Tuesday, August 29, 2017

2018 Chevy Equinox

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox LT AWD
  • ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 
  • TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 252 hp @ 5,500 rpm/260 lb.-ft. @ 2,500-4,500 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 107.3 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 183.1 x 72.6 x 65.4 in. 
  • TIRES: P225/60R18 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 29.9/63.5 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down) 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,327 lbs. #/HP: 13.2
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee
  • STICKER: $24,525 (base) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: The 2018 Equinox is a significant upgrade to Chevrolet’s second most popular vehicle (behind Silverado).

            When thinking of small to mid-size SUVs, one wouldn’t necessarily think of the Chevrolet Equinox. But it is Chevy’s second-best selling vehicle, behind the Silverado pickup, so a lot of people obviously do think of the Equinox. 
            Our tester actually arrived the week after driving the Silverado, so there was significant culture shock in switching between vehicles. Once I got over the size differential, I began to enjoy Equinox’s attributes a bit more.
            First, there’s the new styling from the redesigned Equinox. There’s a significantly restyled hood and the side styling has more creases than Princess Di’s wedding dress. Projector beam headlamps light the way.
            Under the sculpted hood rides a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four. The quiet engine delivers good power for the 3,327-pound vehicle, and its operation is quiet. There is little or no engine noise, although some tire noise intrudes into the cabin on less-than-perfect road surfaces. That isn’t Chevrolet’s fault.
            The 9-speed automatic is smooth. Except on acceleration, you barely feel it shift. 
            However, with the relatively small engine, start-stop technology and the 9-speed automatic, I felt fuel economy was low at 19.5 mpg during our test run. Even the estimated EPA readings of 22 city/ 28 highway aren’t that great. Granted, we didn’t do a whole lot of highway driving, but we did have a couple of long runs that should have pushed the numbers up.
            The Equinox is equipped with all the amenities. Entertainment has all the bells and whistles. We used Apple Car Play for entertainment and phone. It was simple to connect, and as with most Bluetooth applications, once you’re hooked up, you stay hooked up.
            The clear instrument panel has a tachometer, information panel and speedometer, reading from left to right. Fuel level and water temperature gauges run across the top. The information panel scrolls among a digital speedometer, fuel economy set, fuel range, oil life, tire pressure and assorted other screens. We settled for the digital speedometer. The dash style brought to mind the Impala’s, which I liked very much.
            We were kept comfortable in some very hot weather thanks to a functioning HVAC system, We used remote start from the key fob to fire up the engine and HVAC before we entered the car. I know this usually works in winter to warm up the vehicle. It also works in summer to cool it off.
            Front seats are comfortable with good side support. As a matter of fact, I was surprised by the side support which was more suited to a sportier vehicle. The rear seats also have some side support, even for the center seat, along with a flat floor.
            All four doors have places for water bottles. Additional interior storage consists of a large cubby at the base of the center stack with 12-volt, USB and AUX outlets. There are also a 12-volt and two USB outlets at the back of the center console for rear seat passengers. 
            The rear hatch opens using either then key fob, or a switch on the driver’s door. It reveals a generous cargo area that can hold at least one golf bag diagonally. One owner of an older Equinox we spoke with said she would like to be able to put four golf bags in the back without having to lower the rear seat backs. It might be possible in this iteration, although we didn’t put it to the test.
            For safety the Equinox is equipped with a blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, teen driver feature that lets you monitor how your teen is driving, and a rear seat reminder. The latter beeps when you shut the engine off and a message appears on the instrument panel reminding you to check the back seat for packages, etc. My wife and I have been known to leave food back there, so the reminder is a good one.
            Now a discussion of color. Our tester was an interesting shade of green, called Ivy Metallic. First, it was unusual, since most of the vehicles I drive are either grey or black. My wife wasn’t thrilled at the beginning, but said the color grew on her during the week. Others seemed to have a like-not like so much attitude about it. There was no question that it was easy to find in a parking lot.
            All in all, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is a nice package that is certain to continue the product’s strong sales success.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate

Monday, August 28, 2017

Toyota Corolla XLE, a mid grade offering.

The Toyota Corolla has made incremental changes over the last half century while holding its own as a key offering in the compact segment. Bumper2Bumpertv has a look at the XLE version which offers a growing number of creature comforts.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Kia Forte

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Kia Forte5 SX 
  •  ENGINE: 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 
  • TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm/195 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-4,500 rpm  
  • WHEELBASE: 106.5 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 171.3 x 70.1 x 57.1 in. 
  • TIRES: P225/40R18  
  • CARGO: 23.2/56.4 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)  
  • ECONOMY: 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway/31.3 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 13.2 gal 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,017 lbs  #/HP: 15.0  
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra 
  • STICKER: $28,420 (includes $895 delivery, $3,725 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Kia Forte 5-door is a surprisingly comfortable for what is essentially a compact car. In addition, it has great cargo capacity.

          The calendar called for an extended rip to Virginia to see grandchildren (and children). The ride of the week was a Kia Forte 5-door, which is essentially a compact car in mid-size clothing. Meaning? It’s rated as a mid-size due to dimensions, but I thought it was a compact.
          Surprise! The Forte5 (there’s a sedan version as well) offered good ride quality with a minimum of road noise. Road noise was dependent on road surface. On concrete a significant amount of road noise entered the cabin, making enjoyment of the audio system and basic conversation difficult. However, on smoother road surfaces, the ride is essentially quiet. Therefore, engine noise is relatively non-existent, despite there being an inline four under the hood. 
          That engine has good power, thanks to a turbocharger on the 1.6-liter engine. A 2.0-liter engine is on non-SX trim levels. Total horsepower is 201, powering the front wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission. Interstate operation is good. We could keep up with just about anything on the road. And for a change, my economy readings actually exceeded the EPA highway estimates.
          Handling is good on both straight and winding roads. We had our share of Interstate miles, but we also enjoyed a significant number of back country roads that were paved with gravel and dirt. 
          It seems that whenever we visit the children, we are carrying stuff back and forth. This weekend was no exception. Besides our luggage and golf clubs, we brought food down and used clothes up. We reached a point setting up for our homebound trip when I was looking for more stuff to load, which is very uncharacteristic of me. The advantage of the hatchback design is utility. It makes the Forte almost like a small SUV with a sedan personality.
          Front seats are comfortable. They were upholstered in black with red stripes on the sides. They offered good side support. In addition, they were heated and cooled. Despite driving in summer weather, I enjoyed the heat on my tired back. The HVAC system accommodated us well in the outside heat.
          The audio system was confusing. Among the sparse choices were AM, FM and Apple Play, but sometimes it was difficult to get my phone’s music files to work. And often when I shut the car off I had to go through the entire start-up procedure again. However, once I got everything up and running, tone quality was great. Also, phone conversations were clear, with the caller’s name and number displayed on the infotainment screen. 
          Blind spot detection was fairly standard with lights on the outside mirrors. The BSD beeps at you if you put your turn signal on when there is a vehicle there, and it’s very sensitive. Another good feature is that the outside mirrors fold when you lock the car. Our tester was also equipped with a rear cross traffic alert. 
          Besides the large cargo volume, there is a cubby at the base of the center stack that has USB, AUX and two 12-volt plugs. The center console/arm rest is small. There is room for water bottles in all four doors, plus three assist handles to aid in entry and egress.
          Rear legroom is tight, but there is a low center hump that might make riding in the middle position more comfortable. 
          The overall feeling is that the Forte5 is a comfortable car to drive and ride in. It offers a quality ride that is surprising in a small car.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate