TEST DRIVE REVIEW: Getting Rugged in the GMC Acadia AWD, the American Zombie Fighter

By Michele Spencer

There aren’t a lot of crossovers that can be called heavy duty crossovers, but this one qualifies.  GMC is ready for the zombie apocalypse with this 6 person people-and-stuff hauler that’s capable of more than urban adventures – mostly because of its torque-vectoring rear axle.  The vehicle apportions torque between the drive wheels on an axle to help rotate around a turn.  The speed of the inside wheel gets reduced at the same time the torque is maximized on the outside wheel, which is what you want to perform in turns without that typical SUV tippy feel.  This technology used to be the bastion of performance cars, so it’s quite a shock to find it on the humble GMC Acadia.  That’s why this crossover is a breakout for the segment.

2018-gmc-acadia-awd
Drop the third row to go from 12.8 SF to 41.7 SF of cargo space.

 

Check out the cargo area stats, and be further blown away:  41.7 cf with the 3rd row seats down, 12.8 with them up.   It’s not overly tall, at 66 inches, slender enough to slink through the city at 75.4 inches wide, and 193.6 long.  Betting it fits fine in most garages.

This beastie handled the streets and freeways of Los Angeles for over two hours in the worst rainstorm of the season.  Nasty wet weather barely registered a blip on the Acadia All Terrain’s radar.  Also amazing was the fuel economy:  I got 24.3 MPG in a combination of moderate highway speed travel and mild stop and go traffic conditions, beating the EPA/DOT estimates.

Trying out the sport mode in the Acadia was fun.  Easily switch between modes with the dial knob and you’re off, since there’s 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque at your disposal.  In addition to the all-wheel drive system, there’s hill descent control available in the All-Terrain trim package.

There is a gap in between the second row seats, which makes it feel very elbow-roomy for the riders in the back, but that limits capacity to 6 instead of 7, if that’s a concern.  While the second row area is very roomy, the third row is really only going to be comfortable for two kids or petite adults.

As tested, the Acadia came with all weather floor mats, which fit its rugged nature and told you that this SUV is made for off-road adventures, as if you couldn’t already tell from the roof rack and rails.

Meanwhile in the cabin, the driver and front passenger have heated seats, leather, and Bose premium sound.

The safety features on all trim levels are state of the art and include a driver alert, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change alert.  It could have used a front or side camera, however.

Paired with handsome, rugged looks, and superior maneuverability in the super-competitive cutthroat crossover SUV segment, this is a family crossover that’s flying under the radar.  Who knows why, though.  It deserves to be a top seller for GMC, but there’s no need to wait for the zombies to invade.   Grab your twinkies and run down to the GMC dealer.

2018 GMC ACADIA AWD SLT-1

  • Engine: 3.6 liter V6 DOHC
  • Airbags: front and side impact for driver and passenger, side impact and knee for driver, and head curtain side impact for all rows
  • Brakes:  4 wheel disc, antilock brake system
  • Remote vehicle start, Teen Driver tech, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change alert
  • Spare tire
  • Wheels:  18 inch aluminum (20 inch wheels are available as part of the All-Terrain package; see below.)
  • Leather seats, leather steering wheel, heated seats for driver and front passenger
  • Sound:  Bose premium 8 speaker audio system
  • Warranty:  5 year/60,000 miles
  • EPA:  17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined
  • Price:  As tested, $48,435.00, including destination charge from Tennessee $975.00
  • Five star government crash test safety ratings

The tester was equipped with the All Terrain Package ($1800.00):

  • All wheel drive system, hill descent control, 20 inch aluminum wheels, black roof rails.

The tester was equipped with the dual skyscape sunroof ($1400.00).

The tester was also equipped with the Exterior Convenience Package ($860.00):

  • Roof rack cross rails, molded assist steps.

Also available:  Trailering Package with active tow ($650.00), Navigation ($495.00), and complete set of all-weather floor and cargo mats ($300.00).

 

 

 

TEST DRIVE REVIEW: Keeping Up With the Kias – Sorento and Optima Edition

By Michele Spencer

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD and Kia Optima SX LTD

In this edition of Keeping Up With the Kias, we review two gas-powered Kias: the Sorento (a 3-row midsize SUV) and the Optima (a five person midsize sedan).

Kia Sorento 2017
The 2017 Kia Sorento is a 3 row SUV that’s a great bargain.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD

The Sorento is a three-row midsize SUV that fits 7 people, powered by a 3.3 liter V6 engine.  The third row’s 50/50 split seats easily fold up and down with a quick pull of a strap; the second row seats fold down with the push of a button in the rear cabin sidewall. When the third row isn’t needed, the seats can be folded flat for maximum space for cargo; it’s easy to pop them back up when there are a few extra passengers.  With the seats down, the cargo area has a segment-busting 73 cubic feet of storage space, accessible with a one-push button power liftgate.

Today’s tester is the SXL, the top trim level, in Platinum Graphite paint with a chrome grille and 19 inch wheel accents that make it extremely attractive.  Inside, there is very comfortable leather seating with Nappa leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats, power seat adjustments with memory settings, and a heated leather steering wheel.   USB and 12-volt outlets are located in convenient spaces in the front and rear cabin spaces.  The UVO “eService” infotainment system is standard on all new Kias, at all trim levels, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration systems.  There are knobs for easy volume and tuning and push controls for the heating and air conditioning, to allow for safe adjustments without having to be distracted.  Other functions are on the 8 inch touch screen, including navigation. The Infinity audio is a surround sound system.

The SXL has a large sunroof and shade, which slides way back into the passenger compartment for plenty of natural lighting.

As tested, the Sorento provides state of the art technology for collision avoidance and safety.  The surround view camera display functions beautifully for parking and negotiating tight spaces.  It is a standout feature on this Kia, in addition to the right side view camera, the front camera, lane departure warning, the blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert.  When freeway traffic slowed suddenly, the Sorento gave an audible alert, but it wasn’t overreacting or being overly cautious.  It was spot on.  I didn’t have any conditions occur that would have caused the autonomous emergency braking to kick in, but it is a reassuring safety feature on the Sorento that helps the driver avoid the most common kind of accident, the rear-ender.

The Sorento, like all Kias, gives the owner much more than you would expect for the money.  A friend who owns a Mercedes sedan who I took to dinner in the Sorento SXL said that the Sorento was “way nicer” than her ride.  The features and styling of the Sorento are on par with much more expensive makes.

On fuel consumption, the rating is 19 MPG combined city and highway.  On two long trips in a mixture of driving conditions I got 21.1 and 24 MPG averages.  At 290 horsepower, the Sorento is capable with normal city driving but it won’t light your hair on fire.  The torque seems a bit anemic in spite of the claimed 252 pound-feet available.

Government crash test safety ratings are not available, but there’s no reason to believe that the 2018 Sorento wouldn’t meet the five-star ratings that it garnered in 2017.

There is available all wheel drive with locking center differential for poor road conditions, or off-road excursions, making the Sorento a great choice for those who go from city to backcountry or live in areas with challenging weather.

In 2017, The Sorento picked up the highest ranking for initial quality in the midsize SUV segment for two of three years in a row from J.D. Power.  The segment is ultra-competitive, so the award is very impressive.  Keep in mind that there is a 10 year, 1000,000 mile warranty backing up every Kia sold, so it’s a pretty good bet you won’t be spending much time at the dealership service center.

2017 Kia Sorento Details

  • Power: 3.3 liter V-6 direct injection engine (SXL trim, top trim); 2.4 liter (L trim)
  • Transmission: 6 speed automatic
  • All Wheel Drive with locking center differential
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS
  • Wheels: 19 inch chrome alloy
  • Warranty:  10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain and limited battery warranty; 5 year/60,000 limited basis warranty; and 5 year/60,000 mile free roadside assistance
  • Fuel economy: 17 city/23 highway/19 combined
  • Price (as tested): MSRP $46,200, plus $940 for shipping from West Point, Georgia (SXL);  $44,500 (L).
  • Interior and Infotainment (SXL): Infinity surround sound audio, Navigation with 8 inch touchscreen and rear camera, UVO eServices infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, Sirius XM radio with 3 month subscription, Metallic Nappa leather seats, Nappa leather seat trim, power adjustable front seats, driver’s seat memory function, heated and ventilated front seats, heated leather steering wheel, power sunroof and shade.
  • Exterior (SXL): HID headlights with auto-leveling and dynamic bending, LED positioning, fog and tail lights, power-folding heated outside mirrors with turn signals, smart “hands-free” power liftgate.
  • Safety: dual front advanced airbags, dual front seat-mounted airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, anti-lock braking system, traction control system, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, surround view monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection system, lane departure warning system, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist system.
  • HP 290; Torque 252 pound-feet (SXL); HP 185; Torque 178 pound-feet (L)
  • Cargo net for rear cargo area, optional: $50.00
Kia Optima 2017 side
2017 Kia Optima – 2 liter turbocharged at top trim levels.

2017 Kia Optima SXL

The Optima is a five-person, four-door midsize sedan which is available in conventional gasoline engine and hybrid versions. Today’s tester is a 2.0 liter turbocharged gas engine powered sedan with a 6 speed automatic transmission. The Optima comes in five trim levels.  The tester is the SXL trim, which bases at $36,090, plus $895 for shipping from West Point, Georgia.

The Optima is regarded as having state of the art features that are normally found on more expensive cars.  It should be on the short list of cars to check out when shopping for a midsize four-door sedan, as the value is amazing in this segment.

The Optima got 29.3 mpg on average in a mix of both slow traffic and open highway driving, beating the EPA estimate of 25 combined.  In mostly open highway driving, it got 31.4 mpg, making it very competitive with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Fusion.

The interior is very nicely appointed, with knobs and push buttons for volume and air controls, in addition to a 7-inch touchscreen and a tilting/telescoping steering wheel.  Even the base trim model features the excellent UVO Infotainment and Connectivity system (said to be better than most of its mid-size sedan competitors), but the Optima has even more available features that kick up its competitiveness, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (upper trim levels only), standard leather-wrapped steering wheel (starting at the LX  trim level), standard multi-adjustable driver’s seat, and standard dual zone climate controls.

2017-kia-optima-interior.jpg
Kia Optima interior.

The upper trim level tester was outfitted with the Harman Kardon surround sound system and ten speakers, for an incredible sound experience, plus dual USB ports and 12 volt power outlets in the front and rear cabin areas.

The rear parking assist system (standard equipment on the tester) alerts the driver with a chime if an object is detected within 47 inches of the rear of the car at under 3 miles per hour, which is exactly what is needed when backing up out of the driveway or a parking space.

Two drive modes are available in addition to regular mode: Eco and Sport.  When in Eco, the rpms stay low and the car adopts a restrained feel, allowing the car to maximize fuel economy.  In contrast, the car completely changes its personality in Sport mode.  Acceleration feels very strong and uninhibited, perfect for passing and entering the freeway.

What I didn’t like about the “regular” (gas) Optima was the amount of road noise; the hybrid Optima was much quieter.  The inherently noisier nature of an internal combustion engine is a given, but maybe there was more of an effort made to make the hybrid a quieter ride, knowing that the customer would expect that.  I wasn’t real turned on by the way the engine sounds, either.  It’s just not a really sexy-sounding engine.  Sort of like meat grinder meets coffee maker.  Also, there was vibration in the steering wheel and in my seat that was present all the way from idle to freeway speed.  It was a minor vibration, but nonetheless annoying and surprising, since that had not occurred in the hybrid.  It could have just been the tester that I drove.

For anyone doing any test driving at a dealership, I would recommend asking for more than one tester, including the hybrid, if the noise and/or vibration issues are present in the conventional gasoline version that the dealer provides for the road test.

2017-Kia Optima-Colors

At 185 HP (LX trim) or 245 HP (SX trim), the Optima certainly gets the job done, but it’s not going to win any  quarter mile trophies at the drag strip.  This isn’t a car for those who need a very powerful engine.

There’s no compromise on safety. The Optima garnered five star ratings in every test performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 Optima a Top Safety Pick, giving it top marks in all crash tests, including a Superior rating in crash detection and mitigation (when equipped with optional crash-avoidance equipment).

Edmunds gave the Optima a 4/5 rating, and Car Connection gave it 7.3/10.

The warranties on Kias are the best in the industry:  10 years or 100,000 miles (limited powertrain) and 5 year/$60,000 (limited basic) – that’s one reason why we say smart people buy Kias.  The Optima’s features are the same ones found on much more expensive cars.  All that makes a Kia a smart buy.

2017 Kia Optima Details:

  • Power:  Varies depending on trim level.  LX – 2.4 liter DOHC 16-valve l-4; LX Turbo – 1.6 liter with turbocharger;  EX – 2.4 liter; SX –  2.0 liter; SXL – 2.0 liter with turbocharger
  • Transmission:  6 speed automatic
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS
  • Wheels: 16 inch alloy (LX), 16 inch alloy with light grey finish (LX Turbo), 17 inch alloy (EX),  18 inch machined finish (SX), 18 inch alloy with chrome finish (SXL)
  • Warranty: 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain and limited battery; 5 year/60,000 mile free roadside assistance
  • Price: LX trim $22,500; LX Turbo $24,140; EX $25,440; SX $29,940; SXL $36,090
  • Headlamps:  LED, with auto leveling and dynamic bending
  • Power adjustable side mirrors with LED turn signal indicators
  • Solar control glass
  • Bluetooth connectivity – hands-free smartphone
  • Rear back up camera with display of vehicle footprint
  • Cruise control with steering wheel controls
  • SXL (top) trim level features:  Rear parking assist system, surround view monitor, blind spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning system, lane departure warning system, LED adaptive headlights with auto high beams.

 

TEST DRIVE REVIEW: Keeping Up With the Kias, Hybrid Edition

By Michele Spencer

2017 Kia Niro and 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

In the past ten years, Kia’s product lineup has come a very long way.  Every time I mention that I’m test driving a Kia, the response is always the same:  they are sooo much better now than they used to be.  The brand was known for its inexpensive and boring-styled econo-boxes when they first hit the US market. While Kias are still a great bargain, it’s been said that the Kias being produced now have sophistication beyond their price tags.  Let’s take a look at two of their hybrids, the Niro and the Optima.

Kia Niro Hybrid2

2017 Kia Niro

Sure, Kia says it’s a Sport Utility Vehicle, but it’s really a pretty cool station wagon. There are those of us who think station wagons are overdue for a comeback in a big way, but the powers that be in the automotive world don’t agree, and so there aren’t too many mass-produced today.  In the meantime, Kia makes a perfect station wagon that’s being peddled to the masses as an SUV.  Whatever, Kia! If it’s 60 inches high, it’s a station wagon!  For reference, the widely-accepted-as-a-station wagon Volvo V60 and V90 models are both 61 inches high, and the Subaru Outback, also considered a station wagon, is 66 inches high.  Neener, neener, neenerI win this round, Kia.

Now that we have that out of the way, here’s the take-home message: Do you need to have that “sitting high” feeling?  If you do, look elsewhere, because a Niro is not going to work for you. And while we’re at it, if you need a luxury or refined interior, another station wagon or SUV is going to work a lot better for you. If you are looking for a no-frills people mover with high MPG, then the Kia Niro should be on your short list.

In my week of testing, the Niro got rock star gas mileage. I took two road trips from Orange County to San Diego.  On both trips, there was a blend of lousy stop and go traffic and free-flow highway driving. The Niro got 51-52 mpg on one trip and 53-54 mpg on the other.

A word on how the power system works:  It’s a gas/electric hybrid, but it doesn’t exhaust the battery first and then switch to gas, as you might think.  Rather, the Niro electronically decides which way to most efficiently send power to the wheels.  The driver can monitor in real time on the display exactly what is happening and where things stand with the range, the remaining battery power, and the amount of gas in the tank.  There’s absolutely no reason to worry about running out of battery.  (Range anxiety, what’s that?!?)

In general, the Niro chose to use gas power when traveling at higher and consistent rates of speed and electric power in stop and go and slow traffic conditions.

The Niro comes in five trim levels: Base, LX, EX, Touring Launch, and Touring.  The base version MSRP is $22,890.00. For that you get a no-frills interior (although the excellent UVO Infotainment and Connectivity system is included, so at least you’ll have that for the base price), 139 horses and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is not a car for speed demons and powerholics.  The available power works just fine for the everyday driver looking for a hybrid that is wallet-friendly, basic transportation.

The back seat passenger space is very roomy, at 97.1 SAE and 102 EPA.  The cargo area is a decent 19.4 cubic feet, and 54.5 cubic feet with the rear seats down.

The upper trim levels have all the extras, including a sunroof, Harman Kardon sound, heated steering, leather interior, and heated and ventilated seats, as well as technology extras like blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and a wireless smartphone charging pad.

Even without all the bells and whistles, it’s easy to understand why the Niro was chosen as one of the “Best Cars of 2017” by US News & World Report and was scored 4/5 by Car & Driver.

Kia Niro hybrid
Kia Niro is marketed as a small crossover sport utility vehicle.

2017 Kia Niro Details

  • Power: 1.5 liter 4 cylinder engine with 43 hop electric motor; 1.56 kwh lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Transmission: 6 speed dual clutch, automatic
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS; and Regenerative braking system
  • Idle stop and go system
  • Wheels: 16 inch alloy (FE, basic trim); 18 inch (Touring Launch trim)
  • Warranty: 10 year/100K limited powertrain and limited battery; 5 year/60K limited basic; 5 year/60K mile free roadside assistance
  • Fuel economy, FE trim (best of all trim levels): 52 city MPG, 49 hwy, 50 combined. Touring Launch trim level: 46/40/43 MPG.
  • Price (as tested, FE trim): MRSP $22,890.  LX trim: $23,200.  EX trim: $25,700. Touring Launch trim: $28,000. Touring trim: $29,650. Add $895.00 for shipping from Korea.
  • Interior and Infotainment (FE trim): Cloth seats, UVO Infotainment and Connectivity platform, dual zone climate control, power windows, door locks, and outside windows, 7-inch touchscreen, back-up camera, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth, USB jack, 12 volt outlet, 60/40 folding rear seats.
  • Available on upper trim levels: leather seats, Harman Kardon sound with 8 speakers, sunroof, sunshade, leather seat trim, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, 18 inch wheels, push button start/stop, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, wireless smartphone charging pad, driver seat position memory, power adjustable driver’s seat, smart key, parking assist.

kia.com/us/en/vehicle/niro/2017

Kia optima-hybrid_2017_snowy white pearl
Optima Hybrid in Snow White Pearl

 

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

The Optima is a five-person, four door midsize sedan which is available in conventional gasoline engine and hybrid versions. The tester was a regular hybrid (as opposed to a Plug-In). The Optima Hybrid comes in two trim levels, Premium and EX. This week’s tester was the Premium (base) trim level, with the Hybrid Convenience Package of additional features (listed below) added in.

The Premium trim level got 44.9 mpg on average in a mix of both slow traffic and open highway driving, beating the EPA estimate of 42 combined.  (In comparison, the Accord Hybrid’s combined EPA rating is 49 MPG – but the MSRP starts at $29,605.)

The interior is nicely appointed, with knobs and push buttons for volume and air controls, in addition to a 7-inch touchscreen and a tilting/telescoping steering wheel.  Like the Niro, the base trim model features the excellent UVO Infotainment and Connectivity system (said to be better than most of its mid-size sedan competitors), but the Optima has even more standard features that kick up its competitiveness, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, standard leather-wrapped steering wheel, standard multi-adjustable driver’s seat, and standard dual zone climate controls.

The rear parking assist system (a Hybrid Convenience Package item on tester) alerts the driver with a chime if an object is detected within 47 inches of the rear of the car at under 3 miles per hour, which is exactly what is needed when backing up out of the driveway or a parking space.

Two drive modes are available, Eco and Sport.  While eco is the default, and allows the car to maximize fuel economy, the car really picks up power in Sport mode.

At 192 horse power, the Optima certainly gets the job done as far as keeping up with traffic on the freeway, but it’s not going to win you a trophy at the drag strip.  Like the Niro, this isn’t a car for those who need a powerful engine.  It’s for a different customer, a smart one.

As far as some objective analysis of the Optima Hybrid, US News & World Report gave it a score of 8.3/10; and Kelley Blue Book rated it at 9/10.

Smart people buy Kias. Really smart people buy Kia hybrids.

Kia Optima Hybrid side
Optima Hybrid in Gravity Blue
Kia Optima Hybrid side2
Optima Hybrid in Aluminum Silver

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid details:

  • Power: 2.0 liter 4 cylinder hybrid engine, 270 volt lithium polymer battery, 1.62 kwh
  • DOHC 16 valve engine, CVVT; Interior-Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric motor
  • Transmission: 6 speed automatic
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS – Anti-lock braking system
  • Trim Levels: Premium (base trim) and EX.
  • Safety: Dual front airbags, front seat side airbags, driver’s knee airbag, and side curtain airbags; 5 star government safety ratings (out of 5 stars)
  • Wheels: 16 inch alloy
  • Optional “Hybrid Convenience Package” on tester: Laminated front door windows, heated power outside mirrors, power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, driver’s seat memory, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist, and rear center console USB and 12 volt outlet. (Add $1,795 to MSRP.)
  • Trunk space: 4 cubic feet
  • Available options at higher trim level (EX): Panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging pad, surround view monitoring camera
  • Warranty: 10 year/100K limited powertrain and limited battery; 5 year/60K limited basic; 5 year/60K mile free roadside assistance
  • Fuel economy, Premium trim: 39 city MPG, 46 highway, 42 combined.
  • Price (as tested, base trim): MSRP $25,995. EX trim: $30,990. Add $895.00 for shipping from Korea.
  • Interior and Infotainment: Dual-zone climate controls, 7-inch touchscreen, UVO Infotainment and Connectivity System, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth, front seat area USB port and 12 volt outlet, cloth seat trim, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, leather wrapped steering wheel, supervision meter cluster with LCD display.

kia.com/us/en/vehicle/optima-hybrid/2017

 

 

 

Carcentric Museums in Southern California

All-American muscle on display at the Murphy in Oxnard, California.

There’s no shortage of museum space devoted to things that run on engines in Southern California.  Here’s our curated list.  If we missed one, let us know so we can include it.

AUTOMOBILE DRIVING MUSEUM, 610 Lairport Way, El Segundo. Wide range of years and types of vehicles, from turn of the century to modern.  Home of Shirley Muldowney’s dragster.  Small collection of British race cars. Every Sunday, guests are given rides in selected historics. Monthly themed events spotlight certain vehicles and draw in private collectors’ show cars – check the website as they are added frequently and to sign up for displaying yours.  On-site vintage ice cream parlor.  Old Packards and Lincolns are displayed in a very nicely recreated 1930s-1940s sales salon.    theadm.org

CALIFORNIA ROUTE 66 MUSEUM, 16825 South D St., Victorville.  760-951-0436.  Where to go to learn about the history of the Mother Road.  Free admission.    califrt66museum.org/

CREVIER CLASSIC CARS, 365-B Clinton St., Costa Mesa.  Many 1930s and 1940s Packards and other classics – both permanent collection and for sale. Free admission. crevierclassiccars.com

JUSTICE BROTHERS RACING MUSEUM, 2734 East Huntington Dr., Duarte.                  Tribute to the Southern California racing brothers Ed, Gus and Zeke.  More than 200 cars and racing memorabilia.  626-359-9174.        http://www.justicebrothers.com/racing&museum.htm

LYON AIR MUSEUM, 19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana.  Not just planes – cars too.  Highlight may be the 1940 Helms bakery truck, used to deliver bread and pastries to homes in Southern California, back when such things were ordinary.  Sigh.  lyonsairmuseum.org

MARCONI AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 1302 Industrial Dr., Tustin.   Former racer Dick Marconi’s pet project.  70 vehicles in a nice open setting in a low-key industrial area. Lots of Ferraris, his favorite marque.   marconimuseum.org

MOTO TALBOTT COLLECTION, 4 E. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley (No Cal).  Founder Robb Talbott got out of the winery and necktie businesses, and opened this museum in 2016 as a house for 140 vintage motorcycles, including flat track racing bikes, as well as vintage posters and motorcycle-related historical pieces and art.  $12 admission.  mototalbott.com

MULLIN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 1421 Emerson Dr., Oxnard. Founder Peter Mullin’s art deco-inspired home to vintage Bugattis and other one-of-a-kind classic cars, with an emphasis on European marques.  Visiting hours are second and fourth Saturdays and tours are set up during weekdays, by appointment only.  805-385-5400.  mullinautomotivemuseum.com

MURPHY AUTO MUSEUM,  2230 Statham Blvd, Oxnard.  Launched by founder Dan Murphy in 2012.  Variety of classic cars, vintage trailers, American muscle cars, a model railroad,  and vintage clothing displays; and red,white and blue motorcycle signed by Evel Knievel.  $9 suggested donation for entry fee.  (805) 487-4333  murphyautomuseum.org       

NHRA / WALLY PARKS MOTORSPORTS MUSEUM, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona (at the Fairgrounds)    Extensive collection of race cars of all types and classics, together with many historical artifacts of drag racing.  Discounts for Auto Club members.  909-622-2133.   nhramuseum.org

NETHERCUTT MUSEUM AND COLLECTION, 15151 and 15200 Bledsoe St., Sylmar.  Over 130 antique, vintage and classic cars, dating back to the turn of the century.  Free admission.   nethercuttcollection.org

PETERSEN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.   The largest collection of cars in Southern California, housed in the former May Co. building in the Mid- Wilshire area.  Multiple collections on several floors of everything from Hollywood cars to one of a kind vehicles acquired by the museum.  Multiple ongoing exhibits, check the website.   Themed events monthly.   A must for anyone visiting the area.  Allow an entire morning or afternoon.   petersen.org

RIVERSIDE INTERNATIONAL AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 815 Marlborough Ave., Riverside.  Collection of race cars and memorabilia related to the former Riverside race track, Ontario speedway, and other California tracks that are gone with the wind.   [NOTE:  the website says that the museum is temporarily closed and the collection is being digitized, with the owners trying to arrange a permanent display location for the artifacts in the collection.  Check the website before going.  The plan is to have the collection on the website.]     riversideintlautomuseum.org/

 

updated 1/9/2018

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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

 

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.

http://www.chevrolet.com/suvs/equinox-compact-suv

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)