Despite low cost, Chrysler 200 droptop leaves us cold
Firstimpressions can be skewed by many factors, and it probably did not help that the Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible arrived on a near zero degree day in a week where snow was forecast, and fell, over several days.No, I didn’t drop the top!
The test car was a bright metallic red with tan canvas roof. A hardtop convertible also is available and the 200 comes in three trim levels, the base Touring model, starting at $27,100, the tested Limited at $32,095 and the S model with blacked out grille at $32,595.
Mopar lovers may recall the former Sebring sedan, which also was available as a convertible. And this, like the Sebring, offers a rare under $30 grand convertible that will seat four adults. It’s only real competitors are Ford’s Mustang and Chevrolet’s Camaro. Both look much sportier and in mid-trim levels with V6 power, the Mustang is actually a tad less expensive. I’d opt for the Mustang on looks alone, but for folks who want a pleasant, less racy, comfortable convertible, the 200 is fine. Continue reading 2013 Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible→
Good-looking crossover/SUV loaded with tech goodies
There are a lot of mid-size SUVs (crossovers) to choose from and now Hyundai has gone and redesigned its Santa Fe, to help complicate your choices.
First, it’s a good-looking reskin with an edgier look and Hyundai continues to refine its vehicles to make them more upscale to fill the demands of the U.S. marketplace. So this white test ute was awash in technical doodads and electronic wizardry, sadly pushing it toward the upper end of what many folks would expect to pay for a useful mid-size ute. The Santa Fe Sport with all-wheel-drive and Hyundai’s 2.0-liter I4 with a turbo lists at $29,450. That’s still in the ballpark. But this one ladled on two pricy premium and technology packages to push the tester up to $35,925. That’s $36 grand in my book.
A Volvo wagon (crossover) with style, luxury? YES!
Volvo has been a master of wagons for decades, its sturdy boxy 240s setting the standard for boring (yet safe) upscale suburban transport.
So it’s no surprise when its tall wagons, the XC crossover vehicles push that bar higher and give the Lexus RX 350 a run for its money. It may surprise you though, that the XC models do so with a good deal of style and luxury. Adios boxy!
The tested XC60’s shoulders are broad and well sculpted and the taillights tall and balanced above sensuously curved rear haunches. This is more Venus in ivory than corrugated box, and a welcome styling change. Continue reading 2013 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD→
Spiffy sportster rekindles Toyota’s sport coupe tradition
Finally, a new sports coupe from Toyota, albeit offered through its entry-level youngster brand, Scion.
I’ve missed the Toyota Celica for years now, and I’m not alone, so with the 2013 Scion FR-S, Toyota again has a low-cost sports coupe that looks great and will provide much entertainment for those of us who prefer cars to look sporty and handle likewise. Plus this is a near identical cousin (if that were possible) to Subaru’s new BRZ. They both even have three letters as their name.
Toyota and Subaru worked together on this sports coupe, with really only the sheet metal reflecting their differing visions of what a cool coupe should look like. Both look pretty sexy and I can assure you even some Audi owners were gawking at the Scion, trying to guess its heritage. Continue reading 2013 Scion FR-S→
Flying into Washington D.C.’s Dulles Airport for a family wedding, I was frazzled from a day of flight delays, noise and airport confusion. But there in the parking lot was my soul soother, my nerve mender, a new 2013 Acura RDX.
This RDX is more spacious, more luxurious feeling and a better all-round performer than its predecessor, which was no slouch to be sure. The interior is roomy, comfortable and quiet. Its power hatch welcoming to a big load of luggage. Everything looks and feels right for a small to mid-size crossover. It didn’t hurt that mine was the upscale AWD Tech model, which means it was slathered with goodies and gadgets.
But at its base is solid performance that any luxury crossover owner would want.
Its new 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 delivers a healthy 273 horses, up from 240 hp with the previous turbocharged 4-cylinder. But the turbo delivered it with more low-end oomph. This is silky smooth after harnessed to Acura’s 6-speed automatic that features Sport/Shift, including paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. I doubt most drivers will use that feature often, but it’s a perk if you prefer more performance. Continue reading 2013 Acura RDX AWD Tech→
If you are among the folks who thought Hyundai would never make it in the U.S. car market, well, get over it.
I’ve driven quite a few Hyundai models of late and the new Azera is the finest yet. This is a large front-drive sedan to challenge Toyota’s Avalon and entry-level sedans from Lexus, Infiniti, Acura and the like.
Granted the Azera looks much like a Lexus and, similar to that make, it tends more toward luxury than sport. The emphasis here is on smooth, starting with its gentle curving roofline and profile to the car’s stylish soothing leather interior. Continue reading 2012 Hyundai Azera→
Suzuki finally earning some respect as quality improves
For years Suzuki’s cars and small utes didn’t garner much respect, but you have to earn respect, and NOW Suzuki is getting some.
That’s after its fine Kizashi sedan and SX4 small crossover raised awareness in the brand by being well designed and executed, with quality more on par with other entry-level and value brands. Another winner is its Grand Vitara, a small sport-ute that’s fun to drive, simple and delivers excellent value.
My silver tester was the mid-level Ultimate Adventure model with 4WD. And even with its impressive sounding name, it lists at $23,949, including delivery. This is where entry-level sport-utes used to be priced and what some, like Jeep’s Liberty started out to be. Continue reading 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara→
Ford continues to belt home run after home run with its Mustang lineup and the newly freshened 2013 Ford Mustang powered by a stout V6 is the latest round-tripper.
Ford touches all the bases here, looks, speed, handling and ride. My test car was a light (Ingot) silver Premium model, so just up from the base Mustang. Both feature the same hot rod V6, a 3.7-liter motor that cranks an impressive 305 horsepower. But the base starts at a modest $22,200 and the Premium at $26,200.
The new 2012 Audi A6 is just about everything a luxury sport sedan should be. It’s fast, it’s nimble, it’s stylish inside and out and it’s loaded with luxury amenities. Any quibbles I have are minor.
First, Audi continues its string of well styled cars that offer character and identity. When you see an A6, you know it’s an Audi, with its large grille opening and stylish LED headlamps in front and its slim lights and trim rear styling. It looks strong, yet elegant, and unlike most of its German competitors, it delivers an equally stylish, not staid and primarily black interior. Audi calls its interior a wraparound skyline design. Continue reading 2012 Audi A6→
Infiniti’s new M56X sedan is the rich man’s Park Avenue, full of luxury and comfortable ride, but also an absolute blast to drive.
Certainly it’s more spirited than many large luxury sedans, while looking as tame as, well, a Park Avenue. Yet there’s a growling 5.6-liter V8 under its hood that is just waiting to use its monster 420 horsepower. Continue reading 2012 Infiniti M56X→