Tag Archives: I4

2017 Kia Soul! (Exclaim)

Kia Soul! adds power to its hip, economical stat sheet …2017 Kia Soul!

            In many regards Kia’s cute little Soul had everything going for it — first, its looks. The slope-roofed compact stands out in the dull boxy crossover market.

It’s also decidedly economical to buy and operate, with a low starting price and good mpg figures. The darned thing even handles well and has oodles of interior room so four hipsters can hop in, slap on their headphones and head for the beach, or, well, in Milwaukee, maybe a brew pub.

What it didn’t have was power. Now it does, thanks to Kia adding a turbocharger to its 1.6-liter I4. That boosts what had been a mild 130 horses up to 201. That may sound like it turns Soul into a rocket, but let’s just say it makes it quick, once you trounce the accelerator.2017 Kia Soul!

Still, this week’s metallic gray Soul! (Exclaim) with its snazzy neon red accent stripe below the lower door line, was peppy and still had all the other good stuff in its plus column.

This is the top-level Soul, but you’d be hard-pressed to prove it by the price tag. With delivery built in, the Soul! lists at $23,695 and this only added floor mats to end up at $23,815.

For that you get the zippy and efficient turbo engine that’s rated 26 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. I got 30.2 mpg in a mix of driving, and you know I was testing the turbo pretty aggressively at times. Nice! Continue reading 2017 Kia Soul! (Exclaim)

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2017 Infiniti Q60 Premium AWD

New Q60 emphasizes performance, but ride suffers …2017 Infiniti Q60

Driving similar cars back to back puts both into perspective, an unfortunate turn for the sporty Infiniti Q60.

I’d driven the Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe with 4Matic, its all-wheel-drive system, the week before I slipped behind the wheel of the new Q60, which replaces the fine G37 in Infiniti’s lineup.

The Benz and Infiniti are nearly identical in profile, length and wheelbase. But the Infiniti’s ride, no matter the Drive Mode, was inferior, and by that I mean harsh. The Infiniti felt like I was driving on square tires from time to time when the road surfaces turned crumbly. If you live in a southern clime, or California, where smooth blacktop is prevalent, this wouldn’t be an issue. In the Midwest it’s an issue.

Like the Mercedes, the Infiniti is strong on power and handling. This is a luxury sport coupe with the emphasis on sport, so it actually feels sportier than the Benz. It packs more punch with its 3.0-liter V6 with twin turbos. It’ll crank 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It feels powerful from the get-go and will zip away from a stoplight with help from its 7-speed automatic that allows for rev-matching manual downshifts. The Infiniti is fun from a performance aspect.2017 Infiniti Q60

Handling likewise is fairly firm in all modes and precise so the driver feels in total control. There’s even an all-wheel-drive system on the Premium model I drove, or you can go with the standard rear-drive. This AWD system did not seem to keep the car from spinning its wheels under heavy power on wet pavement as well as the C300 though. Continue reading 2017 Infiniti Q60 Premium AWD

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo’s S90 a near perfect blend of sport, luxury …2017 Volvo S90

There are many truly wonderful mid-size, luxury, sport sedans, both heavy on the sport and heavy on the luxury. Few blend the two as well as the new Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription.

The S90 may be the best driving car I’ve tested this past year.

There’s irony though, because the Volvo, like an increasing number of luxury sport sedans is loaded down with a gaggle of electronic goodies aimed at nearly driving the car for you. It’s no secret that autonomous cars are just around the corner and the Volvo proves that.

Each year our vehicles have more safety and driving aids and the S90 has plenty.

But first let’s consider how much fun the Volvo is to drive.

The S90 rides on a 115.8-inch wheelbase and features a double wishbone suspension front and rear. The result is a smooth yet athletic ride that makes the car feel one with the road, but not so glued to it that every crease and bump disturbs its occupants. The Volvo had one of the best rides I’ve experienced this year.2017 Volvo S90

Even more amazing is the power. A hot little 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 is under its long lean hood. Oh, and it’s also supercharged. That pumps the power to 316 horses with a torque rating of 295 ft.-lbs. The car leaps to life in Comfort driving mode and yet (wait for it) there is a Dynamic mode that turns the S90 decidedly racy. The lower gears are held longer, and there are plenty of those with an 8-speed Geartronic automatic standard on all models. Continue reading 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

Larger Sportage maintains styling edge …2017 Kia Sportage

Kia has upgraded and enlarged its Sportage small sport-ute to keep it competitive with the likes of Subaru’s Forester, Honda’s CR-V, Ford’s Escape and Toyota’s RAV4.

This is an extremely competitive market with many good products, but Kia maintains its strong styling edge and then lengthens Sportage’s wheelbase from 103.9 inches to 105.1 to give it an even better ride than before. It’s right up there with the top small utes now for comfort.

I tested a beautiful “Burnished Copper” Sportage SX AWD, the top-level model. The color reminds me of my family’s handsome 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S that was decked out in “Aztec Gold.” Great to see some gold tones return to automotive color lineups.

2017 Kia SportageRide and power are Sportage’s strengths. While the longer wheelbase and re-tuned suspension give it a well-controlled ride with no harsh moments, the power is impressive. The SX model features a high-revving turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 with an impressive 241 horsepower and 260 ft.-lbs. of torque. Same engine is used in Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport. Continue reading 2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo

Kia Optima, a better mid-size sedan …  kia2

When I last tested a Kia Optima I thought it among the best mid-size sedans I’d driven, plus it got 39.5 miles per gallon. Wow! But that was a hybrid model.

Well, the refreshed 2016 Optima is even more impressive. My one major hesitation with the previous model, a passenger’s seat that sat low in the car and was not adjustable, has been fixed. And the tested LX Turbo model got 37 mpg with its 1.6-liter I4 turbo. Sweet! Continue reading 2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo

2016 Ford Escape SE 4WD

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Dirty week of snow and slop added some grit and grim to the pretty red Escape, but it handled like a dream all week.

Ford’s Escape a looker and a handler …

Ford’s Escape is popular because it looks good, comes in a range of prices that meet a wide array of consumers’ needs, and is an extremely sporty handling crossover.

None of that changes for 2016. Continue reading 2016 Ford Escape SE 4WD

2015 Ford Edge Titanium AWD

Ford Edge Titanium a top-flight crossoveredge

Ford’s Edge is a good looking crossover that puts Ford’s boxy Flex to shame in handling and looks , but won’t haul as many people. Edge is a top-flight mid-size crossover with a comfortable ride, good power and an excellent interior for five adults.

My test unit was the almost top-level Titanium model with all-wheel-drive, so started at $38,490, including delivery. Only the Edge Sport is more upscale, starting at $40,990 and packs a turbocharged V6.

I found the metallic gray (magnetic) test Edge’s turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4 to be sufficient. It delivers a healthy 245 horsepower and boasts a 270 torque rating. So it’ll get up and go. Besides you’re not gonna take a crossover to Union Grove’s dragstrip anyway.

Ford’s EcoBoost engine works well with the standard 6-speed automatic, runs smooth and quiet and when you tromp the accelerator to get on the highway it’ll jump up to 70 mph quickly. Edge also gets away from stoplights well in town, not feeling as heavy as it’s nearly 4,100 lbs.

edge2But the ride is what the family will like. Edge’s suspension is tuned to control rough Midwest roads and coddle passengers without making them feel they are floating along on a pillow. There’s little jostling and even railroad tracks don’t disturb the ride. Continue reading 2015 Ford Edge Titanium AWD