Thursday, May 26, 2016

A flashback to the classics!!

Sometimes it is worth it to look back at what can be considered classics in terms of automobile development. One place to do that as Bumper2Bumpertv found is at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Buick goes topless!

THE AUTO PAGE By John Heilig
  • MODEL: 2016 Buick Cascada Premium 
  • ENGINE: 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 200 hp @ 5,500 rpm/221 lb.-ft. @ 2,200-4,000 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 106.1 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 184.4 x 72.4 x 56.8 in. 
  • TIRES: P245/40R20 CARGO: 9.8/13.4 cu. ft. (top down/up) 
  • ECONOMY: 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/26.0 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 14.3 gal.
  •  CURB WEIGHT: 3,979 lbs.
  •  COMPETITIVE CLASS: Audi A3, Lexus IS, VW Beetle convertibles 
  • STICKER: $36,065
  •  BOTTOM LINE: The first Buick convertible in 25 years is a solid convertible with outstanding styling, decent power and ride quality, but did it have to be built in Poland?
              It was almost stereotypical. So many people came up to me when I was with the Buick Cascada and asked the question you hear in commercials, “Is that really a Buick?” or “It sure doesn’t look like a Buick.” No, the Cascada doesn’t look like your standard Buick, and is a true break from the norm. 
     Rather than a stodgy (no comments; we drive one) four-door sedan with a waterfall grille, this is a sleek, two-door convertible, something Buick hasn’t built in 25 years. Interior design also flows and there are lighted highlights to accent the internal design. Actually, the Cascada is closer to my old MGA roadster in many ways than it is to the standard Buick.                                             Besides the two doors, it is slightly underpowered, yet compensates for the power issue with better-than-average handling. Honestly, the Cascada has decent power from its 1.6-liter turbocharged four, although at times the engine does appear to be straining.                                                                                            
     We drove the Cascada on Interstates and local roads, and there were times on the Interstates where it seemed to be working its little heart out. While the transmission is smooth, we looked for a manual mode when we felt we were hurting for power. There aren’t paddle shifters, but you can use the console-mounted shifter for manual mode. On the reverse side, we had very good fuel economy, and filling the tank, which we didn’t have to do often, wasn’t a big strain on the credit card statement.       
    Ride quality is good, if slightly firm. Despite similarities to the suspension in the LaCrosse, the Cascada seemed hard. It wasn’t harsh, however, and overall ride quality is good. Handling is also good. The Cascada has a longish wheelbase at 106.1 inches, yet it has a tight turning circle. On one instance in particular, we found ourselves needing to make quick turnarounds in cul-de-sacs and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
    The front seats are comfortable and offer good side support. The fronts, like the backs, are upholstered in heat reflective material to make getting in and out of the Cascada in hot weather with the top down less painful. The rear seats also offer decent side support. We put two teenage boys back there with no complaints about the lack of leg room or comfort issues.                                        Despite the low profile with the top up, there is adequate headroom in the front and back. Yes, the trunk is small. With the top down, it intrudes into the trunk and cargo capacity is a mere 9.8 cubic feet. With the top up, the “bag” that holds the top can be moved out of the way and cargo capacity increases to 13.4 cubic feet. Even with the top down we were able to put flexible luggage in the back, or four full grocery bags. The top raises and lowers easily with a small lever on the center console. There’s also a button within the lowering lever that drops all four windows at once. Cascade has a nice profile, top up or down.                                                                          There is a clear instrument panel with the customary gauges. The fuel and water temperature gauges are semi-circular, but with the information part on the lower half, making them “upside down“ from standard. I constantly thought I was low on fuel when I was just mis-reading the gauge. The infotainment screen is clear, but there are too many buttons (24) beneath it for various functions. There are also 15 HVAC buttons or knobs. This is far too many. Cascada is small, and therefore internal storage is at a premium.                                             There’s a small cubby at the base of the center stack that also has USB and AUX outlets. The doors have small pockets but there is room for water bottles. And the center console/arm rest is small. My only real complaint is that I couldn’t find an internal trunk release, so I had to use the fob to open the trunk.
     Overall, the Buick Cascada is a beautiful two-door convertible that should compete well with the other vehicles in its class. If it is a harbinger of Buick designs of the future, I can’t wait. 
  •  (c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

A revisit to the Mazda MX5

The Mazda MX5 is not only continuing the legacy of the model but with some smart engineering the sports coupe may be setting the bench mark for small two seaters.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Judging Cars!!

Every year journalists come up with their best of lists. Of course Bumper2Bumpertv wants to get in on that fun and we do so by being part of a regional group of automotive writers with a focus on what works best for families.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Jeep in name only.

The merger of Fiat and Chrysler also became an opportunity to share expertise and platforms. But as Bumper2Bumpertv has learned not all of these arrangements end up with both sides being equal.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A big hauler for people and cargo

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LTX 4WD
  • ENGINE: 5.3-liter Ecotec V8
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 355 hp @ 5,600 rpm/383 lb.-ft. @ 4,100 rpm
  • WHEELBASE: 130.0 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 224.4 x 80.5 x 74.4 in.
  • TIRES: P285/45R22
  • CARGO: 39.3/76.7/121.1 cu. ft. (behind 3rd row/3rd row seats folded/2nd and 3rd row seats folded)
  • ECONOMY: 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway/15.3 mpg combined
  • FUEL TANK: 31.0 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 5,896 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Expedition, Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Armada
  • STICKER: $74,735 (includes $1,195 delivery, $6,750 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: Whether for cargo carrying or as a people mover, the Chevrolet Suburban has few peers. Ride quality is very good for long trips and general utility of the interior space is unequaled.

  • The Chevrolet Suburban is about as politically incorrect as you can get. It is a large vehicle with a large gas-guzzling engine. But boy, is it practical. Take out the rear seats and you can stuff one of those little hybrid or electric cars in the back to use as a lifeboat. 
                It’s no secret that our family spent many years traveling around in a large full-size van. This was before minivans were invented. We used it from Girl Scouts through colleges and even spent five weeks tent camping throughout the west. 
                The Suburban reminds me of that van. The size is about right and the cargo capacity is just about the same. The big difference is that the Suburban has a longer hood and has doors on both sides (this was a 1979 vintage van). But the driving attitude is almost identical and it’s one that I like.
                Over the years, improvements in suspension technology and design have resulted in a much smoother ride in the Suburban. Therefore, ride quality is decent. The Suburban is built on a truck chassis, so you don’t expect a Cadillac-smooth ride, but the shocks absorb most of the roads’ bad qualities, and the seats do the rest.
                The 5.3-liter Ecotec V8 engine delivers a healthy 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. Since the Suburban weighs at least 5,896 pounds, don’t expect stirring acceleration. It certainly isn’t neck-snapping, but it’s good enough to keep you out of trouble.
                We took the Suburban on my two favorite hill climb routes. On the one with more gradual curves it did well, but on the one with tighter curves it was a handful. At no time was it dangerous, but this is a narrow two-lane road and in the rain I had to be cautious and aware of who was coming the other way.
                It is possible to shift the 6-speed automatic transmission manually using the rocker switch on the column-mounted shifter. This worked well. With the Suburban there’s no need for fast shifting, so the manual mode is probably most useful in 4-wheel drive situations where you might need that extra bit of control.
                I grew up driving cars that had full instrumentation - gauges for water temperature, oil pressure, fuel level and battery voltage - so it’s nice when a vehicle like the Suburban is so equipped. The four gauges across the top of the instrument panel were a welcome memory. Because they are virtually identical, it takes a few glances to distinguish one from the other, though.
                All three rows of seats have good legroom. In our van, the front wheel housings intruded on front foot room, so this was a great feature not in the Suburban. Access between the second and third rows is good because of second row captain’s chairs. The center console eliminates and possibility of getting to the back from the front seats.
                Our tester was loaded with accessories and safety features. The heads up display gives the driver notice of speed without having to look down. Side Blind Zone alert lets the driver know if there are vehicles in the left and right blind spots. Lane Change Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert work well, too. The Safety Alert Seat pulses the left, right or both seat cushions to alert the driver of a dangerous situation. In some cases, getting too close to the ATM machine causes pulsing.
                Entry is aided by running boards on both sides and an assist handle on the passenger side A-pillar. The driver can grab the steering wheel.
                While the 2015 redesign resulted in a smoother, slightly squarer exterior, the Suburban is an iconic vehicle that has done its job for 80 years, and done it well.

    (c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

Saturday, May 7, 2016

KIA Sportage grows up!!

The crossover or small SUV was once limited to the North American market. Now it is a global platform and as Bumper2Bumpertv tells us KIA is competing well in the segment.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Well proportioned--the Honda Civic Coupe.

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2016 Honda Civic Coupe 1.5T Touring
  • ENGINE: 1.5-liter turbocharged I-4
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 174 hp @ 4,000 rpm/162 lb.-ft. @ 1,700-5,500 rpm
  • WHEELBASE: 106.3 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 176.9 x 70.8 x 54.9 in.
  • TIRES: P215/50R17
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 11.9 cu. ft.
  • ECONOMY: 31 mpg city/41 mpg highway/33.6 mpg test
  • FUEL TANK: 12.4 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 2,888 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla
  • STICKER: $26,960 (includes $835 delivery)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The all-new Honda Civic Coupe is a very well done compact coupe. There is no hint of tininess in a solid, well-performing car.

When new or interesting cars appear in my driveway, it’s amazing the people who wander by. I had a friend stop by while the Honda Civic was there. He is wheelchair bound, so I assumed that all he wanted to do was ask about the car, etc. Rather, he was convinced the Civic would be a great car for him and his wife to use for touring, rather than taking the converted minivan all the time. He figured he could probably slide into the Civic without too much difficulty.
            While we didn’t test it, we did some spatial analysis with his chair parked next to the Civic and it could work. 
            On the other hand, my wife found it slightly difficult getting into the passenger seat, which was set lower than usual. She is a person who prefers a higher ride height and wasn’t totally thrilled about the height of the Civic. However, that was just about the only thing she didn’t enthuse about.
            Honda did a nice job with the redesigned Civic Coupe. Not only does the car look great with a rounded rear with a “spoiler” that consisted of the rear taillights, the front grille seems to have been taken from then Acura bin, with a thick horizontal chrome bar across the top. To my eye, it looks better on the Honda than it did on Acura’s.
            Interior surfaces are soft touch and more thickly padded than before. Honda claims the Civic Coupe is “the most tightly sealed Honda body ever with a 75 percent improvement in air leak performance,” meaning there is essentially no wind noise. And, with more than 88 cubic feet of available passenger space, the interior is roomy.
            Front seats are comfortable with a lower ride height. Yes, I know you can adjust the ride height, but the lower the height, the sportier the car feels. The front seats have good support on the sides and in the seat cushions. This is a coupe, so rear seat access is difficult and rear leg and knee room is tight.
            Ride quality is excellent. The long 106.3-inch wheelbase puts the Coupe close to  mid-size range. Yet it is still short enough for good maneuverability in tight spaces. I liked the ride quality both in urban areas and on the highway. There is no discomfort after a long trip.
            One feature I love is the Honda solution to a right side blind spot monitor. A camera located below the outside right rear view mirror turns on when the right turn signal is turned on, giving a view of any vehicles that may be back there. The camera’s output is displayed on the infotainment screen in the middle of the dash. It is also useful for parallel parking.
            Even though the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine is rated at a relatively modest 174 horsepower, there’s plenty for spirited acceleration and visits over the posted speed limits. The Honda Coups is light, despite the use of high-strength steel, and this results in good fuel economy.
            Safety features are abundant. Automatic cruise control keeps you at a safe speed, and if the car in front of you slows, you slow. Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS) gives you a slight vibration to the wheel when you drift right or left. 
            I congratulate the designers for their work on the instruments. The single central gauge is a large 180-degree tachometer. Inside the tach is a digital speedometer. Below this is fuel range, average fuel economy and a bar graph for “instantaneous mpg.” There is also outside temperature, odometers, and a digital clock. It’s all very clear.
            The all-new Honda Civic Coupe is a well put together package that, while small, would be ideal for first car buyers or for empty nesters who are looking for a touring car. Oddly, it might also serve well for passengers who are physically disabled.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate