Sunday, December 10, 2017

Crossovers get small!!

Crossovers have been the new big thing to replace SUV's but instead of getting bigger they are getting smaller. Bumper2Bumpertv sampled some of the new reduced size offerings at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Buick Encore

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring AWD
  • ENGINE: 1.4-liter turbocharged four
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 138 hp @ 4,900 rpm/148 lb.-ft. @ 1,850 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 100.6 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 168.4 x 69.9 x 65.2 in. 
  • TIRES: P215/55R18 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 18.8/48.4 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)  
  • ECONOMY: 26 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26.5 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 14.0 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,358 lbs. #/HP: 24.3 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Honda CR-V 
  • STICKER: $31,220 (includes $925 delivery, $3,230 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: While small, the Buick Encore is a perfectly capable SUV.

            I must confess I approached the Buick Encore with some trepidation. First, I was a little nervous about the engine size. After all, I hadn’t driven a car with this small an engine since my first MGA at 1.5 liters. My second MGA had a huge 1.6-liter engine, so I was headed in the right direction. 
            But the turbo 1.4-liter four in the Encore proved to be up to everything we asked of it. Horsepower is still low at a conservative 138, but except for hard acceleration it did a good job. And even with hard acceleration, I learned to work with it, as I did with the MGAs. Part of our test week involved a long trip south for Thanksgiving with a considerable amount of Interstate miles. We had no serious issues.
            The best thing about the engine is, of course, economy. We averaged 26.5 mpg overall and close to 30 mpg on the highways. And, really, we earned that economy with no lack of adequate performance. 
            My second concern was with the size. Many Buick ads show the Encore with its bigger Enclave and Envision brothers and it makes the Encore look too small, definitely too small to be a Buick. Since the Encore is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Sonic, I was iffy. Again, I was wrong. 
            On our trip south for Thanksgiving we had a load of goodies, plus the turkey, plus luggage to bring along. The Encore has a large cargo area that more than doubles when you lower the rear seat backs. Suffice it to say, the turkey made it safely, and leftovers made it safely back. 
            Encore handling is very good, thanks primarily to the short wheelbase. Not only does the Encore do well in traffic, but parking is a snap. This time of year, shopping centers are crowded, but we always found a spot, and never had problems parallel parking in tight spots.
            Finally, the Encore is fun to drive. Ride quality is good, and there were no residual aches and pains after a long ride.
            The instrument panel has a tachometer and speedometer separated by an information panel. Smaller fuel and water gauges are above the info panel, which we set to fuel economy as we watched the numbers rise.
            I would have liked radar cruise control, but the “normal” kind worked well. I guess I’m just spoiled.
            There’s a clear standard GM infotainment and audio system. in addition, we had a good HVAC system that was almost too warm at times.
            Front seats are comfortable with a small pull-down arm rest on the driver’s side. Rear seats are comfortable as well. Rear seat legroom is cozy, although my granddaughter didn’t complain. All doors, front and rear, have multiple levels for storage, and have good water carrying capability. 
            Interior storage, besides the doors, consists of a good cubby at the base of the center stack with clearly labeled USB, AUX and 12-volt outlets. Along the small center console is a covered cubby with a sliding top that is ideal for holding a phone. 
            Visibility is generally good, but twice I failed to see oncoming cars because of the blind spot caused by the A pillar. I will admit that it could have been solely my fault.
            Overall, despite the pre-test potential hang-ups, the Buick Encore proved to be capable of handling everything we threw at it. Generally, I would prefer a slightly larger SUV, but for empty nesters, the Encore is really all you would need.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate

Friday, December 1, 2017

2018 Green Car of the year

Which is the greenest car on the road these days? The honor this year goes to Honda. Bumper2Bumpertv was there when the award was presented.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tech not torque holds center stage at 2017 LA Auto Show!!

Automobility LA has become the display scene for the latest developments in application based upgrades for cars. Bumper2Bumpertv got a brief look at how the new apps and supporting systems are changing the auto industry.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Catching up with the Fiat 500C

There are compacts and mini compacts on the road these days with various levels of sophistication. Bumper2Bumpertv has a look at the latest version of the FIAT 500C which has good points and bad.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

V2 what? Cars are talking to each other!!!

There are smart phones, smart homes and increasingly smart cars in our world. But what are vehicles saying to each other and who can interpret the language. Bumper2Bumpertv reports on the changing world of mobility as explained at the 2017 ITSA World Congress.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-5

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD
  • ENGINE: 2.5-liter I-4 
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 187 hp @ 6,000 rpm/185 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 106.3 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 179.1 x 72.5 x 66.2 in. 
  • TIRES: P225/55R19
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 30.9/59.6 cu. ft. (behind 2nd row/1st row)
  • ECONOMY: 23. mpg city/29 mpg highway/20.0 mpg test
  • FUEL TANK: 15.3 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,655 lbs. #/HP: 19.5
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 2,000 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Jeep Renegade, Buick Encore, Honda CR-V
  • STICKER: $34,388 (includes $940 delivery, $2,745 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Mazda CX-5 should be on the short list of anyone considering a small SUV or mid-size sedan.

          With a redesign for 2017 and an awesome new color that resembles Candy Apple Red (it’s called Soul Red Crystal Metallic), the Mazda CX-5 is poised to be a breakout small SUV. It also qualifies as a mid-size sedan, since many of those lines are blurred these days.
          Stylistically, “all SUVs look the same.” It isn’t true, of course, but there is a familial similarity. The CX-5 differentiates itself with a “Mazda family” grille and the great new color. It also seems to do what is expected of it properly, where others almost get it all done right.
          Coupled with the red exterior is a black interior with heated white seats that is as striking as the outside. The front seats are comfortable with a decent amount of side support. You aren’t going racing in a CX-5, unless there’s a new class we haven’t heard of yet, but it’s nice to have that support for more sedate driving. Around the dash and doors is tasteful wood trim.
          At 187 horsepower and just under 20 pounds per horsepower, there’s good oomph from the 2.5-liter four under the hood. Since our tester was the GT trim level with all-wheel drive, the power reached the wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is very quiet most of the time, except under hard acceleration. And the combination of good sound insulation and tire choice allows little road noise to intrude into the cockpit.
          The driver and front passenger face a nicely designed dash with a heads-up display that has some interesting choices. For example, besides showing your speed, it also lists the speed limit on the road you’re traveling, and a stop sign icon appears when you’re near one. I think the icon appears too late for serious action, but in my neighborhood, there are several stop signs that are obscured by foliage, so any help in that direction is good.
          The infotainment screen seems as if it was plunked down on the top of the dash. It’s in a good location and it’s clear, but it looks as if there might be a way to retract it in to the dash if it isn’t being used. I didn’t find one. The eight options on the screen are controlled with a knob on the center console. There are audio, home screen and nav choices with buttons on the console that are refined with the knob. 
          Audio does require a learning curve, but it isn’t too long. We found the sound quality to be excellent, although some of the teenagers who drive by my house might carp about the more subtle bass levels we choose.
          Front passengers have the requisite pair of cupholders, plus room for water bottles in the doors. There’s a deep center console/arm rest with 12-volt and two USB outlets. 
          Rear seats offer good leg room. There’s even room for large drink cups in the rear doors. The pull-down arm rest has a pair of cupholders, heated seat controls and a small console for mobile phones. The rear seat backs fold easily to create a large flat cargo area. Two methods are used to lower the seats; a lever on the back of the seats themselves or seat releases in the cargo area. You open the rear hatch using the key fob or a button on the dash. Of course, you can raise or lower it manually as well. 
          For safety, the CX-5 has a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross traffic alert plus advanced front air bags, front and rear side air bags, lane departure warning that vibrated the wheel and “smart city brakes.”
          There are few vehicles that I enthuse about as much as the Mazda CX-5. I’m not sure if it was love at first sight because of the color and redesign, or the fact that it’s a darned good vehicle.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate