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Road Test: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT
Comparison Test: Full-Size SUV Challenge
Goss' Garage: Measure Up
Over the Edge: Art House
Long Term Update: 2018 VW Golf Sportwagen | 2018 Mazda6
Quick Spin: 2019 Jaguar I-PACE
Quick Spin: 2018 Ford F-150 Diesel
In Podcast 186, Brian Robinson and the MotorWeek crew discuss the new Mazda 6 sedan. Then Garick Zikan talks about his recent drive of the Nissan Kicks and a luxury SUV comparison test. Next, the group talks about the pros and cons of digital license plates, and they help a viewer that's shopping for a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Engine: 6.4 liter
Torque: 470 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.0 seconds @ 104 mph
EPA: 13 mpg city / 19 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 22.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 9.7 tons/yr
While we can all dream of owning a Dodge Challenger SRT Demon or maybe even a Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk, most of us need something a little more practical for the everyday grind. But if we’ve learned one thing from the Dodge boys, practical doesn’t have to mean boring. Let’s see what they’ve now done to the venerable Dodge Durango!
You don’t have to take your 2018 Dodge Durango SRT to a race track, but knowing that you could, and it wouldn’t disappoint, is reason enough for many. Owning one of the baddest SUVs ever created, is another good reason.
No, this doesn’t have the full-on Hellcat HEMI of its Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk relative, but it does have SRT’s 6.4-liter naturally-aspirated version, here with 475-horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque. And while on paper, that looks far shy of the supercharged Trackhawk’s 707-horsepower insanity, once you nail the Durango’s throttle, you probably won’t notice much of a difference between stop lights, as it feels every bit as fast.
A healthy seven drive modes, allow you to tailor the experience to whatever you have in mind that day. For us it was, Track mode; which sets the suspension to its stiffest setting, dials back the traction control, and quickens steering, as well as increases shift speed in the 8-speed automatic.
The lowered suspension doesn’t help the Durango feel any lighter; however, it does help it feel extremely well-planted, and Dodge was wise enough to not eliminate all of the traction control nannies for it can be a handful under stress.
When not in Track or Sport mode, it mostly feels like what you’d expect an all-wheel-drive big box Charger Hellcat to feel like, if such a thing existed. But also much like your everyday Durango, there’s sufficient comfort; and enough luxury features for passenger pampering, as it remains an amazingly comfortable highway cruiser.
It also feels nimbler on the highway than classic Detroit SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, and new Ford Expedition; and somehow more European as as well in the way it soaks up bumps with little fuss.
There is an aggressive exhaust note, but even it backs off the noise, when you back off the throttle; quite civilized indeed.
There’s plenty of room inside for hauling cargo, or a few understanding friends not opposed to whiplash; and perhaps most impressively, it still tows 8,700-lbs.
For hauling of a different sort; dial in your preferred launch RPM, step firmly on the brake, engage launch control, floor the accelerator, then release said brake. If the stars align correctly, you’ll jump off the line, and be at 60 before you know it, or 4.5–seconds in our case.
Somehow, it manages to handle all of that power going to all four wheels quite easily, staying amazingly smooth for the whole ¼-mile. Shifts are fast and aggressive, accompanied by a nice throaty pop from the exhaust. We cleared the ¼ in 13.0-seconds flat, travelling 104 miles-per-hour.
Inside, they’ve done a great job of keeping the 3-row, 6-passenger interior current even though the basic architecture has been around since 2011. No complaints about the Uconnect multimedia system as usual, and the steering wheel is chocked full of fingertip controls.
Amazingly, it really wasn’t that long ago, that we were wondering whether the Durango was going to be around or not. And now, not only are SUVs back, but they’re turning into exciting performance machines like this one.
But, poor Government Fuel Economy Ratings are the nature of this beast; 13-City, 19-Highway, and 15-Combined, which we matched exactly, on Premium fuel. That’s a very poor Energy Impact Score of 22.0-barrels of oil burned yearly with 9.7-tons of CO2 emissions.
Now, you could spend $31,090 on a base Durango and perfectly enjoy it; or you could say the heck with that, and drop $64,090 on this Durango SRT. You probably won’t regret either choice, but one of them would be a whole lot more fun, and even a much more sensible answer to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
In fact, most of us here, would prefer the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT over Jeep’s Trackhawk. It’s just a better all-around cruiser with more than enough power, as well as plenty of practicality; a true sleeper for sure, and further proof that Dodge just doesn’t do boring.
If you’re a follower of Formula 1 racing or just high performance cars, you may think you know everything there is to know about team McLaren. Chances are, you don’t.
But there’s no better place to get the full story than directly from someone who was there from the beginning. Tyler Alexander.
Released just prior to his death unfortunate passing, this autobiography, “Tyler Alexander: a life and times with McLaren,” gives you the full story how a Massachusetts born lad became an integral part of the British racing team for 46 years.
With a year by year account of both their trials and great victories, including McLaren’s most recent Formula 1 championship with Lewis Hamilton in 2008. It’s one high performance MUST READ that flies by at full speed.
Road Test: 2018 Mazda6
Goss' Garage: Modern Tune up
FYI: Petersen Automotive Museum
Quick Spin: 2019 Lexus ES
Quick Spin: 2019 Nissan Kicks
Road Test: 2018 Ford GT
Volvo has been selling cars in the U.S. for more than 60-years… and now they make them here…
The Chinese owned Swedish car company recently opened its first U.S. plant near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s taken 3-years and 1-point-1 billion dollars to build the 2-point-3-million square foot facility. This is where they will make the new Volvo S60 premium mid-size sports sedan beginning in the fall.
They’re also ramping up to assemble the next generation of their flagship SUV the XC90 in 2021. Volvo’s philosophy is “build where you sell”. Automotive News quotes the company’s CEO as saying the US is the biggest market for the XC90.
But this is not just a domestic plant… some of the vehicles built in Charleston will be exported. Volvo says the Charleston plant will be able to produce 150,000 cars a year at full capacity. The company can now build vehicles in the three major sales regions… the U.S., Europe and China.
More and more companies are joining forces to develop electric vehicles and autonomous technology… Not only to save costs but also to speed up the process.
Honda and General Motors are teaming up to build next generation batteries. They’re working on smaller batteries that produce more energy and can be charged faster. The batteries will be used in all-electric vehicles made by both companies. Meantime, Volkswagen is part of a new alliance focusing on the technological demands of autonomous cars.
Self-driving cars will need to process and quickly analyze a lot of information from a variety of sources… like cameras and sensors. The alliance is working on the next-generation computer network with the power to handle high tech driving demands. The group includes manufacturers, networking companies and technology suppliers.
So the race is on to build electric cars that can handle the driving… but it looks like competitors will have to become partners to make it happen. And that’s it for this week’s Motor News
Engine: 2.5 liter
Torque: 310 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.4 seconds @ 93 mph
EPA: 23 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.5 tons/yr
With SUVS of all stripes dominating the family “car” market these days, you might wonder why Mazda would go to the effort of revamping their midsize Mazda6 sedan. Indeed, some brands are actually eliminating sedans from their lineups. Well, that’s because the “6” is very significant vehicle to Mazda. It’s slick, sporty styling was an instant international hit. So, let’s find out if the 2018 mazda6 has anything new to add.
Mazda thinks they have a strategy to keep people buying sedans like the 2018 Mazda6, and it’s not all that different from the tactic they’ve taken with their recent crossovers. Keep all of the handling prowess and zoom-zoom spirit that the Mazda6 is known for; but smooth out the ride, add a splash of comfort, and take the interior to borderline luxury-car territory.
But that’s not exactly an easy task, considering this 6 is not actually all new; still riding on same chassis that arrived for 2014.
There is a new engine under the hood, or at least you can choose to add a turbo to the standard SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter I4. It boosts horsepower from 187 to 227, and torque from 187 to 310 lb-ft. Premium fuel is not required, but if you decide to go that route, the horsepower rating jumps to 250.
Getting the turbo requires at least Grand Touring trim, and comes exclusively with the 6-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual is still available, but only in base Sport trim.
And that’s not even close to what we’re dealing with here. Probably the most significant part of the ‘18’s newness is a pair of added up-level trim options, Reserve and this Signature model.
Signing on the dotted line here means Deep Chestnut Nappa leather, Ultrasuede trim, and Japanese Sen wood accents. It’s a first-class upgrade to what was already a handsome and orderly driver-oriented cockpit.
The new trims also get a 7-inch TFT virtual gauge screen to replace the standard 3-pod arrangement.
Seating position remains low; but the seats themselves have been redesigned, now using higher density foam. And they can be ventilated as well as heated.
Also helping the long distance comfort cause is a revamped suspension. No simple retune here; all geometry has been revised, bracing has been reinforced, and the floor pan that it’s all bolted to is now thicker.
All of this, Mazda claims, without losing the nimble nature we all look for in a Mazda. In fact, another change is the steering rack is now rigidly mounted to the chassis, sharpening up both steering response and feel.
A quick trip through our cone course had us confirming that the 6 has lost nothing in the handling department. Remarkable balance, sharp turn-ins, and hydraulic-like feedback through the steering wheel; all indicates that this car is built to be driven spiritedly, and will reward those that do.
We could certainly feel the added turbo torque off the line, as well. It’s still not blindingly fast, but the 7.2-second trip to 60 is a full second quicker than we achieved back in 2014…as is the ¼-mile, at 15.4-seconds at 93 miles-per-hour. Automatic shifts are quick and clean, with mapping as well executed as the rest of the car.
Of course, you can’t have all of this newness wrapped in the same old packaging; so there are some changes to the exterior as well, though here not nearly as comprehensive.
Just an upgrade to the grille that has it falling in line with other recent vehicles from the brand, new wheels, LED headlights, and full LED turn signals.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; now, stay tuned for our results over the next year, as this Mazda6 will be sticking around for a while as part of our long-term fleet. Its Energy Impact Score is an average one, consuming 12.7-barrels of petroleum annually, while emitting 5.5-tons of CO2.
The base Mazda6 Sport starts reasonably at $22,840. But, the new trim levels ratchet that up significantly; our top-level Signature series starts at $35,640. A pricy family car proposition for sure; yet certainly not outrageous compared to many smaller, less well equipped crossover utes, let alone premium-trimmed direct rivals like Camry and Accord.
So, while the 2018 Mazda6 is not a totally new car, it is a significant shift; a Mazda6 packed full of luxury; yet it remains a true treat to drive. Sure, Mazda would love to sell you a crossover; but they’re not giving up the midsize sedan anytime soon. And we’re sure glad about that!
PSA Group is moving forward with plans to return to the U.S. The French company has already announced setting up North American headquarters in Atlanta. Peugeot pulled out of the U.S. in 1991. Automotive News reports Larry Dominique, CEO of PSA Group North America, says he’s looking at points of entry in the U.S. and Canada. They report he’s narrowed the list down to 15 states and four provinces in Canada. PSA Group makes Peugeot, Citroen and Opel brands. They hope American sales will begin by 2026