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.
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
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).
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).
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.
2018 Sorento in Platinum Graphite
2018 Sorento SXL Trim
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)
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
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.
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.
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)
Hybrids have real time readouts on range and energy use
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.
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, neener. I 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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
2017 Ioniq Electric Blue Metallic test vehicle, shown in Limited Trim.
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.
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. CA electric companies are offering rebates, so check with yours.
BMW i8 (sportscar) – from $143,000
Chevy Bolt (hatchback) – from $37,495. 238 mile range, Motor Trend Car of the Year 2017
Fiat 500e (subcompact) – from $32,995
Ford Focus EV (hatchback) – from $29,120
Honda Clarity EV (sedan) – 89 mile range, Lease only.
Hyundai Ioniq (sedan) – Base trim model from $29,500; Limited trim from $32,500) – Fell short of consumer expectations on range, did not sell as well as expected. Now has 124 mile range. Available only to California residents.
Kia Soul EV (crossover) – from $32,250
Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive (sedan) – from $40,895
Mitsubishi IMIev (crossover) – from $22,995
Nissan Leaf (hatchback) – 2018 model revealed Sept. 2017; available January 2018. 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 $30,875. An “e plus” Leaf will be introduced in 2019, which will have 225 mile range.
Smart car ForTwo (subcompact) – from $14,650. Parent company Daimler AG announced closing of 2/3 of the US Smart car dealerships (Automotive News). 70-80 mile range. 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 S (luxury sedan) – from $68,000. 210-305 mile range
Tesla 3 (sedan) – from $35,000), 220 to 310 mile range
Tesla X (luxury SUV) – from 79,500, 237-295 mile range
Volkswagen e-Golf (hatchback) – from $31,345
Grapes and Green.
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
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) – Available summer 2018, this is Jaguar’s first fully electric/battery powered vehicle. Built on a unique aluminum-intensive platform by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. 220 mile range. 400 HP from twin electric motors. Jaguar/Land Rover says it will go all EV and hybrid by 2020.
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 Benz – 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
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 “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
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.
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 Sportback e-tron (hatchback) – Plug-in hybrid. From $40,475
Chevy Volt (hatchback) – Plug-in hybrid. From $33,220
BMW i3 (hatchback) – From $44,550
BMW 530e (luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $52,400
Chrysler Pacifica (van) – Hybrid and Plug-In hybrid versions. From $39,995. 84 mpge and 566 total range.
Fiat 500e (subcompact) – From $32,995
Ford C-Max Energi (hatchback) – Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. From $32,950
Ford Fusion Energi (sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $33,305
Honda Accord Hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $29,605
Honda Clarity Plug-in hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $34,290
Honda Civic hybrid (compact sedan) – from about $27,000
Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid (sedan) – Should be available 2nd half of 2017. Blue (base trim) from $23,035; SEL trim from $24,785.
Hyundai Sonata (midsize sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $34,600.
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. Available late 2017 to early 2018. From $22,890
Kia Optima Hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $25,995
Mercedes-Benz C350e (small luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $46,400
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)