Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ed Welburn, a design leader.

One of the people who has had a major impact on the look of General Motors vehicles is Ed Welburn. Bumper2Bumpertv has a look at his career at the automaker and gets his thoughts on what may be coming next.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Nissan Leaf extends its shadow

For 2016 the Nissan Leaf has been re-engineered to give a drive more confidence in how far it can go between charges. Bumper2Bumpertv explains what is happening now and what we might be able to look forward to.

2017 Kia Sportage

By John Heilig  
  • MODEL: 2017 Kia Sportage SX FWD
  • ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed Sportmatic automatic
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 240hp @ 6,000 rpm/260 lb.-ft. @ 1,450-3,500 rpm
  • WHEELBASE: 105.1 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 176.4 x 73.0 x 64.8 in.
  • TIRES: P245/45R19
  • CARGO: 20.7/60.1 cu. ft. (2nd row seat backs up/down) 
  • ECONOMY: 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway/18.8 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 16.4 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,666 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Jeep Cherokee, Buick Encore, Honda CR-V
  • STICKER: $33,395 (includes $895 delivery)
  • BOTTOM LINE: Despite what is probably the most wimpy horn in the industry, the new Kia Sportage is quiet, efficient and comfortable, with very good handling and practicality. 

            While similar in appearance to its brother, the Hyundai Tucson, the all-new Kia Sportage has dramatic styling and a stiff chassis that makes driving and riding it a pleasure. 
            Primary among the Sportage’s attributes is a quiet ride in nearly all circumstances. Our local roads are generally poorly surfaced, but that was no problem for the Sportage. Ride quality is good over almost all surfaces.
            Handling is also very good, thanks to a fully independent rear suspension and a front suspension has stiffer wheel bearings and bushings for more precise handling. We took our tester over a tight hill climb course, using the sequential manual feature of the 6-speed automatic transmission, and had a ball throwing the Sportage through the turns. There is little or no tendency to lean in corners at sensible speeds. Yes, I know it isn’t a sports car, but it was fun to drive sportingly anyway.
            The D-shaped wheel is comfortable and is loaded with switches for  audio, the information panel and cruise control. The switches are also clear, and once you figure out exactly where each switch is and how to use it, you can drive without taking your eyes off the road. 
            In addition, the Sportage is loaded with driver safety features. The blind spot monitor, for example, can detect vehicles as far as 230 feet behind for quick warnings. It’s a little testy when you flip the turn signal on even if you know there’s a vehicle there, but that’s better than not letting you know at all. Also, the Lane Departure Warning emits a loud beep whenever you stray from the straight and narrow. 
            Two of my favorite features are Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Front and Rear Parking Assist. RCTA alerts you to cars that may be coming at you as you are pulling out from a row of parked cars, like in a supermarket parking lot. FRPA lets you know that you are approaching an obstacle, like a parking lot cement barrier. I’m certain this saved a lot of underside dings.
            The Sportage is redesigned and the face is now one that I like. Surrounding the Kia grille are projection headlamps on each side. The headlamps are also positioned higher, sweeping back along the outer edges of the hood. Below the headlamps are four daytime running lights that give the Sportage a truck-like front fascia.
            Inside, the front seats are comfortable with decent side support. We took the Sportage on a long ride and were relaxed and comfortable at the end. The bench-like rear seats offer very good leg room. Visibility in the rear is very good. In addition, the panoramic sunroof extends to the rear seats, so passengers back there can not only look left to right, but can enjoy the view above as well.
            Behind the second row seats is a very good cargo area that doubles in capacity when the rear seat backs are folded flat. Not only are the seat backs easy to fold, there is no need to remove the head restraints to gain a flat floor. There is also storage in the rear footwells if needed. As a detail, the license plate mounting has been lowered, which results in a lower liftover height for the cargo area.
            Interior surfaces are all soft touch with a leather-like pattern. The instruments are clear round dials with an information panel between them that I kept at the digital speedometer setting. You have to work to get the other readings, so I suggest you do it while parked.
            The infotainment panel is clear and large, unlike the Tucson. On startup, the screen is split, with a map on the left and audio on the right. Touching the proper side can revert to a 100 percent view.
            The navigation was easy to program. We used POI (Point of Interest) to locate several destinations and I could almost do it while driving. 
            You can’t not be impressed by the all-new Kia Sportage. It has adequate power and very good handling and ride quality to go with a new body. It’s a shame the designers also didn’t have input for the horn, which is the most pathetic sound I have heard in years.

(c) The Auto Page Syndicate

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sienna by the Sea !!!

When making a beach trip with seven other adults and four children transportation can be critical. Bumper2Bumpertv put a Toyota Sienna to the test for a family visit to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tesla X--marking its place in the auto world!!

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: Tesla Model X

               A few months ago I had the opportunity to drive the innovative Tesla Model S. I was thoroughly impressed by this all-electric luxury sedan, not only with its range (more than 240 miles) but also its technology all around. There was, and is, nothing else like it. When you compare the Tesla with the other full-time electric cars on the market - Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and i8 - it is so far ahead of them that it isn’t even a race. The Tesla is bigger, more comfortable, and has more range. Yes, it also costs more, but it’s only money.
              When Tesla contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in driving the Model X, Tesla’s newest model and a four-wheel drive version, I jumped at the chance. The occasion was to be at The Elegance at Hershey concours d’elegance at the Hotel Hershey. Since my ride in the Model S was around King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and crowded streets, I relished the chance to drive the Tesla on more interesting roads around Chocolate Town.
          While the underpinnings of the two Teslas are essentially the same, there are significant differences. For example, the S is a four/five passenger sedan. The X has room for as many as seven passengers with three rows of seating. The two buckets in the front are pretty much the same as in the S. The second row consists of two bucket seats and the third row is another pair of individual seats.
          A feature that has drawn a lot of interest in the automotive press is the Model X’s gull-wing doors. The front doors are conventional, but the gull wings are for entry to the second and third rows. What makes this entry convenient is that an entering passenger can actually stand while entering the car. No contortions are needed. Also, to open the doors, you push the door handle-like chrome piece and the door automatically does what it’s supposed to do.
           And if you’re trying to get into the third row, which is often a matter of being a contortionist, the second row seats power forward to the rear of the front seats providing easy access to the third row. For those who are interested, third row legroom is excellent.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, you face a digital dash and the huge iPad-like center panel that controls all the car’s functions. You can set this panel to indicate all the car’s features, like HVAC temperature, radio settings, etc. Or you can set it to a map that is actually useful. Our tester was set up so that it showed the roads and features around them in color as if it was photographed from above - a Google Earth view, sort of.
         The conventional instrument panel in front of the driver shows speed and distance to “empty,” or when you will run out of electric power. The center panel can also be programmed to show where the nearest supercharger and charger stations are.
I was impressed by the windshield that extends up and over the driver’s head to about the rear of the front seats. Tinting gets darker as the glass goes further back. If you need visors, they fold out neatly from above the front doors and rotate in front of you. They then unfold to offer a vanity mirror.
            Both Tesla versions have outstanding acceleration. Electric motors have almost instantaneous torque and they can jump from 0-60 mph in under four seconds without even trying. While this is impressive, it is also the kind of power that’s useful for passing slower vehicles. It can be scary for the passed vehicle, because of the driver doesn’t look in the mirrors, the Tesla is silent and you don’t hear it coming at you.
          The Tesla has a long wheelbase and it weighs more than 5,200 pounds. Handling is excellent, and the ride quality matches it. The Tesla corners very well. We drove over some beautiful country roads that seemed to be designed for the Tesla. And while we naturally had to drive slower, even the roads around the Hotel Hershey were fun to drive.
           Our Tesla representative told us that the Model X can tow 5,000 pounds. Can you imaging heading down the highway and seeing a Tesla toting a pop-up trailer?
Again, our rep said the base price of the Model X is in the neighborhood of $85,000. All kinds of option packages can jack that price to well over $100,000 if you so choose. For example, the Model S we tested has a base price of something like $58,000, yet the version we tested listed at $93,000.
        Among the options are various power versions. There’s a “normal” version, a middle version and the hot version. Personally, all are pretty hot as far and I’m concerned.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

2016 Hyundai Tucson- smoothing out its act!!


By John Heilig

  •  MODEL: 2016 Hyundai Tucson Eco FWD 
  •  ENGINE: 1.6-liter Turbocharged I-4
  • TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 175 hp @ 5,500 rpm/195 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
  • WHEELBASE: 105.1 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 176.2 x 72.8 x 65.0 in.
  • TIRES: P225/60R17
  • CARGO: 31.0/61.9 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
  • ECONOMY: 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway/23.5 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 16.4 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,369-3,580 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Escape, Subaru Outback. Mitsubishi Outlander
  • STICKER: $25,170 (includes $895 delivery, $125 option (carpeted floor mats))
  • BOTTOM LINE: For its price, the Hyundai Tucson is a very capable small SUV/CUV. It has some quirks, but overall it does its job well.

            The third generation Hyundai Tucson rides on a longer wheelbase than it predecessor and has an edgier style. 

            Our tester was the base model, with a 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 that delivered 175 horsepower. That proved to be an adequate amount for the small crossover/sport utility that weighs around 3,400 pounds. We found we could accelerate into speeding traffic, with some engine complaining, fairly well. On more normal acceleration, you can feel the 7-speed automatic shift through all the gears. The transmission can also be shifted manually, using the gear lever. Because of the Tucson’s compact size, shifting manually makes it appear almost sporty.

            On the right road surfaces, which are rarely found in Pennsylvania, the Tucson rides quietly with only a modicum of engine and road noise. 

            Handling is very good. At the speeds I travel there is no feeling of top-heaviness, which can be a concern with sport utes and crossovers. Besides the longer wheelbase, the Tucson’s footprint is larger thanks to a one inch increase in width. 

            The front seats are comfortable. The side bolsters hold you in while driving hard and also during softer cornering. It’s a comfortable feel. Also, the seats are comfortable on longer rides. Did I mention that they’re comfortable?

            The rear seats offer good leg room. There is also a low center hump that would allow for a middle passenger to ride in relative comfort. The rear seat backs fold flat to provide an excellent cargo area. 

            The driver grabs a nice fat wheel with audio, cruise, phone and information controls. The instruments are clear with while-on black numbers in round dials. 

            I have a major complaint with the infotainment screen. It is almost impossible to read in daylight, and barely better at night. The screen is small and audio selections might as well be from AM because you can’t rear what they are anyway. While the Tucson is equipped with a backup camera, you can’t see what it is displaying either and backing up into tight spaces can be a challenge. Also dangerous.

            The audio is decent, even if the screen is impossible to read. There is good Bluetooth phone response with an easy setup.

            We drove the Tucson in weather that was fitting to its name, very hot. The HVAC system did an excellent job keeping us cool. At times we had to turn it down because we were too cold. 

            Cargo capacity is very good, even with the rear seats up. My golf bag fit easily when I put it in the back diagonally. In addition, there are hanger hooks by the rear assist handles as well as on the rear of the B pillars. In the cargo area itself there are multiple tie-downs. The Tucson would benefit from an interior lift gate release. More upscale models have a Smart Power Liftgate that allows the owner to raise the lift gate by merely standing close to the rear bumper. 

            For interior storage there is a large cubby at the base of the center stack with two 12-volt outlets as well as USB and AUX plugs. There is also a smaller cubby just ahead of the two cup holders, plus a deep center console/arm rest. All the door pockets have room for water bottles. 

            In addition, the Tucson has good visibility all around. Four assist handles aid entry and egress. 

            Overall, the Hyundai Tucson, even in its base form, is a good, practical crossover utility vehicle. It has a great price point, very good ride quality, and it doesn’t hurt the eyes.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate