see this come to the aftermarket because I think we all have a project car we’d like to see it on.”
F1 cars use a similar system. Hobbyists have tried for years to combat the problem of turbo lag…
“So right there it took a little bit for the turbo to spool up and really kick in.”
“You get the classic big turbo power band as soon as it takes off, you’re going like a slingshot. But before that you’re kind of waiting.”
Turn it on, and it pulls and pulls from the get go. Say you’re in a cruising gear… on the highway. Normally you’d have to downshift… or wait. Here, the Ebooster cuts the time to torque in half.
The car makes 410 horsepower and 450 pound feet of torque. Yet, still exceeds the stock torque curve at all engine speeds. Like the V8, the power feels linear and delivery is smooth.
We’ll we’ve taken a 2.3L and made it have the same power as the V8 not only the same power really we’ve made it have 40% more torque and 15% more top end power while maintaining that 30% better fuel economy of the 4-cylinder.”
Located after the intercooler, the booster receives cooler, denser air. And, once it’s done its job, a valve closes… and all that air is filtered to the turbo.
“I’ve got to admit I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about this, but it is the real deal and whether you’re a car person or not, you will feel the difference.”
“Best of both worlds… power and fuel economy.”
For most people, Detroit, Michigan in the dead of winter, would be the last place they’d want to go. But, we’re not most people. we are fanatics of all things automotive. And everyone knows, come January, Motown is the place to be for the scoop on the hottest of the new cars heading our way. Don’t want to go out in the cold? Don’t worry; sit back and relax, ‘cause’ we got you covered!
JOHN DAVIS: Nothing really kicks off our automotive year like the North American International Auto Show, and the reveal of the North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year awards.
This year the car honor goes to the Honda Accord for going well above and beyond what a family four-door should be.
Utility of the Year goes to the handsome Volvo XC60. Following in the tire treads of it’s bigger XC90 kin, it’s the new definition of the modern crossover ute.
And, with only one actual pickup nominee, this year’s Truck of the Year honor goes to the ultraluxurious, truck-frame like, Lincoln Navigator SUV.
Indeed, the vast majority of the news at Detroit was about trucks. Chevrolet teased their new Silverado 1500 down at the Texas Motor Speedway last month, but Detroit filled in all the details. The most new Chevy full-size truck in decades, it claims increased capabilities, user friendliness, and efficiency. Weight is down 450 pounds with both aluminum and steel in a body filled with aerodynamic tricks like front tire wheel well air ducts. An inline-6 turbo-diesel is new, along with a novel cargo box design that adds 7-inches of width inside without adding any girth outside. Car-like tech features abound, including the first ever powered tailgate.
Not to be outdone, FCA arrived with an all-new Ram 1500. Of course it’s more powerful, more capable, and more efficient with over 200-lbs less to haul around. But, with its coil and air spring rear suspension, there’s a softer side as well, as the interior is even-posher with a tall Tesla-style navscreen option.
Also shown was a new Ram Rebel. Far more serious than before, it looks to be a lot closer to the Ford Raptor in terms of off road performance.
At Jeep, no new pickup yet, but they are trying to re-establish some cred for the Cherokee ute. It adds a more traditional face, a new turbo-4 engine, enhanced 4X4 systems with Selec-Terrain traction control, more usable cargo space, and even a hands-free power lift gate.
And, finally, making it truly the year of the truck, comes the long awaited return to America of the Ford Ranger pickup. Now mid-size in extended and crew cab forms, initial power comes from an updated Mustang 2.3-liter EcoBoost I4. Still, Ford assures us the Michigan-built Ranger will have plenty of capability to keep up with the once again crowded midsize truck field. As for the Ranger based Bronco? Well, stay tuned.
And, in another move that was a long time coming, Ford finally shoves some Power Stroke muscle into the F-150. The scaled down 3.0-liter V6 version delivers 440 lb.-ft. of torque; but more importantly, achieves 30 miles-per-gallon.
Fittingly, on the 50th anniversary of the movie Bullitt, comes another Ford Mustang Bullitt. This GTbased ‘stang has all the right cues and will be available this summer. Too bad the “King of Cool” is not around to once again slide this one around the streets of San Francisco.
Ford also confirmed that a new Shelby GT500 is on the way. With over 700-horsepower it will be the most powerful production Ford yet.
But that’s not all of Ford’s future performance, they also confirmed a high output electric SUV, though we we’re not thrilled about using the fabled Mach 1 name. Real time SUV performance will come from the Ford Edge ST, which replaces the previous Edge Sport, and joins an updated midsize crossover lineup for ‘19.
That wraps up our look at the Detroit crowd’s intros at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. But, later in the show we’ll see all the import brand’s show and tell.
JOHN DAVIS: As promised, it’s time to head back to Detroit for a look at what’s coming from import brands to sweeten our car-loving lives!
Starting off our look at import brand news from Cobo Hall is the coolest of the rugged cool, and it doesn’t happen very often, an all-new Mercedes-Benz G-class. Yes it still pretty much looks like two boxes welded together, but it’s been somewhat modernized outside and totally revamped inside including a wide screen digital dash.
Benz also brought to Motown a major expansion in the Mercedes-AMG lineup with a new 3.0-liter inline gas-engine that gets an EQ Boost from a new 48-volt electrical system; beautifully wrapped here in the CLS53 sedan……as well as in the E53 Coupe...and the E53 Cabriolet.
Rival BMW brought their new subcompact X2 to Detroit. Logic might tell you it’s a coupe-ish version of the X1 crossover that we love so much, and you’d be close. While still sharing a chassis with the Mini, it is indeed lower, shorter, and sportier than the X1, with a 228-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo the sole power for now.
For the EV performance-minded, an updated BMW i8 Coupe and new i8 Roadster made the trip east from their LA debuts last fall.
BMW also showcased updates to the Mini Cooper hardtop and convertible, including Union Jack patterned tail lights. Gimmicky? Sure, but that’s Mini. Anything for fun.
Making its U.S. debut, the Lamborghini Urus speaks volumes about the rising global tide of SUVs. Their first such effort since the military-style LM 002 of the 1980s, the Urus backs its exclusivity with twin-turbo V8 power and styling that truly is a work of Italian art.
This was also our first look at the new Audi A7, making its North American debut in Detroit. This 5-door sport back looks as beautiful as always both inside and out.
Volkswagen most popular American model gets a total remake in this all-new Jetta compact. More stylish outside, as well as less conservative inside, the new Jetta is available with a first time digital dash. A manual-geared 1.4-liter turbo continues as standard, while a new 8-speed automatic with auto stop/start is optional.
Volkswagen will also be bringing a bit more visual and actual performance to the Passat, with a new V6 powered Passat GT.
No secret to what this great looking concept is all about. The Infiniti Q Inspiration, complete with its nearly all glass roof and variable displacement engine, is an intriguing preview of their forthcoming flagship sedan.
Across the aisle at Nissan, was this XMotion [CROSS-MOTION] concept; which takes styling cues from Nissan’s Xterra past and pushes them forward towards what could be a new more rugged Rogue.
There seems to be no limit to Lexus design; so from the people that brought us the fabulous LC500 Coupe, comes the LF-1 Limitless, predicting a no holds barred ultra-luxury flagship crossover.
Over at Acura, a production-ready prototype of the next RDX crossover was shown. It looks way more dynamic, and Acura promises it will be; aided by a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.
Bigger news for Acura performance faithful is the return of Type S badge, as well as expansion of the A-Spec throughout the lineup, including the new RDX. A potent V6 turbo is also in the works.
After sitting out for 5-years, Honda’s Insight is back in the hybrid game. Honda predicts at least 50 MPG rating for this bigger, more traditional looking 2-motor Civic-based compact sedan.
If big-sedan comfort is what you’re after, Toyota has an all-new Avalon lineup, complete with Hybrid. Look for this piece of attainable premium, at a gated community near you.
This reborn Hyundai Veloster may look a little tamer than the original, but Hyundai has packed in plenty enough performance to make up the difference; launching a new N performance lineup. And don’t worry, the 3-door treatment is still its signature.
Partner Kia is looking to further their recent winning ways with an all-new Forte compact; with more room, style, and sophistication than ever before.
And, then there is GAC. Never heard of them? Well you will as this high end Chinese manufacturer announced plans to start selling here next year with this GS8 midsize utility. But, their display of the GA4 flagship sedan, and the butterfly door, Enverge EV concept, makes it clear they aim to be an aspirational brand.
So there you have it, the 2018 North American International Auto Show. And, now that we’ve seen all of these rides, we look forward to actually putting your eyes into the driver’s seat, here on MotorWeek.
Road Test: 2018 Chevrolet Traverse
Goss' Garage: Cars that Sit
Long Term Update: 2018 Volskwagen Passat R-Line | 2017 Chysler Pacifica
Quick Spin: 2018 Ford Mustang
Road Test: 2017 Mazda CX-5
Engine: 3.6 liter / 2.0 liter
Horsepower: 310 / 255
Torque: 266 lb-ft. / 295 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.3 seconds @ 93 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.9 tons/yr
General Motors pretty much kicked off the large 3-row crossover movement with their 2007 Saturn Outlook. but, it didn’t take long for rivals to one-up the general with slightly smaller and nimbler competition. Since 2009, the Chevrolet Traverse has been the lambda platform’s volume leader. and, while clearly a sales success, it really hasn’t changed much over the years. until now that is. For 2018, what’s old is new again.
Indeed, GM has plenty of experience building 3-row utilities; both in the old school SUV fashion, as well as in today’s more popular crossover style. This 2018 Chevrolet Traverse shares the new global C1XX…or “Chi” platform…with the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave as before, but thankfully GM continues to increase separation between brands.
On that note, the Traverse is on the long wheelbase version, same as Enclave, while Acadia is on the standard “Chi”.
At 204.3-inches, that gives Traverse about a foot more overall length than its GMC kin. Also, Traverse is the only one of the trio setup for 8-passenger seating.
Styling is always personal, but sleeker is a word we’ll use. While it’s slightly longer, the new Traverse looks leaner and less bloated, especially on profile, which we think favors the rival Ford Explorer.
Base engine is still a 3.6-liter V6. Now with automatic stop/start, it also adds a tiny bit more displacement thanks to a larger cylinder bore, and ekes out a few more horsepower, at 310. Torque stays the same at 266 lb-ft.
It’s also helped by a new 9-speed automatic transmission.
Believe it or not, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 is the engine upgrade. It features less horsepower, at 255, but more torque at 295 lb-ft. Currently available only in sporty RS trim, and only in front-wheel-drive. All other trims except for the base L, can be equipped with all-wheel-drive; while top level High Country models get a more advanced twin-clutch traction system.
Our time with a front-wheel-drive 3.6-liter, revealed that it remains totally adequate for performing family hauling and commuting duties, but never feels overly powerful. Max. towing is actually down 200-lbs. from last year to an even 5,000.
The 9-speed certainly helps fuel economy, as the Government Ratings are up across the board; now at 18-City, 27-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged a good 22.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
For a reasonable, for an SUV, Energy Impact Score of 15.7-barrels of yearly oil use and 6.9 tons of CO2 emissions. 2.0-liter fuel economy ratings are 20-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined.
Better news than all of that, is that the new Traverse fully feels nimbler behind the wheel; on the street at least, which is certainly where the Traverse behaves best. But with that, comes a sense that it’s not quite as solid feeling as some in the segment.
And, on our handling course, we still fought plenty of understeer; steering feel has noticeably improved, but we’d still consider it slow to respond to inputs.
Grunty low-end torque makes for an efficient leap off the line. The quick-revving 6 delivers power stoically throughout the range. We hit 60 more than a second quicker than in our last Traverse test at 6.9-seconds; with the full ¼-mile taking 15.3-seconds at 93 miles-per-hour.
With fade-free, consistent stops from 60 of just 118-feet; we give it very high marks for braking too.
Don’t know if it’s an early software issue or not; but away from the track, the new 9-speed transmission seemed a little clumsy at times; something we didn’t notice with the more refined driving experience of the new Buick Enclave.
“Large and in charge” is the theme inside, with more than adequate room in all seating positions, including the 3rd row…and cargo capacity that’s among class best at 23.0 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 58.1 behind the 2nd, and 98.2 with all seats folded.
Our tester was sensibly equipped in LT trim, which some found a little disappointing. But, High-dollar High Country and RS trims are available if maxing out the bling factor is important to you.
There’s plenty of tech to go around, including GM’s rear camera mirror, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, along with lane keep assist and automatic braking.
Traverse pricing is on par with the segment, starting at a reasonable $30,925 and escalating to the very cushy High Country at $53,095.
It’s no secret that GM’s big 3-row crossovers were long overdue for a complete update. And there’s no argument that the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is now fully improved and modernized. However, we do wonder if GM went far enough. Just being bigger and a bit better doesn’t really cut it in a class where options are many. Still, we do think Chevrolet did enough to be solidly competitive, and the new Traverse will certainly be plenty appealing to all those that prefer their family ride have a domestic name.
Road Test: 2018 Jeep Wrangler
Goss' Garage: Crutchfield Stereo Upgrade
Over the Edge: Monster Truck Driving School
Quick Spin: 2018 Porsche Macan Turbo
Quick Spin: 2018 GMC Canyon Denali
Road Test: 2017 Honda Civic Type R
In MotorWeek Podcast 173, John Davis and the gang recap the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Plus, the panel talks about the future of the auto show in an online world, and they answer a viewer about warming up your car in the winter time.