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2018 Chevrolet Equinox: Our View

The Equinox comes with front- or all-wheel drive in four trim levels (L, LS, LT and Premier) and three engines: two gasoline and one diesel four-cylinder, all turbocharged. We tested both gasoline engines in several FWD and AWD vehicles — one of them back-to-back against six other SUVs in’s 2017 Compact SUV Challenge.

Exterior Styling

Gone is the old Equinox’s wide-eyed expression and vertical taillights, replaced by thin lights at both ends that evoke the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu and Cruze. The profile carries over a lot of elements, including the arched-forward C-pillars, even though it’s nearly 5 inches shorter than before — the product of a new platform shared with the redesigned GMC Terrain and no other GM models in the U.S. (GM’s stateside brands are Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC).

How It Drives

The new platform helps shed about 400 pounds — more than 10 percent of the Equinox’s weight — and it’s immediately noticeable. The new base engine is a turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower, and it moves the Equinox with a punchiness its underpowered four-cylinder predecessor lacked. It’s a noisy climb to higher revs, but the drivetrain’s 203 pounds-feet of torque makes the ascent brisk enough.

There’s still room for improvement, especially on the highway, where accelerator lag and a transmission that resists downshifting conspire against passing. But in a class known for modest power, this is more than adequate.

The optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (252 hp, 260 pounds-feet of torque) pairs with a nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s legitimately quick, with low-end thrust and energetic revving that evokes the outgoing generation’s lusty V-6. It makes for punchier overall acceleration than most other non-luxury compact SUVs we’ve tested, even with their optional engines.

Unlike so many other nine-speed automatics we’ve tested, GM’s unit is more friend than foe, holding low gears when needed and kicking down multiple gears with little delay. Indeed, GM estimates the combo hits 60 mph in a brisk 6.5 seconds or so. That’s on par with the old V-6, as is the new car’s 3,500-pound maximum towing capacity. The 1.5-liter Equinox gets to 60 mph in the high 8-second range, officials said.

Despite its weight loss, the Equinox maintains much of the refinement that distinguished the outgoing model. Wind and road noise are remarkably low, even over concrete patches. Our test cars (some with 18-inch wheels, others with 19s) exhibited some turbulence over undulating stretches of highway, but the Equinox’s chassis is otherwise unfazed by rough pavement, with controlled — albeit firm — shock absorption and infrequent harshness. You can also get 17-inch wheels with higher-sidewall tires, which should theoretically soften things up more.

The Equinox is not, however, fun to drive. Chevy has improved on the old model’s spongy brakes and excessive body roll, but the steering remains too soupy for any curvy-road thrills. A vague, slow-ratio process is required to point the SUV in new directions, and feedback doesn’t improve much through long sweeping turns. For sheer driving fun, the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5 are still kings of the hill.

EPA-estimated gas mileage ranges from 24 mpg for the AWD 2.0-liter four-cylinder to 28 mpg for the FWD 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Those figures are competitive for the class and far ahead of the old Equinox. The third drivetrain — a 1.6-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder (136 hp, 236 pounds-feet of torque) with a six-speed automatic — will arrive in late 2017 with an EPA-estimated 32 mpg with either FWD or AWD. That’s impressive, but you’ll have to factor the efficiency gains against the extra cost of diesel fuel. We haven’t driven the diesel.

The Inside

The dashboard is thematically similar to the redesigned Malibu’s, which is a good place to start. But two days’ driving confirmed one of our initial takeaways: The Equinox’s new seats are a step backward. As compact SUVs go, the old Equinox had exceptionally big, comfy seats, while these ones are, well, ordinary. Headroom and seat height are good across the board, but the optional panoramic moonroof takes away nearly 2 inches of headroom front and rear. Get a car with this feature, and tall passengers in back will have to slouch.

The backseat reclines a few clicks and collapses level with the cargo floor when you fold it forward, but it doesn’t slide like it once did. GM claims customer indifference toward the sliding function, but if you’re in the minority and still want sliders, check out the Volkswagen Tiguan or Nissan Rogue. (Or White Castle.)
Behind the backseat is about 30 cubic feet of cargo room; there’s a maximum of 63.5 cubic feet with the seats folded. That’s roughly unchanged versus last year despite the truncated exterior, but anyone with serious cargo needs should look at the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Rogue. All three max out (on paper, at least) in the 70s.
Like before, bulky C- and D-pillars limit rear visibility, earning the new Equinox a last-place finish in our comparison of blind spot visibility among small SUVs. Still, the redesign traded last year’s Stonehenge-sized head restraints for smaller ones you can flip down, which helps considerably.

Cabin materials are attractive overall, with stitched vinyl on the upper dash in higher trim levels and padded sections of the upper doors, front and rear, where your elbows rest. That’s a rarity in back, where most competitors slap on some cheap plastic and call it a day. Some flatter plastics on portions of the doors and dashboard drew criticism from certain editors, and the flimsy turn-signal stalks don’t inspire confidence. But other controls have a well-crafted look and feel, and a 7- or 8-inch dashboard touchscreen sits on a raised plane for a subtle layered effect. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, and higher trim levels have up to six USB ports and a 120-volt household outlet — enough to charge a small army of mobile devices.

Value in the Market

Pricing starts around $25,000 for the Equinox L (which GM officials insist you can really buy, as opposed to it being a fleet-only model seldom stocked by dealers), while a loaded Equinox Premier tops out in the low $40,000s. You’ll have to pay close to the latter price to get must-have safety features like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, which Chevrolet confines to an options package on the Premier. Even at that, the system works only at low speeds, versus rival systems that work across greater speed ranges.

As of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet to evaluate the Equinox’s crash-avoidance technology or subject it to other crash tests. It passed our evaluation of car-seat accommodations with flying colors.

The Equinox’s limited safety-feature availability conspired with other factors to relegate it  to a middling finish in our comparison of compact SUVs. GM’s redesign is compelling in certain areas, but the class includes strong alternatives — from the CR-V and Tiguan, both champions of practicality, to the luxurious CX-5 and fun-to-drive Escape. Those are all must-drives for any compact SUV shopper; whether the Equinox ends up winning your wallet will depend on what you value.

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iPhone 8 and 8 Plus review: the default option

I was at a party the other night with several people who knew I’d just been to Apple’s annual iPhone launch event. After asking me tons of questions about the new Apple Park campus, they of course asked about the new iPhone — by which all of them meant the all-new iPhone X. More than one person didn’t even know the iPhone 8 existed.

Their focus — and really, Apple’s focus — is on the iPhone X, the phone with the complete redesign, the edge-to-edge display, the facial-recognition system, and the entirely new interface patterns developed around the removal of the home button.

The iPhone 8 doesn’t have any of that. While the 8 and 8 Plus share a processor, wireless charging capability, and similar camera setups to the X, they lack any truly new ideas about what an iPhone is — they’re both very much just the next step along a path Apple’s been on for quite some time now.

But Apple will ship millions of iPhone 8s — to people on upgrade plans, people who don’t want to pay $999 for an iPhone X or wait for what seems like limited availability, and people who just need a new phone without thinking about it too much. If the iPhone X is Apple’s bold vision of the future, the iPhone 8 is Apple making sure everyone else at the party has a nice time too. If you know what an iPhone is and you want one, then the iPhone 8 is exactly that, one tick farther down the line. It’s an iPhone.


The iPhone 8 is fundamentally the fourth generation of the iPhone 6 — Apple told us it thinks of the 8 as an “all-new design,” but that’s also what Apple said about the iPhone 6S and 7. It must take a lot of effort to keep reinventing the same basic design without actually changing it. The major difference you’ll notice is the glass back, but other than that nothing has changed — the 8 and 8 Plus will fit right into 7 and 7 Plus cases perfectly.

That glass back is heavier than the aluminum on the 7, but it’s not bad — in fact, I like how the combination of the glass and increase in weight make the phone easier to hold than the 6 and 7, which always felt like they were about to fly out of my hand. You don’t need a case for these new phones, but you’ll probably want one: Apple claims the glass is stronger than ever, but I’ve already scratched the 8 Plus by carrying it around in my pocket. We’ll see what happens when millions of people around the world start dropping these things.

The iPhone 8 comes in three colors — I received gold and silver phones to review. The silver is pretty familiar, but the gold isn’t exactly what you’d expect. The back is a very 70s-looking cream color, which several people I showed it to really liked. It might even appease those mourning the loss of the rose gold option.

At the end of the day, you’re looking at the same basic idea as the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6 is far from the most beautiful iPhone Apple has ever made. I’ve been calling out the basic clunkiness of the 6 design since the 6 came out in 2014, when I wrote that “The iPhone 6 Plus isn’t beautiful the way the iPhone 4 was beautiful.” In 2015, I wrote that the iPhone 6S Plus “feels particularly surfboard-y” and that it was “almost designed to be put in a case.” And last year, I wrote that “nothing about the iPhone 7’s design exceeds the rest of the industry.”

And that’s really the problem — while competitors like Samsung and LG have pushed phone hardware design far forward, the iPhone has basically stood still for four years. The iPhone 8 might be the most polished iteration of this basic design Apple’s ever made, but compared to the Galaxy S8 and other Android flagships like the LG V30, it’s just extremely dated. Apple’s true competitor to those devices is the iPhone X, but the company tells us that the 8 is also a flagship phone, and those huge bezels and surfboard dimensions just don’t cut it at the top end of the market anymore.

The Galaxy S8 is just a tiny bit bigger than the regular iPhone 8, but it has a larger screen than the iPhone 8 Plus, doesn’t have a camera bump, and generally feels like a tighter and sleeker package. I don’t love Samsung’s riffs on Android, but there’s no question that the S8 is a nicer piece of hardware than the iPhone 8. And it’s not just OLED phones that are moving past bezels — the Essential Phone has an edge-to-edge LCD screen. It seems clear that Apple’s put all of its design energy into the iPhone X, and that means the 8 suffers in comparison.

But of course, it just doesn’t matter if you have no intention of switching away from iOS, or you’re locked into iMessage. Android phones might as well not even exist for you. The thing to know is that spending money on an iPhone 8 doesn’t get you the cutting edge of phone design, or even Apple design — for that, you’ll have to get an iPhone X.


Apple’s added True Tone tech to the iPhone 8 display, which first appeared on the iPad Pro. I’ve always thought the iPhone LCD was the best overall display on the market in terms of color accuracy, and True Tone just makes it look better, by measuring ambient light with sensors on the front of the phone and adjusting color temperature on the fly. You won’t notice it working while it’s on, but if you obsessively click the button on and off under most indoor lighting you’ll see things warm up a little when it’s active.

The iPhone 8’s upgraded stereo speakers are impressively good. Just as on the iPhone 7, the earpiece gets really loud to act as the second speaker, but the whole system gets up to 25 percent louder now. You can hear actual stereo separation, which is wild.

True Tone Off/On

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Bluetooth has been updated to Bluetooth 5, so future wireless headphones and (in particular) future smart home devices should be a little more reliable. There’s no Bluetooth 5 stuff out yet, so we’ll have to see how it goes, but it’s ridiculous that iOS 11 barely improves the Bluetooth device management interface beyond a new toggle in Control Center’s music widget. Wireless audio all around is just messy in iOS unless you limit yourself to one of Apple’s five W1-enabled headphones, which pair and sync much more cleanly than third-party products. If you have a lot of speakers and headphones, you will spend more time bouncing around settings and apps than you ever really want to. It’s all due for a complete rethink.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that there’s no headphone jack, which is still routinely annoying on every phone that omits it. Apple’s own headphone dongle is one of the lowest-rated products on the Apple Store, with just 1.5 stars. It’s been a year, and the Lightning audio ecosystem is still extremely immature. All the more reason for Apple to clean up all those wireless audio settings.


The glass back allows for wireless charging, based on the Qi standard. Apple gave me one of the Mophie charging pads it’ll be selling in stores, and we tried it out on Qi pads from Samsung as well, and it all just worked.

Qi is pretty slow, though — Apple’s goal is to match the charging speed of its own 5W pack-in charger, but I only saw about 15 percent more charge on the 8 Plus every 30 minutes with the Mophie, which is especially pokey when you consider that you can’t pick up and use your phone during that time. A future iOS update will let the iPhone 8 draw more power out of the Mophie and Belkin pads Apple sells in stores, so hopefully things speed up when that happens.

The iPhone 8 also supports fast charging for quick top-offs, which seems much more useful — any higher-powered charger will work, according to Apple, but you’ll see best results if you plug into a 29W USB-C MacBook charger, which will net you 50 percent charge in 30 minutes. Other chargers are similarly speedy, though: I saw 40 percent more charge on the 8 Plus in 30 minutes connected to an iPad charger. But you’ll have to buy a high-powered wall charger separately to see those speeds — in the box is the same 5W brick that has come with the iPhone since time immemorial.

Wireless charging will be nice at night on a bedstand, and I think it’ll be especially useful in cars, where you can just put the phone on the charger, connect wirelessly to Bluetooth, and be on your way without any cables at all. We tested it out in a new Prius Prime and it worked fine, but the phone got extremely warm. Apple told me that’s normal for some charging pads, and the the phone will stop charging if it gets too hot.

Testing wireless charging in a Prius

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you’re a CarPlay user, you’ll still be plugging in, though: the only car on the market right now with both wireless charging and wireless CarPlay is the BMW 7 series. I’m sure there’ll be more to come, but unless you’re ready for a pretty intense new car purchase, you’re living with the wire.

Oddly, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have slightly smaller batteries than the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Apple says both phones should last about the same on a charge as the older models, because the A11 chip is more efficient than the A10. Both my iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 saw significantly worse battery life after just a few months, so we’ll have to see how the 8s do over time. But in these first few days of testing, everything seemed about the same as before, with just under a day of standard use on a charge. The battery drained far more quickly when we ran AR apps non-stop, which makes sense. And you can add the switch for low-power mode to control center now, which is very convenient if you routinely need to save power.


Over the past year, the S8 and Pixel pulled ahead of the iPhone 7 in various tests. Apple told me they don’t look at benchmarks closely, but the images from the iPhone 8 camera definitely look more like Apple’s competitors than before.

Like Samsung, iPhone images are now more saturated by default, although Apple says it’s still aiming for realism instead of the saturated colors and smoothing of the S8. And HDR is just on all the time, like the Pixel — you can’t turn it off, although you can set it to save a non-HDR image as well. We ran around shooting with an iPhone 8, a Pixel XL, and S8, and iPhone 7 on auto, and the iPhone 8 produced the most consistent and richest images of the group, although the Pixel was the clear winner several times, especially in extreme low light. We’ll do a hardcore comparison test when the Pixel 2 comes out.

I didn’t spend much time testing out the new video modes, which include 60fps 4K shooting and 240fps 1080p slow motion. We’ll do an in-depth followup on that later.


The big new feature this year is Portrait Lighting on the iPhone 8 Plus, which mimics pro lighting setups with presets called Studio, Contour, and Stage. It’s in beta, so I won’t be too hard on it, but it’s not nearly as impressive as Portrait mode was when it debuted on the iPhone 7 Plus. It basically seems like the next logical step once you’ve masked off the background and applied a lens blur — you apply a lighting effect to your subject’s face. Apple says it’s actually mapping the effect to faces, but it’s not a huge step up over a simple filter. And it’s really, really easy to confuse the system into masking off the wrong portions of the image, which gave us a few laughs in testing.

That’s really all — Portrait Lighting is fun to play with, and the Stage effect in particular will be all over Instagram. Here’s hoping it’ll get better when it’s out of beta.

Standard / Natural Light

Standard / Studio Light

Standard / Contour Light

Standard / Stage Light


Inside the iPhone 8, there’s the new A11 Bionic processor, which is the same chip as in the iPhone X. Apple told me it’s called Bionic because the company realized names like A8 and A9 weren’t particularly exciting compared to its competitors chip names, so it added “Fusion” to the A10’s branding last year. So this year it’s “Bionic.”

Marketing-speak aside, it should be no surprise that the A11 is lightning-fast. Apple leads the industry in mobile chip design and performance, and the A11 has a new performance controller that manages six active cores: two high performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. It’s also the first chip to have an Apple-designed GPU inside. Early benchmarks suggest that the iPhone 8 is faster than the A10 Fusion in the iPad Pro and even the lower-end 13-inch MacBook Pros.

I didn’t notice a huge performance boost over the iPhone 7 while doing basic things like browsing the web, watching videos, and taking photos. I played a few games and everything seemed fast and fluid, of course. Apple sells iPhones for years after they’re released — the iPhone 6S is still in the lineup! — so a lot of this extra power just feels like headroom for the future, not something you immediately sense when upgrading from a previous model.


Where you do get a sense of the extra performance is when you try new apps that use Apple’s ARKit in iOS 11. There aren’t many out there, but I got to try some early versions of a measuring app, an app that teaches you about the human heart, a stargazing app, a Thomas the Tank Engine game and of course, a demo app from IKEA that lets you see what furniture looks like in a room. I use a non-AR stargazing app called SkyView Free all the time, and the AR-enabled Sky Guide AR was a particular revelation — the tracking is so much better than anything I’ve ever seen. This stuff is going to be really fun to play with as it rolls out.

There’s a whole future of phone interactions coming as AR goes from standalone demos to a core part of the app developer’s toolkit, and Apple’s way ahead of Google’s Tango effort and new ARCore approach so far. Playing with AR on iOS 11 is a pretty exciting taste of the future. But you don’t need an iPhone 8 to do it; the iPhone SE, 6S, and 7 will support it when they’re updated to iOS 11 as well.

IOS 11

We’ll do a full review of iOS 11 as well, but it’s a huge update. You’ll notice chunkier fonts everywhere, and redesigns of most major apps. I’m particularly impressed with the new App Store design, which is much more curated and editorially-driven than before — there are blog-like writeups of apps all over the place. It’s like a fancy app catalog, and it turns the App Store into a repeat destination on your phone, not just something you have to deal with.

The new iOS 11 Control Center makes way more sense than before and offers a lot of customization options. And in extremely good news, airplane mode can now be set to just turn off the cell radio and leave WiFi and Bluetooth active, which is a huge boon for frequent travelers and people who travel in and out of spotty cell service areas.

There’s tons of other little stuff: screenshots can be annotated and sent instantly, the new Files app lets you access file services like Dropbox and Box directly, notifications are a little cleaner, and on and on. Siri sounds a lot nicer as well, although it’s not any more capable than before.

Overall, iOS 11 is a really solid update — and if you have an iPhone 7, you might not miss any of the iPhone 8’s features once you have it.

After spending a week with the 8, I can’t think of a single compelling reason to upgrade from an iPhone 7. The 7 is still extremely fast, offers virtually the same design in a lighter package with a bigger battery, and will get almost every feature of the 8 with iOS 11. If you really want Qi wireless charging, you can get a slim $15 case that supports it. And if you’re dying for Portrait Lighting, there are tons of photo apps in the App Store that offer similar effects. Of course, if you’re upgrading from anything older than an iPhone 7, the improvements in the camera and the overall speed of the phone are going to really impress you.

Apple’s line is now more segmented than before, with models at every price point between the $349 iPhone SE to the $1,125 256GB iPhone X, and the iPhone 8 sits near the top of that range. Prices are actually $50 more than the 7 was last year, with the 64GB iPhone 8 going for $699 and the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus going for $799. The decision between the 256GB iPhone 8 Plus at $949 and the 64GB iPhone X at $999 seems particularly challenging: do you value Apple’s best and newest design, or raw storage capacity? I know my answer, and it doesn’t look like another version of a phone I bought in 2014.

And yet, a lot of people are going to buy an iPhone 8 — it’s the phone to get if you’re on an upgrade plan, your older phone breaks or finally gets too slow, or you just need a new phone right now. It’s Apple’s new default phone, and it’s pretty great that a default phone is actually this good. But it’s not the future, and it’s not the cutting edge. It’s just the default.

It’s an iPhone.

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Project Cars 2 review

When was the last time you were truly immersed and engaged in an activity? Mindfulness types call it ‘flow’, and positive psychologists say this state of total involvement is what we really mean when we talk about happiness. Project Cars 2, the most demanding sim racer I’ve ever played, is a positive psychologist’s dream.

With all the assists off and a decent racing wheel plugged in, it requires so much sustained attention, so many micro-adjustments in response to tiny whispers of feedback from the car, that there’s simply no brainpower left to think about anything other than getting your Audi R18 around the last turn at Zolder. And the rallycross—boy, the rallycross—no space to think about death when you’re doing that, let me tell you. This unprecedented level of simulation is, as you’d expect really, Project Cars 2’s crown jewel. Driving is its own intrinsic joy, more so than in its 2015 ancestor and to these hands better than rivals rFactor 2 and iRacing (don’t @ me). 

However, you can go ahead and add your own personal disclaimer to that statement if a) you drive with assists, and/or b) you race with a pad rather than a wheel. Both were occasionally true of me in Project Cars 1, where I was able to tweak my controller settings and find a balance of assists that made the racing responsive but not overly demanding. Such settings might exist within Project Cars 2’s menus, but I haven’t found them yet. Instead, I find pad handling too twitchy to ever effectively save a spin when I lose the back end, while an overzealous stability control either brings the car to near-standstill in order to avoid a spin, or creates cruise liner levels of understeer.

In other words, it doesn’t seem to worry about the casual racer as much as its predecessor, so the only way to really enjoy what Project Cars 2 offers is to lean into it, turn all the assists off, and use a wheel. Presumably that’s no biggie to most of its intended audience, but it’s a strange development from the first game nonetheless. Luckily, the sheer joy of driving comes in several more flavours this time.

The fact that Slightly Mad’s sequel drills deep into several distinct disciplines of driving is more than just a carrot to dangle before you in career mode. Spend a while with the licensed Indycars, learning their foibles, perfecting drafting, visiting the Indianapolis Speedway and recognising when tracks rubber in to offer more grip, and the jump to loose surface racing in a rallycross car feels like a different game. If you were worried the powersliding, ice racing stuff might feel a bit token: don’t. 

With that said, open-wheel, touring, endurance, rallycross, and GT racing are better distinguished in career mode than the narrower handful of disciplines were in the last game, offering clearer and more distinct paths from season to season.  Invitational events can now be entered at any point after you unlock them, so progressing through seasons isn’t silted up by one-day cups anymore. The structure of career mode is a definite improvement, then.

Also improved is the game engine’s consideration for your frame rate. Sure, you can still push the supersampling AA slider up to max and tank all but the mightiest systems, but leaving high-end AA out of the equation, this is a well-optimised release. Even without the inevitable game-ready driver, a GTX 1070 can handle everything turned all the way up at 1600p. That’s a marked performance improvement on the last game, although the step forwards in vehicular handsomeness isn’t as profound. Still, trackside and cockpit detail are certainly easier on the eye, and the first game is hardly Quasimodo two years after release.

For all the ways this sequel builds on that foundation though, the original still has a one thing going for it: the bugs have been stamped out. At the time of writing, Project Cars 2 freezes at launch with will-sapping regularity, and less frequently seems to change wheel configuration properties at will, so that horrendous understeer might pop in midway through an opening lap on fresh tires, or force feedback might disappear. Elsewhere, hitting ‘skip to end’ during a practice or qualifying session will invariably see all AI drivers find four seconds of pace as they log a new lap—even if there isn’t time to actually drive an outlap then set a new time. Controller issues cropped up only a handful of times during 20 hours’ play, but you could set your watch by that qualification glitch. Assuming these glitches get stitches, to use the urban parlance, Project Cars 2 nonetheless sets a sim racing benchmark for those brave enough to go assist-free and play on the game’s own terms.

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Genesis G70 review: Hyundai’s 3-Series and Giulia rival driven

What the devil is a Genesis G70?

Ambitious, that’s what. It’s a small, rear-drive premium saloon car. So that makes it a rival for – deep breath – the BMW 3-Series, Lexus IS, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class. You only need ask the upstart Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE how difficult it is to dent that segment.

Oh yeah, the Genesis has to fight those cars too. And, because it’s on sale in Asia and the USA, the likes of Infiniti, plus Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac. See, it’s ambitious. 

I’m still not clear on what a Genesis is, though.

In the beginning, there was Hyundai, and then Hyundai begat a luxury offshoot called Genesis after earlier success building a massive barge called the Equus. It’s just like when Toyota created Lexus and Nissan dreamt up Infiniti.

Genesis, meanwhile, has been working its way down the posh saloon size chart, selling 150,000 cars in three years along the way. First we got a G90 (S-Class and 7-Series rival), then a G80 (E-class and 5-Series rival) and now the G70 has arrived to complete the Genesis triple-threat. 

The marque has set deep roots in its homeland and the US market, and has won big on customer service surveys. So, the G70 is the classic move to snare younger, less wealthy buyers now the bedrock is steady.

Okay, got it. What has the G70 got, well, going for it?

A platform shared with the reasonably talented Kia Stinger for a kick-off, which means short overhangs, a stiff body, either rear- or four-wheel drive and the option of a 3.3-litre V6 ‘Turbo Sport’ version with 367bhp and a top speed of 168mph. That makes it faster than an M3, all out. It’ll knock off 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds along the way.

Like the Stinger GT then, but this isn’t supposed to be a sporty Audi S4 rival. That’s Kia’s job. Genesis is aimed at being far more refined, and techy. Which they might have overdone, a tad.

Really? What’s it packing?

On Korean market versions, everything from a pop-up pedestrian-friendly bonnet and automatic highway driving assistance galore to the best ergonomic gimmick we’ve heard of in ages. Instead of setting the seat and steering wheel positions with different buttons then saving them to a memory button, the G70’s ‘Smart Posture’ function asks only that you tell the car your height.

It’ll then marshal the seat, steering wheel, mirrors and head-up display to a preset position that ought to perfectly match your body shape. Clever, if your G70 is destined for a household or workplace with drivers sized like the Evolution of Man chart.

You want more? How about launch control? No, not just for the Turbo Sport V6. The 248bhp 2.0-litre petrol G70 has getaway mode too. So does the 200bhp 2.2-litre diesel. All versions also score apex-seeking torque-vectoring. And a proper mechanical limited-slip diff. I’m not joking. Can you guess which German race-track the G70’s been putting the hard development yards in around?

So is the G70 much cop to drive?

There’s plenty about the G70 that makes it feel credible and properly sorted, but it’s not the Nürburgring breeding that leaps out at you. It’s the refinement. Besides an Audi A4, no small saloon hushes up wind noise this well, and at a cruise you could fool yourself into thinking it’s electric. The drivetrain is silent. 

If you want it to make noise, it’ll make a good one. The turbo V6 rasps as it revs freely towards 6,500rpm, at which point, like it or not, the eight-speed automatic gearbox will upchange for you. There’s no defined manual mode, but clicking the wheel-mounted paddles gives a temporary override.

Left to its own devices, the transmission is logical and smooth, and quick enough if the G70’s aiming to match the claimed 4.7sec 0-62mph time. It feels properly punchy in the ebb and flow of Seoul freeway traffic. No mean feat, given the all-wheel drive variant weighs a hefty 1,820kg. 

Does it look and feel suitably ‘watch out, Europe’ inside?

Tell you what, someone at Genesis has had a sit in a Bentley Flying Spur recently. They’ve observed the winged steering wheel emblem, the diamond-quilted seats and metal-rimmed switchgear and thought “yes, we’ll do…all of that.” 

The G70’s cabin is tightly put together and it’s laid out with a very Germanic logic. Three guesses why. There’s plenty of plastic doing its best impression of knurled or brushed metal, but the leather is supple and smells more expensive than we’re used to in Korean cars. It’ll struggle as a chauffeur option: there’s little headroom in the back and not enough foot wiggle space if the driver has their seat set low. Odd, for a car that’s about 60mm longer and 40mm wider than a 3-Series. 

Back in the, er, front… the graphics are sharp and there are about four hundred menus and displays to discover. There’s a G-meter and lap timer, for instance.

Is it more luxury saloon than sports saloon, as prescribed?

Definitely. Albert Biermann, the ex-BMW M Division chief who was sensationally poached by Hyundai-Kia to run their performance vehicle programmes, admits that the body control is “perhaps not so good”, but there’s method in the G70’s penchant to wallow when it’s hustled. South Korea is a land of very smooth roads, but also many speed bumps. The locals don’t appear to care about slowing down a great deal for them, so the Korean market G70s we were driving are set up with a dollop of squidge factor in the ride to cope with the sleeping policeman assault course. American market and future European Genesises will have that pitch and wobble tightened up.

And we’ve driven it on circuit. Seriously. Sure, the G70’s no natural track car, but at the technical and undulating Inju Speedium racetrack we were able to try a slightly more focused version. Instead of the AWD G70s we’d driven on the road, a pre-production G70 ‘Dynamic Edition’ was ready to play. Rear-wheel drive, 70kg lighter, with retuned, more direct steering and ride settings much closer to what American customers can expect. 

Sounds promising…

And the G70 Dynamic lived up to that billing. It’s more accelerative, better balanced, more agile and genuinely, hilariously playful. There’s M-car DNA woven through this thing, in how it’ll sit steady on the limit of grip, then lock its diff and slide super progressively with a bout of throttle. The rear end squats less, the steering is reassuring and positive, and it’s palpably faster than the AWD car. Seriously, it’s more fun than an Audi S4 or Mercedes C43 and would ask very difficult questions of a Jaguar XE S. 

All bodes well, doesn’t it? Genesis is plotting a European invasion in 2019, and its products are getting competitive. Meanwhile, the influence and talent of Albert Biermann and his team is at last making Korean drivers’ cars. Here’s hoping it translates into the Hyundai i30 N hot hatch we’re driving very soon…

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2017 Porsche 718 Boxster

Overall Rating:

A perennial feature on our 10Best Cars list and a beloved member of our long-term test fleet, the Porsche 718 Boxster is a summer day turned sheetmetal. It’s one of our favorite cars to drive, with nearly perfect dynamics, timeless design, and a fabric folding top. Yes, the engine note is less virtuosic now that there’s a turbocharged flat-four in the engine compartment instead of Porsche’s classic naturally aspirated flat-six, but time marches on, to linger is to die, et cetera. Not to mention, the new turbo fours are quicker and more powerful than the engines they replace. In short, the years have not dulled the sweet sting of our love for the Boxster, and we don’t think they will any time soon. The only real question is how to afford one.

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Car Review: Hyundai Elantra Sport excites at a nice price

WASHINGTON — The compact sedan is normally a fuel efficient, value buy but driving excitement often has to be compromised.

Recently, some manufacturers have added some more performance-based models to their normal compacts to add some spunk to the class. The only problem with the sporty models is they tend to get pricey if you’re budget conscious.

Luckily, Hyundai is making a big name for itself by selling cars with many features buyers want at a seemingly reasonable price. The compact sports sedan is no exception.

The normal Elantra is a solid compact, but not very quick or sporty to drive, so the Hyundai Elantra Sport steps in to add some spice to the small sedan. Adding power seems to be a good place to start and the Elantra Sport is equipped with 201hp from a small 1.6L turbocharged engine. Power is plentiful for once in an Elantra and there isn’t much turbo lag either.

There are also two transmission choices: a manual or a $1,100 optional dual clutch automatic.

I drove the manual. It’s not the best shifter ever but it does a pretty good job with slightly long throws between gears. The clutch is light and it’s easy to modulate for smooth operation. Handling isn’t VW Golf GTI good but more competent than most of the compact sedans in its class.

The Elantra Sport has bigger brakes than other Elantra models so it stops quicker and more confidently. It treats you nicely in daily driving with a quiet cabin and the tuned suspension that doesn’t beat you up on bumpy roads. It is only slightly more firm than other Elantra models.

Fuel economy was a surprise. I managed 30.3 mpg in a week and 315 miles of mixed driving; better than the 25 mpg of mixed driving on the sticker.

Looks are important for sportier versions of compact cars and Hyundai gave the Elantra Sport a little makeover. It’s not a huge difference from other Elantra models but it’s a little bolder with a unique front grill and lower fascia, which gives it a more aggressive face.

From the side, you notice large 18-inch wheels and blacked- out trim pieces around the door. There are also side sill extensions on the bottom of the car and a diffuser at the rear end to give this a more menacing look from behind. What it doesn’t have is a large rear spoiler and or some crazy color. For someone like me who’s not 24, it seems to make more sense. But I’m not sure it’s flashy enough for some buyers.

The Elantra Sport is easy on the wallet with a starting price under $23,000. For that, you get a nicely equipped car with sunroof and heated leather sport seats — a surprise at this price.

Other nice standard items are push button start and proximity key entry; leave the remote in your pocket and just open the door. The hands-free trunk is nice with full hands. Standing near the trunk for a few seconds will trigger its opening for you. If you want to add things like NAV with 8-inch touch-screen and an Infinity Premium audio system, the price will still be around $25,000, about where other hot compacts start before any options.

Space is good for a compact with room for adults — front and back. I put three kids and their assorted child seats in the back seat without much hassle. The only hassle was the doors not closing all the way, sometimes taking several tries to fully close. It could have been this car because I don’t remember this with other Elantra models.

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport is the value sports compact sedan. A bit of joy can be had on the mundane commute with its peppy turbo engine, improved handling and well-appointed interior. And no one will really know just how little you paid.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 / GT350R | In-Depth Model …

What’s New for 2017?

The Shelby GT350 and its R-rated twin were revived in 2016, almost 50 years after retirement. They immediately transcended Mustang performance and earned a spot on our 10Best Cars list. Changes for 2017 are minimal but meaningful. Most notably, the Track package is now standard on the GT350. It includes an aluminum strut-tower brace, a rear spoiler, adaptive dampers, and coolers for engine oil, transmission, and differential. The improved cooling addresses overheating issues some GT350 owners had while driving at the racetrack. Ford also rejiggered the options and paint choices. Last year’s Technology package is now the Electronics package on the GT350; it has Sync 3 infotainment, voice-activated navigation, and a nine-speaker Sony stereo. The new Convenience package has all that, too, but swaps the standard Recaro front buckets for leather-trimmed, power-adjustable seats. The paint colors Ruby Red Metallic, Lightning Blue, and Grabber Blue replace Deep Impact Blue and Competition Orange for 2017.

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2019 Genesis G70 First Look: Genesis Challenges the Germans

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SEOUL — The mission: Make a compact luxury sedan lighter, more agile, and feel more compact than the BMW 3 Series.

For an automaker with limited experience in creating sporty vehicles and crafting luxury experiences, this is a tall order. But with its 2019 G70 sedan arriving in U.S. showrooms in early 2018, Hyundai’s Genesis brand is attempting to break the German dominance of the compact luxury sedan segment.

Recall the shocking entrance into the luxury market by three Japanese automakers three decades ago. But despite wins in several segments for Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti, no Japanese sedan has yet to shatter the BMW 3 Series’ iron-fisted grip on the compact sedan segment—either in sales volume or its perception as a keenly crafted driver’s car. Whether the arrival of the Genesis will have any greater impact with consumers or if there will be no reply at all remains to be seen.

Hyundai’s luxury division wanted to create a sedan that had a sense of “athletic elegance.” It is clear that Genesis benchmarked the BMW 3 Series for performance and the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 for the G70’s interior.

“There are a lot of derivatives of the four-door coupe,” said Luc Donckerwolke, design director for Hyundai and Genesis. “We wanted a dynamic three-box design. The most important thing is proportion. We wanted a long dash-to-axle ratio.”

In the front fascia, there are lots of busy angles that form triangles and trapezoids. The G70’s headlamps use four thin-lined lamps as a design signature. The inward rake of the pillars toward the roofline (aka the tumblehome) is rather severe, which impinges on headroom in exchange for more muscular body-side sheetmetal. The trunklid shape hints at BMW and Audi design cues, and it flows from voluptuous rear haunches tapering rearward. And, yes, the “archer’s bow” vent behind the front wheel is functional.

Inside, Genesis is making a design statement with its console and dash detail materials—or lack thereof. Like it or not, wood trim will not appear anywhere on any G70. Instead, brushed metal or liquid metal will be the details.

Other interior touches: quilted diamond-stitch leather on the door inners, and infotainment screen does not retract, and, in the back seat, headroom that’s a bit tight. And although the front-seat cutout provides decent kneeroom, the footwell is a bit cramped. Visibility from the rear seats, however, is good.

The G70 carries about an inch more wheelbase and 1.6 inches more overall length than a BMW 3 Series. Actually, the G70 wheelbase and length line up almost identically to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Under the hood, Genesis will offer a 248-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four that generates 260 lb-ft of torque as the base engine. A 364-hp 3.3-liter V-6 with 375 lb-ft of twist is optional. Genesis claims the V-6 can run from 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 167 mph. Genesis did not give performance numbers for the turbo-four.

Both engines will be mated to eight-speed torque-converter automatics developed in-house, though the U.S. market will also offer a turbo-four with a manual transmission with a limited-slip differential. Expect that version to migrate to Europe when the Genesis brand launches there.

Although the turbo-four comes with 18-inch Bridgestone all-season tires, the V-6 offerings will get 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires with four-piston Brembo front brakes and two-piston rear brakes. The Korean market will get a diesel variant, and the U.S. will get a “dynamic edition” of the V-6 in 2019. There will not be a hybrid version.

For fun more than traction, Genesis executives say the G70 will offer rear-wheel-biased all-wheel drive with variable torque split.

“There’s no boring understeer,” Albert Biermann, Hyundai’s head of vehicle test and high-performance development, said of the proprietary AWD system. “Some people will still think it’s rear-wheel drive.”

Because “many things are subjective,” Biermann said the G70’s split between Sport and Normal modes will adjust settings for steering, throttle, shift points and response, transmission mapping, active sound, all-wheel-drive torque split, and adjustable shocks on the 3.3-liter and the possibility of adaptive dampers on the 2.0-liter.

Biermann knows these dynamics well—Hyundai poached him from a 30-year career at BMW, capped by running the M performance division. But whether Biermann’s knowledge translates into Genesis’ ability to replicate the BMW magic remains to be seen.

On a short test-track drive of Korean-spec prototypes, the 2.0-liter turbo-four felt better balanced and obviously lighter up front than the V-6. The 2.0-liter tucked in precisely upon application of lift-throttle oversteer, especially when taken through an off-camber kink. But both engines tended to roar rather than snarl—an auditory signal to this driver that connotes stress rather than performance.

Biermann said the U.S.-spec version will have sportier steering effort and clearer on-center feel than the Korean-market edition.

“With ride comfort, NVH, and interior luxury, we can be competitive with the Germans,” Biermann said. “Plus we have striking styling and a promising package.”

This platform will not belong solely to Genesis. The Kia Stinger will share the same powertrains, suspension, and tires—but the suspension settings on the Stinger will be stiffer. The Stinger also has a longer wheelbase; if the G70 were to mirror the Stinger dimensionally, it would come too close to the G80 sedan, Biermann said.

Might there be a performance G70 version to compete against the AMG and M brands? Perhaps, Biermann said, they would also be more in line with the 340i and C43 than the M3 and C63. No final decision has been made.

Can an upstart Korean brand pull German loyalists away from their steeds? The G70 is the first keen test.

“The G70 shows that Genesis a real brand,” said Genesis brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald. “It shows that there is much, much more to this brand.”

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What to Know Before Car Shopping: 9/16/17

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meta itemprop=”height” content=”1170″ photo by Kelsey Mays

CARS.COM — From incentives for hurricane-affected shoppers to the government’s push to educate consumers on self-driving technology to Qi wireless charging in that new iPhone you’ve been craving, there are myriad reasons to hit the lots and take the plunge on buying a new car. Not sure how to begin the process? That’s what we’re here for — check out our recent coverage of new models and handy how-to guide for buyers below.

Related: More Car-Buying News

What car should I buy? That depends on a lot of factors, but our reviews can help. Check out our recent additions: 

Anything I should wait for? The redesigned 2018 Toyota Camry is currently hitting dealers, and Ford has some updates on the F-150 coming this fall.

Which cars have the best deals right now? Check out our top deals for September. As always, your discounts may vary, so check with your dealer for specifics.

Should I buy new or used? Read up on the pros and cons of each. If you go used, review our used-car buyers’ checklist and consider whether you want a certified pre-owned car.

How much can I afford? Read our primer. Then use our Price Comparison Tool while you shop to find what’s right for you.

Should I finance, lease or pay cash? That depends, but this might help you decide.

How do I get the best lease rate? Bone up on common lease terminology, plus our tips.

How do I get the best financing rate? Our game plan lays out some advice. While you’re at it, here’s what you need to know about auto loans and what you’ll need to get one.

Anything I shouldn’t do when I’m at the dealer? Yep. Avoid these pitfalls.

Should I get an extended warranty? That depends. Here’s what you need to know.

How do I sell or trade in my old car? Learn how to prep your car before you sell it to a dealer, how to trade it in and how to deal with taxes and other considerations. If you still owe money on your old car, read this. Finally, if you want to sell it private party, here’s how to create the picture-perfect ad and how to seal the deal.

Copy Editor Patrick Masterson has taken a lifelong appreciation for cars and commas to his current home in Chicago. Email Patrick

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: Photo Gallery

CARS.COM — Volkswagen’s smallest SUV was once one of the least competitive in the class, falling behind in drivetrain refinement, technology and fuel economy. For 2018, a redesign changes everything. The 2018 Tiguan is bigger, more fuel-efficient, and loaded with new safety and convenience technology.

Related: More Photo Galleries

Outside, the Tiguan’s styling is understated and mimics the larger three-row 2018 Atlas SUV with a clean, horizontal face and defined body creases. It grows this year and includes a standard third row on front-wheel-drive models (optional on all-wheel-drive versions) and more cargo room than the previous generation.

Inside, the look is again straightforward and minimalist, with more upscale materials and a clean design. On the tech front, Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit is an available reconfigurable instrument display that can show navigation information between the traditional speedometer and tachometer gauges. Another tech leap for the Tiguan is standard mobile integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

How does the new model compete against the slew of popular compact SUVs? We pitted the Tiguan against six other compact SUVs to determine which is the best compact SUV for 2017. Stay tuned for the results of our 2017 Compact SUV Challenge on Sept. 18 to find out. In the meantime, check out the gallery above.

News Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer

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