Tag Archives: stability control

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)

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC

New Outlander good, but doesn’t raise SUV baroutlander2

Mitsubishi doesn’t sell many models in the United States, so when it re-launches one, as with the new 2016 Outlander, it had better be good.

The Outlander is good, but it sets no new bar for small sport-utilities, or crossovers. Yet it does raise the bar considerably for Mitsubishi products. Fit and finish are good and there are more bells and whistles on the Outlander than in previous versions.

Part of the reason for that is my test was of the 3.0 GT S-AWC model, the top-of-the-line. My ute was Labrador black pearl, a shiny black that looked handsome, especially with the bits of chrome trim it featured around the lower window edges and back of the rear window, plus some along the rocker panels and headlights and lower nose fascia.

Inside, Outlander is fairly quiet and is well finished and pleasantly styled.

Let’s start with performance.outlander

Outlander’s 3.0-liter, MIVEC V6 provides good acceleration at 224 horsepower and 215 ft.lbs. of torque. Not overly powerful, but strong enough to get on the highway with authority and the 6-speed automatic transmission shifts well too. Outlander provides four drive modes and an Eco button to save fuel. The modes are Normal, Eco-AWC, Snow and Lock for full-time 4-wheeling. Normal was fine for city driving and I used it the most. Continue reading 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC

2014 Acura MDX SH-AWD

acuraNew MDX lighter, loaded with gadgets galore

Acura put its popular MDX sport-utility on a serious diet, tweaked its dimensions a bit and in the test version, attached every electronic gee-whiz feature its engineers could muster – hence the $57,400 price tag.

First, the sport-ute added considerably to its use of high-strength steel and a new rear suspension to trim 275 lbs. from the previous MDX. It also dropped the vehicle’s dual exhaust in favor of a single pipe, cutting weight and engine noise.

The former 3.7-liter V6 also was replaced by a 3.5-liter V6 that develops 290 horsepower. That’s down just slightly from the earlier model, but with the weight savings you’ll never notice. Power is good and the ute gets reasonable gas mileage too for something that will haul 8 people. It’s rated at 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. I got 21.7 mpg in about 60% highway driving. The engine’s variable valve timing helps it run more efficiently.acura3

Acura mates the quiet V6 with a 6-speed automatic that shifts smoothly, but not as crisply as you might expect. It doesn’t seem to want to rev the engine up to provide tons of oomph. Still, you easily reach highway speeds.

Handling is good for a largish ute though, the SH-AWD, super-handling all-wheel-drive system, giving the MDX both good grip in sloppy weather and helping cut its turning radius. Steering feels much quicker than in most similar-sized utes. Continue reading 2014 Acura MDX SH-AWD

2013 Chrysler 200

Chrysler 200 Touring feels like a rental car, but scores with good MPG

I wasn’t expecting much when the silver Chrysler 200 Touring arrived. It’s not a styling leader and isn’t far removed from its Sebring predecessor. It looks like a rental car and feels like one too.Chrysler

This one tried to spiff up a bit with a $495 package that ups the tires from 17-inchers to 18 and adds the S appearance package that blacks out the grille and light bezels and puts an S initial on the trunk. For the price, it helps gussy it up a bit.

But I don’t want to demean the 200, its build quality seems light years ahead of the Sebring, and actually seemed better than the Convertible version I drove last winter. Fiat, which owns Chrysler, has, ironically, improved build, fit and finish at Chrysler.

Yet I have to say, on a 600+ mile trip to Indianapolis and back via back roads in central and northern Indiana, the 200 was comfortable and paid big gas mileage dividends.

Its standard 2.4-liter I4 with variable valve timing delivers a moderate 173 horsepower. But its gas mileage was stellar. I got between 25.5 and 28.5 mpg and topped out at 32 mpg in a straight highway drive. The EPA rates this car at 20 mpg city and 31 highway and the trip computer estimated I could travel 502 miles before a fill-up. That makes for a stellar long-distance driver. Continue reading 2013 Chrysler 200

2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD

New Lincoln MKZ‘s crisp style shows flair, staying power

More than three years have passed since I last tested a Lincoln, which tells you a lot about how stagnant Lincoln’s lineup has been.

The Lincoln at least has a nose you might recognize again when you see it.
The Lincoln at least has a nose you might recognize again when you see it.

Lincolns have been little more that gussied up Fords for some time, but that may be changing as Lincoln gets serious about competing with a surging Cadillac and the bevy of luxury makes from Lexus to Mercedes-Benz.

The new dark metallic blue gray (smoke quartz) Lincoln MKZ AWD I just tested is a big step forward. It looks and feels luxurious and is about two light years more refined than any Town Car or Continental of bygone days.

Styling is crisp with a wingspread grille and thin taillights that deliver a flair that sets the Lincoln apart from other makes. Once you’ve seen one, you’ll recognize its looks, and there are a lot of luxury cars that blend in these days. This one has some styling staying power.

Riding on a 112.2-inch wheelbase it also has some interior room and comfort. Four adults fit easily and the trunk is a generous 15.0 cubic feet.

What got me is how much fun this 2.0-liter, direct-injected, intercooled turbocharged I4 engine is. It develops 240 horsepower and you feel it every time you mash the gas pedal. Cruising around town the car delivers silky smooth power and barely noticeable shifts from the 6-speed automatic. Decide to pass on the highway, or demand some ponies to hit highway speeds and the MKZ responds with vigor. Continue reading 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD