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

2018 Hyundai Sonata, twice tested!!

Hyundai did more than a redesign for the 2018 version of the sonata. Bumper2Bumpertv got two chances to get familiar with the midsize sedan and the technology upgrades that come with it.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2017 Toyota Tundra 4x4 Limited

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Toyota Tundra 4X4 Limited
  • ENGINE: 5.7-liter V8 
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with sequential shift 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 381 hp @ 5,600 rpm/401 lb.-ft. @ 3,600 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 164.6 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 247.8 x 79.9 x 76.4 in. 
  • TIRES: P275/55R20 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 1,490-1,600 lbs., 8.5-inch double walled bed 
  • ECONOMY: 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway/16.4 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 38.0 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 5,470 lbs.  #/HP: 14.4
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 10,500 lbs. 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, Nissan Titan 
  • STICKER: $47,068 (includes $1,195 delivery, $3,543 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Toyota Tundra is a fully capable full-size pickup with everything you would expect from it.

          Do you remember “back in the day,” when Japanese cars were mostly tiny little things on 12-inch wheels with barely enough power to get out of their own way? Things have changed.
          The Tundra is Toyota’s full-size pickup, and as such it competes with all the American full size trucks. In this case, the Tundra is close to being the biggest vehicle I have driven, at more than 20 feet long. And just because it says “Toyota” on the tailgate, this is a full ‘Murican truck, built in San Antonio, Texas, by real ‘Muricans.
          Oddly, despite the size, the Tundra was reasonably easy to handle in tight situations. On the road, where we spent a good portion of our miles, it was a pleasure, with a comfortable ride thanks to the long wheelbase and heavy weight. The Tundra still calculated out at a 14.4 pounds per horsepower, which is respectable, and accounts for the decent acceleration at all speeds.
          The Tundra is all truck. Standard equipment includes: on demand 4WD with an electronically controlled transfer case; a larger fuel tank (ugh!); a tow package with a receiver hitch, seven-pin connector, and heavy duty battery. 4.20 axle ratio, engine and transmission coolers, 
          Yes, the Tundra is big. But it is listed as a Double Cab, meaning there is a good back seat, but one of those pseudo doors to gain entry. It seems to me that when you’re dealing with 20 feet of vehicle, you can put in real rear doors.
          Front seats are spacious. While our tester was equipped with bucket, or individual, seats, bench seats are available. I am a fan of bench seats, and I can see the practicality in a pickup truck, almost more than in a sedan. Between the front seats is a huge center console/arm rest whose top proved to be a perfect location for holding a cell phone. Entering the Tundra is eased by a tubular step up and assist handle on the passenger’s A-pillar. 
          Rear seats seem cramped, especially if one of the front seats is pushed back. Rear seat entry is aided by assist handles on the B-pillars. Both front and rear seats offer excellent headroom for Texas-sized Stetsons.
          Tundra has all the amenities you’d expect in a modern sedan - blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert are especially important in a vehicle of this size. 
          Where the rubber (P275/55R20 tires) meets the road there is an issue. A considerable amount of tire/road noise enters the cabin, such that conversation can build to a shouting match and the audio system has to work overtime. 
          The cargo bed is huge, as you would expect. In our tester, it had a “hard trifold tonneau cover” ($1,295 option) that did a great job of protecting anything that was underneath. This was lockable, so that anything there was safe. Sadly, with the tonneau in place, anything you wanted to carry under it was restricted to 22 inches in height. You guessed it, what we wanted to carry was 24 inches in height, and with the threat of rain, we didn’t want to carry it uncovered. 
          Also, the bed is double walled and has a bedliner sprayed on it for added protection. There are multiple tie-downs in the bed to keep objects secure. Additionally, the bed is lighted at night, although the light is kind of useless with the tonneau cover in place.
          Except for the tire noise, we enjoyed the Tundra. It was easily recognizable in a crowd, thanks to the Inferno orange paint, yet it wasn’t unmanageable in maneuvering.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate

Monday, November 6, 2017

Should we tap the brakes on Smart Cars?

Automakers are working to build and deliver smart cars to the public in he very near future. But as Bumper2Bumpertv has learned they may have overlooked the human factor in the driving experience.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
  • ENGINE: 3.6-liter V6 
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with sequential shift 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 278 hp @ 6,000 rpm/265 lb.-ft. @ 4,600 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 127.4 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 212.3 x 75.2 x 71.6 in. 
  • TIRES: P265/70R16 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 1,175 lbs. payload 
  • ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway/17.8 mpg test  
  • FUEL TANK: 21.1 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 4,445 lbs. #/HP: 16.0 gal. 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 6,400 lbs.  
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier
  • STICKER: $44,814 (includes $940 delivery, $1,114 options)

  • BOTTOM LINE: Then Toyota Tacoma is almost a perfect size for a pickup, with decent power and good ride quality.

          Toyota introduced an all-new mid-size Tacoma pickup in 2016, joining a niche in the market that only Chevrolet and GMC fill on the domestic side and Nissan and Honda on the import side. For 2017, there’s a new Tacoma option, the TRD Pro, aimed at, as Toyota says, “The most dedicated adventure-seeking, off-road-loving, work-hard-play-hard enthusiasts.”
          Well, constant readers will realize that in urban Eastern Pennsylvania, off-roading locations are a challenge to find, so what you’re going to get here is an on-road “adventure" review.
          We took the Tacoma to get lawn mower parts while it was in my driveway. First, the man who owns the Cub Cadet store said the Tacoma was just what he wanted. He could tow his trailer with his ATV and still use the truck for work. 
          We had a slight problem with the cargo bed, though. It was equipped with a bed extender, which is normally a great feature. However, our lawn mower parts were in a large heavy box, and two older men (me included) couldn’t lift the box over the extender, so we had to remove it, load the box, then re-install it. 
          The TRD Pro looks tough. Again, according to Toyota, “its heritage-inspired ‘TOYOTA’ front grille with color-keyed surround, blacked-out hood scoop and graphic, color-keyed power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, color-keyed door handles, black overfenders, and color-keyed rear bumper” serve to separate it from more pedestrian Tacomas. 
          Yes, it looks tough, almost like a super duty US truck. With its double cab (pseudo rear door handle) and short bed, the TRD Pro has all the off-road goodies one would want. To the base TRD Off-Road model, the TRD Pro adds18-inch black alloy wheels, Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires, TRD-tuned front springs, TRD-tuned rear suspension, FOX 2.5-inch Internal Bypass shocks, TRD Pro aluminum front skid pad, standard V6 tow package, and all the visual goodies you’d want. 
          Overall, the TRD Pro is a nice package, not just a souped-up Tacoma with a hard ride. The 3.6-liter V6 engine offers good power at 278 horsepower. Acceleration is good, even from 50 mph up. The engine is relatively quiet. It does get noisy on hard acceleration, but what engine doesn’t?, but in general the engine is quiet. 
          Road feel is good. The Tacoma has good ride comfort. Parallel parking can be a challenge thanks to the long wheelbase, but in general handling is good. Rough road surfaces don’t get into the cabin. For example, we have a road we travel often that has been grooved for repaving for at least a year. That section felt like a normal road.
          Entry is relatively easy. There’s an assist handle on the A Pillar for the front passenger, while the driver has to make do with grabbing the wheel. One problem I had was that the wheel seemed to be positioned low and couldn’t be raised any higher. I had to squeeze under it every time I entered. 
          While the transmission is automatic, the shifter has a nice feel.This is good for when you decide to use the sequential manual shift. 
          At the base of the center stack is array of optional switches and outlets - Blind Spot Monitor, ECT power, Park Assist, USB, 12-volt. 
          Rear legroom is cozy. On my wife’s side, where she likes her seat positioned further back, it’s almost non-existent. For rear entry, there are assist handles mounted over the rear semi-doors. The rear seat backs fold to make it possible to use the rear as an added cargo area. Folding the seats reveals a “secret” storage area behind the seats. 
          As I said earlier, the cargo bed is a good size, but then I don’t use a truck for work. The bed extender helps for longer loads, and it’s easy to remove and re-install. The tailgate lowers and raises easily. The bed has inserts to place 2x4 planks with a 4x8 sheet of plywood over them to create a double cargo space. The cargo bed has numerous tie-downs, and there’s a light that goes on when you unlock the doors, handy at night. In addition, there are 12-volt DC and 110-volt AC outlets in the cargo bed.
          While the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is designed for hard-core off-road enthusiasts, it also serves well as a standard mid-size pickup truck with a bit of styling panache.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page