Month: August 2017

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

Hot hatches have always been our favorite type of vehicle, followed closely by what some call a Shooting Brake, but we call a Station Wagon. Yet it seems that the great unwashed prefer Crossovers and SUVs instead. But that hasn’t deterred Hyundai from introducing the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

Styled and benchmarked in Europe, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT shares much of its design and DNA with the European Hyundai i30. Directly targeted towards the enthusiast crowd who also like the utility of a hatchback, it attempts to pick the best traits of the European ‘bahn burners. Hop in as we see if anything was lost in translation.

What’s New With The Elantra GT?

On the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT? Nearly everything. Taking cues from the i30, there is new design everywhere, starting with the Cascading Grille to the lower bumper air curtains that sweep air over the front wheels, to the rear spoiler and available LED taillights and dual exhaust system, this Hyundai is clearly no Corolla wanna-be.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Two versions of the Elantra GT exist, depending on how deep your enthusiasm is rooted. The base Elantra GT is equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Gas Direct Injection (GDI) four-cylinder engine that produces 161-horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. The base model comes with a six-speed manual or an available six-speed electronic automatic transmission. It rides on a unibody-constructed chassis with MacPherson struts and coil springs in front and a torsion beam axle at the rear.

The high-line Elantra GT Sport that we drove steps things up a bit by swapping the larger engine out for a 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI powerplant that cranks out 201-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Power for the front driver comes from either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with on-demand Shiftronic manual shifting via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

And then things get even more interesting.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport tosses the torsion beam back into the Hyundai parts bin. Instead, it opts for a full multilink independent rear suspension, higher performance front and rear springs, sport tuned dampers, 12-inch brake rotors in front and a 15mm stabilizer bar at the rear.

The pair of Elantra GTs are slated to do battle with the likes of stalwarts like the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla iM and Chevrolet Cruze.

Inside design.

The new interior of the Elantra GT Sport features a more contemporary view of things looking forward,

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

and even goes slightly Mercedes-like through the use of an 8.0-inch pedestal mounted display screen. The telescoping steering column brings the tiller closer to the driver for ultimate control. Speaking of controls, they are easily reached and, we think, nicely accented by red stitching and brightwork around the cabin. An available Infinity Premium Audio System with Clari-fi music restoration software and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all now part of the mix.

The rear seats are a tighter fit although if it is just you and a significant other, there are more than 55-cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded forward.

Safety

From a safety standpoint, the Elantra GT Sport doesn’t disappoint with available Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist. One day they might be included at no charge.

Behind the wheel

A majority of drivers will be content with the 2.0-liter four-banger for most applications. We’re not most drivers though, and sprang for the 1.6-liter Elantra GT Sport instead. While not head snapping, we did get off on having our heads bounce off the headrests while climbing through the gears of our DCT gearbox. The Sport GT did manage to keep noise at bay during most situations and on most road surfaces, while at the same time managing to let a few high-rev engine dBs penetrate the cabin.

The handling in the GT Sport is greatly improved over the standard torsion beam setup and practically invited us to thrash it through the sweeping curves found in the Low Country of suburban Charleston, SC. The steering was well-weighted and helped to make sense of the rather firm ride. That included the feeling of virtually every piece of ballast stone that makes up some of the older streets found in this legendary town. What’s ballast stone, you may ask? It was a stone carried in empty ships to help stabilize them when not carrying a load. When they would load up with goods such as tobacco or cotton, the ballast stones were removed, and piled at dockside. Eventually there were too many of the stones to go around so they started to pave the streets with them instead.

The front seats were nicely bolstered but as we have found with other Hyundai products, rather hard to the backside, especially if you have what is generally known as a boney ass. Still, at the end of the day, as the price of its competition has risen, the new 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport hits the sweet spot in hot hatchdom today.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2017 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Base MSRP: $24,350 As tested: $25,235

Includes: Destination fee, $885.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    Inline four-cylinder

Displacement:                            2.0 GDI or 1.6 Turbo GDI

Power:                                         2.0: 161hp @ 6,200 rpm; 1.6: 201hp @ 6,000

Torque:                                       2.0: 150 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm; 1.6: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

Fuel System:                              Gas Direct Injection

Fuel:                                             Regular

Drive Type:                                FWD

Gearbox:                                     6-speed Manual or 7-speed dual clutch automatic

Unladen Weight:                      3,158-pounds

Length:                                       170.9-inches

Width:                                        70.7-inches

Height:                                       57.7-inches

Wheelbase:                               104.3-inches

Cargo Volume:                          55.1-cubic feet rear seat folded

City:                                                         26

Highway:                                                32

Combined:                                             28

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2018 Ford F150 First Drive

2018 Ford F150 First Drive

With its predecessor already an award-winning vehicle, what does Ford do for an encore? The 2018 Ford F150 holds tough with a new, bolder grille, bringing it closer in line with its bigger Super Duty brethren. But is that enough to keep this aluminum wonder relevant into the new model year?

With the aluminum bodied F150 already well received, Ford revisits engine configurations and choices, adds more design cues, more safety features, more payload, more, uh, more. Are pickup trucks still sexy? Let’s find out.

What’s New?

Ford flew us to their backyard, in Ann Arbor Michigan, where they displayed a beautifully ancient Model TT truck and a 1950s-era Ford F1 pickup, following the axiom that you need to see where you’ve come from in order to see where you are going.  Even though the brand has been successful with over 26 million F-Series pickups sold to date, the company still tries to push the envelope. Not content with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ethos, Ford designers and engineers, following their successful redesign in 2015, decided to tweak a few outside appearance items and then go whole hog on the powertrain. That, and the fact they are constantly aware of what is happening with their around-town rivals, the RamTruck Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra twins, and the Texas-bred Toyota Tundra.

New on the 2018 Ford F150 are revised C-Clamp headlamps with available LED lighting that help to add some swagger to the twin bar grille. As a result, there’s no mistaking what another driver sees in their rearview mirror. Returning: Ford’s trademark “drop down” side glass is back for an easier sideview of the road. New design cues on XL, XLT and Lariat series trucks mimic that of Ford Super Duty models, while the premium King Ranch, Platinum and Limited series up the ante even more.

Ford F150
Ford F150

New for 2018 is the base 3.3-liter V6 engine, which is smaller, but puts out eight more horsepower and an additional 12 lb-ft of torque than the base 3.5-liter V6 it replaces. In current trim, it’s good for 290 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque.

That engine is joined by a revised second-generation 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It includes port and direct-injection, and now features 325 horsepower and an additional 25 lb-ft of torque, up to 400 lb-ft.

Finally, a revised Five-Point-Oh (5.0-liter) V8 is offered, which like the 2.7-liter V6, now includes port and direct-injection, along with friction-reducing enhancements that boost it up an additional 10 ponies to 395-horsepower and 13 more lb-ft of torque to 400 lb-ft.

Ford F150
Ford F150

Ford, in an effort to keep the entry price low, mates the 3.3-liter exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 2.7- and 5.0-liter receive a 10-speed automatic gearbox. These and other enhancements help the F150 achieve a maximum gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 18,400-pounds, with a 1,000-pound increase in towing capacity to 13,200 lbs. As far as rocks in the box, you can haul up to 3,270-pounds of cargo in the 5.5-, 6.5-, or 8-foot boxes. Cab configurations start with a regular cab setup, a SuperCab and a SuperCrew cabin for the full E-ticket ride.

Safety First.

The Blue Oval reportedly included a new 12-corner front crush horn to throw off energy in a frontal impact. Ford has determined that it helps to increase occupant safety in such a shunt.

Adaptive cruise control is also in the mix with stop and go measures for truck applications, including towing. According to Ford, the system operates by using radar to bring the F150 down to a complete stop, depending on following distance.

An available Pro Trailer Backup Assist guides drivers in backing up with trailers to boat ramps or driveways. Also on board: an optional Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) which works with trailers up to 33-feet long, causing the system to add in the extra towing length when considering the blind spot. Combine that with the available 360-degree camera system for a total view around your ride.

Behind the Wheel.

Always a competent runner, we found the new 2018 Ford F150 only improving on its legendary abilities. Sufficiently quiet on Michigan back roads, we found normal conversations possible, even from the back seat. When we were in a mood for tuneage, the Bang & Olufsen audio system provided clear and crisp dBs of sound, despite what was emanating from under the hood.

Ford F150
Ford F150

Power from the 5.0-liter V8 was flawless even at high speeds, which saw the new 10 speed automatic transmission trying to get to its top cog in an effort to achieve fuel sipping nirvana. Lower speed jaunts around town found it skipping a gear or two for added efficiency. No matter, as it is probably very easy to get lost within 10 gear sets.

On an impromptu off-road course, the F150 admirably displayed added functionality from such features as the 360-degree Around Vehicle camera system and vehicle sensors. When cresting up a hill, all it took was a flick of the switch to turn on the front-view camera, to see what lie below before descending on the other side.

Plowing through the water hazard was just plain fun and a good indicator of how the F150 will perform under trying conditions. Slip it into 4-low and the powertrain supplied all the grunt needed to pull us up and away from a simulated shallow river crossing.

Add that to the thoughtfully designed tailgate step and other around-truck features, and it’s easy to see why the 2018 Ford F150 will likely continue its dominance in the half-ton pickup truck segment.

2018 Ford F150

Story and Photos by Mark Elias. Additional pics by Sam Varnhagen/Ford.

F150 Specs:

Base prices:

XL: $28,675; XLT, $34,265; Lariat, $41,980; King Ranch, $52,895; Platinum, $55,450; Limited, $61,815.

Engines:

3.3-liter Naturally Aspirated V6

2.7-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged V6

3.5-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged V6

5.0-liter Naturally Aspirated V8

 

Transmissions:

Six-speed Automatic with manual shift mode

10-speed Automatic with manual shift mode

 

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 122.4-163.7 inches

Length: 209.3-250.5 inches

Width: 79.9 inches

Height: 75-77.5 inches

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”42″ gal_title=”2018 Ford F150″]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Hyundai Sonata First Drive.

2018 Hyundai Sonata First Drive.

Charleston, South Carolina is what we would call a seasoned city in the sense that it has been around for a while but is (hopefully) constantly undergoing a change for the better. The same can be said for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai flew us to the Low Country for a look-see at the refreshed new Sonata, and a first drive with its new smaller, but decidedly sportier younger brother, the Elantra GT Sport.

2018 Hyundai Sonata
2018 Hyundai Sonata

 Refreshing.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata essentially received a mild refresh on the outside, but this slight restyling is more than skin deep. The new Sonata’s most obvious trait is its restyled “cascading grille,” which seemingly bears a resemblance to Audi’s “singleframe” grille, drawn by former Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. So important to the Hyundai-Kia Motor Group, the company named him as its first non-Korean president.

Schreyer and his team did not stop at the grille, though, and added more details to the new Sonata including an enhanced front and rear fascia, more flowing lines, a reworked hood, revised trunklid, improved taillights and a wider expanse of brightwork around the greenhouse. It’s just the thing to help the 2018 version break away from its more conservative 2015 predecessor.

2018 Hyundai Sonata
2018 Hyundai Sonata

But even more, it’s just the refresh needed to compete against the new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, both scheduled to hit dealerships shortly.

Dressed up interior.

The interior of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata includes a newly designed instrument panel and centerstack that continues the contemporary vibe seen outside. A new 8.0-inch display with Navigation is part of our 2.0T Limited package, with a three-year subscription for Guidance Package Services, which automatically download updated maps to your system. A high-line Infinity premium audio system along with heated and ventilated seats help to round out the package. A Qi Wireless charging pad can be had for untethered charging of your android (and hopefully soon, Apple) devices.

While driving around Charleston and its surroundings, the rear legroom took us completely by surprise with its expansive space. If we didn’t know better, we would have sworn we were driving a full size sedan.

Safety

Blind Spot detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert…according to Hyundai it’s the only mainstream mid-size sedan with this as a standard feature.

 Motivating factors.

Three different powertrains are on tap for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata, ranging from the base SE with a 185-horsepwer 2.4-liter / six-speed automatic combo. It was followed by the 178-horsepower ECO version with its 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission. At the pinnacle of the Sonata lineup was our 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger with eight-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission.

2018 Hyundai Sonata
2018 Hyundai Sonata

We found the 2.0-liter turbo mill to be energetic throughout the range, and really like the new eight-speed automatic slushbox. Switchable from Comfort, ECO and Sport modes, it also offers Smart mode which finds the gearbox’s sweet spot once a solid cruise mode has been established, as on a highway, for instance. It’s at that point that the EPA says the Sonata’s mileage improves from 22 city/ 31 highway to 23 city/ 32 highway. Yeehaw!

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata’s suspension has been beefed up a bit through the recalibrating of the electric rack and pinion system and thickening up of the rear trailing arms. It’s not a track day runner by any stretch but the bottom line is an improved Sonata that is still in the hunt against the revised Accord and Camry.

For how long? That’s for the marketplace to decide.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

 2018 Hyundai Sonata

Base MSRP

 SE 2.4:                                  $22,050

ECO 1.6T:                             $22,650

SEL 2.4:                                $23,700

Sport 2.4:                             $25,200

Limited 2.4:                        $27,400

Limited Ultimate 2.4:     $30,300

Sport 2.0T:                          $27,600

Limited 2.0T:                     $32,450                      

Destination:                       $      885

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                4 cylinder

Displacement:                         1.6-liter

2.4-liter

2.0-liter

Fuel System:                           Gas Direct Injection

Drive Type                              FWD

Gearbox:                                  2.4: 6-speed

1.6: 7-speed

2.0: 8-speed

Unladen Weight:                    3247-3527-pounds

Length:                                    191.1-inches

Width:                                     73.4-inches

Height:                                     58.1-inches

Wheelbase:                             110.4-inches

Cargo Volume:                       16.3-cubic feet

Cd:                                            0.27

Mileage:

2.4: 25 city/36 highway/29 avg

1.6: 28 city/37 highway/31 avg

2.0: 23 city/32 highway/26 avg

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”40″ gal_title=”2018 Hyundai Sonata”]

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Batteries are included.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Batteries are included.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is nearly the life-size representation of a childhood dream: to have what is essentially a full-size slot car that we can drive around on the street. Except that in this case we are not 3 inches tall, and there is no slot for the guide shoe. Oh, and it’s not as sleek as the slot cars of our youth.

The new Bolt EV is General Motor’s latest attempt to bypass the use of dead dinosaurs in order to make it go. Instead, the Bolt EV gets its motivation from lithium-ion batteries, which supply energy to the South Korean-built GM Electric Drive unit. The entire battery unit, by LG Electronics, weighs in at approximately 960-pounds, and accounts for slightly more than a quarter of the Bolt EV’s curb weight, which is located under the floor of the vehicle cabin. Active thermal conditioning, as used in the Chevrolet Volt, helps to keep the battery at an optimal temperature for maximum life, but in the off-chance it should fail, it’s covered by an 8-year / 100,000 mile warranty.

The batteries are replenished by an onboard 7.2 kW charger for regular charging from a 240-volt wall box. According to GM, power for a 50-mile commute can be acquired in less than two hours. Using a fast charger, the Bolt can receive up to 90-miles of range in 30 minutes. The Bolt EV is complete with an enclosed 120-volt charging cord.

This Coppertop-on-wheels offers innovative charging so that the car will know whether it is home or away. Once it is plugged in, using a GPS location signal, it will know to charge according to your preset schedule. For instance, if you have programmed it to charge during off-peak hours while at home, it will do so. But if it is sensed in a different location, it will know to start charging immediately.

Available in base LT and Premier trim levels; it competes directly against the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, Kia Soul EV and Volkswagen eGolf.

Inside information.

Our Bolt EV Premier, although green, didn’t feature that same cheapish look found in other “green” vehicles that we have come across lately. Instead, we found a leather appointed interior that was comfortable enough for the long haul, even if that was a 200-mile jaunt across state from Miami to Fort Myers area. A two-toned Dashboard featuring dark soft touch material above over a white matrix design below offered just enough “real car feel” to the overall package. Speaking of package-ing (just work with us here), we were amazed at how big this “wagon” really was, once we were all in.

Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV

Although it doesn’t share any architecture with others built on the GM Gamma platform, the Bolt EV is built on the same assembly line as the Chevrolet Sonic compact car. It is offered for sale in Europe as the Opel Ampera-E. But this small station wagon, as the EPA calls it, is anything but small inside, with enough side-by-side seating in the front row for two adults, as well as plenty of legroom in the rear. There is 95 cubic feet of passenger volume inside, along with 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 56.6-cubic feet when the seats are folded forward.

Full driver information is available in various readouts from the gauge display screen, and from the center console’s 10.2-inch tablet-like display. Looking more android than Apple, it offered everything from battery consumption to audio, telephone, navigation and vehicle information. In regards to the connected car, the Bolt EV is all-in with OnStar’s WiFi hot spot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity suites. A wireless charger is located at the base of the center console, and there is an under elbow storage bin large enough for most tablets. Software apps from ChargePoint display a list of types of chargers available in your general vicinity.

How It Drives.

Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV

Surprisingly well, thank you. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, although weighing half as much as a Bentley Continental GTC, still manages to produce enough torque to snap your head back into the headrest upon launching at the stop light dragstrip. Impressive in its might, the Bolt EV motor unit manages to produce up to 266 pound feet of torque, and 200 hp, for a 0 to 60 time of approximately 6.9 seconds.

We found the Bolt Regen system, which the General touts as providing one-pedal driving, managed to make us feel as though we were winding around a golf course in a Club Car or EZGO golf cart. Forward momentum was constant as you managed to push the accelerator; lift up, and it immediately caused you to lurch forward in just the same fashion you would while on the way to the 19th Hole. It’s just the thing to help give some power back to the battery, while in slower stop-and-go traffic.

The motor sends its power to the front wheels via Chevrolet’s electronic precision shift system. A shift-and park by wire arrangement, it sends electronic cues to the CPU, which in turn does their best to approximate what we would call a natural driving experience.

The ride quality was surprisingly supple, with the Bolt EV being able to maneuver from lane to lane in a split second. Surprised by the actual handling that this wagon exhibited, it was likely enhanced by having nearly 1,000 pounds of battery at one of the lowest points on the vehicle. Your mileage may vary, but we found the car surprisingly, er, car like in feel, response, and tractability.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Base MSRP: $40,905. As Tested: $43,510.

Includes: DC Fast Charger Connections, $750; Driver Confidence Package, $450; Infotainment Package, $485. Destination Fee, $875. Federal Government tax credits are available up to $7,500.

Key Specs

Type:                                                Rechargeable energy storage system

Mass:                                                960-pounds

Battery Type:                                 Lithium Ion

Power:                                             200 hp / 150 kW

Torque:                                           260 lb-ft / 360 Nm

Warranty:                                       8-years / 100,000 miles

Acceleration:                                  0-60mph in 6.9 seconds

Drive Type                                     Front Wheel Drive Single Motor and Gearset

Suspension:                                   Front: MacPherson Strut / Rear: Torsion Beam

Tire Size:                                        Michelin Energy Saver A/S 215/50R17

Unladen Weight:                          3,580-pounds

Length:                                           164-inches

Width:                                            69.5-inches

Height:                                           62.8-inches

Wheelbase:                                    102.4-inches

Cargo Volume:                              16.9 cubic feet

Cd:                                                   0.27

Range:                                            238 (EPA) up to 260+/- YMMV

City:                                                128

Highway:                                       110

Combined:                                    119 MPGe (MPG equivalent)

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