Category: New Car Reviews!

The latest and greatest from auto manufacturers all over the world. We report and you decide if it’s worth plunking down your hard-earned for.

Roguish behavior: The 2021 Nissan Rogue

Roguish behavior: The 2021 Nissan Rogue

It’s one of Nissan’s most important vehicles. The 2021 Nissan Rogue is the long-overdue replacement for this best-seller, and with the competition that exists in the segment, Nissan couldn’t afford another swing and a miss. As a prime vehicle in the super-competitive compact crossover SUV range, it needs to bring its A-game every time. Did they do that with the 2021 Rogue? Follow along as Mark Elias Media Services takes a look.

Nissan Rogue right side
The 2021 Nissan Rogue at the Lake Worth Lagoon.

What’s the Nissan Rogue got? Where’s it going?

The all-new 2021 Rogue takes a more grown-up approach to the compact crossover segment. Gone are the cutesy-curvy front end. Instead, Nissan has pulled out all the stops because, well, there is no crying in baseball.

The new 2021 Nissan Rogue is a four-door, five-passenger hatchback compact crossover utility vehicle. That’s a damn mouthful when it comes to describing the Rogue. It fits between the Nissan Kicks and the Nissan Murano. Segment-wise, it competes against such establishment stalwarts as the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan.

2.5-liter engine
The 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder powering the 2021 Nissan Rogue.

The new Rogue is motivated by Nissan’s bread and butter 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine that now produces 181 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 181 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm. That’s an 11 horsepower increase and six lb-ft of torque. It’s not an incredible increase, but it is sufficient to give a substantial boost over the previous version. There’s also talk from Nissan of an upcoming turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine as an alternative, but no intro date has been discussed.

drivers side
From the Driver’s side: the 2021 Nissan Rogue interior.

The Rogue is available with front or all-wheel-drive using Nissan’s proven continually variable transmission (CVT), which has been tweaked, making it both livelier in the performance category and more stingy when it comes to fuel economy. The AWD system includes a central hydraulic clutch that accelerates power delivery as needed to the rear wheels for a torque-vectoring effect. There are five driver-selectable modes, including Standard, Eco, Sport, Off-road and Snow, that will allow the Rogue to take you almost everywhere.

But how does it look?

Nissan front
Nearly head-on: the 2021 Nissan Rogue.

In a phrase, the Nissan Rogue appears “grown-up.” Featuring a block-like aesthetic, the Rogue features the “two-box” arrangement that makes good use of the Nissan V-Motion grille and floating roof. More upright than before, it still has a certain sleekness that is helped by active grille shutters, front air curtains and flush underbody panels that help trim up the air channeling underneath the vehicle. They all do their part to lower the Rogue’s drag coefficient, improving it by five percent.

The front of the Rogue can be a bit deceiving. Let us explain: The “cool-looking” lights at the point where the hood and fenders come together are not the headlights at all. Instead, they are the daylight runners. What looks like turn indicators are the actual headlights just below. Crazy, those Nissan designers are.

What about inside the Rogue?

Zero Gravity
The 2021 Nissan Rogue’s Zero Gravity seats.

We’re in outer space! At least that’s how we feel with the NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats in the Rogue. Comfortable and supportive, they allowed us to travel for a while without fatigue. The backseat area has grown to include a few more inches of knee and headroom. The electronic gearshift lever has opened up more space underneath, allowing storage for sunglasses, phone cords and other personal effects. Finally, the cupholders at each door of the Rogue can now accommodate large 32-oz. bottles.  We see a lot of bathroom stops in your family’s future.

The new Rogue is flush with desirable features from the S model with premium cloth interior to its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped 8-inch touchscreen. Step above to the Rogue SV with an 8-way power seat, surround-view camera, NissanConnect remote services, 6-speaker audio system and in-car Wi-Fi.

Nissan’s ProPilot Assist with adaptive cruise control lane keep assist is available on the Rogue SL and standard on the Rogue Platinum. The Rogue’s key safety features include;

  • Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode.

Finally, new for 2021, the Nissan Rogue Platinum is equipped with premium features like quilted semi-aniline leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital display, a nine-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Qi phone charging.

All-wheel-drive is available on any Rogue trim level for a reasonable $1,400.

Is the new Rogue right for me?

The new 2021 Nissan Rogue gets the ball rolling again following a long period of dormancy. We have always been fans of the brand, and hated to see it languish while other manufacturers pressed on. With the appearance of the new Rogue, it is clear a new captain is steering the ship. The Rogue is evidence of smooth sailing ahead.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Words and Photos by Mark Elias

2021 Nissan Rogue Specifications and Photo Gallery

 2021 Nissan Rogue
Popular Powertrains 
Engine2.5-liter inline-4
Horsepower181 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque181 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
TransmissionCVT
Fuel Economy28mpg (25city, 32 hwy)
Also AvailableAWD, 1.5 Turbo 3-cyl
Specs 
Warranty3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty5 years or 60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating4-star
Max Seating Capacity5
Wheelbase106.5 inches
Overall Length 183 inches
Width72.4 inches
Height 66.5 inches
Turning Diameter35.4 inches
Headroom, Front 41.1 feet
Headroom, Rear 39.2 inches
Legroom, Front 41.5 inches
Legroom, Rear38.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Front57.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.9 inches
EPA Passenger Volume105.4 inches
Cargo Capacity (2nd row/1st row) 36.5/74.1 cu. ft.
2022 Infiniti QX55 First Drive Experience

2022 Infiniti QX55 First Drive Experience

The Infiniti lineup has been substantially overdue for a product portfolio refresh. With that in mind, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 was the right vehicle to get the ball rolling. The company introduced their new fastback crossover SUV with a staggered mid-pandemic launch that was both innovative, and at times, tedious. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

In the case of the 2022 Infiniti QX55, reacting in desperation sometimes leads to a masterstroke. Read on as we take a look at this new coupe’-style four-door fastback CUV. We think you’ll like what you see.

Infiniti QX55
The new Infiniti at North Palm Beach Marina.

What moves the 2022 Infiniti QX55?

The Infiniti QX55 is the first Japanese-designed sportback CUV available in North America. Using baasic bones found on the QX50, Infiniti created a design that was pioneered by German automakers and now adopted by others, including the Brits and mid-continent Europeans, it offers a stylish rear hatchback body with four-doors and room for five passengers. Its target audience is younger city dwellers desiring sports car styling with carry-all capabilities. The Infiniti QX55 is manufactured in Mexico.

the 2022 Infiniti QX55 engine
The 2.0-liter VC Turbo inline-4 cylinder engine.

Our slate gray launch vehicle is available with only one engine option. But it is a good one. The award-winning Infiniti 2.0-liter VC-Turbo engine delivers 268 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400-4,800 rpm. Its innovation is in its name: VC stands for variable-compression, and this engine seamlessly alters its compression ratio between 8:1 and 14:1 for improved power and efficiency as necessary. A patented multilink system can vary the piston’s stroke, based on the driver’s needs at any moment. It is mounted within the engine room via an active torque rod mount to dampen any extraneous vibrations from finding their way into the QX55 interior. According to Infiniti, it is the world’s first production variable-compression turbocharged engine.

Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.

The torque from the 2.0-liter finds its way to the pavement via a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with standard steering-wheel-mounted paddle shift levers. Regardless of the trim level you select, your QX55 will be equipped with Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system. This “smart” AWD is designed to send up to 50-percent of the available torque to the rear wheels when sensors determine that better grip is needed. The system offers grip on low-friction surfaces or during takeoff. It can also be set to drive the front wheels only.

QX from the Side
The QX55 in profile.

Helping to drive our QX was Infiniti’s optional Direct Adaptive Steering that, through sensors, helps to optimize the steering feel. With this system, the driver can personalize steering modes with a specific feel for each driving style. The system works on an active basis, changing at various speeds for specific maneuverability.

The QX55 uses Active Brake Limited Slip systems to brake individual wheels for better grip but to engage Active Trace Control to brake inside wheels at entry, mid-corner or exit. Think of it as brake-based torque vectoring.

An Infiniti QX55 walkaround.

Origami grille
The origami grille found on the new Infiniti QX55.

Sure the trademarked Infiniti grille is here, looking more spectacular than ever thanks to the ribbon-like detail work that forms the origami-inspired double-arch grille. But something else makes the QX55 stand out: The roofline. Infiniti chief designer Taisuke Nakamura said, “with its unmistakable bold presence and uncompromised looks, thanks to its dramatic roofline, the QX55 is a beacon for style among Infiniti crossovers.”

And it did attract attention. We at Mark Elias Media were surprised at the number of people who approached us to ask about it. What surprised us more were those who actually knew the QX55 was soon to be introduced.

QX55 Monaco red
Zero Gravity seats in Monaco Red.

Inside this new Infiniti, we found a lot to like. Starting with the layout of controls in the driver-oriented cabin. The first thing we notice is the blindingly bright Monaco red interior covering the Infiniti “Zero-Gravity” seats. We like them more than any other for their comfort and fatigue-fighting design.

Trim enhancements in our demonstrator included aluminum bits throughout. They combined with dark maple open-pore wood trim to offer a spectacular counterpoint to the red leather. It’s music to the eyes. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make their way into the Infiniti QX55, allowing the driver to go hand and cable-free.

Music to the ears comes from the Bose Performance Series audio system with 16-speakers. Using Bose’s Centerpoint 2 Technology, the system automatically converts two-channel stereo sound into a surround-sound listening session using software to restore previously compressed digital music. The musical building blocks can be restored to a full concert hall-like experience using advanced digital signal processing.

interior QX
The QX55 Interior.

The second row of the QX55 is no slouch either. Moveable rear seating slides forward or backward up to six inches for more legroom or more cargo room. Speaking of cargo area, there are 26.9 cubic feet of it behind the rear seat. Tumble the second-row seats forward and that area jumps to 54.1 cubic feet.

Behind the wheel of the QX55.

Our QX55 was eager to please thanks to the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the ‘55’s all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration was brisk but was kept out of the cabin thanks to the acoustic glass featured throughout. The glass received an assist from the specially-stamped floor pans designed to work like baffles in a recording studio, eliminating reverberation through asynchronous harmonics.

Our slate gray example included the available ProPILOT Assist that helps control the QX55 via steering, acceleration, braking and lane-centering features. It’s a step towards autonomous driving but requires a set of hands on the wheel, which tends to cause the fatigue that the assist is supposed to eliminate.

The new Infiniti QX55 offers a refined and engaging look at the future of Infiniti. Our time was brief with this new Slate Gray sled but we eagerly await our next go-round but as the Kinks used to sing, Yeah, you really got me going.

How much will the Infiniti QX55 cost?

Base MSRP for the 2022 Infiniti QX55 is $46,500, rising to $57,050.

The 2022 Kia Sorento is on a tear!

The 2022 Kia Sorento is on a tear!

The 2022 Kia Sorento
The 2022 Kia Sorento EX Hybrid

Now into its fourth-generation, the 2022 Kia Sorento is on the road and ready to grab onto the coattails of success that its larger Telluride sibling has been enjoying as of late. We tested the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX and the 2022 Kia Sorento SX-Prestige X-Line. They are two of the sharpest looks from Kia’s evolving line of SUV/Crossovers.

And before you go off saying this is just a slight revision, we will stop you. This new Kia is fresh from its entirely new chassis on up and has received a good “seeing-to” that includes four powertrains, one of which is a new PHEV model later this year.

What is the Kia Sorento?

Kia Sorento open hatch
The 2022 Kia Sorento EX Hybrid as viewed from the rear.

The Kia Sorento is a midsize four-door SUV with a hatchback. It can carry up to six passengers with new captain’s chairs or seven with a bench seat. Power comes from an array of engine choices, including a 191 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder with conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. Other choices include a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four as we saw in our SX-Prestige X-line, with a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic that makes 281 horsepower, and later this year, a plug-in hybrid PHEV option. FWD or optional AWD is up to the buyer’s choice.

2022 Sorento Hybrid
The 2022 Kia Sorento EX Hybrid 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

Our Hybrid EX tester was powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 44-kW electric motor that combines for a total of 227 horsepower. Available in front-wheel-drive only, the hybrid package utilizes a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates fuel economy of 39 mpg city/35 mpg highway, with 27 mpg combined. That’s not too shabby for a good-sized SUV. Nor was the power: Our secret road course was the perfect venue to let the Sorento get out and strut.

How does the new Sorento look?

The Sorento continues with a new stylized version of the “tiger nose” grille and daytime running lights surrounding the LED headlights. The new “clamshell” style hood wraps over the bodysides. The overall effect gives the Sorento a longer and leaner exterior. Other design cues are here as well, along with the distinctive wave shape at the base of the C-pillars and chrome signatures found below the A-pillars.

Kia Sorento hero2
The 2022 Kia Sorento EX Hybrid

The strengthening of appearances on the new Kia Sorento has helped to toughen it up overall, replacing it with a much stronger, muscular appearance. Some credit goes to its newer and more angular silhouette and assertive styling.

Overall, it’s a clean, aggressive look.

The new Kia Sorento is available in nine trim levels ranging from base LX, S, EX, SX, SX-Prestige, SX-Prestige X-Line, S 1.6 Hybrid, EX 1.6 Hybrid and the soon-to-arrive PHEV model.

How is the 2022 Sorento inside?

Sorento Interior
The 2022 Kia Sorento EX Hybrid Interior front seats.

Inside the 2022 Sorento, buyers will find a glamour-puss of an interior compared to the outgoing model. The by-now ubiquitous 12.3-inch digital gauge display is available that makes the instrumentation jump off the dash. There’s also a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen display that displays everything from navigation to audio to cellular to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The second row of the Sorento featured more legroom than we were accustomed to in the previous version of this SUV. Credit the additional stretch of 1.4-inches to the wheelbase for that extra backseat floor space. Buyers can select the standard bench seat to haul up to seven passengers, while those opting for the captain’s seats will settle for six. Wireless Qi smartphone charging and an optional 12-speaker Bose sound system help to sweeten the deal.

Desirable options.

Options are few on the new Sorento, with Kia preferring to tuck them into the various trim levels instead. The most desirable option of the bunch would be to pop for the all-wheel-drive system on the base LX model, which includes a snow mode for those in wintry-climate locales. For us, that’s a no-brainer.

Stepping up to the turbocharged EX 2.5T brings with it a panoramic roof with a retractable power sunshade. It’s perfect for those born in the Age of Aquarius. See Google for the lyrics.

Behind the wheel of the new Sorento!

Climbing behind the wheel of the 2022  Kia Sorento EX 1.6 Hybrid (truly a mouthful) was a pleasant surprise for a vehicle that we thought was rather played-out in its last iteration. While that one was tired, this new model is a better-put-together example of what the Kia brand is capable of. It didn’t end there, either. The 1.6-liter turbo/hybrid powertrain displayed pluck at every turn, whether cruising around town or passing the speed demons on the interstate.

Power from the SX-Prestige X-Line’s 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 offered up to 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. We found it more than sufficient to squeal the wheels, and offered amazing pep for an SUV this size.

At the end of the week though, we were actually sad to see this one go. With a new, ultra-refined interior, sufficient power to pass, and enough technology to save fuel, we found ourselves really enjoying this vehicle, which is a viable alternative for those not needing the added size of its larger Telluride sibling. It gave us a new appreciation for what was once an ungainly duckling that turned into a swan.

2022 Kia Sorento Photo Gallery

2018 Cadillac CTS-V RWD Sedan

2018 Cadillac CTS-V RWD Sedan

Let’s call it a 20-footer. From 20 feet away the Cadillac CTS-V RWD sedan looks like the unassuming young executive’s Cadillac CTS. You know, the one with possibly the 2.0-Liter turbocharged four-cylinder or even the 3.6-liter V6. But then you would come closer to notice the carbon fiber spoilers, inserts and side skirts, not to mention the hood that has been “pimpled-up” (not pimped, but Pimpled) to offer clearance for the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine.

The Cadillac CTS-V is clearly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. How else would you explain how a supercharged engine and magnetic ride control both found their way under the skin of this normally staid, if somewhat creased, four-door five-passenger sedan? That’s not all. There’s a performance-calibrated 8-speed automatic transmission that smoothly steps through the cogs as the 6.2-liter winds toward redline.

A sum that is as great as its parts, the Cadillac CTS-V is one of those rare vehicles that has all the space and utility of a traditional family sedan, while being the perfect foil for an owner who once wheeled Corvettes or other high-performance cars but through practical realities (marriage, children, a desire for constant double dates) has had to step up to something larger. What the new CTS-V owner gets instead of a two-seat performance coupe or convertible is a sedan that tracks flatly, grips well, and even lets you toss the tail out every now and then.

The interior is a little too dark for our taste because of the black on black appearance of the faux suede seating. There are carbon fiber inserts throughout to give some of that boy racer appeal that is verging on being dated, albeit in a more sophisticated manner. The continual improvement of the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) system has rendered an in-car entertainment system with eight-inch display, that is actually easier to use than ever before and manages to pump out the jam nicely through the Bose Surround Sound system. The TFT gauge screen is totally configurable depending on which drive mode you desire. That doesn’t mean all is perfect. Too many tiny buttons tend to crowd up the steering wheel for our taste. But a Presidential-sized hand would probably appreciate it more.

Under the hood of the CTS-V lies the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 Engine directly from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. In this guise,

CADILLAC CTS-V
CADILLAC CTS-V

it Is producing 640 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 comes on in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 200 mph. An exhaust system that gives great throat is also part of the mix and makes the car all the more lusty, the harder you press the skinny pedal. It’s like driving a Corvette. With a larger, but shapely ass, that happens to house a bunch of suitcases for a road trip. An enthusiast will like it.

Behind the wheel.

The power from the 6.2-Liter V8 is ridiculous. Head snapping in its abilities, a HANS-device is almost required for every passenger inside. The magnetic ride control helps to keep the V’s chassis in check, firming up where needed, yet offering a relaxed, relatively comfortable ride during all other situations. In touring mode, the steering feels a bit lighter as opposed to the firmed up feeling we get from Sports mode setting. so good, in fact, Sports mode was our go-to default as it was unobtrusive for most driving circumstances. Ultimately, you didn’t get the feeling of being beaten up by your car, like you do in other examples.

The concept behind the CTS-V is to build a sedan that overpowers its competition whether domestic or foreign or even a coupe (we’re looking at you, SRT Challengers). In this, it succeeds and does so in spades. In a phrase, it’s a ballsy sedan that manages to do everything right. Except turn heads. Driving in car-loving South Florida, we were surprised at how little attention the CTS-V actually drew. I guess that despite the authoritative rumble from the twin stainless steel trumpets out back, the only way you would attract attention in SUV and Pickup-loving Palm Beach county, would be if this was a Cadillac Escalade-V, or GMC Sierra-V pick-em-up truck.

And that is so unfortunate, because this car is so much more.

2018 Cadillac CTS-V RWD Sedan.

Base MSRP:     $86,495  Price as Tested: $103,235.

Includes Advanced Security Package, $600; Carbon Fiber Package, $6,250; Luxury Package, $2,500; Recaro Sport seats, $2,300; Performance Data Recorder, $1,600; Gas Guzzler Tax, $1,000; 19-inch painted wheels, $900; Dark gold Brembo calipers, $595; Destination Fee, $995.

Key Specs:

Engine:                        6.2-liter Supercharged V8

Injection:                     Direct Injection

Horsepower:               640 HP

Torque:                        630 LB-FT

Transmission:            8-speed automatic

Suspension:                Front: MacPherson Strut

Rear:                            Independent MultiLink

Cargo:                          13.7 cubic feet

Length:                        197.6 inch

Curb Weight:              4141 pounds

Height:                        57.2 inches

Wheelbase:                 114.6 inches

Width:                         72.2 inches

EPA Estimate:            14 City/21 highway/17 combined

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”122″ gal_title=”2018 Cadillac CTS-V”]

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2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

The BMW 3-Series is already a legend for obvious reasons including packaging, handling and all around sportiness. With the 2018 BMW 330e, is it a case of too much of a good thing, or is it another option for fanboys of “the Ultimate Driving Machine?”

What’s it all about?

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

The 2018 BMW 330e iPerformance is the semi-electrified version of the existing BMW 3-series four-door platform. Essentially designed to specifications of what others call a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), it is powered BMW’s well known inline four-cylinder twinpower turbocharged engine producing 180 hp at 5000-6500 rpm, and 215 lb-ft of torque at 1350-4250 rpm. This four-cylinder works in conjunction with BMWs permanent activated synchronous electric motor that adds an additional 87 hp for a cumulative total of 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That sense of urgency spurts out from the four-cylinder/electric power unit to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift levers.

Power for the electric motor comes from a lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery mounted below the trunk floor. Plugging the included wall outlet charger offers the same stimulating qualities found while watching paint dry; plug into a level II supercharger, and the task can be completed in a more palatable 2.2-hours.

Our BMW 330e iPerformance sedan, as equipped, was capable of a top speed of 140 mph. This eDrive sedan allowed speeds

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

up to 75 mph on electricity alone when set in Max eDrive mode. Auto eDrive, which was the more subtle of the drive modes, allowed electrical operation for speeds up to 50 mph. Anything above that caused the package to revert to hybrid operations. There are other user-variable settings that reduce the effectiveness of the air conditioning and other electrical operations inside the vehicle, while extending the attainable electric mileage figures.

The 330e is available in a single trim level. It will likely be cross-shopped against the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Lexus ES300h.

The view from within.

The view inside the 330e is typical BMW, as we’ve grown to enjoy through the years. If you liked the 2017 model, you’ll love the 2018 too, and most likely the 2019 as well. This sample included Venetian Beige Sensatec (“pleather”) upholstery. Our tester was ordered with the Convenience Package ($1,750), with keyless entry, a moonroof, lumbar support and Sirius XM satellite radio with a one-year subscription. Also on tap was the BMW Shadow Sport Edition package ($1,350), that added 18-inch bicolor wheels, a sport leather steering wheel, sport seats, anthracite wood trim, park distance control, ambient lighting and LED fog lamps. The only other extras were Apple CarPlay ($300) compatibility and BMW navigation ($1,700).

The BMW 330e includes a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, and 8-year/80,000-mile High Voltage Battery Warranty.

On board safety was rather basic and included BMW’s front and rear head protection system, seat-mounted front side-impact airbags and knee airbags for driver and front passenger.

Behind the wheel:

Adding in the lithium-ion battery tends to really pork up the standard BMW 3-series platform. As it were with our 330e, this four-door five-passenger Sedan ended up tipping the scales at nearly 4,000 pounds, or as they say at across the pond, 2-tonnes. But all things considered, 0-60 mph in 5.8-seconds is not terrible, just saying.

We found the 2.0-liter/electric power unit to be most effective while in highway driving mode. It’s quite evident, while driving with the huge slab of batteries under the trunk floor, that the 3-series’ handling dynamics have been jostled just a bit, thanks to the higher, and rearward-mounted center of gravity that has been thrown into disarray by the Li-ion cells. Normal driving situations are just that, normal. But we like the added benefit that comes with the four-cylinder gasoline engine when sudden energy is requested from the bridge. A jab of the accelerator causes the engine to step down, with the results being very similar to recent Formula One cars and their kinetic energy recovery system (KERS system). Sure, the sudden burst is only temporary, but it is an exhilarating boost, nonetheless.

And if we were an owner, we would be mighty chuffed over the combined 30 miles per gallon city/highway ratings. Those figures are nothing to sneeze at, taking 3.3 gallons of fuel to drive 100 miles. But the real bragging comes from the electricity plus gasoline fuel economy ratings that yield a 71 mile-per-gallon equivalency. Sure it’s probably EPA conservative, but those are still numbers you can crow about.

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

Base MSRP:  $45,600          As tested: $52,245.

Includes:  BMW Convenience Package, $1,750; BMW Shadow Sport Edition Package, $1,350; Apple CarPlay, $300; BMW Navigation, $1,700; Destination fee, $995.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                Inline 4-cylinder

Displacement:                          2.0-liter

Power:                                     185 hp @ 5,000-6,500 rpm

Torque:                                    215 lb-ft @ 1,350-4,250 rpm

Fuel System:                           Gas Direct Injection

Power Unit:                             Electric Synchronous Motor

Power:                                      87

Combined Power:                  248

Combined Torque:                310

Fuel:                                        Premium

Acceleration:                          0-60mph in 5.8 seconds

Drive Type                              RWD

Gearbox:                                 8-Speed Automatic

Tire Size:                                 180 inch Low Rolling Resistance

Unladen Weight:                    3,900-pounds

Length:                                    182.8-inches

Width:                                     71.3-inches

Height:                                     56.3-inches

Wheelbase:                              110.6-inches

Cargo Volume:                        13 cubic feet

Cd:                                             0.29

Combined:                               30 mpg

MPG Gasoline / Electric       71 mpg equivalent

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”120″ gal_title=”2018 BMW 330e iPerformance”]

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2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium

Toyota C-HR
Toyota C-HR

The 2018 Toyota C-HR coulda, woulda, shoulda. They say shortly before it appeared in dealerships as a Porsche, the 924 was set to arrive in Volkswagen dealer showrooms. The 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium follows that same path, in that it was to be introduced as a Scion instead.

No matter though as it now seemingly fits into the edgier family that Toyota has become. One of the smaller Crossovers in the Toyota lineup, it’s a sharply creased, curvy round, futuristic-styled turn on a high-riding (well maybe not very high) hatchback that can answer several needs that maybe you might not have realized to this point.

Limited Power.

Toyota C-HR
Toyota C-HR

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is powered by a singular 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). There is no all-wheel-drive option.

Eighteen-inch wheels are standard offerings for this model, with automatic headlights, auto high-beams, and LED daylight running lights. Our two-tone, radiant green and iceberg-painted (turquoise and white?) C-HR is relatively well equipped, although for just a few more shekels, you can have the C-HR XLE Premium instead, which added fog lights, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats (a great idea in Florida!) and driver’s side two-way power lumbar support. Finally, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert complete the package which we think is a better, more complete offering than the base C-HR XLE model.

The interior is a hodge-podge of textures and features that work for the most part. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before, and features a bit of hard plastic combined with fabric seats and a rather straightforward gear shift selector. This Toyota C-HR has a nice shape and continuity to the dashboard orienting itself towards the driver, although we have a bone to pick with the audio head unit that seems as though it was taken off the shelf from a soon to be out of business car audio installer.

And yes, we know how all you millennial’s like apps. But that doesn’t mean we like to see apps on our in-car entertainment. Instead of burying navigation and other functions within the menu, why not just have a button on the face of the unit that says Navi? Or Maps. You managed to put an icon of a telephone handset on the face of the unit, why not some other shortcuts? Speaking of apps and telephones, at this point in time, the C-HR is still lacking Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Buyers will likely also check out the Buick Encore, Nissan Juke, and Hyundai Kicks when shopping this segment.

The rear seat is somewhat cavern-like in that shorties will likely fall deep into the seats and not be able to see out the windows. It can comfortably carry two and in a pinch squeeze a third person into the second row but for all intents and purposes we consider the C-HR more of an urban lifestyle vehicle than a suburban kid hauler and utility vehicle. So instead why not just fold down the rear seats and use it as a medium-sized crossover vehicle instead.

Toyota C-HR
Toyota C-HR

The C-HR includes a standard 7.0-inch audio display screen, adaptive cruise control, 10 airbags, dual zone climate control 18-inch wheels and Bluetooth. Step up a few dollars more and get the Premium model with push-button start, keyless entry, a blind spot monitoring system, folding mirrors and heated seats.

Drive Time.

We liked the way the 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium looks and handles, but not so much how it moves. That is our big fall down in the car overall. We actually like the way the Toyota C-HR handled. It doesn’t have much power, especially when you consider that this non-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine only produces 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque. It sends its traction to the front-wheel-drive transaxle via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which, when judged by a strictly seat-of-the-pants feel, gives the impression that it is both noisy, and slow. Particular moves, while in traffic, need to be planned deliberately, unless you’ve had designs all along on being the hood ornament of the big 18-wheeler that is rapidly filling up your rear-view mirror.

We find there’s an excessively high amount of noise that works its way into the cabin. It’s not that it’s unexpected, but it’s something that seems to be lacking in some of the C-HR’s competition.

Drive with ease and you will all be ok.

 

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

Cylinders:                                   I4

Displacement:                          2.0-liters

Power:                                        144 hp @ 6100 rpm

Torque:                                      139 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm

Fuel:                                           Regular

Drive Type                                FWD

Gearbox:                                  CVT

Tire Size:                                  225/50R18

Unladen Weight:                   3,300-pounds

Length:                                    171.2-inches

Width:                                     70.7-inches

Height:                                     61.6-inches

Wheelbase:                              103.9-inches

Cargo Volume:                      19.0 cubic feet rear seat up

36.4 cubic feet rear seat folded

City:                                           27

Highway:                                  31

Combined:                               29

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”117″ gal_title=”2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium”]

 

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