LA AUTO SHOW – Reveal of the 2018 Mazda 6 Sedan (and other Mazda news)

By Michele Spencer


November 29, 2017 – Mazda proudly unveiled its refreshed and redesigned Mazda 6 at the Los  Angeles Auto Show, running now through December 10, with its brand new turbocharged engine, a first for the mid-size sedan at the top of the Mazda sedan lineup.  250 horsepower and 310 feet-pounds of torque are powered by the 2.5 liter Skyactiv-G engine, which Mazda previously offered only in its CX-9 SUV.

The “dynamic pressure turbo” mechanism in the engine is specially designed with a compression device, which allows air to push out from the turbo much harder.

It was a wise move by Mazda to expand the 2.5 liter turbo engine into its flagship sedan, which needed more power to challenge the European sedans in the segment.

Available in Spring 2018, the new Mazda 6 refresh includes a fully redesigned upscale interior.   Materials such as Sen Wood (used in traditional Japanese furniture and musical instruments like taiko drums) and fine nappa leather grace the cabin, to show that the Mazda 6 has evolved with “mature elegance.”

The front seats have been completely redesigned in order to be more ergonomic, with wider seats built from high density urethane for improved body support.  Seats are also available with cooling and heating functions, a first for the brand.

New tech goodies include a 360 degree view monitor, 8-inch display, and windshield projected head-up active driving display.


Its exterior has a new headlamp system and a new front grille to complement its aggressive and sporty design elements.

Pricing was not announced at the auto show.

The Mazda 6 stays true to the Mazda philosophy that the experience of driving is of primary importance.  This guides the development of each Mazda vehicle.  Mazda sees cars as much, much more than just driving devices.  This dedication has allowed the Mazda lineup to earn awards for driving experience.

Moving forward, Mazda’s goal is to create a lifetime bond with its customers, by crafting affordably-priced vehicles that provide a quality driving experience.  Look for Mazda to expand beyond its Mazda 6 with features that are found in more costly marques.

As part of the introduction of the 2018 Mazda 6, top executives stated their company was committed to the internal combustion engine.  Mazda will develop alternative power but will primarily focus on refining the capabilities of the traditional gas engine, while minimizing the effects on the environment.

[Fun Fact:  Mazda is the only manufacturer whose entire lineup complies with the United States’ federal emissions (CAFE) standards.]

Also revealed along with the 2018 Mazda 6 were the VISION concept coupe and the 2018 IMSA series race car, of course in red, and bearing the traditional number 55.  Mazda-Vision-Coupe-concept-rear

Mazda’s racing season in 2018 will be a partnership with Team Joest.  Six drivers will be at the wheel throughout the racing season.

As for the future, engineers at Mazda have the Skyactiv-X engine ready to be put into new vehicles in the next two years.  This next-generation technology will be a 2 liter engine with compression ignition.  It will have better fuel economy, use less fuel, and increase power/performance.  Look for it in late 2018 in the Mazda 3.

Click below for a three minute video explanation of how the compression technology works.

Next Generation Gasoline Engine SKYACTIV-X: SPCCI / 次世代 …

Video for mazda spcci skyactiv x video


Electric, Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicles

By Michele Spencer


EV market notes:  Studies show that potential buyers are still turned off to EVs and Hybrids.  Lack of options, high prices, limited range, and perceptions about limited charging station infrastructure are real issues for the industry to overcome in order to gain acceptance and market share.  Federal rebates ($7500) are still in play.  CA rebates ($2500) are in danger of going away if the Legislature does not act to save them, but for the moment, they remain available. Manufacturers are not penetrating the market: Less than 1% of car sales are electric vehicles nationwide. Foreign governments are doing a lot more to encourage electric, especially China,  which has a mandate that by 2020, 8 percent of all new vehicles sold must be electric and is currently prohibiting travel in certain cities unless the vehicle is an EV.  Norway is going all EV by 2025, France and the UK by 2040, and along with that, these countries will be prohibiting sales of new combustion engine vehicles. Japan’s government is embracing hydrogen as its power of choice for automobiles and already has extensive infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. The movement towards zero emissions standards in China in particular is credited for motivating the manufacturers so they can capture that market and not get left behind.

Federal Rebate News:  The $7500 rebate for electric vehicles will start phasing out for Tesla buyers ONLY at the end of 2018 because the company has delivered its 200,000th vehicle in the US.  (Tesla is the first automaker to meet this landmark.) After December 31, the Federal rebate will be $3,750 for Tesla deliveries between January and July 2019, and half that for deliveries between July and December 2019.  Tesla buyers will no longer get any Federal rebates after December 31, 2019.  Chevrolet is close behind Tesla in EV sales. It will meet the 200,000 sale landmark in 2019.

This is my list of currently-available EVs, anticipated EVs to be sold, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, currently-available hybrids, and anticipated hybrids, for sale in the US, with notes from press releases and news sources.  Prices are MSRPs.

Pure Electric vehicles (EVs) Currently Available

  • Audi A3 e-tron (hatchback) from $38,900
  • BMW i3 (crossover) – from $44,450
  •  BMW plans to launch 25 electrified vehicles by 2025, including 12 that are fully electric.
  • BMW i8 (sportscar) – from $143,000
  • Chevy Bolt EV (hatchback) – from $37,495. 238 mile range, Motor Trend Car of the Year 2017
  • Fiat 500e (subcompact) – from $32,995. 84 mile range.
  • Ford Focus EV (hatchback) – from $29,120. 115 mile range.
  • Honda Clarity EV (sedan) – 89 mile range, Lease only available, $199/month.
  • Hyundai Ioniq (sedan) – Base trim from $29,500; Limited trim from $32,500) – Now has 124 mile range for 2018 model year. Available only to California residents.
  • Kia Soul EV (crossover) – from $33,950. 111 mile range.
  • Mercedes Benz – B Class ED (sedan) – from $39,900. 87 mile range.
  • Mitsubishi IMIev (crossover) – from $22,995
  • Nissan Leaf (hatchback) – Nissan had to put out a new model to catch up to the others on range. The 2016 model had only 106 mile range. For 2018, the second generation Leaf has 150 mile range. From $29,900.  An “e plus” Leaf will be introduced in 2019, which will have 225 mile range.
  • Smart ForTwo (subcompact) – from $23,800.  58 mile range. Parent company Daimler AG announced closing of 2/3 of the US Smart car dealerships (Automotive News). Only 27 dealers in the US will be selling these by 2018. Penske Automotive Group will continue to sell them in San Diego.  All will be EV. Gas models will be dropped from production in 2017, but may still be in stock at dealerships.
  • Tesla Model S (luxury sedan) – from $74,500. 259 mile range “and up.”
  • Tesla Model 3 (sedan) – from $49,000, 310 mile range.
  • Tesla Model X (luxury SUV) – from 79,500, 237 mile range.
  • Volkswagen e-Golf (hatchback) – from $30,345, 125 mile range.


Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Currently Available

  • Honda Clarity (sedan) – Lease only, from $59K. Launched 2016
  • Hyundai Tuscon ix35 FCEV (SUV) – from $50,875. Launched 2013
  • Toyota Mirai (compact) – from $57,500.  Launched 2014
Tesla Model 3 LA Auto Show 2017.jpg
Tesla Model 3 at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2017

EVs Not Yet Available + Projected Production Year  + Notes

  • Audi e-tron (midsize luxury crossover) available 2019.  Will have 311 mile range. A sportback will be launched later in 2019 (fastback that will sit lower than an SUV but offers a more elevated seating position than a standard hatchback.)  Audi’s third EV will be a compact, based on VW Group’s new MEF platform for EVs.  It will debut in 2020, after VW debuts its ID compact hatchback.
  • Aston Martin  Rapid E – 2019. Will transition entire lineup to all EV and hybrid by 2030.
  • BMW “iVision Dynamics” (coupe style sedan) – Concept revealed at 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show.  Production version slated for launch in 2021.
  • Bollinger Motors B1 (all wheel drive 4×4) – Hopes to start production in 2019. 10,000 people are claimed to be on the waiting list.  Pricing to be announced.
  • Byton (Crossover SUV) – Concept revealed at Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018. Will initially be sold only in China. U.S. sales “to begin later.”  Reservations are being taken.  Pricing:  Starts at $45K. Entry trim level will have 250 mile range; upper trim level will have 325 mile range.
  • Detroit Electric Motors – To be announced
  • Dyson – 2019 target for launch of its first EV, from the vacuum company.
  • Faraday Future FF 91 (luxury SUV) Release date is unknown – Scrapped its plans to build North Las Vegas factory, instead is refurbishing a former Pirelli tire factory near Silicon Valley; many rumors of financial issues with its Chinese investor.
  • Fisker Inc. EMotion (sport sedan) – 2020 – 400 mile range, can charge in 9 minutes
  • Ford “Model E” (crossover) – 2019 – 300 mile range.
  • Genesis “premium long distance” sedan – 2021 – 310 mile range
  • Honda “Urban” EV (concept) Revealed at 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show – Production will be for Europe only. Looks like a 1st gen Civic meets Mini Cooper; tiny, with retro styling.
  • Hybrid Kinetic Group H600 (luxury sedan) – Chinese startup, plans to launch H600 in US in 2019-2020.  Designed by Pininfarina.  804 HP.
  • Hyundai Kona (small SUV) – second half 2018 – 242 mile range
  • Jaguar I-Pace (5 seat crossover)  – Jaguar’s first fully electric/battery powered vehicle, 2019 model year. Built on a unique aluminum-intensive platform by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. 240 mile range. 400 HP from twin electric motors. Jaguar/Land Rover says it will go all EV and hybrid by 2020.  Price range $70,495 to $86,895.
  • Kia Niro EV –  Concept revealed at the 2018 Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas; will likely be the first of 16 advanced powertrain vehicles Kia aims to introduce by 2025. Plans include a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle also.
  • Lucid Air (luxury sedan) – Release date unknown – Production starting in the 2020s. 200 mph, luxury interior.  Its plan to build a $7 million factory in Casa Grande, AZ has been on hold pending financing.
  • Mazda – Recently announced a platform partnership with Toyota to produce its first EV.  It will come out with a “pure EV in 2019” but did not say what model or type of vehicle.  Will come out with a plug in hybrid after that.
  • Mercedes – Parent company Daimler says it will bring 10 new EVs to market by 2022; it is expected that some or all will be under the subbrand named “EQ.” The first vehicle released will be the EQC (compact crossover) in 2019, with 300 miles of range claimed.
  • Mini E – Due in late  2019 – No details released.  BMW announced in July 2018 that it signed a deal to make EV Minis in China in a partnership with Great Wall Motor Co. No dates for groundbreaking or production released.
  • Morgan EV3  (3 wheel roadster) – EV version of the Morgan 3.  120 mile range. 56 HP. Production to begin late 2018.
  • NIO ES8 (luxury SUV) – Chinese startup revealed concept in 2017; first deliveries expected in US in 2020.  “Tesla-type vehicle for China” that seats 7.  Sold only in China for now. “Our goal is to built a robot that looks like a car.”  Will have swappable batteries to help combat charging station anxiety.
  • Pagani – EV coming. details TBA.
  • Porsche Taycan (formerly “Mission E”)- (sporty 4 door coupe) – Looks like cross of a Panamera and 911.  Available in late 2019 – early 2020. 310 mile range is goal.  Price is $85K. No final specs. Goal to charge 80% in 15 minutes; 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds; top speed 155+.  Three AWD models to be produced with HP of 402, 536, and 670. No hybrid 911 coming – Porsche killed the project because of battery size issues; may be resurrected if they can engineer a lighter battery.  Porsche says it will add PHEVs and electric variants to its lineup.
  • Renault Zoe EV – Available late 2018 – early 2019.
  • SF Motors – To be announced
  • Subaru – Crosstrek PHEW (small crossover SUV), production 2019, followed by a full EV (unnamed model) in 2021.  Subaru has joined the EV Common Architecture Spirit Co. formed in September 2017 with Mazda, supplier Denso, minicar specialist Daihatsu, and truck manufacturer Hino to develop its EVs.
  • Tesla Long Haul Semi Truck – Prototype unveiled November 26.  “In a couple years” is the production goal.  Will have 200-300 mile range. Will be testing in Nevada, which allows robo-truck prototype testing.  $15k deposit.
  • Tesla Model Y (small crossover) – Production to begin in 2019 at factory yet to be built in China.
  • Tesla “Roadster” (four place convertible) – Production slated for 2020.  Will cost $200k.  $50k deposit.
  • Tesla Pickup Truck – Production will begin after the Model Y at factory in China.
  • Volkswagen – ID Buzz (microbus) – Range of 270 expected. 2022 is target.
  • Volkswagen –  ID Crozz (crossover) – 2022 – 302 HP, 311 mile range.
  • Volkswagen -ID platform Beetle (four door coupe or convertible – not a typo re the number of doors BTW) – Available at the earliest in 2020, but probably later than that in reality.  No details on range or pricing.
  • Volvo – All models will be EVs or hybrids by 2019.  It has plans to introduce three EVs between 2019 and 2021.  Its Polestar subbrand will release two EVs between 2019 and 2021.  The Polestar vehicles are expected to be similar to BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG badges.

Alliance 2022 – Collaboration between Renault, Nissan & Mitsubishi plans to roll out 12 EVs. “With the emissions rules coming in, it’s the end of gas” per Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Alliance. EVs are the future not because of consumer demand, but due to regulations on emissions.  By 2040 we will be done with diesel and gasoline car sales.  Common platforms (4) will be used; no details on any concepts.


Hybrids Currently Available

  • Audi A3 e-tron (hatchback) – Plug-in hybrid. From $40,475. 16 electric mile range, 400 total range.
  • Chevy Volt (hatchback) – Plug-in hybrid. From $33,220. 53 electric mile range, 420 miles total.
  • BMW i3 REX (crossover) – Plug-in hybrid. From $48,300 – 97 electric miles, 180 total range
  • BMW i8 (sportscar) – Plug-in hybrid. From $147,500 – 15 electric miles, 330 total range.
  • BMW 330e (sporty sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From 44,100. 14 electric range, 350 total.
  • BMW 530e (luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $52,400. 16 mile range electric, 370 total range.
  • BMW 740e (luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From 90,700. 14 electric miles, 340 total.
  • Cadillac CT6 (sedan) – Plug-in hybrid.  From $75,095. 31 electric miles, 440 total
  • Chrysler Pacifica (van) – Hybrid and Plug-In hybrid versions. From $39,995.  84 mpge and 566 total range.
  • Fiat 500e (subcompact) – From $32,995. 84 mile range.
  • Ford C-Max Energi (hatchback) – Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.  From $32,950.  22 mile electric range, 500 total range.
  • Ford Fusion Energi (sedan) – Plug-in hybrid.  From $33,400. 21 electric mile range, 610 total range.
  • Honda Accord Hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $29,605
  • Honda Clarity Plug-in hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $34,400.  21 electric mile range, 610 total range.
  • Honda Civic hybrid (compact sedan) – from about $27,000
  • Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid (sedan) – Blue (base trim) from $23,035; SEL trim from $24,950.  29 electric miles, 630 total range
  • Hyundai Sonata (midsize sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $34,600. 27 electric miles range, 590 total.
  • Karma Revero hybrid (four door sports sedan) – 51 mpge, 300 total range, 403 HP, 21 kwh battery capacity. From $130,000.
  • Kia Niro hybrid (compact crossover) – from $23,240.
  • Kia Niro (compact crossover) – Plug-in hybrid. From $22,900. 26 electric mile range, 560 total miles.
  • Kia Optima Hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $25,995.  Plug-in hybrid from $35,210. 29 electric mile range, 610 total
  • Mercedes-Benz C 350e (small luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $46,400
  • Mercedes-Benz S 550e (full size luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $96,600. 14 electric miles, 450 total range.
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e (large SUV) – Plug-in hybrid. From 65,550. 12 electric mile range, 460 total range.
  • Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 Plug-In hybrid (hatchback) – from $37,650 – Only 12 miles of electric range.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (SUV) – Plug-in hybrid – from $34,595. 22 miles electric range, 310 total range.
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid (SUV) – Plug-In hybrid.  From $79,900. 14 electric mile range, 480 total range.
  • Porsche 918 Spyder (sports car) – Plug-in hybrid. From $847,000.
  • Porsche Panamera 4-E Hybrid (sports sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $99,600. 16 electric mile range, 560 total.
  • Toyota Prius Two Eco (sedan) – Base model from $26,050 and Prius Prime – Base model from $27,100.  25 mile electric range, 615 total range.
  • Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid (crossover) – 194 HP.  3 trim levels.  Base model from $27,235.
  • Volvo XC60 T8 (SUV) – Plug-in hybrid. From $52,900. 18 electric mile range, 370 total range.
  • Volvo S90 T8 (sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From 63,650. 21 electric mile range, 410 total.
  • Volvo XC90 T8 (large luxury SUV) – Plug-in hybrid. From $64,950. 19 electric mile range, 380 total.

Hybrids Not Yet Available

  • Bentley Bentayga Plug-In Hybrid (ultraluxury crossover) – Second half of 2018. Bentley plans to introduce plug-in hybrid versions of all models.
  • Bentley Continental GT Plug-In Hybrid – After debut of Bentayga.
  • Bentley Flying Spur and Mulsanne (sedans) – Unknown debut date, after GT.
  • BMW i-8 Spyder hybrid (roadster) – On sale in 2018 for the 2019 model year.  BMW not releasing any details. Expected to come out with a fully electric version in 2022.
  • Ford Expedition – Late 2019
  • Ford F-150 – 2020
  • Ford Mustang – 2020
  • Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid – 2019
  • Honda CR-V Hybrid (crossover) –  prototype at 2017 Shanghai Auto Show.
  • Honda Insight (compact to mid-size sedan) – 2019
  • Infiniti Emerg-E – concept revealed in 2012, no announcement on final design, production date, or range/mpge.
  • Jaguar F-Type (sport sedan) – The F Type will have “an electrified powertrain,” no details announced.  Available approximately 2020.
  • Lamborghini Urus (sports car) Plug-In Hybrid – Available 2019.
  • Lexus 500h Hybrid – 2018
  • Lincoln MKC Plug-in Hybrid (SUV) – 2019.
  • Mazda Plug-in Hybrid – After 2019.
  • Mercedes CLS Hybrid (four door coupe) – Debuted at 2017 LA Auto Show. Expected to be available in 2018.
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid – From $185,450.  Available early 2018.
  • Volvo XC60 T8 Plug-in Hybrid (midsize luxury SUV) – Late 2017 or early 2018. Debut at OC International Auto Show (9/2017) 400 HP.  From $52,900.
  • Volvo S 90 Plug-in Hybrid (sedan) – Available 2018.

Chevy Volts and Bolts Century City Boltaversary

Updated 8/12/2018   

For additional information on the low emission vehicles listed, we recommend 

For additional information on “green” vehicle ownership, we recommend

Updated 1/1/2019


TEST DRIVE REVIEW – 2017 Hyundai Ioniq – Nice Car, If You Can Get One

By Michele Spencer
Hyundai Ioniq side
2017 Ioniq Electric Blue Metallic test vehicle, shown in Limited Trim.

Hyundai’s entry into the electric vehicle market is the Ioniq.  Its chief competitor is the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is the top seller in the segment.  The Bolt EV’s MSRP is just under $30,000 after factoring in the federal and state tax rebates, and has a range of 238 miles.

Another competitor in the practical EV segment, the Honda Clarity EV, was recently put into dealerships, in Fall 2017 .  It is available on a lease-only basis, with a range of 89 miles.  While the 2016 Nissan Leaf had a range of 106 miles, the 2018 Nissan Leaf will have a range of 150 miles, with a starting price of $30,875.

It isn’t really fair to compare the Ioniq with a luxury all-electric vehicle such as the Tesla Model S, as it has a much higher MSRP and a completely different reason for its existence.

Comparison with the Model 3, which is supposed to have a $35,000 price tag, is impossible, as it has not rolled out of Fremont and into customers’ driveways yet.  In other words, people wanting to buy an EV today cannot get their hands on a Model 3, and probably won’t until at least mid 2018.  In addition, word on the street is that $35,000 will not get the Model 3 buyer very much, and the more realistic price will be $45,000.

In the meantime, the Ioniq’s starting / base trim level MSRP is $29,500.  Today’s tester, the Ioniq Limited, has an MSRP of $32,500, before federal and state rebates are applied, and a range of 124.  And it’s available.  Sort of.

During the test week with the Ioniq, the sales staff at a local dealership in Southern California told me they have about 2 deliveries per month and that Hyundai dealerships cannot keep them on the lot.  Adding to the problem is that only certain select Hyundai dealers are given Ioniqs to sell.  Once they hit the dealership, they are sold.  So if you want one, be prepared to locate a dealer and sit on a waiting list; Ioniqs are a hot commodity.

Hyundai’s EV comes with a lifetime electric battery warranty and the industry-leading powertrain warranty of 10 years/100,000 miles.  The Ioniq edges out the Bolt EV, the Clarity and the Leaf in the warranty department.

Hyundai Ioniq charging
The Ioniq charges for free at a hotel on its fast charge station.

The EPA-rated range is 124, but it can fully charge up to 136.  The city miles are 150, while highway is 122.  Electric vehicles (not just the Ioniq) normally get significantly less range at higher speeds, so they do better in slow speed driving conditions versus highway.   As such, the Ioniq Electric is recommended for those who drive less than 120 miles a day and have parking near an electrical outlet for overnight or at the workplace.

(Fun fact: People who work at the Hyundai corporate headquarters in Southern California have over 100 free charging stations available in the parking lot and are given employee discount pricing on their vehicles, to encourage daily hybrid and EV vehicle use.)

The tester came with the Ultimate Package ($3,500), which included a sunroof, automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane departure warning, HID headlights with dynamic bending light function, navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen display, Infinity premium audio with 8 speakers, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and LED interior lighting.  The package is well worth it, especially because of the lane departure warning and upgraded headlights.

Both trim levels have brake regeneration, which is controlled through two paddles behind the steering wheel.  It takes a bit of practice, but it’s easy to learn the sequences to raise and lower the braking through three levels.  Regenerative braking uses the electric motor when decelerating or braking to transform vehicle motion (kinetic engery) into electrical energy to charge the high voltage batteries.

The Ioniq’s looks are very similar to its gas-engine brother, the Elantra.  The Ioniq is a four door sedan with a hatchback.   Available paint colors are Ceramic White, Symphony Air Silver, Black Noir Pearl, and Electric Blue Metallic (as tested).   The 40-60 split rear seats fold down for added room in the back compartment.

The ride is very quiet and comfortable and handling is very good.  The rear suspension is a coupled torsion beam axle.  Although only making 118 horsepower, the Ioniq does not lag when power is needed and comfortably rides at freeway speeds.  It moves nimbly from lane to lane.  As with the Bolt EV, there is no issue with drive performance whatsoever.

Vehicle Stability Management with traction control is included as standard equipment on both trims.

As tested, the brakes on the Ioniq felt much stronger than those on the Bolt EV.  In testing the Bolt EV, I needed a long braking range to come to a full stop, which was below expectations for any type of vehicle, whether electric, hybrid, or combustion engine.

Standard safety features include front, front side impact, side curtain and driver knee airbags, rear view camera, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist, and tire pressure monitoring.

In the cabin, the driver’s seat is very comfortable. Drive modes are handled by push buttons situated in the center console.  The easy to use electronic parking brake is standard.   USB ports and a 12 volt plug in are well-located in the cabin, but no USB ports were found in the back seat area.  The Equinox has knobs available for the two major essential functions of air and audio controls, instead of touch screen management.

In comparison, all Tesla vehicles require the driver to divert attention away from the road for these and any other functions by using the touchscreen, making them inherently less safe.  (See the Consumer Reports study which came out this week.  Seems I’m not the only one who thinks scrolling through a screen to change the station or turn off the navigation system is a built-in distraction that is unacceptable.)

Charging can be done at a fast charging station or in the garage on either a 120 or 240 volt outlet, using the power cord that comes with the vehicle at no extra charge.  According to the Ioniq Owner’s Manual, it takes about 24 hours at room temperature to “trickle charge” to 100% on a 120 volt outlet and 4 hours 25 minutes to fully charge on a 240 volt outlet.

The Ioniq beats its segment competitors on price, battery warranty, and powertrain warranty.  For model year 2018, Hyundai will not make any changes.  In 2018, it will introduce a plug-in hybrid Ioniq that will have 27 miles of all-electric range and up to 650 miles with gasoline.

Hyundai’s practical EV has a lower price as the Bolt and could easily be a sales challenger if Hyundai had more Ioniqs in showrooms.  One thing’s for certain:  sign up on a wait list with Hyundai and you’ll have your Ioniq before your neighbor gets his Model 3 from Fremont.

2017 IONIQ ELECTRIC LIMITED Specifications

  • Type:  Electric vehicle, five door, hatchback
  • Final Assembly: Korea
  • Power: 88 kw Electric Powertrain; 28.0 kwh , 360 v Lithium Ion Polymer Battery
  • Single-speed automatic with push button drive mode selector
  • Horsepower: 118
  • Fuel Economy EPA Rating:  136 MPGe, 150 city, 122 highway.
  • Driving Range, EPA: 124 miles
  • Base and Limited Trim Colors:  Electric Blue Metallic, Ceramic White, Symphony Air Silver, and Black Noir Pearl
  • Interior, both trims:  Black
  • Driver and Passenger seat warmer function
  • Electronic Stability Control (Vehicle Stability Management, with traction control)
  • Braking:  ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution; Electronic Parking Brake; Regenerative Brake Level Control Paddles
  • Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Rear view back up camera
  • Warranties: 5 year/60,000 new vehicle warranty, 10 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, Lifetime electric battery warranty, 7 year/unlimited mile anti-perforation warranty, 5 year/unlimited mile roadside assistance, plus dealer limited warranties
  • Airbags:  Front, Front side, Side curtain, and Driver Knee
  • Exterior:  16 inch eco-spoke wheels
  • LED headlights, LED tail lights, LED daytime running lights
  • Power-folding side mirrors
  • 7-inch LCD instrument cluster display, 4.2 inch LCD trip computer, and 7 inch color touchscreen audio display
  • AM/FM, MP3, Sirius XM, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth Phone System, Hyundai BlueLink Telematics System, BlueLink Connected Care
  • Flat Repair Kit in lieu of spare tire
  • MSRP – Limited Trim:  $32,500; Federal and CA rebates available

Added Features of Tester – “Ultimate Package” ($3,500)

  • Power tilt and slide sunroof
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Smart Cruise Control with stop – start
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • HID Headlights with Dynamic Bending Light Function
  • Navigation System with 8-inch Touchscreen Display
  • Infinity Premium Audio with Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology; 8 speakers
  • Wireless Charging Pad for smart phones
  • LED interior lighting


TEST DRIVE REVIEW – The 2017 Chevy Bolt EV is The Best Electric Vehicle Deal of the New Millennium

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV – The Best Electric Vehicle Deal of the New Millennium

by Michele Spencer

When the decision has been made to go all electric in that next vehicle, there’s a secondary decision that must also be made:  luxury or basic.

The high-end EV buyer will be looking for expensive interior materials, probably wood and leather, with state of the art technology, including self driving mode, and the car’s style must be futuristic and look costly.  The price tag of the high end buyer’s vehicle is going to start in the $60,000s.

The buyer who doesn’t need interior luxury amenities, self driving mode, or Silicon Valley cred will pay far less, with the price starting at $36,620.  It is this buyer who Chevrolet has made the 2017 Bolt EV for.  Chevrolet has made EV ownership a reality for everyone, not just the well-heeled.

An automotive critics’ darling, the 2017 Bolt EV was named the 2017 North American Car of the Year, the 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year, and Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.

The Bolt EV wasn’t intended to do battle with the Tesla Model S, but because it hit the market way ahead of the Model 3 (which is still not readily available due to production glitches), Chevy’s Bolt EV sales numbers have been giving Tesla a run for its money, with the numbers steadily climbing each month since the Bolt EV’s introduction in January 2017.

No wonder, since the base price of the Bolt EV LT is $29,995 after the federal tax incentive is factored in.  The battery range is comparable that of Fremont’s finest, and the crossover delivers on driving experience.  For a lot less cash out of pocket, the buyer is in a quality EV with an 8 year/100,000 mile battery warranty.

The Bolt EV’s EPA estimated range is 255 miles city, 217 highway, and 238 combined. In the week of testing, it charged up to 260 consistently.

Driving the Bolt EV is a pleasure.  Any doubts about EV performance are quickly dashed.  It offers a smooth and quiet ride.  Off the line, sheer power is delivered instantly and without hesitation.  0-60 is reached in just under seven seconds.  The Bolt EV cruises comfortably at highway speed and its suspension and handling are more than acceptable.  The windshield is large, offering outstanding visibility.   The cabin is quiet at highway speed.

Electronic drive shifting is done with a by-wire lever unit similar to a manual transmission shifter, with four modes available: park, reverse, neutral and drive.  To enable regenerative braking, the driver pulls the lever rearward, then the on-demand paddles behind the steering wheel are used to regulate braking.   “One-pedal” driving is done in order to maximize range.  The by-wire shifter is more compact than traditional mechanical shifters, allowing for more than expected cabin space.

There is a back up camera standard on the LT (base trim level).  Surround vision is an outstanding safety feature on the Premier trim, on today’s tester.  Both trim levels have traction control, side blind zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert.

The tester was equipped with the Driver Confidence II package ($495), which provides Intellibeam headlamps, following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and low speed forward automatic braking.  This package is highly recommended – it’s a bargain for the safety features that it provides.

On the interior, the driver’s information cluster shows speed, driving efficiency, battery range, and regeneration status.  Three choices of readout configurations are available. The 10-inch in-dash infotainment screen displays music, phone, navigation, and heating and cooling data for the occupants.  OnStar vehicle diagnostic information (subscription required) and 4G LTE wi fi are standard on both trim levels, as is Chevrolet Roadside Assistance, which is free for the first 5 years/60,000 miles.

The driver has an easy to understand instrument display with range, regeneration status, speed, and economy.   The infotainment screen display manages audio, settings, and navigation.  The roomy cabin has plenty of storage space, legroom and elbow room.   Visibility is excellent.

On the LT trim, the interior is dark galvanized sky cool gray with deluxe cloth seat trim.  With Premier trim, the same color scheme is complimented by perforated leather-appointed seat trim.

The tester’s Infotainment Package ($485) added a wireless charging pad, Bose premium 7-speaker sound system, and dual USB ports for rear passengers, all which are worth the additional charge.

The driver’s steering wheel controls and dash controls are similar to non-EV GM vehicles and will be familiar to Chevrolet or Buick customers. The tilting and telescoping steering wheel comes standard with a heater, as well as the driver and passenger seats, with three levels of heat settings available.   There is ample storage space in the cabin, with two cup holders in front and two more in the back.  Knobs are available for audio volume control and buttons for air circulation control.  Phone pairing for Bluetooth operation is easily done through the control panel.

The Bolt EV is a crossover, so it has plenty of room in the back seat for passengers and their things, as well as cargo space in the rear hatch.

Orange burst metallic was the tester’s color ($395).  Other Premium trim colors are Cajun Red Tint Coat and Kinetic Blue Metallic, which will add $395 to the tab.  The LT trim Bolt EV comes in Arctic Blue Metallic, Mosaic Black Metallic, Nightfall Grey Metallic, and Summit White, at no extra charge.

Bolt EV side view IMG_2930
Premium Trim level Bolt EV in Orange Burst Metallic paint.

In California, the best thing about EV ownership is HOV/carpool lane access as a single occupant.

As the EV market sits right now, there’s absolutely no way any other electric vehicle can beat the Bolt EV for what it delivers for the money:  Superior battery range, comfortable ride,  good handling, excellent technology, and all the roominess that a crossover provides.  Kudos to Chevrolet on a job well done – for the rest of us.

Bolt EV back view IMG_2887

A Word on Adjusting to the EV Lifestyle

As a first-time EV owner or driver, there’s a bit of an adjustment period.  The dreaded “charging anxiety” that comes with EV ownership is caused by not knowing where to get your vehicle charged, and how to pay for it.  Knowledge is power in this regard.

If you don’t have a charger installed in your garage, it is necessary to learn where all of the EV charging stations are near your home and near your workplace.

It’s a lot like having a washer and dryer in your place versus having to go to the Laundromat to do your laundry.

The Bolt EV’s navigation system pulls up a list of charging stations in the area, but use of an app or website on your phone is recommended.  The ChargePoint and PlugShare apps are good ones that most owners use.  In my experience, most of the available public charging stations shown on the apps are owned by ChargePoint.  The problem is that the ChargePoint charging stations do not take credit cards, but rather their own prepaid card, the ChargePass.  Some shopping centers, car dealers, and hotels offer free charging.

The MyChevrolet app provides information on locations of charging stations, allows the user to check on the charging status of their vehicle’s battery, and enables remote charging initiation.

The electric vehicle infrastructure is growing, but it is not at the point where electric charging stations are easy to find or widespread at the places where people live, work, eat and shop.  Because of the current situation of limited availability of public charging stations, most EV and hybrid owners choose to incur the cost of having a charging station installed in their garage.

An optional portable charger is available from Chevrolet dealers for $535 that you can plug in overnight in a standard 120 volt outlet. This will give the vehicle 4 miles of range per hour.  This “trickle method” of charging takes substantially longer than plugging in at a charging station, but at least you’re at home while it’s charging.

If your garage has a 240 volt outlet, a 32-amp charger is available from the dealer for $699, and will give 25 miles of range per hour.

The Bolt EV calculates and displays how much time it will take to fully charge as soon as you connect to either a charger or an outlet.

An EV works best for people who have a daily commute that is predictable and who do not have the “need for speed,” since high speed causes the battery to deplete much faster.

Staying at 65-70 miles per hour on the highway is the way to maximize range.  Lead foots, be warned.   Because there is nothing even close to a nationwide infrastructure of charging stations, EVs are not road trip warriors and it would be impossible to go cross country in one.   At this point in time, they work out best for those doing mostly in-town driving.

It’s also interesting that EVs use less power in stop and go traffic, unlike their gas engine counterparts.

The EV lifestyle works for people who can charge at home in their garage.  It also works for people whose regular work place has a charging station (or 100, in the case of Hyundai’s corporate headquarters in Orange County).

If you’re able to work around the current limitations on public charging, then you’re not going to experience “range anxiety” or “charging anxiety,” and the EV lifestyle is a good fit for you.

2017 Bolt EV Details

Type:  compact crossover SUV, hatchback, five doors.

Power:  Permanent magnetic drive motor, 60 kWh lithium ion battery, 288 cells.

Range:  255 city, 217 highway, 238 combined.

Chassis:  Front independent MacPherson strut-type with direct-acting stabilizer bar.  Rear compound crank (torsion beam) with coil springs

Steering:  Column mounted rack-and-pinion

Brakes: Four wheel disc, partially regenerative

Wheels:  17 inch aluminum; Michelin Energy Saver all-season tires

Drive Mode Shifting:  Electronic Precision Shift system, by-wire shifter

HP:  200

Torque:  266 lb-feet

0-60:  Under 7 seconds

Charging:  Standard SAE Combo connector for fast charging and trickle charger (supplied standard) for 120 or 240 volt outlet charging.

120 volt charge time – 4 miles of range per hour

240 volt charge time – Full charge in 9.3 hours

DC Fast Charging time – 90 miles of range in 30 minutes

Braking:  Regenerative braking system

Safety:  Ten standard air bags, rear vision camera, surround vision (latter standard on Premier only)

Wheelbase:  102.4”

Length: 164”

Width: 69.5”

Height: 62.8”

Curb Weight:  3563 pounds

Max cargo space, rear seats down:  56.6 cubic feet.  With seats up: 17 cubic feet.

Tech:  Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB ports, conventional charger, 10.2 inch diagonal color touch-screen, wireless phone charging, 4G LTE wi fi hotspot, and OnStar (subscription).

Warranty:       Battery – 8 years / 100,000 miles

Powertrain – 3 years / 36,000 miles

Chevrolet’s Got the Ultimate California Cool Crossover – Meet the 2018 Traverse SUP Concept

2017 Chevy Traverse SUP concept-SEMA-2
The Traverse SUP in its natural habitat.
by Michele Spencer

The rest of the world will have to wait just a few more days until SEMA (running from October 31 through November 3), but a small group was honored to be shown the concept on the beach in Malibu, California this week.  It’s almost sad to think that it has to be shipped off to the desert to do its official duties in Las Vegas.

The gorgeous blue hues complement the ocean perfectly and capture the essence of the California beach lifestyle.

A specially made Thule rack carries the matching stand up Riviera paddleboard that comes with the package.  The concept sports gloss black bodyside molding, gloss black headlamp bezels, 20-inch black aluminum wheels,  tinted windows, and dark gray wheel opening trim.

Inside are three rows with easy fold-down of the seats in the back. Seats are embroidered with the Traverse logo.  The cargo space has an integrated liner.

The Traverse SUP concept will join approximately 20 other Chevrolet models at SEMA this week.  If you can’t make it to Las Vegas, follow the action at and/or use the following social media tags:

Instagram:  #CHEVYSEMA

Twitter:  @ChevroletPerformance

Facebook: Chevrolet Performance



Chevrolet Gives Us Two 2018 Hot Wheels Edition Camaros – Because You’re Never Too Old For Hot Wheels or Fun Behind the Wheel.

Two Hot Wheels Camaros were revealed this week – One for the track, one for the road, in honor of 50 years of both toys.  Left: 2018 Camaro 2SS Convertible.  Right: 2018 Camaro 2LT.

October 25, 2017:  Under a clear blue sky with temperatures hovering in the high 90s, it was a hot day in El Segundo, California.  Heat records were in the process of being broken. The group gathered at Hot Wheels Garage clutched bottles of cold water as if their lives depended on it while waiting for the big reveal in the parking lot.  It was hot, but what rested under the black silk cloth was even hotter.

Chevrolet celebrated the 50th year since introduction of its iconic Camaro in 2016.  Hot Wheels is celebrating its own 50th anniversary this year.  It was only natural for the two to partner up for a special project hotter than Southern California during a Santa Ana condition.

The Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition Camaros revealed this week are proof that we never outgrow our toys.  How wonderful that they grew with us.  The buyer can have a life size Camaro in Crush orange to drive around in, a 1/64 scale version to play with in a different way, and one to take out to the drag strip on Friday nights.

The 1/64 scale version of the 2018 Hot Wheels Camaro perches on the spoiler. 

The 2018 Hot Wheels commemorative package goes on sale in the first quarter of 2018, and the cost is $4,995.00.

The package includes Satin Graphite rally stripes, silver ice metallic accents, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels in Satin Graphite, 50th Anniversary Hot Wheels fender badges, a unique grill with Galvano Chrome inserts, orange brake calipers, smoked tail lamps, jet black leather interior with orange accent stitching, suede panels (only available on the Z06 Corvette, not on any other Chevrolets), embossed headrests, 50th Anniversary Hot Wheels badge on the steering wheel, illuminated doorsill plates with 50th Anniversary Hot Wheels badges, and premium floor mats with orange stitching and “ghost” stripes.

Of course, it has a 6-speed manual transmission.

For additional information on the Hot Wheels Camaro, go to

IMG_2866 2018 Camaro COPO
Chevrolet’s 2018 Hot Wheels COPO edition drag racer being revealed at Hot Wheels Garage in California.  

The 2018 COPO Camaro Hot Wheels drag race car will be a limited edition of only 69 produced, as per tradition.  It will be a three speed automatic ready for the track.  It comes equipped with a roll cage, a parachute, and racing seats.

For information on the drag race version of the 2018 Hot Wheels Camaro go to

Don’t delay, though: Chevrolet is closing the registration for the 2018 Hot Wheels COPO Camaro on November 30, 2017.

Both 2018 Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition vehicles will be on display at SEMA (October 31 – November 3) in Las Vegas.


TEST DRIVE REVIEW: You Owe it To Your Family and Yourself to Check out the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Crossover – It’s The Most Fun You’ll Have Being Practical

By Michele Spencer

The Equinox earns the top spot on the list of family sport utility vehicles because it has everything that a busy family needs in a transporter/grocery getter/road tripper, and has a strong and powerful engine with nice handling to keep the driver very happy, at a very competitive price.

One of the features that sets the Equinox apart from other SUVs is one simple tech feature:  If you opened a back passenger door during the outing, you will be reminded by a message on the driver’s display screen to check the back seat once the car is turned off.  This feature needs to be standard on all vehicles, considering the stories in the news about kids and animals being left behind.

The Equinox is a two row compact SUV which seats five.  The size of the Equinox is about the same as a Honda CR-V, a Ford Escape and a Mazda CX-5.  There’s 30 cubic feet of rear cargo space.  The cabin is quiet, comfortable and roomy, with standard heated, leather-trimmed seats, 10-way driver’s seat adjustments, and a telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel.  There are lots of places to stow items in the console.  The panoramic sunroof (fully retractable) and glass roof let in as much light as desired with one-touch switch controls.

There are excellent cameras and displays for safe backing up, moving forward toward an object, and for those crucial side views.  When the (as tested) Equinox senses that it is too close to an object in front, the driver’s seat will vibrate lightly to alert them of the situation.

In order to increase MPG, the engine shuts off at common stops.  Once the foot is lifted off the brake, the engine restarts automatically.

Volume and temperature controls are by knob and button, instead of by screen touch, which is exactly how they should be so that the driver isn’t distracted performing common correction tasks on the road.

The Equinox was very close to the 25 MPG combined fuel economy rating (22 city and 29 highway) with a lot of stop and go Los Angeles traffic and a bit of open highway.  The engine is responsive and there are no issues with getting quick speed when necessary.  The turning radius is acceptable for the crossover segment.

As a tow vehicle, the tester could haul up to 3505 pounds.  The 1.5 liter gasoline and 1.6 liter diesel versions could haul 1500 pounds.

Chevy has improved the Equinox with this model year.  The tech and safety features on the 2018 Equinox combined with its handling and good MPG make it a no-contest champion over the top-selling compact crossover in the US, the Honda CR-V.  Its closest competition would be the Mazda CX-3 and CX-5.   The Equinox has gone from so-so to highly recommended.

The Equinox base price is $33,585.00, plus the destination charge of $895 for shipping from Canada, making it competitive in its segment as a sensible family vehicle with enough zip to make the driver a happy camper.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD Premier 2.0 Liter Turbo

Engine:  2.0 liter turbocharged gasoline engine (as tested);  Also available in 1.6 liter turbo diesel engine and 1.5 liter gasoline engine, either AWD or FWD.

Transmission:  5 speed automatic

Wheels:  19 inch

Lights:  LED headlamps and tail lamps, daytime running lights

Trailering equipment:  standard, all models

Remote vehicle start, at press of button on remote key

Heated seats:  Driver and front passenger

Rear split-folding seats

Audio:  6 speaker system

Connectivity: MyLink audio, 8 inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar, 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot.

Packages on vehicle as tested:  “Confidence and Convenience II”  Package :  Power adjustments on front passenger seat, ventilated driver and passenger seats, heated steering wheel, low speed forward automatic braking, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, safety alert seat, surround vision, intellibeam auto high beam control, and roof rack cross rails. ($1895.00)  “Sun, Sound and Navigation” Package: Power sunroof, Chevrolet MyLink navigation, 7 speaker Bose sound system, HD radio.  ($2620.00)








TEST DRIVE REVIEW: There’s a queen of the road, and her name is Cascada.

Buick Cascada 2017 Rear

Review of the 2017 Buick Cascada 
By Michele Spencer

Take Cascada in as you approach.  Her resplendent red body and clean lines are easy on the eyes.  You wish her top was down. Fifteen seconds later it is, and instantly her true beauty is revealed.  Open her door.  It swings out towards you, wider than expected, inviting you in.  Glide in to the cockpit, and you’re comfortable right away.  Turn her key and listen to her turbo enhanced 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine come to life with a healthy purr.  Taking you down the road, her shift points are seamless, never jerky or sudden.  Surely, there must be a fault, but there isn’t one…she hugs the road on the turns, and she gives you power right when you demand it.  She’s a genteel lady, not a woman in a hurry.  Before you know it, you’re in love.  That’s the Cascada effect.

Buick introduced the Cascada in 2016 with very little fanfare, so little that most people don’t even know that this model exists.  Queen Cascada turns heads everywhere, even driving around town in car-jaded Southern California.   20-inch black gloss finished wheels look stunning against the Sport Red paint and black ragtop.

Just like a woman you should fall in love with and take home to mother, the exterior is just part of the Cascada charm.  Interior appointments are refined, with plenty of leather.   The tester had red leather stitching on the steering wheel, dash, doors, and seats, taking it to luxury level, as part of the no-charge option package.   Cascada in the Sport Touring model comes standard with heated and heat-reflective front and rear leather seats and heated steering wheel.   The infotainment system is run through a 7-inch touchscreen, with 7 speakers for optimum listening to XM radio, CD, or MP3.  Wind noise is minimal with the top up, which is yet another pleasant surprise.

She’s practical, too.

At night, Cascada’s articulating headlamps turn with you, showing you the road.  OnStar is standard and costs nothing for the first five years.  It comes with a built in 4G LTE wi-fi.  If there’s a disaster, or traveling with work is life, then Cascada’s got you covered – your computer and devices are seamlessly powered and connected.   The overall safety rating by NHTSA:  five stars, of course.

Fuel economy according to the sticker is 20 city and 27 highway.  In my week of combined city and highway driving, I averaged 23.1 mpg.

The Cascada has an “I’ve arrived” attitude, but in an understated way.  There’s no ridiculous makeup or big hairdo on this lady, but she is getting noticed by every guy in the place for her simple beauty and charm.  With an MSRP of $37,065.00 (plus destination fee of $925.00), you may find yourself free-falling hard.

Buick Cascada 2017 side

Specifications – 2017 Buick Cascada Sport Touring

Vehicle Type:  Two door, 4 passenger convertible (mid-size sedan)

Engine:  1.6 liter turbo 4-cylinder internal combustion

Drivetrain:  6 speed automatic

Suspension:  Sport Tuned

HP/Torque:  200 hp / 207 lb-ft

Wheels (Sport Touring, Dark Effects Package): 20” black gloss finish

Convertible top:  Folding, acoustically and thermally insulated

MPG:  20/27/23 (city/highway/combined)

‘Dark Effects’ Option Package (no charge) includes front grille with black gloss finish, body color fog lamp accents, 20” black gloss finish wheels, mirror caps with black gloss finish, sport red exterior paint, body color rear accent molding, and red accent stitching on interior panels and seats




TEST DRIVE REVIEW – California Crusin’ in the CX-5 to Mazda Raceway

By Michele Spencer

Road trip to Central California from Southern California, in six hours? It was no problem in a 2017 Mazda CX-5.  We’re talking about a Mazda, after all, with its “Driving Matters” mantra. I’m reminded of the children’s book about the little train engine that rallied to pull all the other train cars up and over the hill, called The Little Engine That Could.  I consider Mazda to be the Little Car Company That Does. This mid-size SUV crossover glides through the rough patches of the highway like they were nothing. Its quiet and roomy cabin, appointed with plenty of cup holders and bins for snacks and bottled water, front and rear USB ports, a telescoping heated leather steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats, made it an oasis of comfort for the drive up the 5 and the 101.  Five people would be very comfortable for a long drive in the CX-5.

Enhanced safety features that made it a worry free drive included the dynamic stability control and traction control systems, brake assist, back up camera, and the wonderful lane departure warnings – all standard on the top-of-the line tester, a Grand Touring.  (The base model is Sport; the mid-level trim is Touring.)

When I stopped for gas and snacks on the road, the cargo cover (optional, $250) snapped right into place over my suitcase so there would be nothing to see through the back hatch window, so there was one less thing to worry about as a solo traveler.  The infotainment system was easy to learn, with a combination of touch screen (7-inch pop up color display, nicely placed on the dash) and knob commands (in the console) for Bluetooth phone operation, music, navigation, and monitoring fuel consumption.

In stop and go LA traffic leaving town, I got 29.6 mpg, beating the sticker of 24 city, and on the open road, I got 33.5 mpg, beating the sticker of 31 highway, courtesy of the Skyactiv technology that is available on all trim levels.  I could have gone the entire drive without stopping for gas, which is a credit to the 2.5 liter four cylinder Skyactiv engine.

Active driving display on the front windshield shows the driver real time miles per hour and street signs in a holograph type display, but can be turned off easily if the driver finds the prompts annoying.  Climbing up the Grapevine, which takes a good 20 minutes, putting the CX-5 into sport mode enhanced the 187 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque for a strong ride up without hesitation or vibration, even with the air conditioning running. On-ramps were a breeze, as the Mazda DNA is all about handling.

As far as size, it’s between the Mazda CX-3 crossover and the CX-9 luxury grade SUV.  It is roughly the same size as a Lexus RX-350.

Base MSRP on the tester is $29,395.00, plus $1,830.00 for the premium package, $250 for the cargo cover, and the $940 delivery fee from Hiroshima, bringing the total MSRP to $32,785.00 as tested.  Compared with others in this segment it’s a bargain, considering the great ride quality, want-for-nothing interior amenities, and the five star government safety ratings.

The CX-5 proves once again that Mazda truly is the Little Car Company That DOES.

2017 Mazda CX-5

  •  Manufactured in Hiroshima, Japan.  Japanese parts=- 90%.
  • Warranty:  60 month/60K mile powertrain; 36 month/36K mile bumper to bumper
  • Also included, all trim levels:  24 hour roadside assistance
  • Spare Tire:  Temporary spare
  •  Wheels:  19 inch alloy.

Other interesting features, standard on the Grand Touring:  G-vectoring control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, rear wiper, heater power mirrors, LED headlights with auto on/off, rear roof spoiler, electronic parking brake, steering sensor, power open/close rear hatch, Bose 10 speaker system, split fold down rear seats.

Premium Package (on tester, $1,830): Driver seat memory with 2 positions, 6 way power front passenger seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, active driving display, and windshield wiper de-icer.