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This Just In: “MINI Takes the States 2018” Shifts into Gear

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 1:00pm
MINI TAKES THE STATES 2018 (MTTS), a charitable road rally for MINI owners hosted by MINI USA, kicked off this past weekend from two separate locations on opposite sides of the country. Over the ensuing five days, thousands of MINI owners will #DriveForMore to help raise money for charity partner Feeding America. The two rally routes, each with more than 800 participants, started in Orlando, Fla., and Portland, Ore., on Saturday, July 14, and will meet in the middle at Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colo., on July 20 for a weekend celebration of everything MINI. The bi-annual trek will cover more than 5,000 miles in total, traveling across America on state and county roads, stopping in 15 cities along the way. In 2016, MINI owners completed a 14-day, 4,397 mile adventure raising enough money to provide more than one million meals for families in need through Feeding America. This year’s goal is to raise enough money to provide more than 2 million meals. A portion of each MTTS participant’s registration fee is donated to Feeding America®, and MINI will collect food donations onsite each morning. 
Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Honda Stays the Course with Updated Pilot

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 9:50am
With so many new entries into the 3-row, mid-to-large crossover segment in recent years, it’s no wonder that Honda has chosen now to refresh its popular 8-seat Pilot to make sure it stays that way. For 2019 the Pilot’s styling borrows a hint of aggression from the smaller CR-V outside, while upping the technology and luxury content inside. Now standard on all trims is the Honda Sensing safety suite, while a hands-free power liftgate is now available. Most models also include major upgrades to connectivity, and a new Display Audio touchscreen is offered with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also marks the return of a volume knob.  While its more than ample power remains a 3.5-liter V6, the uplevel trim’s 9-speed automatic has been improved for smoother performance. The 2019 Honda Pilot is in dealerships now.
Categories: Syndicated

Podcasts: 2018 Nissan Leaf, 2019 Jeep Cherokee and 2019 Lexus ES

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 4:00pm

Podcast #185

In Podcast 185, John Davis and the MotorWeek crew discuss the new Nissan Leaf and the new Jeep Cherokee. Then, FYI reporter Stephanie Hart talks about her recent drive of the new Lexus ES and her upcoming stories for the season 38 of MotorWeek. Last, the panel helps a viewer with questions about getting odors out of a car interior

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Investing in Classic Cars

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 2:25pm
Classic cars are a labor of love for true enthusiasts. It turns out they can also be a good investment. The folks at Kwik-Lift looked at the numbers. They based their calculations on five of the most expensive vehicles Barrett-Jackson sold in January 2018. The models ranged from 1968 through 2015. The investment was compared to investing the same amount of money in the S&P 500 on January first of the car’s model year. The folks at Kwik-Lift point out their calculations do not include costs along the way, like maintenance, insurance and taxes, because this was for fun. Just something to consider if you have your eye on a classic
Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: McLaren 600LT Takes On The Hill At Goodwood

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 3:00pm
They don’t call it the Goodwood Festival of Speed for nothing. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, this annual homage to our “need for speed” is full of fast and furious new product entries and announcements, including lots of news from the fame British exotic car builder McLaren.  While much of the “news” surrounds McLaren updating its long range plans, and ensuring regulators that hybrid-electric supercars are the core of their future, the attending crowds were more interested in seeing the new 600LT finally take to the course. Only the fourth modern “Long Tail” McLaren, the 600LT is based on the awesome 570S, even using an updated version of the same 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, yet has been so totally reworked that it really is a standalone model. The extended bodywork makes a statement even when standing still. But, it was ever more impressive conquering Goodwood’s notoriously difficult hill climb. Delivers start in October with prices starting around $240,000.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Nissan and Italdesign Team Up for GT-R50 Concept

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 10:31am
With the Goodwood Festival of Speed in full swing, it’s not surprising that much of the news surrounds cars that would be right at home on this historic estate’s circuit. While the production version of Toyota’s all-new Supra is one headliner, rival Nissan is not to be outdone. Nissan also used Goodwood to introduce the world to a one-off concept of the new GT-R developed with famed Italdesign. Known as the GT-R50, it is an expression of what the next generation GT-R might be. Might, is the operative word, as Nissan goes on to say it is not the real car, at least not yet. But, while this “spawn of Godzilla” may never be more than a concept, the inclusion of the number “50” has fueled rumors that there just might be that many copies, if Nissan thinks they can get the cool million-plus asking price.
Categories: Syndicated

Episodes: Episode 3745

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 9:24am

Debut 7.13.2018

Description

Road Test: 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet

Goss' Garage: Brake Caliper Maintenance

Muscle Car Memories: Chevelle Laguna Type S3

Quick Spin: 2019 Honda Insight

Quick Spin: 2019 Hyundai Kona

Road Test: 2018 BMW X3

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Maserati Adds GTS to Levante Lineup

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 9:00am

Three months removed from Maserati’s reveal of the Levante Trofeo at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, the Italian carmaker has announced yet another high-performance variant. The Levante GTS made a surprise appearance at a private preview for Maserati and Alfa Romeo in Pontiac, Michigan. We were on hand to drive models from both brands, including the Levante GTS. Sitting just below the Trofeo, the Levante GTS uses the same Ferrari-built 3.8L twin-turbo V8 engine but produces only 550 horsepower compared to the Trofeo’s 590. A ZF 8-speed automatic transmission handles 538 lb.-ft of torque, which comes in at 2,500 RPM producing a claimed 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 181 mph. Naturally, the chassis has been sport-tuned to handle the extra power and offers a 50:50 weight balance. Air Spring control provides six different levels resulting in a three-inch difference in height between the highest and lowest setting. Following the Trofeo, the GTS incorporates the Maserati Integrated Vehicle Control system in its Electronic Stability Program to predict driving situations and adapt engine speed and brakes accordingly. GTS styling cues include more aggressive side air intakes in the lower front fascia, a body color lower extractor above the quad exhaust tips and piano black bumper inserts. Standard wheels are 20-inches, but buyers can upgrade to 21’s or brand new 22-inchers. Inside, there’s an updated shifter with shorter action. We had the chance to drive the Levante GTS on a rain-soaked M1 Concourse. Less-than-stellar conditions aside, the track provided tight, technical turns, long sweepers and a generous back straight to test the SUV’s performance credentials. The twin-turbo V8’s 550-hp is stout on paper, but even more so in practice. Regardless of gear selection, more power always seems available and it’s accompanied by a sweet song that comes only from an Italian powertrain.  The Levante GTS is surprisingly nimble through decreasing radius hairpins and confident in high-speed sweepers — even more impressive given the wet surface. Much of that confidence comes from the Q4 all-wheel drive system, which is quick to react. In normal driving, the system sends all power to the rear wheels until it senses a loss in traction, at which point up to 50% can be sent to the front.  We were forced to keep traction control on, but its intervention wasn’t as conspicuous as it was in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio that we drove in the same conditions just prior. Alfa’s Stelvio seems more playful and raw, whereas the Levante boasts a greater level of sophistication and sure-footedness. Of course, the Levante GTS is a substantial vehicle and its thick a-pillars hinder the ability to look as far ahead as we would like to on a road course; though it should be noted we spent a very short amount of time behind the wheel and never found a perfect seating position. The 2019 Maserati Levante GTS starts just over $121,000, which is $50,000 less than the Trofeo.

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 3.8 liter

Horsepower: 580

Torque: 516 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 2.9 seconds

1/4 mile: 10.8 seconds @ 129 mph

EPA: 19 mpg city / 24 mpg highway

Energy Impact: 15.7 barrel of oil/yr

CO2 Emissions: 7.1 tons/yr

When summertime arrives here at Motorweek, convertibles become very popular.  Add the fact that our latest drop top was a Porsche 911 Turbo S, and well… the keys, as well as the car, always seemed to be “gone missing”. Fortunately, we were able to get some work done with it too. So, here’s our latest sun burned jaunt, Porsche style!

There may be more race-ready 911s that you can buy, but the Porsche 911 Turbo S is still the top dog in a lineup that now consists of some 20 911 variants. And this 2018 Cabriolet body style not only allows you to get in touch with nature while you’re streaking around your favorite back roads, but it make sure everyone knows who’s behind the wheel too. Whatever your motivation, you’ll find plenty to love here. 

Of course one of our favorite things about any 911, is launch control. It’s equal parts brutality, simplicity, and rocketry; allowing you to leap off the line no matter where you are, with maximum effect. 

The pure visceral experience starts when you release the brake and slingshot off the line. All-wheel-drive traction gets you going in a haste; but prepare to do some quick steering, as depending on which wheel is getting the most grip, things can get interesting rapidly too. 

60 miles-per-hour arrives in just 2.9-seconds; stupid grins on your face, even quicker. And it all happens with intake, exhaust, and engine noises creating a harmony of awesomeness; as the turbo-6 pushes you down the track like a frightened gazelle. 

No matter how many times you rip off sub-eleven second ¼ miles, it never gets old. This 911 Turbo S can do it in 10.8-seconds at 129 miles-per-hour.

After coming down from that adrenaline high, you can appreciate that all of this happens because of the 580-horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque that pours from the 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-6. Last year saw new turbos added, as well as a Dynamic Boost function that maintains boost pressure even when you ease off the throttle, or when the 7-speed PDK triggers a shift. 

Amazing brakes are nothing new to 911s or Porsches in general, but the way these 6–piston calipers grab the ceramic brake discs that are standard on the S is truly epic. Stops from 60 take just 90-feet. 

Running through a simple slalom course at our drag strip, is truly no test for this 911; but you do get a small taste of the insane grip, sharp turn-ins, and ultra-flat handling that the Turbo S has to offer. Does the fabric roof overhead compromise anything? Perhaps, but not that we could tell here. 

And we all know the Turbo S is no one trick pony; once you’re done seeking low e.t.’s, or slicing up the slalom like a Ginsu knife, it’s just as rewarding heading to your favorite far off place. 

Seeing 911s on the road is not exactly a rare occasion; yet our Guards Red Cabriolet still garnered its fair share of attention. People may not always know why, but they can sense there’s just something special about this 911. 

Top or no top, the look is all classic Porsche; round headlights, smooth body, wide hips, the whole package. This Turbo S of course, rides on 20-inch center-lock wheels. 

Not surprisingly, top operation is as speedy and efficient as the rest of the car.  

Sitting inside, everything just feels right, with all of the important stuff falling readily to hand.    

The up-sweeping center console still hosts plenty of physical buttons. Meanwhile, Porsche’s touchscreen interface has steadily improved…it’s now quite intuitive. 

Seats have a “business first” feel, with that business being keeping you in place at high speeds on a road course; yet they are plenty comfortable for leisurely-long drives through the countryside. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are not painful at all for a car with this much performance; 19-City, 24-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged 22.1 miles-per-gallon of Premium. So that’s an only slightly worse than average Energy Impact Score of 15.7-barrels of yearly oil use, with CO2 emissions of 7.1-tons. 

And then of course there’s the matter of pricing. While the 911 Turbo starts at $162,850, stepping up to the 580 horse S Cabriolet will cost you $204,050.

But, be still that racing heart, as you can get the 911 Carrera Cabriolet…with only 420 horsepower…for about half that.

Still, the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S remains our aspirational vehicle, and it has managed to stay relevant despite a new upstart supercar arriving almost weekly. There’s still nothing else on the road quite like it. 

Categories: Syndicated

Car of the Month: 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 1:33pm
When summertime arrives here at MotorWeek, convertibles become extraordinarily popular. So, when our latest drop top turned out to be a Porsche 911 Turbo S, it was no surprise that the keys, as well as the car, always seemed to be “gone missing.”  The Porsche 911 Turbo S is the top street dog in a lineup that now consists of some twenty 911 variants. Our test car, a mint 2018 Cabriolet, not only allowed us to get in touch with nature while streaking around back roads, but made sure everyone knows who’s behind the wheel. Driving a Turbo S Cabrio is easily one of our favorite summer pursuits. Of course one of our favorite things about any 911, is launch control.  It’s equal parts brutality, simplicity, and rocketry; allowing you to leap off the line no matter where you are, with maximum effect.  All-wheel drive traction gets you going in a haste, as 60 miles-per-hour arrives in just 2.9-seconds. That rush is accompanied by intake, exhaust, and 6-pack engine noises that create a harmony of awesomeness.   After coming down from that adrenaline high, you can appreciate that all of this happens because of the 580-horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque that pours from the 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-6. Last year saw new turbos added, as well as a Dynamic Boost function that maintains boost pressure even when you ease off the throttle, or when the 7-speed PDK triggers a shift.   Running through a simple slalom course at our drag strip, is truly no test for this 911; but one does get a small taste of the insane grip, sharp turn-ins, and ultra-flat handling of the Turbo S. If the fabric roof compromised handling even in the slightest, we couldn’t tell.   Not surprisingly, top operation is as speedy and efficient as the rest of the car. Top or no top, the look is all classic Porsche; round headlights, smooth body, wide hips, the whole package. Our Turbo S rode on 20-inch center-lock wheels.   Sitting inside, everything just feels right, with all of the important stuff falling readily to hand. The up-sweeping center console still hosts plenty of physical buttons. Meanwhile, Porsche’s touchscreen interface has steadily improved and is now quite intuitive.   For all of our spirited impressions of the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3745 that begins airing July 13, 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.  You can buy a Porsche 911 convertible for half the price of a Turbo S Cabriolet and still make your friends stare in awe. But, for us, the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S remains a favorite aspirational vehicle, despite a new upstart supercar arriving almost weekly. There’s still nothing else on the road quite like it.  
Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Toyota Teases New Supra

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 12:13pm
Toyota is building more excitement about the new Supra. They’ve released a new teaser showing the rear. Toyota confirmed on Twitter the new Supra will be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. As we told you in March, Toyota confirmed the Supra’s return with the GR Supra Racing Concept at the Geneva Motor Show. Earlier this month, Toyota announced the Supra's entry into NASCAR and now CNET is reporting they’ll be showing a prototype at Goodwood. They also say the new Supra will be rear-wheel drive and have a straight-six gas engine.
Categories: Syndicated

Green Motoring: 2018 Tesla Model 3

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 12:47pm

Tesla is a car company unlike any other; doing business more like a tech startup than an automotive brand. That’s served them well for their high priced S sedan and X utility. But, things have not gone smoothly for the entry-level Model 3. Still, they are coming out of the factory in decent numbers now, so its high time to find out if it’s a must have gadget, or truly the car of tomorrow…today. 

It’s fitting that Tesla chose Model 3 as the name for their entry-level EV, as they are looking to do for battery electric sedans what the BMW 3 Series has done for sport sedans, become the new benchmark for others to follow. 

Other than lacking an upper grille slot, the compact Model 3 bares a strong resemblance to the larger Model S. Its slick front end leads to a very big windshield; where the arching roofline flows hatchback-like to a very short rear deck and tall back end. 

Body panel fitment is not as great as what you’d find in the typical luxury car, let alone a Hyundai Elantra; but we hear improvements are being made as production continues to ramp up. 

The interior is surprisingly pleasant; new era minimalism at its finest. Just a long linear dash with air vents, a steering wheel with two stalks, and a horizontal touch screen jutting out of that IP. No buttons, dials, knobs, to be found, save for some programmable scroll wheels on the steering wheel.

All info is displayed on that 15-inch center video panel, and there’s a wealth of it; however, it is fixed and cannot be tilted towards the driver, requiring you to take your eyes off the road a lot. Making things worse, there’s quite often a glare on the screen that keeps you from seeing it clearly. 

All seating positions are rather comfortable; and both rear and front trunks offer plenty of space for storage. 

On the road, the ride is well composed, with a solidly tight but not jarring ride. It indeed drives much like a European sport sedan.

Our test car came courtesy of local owner Bill Clarke, and the excellent driving experience is his favorite aspect of the car.

BILL CLARKE: “The Model 3 is a great vehicle as a driving vehicle; it feels tight, responsive, very powerful. The handling is similar to a BMW in my opinion; I like that nice, tight German feel to a car. The power is almost as much as the Model S that I had previously, so a nice quick responsive car.” 

JOHN DAVIS: There is a somewhat noisy rear suspension, mostly noticeable because of the lack of engine noise. But, Bill’s right on; with an output of 271-horsepower the Model 3 is quite fast. A typical 0-60 run takes about 5.0-seconds. 

There’s also lots of windshield to look through, giving you a wide angle view of all that lies ahead. And, with our car’s Premium Package, the full length glass roof means everyone on board can sight see.

This rear-driver also had the Long Range battery pack, which is the only one available right now. Tesla doesn’t provide exact specs, but it is rated in the neighborhood of 70-kWh. Base 50-kWh models, as well as twin-motor all-wheel-drive versions, will be added into the production mix later this year.

There’s 310 miles of range with the bigger battery, so we’d go with that. Range for the base model is 220-miles. 

Just as in its larger kin, the Model 3’s charging port is integrated into the driver’s side tail light cluster. Still cool, no matter how many times we see it. 

We are definitely not sold however, on the no key aspect. We actually had an app snafu with our test car, and even the backup proximity card wouldn’t let us get the car started quickly. 

The government gives the Model 3 MPGe Ratings of 136-City, 123-Highway, and 130-Combined. For a near perfect Energy Impact Score, responsible for just 2/10 of a barrel of oil use annually and zero CO2 emissions. 

The $35,000 mass market Model 3 that garnered all of the original hype and down payments has yet to emerge. Only the bigger battery model is available right now. That means with other extras like the Premium Package and Auto Pilot, this “3” can easily top $50,000. So, it’s still mostly an early adopter proposition.  

Still, the 2018 Tesla Model 3 is the best convergence of high technology and the practical automobile that we’ve yet seen. And, it does drive great! Yet, it remains to be seen if it truly is the game changing car of the future. But, one thing is for sure; it is here right now, and will be the populous EV benchmark for years to come.   

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Tesla in China

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 10:52am
Tesla plans to build cars in China. Bloomberg is reporting Tesla reached a “preliminary agreement” with the government in Shanghai to build a plant, which they say could produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year. They report Tesla is still getting permits, but construction could begin soon. China is the world’s largest market for electric vehicles.
Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: BMW X5 Production Prep

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 9:55am
While many of us are taking road trips during the warm summer months, BMW is busy getting ready to produce their newest offering for active drivers. Final preparations are underway at the company’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina to begin production of the all-new fourth generation BMW X5. The sport activity vehicle was introduced nearly 20 years ago, launching the BMW X model line-up. Since then, the company says they’ve sold more than 2.2 million X5’s world-wide. BMW started production at the Spartanburg plant in 1994. It has become their largest plant in the world. The South Carolina facility also produces the X3, X4 and X6. More than 70 percent of what they build is exported.
Categories: Syndicated

Episodes: Episode 3744

Fri, 07/06/2018 - 10:01am

Debut 7.06.2018

Description

Road Test: 2018 Kia Niro PHEV

Goss' Garage: Grease, Lube and Oil

Over the Edge: Alta Electric Dirtbikes

Motor News: Passenger Protection

Long Term Update: 2018 VW Beetle Convertible | 2018 Toyota Camry | VW Golf Sportwagen

Track Test: 2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante

Categories: Syndicated

Motor News: Passenger Protection

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 7:00am

Part of the appeal of sport-utilities is the perception they’re safer because of their size and height. But it seems that level of protection varies depending on where you’re seated.

Recently the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted crash tests on midsize SUVs. But this time, they focused on front passenger-side protection. In their small overlap test, a-quarter of the front end on the right side hits a barrier at 40-miles per hour. Six of the eight midsize SUV’s tested earned a good or acceptable rating for passenger-side protection.

The 2019 Kia Sorento, 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, and 2018 GMC Acadia, took the top three spots with good ratings. The popular Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee were at the bottom with poor ratings.

IIHS has been rating vehicles for small-overlap “driver-side” protection since 2012, and added the passenger side test last year. Earning a good or acceptable rating for the passenger side is part of its Top Safety Pick + (plus) requirement.

Electric cars don’t dominate the passing lanes yet, but there are clearly more of them. 

The International Energy Agency counted over 3-million EVs on the road globally in 2017. That’s up 54-percent over 2016. The largest market for EVs is China, but Norway has the highest concentration. The IEA projects there will be at least 125-million electric cars by 2030.

Chinese backed startup SF Motors wants to help fuel the trend. They plan on building electric vehicles at a new plant in Indiana by 2020.

Hi-tech is coming to a low tech part of your car… the license plate. 

Sacramento, California is testing digital license plates on the city’s fleet.  Reviver Auto makes them and says the new plates can track the vehicles, issue alerts if they’re stolen, and display messages. But new technology isn’t cheap. They cost $699… plus a $7.75 monthly fee. If California’s pilot program is successful, they would be sold through car dealerships. 

Reviver Auto says other states are also looking into the technology. That does it for this week’s Motor News.

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2018 Kia Niro PHEV

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 4:58pm

Vital Statistics

Engine: 1.6 liter

Horsepower: 139

Torque: 195 lb-ft.

EPA: 46 mpg Combined, or 105-Combined MPGe

Energy Impact: 3.4 barrels of oil/yr

CO2 Emissions: 1.5 tons/yr

We’ve grown quite attached to the Kia Niro hybrid during the 11 months it’s been in our long term test fleet. We’re averaging almost 43 miles per gallon in this roomy 5-door urban ute. So, we were glad to see when it’s bigger batteried plug-in brother finally arrived. So time now to see if more EV range jolts our opinion of the Kia Niro.

The Kia Niro Hybrid arrived for 2017, on the brand’s first dedicated hybrid platform. So, the logical next step was of course, this 2018 Niro Hybrid PHEV version.  

Adding a bigger 8.9-kWh battery pack to Kia’s Urban Crossover Hybrid provides a 26-mile EV-only range; pretty typical for recent plug-in hybrids. So, if you have a short commute, you may only have to burn gas on weekend adventures. 

And like most of the PHEV breed, it feels quick and smooth off the line. Like our long term Niro, it does fumble a bit as it searches for the appropriate power source, as well as the proper gear from the 6–speed dual-clutch automatic. At least it’s not a CVT.

The gas engine is the standard Niro Hybrid’s 1.6-liter I4. Rated at only 104-horsepower and 109 lb-ft. of torque on its own, boost from the electric motor is very welcome. That electric motor is larger for the plug-in, yet the combined output remains the same, 139-horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. 

Ever since the Toyota Prius rose to the top of the hybrid heap, multiple brands have attempted to chip away at their dominance. Granted, lower fuel prices have held them back; but since the Niro Hybrid became available last year, sales have been quite good. 

At about 3,400-lbs., some 200 more for the extra hardware; the Niro PHEV does lose some of the base hybrid’s nimbleness. Still, steering is quite nice; with turn-ins that are quick, without the over-boosted feel of many small crossovers. That heaviness also gives it a very sold feel. 

Again like our Niro Hybrid long termer, brake pedal feel is very natural for a regen system; but you do have to put your foot into it sometimes.   

There’s a high quality look and inviting nature to the interior, as well as plenty of soft materials and above average seat comfort; putting it perhaps a small step up from the Toyota Prius. 

Room inside is characteristic of the small crossovers that the Niro competes with; not plentiful, but adequate. Yet the wagon-like shape of the Niro, makes getting in and out, as well loading the cargo area, very easy.

You’ll be able to pack 19.4 cubic-ft. worth of stuff back there, and if you need more space, folding the rear seats will get you 54.5 cubic-ft. Both numbers unchanged from the regular Niro, as underfloor space for the larger battery was planned for in the original design.

Of course getting fuel economy in the mid-40s is certainly not common in the crossover segment. And Government Fuel Economy Ratings here are 46-Combined, or 105-Combined MPGe. Our average for this PHEV is right on at 46.0 miles-per-gallon of Regular, and better than the 42.9 miles-per-gallon we’re currently averaging in our long-term, non-plug in Niro. 

There’s a great Energy Impact Score, with use of just 3.4-barrels of oil annually, with CO2 emissions of 1.5-tons. 

While already having the advantage of being a better looking vehicle than the Prius, we love the subtle blue clues that have been added to separate this plug-in from the original Niro Hybrid. They seem to be just about everywhere, yet they’re not in your face screaming that it is a PHEV.  

In addition, the grille is slightly modified, and of course there’s now a charge port in the front fender on the driver’s side. Charge time on 240-volts is about 2½ hours; closer to 9 with the standard outlet 120. 

The Plug-in sticks with mid-level Niro trims, so no base FE or Touring Plug-ins are available. Thus, pricing starts with the LX at $28,840; about $4200 more than the non-plug in, and tops out with EX Premium at $35,440. For some, tax incentives may more than cover the upgrade.    

As with most plug-ins, the more time you are able take advantage of EV power, the more they make sense. If you have a fairly short commute or can plug in often, then the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV is worth the extra money. But, if you mainly drive longer distances or don’t have the opportunity to frequently charge the battery, then you’re better off sticking with the traditional Niro Hybrid, which itself is quite a fine vehicle. Plus, there’s a full EV Niro with over 200-miles of range coming very soon. 

Bottom line, Kia continues to expand their portfolio to include more fuel efficient options. And that’s certainly a win for us, and Kia.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Model 3 Milestone

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 10:24am
Tesla has reached a milestone for the Model 3…. 5,000 a week.  The company reports they produced 5,031 Model 3’s during the final week of June.  That’s an important number after a series of production problems for the company’s newest car. From April to June, Tesla produced 28,578 Model 3’s.  That’s almost three times the number during the previous three months.  They did it by opening up a second assembly line. Tesla says they’ve delivered 28,386 Model 3’s so far, but they still have about 420,000 orders to fill. The company hopes to be making 6,000 Model 3’s per week by late next month.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Bullitt Behind The Scenes

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 10:38am
We usually show you the finished results of the cars we drive.  Now we have something different for fans dreaming of the limited-edition Mustang Bullitt.  Ford is giving us a behind the scenes look at the assembly line.  The retuned 5.0-liter V8 can produce at least 475 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque.  A 6-speed manual is the only transmission. The cue ball shift knob is a nod to the original 1968 Mustang GT Fastback that starred along with Steve McQueen in the iconic movie “Bullitt”.   Diehard fans know the 2019 model is the third generation of the Mustang BULLITT. Ford made other versions in 2001 and 2008.  This video gives us more to look forward to when they start arriving later this summer.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: 2020 North American International Auto Show Date Change

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:35am
Seeking shelter from winter’s chill in January inside Detroit’s Cobo Center has been a long tradition in the auto industry. However, we’ve been hearing rumors lately about The North American International Auto Show changing its dates. Automotive News is reporting the debate has been fueled by some automakers pulling out of the show, as well as changes in the industry as a whole. The speculation has been moving the show to October or June. Automotive News says a decision will be announced July 24, 2018. It appears NAIA is still slated for January 2019, but a teaser video indicates something new is planned for 2020. Take a look at the video.


Categories: Syndicated