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  • 2018 Chevrolet Traverse AWD High Country

    Posted on February 15th, 2018 ninarussin

    Eight-passenger crossover with new infotainment technology

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Chevrolet Traverse

    2018 Chevrolet Traverse

    The Chevrolet Traverse is an appealing alternative to minivans for families needing eight-passenger seating and a versatile interior. For 2018, buyers can choose between front and all-wheel drive models that add more tractive capability. A new High Country edition gives the Traverse luxury accouterments including heated and ventilated seats, a Bose 10-speaker premium audio system, LED lighting, 20-inch alloy rims, tri-zone climate control and the latest version of Chevrolet MyLink infotainment including a Wi Fi hotspot.

    Base price for the all-wheel drive High Country model is $52,050 excluding the $925 destination charge. Special red exterior paint on the test car adds $395, bringing the final MSRP to $53,390. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2018 Volkswagen Golf TSI

    Posted on February 8th, 2018 ninarussin

    Compact hatchback is big from the inside out

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    The Volkswagen Golf isn’t a very big car, with a wheelbase measuring 104-inches: about 8-1/2 feet. Don’t let its compact dimensions fool you; the front-wheel drive Golf has an amazing amount of space inside.

    Fold the second-row seats flat and it can hold skis, snowboards, and camping gear. With pricing for the base S automatic model starting at $22,010 sans destination, it might leave something in the bank for that new eTAP bicycle you’ve been thinking about, or at least some component upgrades.

    Mechanically 2018 models are carryover, but with a refreshed exterior that includes LED daytime running lamps, LED tail lamps and some chrome accents. Standard convenience features on the base S tested include alloy wheels, keyless entry, eight-speaker sound system, rearview camera, cruise control, automatic windshield wipers and Bluetooth interface. The S grade comes with cloth upholstery and manual seat adjustments that include lumbar support. Destination is $850. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 2.0T S

    Posted on January 31st, 2018 ninarussin

    Affordable open-air fun

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    Convertibles have come a long way since the time when they were fair weather friends, since the tops lacked the insulation to keep interiors warm in the winter. The Volkswagen Beetle convertible combines iconic styling inspired by the Karmann Cabriolets of the late 1940s and 1950s, with four-season versatility and new for 2018, a more powerful four-cylinder engine.

    The turbocharged, TSI engine develops 174 peak horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque at engine speeds as low as 1500 rpm: a tip of the throttle. A Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission is standard. There are four grades- S, Coast, SE and Dune. Pricing for the base S model tested starts at $25,440 excluding the $850 destination charge.

    Standard comfort and convenience features include keyless entry, single-zone manual climate control, leatherette seating surfaces, 16-inch alloy rims, heated and foldable side mirrors, intermittent wipers, power soft top, 50/50 split folding rear seat and adjustable ambient lighting. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet

    Posted on January 25th, 2018 ninarussin

    Four-season drop top

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

    2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

    It wasn’t that long ago that convertibles were considered summer cars because cloth tops weren’t well enough insulated to keep the interiors warm in cold weather. The new Mercedes-Benz E400 changes that with an acoustic top that is not only weather-resistant but renders the interior as quiet as a sedan. When the top is deployed, an electronic windscreen manages airflow through the cabin for a more pleasant open-air experience.

    Available 4Matic all-wheel drive gives the E400 Cabriolet sure-footed performance in rain, ice and snow.

    Power comes from a three-liter V-6 bi-turbo engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, delivering 329-horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. The newest E-Class cabriolet is longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase than the outgoing model, increasing passenger space, especially in the back seats. Second-row seats also fold flat for some additional cargo space.

    2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

    2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

    Base price is $68,800 excluding the $995 destination charge. Options on the test car include AMG alloy rims with high-performance tires, multi-contoured heated and ventilated front seats, air suspension and a premium package including park assist, wireless charging, satellite radio, premium surround-sound audio, intelligent lighting, adaptive high beams, steering assist, autonomous braking, blind spot monitoring and a heads-up display. Final MSRP is $89,735. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2018 Nissan 370Z Coupe Heritage Edition

    Posted on January 17th, 2018 ninarussin

    Affordable sports car stays true to its roots

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition

    2018 Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition

    The Z two-seat sports coupe is Nissan’s most iconic model, with roots dating back to the Fairlady and 240Z. The 2018 370Z sees some exterior styling refinements, a heritage edition (tested), and a new high-performance clutch on the six-speed manual gearbox.

    The Z has always been, and remains a niche car. But with pricing starting below $30,000, it’s possibly the best bargain on the market for buyers wanting a true, affordable sports car.

    Power for the test car comes from a 3.7-liter 332-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed manual transmission. Standard convenience features include 18-inch alloy wheels, tilt steering column, keyless entry and start, automatic temperature control, bi-xenon headlamps, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth interface, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and tilt steering column.

    The heritage edition package adds $790 to the $29,900 base price. Final MSRP including carpeted floor mats and $885 destination is $31,795. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro

    Posted on January 10th, 2018 ninarussin

    Two-plus-two built for fun in the sun

    By Nina Russin

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Recently Audi introduced a cabriolet variant as the final member of the current-generation A5 family. As with its siblings, the A5 Coupe and Sportback, the cabriolet comes with standard quattro all-wheel drive, making it a great choice for buyers in four-season climates who need to navigate winter snowstorms but want a drop-top for the summer.

    Power comes from a two-liter, 273-horsepower engine and seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. A single button deploys the soft top and works at speeds up to about 30 miles-per-hour.

    The new model is slightly longer and wider than the car it replaces, but also lighter thanks to more use of lightweight body construction materials. Base price is $49,600 excluding the $975 destination charge.

    Options on the test car include a prestige package adding heated folding outside mirrors, satellite radio, heated power front seats with driver’s seat memory, LED headlamps, Bang & Olufsen audio system, top-view camera, LED interior lighting and navigation; ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist with traffic sign recognition, 19-inch alloy rims, adaptive suspension, walnut interior trim and a front air filter panel. Final MSRP is $65,050. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2017 Lexus RC F

    Posted on January 5th, 2018 ninarussin

    Sport coupe melds style and performance

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Lexus RC F

    2017 Lexus RC F

    The Lexus RC F might be the car that convinces German car enthusiasts to consider changing camps. Like the RC coupe on which it’s based, the F-Sport is a driver’s car through and through: fast, nimble and unabashed, with its low, menacing stance and wide spindle grille. It looks like all business and in fact, it is.

    Power comes from a 467-horsepower V-8 engine that delivers 389 pound-feet of peak torque, mated to an eight-speed direct shift transmission. While its curb weight is higher than some of its competitors, the Lexus RC F has enough power to get in plenty of trouble, both on and off the track.

    Base price is $64,165 excluding delivery. Options on the test car include 19-inch alloy rims, LED headlamps, Mark Levinson audio system, heated and ventilated front seats with memory, blind spot monitoring and a trunk mat. Final MSRP is $80,445. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T S

    Posted on January 5th, 2018 ninarussin

    Compact crossover with three rows of seating

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

    2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

    The Tiguan is the smallest member of Volkswagen’s crossover family, and one of the few crossovers in the compact segment to offer both three rows of seating and all-wheel drive. Like the larger Atlas, the Tiguan is built on the automaker’s new global modular transverse architecture. The second-generation Tiguan is ten inches longer than the original model creating room for the optional third row of seating with a small cargo area in back. Both second and third rows fold flat to extend the cargo floor. Buyers in four-season climates can also opt to add all-wheel drive for better traction on wet roads.

    The test car is the base S front-wheel drive model with the optional third row of seating, priced from $25,195 excluding destination. Power comes from a two-liter turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine rated at 184-horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

    Standard convenience features include 17-inch alloy rims, halogen headlamps with daytime running lamps, roof rails, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, manual climate control, rearview camera, Bluetooth interface, six-speaker audio system, cruise control and electronic parking brake. Final MSRP is $26,095. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2017 Honda Civic Type R Touring

    Posted on December 22nd, 2017 ninarussin

    High-Performance Compact Sedan Lands Stateside

    By Nina Russin

    Honda Civic Type R

    Honda Civic Type R

    When Honda introduced the 10th-generation Civic to the US last year, it opened-up an opportunity to bring with it the Type R: a high-performance variant first introduced in Japan two decades back.

    The Type R is far more than a Civic Si on steroids. It’s a completely different animal, powered by a 306-horsepower iVTEC turbocharged engine with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Type R’s magic goes beyond its powerful engine and crisp, short-throw shifter. With improvements to torsional rigidity and suspension design, the Civic Type R is a high-performance sport sedan that needs to be taken seriously by European car aficionados.

    Pricing for the upscale Touring grade starts at $33,900 excluding the $875 destination charge. That might seem expensive for a model with pricing that starts below $20,000, but then again, this isn’t just an ordinary Civic, which is why dealerships are charging over MSRP for the few they can get their hands on.

    Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, 20-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, LED headlamps and tail lamps, an extremely large rear spoiler, special racing seats, premium audio system with navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth interface, USB ports, satellite radio, Pandora, 60/40 fold down rear seats, triple outlet exhaust and ground effects. Final MSRP is $34,775. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC

    Posted on December 14th, 2017 ninarussin

    Value-focused subcompact crossover

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    It’s no secret that Mitsubishi has struggled to maintain its foothold in recent years, and as-a-result has shifted its focus from high-performance vehicles such as the Evo to bread-and-butter models including the Outlander and Outlander Sport crossovers. In-an-effort to lure customers back into the fold, the automaker adopted a value strategy that goes beyond pricing to include one of the best warranties in the industry that, unlike many competitors, is fully transferable.

    Still potential customers want to know if the cars Mitsubishi is producing are worth the investment. While the Outlander Sport’s $20,000 starting price is a bargain by anyone’s standards, it’s still a big chunk of money in a post 2008 economy where customers are still spending carefully.

    Mitsubishi has always had a reputation for producing sturdy engines and cars that can go the distance. Decades back, the now-discontinued Montero was a popular choice among off-road racers, including the grueling Paris-Dakar rally. The automaker continues in that tradition today. The 2.4-liter engine and continuously-variable automatic transmission that power the five-passenger Outlander Sport are well-engineered and well matched for years of good service.

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    The test car is the all-wheel drive SEL, priced from $25,895 excluding destination. Being the upscale grade, the SEL comes loaded with comfort and convenience features including keyless entry and start, high intensity discharge headlamps, LED daytime running lamps and tail lamps, roof rails, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seat, satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB ports, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seating and automatic climate control.

    A touring package on the test car adds lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, automatic headlamps, Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system and a panoramic sunroof. Final MSRP including destination is $29,110. Read the rest of this entry »