Tag Archives: car reviews

Braking News: Motor Trend magazine’s 2015 Car of the Year

Winner announced this morning on Fox

motor trend According to Motor Trend this is the vehicle that best represents exceptional value, superiority in its class and most significant development on the 2015 new car scene. In all there were 42 contenders and as you can see from this image you might be scratching your head like me when MT picked the 2015 Volkswagen Golf as the winner. Really? The winner is chosen in the following criteria: 

Advancement in Design
Quality execution of exterior and interior styling; innovation in vehicle packaging; good selection and use of materials.

Continue reading Braking News: Motor Trend magazine’s 2015 Car of the Year

Braking News: Camp Jeep @ 2014 Chicago Auto Show

All work and no play…

2014 chicago auto show, camp jeep, jeep, jeep wrangler, jeep grand cherokee, new jeep cherokee…makes for some very tired reporters at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Mark and I decided to take a break and headed over to Camp Jeep. What a hoot. Click on the image to see the fun video we did.

Braking News: Chrysler 200 @ Chicago Auto Show

Not a warmed up Sebring anymore

2014 chicago auto show, 2015 chrysler 200, chrysler 200, d sedan cars, mid size cars, car reviews, savageonwheels.com Chrysler finally has the D sedan they always wanted. For 2015 they were able to start fresh and the new 200 is light years better than last year’s 200. Mark and I had a chance to talk with one of the engineers who helped designed it at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Click on the image below to see the video.2014 chicago auto show, 2015 chrysler 200, chrysler 200, d sedan cars, mid size cars, car reviews, savageonwheels.com

2014 Ford Fiesta SE

Small cars can be fun to drive if spunky and good handling

Driving small cars isn’t a turnoff to me. I enjoy their economy, their simplicity their easy handling and their low cost.14FiestaST_go-around_15_HR

But frugal needn’t mean blah, and Ford’s Fiesta has learned that lesson. It offers a spunky look and feel, good handling and an overall simplicity that helps you enjoy the pure driving ability of the car. And it does it without all the electronic gee-whiz gadgets that add so much cost to today’s cars, yet it was no fuddy-duddy.

I drove the SE hatchback, the mid-level model of seven trims. There is the base S sedan starting at a bargain basement $14,000, all the way up to a racy ST hatchback with a turbocharged four-banger at $21,400.
The Race Red SE hatch is indicative of what many Fiesta buyers will select and lists at $16,050.

First, the hatch gives you more cargo hauling capability and it looks sportier in profile than the sedan. There’s even a little spoiler in back.

Standard to all but the ST model is a 1.6-liter, Duratec I4 that creates 120 horsepower that is effectively put to use via an easy shifting 5-speed manual gearbox. The Fiesta never seems slow or pokey. While no speed racer it’ll get up to highway speeds easily and feels downright frisky as you pull away from stoplights, having good low-end torque. That’s quite a contrast to the Nissan Versa Note I tested recently. It felt way underpowered, yet these cars are almost identical in price, amenities and weight and the Note was just 11 horsepower shy of the Fiesta. Continue reading 2014 Ford Fiesta SE

Chasing Classic Cars: A Camaro soon to be classic.

2014 Camaro Hot Wheels edition

2014 Hot Wheels Camero, Hot Wheels Camero, Hot WheelsEvery may Mark and I head up to Road America (our favorite place) to the Midwest Automotive Writer Association event. There are cars from just about every manufacturer with the cars they want us to write about. Sure there are “family” cars but sprinkled in are lots of fun cars. In this case it was the 2014 Hot Wheels edition Camaro. This is the dream of millions of Hot Wheels® fans and the first time a full-size, production Hot Wheels® car has been offered for sale by any manufacturer. What a hoot! Check out the video by clicking on the image.

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE

Hybrid is good on gas mileage and easy on the eyes

Ford’s new Fusion might do well to co-opt the old Miller Lite motto and tweak it a bit – Looks Great, Less Filling!2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE

That seems apt for Fusion’s hybrid model, which was my first full drive of the swoopy new Fusion with its fastback looks and Aston Martin-like grille. This is a looker to be sure. As one might expect with a hybrid gas/electric system under the hood, this runs quiet and delays your gas station visits a bit. Fusion’s new system combines a highly fuel efficient. Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter I4 with lithium ion battery powered electric motor and earns an EPA rating of 47 mpg city and highway. It’s rare that city and highway numbers are equal in a hybrid.

Ford cuts the overall power from 191 horses in its former Fusion hybrid to 188 hp on this model, but also trims more than 100 lbs. from the car, 15 just from the gas motor. Yet while the car earns good EPA numbers, it has been criticized for not living up to those claims.

My mileage fell short, but at 36.7 mpg in a week’s drive, it was still head and shoulders above other family sedans I’ve driven. Compare that to 27.4 mpg I got in a recent Honda Accord test, and 28.7 mpg in my recent Mazda6 test drive. Continue reading 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE

2013 Chevrolet Volt (plug-in electric)

Smooth, quiet, but Volt  packs power too

Chevrolet’s Volt is the leader of the hybrid pack when it comes to performance.1volt

It’s quick and handles almost like a sports sedan. I know what you’re thinking, “No Way it’s quick!” Ah, but you’d be wrong.

The difference between the plug-in electric hybrid Volt and a gas-powered sedan is that there’s no engine grumble to give you a sense of speed. With Volt, you simply press a button on the center stack and change from Normal to Sport mode.

Next time you press the accelerator (not a gas pedal, right?) this 3,781-lb. car rips away from a stoplight, quietly, but with smooth seamless acceleration. Most cars are still slipping from second to third gear as you streak away.

Handling is borderline sporty too. No, it’s not a BMW, but steering is pretty darned precise and quick, so you can zip around corners with authority. Plus, its low-slung battery packs keep the Volt well balanced, aiding its cornering.

Ride is on the sporty side too, but still is pleasant and well controlled, the Volt’s 105.7-inch wheelbase making this ride like a mid-size sport sedan. But, since it’s a hatch, it’s more useful for carrying things than a standard sedan.

Now let’s face it, if you’re a prospective Volt buyer, the last thing you probably were even thinking about was performance. But the cool thing here is that you get performance along with all those great hybrid characteristics you’re likely aiming for. Continue reading 2013 Chevrolet Volt (plug-in electric)

2013 Infiniti FX37 AWD

FX37, a love-hate relationship

Infiniti’s racy FX37 sport-ute is a classic case for a love-hate relationship.Infin Fx

If you enjoy performance, and don’t really expect such from a sport-ute, you’ve got to love how the FX37 responds. It feels like a tall Porsche, with oodles of power from its new 3.7-liter V6. In fact, Infiniti rates it a 325 horses and even that seems as if it might be a tad low.

The 3.7 replaces the former 3.5-liter V6, which wasn’t too shabby itself. And the bright metallic blue test ute was the all-wheel-drive model, so right out of the blocks it had power and road grip on its side. Toss in a healthy helping of fine handling and the FX37 delivers premium performance at a modestly premium price.

The base FX37 with rear-wheel drive starts at $44,950, while the tested AWD model lists at $45,750. And at that you get a silky 7-speed automatic with Adaptive Shift Control that allows you to shift manually.

Where the hate comes in, and hate may be a bit harsh, is subject to one’s design leanings primarily. That, and depending on whether you expect a cushy ride, or one reflecting the sporty nature of this beast, you may feel luxury dictates the former. Continue reading 2013 Infiniti FX37 AWD

2013 Toyota Avalon

Avalon XLE Premium aims for younger drivers

avalon-parked
Styling is dramatically improved on the 2013 Toyota Avalon.

An old automotive axiom goes that you can sell a young man’s car to an old man, but you can’t sell an old man’s car to a young man.Apparently Toyota didn’t know that, until now.

Toyota’s Avalon, long a senior citizen favorite, has been restyled and its suspension and steering firmed up to move it decidedly out of the old fuddy-duddy market in looks and performance. Its crisp new body with thin chrome-trimmed grille above a larger lower opening and its thinned taillights with chrome across the rear deck turn styling yawner into a sharply tailored machine.

At least now mature adults who are not yet AARP worthy may look at the Avalon. Continue reading 2013 Toyota Avalon

2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring

New Mazda6 boasts power, looks and efficiency

            Confession, my first new car was a Mazda, a puny little GLC with barely enough power to get me up a fair sized hill. I’ve had a soft spot for Mazda ever since.2014 Mazda 6

Now comes the 2014 (that’s right, 2014) Mazda6, a car that doesn’t have to apologize for its lack of horsepower, boasting 184 horses from a 2.5-liter direct-injected I4, a couple more than the generously powered Nissan Altima. The Mazda’s power also is superior to that of the top-selling Toyota Camry’s four-cylinder model.

Plus, Mazda is using what it calls Skyactiv technology, a blend of direct-injection, variable valve timing, lower weight and higher compression to gain gas mileage while delivering strong low- and mid-range power, the power we all use most in normal daily driving. Skyactiv also includes a smooth-shifting 6-speed sport automatic that improves gas mileage up to 7%.

So right out of the blocks, the brilliant metallic red ($300 extra, and worth it) Grand Touring test model had technology working to deliver sporty and upbeat performance. But Mazda also scrapped its cartoonish big-mouthed grille along with its cookie cutter exterior to deliver the freshest, most interesting mid-size sedan design in ages. The grille is still big, but is no longer a gaping maw. Plus it’s indented under the hood, like a Mustang (old and new) and some of the sportier cars from the 1970s.

Mazda-6-Ride-a-longThe nose’s curb appeal is further enhanced by well chiseled creases atop the front wheel wells and blending into the front doors under the A pillar along with a strong shoulder line back by the C pillar and trunk. Add a slim taillight treatment with a thin touch of chrome at the top and there’s no mistaking this for any other sedan on the highway. Yes, I know the new Fusion has an Aston Martin nose, but this is fresher looking than even that fine-looking family sedan.

So here’s the deal. The Mazda6 not only delivers looks and power, but it continues to handle well. Is this a sport sedan? No, but it’s a sporty sedan with good turn-in at corners, and above average feedback via the steering wheel. There’s a nice balance here that many mid-size family cars are still searching for. Continue reading 2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring