2018 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Diesel (Review)

The new Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Diesel is a fuel-efficient, stylish, power packed hatchback and embodies everything a compact car should be.  In fact, the Cruze is one of the most popular vehicles GM has ever introduced and that popularity has increased with the brand new hatchback diesel, which offers more cargo hauling flexibility than the sedan and a stout diesel-powered engine that yields an impressive 50 mpg combined.

The Cruze is a combination of style, economy, efficiency, and state of the art features that set it apart from other compact sedans on the market today, offering what the consumer needs, from safety features to modern styling. It has been meticulously designed, with the hatchback offering a large cargo area, more safety, 10 standard air bags, and more miles per gallon, providing one of the best mileages of any diesel vehicle in America. The Cruze makes the most out of every dollar put in the fuel tank, but without sacrificing performance and handling. To get such amazing results, you need to have a very impressive engine, and the Cruze absolutely does.

The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze comes as either a sedan or hatchback and is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 153 horsepower and 177 lb. ft. of torque.

The LT Hatchback Diesel, comes fitted with a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 137 horsepower, 240 lb-ft of torque, and can be paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 9-speed automatic transmission. The engine has been specially designed to make the most out of diesel fuel by getting as many miles as possible out of each gallon. The LT Hatchback Diesel yields an estimated 30 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, which is better than its gas powered counterpart.

The sedan is available in four trim levels- L, LS, LT, and Premier, while the hatchback model comes in two trims- LT and Premier and the diesel engine is only available in one trim- LT Diesel.

The base L trim comes with standard features, such as- air-conditioning, a rearview camera, 6-speed manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, remote locking/unlocking, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 6-way manually adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, smart phone app integration, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, a 4-speaker sound system, USB port, 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot, MyLink infotainment system, and a 7-inch touchscreen.

Similarly equipped as the base model, the LS trim comes with all of the standard aforementioned features, but adds a front center armrest, carpeted floor mats, and can be equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission with a variety of options.  The LT trim adds heated mirrors, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, steering-wheel-mounted phone and audio controls, a 6-speaker sound system with satellite radio, better headlights with LED running lights, and a rear center armrest with cup holders.

The Cruze Premier trim comes fitted with all of the aforementioned features, but adds chrome exterior accents, 17-inch wheels, an upgraded rear suspension, illuminated vanity mirrors, and ambient interior lighting.

There are also a variety of packages available for the upper trims, such as the Convenience Package for the LT, which adds key-less ignition/entry, heated front seats, an 8-way power driver seat, and remote engine start for models equipped with an automatic transmission. A Leather Package adds a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable front passenger seat, and leather upholstery. A Driver Confidence Package can be added to the LT and Premier trims, which offers rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and a Driver Confidence II Package can be added solely to the Premier trim and offers forward collision warning, automatic high-beam headlight control, and lane departure warning and intervention.

An RS Appearance Package is available for the LT and Premier trims and adds fog lights, a sport body kit, rear spoiler, and 18-inch wheels for the Premier trim. A Sun and Sound Package adds ambient interior lighting, a sunroof, a color driver information center, a bigger 8-inch touchscreen display, and a 9-speaker Bose sound system.

The Driver Confidence, Sun and Sound package, offered only on the LT Diesel with the automatic transmission, combines features of both the Sun and Sound package with the Driver Confidence Package and an Enhanced Convenience Package is available for the Premier trim adding automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, a 110-volt power outlet, wireless device charging, and heated rear seats.

The exterior design of the Cruze gives the appearance of a more expensive car with its beveled hood,  taut curves, and sharp angles. Centered by the strong, attention-getting Chevrolet grille, its swept-back lamps guide the eye across its sculpted fenders, around the sides, and back again.

Most definitely, the Cruze leaves a lasting impression with its bold exterior design, but it is important to remember that those curves, lines, and angles do so much more than just please the eye and turn heads. They actually improve the aerodynamics of the Cruze, which optimizes efficiency and helps get the most out of every drop of fuel.

Interior features of the Cruze Hatchback Diesel are very nice with comfortable seats, upscale features, advanced technology, a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, and an attractive interface that is easy to understand and operate. Also, one of my favorite features is the 4G LTE internet connectivity and a Wi-Fi hotspot with a subscription. It is so helpful to have internet access on the go and it is a rare feature that is unavailable in many vehicles by other manufacturers.

On the road, the Cruze Hatchback Diesel is a strong performer and is designed for fuel efficiency without compromising performance and accelerates with authority. The 9-speed automatic transmission is smooth and quickly changes gears efficiently. The vehicle handles tight corners and curvy roadways with ease and provides a unique driving experience that just might surprise you. It definitely surprised me!

Diesel powered vehicles may not be the most popular choice today, but the new Chevy Cruze Hatchback is a solid car with a clean diesel engine and offers more of everything you need and ought to have, such as fuel efficiency, safety, features, advanced technology, and styling. It has a starting MSRP of $26,310 for the manual or $26,740 with the 9-speed automatic, but with all of its high end features, it is definitely well worth the price.

To find out more about the 2018 Chevy Cruze Hatchback Diesel, please visit- www.chevrolet.com

2016 Audi A7 3.0T Quattro Tiptronic (Review)

2016-audi-a7-3-0t-white-best-view

The A7 is definitely one of the most stylish and beautiful large 4-door sedans Audi has ever made, so it seems that there would be no need for improvement, but for 2016, the A7 has received some minor restyling and technical upgrades that have made the very popular luxury sedan even better. Upon first glance these enhancements may not be immediately noticed, but they truly do make the A7 more appealing, desirable, and better looking with a sharper trapezoidal grille, redesigned exhaust outlets, taillights, upgraded LED headlights, a revised front and rear fascia, a faster Multi Media Interface (MMI) infotainment system, USB audio connectivity, and an additional 23 horsepower.

The 2016 Audi A7 is available in two trims- Premium Plus and Prestige comes fitted with either a supercharged 3.0-liter (3.0T) V6 or a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 (TDI) engine. The supercharged 3.0T gas engine produces 333 horsepower (previously 310 hp) and 325 lb. ft. of torque, while the turbocharged TDI diesel engine produces 240 horsepower and 428 lb. ft. of torque. Both trims come equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive (AWD), and quickly accelerates to 60 mph in less than 5.5 seconds, which is impressively fast for vehicles in this class.

Standard features for the Premium Plus trim include- leather upholstery, a blind-spot warning system, an 8-inch pop-up display screen, automatic adaptive LED headlights, four-zone automatic climate control, 19-inch wheels, a power-adjustable steering wheel with shift paddles, LED running lights and taillights, a power liftgate, automatic wipers, driver memory settings, an MMI infotainment system with console-mounted controls, auto-dimming power-folding heated mirrors, a Google Earth navigation system with voice controls, a sunroof, Bluetooth, Google search capability, smartphone-app integration, front and rear parking sensors, an adaptive rear spoiler and keyless entry and ignition, heated 8-way power seats (with 4-way driver lumbar adjustment), satellite radio, a 10-speaker audio system with CD player, USB audio connectivity, 4G LTE with mobile WiFi hotspot capability, a rearview camera, and Audi Drive Select which provides adjustable settings for the accelerator, steering, and transmission.

The Prestige trim comes equipped with all of the aforementioned features, but adds a 14-speaker Bose Sound System, a head-up display, LED ambient interior lighting, ventilated front seats, and passenger lumbar adjustments.

All A7’s come equipped with Audi Drive Select, which adjusts transmission, shifts throttle response, and steering strength with four different modes- Auto, Dynamic, Individual, and Comfort-which is my favorite mode when driving the A7 3.0T, because I found this mode to be the most pleasant and enjoyable, delivering a smoother and quieter driving experience.

There are a number of packages available for the A7, such as a Cold Weather package, which adds a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. The S Line Sport package adds a sport-themed exterior design, stylish 19-inch wheels, and firmer suspension. The Black Optic package adds high-gloss black trim on the grille/window areas and bigger 20-inch wheels, while a Driver Assistance package adds a front and rear corner-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.

Available exclusively for the Prestige trim is an Individual Contour Seating package which adds 14-way power front seats with memory and massage functions and improved leather upholstery, while an Audi Design Selection package adds distinctive extended leather trim and walnut insets.

The A7’s interior is very luxurious, highly appointed, and is the finest in its segment. The sedan can easily seat up to five passengers, but due to the sleek, sloping roof line, headroom in the rear cabin is not as accommodating for taller passengers, however, headroom and legroom in the front cabin is spacious and the seats are comfortable, plush, supportive, and ergonomic. The interior is constructed of high quality materials with beautiful wood accents and ambient lighting that give the vehicle an elegant and upscale appearance.

The trunk of the A7 with its hatchback design is spacious, measuring about 24.5 cubic feet and can accommodate a variety of larger items that usually don’t fit in the trunk of a smaller sedan.

On the road, the A7 is a strong performer and the 3.0T can easily pass slow moving vehicles in just seconds with quick acceleration, athletic handling, and immediate throttle response that rival many luxury competitors in its segment.

The A7 3.0T yields an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is an increase in fuel economy from previous models, while the A7 TDI yields better fuel efficiency with an estimated 25 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.

Safety features include- stability control, antilock disc brakes, front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot warning system, front knee airbags, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, an Audi Pre-Sense safety system which tensions the seatbelts and closes all of the windows if a possible accident is detected and warns the driver, and a Pre-Sense Rear system which uses the brake light to warn traffic behind the vehicle in the event of a rear impact. A Driver Assistance package is optional and adds lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, and a corner-view camera system.

With its beautiful exterior, upscale interior, good fuel economy, quiet and luxurious interior, advanced technology, strong acceleration, and excellent handling, the 2016 Audi A7 is definitely one of the best performing, stylish, and sought after full sized sedans available today.

To find out more about the 2016 Audi A7, please visit- www.audiusa.com

 

 

 

Philippa Lane is an automotive writer, expert author for Ezine Articles, and staff writer for Cable Muse Network.

 

2016 Lexus ES 350 Review

2016-lexus-es-350

The 2016 Lexus ES 350 is a midsize, 5-passenger sedan that remains a benchmark for the entry-level luxury segment with smooth on the road performance, sleek styling, plush interior, and a host of advanced technological features.

For the 2016 model year, the ES 350 received some minor upgrades, such as better sound insulation in the interior, optional bi-LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a restyled front and rear end, and a revised safety package featuring an updated version of Lexus’ pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.

The ES 350 comes fitted with a quiet 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 268 horsepower and 248 lb. ft. of torque that is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Standard features for the ES 350 include- a sunroof, driver-adjustable drive settings, LED daytime running headlights, keyless ignition/start and entry, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a 7-inch touchscreen, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, heated mirrors, an 8-speaker sound system with a CD player, Safety Connect emergency communication system, iPhone voice control integration, 8-way power front seats with two-way adjustable lumbar, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB audio interface, HD radio, and a rearview camera. A panoramic sunroof, navigation, perforated leather upholstery, HID headlights, a Mark Levinson audio system, and 18-inch alloy wheels are optional.

On the road, the ES 350 provides a smooth and very comfortable driving experience with a well-mannered and sophisticated ride quality that is similar to an Audi A6. Although the ES is not sporty, the sedan has a firm and planted feel on the road with precise steering, strong braking, provides quick acceleration in Sport mode, handles sharp corners with ease, and at highway speeds, the interior is extraordinarily quiet, mostly bereft of road, wind, and engine noise.

The interior is modern, comfortable, and the seats in the front and rear cabin are plush and supportive with an ergonomic feel. There is plenty of head/legroom for taller passengers and the dashboard and console areas are made with high end materials. The well designed analog clock and the interior color scheme with matte finish bamboo trim elements adds an elegant touch, while the large 7-inch touchscreen is easy to use and the controls are within arm’s reach.

Cargo space is ample measuring 15.2 cubic feet, but space in the rear cabin cannot be increased because the rear seats do not split and fold down.

Safety features include- dual front, front-side, and side curtain air bags, frontal knee airbags, and rear-side airbags as well as the Lexus Safety System+, which includes driver assistance and safety features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, intelligent high beam, and a Pre-Collision System that offers  automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning.

For something a bit sportier, the 2016 Lexus RC 350 is definitely worth looking at, but in my opinion, the ES 350 is one of the best entry-level midsize luxury sedans available and with an MSRP of less than $38,500, the ES 350 provides a luxurious and comfortable driving experience at an affordable price.

To find out more about the 2016 Lexus ES 350, please visit- www.lexus.com

 

 

 

 

1480530575757Philippa Lane is an automotive writer, expert author for Ezine Articles, and staff writer for Cable Muse Network.

2016 Kia Sedona SX-L (Review)

Kia is well-known for making a variety of vehicles, ranging from hatchbacks, crossovers, and sedans, but many people are not aware that Kia also makes a stylish minivan, which has actually been in production for more than a decade and is a popular choice for bigger families- the Sedona.

The Sedona is one of the most attractive minivans I have seen and actually looks and feels more like a luxury SUV due to its sleek exterior styling, advanced technological features, and upscale upholstery.  The 2016 Kia Sedona offers a lot of style, features, and a comfortable interior, while retaining Kia’s traditional value pricing.

All Sedonas come fitted with a 3.3-liter, V6 engine that produces 276 horsepower, 248 lb-ft of torque, a 6-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive and is available in five trim levels- L, LX, EX, SX and SX-L with the SX-L trim being the most luxurious option. The L, LX and EX trims yield an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, the SX trim yields 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, and the SX-L yields 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

The L trim comes equipped with rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, manual sliding doors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, steel wheels, 2nd-row seats that fold down to increase cargo space, satellite radio, a USB port, a 4-speaker sound system, cruise control, and Bluetooth. The LX adds LED running lights, power-folding mirrors, a rearview camera, a power driver’s seat, alloy wheels, roof rails, a 6-speaker sound system, rear privacy glass, and an UVO system.

The EX trim adds heated mirrors, a power lift gate, keyless ignition, fog lights, better LED running lights, power-sliding doors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear sunshades, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a cooled glove compartment, 3-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, larger 18-inch wheels, and an Infinity sound system with 8 speakers.

The SX trim adds driver memory settings, a power passenger seat, cooled front seats, LED taillights, upgraded leather upholstery, driver-selectable steering, a better color trip computer, a voice-command system, an 8-inch touch screen display with navigation, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and heated seats.

The top-of-the line SX-L trim comes with all of the aforementioned features as well chrome exterior trim, front parking sensors, a heated steering wheel with wood trim, extendable leg rests larger 19-in wheels, more wood interior accents, 2nd-row lounge seats, and winged headrests.

Safety features for the Sedona include- 6 airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain), anti-lock disc brakes, and stability control. A parking camera (standard or surround-view), rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and a forward-collision warning system are optional. Also, an optional UVO service offers special monitoring which includes location, speed, automatic crash notification, and curfew-limit alerts.

Interior features are quite impressive, upscale, and luxurious with comfortable and ergonomic Nappa leather seats and elegant details throughout the dashboard and console areas. There are also many high tech features within the interior’s lavish cabin in the SX trim making it one of the best minivans on the road today.

The front and rear cabin is very spacious with plenty of room for taller passengers in all three rows. I really like the 2nd row seats, because they slide forward and backward, side to side, recline with airline-inspired pillow headrests, and have footrests/ottomans that fold out. The 3rd row of seats, however, feels very cramped and is best suited for shorter adults and small children.

On the road, the Sedona performs like a luxury SUV with brisk acceleration, excellent ride quality, and a smooth driving experience that is comfortable and quiet.

Overall, the 2016 Kia Sedona is a stylish, well-appointed minivan that is spacious, fun to drive, comfortable, and is perfect for mid-large sized families that are looking for more features, technology, and luxury than the average minivan provides. The Kia Sedona is definitely exceptional with a starting MSRP of only about $29,600. I highly recommend taking a look at it.

To find out more about the 2016 Kia Sedona, please visit- www.kia.com

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD (Review)

The Kia Sportage is a stylish compact crossover vehicle that offers a lot more than the average SUV. It has a luxurious flair with a distinctive exterior and excellent driving dynamics. It is fun to drive, stylish, spacious, and affordable with upscale interior details, high-tech features, and excellent fuel economy.

For 2017, the Sportage has been redesigned with a bold new look, a variety of interior cabin upgrades, a new exterior inspired by a modern jet fighter design, and features a new engine that yields better fuel economy, making the new and improved Sportage an excellent choice and a great alternative to its competitors.

The new look includes stylish suspended headlights, LED foglight clusters, and is 1.6 inches longer than earlier models allowing for more head/legroom, and more space for easier entering and exiting the rear cabin. Cargo space has also been increased to almost 31 cubic ft.

Interior features of the 2017 Sportage are very nice with better, high quality materials and technology, comfortable seats, wireless phone charging, upscale trim elements, and more insulation to subdue road noise. The panoramic sunroof is broader and there is better visibility due to thinner supporting pillars.

The Sportage is available in three trims: LX, EX, and SX and comes equipped with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower, 177 lb. feet of torque, and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is good for the front-wheel-drive (FWD) model and yields an estimated 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, whereas the all-wheel-drive (optional) yields an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. A turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is available and delivers 241 horsepower and 260 lb. feet of torque.

The base LX trim comes fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, 5 inch touchscreen display, cruise control, automatic transmission, streaming audio, Bluetooth, reclining rear seats, power windows/door locks, a tilt-telescoping steering column, rear privacy glass, USB/iPod interface, an AM/FM/CD stereo with 6 speakers, and air conditioning.

The Sportage EX trim adds additional features, such as- rear spoiler, automatic headlights, leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, a cooling glove box, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated side mirrors, a 7-inch touchscreen, rear backup sensors, one-touch driver’s window, fog lights, keyless entry, sun-visor illumination, Infinity audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, trip computer, heated front seats, a rear backup camera, UVO infotainment system, a power driver’s seat with manual lumbar support, WiFi hotspot connectivity, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The top-of-the-line SX trim comes equipped with a more powerful turbocharged engine that produces 260 horsepower and 269 lb. ft. of torque, HID headlights, push-button start with Smart Key, power-folding exterior mirrors, LED daytime running lights and rear taillights, better 19-inch alloy wheels, and voice-command navigation with a larger 8-inch color touchscreen.  An automatic opening liftgate, heated front seats, and a premium eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are optional.

Additional features can be added to each trim level with certain packages. The Popular Package can be added to the base LX trim and adds a trip computer, rear spoiler, roof rails, a rear backup camera, UVO system, and rear backup sensors. The EX Premium Package adds leather seating, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, ventilated front seats, power-folding outside mirrors, and keyless entry with push-button start. The SX Luxury package adds ventilated front seats, a garage door opener, a panoramic sunroof, and leather interior.

The SX trim’s turbocharged engine is what makes it an ideal choice in my opinion, because it delivers an impressive amount of power on the road that is similar to higher priced luxury crossovers, but at a more affordable price.

Standard safety features for the Sportage include- standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, 6 airbags (front, front-side, full-length side curtain), and active front head restraints.

On the road, the Sportage delivers a smooth ride, handles extremely well on various terrains, and feels nimble, even when travelling in heavy traffic and on busy highways. The interior is very quiet and spacious with ample head/legroom for taller passengers in both the front and rear cabin seating areas. The seats are supportive, comfortable, and provide enough cushioning for longer trips on the road.

Due to its firmer suspension and responsive steering, the Sportage is very engaging and with new interior features, smoother chassis, and a turbocharged engine on the SX model, it is even a more fun driving experience.

If you have been looking for a crossover vehicle that is stylish, spacious, inexpensive, fun to drive, offers a great value, and is versatile with solid on the road performance that is on par with many of its higher priced competitors, then I highly recommend taking a look at the new 2017 Kia Sportage.

To find out more information about the Kia Sportage, please visit- www.kia.com

2016 Kia Optima Hybrid EX Sedan (Review)

The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid is a luxurious, midsize sedan with an upscale feel to it and smooth on the road performance that is reminiscent of higher priced luxury vehicles in its segment.  The Optima Hybrid comes in two trims- LX and EX and was completely redesigned a few years ago and now the new model is better than ever with changes that can be both seen and felt, helping to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics and fuel economy with the LX yielding 36 MPG in the city/38 MPG on the highway and the EX yielding 35 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway.

The Optima Hybrid EX comes equipped with a stout 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder hybrid engine that produces 199 horsepower and 235 lb. feet of torque. The engine is powerful, yet amazingly quiet. Acceleration is quick and getting up to highway speeds is easy, almost effortless.  The interior cabin is quiet as well with little to no road noise. The Optima Hybrid is one of the only Kia vehicles I have tested besides the K900 and Cadenza that possesses these qualities.

Standard features include- a 6-speed automatic transmission, 4.3-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, push-button start, a cooled glove box, and dual-zone automatic temperature control. My test vehicle came equipped with power-adjustable seats, leather seat trim, an Infinity Sound System, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, Kia’s voice-activated UVO infotainment system, blind spot monitoring, a rearview camera, HD radio, gloss black interior trim, a navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen display power windows and door locks, SiriusXM Radio, and a panoramic sunroof.

Both trims come with standard safety features, such as- dual front advanced airbags, front seat mounted aside airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, anti-lock braking system, vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist control, and 3-point seat belts. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, rear view camera, and rear parking sensors, and an UVO System that includes roadside assistance and automatic collision notification are optional.

I tested the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid EX Sedan and I was very impressed with the luxurious and spacious interior, uniquely styled front grille, smooth on the road performance, and comfortable seating in both the front and rear cabin that feels a lot like an Audi A6 or Lexus ES 350. During the testing period, my daughter sat in the in the 2nd row and liked the design, spaciousness, and appearance of the vehicle. She is about 5’6 and thought the rear cabin was more spacious than a Nissan Versa and was amazed by how much legroom the Optima Hybrid EX offered.

The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid EX is the best midsize hybrid sedan I have ever driven with a sleek design, luxurious interior, advanced technology, and top notch performance for less than $38,000.

If you have been looking for a stylish hybrid vehicle that is both spacious and fuel-efficient, then I highly recommend checking out the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid EX.

To find out more about the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid, please visit- www.kia.com

2016 Toyota Sequoia Platinum SUV (Review)

The 2016 Toyota Sequoia is a large, full size, four door, truck-based SUV that is spacious enough to feel like a living room on wheels with ample room for a lot of people (seven passengers), plenty of cargo space,  and an impressive towing capacity up to 7,400 pounds.

Even though the Sequoia has not had any major changes for 2016, it is still a practical choice for bigger families with great on the road performance, comfortable and spacious interior, advanced technology, and quick acceleration.

The Sequoia is available in three trims- SR5, Limited, and Platinum.  All trim levels come fitted with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 381 horsepower, 401 lb. ft. of torque which is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. A 4-wheel drive system is optional. Although there aren’t a lot of engines to choose from, the standard one is definitely not sluggish and delivers remarkable acceleration and the six speed automatic transmission performs perfectly, smoothly, and shifts gears with great ease and without hesitation.

The base SR5 trim comes equipped with standard features which include- fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a deicing windshield wiper, heated mirrors, keyless entry, sunroof, roof rack, running boards, rear privacy glass, a power rear window, tri-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat that can slide and recline, an 8-way power driver seat, second and third row side window sunshades, a 60/40-split reclining and fold-flat third-row bench, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, a rearview camera integrated into the auto-dimming rearview mirror and an 8-speaker sound system with Toyota’s Entune Audio Plus with 6.1-inch touchscreen, a CD player, Connected Navigation, Siri Eyes-Free smartphone voice controls, a USB/iPod interface, HD radio, and an auxiliary audio jack. A sport package is available for the SR5 trim and adds second-row captain’s chairs, 20-inch chrome alloy wheels, and a color-keyed grille.  The SR5 premium package adds a four way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, a powered reclining and folding third row seat, heated front seats, and a power driver seat with lumbar adjustment.

The Limited trim adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors, a navigation system, Pandora and OpenTable apps, front and rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, leather-trimmed doors, improved gauges, a backup camera, and a 7-inch touchscreen display.  An optional Safety and Convenience includes a blind spot monitoring system, two-position driver seat and outside mirror power memory functions. A large 9-inch display, 14-speaker JBL audio system, and a rear seat entertainment system with a Blu-ray player is optional.

The Platinum trim comes equipped with all of the aforementioned features and adds heated and ventilated front seats, 20-inch wheels, a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive air suspension, a second-row center console, a premium JBL audio system, a power-adjustable driver seat with thigh support, adaptive cruise control, heated second row captain’s chairs, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and driver memory functions.

Fuel economy is good with the full size Sequoia SUV yielding an estimated 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway, however, some competitors have better fuel ratings.

Standard safety features for all 2016 Toyota Sequoia trims include- front knee airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, full-length side curtain airbags, a rearview camera, and anti-lock disc brakes. Front and rear parking sensors and a blind spot monitoring system are optional on the Limited trim, while adaptive cruise control and a blind spot monitoring are standard on the Platinum trim.

The interior of the Sequoia is very nice with a spacious front and rear cabin with enough head/legroom for taller passengers. Seats in all three rows can recline in variety of ways, are comfortable, supportive, and feel ergonomic.

Even though the Sequoia is rugged, there are a lot of elegant interior features and materials that add a touch of elegance to the SUV. The gauges are easy to use, but the touchscreen controls are not easy to reach at times. There are many areas in the front cabin to store items with a big storage compartment directly under the front/middle armrest.

Cargo space is excellent with 18.9 cubic feet of space behind the third row when the seats are upright, 66.6 cubic feet of space when the third row’s seats are folded down, and an impressive 120 cubic feet of cargo space when both the second and third rows are down, which is more than the Chevy Tahoe.

On the road, the Sequoia provides excellent and smooth ride quality, which is much better than many others in its class. The Sequoia has a solid, planted feel when making sudden turns and on curvy roadways. It is more capable off-road than most big family vehicles, however, because of the Sequoia’s large size, maneuvering in tight spaces, can be difficult at times, but the rearview camera is very helpful.

In summary, the Toyota Sequoia remains a great choice for consumers with bigger families that want a large, reliable, and comfortable SUV with a spacious interior, luxurious features, and excellent towing ability.

To find out more about the 2016 Toyota Sequoia, please visit- www.Toyota.com

2016 Toyota Highlander LE Plus (Review)

The 2016 Toyota Highlander is a midsize 8-passenger, three-row crossover vehicle that has not undergone any major changes from the previous model year, but it is still is a top choice among consumers seeking a crossover SUV that is both spacious and economical.

The Highlander is available in five trim levels- LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum and in either front or all-wheel-drive with a choice of a 4-cylinder or V6 engine that is able to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The base LE trim comes fitted with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 185 horsepower, 184 lb. ft. of torque, and yields an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. A more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine is standard for the other trims, but optional for the LE and produces 270 horsepower, 248 lb. ft. of torque, and can be paired with either front or all-wheel drive. The front-wheel-drive V6 arrangement delivers an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel drive V6 yields slightly less fuel efficiency at 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

The LE trim comes with- automatic headlights, cloth seats, a rearview camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, heated exterior mirrors, a rear spoiler, manually adjustable front seats, sliding and reclining 60/40-split second-row and third-row seats, CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 6-speaker sound system with voice controls, Bluetooth, a 6.1 inch touchscreen, and an iPod/USB port.

The LE Plus Package adds an 8-way power driver seat with power lumbar, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a flip-up rear hatch window, foglights, tri-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and HD radio, an adjustable-height power liftgate, a larger 8-inch display, and better upholstery with SofTex synthetic leather accents.

The XLE trim adds heated front seats, keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a sunroof, roof rails, an upgraded driver information display, a 110-volt power outlet, Driver Easy Speak which is a driver voice amplification system to communicate with rear seat passengers, smartphone app integration, retractable second row sunshades, an 8-inch central touchscreen, and a navigation system. A rear-seat entertainment package for the XLE and Limited trims is optional and include wireless headphones, a bigger 9-inch display, RCA jacks, and a Blu-ray player.

The Limited adds heated and ventilated front seats, LED running lights, 19 inch wheels, LED ambient interior lighting, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, second-row captain’s chairs, driver memory functions, a 12-speaker JBL sound system, a 4-way power passenger seat, and rear parking sensors. A Driver Technology Package offers frontal collision warning, automatic high-beam control headlights, a frontal impact crash mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and a safety system which includes-emergency assistance, automatic collision notification, and a stolen vehicle locator.

Lastly, the top-of-the line Limited Platinum trim comes fitted with all of the aforementioned features, but also adds rain sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, and heated second row seats.

On the road, the Highlander is a strong performer and delivers effortless acceleration that makes it one of the quickest large crossovers available. The Highlander provides a smooth and enjoyable driving experience on a variety of terrains with responsive braking and handles sharp corners with ease, just like more expensive luxury vehicles that I have previously tested.

Standard safety features for all 2016 Toyota Highlander trims include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a driver knee airbag, front seat side airbags, a front passenger seat-cushion airbag and full-length side curtain airbags, and a rearview camera.

The interior of the Highlander is quite nice with soft touch materials and a contemporary looking dashboard area with a multifunction touchscreen display, which is available in either a 6.1 or 8 inch size.  The 8 inch display in the LE Plus has better graphics, functionality, and is more enjoyable to interact with. In the front and rear cabin, there is plenty of head/legroom for taller passengers and the seats are comfortable, ergonomic, and supportive, however, the third row is a little cramped for adults.  There is a special built-in shelf on the dashboard area that can be used to put small items, such as keys or a cell phone and there is a big storage area below the console armrest that is large enough to store an iPad, purse, or a large tote bag.

Cargo space behind the third row measures almost 14 cubic ft. and when the rear seats are folded down there is an impressive 83.7 cubic ft. of space.

If you have been looking for a crossover SUV that looks beautiful inside and out with a comfortable interior, strong on the road performance, advanced technology, and high end features that are usually only available in more expensive luxury vehicles, then I highly recommend taking a look at the 2016 Toyota Highlander.  The Highlander has a starting MSRP of $29,990 and in my opinion; it is well worth the price.

To find out more about the 2016 Toyota Highlander, please visit- www.toyota.com

2015 Kia Optima SX Sedan (Review)

The 2015 Kia Optima SX Sedan is a luxurious 5-seat, midsize sedan with an upscale feel to it and smooth on the road performance that is reminiscent of higher priced luxury vehicles in its class.  For the 2015 model year are minimal and subtle with repositioned cruise control buttons to improve driver ergonomics and an upgraded UVO 2 system with additional features, such as speed alerts, geo fencing, and curfew reminders.

The Optima comes in five trims: LX, EX, SX, SX Turbo, and SXL Turbo.

All LX, EX and SX models come equipped with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces 192 horsepower and 181 lb. feet of torque and yields an estimated 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The standard transmission is a 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission with manual shift control.

The SX Limited and SX Turbo trims come fitted with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that delivers 274 of horsepower and 269 lb. feet of torque. The additional horsepower is wonderful, but with it comes a decrease in fuel economy yielding 20 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

The base LX trim features- fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, an AM/FM/CD stereo with 6 speakers, USB port, a tilt-telescopic steering column, air conditioning, power windows, mirrors/door locks, a 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment, remote keyless entry, heated outside mirrors with turn indicators, steering-wheel-mounted audio/Bluetooth controls, and cloth seating.

The EX trim adds dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch wheels, an 8-way power driver’s seat leather seats, push-button start with keyless entry, and rear-seat vents.

The SX trim adds bigger 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, a 4.3-in LCD display screen, metal foot pedals, metal interior accents, sport suspension, and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The SX Turbo trim offers HID headlights, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a powerful turbocharged engine, and driver mode select.

The Optima SX has a powerful, yet amazingly quiet engine. Acceleration is quick and getting up to highway speeds is easy, almost effortless.  The interior cabin is quiet as well with little to no road noise. The Optima is one of the only Kia vehicles I have tested besides the Cadenza that possesses these qualities.

The top of the line SXL Turbo includes- chrome 18-inch wheels, LED fog lights, power-folding outside mirrors, red brake calipers, an 8-speaker Infinity surround sound system, UVO 2 infotainment with a rear backup camera, navigation system, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, black-cloth headliner and pillar trim, a heated steering wheel, a 4-way power passenger seat, an electronic parking brake, Nappa quilt-pattern leather seat trim, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated rear seat, driver’s seat memory, and a panoramic glass sunroof.

There are trim-specific packages available, such as a Convenience Plus package for the base LX trim that adds UVO 2 eServices, an acoustic laminated windshield, and a 10-way power driver’s seat. Technology and Premium packages are available for the EX and SX trims, which add a navigation system, heated steering wheel, a panoramic glass sunroof, a blind spot monitoring system, rear backup sensors, a power passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, driver’s seat memory heated rear seats, and an Infinity audio system.

All Optima models come with standard safety features, such as- dual front advanced airbags, front seat mounted aside airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, anti-lock braking system, vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist control, and 3-point seat belts.

I tested the 2015 Kia Optima SX Sedan and I was very impressed with the luxurious and spacious interior, uniquely styled front grille, smooth on the road performance, and comfortable seating in both the front and rear cabin that feels a lot like an Audi A6 or Lexus ES 350. On the road, the Optima provides a fun and enjoyable experience and the seats provide enough cushioning for longer trips.

The 2015 Kia Optima is one of the best midsize sedans I have driven with a sleek design, luxurious interior, advanced technology, and top notch performance for less than $25,000.

If you have been looking for a stylish and spacious vehicle that is fuel-efficient, comfortable, is fun to drive, and feels like a luxury sedan, then I highly recommend checking out the 2015 Kia Optima SX Sedan.

To find out more about the 2015 Kia Optima, please visit- www.kia.com