Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Test Drive: 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige

The all-new 5th generation 2023 Kia Sportage subcompact SUV, which hit the roads in Spring 2022, has many driver assisted features and a slightly more powerful new 187 horsepower 2.5-liter I-4 engine with a new 8-speed automatic transmission. It's 7.1 inches longer than previous generation on a 3.4-inch longer wheelbase. This 353 mile test drive, mainly on the highway, delivered 24MPG. This top-of-the-line X-Pro Prestige AWD, with 1.5-inch increased ground clearance, is priced at $38,815 (including $1,215 freight and handling charge). It was very impressive and the Lane Keeping Assist worked as well as it did on the previous generation. Operating the climate controls on the same knobs as the audio system took some getting used to, otherwise, intuitive function management. 

Click here to view video. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Toyota bZ SUV Concept

The Toyota bZ (Beyond Zero) Compact SUV Concept full battery-electric vehicle.

Jeep Avenger 4x4 Concept EV For Europe Next Year

The Jeep Avenger 4x4 Concept, delivering a targeted electric range of 248 miles from the second-generation 400 Volt electric powertrain that supplies 115 kW, corresponding to 156 horsepower, and 260 Nm of maximum torque. The new 54 kWh battery is made up of 17 modules and 102 cells utilizing NMC 811 Lithium-Ion chemistry which becomes 341 miles in the urban cycle*. 24 minutes are sufficient to charge the batteries from 20 to 80% charge. The Jeep Avenger is positioned in the growing B-SUV segment, Europe's second biggest in terms of volume, arrives in showrooms early next year and joins a portfolio of Jeep vehicles which are 100 percent electrified in continental Europe.

2023 Jeep® Compass Loaded With Features

The 2023 Jeep® Compass, powered by a 200 horsepower 2.0-liter direct injection turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, features an available Highway Assist semi-autonomous driving system, parallel and perpendicular park assist and Traffic Sign Recognition systems, plus a 360-degree Surround View camera. For 2023, the all-new Jeep Compass lineup consists of Sport (4x4 only), Latitude (4x4 only), Altitude package available, Latitude LUX (4x4 only), Limited (4x4 only); (RED) Edition and High Altitude packages available, Trailhawk (4x4 only) trim levels. Other features are up to 19 inches of water fording and up to 2,000-lb. towing capability (when properly equipped). All trims include Drowsy Driver Detection, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Pedestrian/Cyclist Automatic Emergency Braking, Active Lane Management, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection systems.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Video Interview: Mike Darrow, CEO, TrueCar

TrueCar, an automotive digital marketplace connecting buyers to dealers (ticker: TRUE), continues to adjust its mission as new CEO Mike Darrow tells us in this interview. Separately, TrueCar's recent survey shows consumer's interest in purchasing an electric vehicle has grown from 52% in March to 59% nationally in August and 31% are "much more likely" to consider an EV. Los Angeles residents, who pay the highest price in the country for a gallon of gas, are 68% more likely to consider buying an EV with 38% "much more likely" to purchase an EV.    

Click to view interview. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

2022 Los Angeles Auto Show - On Now Through Nov. 27th

The 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show has been a manufacturers auto show in the 30 plus years that I've been covering it. It's typically preceded by two media days packed with as many as twenty press conferences with numerous global vehicle debuts, not this year. Subaru with their usual outstanding forest display provided the only global vehicle debut, the all-new 2024 Subaru Impreza. The other scheduled media conferences staged by recognized manufacturers were Hyundai, Kia, Fiat and Genesis for North American market unveilings. If you want a theme park - you've got it. 

Where are they? Manufacturers noticeably absent from this year's LA Auto Show are luxury brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volvo, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Acura, Bentley, Rolls Royce and others like MINI and Mazda. Honda's display is put on by their Southern California dealers. 

Why lack of participation? Internet virtual debuts, the EV theme, Covid, crime fear, return on investment for expensive displays, shortage of product specialists, supply chain & chip issues?

Subaru with their usual outstanding forest display provided the only global vehicle debut, the all-new 2024 Subaru Impreza.  

Other than Detroit, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles which are traditionally manufacturer shows, most auto shows around the U.S. and Canada are staged by local market dealers. L.A.-based dealer group Galpin, which has always had a presence at the L.A. Show with their Hall of Customs, stepped up this year displaying Lincoln, Mazda and Volvo vehicles. To fill the huge vehicle absence, Toyota has an interactive Sports Festival, while Ford, Ram, Jeep offer indoor electric vehicle rides and there's virtual reality driving simulators. EV-only brands like Polestar and Vinfast have displays along with EV charging companies like EVgo and Blink. 

If you're shopping for a luxury vehicle, Porsche, Lexus and Genesis are at this year's LA Auto Show, that's about it. There are some gems despite lack of manufacturers, like the all-new Ford Mustang Dark Horse (above) has a new 500 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine. 

Vehicles to check out include the Ford Lightning pickup truck (above), Chevrolet Corvette, the new Toyota Prius, Subaru Impreza, Hyundai and Genesis concept vehicles. 

2023 Nissan Armada Starts At $52,095 Now

The 2023 Nissan Armada, in S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels, is powered by a 400 horsepower 5.6-liter Endurance® V8 and has a standard 8,500-pound maximum towing capacity. Each grade is available with rear-wheel drive or Nissan's advanced Auto 4WD system with two-speed transfer case. The 2023 Nissan Armada has a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless Apple CarPlay®, wired Android Auto™ and available wireless charging. Every Armada grade features standard Nissan Safety Shield® 360. On sale now starting at $52,095 (including $1,695 destination and handling).

2024 Kia Seltos Arrives In First Half 2023 With Changes

The 2024 Kia Seltos gets refreshed and is the latest Kia to get an X-Line trim powered by a 195 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo-GDI engine paired with an available 8-speed automatic transmission and an available panoramic display featuring two 10.25-inch screens. Available in front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations, the 2024 Seltos is expected to hit showrooms in the first half of 2023.  

Fiat 500e Makes A U.S. Comeback In 2024

The new Fiat 500e battery-electric vehicle with a 150 miles range will return to the U.S. market in early 2024.

Hyundai N Vision 74 Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV Concept - Déjà Vu

Hyundai N Vision 74 hydrogen fuel cell hybrid concept, with a driving range of 373+ miles, has a hybrid structure of a battery-electric in combination with an FCEV system. The fuel cell stack, with an output of 85 kW (Max 95 kW), is mounted in the front, and a 62.4kWh T-type battery is mounted in the bottom to lower overall height and center of gravity. The battery retains an 800V high-speed charging architecture. Independent, rear-mounted motors, one per wheel, generate a total power output of 500kW. N Vision 74 features dual-charging capability, and the rear-mounted 9.3 lb. capacity hydrogen fuel tanks can be refueled within five minutes. The 85kW fuel cell converts hydrogen to electricity to charge the 62kWh battery. Hyundai says the inspiration came from the 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe. Hydrogen powered cars have been in development for decades so you might say this concept resembling the Back to the Future DeLorean fits. The Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo are hydrogen vehicles currently in the market.

All-New 2024 Subaru Impreza Arrives This Spring

The 6th generation all-new 2024 Subaru Impreza, with a revised Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, is powered by a 152 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder direct-injection SUBARU BOXER® engine on the Base and Sport trims while the new RS upgrades to a 182 horsepower 2.5-liter BOXER engine. Standard on all trim levels is a Lineartronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). The Sport and RS trims feature an 8-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters. Standard on all 2024 Impreza models is the latest version of EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology. The compact car comes exclusively as a 5-door hatchback when it arrives in Subaru retailers this Spring.

2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 EV Sedan Coming This Spring

The all-new 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6, inspired by Hyundai’s Prophecy EV concept, is available with a 77.4 kWh battery pack with two electric motor layouts, either with a rear motor only or with both front and rear motors. The top-of-the-line dual motor setup is an all-wheel drive option producing a combined power output of 320 horsepower (74 kW front + 165 kW rear) while the single-rear-motor layout offers 225 horsepower. When equipped with a single-rear-motor and the 77.4 kWh battery, IONIQ 6’s maximum driving range on a single charge is a Hyundai estimated 340 miles. The maximum range of the dual motor AWD models is a Hyundai-estimated 310 miles. The modular touchscreen dashboard integrates a 12.3-inch full-touch infotainment display and 12.3-inch digital cluster under one piece of glass. With a 350-kW charger, IONIQ 6’s charge can go from 10 percent to 80 percent in just 18 minutes. If the owner only has five minutes to spare, the IONIQ 6 can recoup approximately 65 miles of range using a 350-kW fast charger. The standard 10.9 kW on-board charger completes a full charge in 7 hours and 10 minutes using Level 2 charging. IONIQ 6 goes on sale Spring 2023.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata Starts At $29,325

The 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata, in Sport, Club, Club with Brembo BBS Recaro Package or Grand Touring trim levels, is powered by a 181 horsepower Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission and MX-5 Miata Grand Touring is offered in either a manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The 2023 MX-5 goes on sale with a starting MSRP of $29,325 (including $1,275 for destination and handling).

All-New 2023 Toyota Prius

The all-new 2023 Toyota Prius, offered in the LE, XLE or Limited grades, is powered by the fifth generation hybrid powertrain with up to 196 horsepower expected to achieve a manufacturer estimated 57 MPG combined fuel economy rating on the LE FWD model. Toyota has a broad range of electrified vehicles with ten hybrids, two plug-in hybrids, the new bZ4X battery electric vehicle and zero emission hydrogen fuel cell technology Mirai, Toyota. The price and on-sale date of the all-new 2023 Prius will be announced later this year.

Genesis X Convertible Concept

The Genesis X Convertible concept, with a folding hardtop roof that integrates transparent moon roofs above the front occupants, has an electric powertrain.

2023 Nissan Versa Starts At $16,825 Next Month

The 2023 Nissan Versa, in S, SV and SR grades, is powered by a 122-horsepower 1.6-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission (S only) or an Xtronic CVT transmission (optional on S, standard on SV and SR). Fuel economy is rated up to 32 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 35 mpg for Xtronic CVT models. The 2023 Nissan Versa goes on sale in December starting at $16,825 (including $1,095 destination and handling).

Kia EV6 GT With 576 Horsepower Arriving This Quarter

The all-electric Kia EV6 GT has a 576 horsepower dual-motor e-AWD powertrain that combines a 77.4-kWh Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (80/10/10) battery pack for the front-mounted 160kW motor and a rear-mounted 270kW motor. When it goes on sale in Q4 2022, the EV6 GT will be available nationwide at Kia retailers. All EV6 GT buyers will receive a charging credit of 1,000 kWh at Electrify America stations, useable over a three-year period. Pricing is subject to an announcement closer to vehicle launch. An 800V multi-charging architecture enables ultra-fast DC charging to recharge 10 to 80 percent state-of-charge in under 18 minutes.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Test Drive: 2023 Mazda CX-5

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 is powered by a 187 horsepower Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gas engine with cylinder deactivation.

The CX-5 was first introduced at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show going on sale in 2012 and receiving a refresh in 2017. The CX-5 popularity continues and it remains Mazda's top selling vehicle. 

All my first impressions from a 2013 test drive were reaffirmed recently and the upgraded safety features along with standard all-wheel drive on all eight trim levels, make the CX-5 a top choice in the compact SUV category. 

This test drive was in the polymetal grey metallic Carbon Edition with red interior which fits in above the S, Select and Preferred trim levels with an MSRP of $31,775 (including $1,275 for destination and handling) and below the Premium, Premium Plus and more powerful Turbo and Turbo Signature grades. 

Click to watch video.

Test Drive: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, powered by a 169 horsepower four cylinder 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve with Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence engine paired with CVT for fuel efficiency, went on sale in the Fall of 2021. In this test drive, onlookers asked if it was a Subaru, another very popular selling Japanese brand which offers only all-wheel drive vehicles. All three Corolla Cross trim levels, the L, LE and XLE, are available in all-wheel drive. The top-of-the-line XLE was test driven and reviewed in this video, which, with options, has an MSRP of about $32,000. The Corolla Cross is assembled at the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama, that has the capacity to produce up to 150,000 Corolla Cross vehicles per year. At first, it seemed that the Corolla Cross was under-powered with 169 horsepower, but after a 360 mile test drive that included high speed highway driving maneuvering through California rainstorms, it delivered impressive performance and good fuel economy that came in at about 30 MPG as published. Despite being the smaller sibling of the Rav4, it has significant space and cargo capacity. Definitely worth considering when shopping for a compact SUV.

Click to watch video.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

2023 Honda Accord - All-New 11th Generation

The all-new 11th-generation 2023 Honda Accord is 2.8 inches longer and available in six trim levels starting with the LX and EX powered by a 192 horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with VTEC® variable valve lift technology and topped by the Sport, EX-L, Sport-L and Touring powered by an all-new, more powerful 204 horsepower 4th-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system with a pair of electric motors that are now mounted side-by-side and an all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine that adds direct fuel injection. A standard 10.2-inch digital instrument panel has unique display functions depending on powertrain. Sport, EX-L, Sport-L, Touring hybrid models come standard with a 12.3-inch unit with a physical volume knob, wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility and a simplified navigation structure with fewer menus. 

Volvo EX90 Coming In Early 2024

The new fully electric 7-seater Volvo EX90 will be initially available with twin-motor all-wheel drive version that is powered by a 496 horsepower system of a 111kWh battery and two permanent magnet electric motors. The 2024 Volvo EX90 is now available for pre-order in the United States at under $80,000 with deliveries to begin in early 2024. All Americas-bound Volvo EX90 models are expected to be built at Charleston (Ridgeville), South Carolina.

2023 Kia EV6 Starts At $49,795

The 2023 Kia EV6, entering its second model year, starts at $49,795 (including $1,295 destination fee). The 225 horsepower Wind RWD becomes the base EV6 for the 2023 model year, replacing the Light RWD and producing a range of 310 miles. The top-of-the-line 576 horsepower EV6 GT with a range of 206 miles starts at $62,695. Kia EV6 owners will have three years from the date of purchase to use the 1,000 kWh of complimentary charging through the Electrify America network of public charging stations.  

2023 Lexus LX 600 Flagship SUV Goes On Sale Before Yearend

The 2023 Lexus LX 600 flagship SUV is powered by a 409 horsepower 3.4-liter V6 twin-turbo engine mated to a Direct Shift-10AT and adds a standard heated steering wheel. The instrument panel features a 12.3-inch upper screen that shows navigation, audio controls and the Multi-Terrain Monitor during off-road driving and the lower 7-inch touch display shows the climate control screen and serves as a driving-support screen for Multi-Terrain Select. Displaying the camera image on the upper screen while simultaneously displaying the real-time vehicle status on the lower screen allows the driver to monitor off-road driving conditions without switching the display. The LX comes standard with Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 that includes the Pre-Collision System, which includes Frontal Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection. The 2023 LX 600 will go on sale by the end of 2022.

2023 Honda Pilot - All-New - Goes On Sale In December

 The all-new fourth-generation 2023 Honda Pilot, in Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring and Elite trim levels, is powered by a 285 horsepower all-new 24-valve dual overhead cam 3.5-liter engine with an available second-generation i-VTM4™ torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that has been tuned exclusively for Pilot. Paddle shifters are standard for manual control. Blind spot information has been expanded to 82 feet of radar range. Also new are Traffic Jam Assist, Low-Speed Braking Control and Traffic Sign Recognition which are standard. Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist have been updated to feature more natural responses. A standard 7-inch digital instrument panel features an all-digital tachometer on the left and a physical speedometer on the right side. The display also features user-selectable functions such as Honda Sensing® settings, vehicle information and more. Exclusive to Elite is a configurable 10.2-inch digital instrument display with multi-view camera system paired with a color head-up display. A new 7-inch touchscreen audio system is standard on Sport with physical knobs for volume and tuning, and a simplified menu structure. Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility are standard. The Pilot goes on sale next month. 

Genesis GV70 EV Production Starts Next Month in Alabama

The electrified Genesis GV70 EV, introduced in China a year agois the third electric vehicle in the Genesis lineup and the first Genesis to be assembled in the United States at Montgomery, Alabama. Production is expected to start next month. Range is expected to be 400km or 248 miles.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Porsche 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman Style Editions Coming Next Year

The new Porsche 718 Boxster Style Edition and 718 Cayman Style Edition are two new variants within the mid-engine 718 model lineup based on the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman with the 300 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine equipped a standard six-speed manual transmission or with the optional seven-speed PDK and Sport Chrono Package. 

These new models will be initially offered in Europe in early 2023 with global availability to follow.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ Sedan Starts At $76,050

The all-new 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ sedan, fitted standard with a 90.6 kWh battery, delivers 305 miles of range according to EPA estimates. In addition to the EQE 350+ Sedan, there are the EQE 350 4MATIC and EQE 500 4MATIC sedans, all offered in Premium, Exclusive and Pinnacle trims for the U.S. market. Highlights include Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, LED Headlamps with Highbeam Assist and the Parking Package with Surround View System and PARKTRONIC.  The all-new 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ sedan starts at $76,050 (including $1,150 destination and delivery charge) when it arrives in U.S. dealerships in the Fall.