Category: On The Road: Driving Impressions

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GM's 2015MY Full Size SUVs are an excellent evolution of the full size SUV genre. General Motors did not plow much new ground here, but updated and upgraded the products substantially. They are immediately identified as General Motors' SUVs. They look capable and purposeful. They are very serious about being able to do everything they are asked to do and more. Good job.
We at AutoPacific have just completed a week's worth of driving the Thailand-built Mitsubishi Mirage. Now we know what drivers in a third world country experience when they drive locally assembled cars. And we don't like it much. Mirage is not Mitsubishi's best effort. At $15,990 for the car we drove, it seems a bit steep.
Tony Nicolosi, new President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America says 90% of the senior management of VCNA is new since he took over in October 2013. Volvo's marketing strategy is also going to change with the arrival in January of Bodil Eriksson as executive vice president of marketing and new advertising agency Grey London starting in March. Nicolosi says Volvo will return to its roots emphasizing safety, the environment and the family. The marketing budget for 2014 is bigger by about 50% but its emphasis will shift away from television to digital messaging.

2014 Toyota Highlander F782014 Toyota Highlander R78Don’t Call it a “Crossover”  Like Ford and other makers, Toyota has largely abandoned the distinction between “traditional” and “crossover” sport utility vehicles.  “It was confusing our customers,” said Bill Fay, Group Vice President of the Toyota Brand.  Now, Toyota refers to both under the “mid-size sport utility vehicle umbrella”.  This might seem to be a small thing, but for decades (at least since 1997 when unibody “crossovers” began appearing) automakers have been making this distinction.  The customers largely did not know or care about the difference, they just bought the emerging crossovers in droves.

Toyota’s Two-Tier Mid-Size SUV Strategy  With the introduction of the 2014 Toyota Highlander, Toyota continues with a two tier mid-size SUV strategy.  The unibody 8-pasenger Highlander goes into its third generation with the 2014 model year entry in [...]

With one of the most technologically advanced powertrains in the industry, the RLX hybrid puts out a combined 377 horsepower. Impressive. We won't go into the details of the technology much beyond the fact that it has Honda's Earth Dreams Three Motor Hybrid System combining the RLX' 310-horsepower 3.5L V6 with one 47-horsepower and two 36-horsepower rear electric motors. The resulting 377-horsepower combined with the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission makes the car into a dancer.
Honda's new Accord Hybrid joins the mid-size sedan hybrid wars with a two-motor hybrid that achieves 50mpg in the city (50 city/45 highway/47 combined). As one of the top selling cars in the USA, the Accord Hybrid has the potential to unseat the present leader Toyota Camry Hybrid (followed by the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid in sales so far in 2013). Accord's bragging rights are for city fuel economy - highest in the mid-size class at 50mpg. Fusion gets 47mpg in the city (and highway). The best-selling is down on mpg compared with Fusion and Accord - Camry gets 43mpg in the city and 39 on the highway.
About 20 American journalists and analysts had a chance to drive the Volkswagen XL1 at the Autostadt near Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. Only 20 of the planned 250 vehicles have been completed to date and five were on hand for our drives. A Volkswagen engineer guided each drive through Wolfsburg and even included a short autobahn blast hitting the car's top speed limited to 160kmh (about 99mph).
The 2014 Fiat 500L is on sale now. Fiat unloaded the first boatload of 500Ls in early June and by mid-June they had begun arriving at nearby Fiat Studios. Adding this larger four door vehicle to the Fiat line-up is very welcome to Fiat dealers who have been limited to the Fiat 500 albeit with two bodystyles and a multitude of models. The 500L is based on Fiat's new "Small Wide" platform and shares nothing with the smaller 500 except for the "500" nomenclature and its engine.

Acura’s MDX has been the shining star in their lineup for years now.  Having invented the three-row crossover, Acura has polished that shining star in their lineup for the 2014 model year with an all-new model.

I know, it really doesn’t look all that new.  Trust me, it is.  I’ve seen it from the inside out.  Everything you can’t see is new and even the exterior (YES, it is!) is new.  The MDX is a formula not to be messed with and Acura knows this quite well.  So, they made an all-new MDX but modernized the exterior a bit and significantly improved the interior.  The MDX is one of the few crossovers that has enough cojones that men of all types need not fear that it looks like they are driving a glorified minivan.

Very Nicely Done "Front and Rear Six" The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a dramatic mid-cycle update that takes a relatively milquetoast car and gives it a striking personality make over. The major change is a much more aggressive front end appearance including all-LED headlamps with integral running lamps. The lower front fascia includes larger scoops and is accented by a chrome strip at the leading edge of the front air dam. Given these are the sporty models of the E-Class, the coupe and cabriolet include Mercedes' bold three pointed star in the grille opening. All-in-all, the front appearance change practically makes the E-Class coupe and cabriolet look like all-new cars.
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