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Autoblog New Car Reviews
Autoblog New Car Reviews
Updated: 7 hours 22 min ago
The saying goes that man cannot live by bread alone, and neither can automakers live by selling one car alone. This holds especially true for automakers with a budding dealer network to support, like the Fiat brand, which returned to US shores in 2011 after a 28-year absence. The company's single car to sell at the time was the Fiat 500, a cute retro rebirth of the original, iconic Cinquecento, which your toddler now calls Luigi thanks to Pixar.
Since then, the new 500 has sold reasonably well here in the US, and the Fiat brand has been following the same playbook that another purveyor of pint-sized autos, Mini, has used: sell as many variants as you can of the one model you've got. So we have the 500, 500C drop top, high-performance 500 Abarth, all-electric 500e and a few additional trim levels and special editions to further fill dealer showrooms. But the axiom that automakers cannot live selling one car alone still stands, and so Fiat has finally introduced its second model, the larger 500L.
Executive Editor Chris Paukert completed our First Drive of the 500L back in June, and was left pleasantly surprised by its combination of utility, offbeat style, fun-to-drive demeanor and value. We've also, however, read some scathing reviews, like this one from The New York Times. I wasn't sure where the truth lay when the keys for this top-trim 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge were handed to me, but finding out would be but a short week of together time away.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Earlier in the year, I reviewed a powder-blue Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, and I witnessed a group of high-school-aged girls ogling the car as it sat in my driveway. In my head, I found it to be a funny-yet-fitting scene that I didn't think of again until a 2014 Acura RLX showed up in my driveway. This time around, an elderly neighborhood couple stopped to give the big Acura sedan a closer look. The RLX is trying to shed past stereotypes of its predecessor, the Acura RL, just like the Beetle. Hoping to avoid becoming the de facto "grandpa car," Acura has completely reworked - and renamed - its flagship sedan.
As the bookend to the new entry-level ILX, the addition of the 2014 RLX might give Acura its strongest sedan lineup ever as the automaker looks to break the cycle of being a middle-of-the-road luxury brand. Stepping up to the big-boy table isn't going to be easy, though, as the competition keeps getting tougher. Forget cars like the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5 Series, the Acura RLX is going to have its hands full with the likes of the Cadillac XTS, Lexus GS and Hyundai Genesis, not to mention a strong consortium of lower-priced, mid-luxury sedans like the Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon and Chevy Impala. The one thing all of these cars have in common is a reputation for being an old man cruiser.
I spent a week with the new RLX to see if it could shake the stigma of its outdated predecessor or if it would just leave me searching for the nearest early bird specials.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Withhold judgment on the world's greatest exhaust note until after you've heard the Jaguar F-Type V8 S (scroll down now for a sneak peek). Its cackle, boom and pop under deceleration will have you rifling through its glovebox looking for a tool to remove the stereo. An in-dash audio system is trivial when four round pipes on the tail-end of a vehicle sound this good.
Combining modern technology with age-old exhaust plumbing, Jaguar's British engineers have developed a way to propel spent combustion gases into the atmosphere in a manner that elevates the complete driving experience. At idle, it purrs. Under acceleration, it roars. During cruise, it soothes. Perhaps most compellingly, during deceleration, it titillates.
Thankfully, the newest two-place convertible from Jaguar isn't only defined by its mesmerizing soundtrack - the F-Type would be an impressive sports car even if the world went silent.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Due to the nature of mass production, a faulty part on a car can cause a recall numbering in the tens to hundreds of thousands of vehicles, even if not all of the cars in the recall are defective and need a fix. "Better safe than sorry" is the mantra. But over the past few years, automakers have learned how to perform recalls much more efficiently by employing technology that allows them to trace parts back to their sources, Automotive News reports. An extreme result of this is when General Motors used bar codes and radio frequency tags to trace defective Chevrolet Volt parts back to their source and limited a US recall to just four vehicles.
That recall was initiated after a European Volt owner brought the car in for a repair under warranty. A faulty brake valve was the problem, and instead of recalling all Volts that might be affected, GM searched its parts database and traced the faulty brake valves back to just four cars in the US.
Nissan has a similar track-and-trace system that is referred to within the company as "Bread Crumbs," named in reference to the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. Parts that are tagged and traced are assigned to specific engineers, who track warranty cost, customer complaints and any reported defects, Automotive News reports.
Other automakers are using the same or similar practices to limit recalls to the vehicles that actually are defective. Not only should these smaller, more specific recalls help make vehicles safer, but it should lessen the monetary impact recalls have on the auto industry - which spends $45 billion to $50 billion on them per year.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The last time your humble narrator found himself driving a Corvette, someone saluted. It happened last fall in a 2013 427 Collector Edition Convertible, white with silver stripes, and the unexpected gesture of respect came courtesy of one of America's finest servicemen in khaki fatigues: a UPS driver. He stood up in the open doorway of his step van while opposing the sixth-generation Corvette at a stoplight, spontaneously presenting the stern-faced, clipped salutation of a veteran. Icons demand respect, and the C6 earned it. God Bless America, this new Corvette has a lot to live up to.
Despite having only been on sale for mere weeks, we're guessing you - and our favorite parcel delivery driver - have read and committed to memory all of the pertinent details surrounding the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. You've gazed in wide-eyed wonder over the all-new fifth-generation 6.2-liter LT1 small-block V8 and its salient specs (455 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque) and its attendant feats of wonder (0-60 in 3.8 seconds, quarter-mile in 12 seconds at 119 miles per hour), and you know its bargain-basement pricing - $51,995 to start. Good on ya - we do, too.
But metrics and pretty pictures only go so far - not unlike most first drive impressions, which occur on ideal manufacturer-prescribed roads and circuits in tight time frames. As the Corvette's heritage is that of one of the world's best everyday sports cars, we knew we had to secure a week with one on our home turf to see how it acquits itself in daily driving. After all, we owe it to our parcel-packing patriots.Permalink | Email this | Comments
One of the many perks of this job is, not surprisingly, the cars. It's relatively easy to snag the keys to a vehicle for a special occasion, whether that be for a road trip, tailgating or helping a friend move. And while sometimes the tailgating might happen with a Ford F-150 instead of a Range Rover and the road trip might be in a minivan rather than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, occasionally the stars align and a special vehicle arrives for an equally special time.
That's exactly how I found myself dressed to the nines and behind the wheel of the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, a $135,375 (as-tested) rocket ship, en route to a rare multi-wedding weekend to celebrate with two pairs of my closest friends on the biggest day of their lives (a very special congratulations to Kara and Zach, and Laura and Andrew). Continuing with our nuptial theme, the M mechanicals and the 6 Series Gran Coupe body are a match made in heaven.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The original Austin Mini was not designed as a fun-to-drive, sporty small car. Its go-kart-like handling and general chuckability were an unintended byproduct of essential aspects of its design. Its four wheels were pushed to the absolute corners of the car to maximize interior space, and its front-wheel-drive layout and transversely mounted engine were in contrast to the rear-wheel-drive, longitudinal layouts of the day.
The result was a highly economical car with space for four and some luggage that just happened to be an absolute hoot to drive. Nissan has followed a similar path in the design of its Versa Note, which strives to provide the maximum amount of space and efficiency in a minimal footprint. On this front, it's successful.
First, we must salute Nissan for departing from the styling of the malformed kidney bean it calls the Versa Sedan. The Versa Note is a fashionably conservative design that neither offends nor excites. The front fascia is arguably its most conservative point, with high-mounted headlights and a sharper, cleaner version of Nissan's familial grille. The tail, with its funky I-don't-know-what-shape-I-am taillights contributes most of the car's flair. The large, spacious greenhouse, particularly up front, keeps passengers from feeling hemmed-in while letting in plenty of light.Permalink | Email this | Comments
You might not be interested in owning a subcompact (B-segment) hatchback for $20,000. Let's be clear from the get go here: there are any number of reasonable arguments for staying away from the highest-content versions of these small cars. Ford's player in the B-segment arena is the newly updated 2014 Fiesta, and the Titanium trim represents the most luxurious instantiation of the model. We recently were loaned a Fiesta Titanium for a week, whose final sticker price hit $20,390, with navigation being the only standalone option added to the bottom line. By way of comparison, the most basic version of the all new, one-segment-up Mazda3 hatchback costs $19,740 with delivery and destination accounted for, and no options added on.
Hold on to that thought for a moment, we'll get back to it.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Jeep appears to have nailed it this time. After two decades of assembling its Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle, the American automaker has finally delivered a world-class off-roader capable of taking on everything in its segment - and more - with a high likelihood of coming out on top.
And if you drove last year's model, it's time to climb behind the wheel again as Jeep has significantly updated the SUV for 2014 with a bold new exterior appearance, an upgraded interior with enhanced electronics and a new transmission that completely transforms the way it drives.
We recently spent a full week with a dark blue 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4, a well-optioned model fitted with the standard gasoline-fed V6. While it didn't have the punch of the range-topping V8-powered SRT8, or the fuel-sipping economy of its new EcoDiesel sibling, the high-volume variant left us quite impressed.Permalink | Email this | Comments
People, us included, make a big stink about the importance of family sedans. There's no doubt they're critical - they represent a huge slice of the market's annual sales and profits. However, despite accounting for far fewer transactions than the midsize sedan segment, the fullsize sedan is getting attention from manufacturers now that our market's entire lineup of those (slightly) smaller four-doors has turned over in the last two years or so. As most of the fullsize segment's mainstays derive a fair bit of their platform and powertrain technologies from their midsize cousins, these larger four-doors offer the potential for fatter profit margins, too. And with the newly stylish duds found on many of the industry's most successful midsize sedans, it's only right that automakers no longer think about fullsizers as big, squishy, vanilla family haulers with flat seats, vague steering and a thin layer of 'luxury' in the form of faux wood trim.
As manufacturers have again started diving into large sedans feet-first, the cars themselves have become sharper. The interiors are now of a higher quality and loaded with tech, while the exteriors have become further extensions of each manufacturer's design language. There's perhaps no greater example of this than the Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus, two models that evolved from subpar offerings into market leaders. This segment-wide transformation happened quite quickly, whether because of coincidental timing or because manufacturers are trying to get more out of their big cars, recognizing they account for a small portion of overall sales (just 3.5 percent of the new-car market in the first half of 2013).
The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is one such vehicle. We remarked on the changes to the V6 variant last year, and while we previously had a quick steer of the gas-electric hybrid, we figured the new model was worth a closer week-long look.Permalink | Email this | Comments