Tag: CUV

2018 Jaguar E-Pace AWD First Drive

2018 Jaguar E-Pace AWD First Drive

The concept of Jaguar producing an SUV/CUV is already a foregone conclusion that has been met with great success thanks to its F-Pace. So now it’s the perfect time to broaden the segment with the introduction of the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace. Jaguar-Land Rover flew us to the French island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean, which itself is a combination of Franco-Italian style and culture, to sample this exotic combination of utility and performance.

Jaguar calls the E-Pace a “tweener” and we will, too. Tweener in the sense that just as the F-Pace did not directly match up with such competitors as the Mercedes GLC, and Audi Q5, it actually ends up somewhere in between. The same can be said for the new Jaguar E-Pace. It sits decidedly between the BMW X1 and X3, the Lexus NX and above the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA.

But an SUV from a company known for such icons as the D-Type, E-Type and the XJ220 supercar that rocketed to 212.3 mph? It’s called profitability, and with the F-Pace, and now the E-Pace, the brand’s SUV and CUV lineup has nearly doubled company revenue.

A Different Kind Of Cat.

While the F-Pace featured more of a style as found in its Land Rover cousins, the E-Pace is taking advantage of the latest refinements in the Jaguar stable. A front-driver in European versions, we Yanks will receive the all-wheel drive variant with a powerplant from Jaguar’s Ingenium engine series. With two variations, the Core Model and R-Dynamic version, the E-Pace will feature a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, or 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, respectively. Essentially identical engines, the more powerful version uses increased turbo boost to add more to its bottom line.

Jaguar E-Pace AWD
Jaguar E-Pace AWD

Transverse mounted, both engines are mated to the widely used ZF 9-speed automatic transmission that functions with a shift lever or steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. While the front wheels offer torque vectoring via the brakes, our R-Dynamic model offered Jaguar’s “Active Driveline” which accelerates the outside rear wheels in a turn with up to 100-percent of the torque going to the rear axle via a wet clutch. It’s the perfect thing for drifting, if you were so inclined!

Our tester included the optional Configurable Dynamics package, which allowed us to tailor the throttle, steering, shift speed and Adaptive Dynamics system, which varied damper ratios according to sensors that “read” the road every 10-milliseconds (0.01-seconds).

The E-Pace rides on the JLR D8 platform that it shares with the Range Rover Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Measuring up 12 inches shorter than the F-Pace, it includes an aluminum front clip (fenders, hood), roof and tailgate but adds more high-strength steel than its larger sibling. The steel makes for a more rigid ride, but also increases overall vehicle weight.

Honey, I shrunk the F-Pace.

The new E-Pace appears like its F-Pace big brother that may have spent too much time in the dryer following an intense wash cycle.

Jaguar E-Pace AWD
Jaguar E-Pace AWD

Actually the E-Pace steals some of its big brother’s design cues including the bold grille similar to the other vehicle. LED headlamps and signature J-Blade lighting flows around the outside headlamps for a distinct appearance like no other. The sharp looks continue rearward with “tight haunches” that wrap tightly around, into blade like rear lamps that bring to mind the rear appearance of the F-Type sports car, itself already an icon. Our R-Dynamic model included the full and fixed panoramic roof, which was just enough to allow us to enjoy the surroundings of this Mediterranean sea-based island.

The E-Pace’s interior is conservative, but still all Jaguar. If you have seen and enjoy the controls in F-Type vehicles, then too, you have seen the controls in this E-Pace.

Sport contour bucket seats offered numerous ways to become accommodated in total comfort. A grab bar, similar to the same device inside the F-Type sportscar, allowed a bit of stability for passengers on twisty Corsican mountain roads. But we would offer that despite the fact Jaguar calls this E-Pace a five-passenger vehicle, its backseat was better suited to handling just two extra passengers. As such, we’d call it a four-seater.

Jaguar E-Pace AWD
Jaguar E-Pace AWD

A 10-inch touchscreen display helps to control the Touch Pro infotainment system in handling navigation, audio, telephonic and vehicle controls. Our top shelf R-Dynamic E-Pace was equipped with an available 12.3-inch display that displayed all pertinent controls within our field of view from behind the steering wheel.

And just because, Jaguar has left little details that are what other manufacturers call “Easter Eggs.” You know, those small details designed to amuse the vehicle’s owner. In this case, it’s a Jaguar mother, and her “cub,” representative of the larger F-Pace, and its E-Pace cub. Get it? The outline is seen in several locations around the cabin, waiting to surprise and delight its owner, everywhere it is seen.

Driving Impressions.

The first thing we noticed was the spritely pickup accompanied by an engaging exhaust note from the 2.0-liter inline turbocharged engine. The paddle shift levers offered a great degree of shift control from the 9-speed gearbox. The engine, despite its being only a transverse-mounted inline four-cylinder, is raspy like a turbocharged V6 when pushed hard.

Despite that raspiness when driven in anger, the engine was relaxed at speed, as the gears climbed in the ZF 9-speed. In normal driving modes, its sound managed to keep to a very respectable level rather than going to low rumble or a high-pitched wail. Consider it having a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The sweet sounds from the Meridian Audio system displayed a delicate voicing that allowed you to single out a particular instrument. It became quite soothing after a spirited run through Corsican twisty turns along our sometimes-mountainous routes.

The E-Pace offered great handling with a totally connected feel, which might be antithetical for a semi-tall CUV like this. Credit the new lightweight steel knuckle-based front suspension, which increases camber, and in the process helps minimize understeer. Lighter and greatly refined, it makes for a very responsive steering feel that becomes even stronger in the Dynamic mode. It was enhanced by the active torque vectoring that helped to shorten the length of a curve during aggressive corner cutting.

Taking the Leap(er).

The new Jaguar E-Pace proves once again that good things do indeed come in small packages. Sure, it isn’t the biggest cargo hauler in the segment, nor will it offer three-wide rear seating for a trio of burly man-types, but it will offer lots of fun both on and off-road, with capabilities that will allow you to get wet, dirty, sandy and snowy, too. In other words, this CUV is a “Cub” for all seasons.

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

2018 Jaguar E-Pace R-Dynamic AWD

Base Price: $38,600 (Core E-Pace) $47,250 (R-Dynamic)

 

Specifications:

Type: Five passenger AWD CUV

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder Ingenium engine series.

Horsepower: 296 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 295 torque @ 1,450-4,500

Transmission: ZF 9-speed Automatic

Length: 173-inches

Width: 78.1-inches

Height: 64.9-inches

Wheelbase: 105.6-inches

Cargo: 24.2-cubic feet, seat up

52.7-cubic feet, seat folded

0-60 mph: 5.9-secs

Top Speed: 151-mph

Fuel Economy: 21 city / 27 highway / 23 combined

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2018 Kia Niro PHEV First Drive

2018 Kia Niro PHEV First Drive

We look for any excuse to travel the world, so when Kelley Blue Book contacted us about driving the new 2018 Kia Niro PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), on a road trip from Kia headquarters in Irvine to the Golden Gate city of San Francisco, we jumped at the chance. Along the way, we found out what life behind the wheel of a Plug-in Hybrid was really like and were able to do some good for those, who through circumstances beyond their control, found themselves homeless through the forest fires in Ventura California. The New Niro PHEV offered the best of the Gas and Hybrid worlds with plug-in battery power that would carry it approximately 26-miles, and then a gas powered four-cylinder that would help to regenerate more energy to those same cells. Read more about the Kia Niro PHEV at Kelley Blue Book….

2018 Kia Niro PHEV
2018 Kia Niro PHEV

The rules were “there are no rules” so we set out on a journey that took us through the corporate jungle of Irvine, through the urban sprawl of metropolitan Los Angeles, to Fresno and beyond. My driving partner, Dan Frio and I, started calling out through the local Red Cross and Salvation Army offices to find who needed assistance or supplies. In Ventura Strong, a local support group in Ventura County, we found just the people that were in need of our help. After stopping at a local Costco for supplies including more than 440 bottles of water, and numerous cleaning items, we were packed to the gills. There was only enough space for our suitcases directly behind the driver and passenger seats in front. Every other gap and cubbyhole in the Kia Niro was filled.

We found the Channel Island Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Ventura City, California as our supply drop off point. A majestic building in its own right, the Masons in Ventura had converted the upstairs meeting rooms into small scale department stores for local residents to come through to select clothing free of charge. It was the perfect gesture of helping one’s brother, especially when they had escaped the Ventura fires with literally the shirt on their back. The lodge was a beehive of activity late into the night.

The signs posted around town saying “Thank You, Firefighters” were surely not lost on us.

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2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD

2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD

2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD
2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD

We have been a fan of the brand for many years, even to the point that we have a 2016 Mazda6 as our personal vehicle of choice. We jumped, naturally, at the chance to test out the 2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD for a week.

What we found surprised us, in a good way, with a vehicle that is perfect for urban and suburban dwellers alike. Apparently more than 1 million CX5 owners worldwide, agree.

As competitive as the compact crossover segment is, Mazda designers sought to differentiate the CX5 from the competitors, namely the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. That’s where their “refined toughness” ethos came in play.

Mazda claims it’s all-new from the ground up and one of the first new Mazdas to reveal the firm’s KODO design language. It’s more refined than the 2016 model, but it’s not obvious until you have the two model years side by side. At that point, it is clear that lines are crisper, rakes are statelier and brightwork is uh, more bright throughout.

2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD
2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD

Power for the CX5 comes from the brand’s ever-present 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder engine. A stout four-banger, it manages 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered to the Mazda All-Wheel-Drive system by a 6-speed Skyactiv-Drive sport mode automatic transmission. Mazda claims the CX5 is the US-debut for the firm’s G-Vectoring control, which is their name for torque vectoring.

The new interior features more in the way of creature comforts throughout. As everyone is connected one way or another, there are enough USB ports to charge up the electronics section of your local Best Buy. Rear outboard seats are equipped with heating elements to keep the cheeks nice and warm, and in an effort to one up airline seating, the CX5 offers rear seat reclines of 24 and 28 degrees. Match that, Delta Airlines, with your so-called Comfort+ seating!

2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD
2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD

In the front seat area, the 10-speaker Bose premium audio system takes advantage of the Mazda’s new, quieter interior. Where we think the interior falls down is in the area of display and user interface of the center console controls. While the multi-function commander control is all nifty and functional, it is used to operate a system that seems tired and at east two generations behind what other vehicles offer today. We agree the seven-inch display is an update over the generation it replaces, but think that a simple software upgrade will bring this new Mazda CX5 up to contemporary standards that are possessed by their competitors.

Behind The Wheel.

The Mazda 2.5-liter four cylinder has proven itself time and again as a prime piece of motive power, delivering enough oomph to get out of its own way whenever needed. This version is no different. Delivery to the road was nice and easy thanks to the 6-speed automatic transmission, that although the company has eschewed the Zoom-Zoom motto of the past, still managed to deliver in a rapid and sure-footed manner. We just wonder, though, how easy it would be to massage the new turbocharged version of the new 2.5-liter into this engine room. Now that would be fun!

G-Vectoring is a new process that instead of applying brake pressure to help the CX5 through a turn, manages to produce less spark, which downgrades the power to accomplish the same feat. The six-speed gearbox didn’t miss a beat, and although some of the competition has moved on to seven- and eight-speed gearboxes, we found this slusher up to the task. The new, quieter interior enabled us to arrive relaxed and refreshed following an excursion in the mind-numbing South Florida traffic. Combine that with the sporting attitude that seems to make its way into every Mazda, and it turns out we liked the ride and feel of the 2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD even more.

Mazda is truly an amazing company. Just because they don’t have the type of R&D money that other manufacturers do, it’s always exciting for us to see a smaller company making more from less.

Story and Photos by Mark Elias.

2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring AWD

Base Price: $30,695. Price as tested: $33,785.

Includes: Cargo Mats, $70; Retractable Cargo Cover, $250; Premium Package, $1,830; Destination, $940.

Specifications

Configuration: Five-Passenger Compact CUV

Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder

Power: 187 horsepower, 185 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 6-speed Sport Mode Automatic

Drive: AWD

Curb weight: 3,655-pounds

Wheelbase: 106.2-inches

Overall Length: 179.1-inches

Width: 72.5-inches

Height: 66.1-inches

Ground Clearance:    7.6-inches

Cargo:

Seats up: 30.9-cubic feet

Seats down: 59.6-cubic feet

Towing Capacity: 2,000-pounds

Mileage: 23-city 29-highway, 26 average mpg.

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2017 Nissan Rogue Sport – First Drive

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport – First Drive

NissanUSA’s headquarter city of Nashville is one of the fastest growing cities in America. Official estimates state that around 85 and as many as 100 new residents move to the city each day. Many of them will become urban dwellers, and Nissan thinks they are the perfect customers for the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport in Nashville.

Billed as a “right-sized” vehicle for Millennials and others, they may be on to something. The newest member of the Nissan Rogue family, the Rogue Sport joins its slightly larger sibling in a quest for total CUV world domination. With sales figures otherwise starting to slump, the Rogue family is a bright spot in the lineup with sales of 27,400 units, which was an increase of 18-percent in April 2017, alone.

Built for City Service.

The five-passenger Rogue Sport shares a platform with its larger garage mate, although it now rides lower, has a 2.3 inch-shorter wheelbase, and 12.1-inch less overall length than its big brother Rogue. The net result is a vehicle that is easier to move, maneuver, and park within a city center than many other CUVs in service today.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is available in three trim levels ranging from base S, mid-level SV and top-shelf SL trims. All of the vehicles made available to us by Nissan were of the SL variant, which is what we will base our report on. Likely competition will come from the Honda C-RV, Chevrolet Trax and Mazda CX3.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine that utilizes direct-injection to feed the four pots in the mill. This small-but-somewhat-mighty four banger produces 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission that is also equipped with a standard Eco Mode option for increased fuel economy.

Nissan Rogue Sport’s 2.0-liter engine.

In its standard configuration, the Rogue Sport is equipped as a front wheel drive (FWD) vehicle. Buyers in the Snowbelt regions can opt for Nissan’s intuitive all-wheel drive system (AWD), which provides an all-wheel-drive bias at launch, which then reverts back towards the front wheels, again in an effort to save fuel. This compact CUV rides on a MacPherson-style independent front suspension and a multilink independent rear kit equipped with a 19mm stabilizer bar.

My SL tester was equipped with nearly every available item included in Nissan’s Platinum package. That’s in addition to heated seatbacks, 19-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, heated outside mirrors, seats and steering wheel and leather wrapped shift knob. Available safety features included blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward emergency braking, lane departure warning, and prevention, intelligent cruise control and forward emergency braking with pedestrian protection.

Interior decorating.

Smartly appointed inside, the Rogue Sport featured a new “only as needed” interior design that was spacious and efficient at the same time. Featuring nothing truly frivolous, it seemed that everything was in its place and within a short arm’s length reach of the driver’s seat. We quickly found comfort in the six-way power adjustable driver’s seat, and thought the rear seat offered adequate legroom, if even for just a short while. Fold the rear seats down and you will quickly realize up to 61.1-cubic feet of storage space.

The Nissan Rogue Sport’s Interior.

Our SL variant was zooted out with everything from leather seating to a sunroof and six-speaker AM/FM/SiriusXM audio system. With more cars opting for larger screens, we felt the 5.0-inch color display monitor that also serves to show the available Around View Monitoring system with Moving Object Detection, was just a touch on the smallish side. While not featuring Apple CarPlay, our Rogue Sport was equipped with Siri Eyes Free, which we think of as the next best thing.

But not all was perfect inside. We would deduct a couple of points for the low-powered (1mA) single USB connection at the base of the center stack, seeing that the first move most people make after buckling up is to plug in their phone charging cable. If the driver gets first dibs, the rest of the passengers are all odd men- or women out. Even then, and owing to the low amperage rating of the USB port, the amount of charge realized may be very low. In other words, it takes longer than usual to charge an iPhone battery. As always, YMMV.

Drivetime.

Ergonomically speaking, the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport fit drivers ranging from a big guy and a small girl to everything else in between. Power was adequate for most urban driving situations, which saw us stop and start with such frequency we felt we were delivering the US Mail. We can see most buyers will be urban dwellers, and this is where the safety features of the Rogue Sport will really shine, especially some of those like the Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian detection.

Rogue Sport in the City

Acceleration was adequate in the sense that everyone buying the Sport knows it’s not a speed demon. Instead like a Slo-Poke All-Day Sucker, it’s an all-day steady cruiser that offered good road feel while negotiating both city and country drives. In highway situations, even with the low-profile sport tires, I felt the ride of the Rogue Sport displayed extreme poise, while offering little in the way of road noise-a feature that really surprised me. So quiet on the highway, we only heard the engine and the CVT transmission when we kicked it down a notch to pass slower moving traffic. Nissan officials tell us the ride becomes even quieter with the taller sidewalls of the 17-inch wheels.

Don’t even think of doing any serious off-roading in the Nissan Rogue Sport. It’s just not that kind of beast. Instead figure it will do everything to take you through the urban jungle and back. And that’s just what most people want in a compact CUV these days.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

Story and Photos by Mark Elias. Additional Photos by Nissan USA.

Rogue Sport S FWD $21,420 USD
Rogue Sport SV FWD $23,020 USD
Rogue Sport SL FWD $26,070 USD
Rogue Sport S AWD $22,770 USD
Rogue Sport SV AWD $24,370 USD
Rogue Sport SL AWD $27,420 USD
   

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    I-4

Displacement:                            2.0-liter

Power:                                          141 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Torque:                                         147 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm

Fuel System:                                Petrol Direct Injection

Fuel:                                               Regular

Drive Type                                    FWD or available All-Wheel-Drive

Gearbox:                                       Xtronic With Eco Mode Switch

Tire Size:                                       19-inch

Length:                                          172.4-inches

Width:                                           72.3-inches

Height:                                          63.3-inches

Wheelbase:                                   104.2-inches

 

AWD                  FWD

City:                                             24                        25

Highway:                                    30                        32

Combined:                                  27                        28

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