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2017 BMW X1

C/D Overall Rating:

It seems that every brand—both luxury and mainstream—is throwing all its resources to the growing crossover market. Our testing reveals that the BMW X1 is the best crossover in the small-luxury segment. It’s quick, nimble, spacious, well-built, and undeniably upscale. BMW’s baby crossover belies its boxy shape with athletic handling and peppy performance, but it still provides class-leading cargo and passenger space. The X1 meets its mission so well that we named it on our 10Best Trucks and SUVs list for 2017.


What’s New for 2017?

For 2017, BMW has made few changes to its smallest crossover, which was fully redesigned and introduced in 2015 as a 2016 model. While the previous generation was available with an inline-six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive, the 2016 model rolled out on an all-new front-drive platform with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder as its sole engine. This year, the M Sport package will include a sport-tuned suspension for the first time; sport seats are also offered as a stand-alone option.


Standard Feature Highlights

• Power-adjustable front seats with memory
• Rain-sensing windshield wipers
• Power liftgate


Trims and Options We’d Choose

The all-wheel-drive X1 xDrive28i is $2000 more than the front-wheel-drive X1 sDrive28i, but, depending on where you live, it may be a worthwhile choice. The front-wheel-drive model is more than adequate for daily commutes, though we recommend the M Sport package ($2450) because it comes with more comfortable sport seats and other enticing add-ons, including:

• M sport suspension
• Body-colored bumpers and lower-body cladding
• A racy M-branded steering wheel
• Blacked-out window trim and roof rails

At $37,540, our front-drive X1 sDrive28i represents great value and a sharper dynamic edge than rivals such as the Lexus NX, with the M Sport Package dialing in even more driving fun. However, unless you want to limit your color choices to either black or white, plan on spending an extra $700 for a metallic paint option, of which there are nine.


In Depth: 2017 BMW X1

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Article source: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-bmw-x1-in-depth-model-review

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

At each new hydrogen-fuel-cell car introduction comes the assertion from the proud maker that its car is no longer a science experiment. The 2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell finally gives credence to that platitude. It actually realizes the potential that hydrogen-fuel-cell engineers have long worked toward: to make the fuel-cell hardware entirely invisible from the driving experience. Built on a dedicated platform that also will spawn a battery-electric version and a plug-in hybrid later this year, the fuel-cell Clarity drives just like a battery-powered electric car. Nearly all of the deal-breakers that have branded previous efforts as science experiments—the strident vacuum-cleaner sounds, poor packaging, sluggish performance—have been purged.

Hit the start button and there’s little to be heard from the driver’s seat. Press the accelerator moderately and the response is instantaneous and confidence inspiring—although the Clarity’s sprightliness fades somewhat above 60 mph or so. After all, the fuel-cell Clarity is an electric car; there are no dueling power sources sending torque to the wheels, just a single AC motor that delivers its peak 221 lb-ft right from the start. Step into it a little more and what you do hear, perhaps delayed by a second or two, is a turbulent whoosh of air from an electrically driven air compressor, force-feeding fresh air into this electric car’s onboard generator, the fuel-cell stack. The sounds lack any semblance of the whine made by the feline shriek of the Roots-type blower in the previous model, yet it supplies air at up to 70 percent greater pressure. It’s certainly a notch quieter than the Toyota Mirai, and ride quality isn’t bad either.

Otherwise, the fuel-cell Clarity drives like a very heavy Accord that is entirely aware of the added girth and doesn’t try any fancy dance moves. It tops 4000 pounds, despite an aluminum hood, doors, fenders, and trunklid. Honda says the Clarity’s center of mass is slightly lower than that of the Accord hybrid, but the prevailing impression is that it feels far more nose-heavy in tight corners than its claimed 57/43 front/rear weight distribution suggests. The steering is precise, but it could be weighted stronger on-center. Selecting Sport mode—signaled by red highlighting for the gauge cluster—gives you sharper accelerator response as well as what will be welcomed on mountain roads: more regenerative braking. The brakes themselves are precise and easy to modulate.

Honda doesn’t disclose the Clarity’s coefficient of drag, but you definitely don’t hear wind turbulence around the cowl and side glass at fast cruising speeds the way you do in the Chevrolet Bolt EV. That’s partly due to Honda’s comprehensive approach for keeping the cabin quiet. There’s acoustic glass used not just for the windshield but also for the door glass plus other noise-abating strategies that keep everything from road coarseness to motor whine at bay. Active noise cancellation was deemed unnecessary.


Stash the Stack

A fuel-cell stack consists of many waferlike layers, each of which harnesses a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, producing some waste heat, water vapor, and electricity. Honda has been working on hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles for 20 years, and in that time the fuel-cell stacks have gone from nearly steamer-chest sized to the volume of a modest carry-on suitcase. With this latest generation, Honda has pushed the efficiency of the stack over the 60 percent mark, increasing power to 103 kW, while cutting its physical volume by one-third. With the drive unit’s height reduced, too, the whole assembly (cell stack and motor) can fit under the hood for the first time, essentially taking up the same space as a V-6 engine and transaxle.

That rights some packaging weirdness of its predecessor, the FCX Clarity, in which Honda put the suitcase-sized fuel-cell stack between the front seats, cutting into interior space and making that vehicle a four-seater. With more space reserved for occupants, Honda has worked to normalize the interior packaging in the 2017 Clarity. There’s excellent space for four adults, with decent legroom all around and even reasonable headroom in back; five occupants fit, provided those in back don’t mind sitting close together. The front seats have long cushions and good support as well. There is one packaging sore point: The hydrogen is stored in two aluminum-lined, composite-reinforced cylindrical tanks; the larger of them (31 gallons) sits just behind the rear seatbacks and the smaller one (6 gallons) lies under the rear seats. The large hydrogen tanks enable a claimed 366-mile range, at the expense of cargo space. The trunk’s meager 12-cubic-foot volume is even worse than it sounds, as the space is deep only at the rearmost portion while one can only stuff softer items in what amounts to a ledge at the forward section. Also, there’s no folding rear seatback or pass-through.

Because the fuel cell still takes a few seconds to ramp up to its peak generation, an air-cooled, 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack (the size of a couple of laptops and located under the front seats) ensures that full power is always on tap. The pack acts as an energy buffer and has its own monitor at the far left side of the gauge cluster. Blast up to speed, foot to the floor—actually “waft” is a better term for it here, with apologies to Rolls-Royce—after you’ve been puttering along, and it’s the secret to the Clarity’s consistent, strong responses. You can churn through more than half of the battery’s reserves in well under a minute, but once the fuel cell has been whooshing away and you ease off the accelerator, the battery recovers rapidly, fed both from the stacks and from regenerative braking.


Clean Inside, Functionally Cluttered on the Outside

The design and styling of the Clarity are polarizing from the outside. From some angles it looks like it could be a future-generation Accord, while at other angles the Citroën DS comes to mind, and it’s peppered with hints of the original Insight—most notably in the two-piece rear glass that aids visibility. The design surely has more grace than that of the Toyota Mirai, and a few of the things that might look gimmicky are actually functional: For instance, the carved-out ducts in the lower rear doors are the first of their kind in any production sedan, Honda says.

The cabin is superbly trimmed, with high-quality finishes that would look at home in an Acura. Honda calls the interior concept Advanced Modern Lounge, which after some time in the car we read to mean mature and luxurious. Materials with a reduced environmental footprint have been used for nearly 80 percent of interior surface areas. The matte-finish, open-pore woodgrain on the dash isn’t real, Honda confessed, but it looks like it is.


Getting One’s Fill

One serious issue we’ve had with previous fuel-cell vehicles was getting a true fill—important if you need the vehicle’s maximum range. Honda claims to have solved this problem. The 10,000-psi tanks take just three to five minutes to fill, with full support from SAE’s J2601 protocol and its two-way communication to compensate for ambient air conditions.

Yet when we hopped into the car, with the tank having been filled less than 10 miles previous, the gauge cluster indicated 221 miles to empty—far less than the claimed 366-mile range. Again that afternoon, after another refilling, the estimated range briefly indicated around 260 miles before plummeting again. Officials said that the trip computer was responding to the way the car had been driven. Nevertheless, that’s a big gap, especially considering the trip computer indicated an average of about 55 miles per kilogram of hydrogen on a hilly, curvy route, followed by just over 60 miles per kilogram in more relaxed driving. The fuel-cell Clarity’s range estimate is based on an EPA-rated 69 MPGe city and 67 MPGe highway (one kilogram of hydrogen has roughly the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline, and the Clarity can hold 5.5 kilos).

At $16.47 per kilogram, based on the station we visited, those fill-ups would cost about $90. But as part of the Clarity’s $369-per-month lease—the only way you can get one, so never mind its $59,365 sticker price—Honda is throwing in both $15,000 worth of hydrogen (good for more than 50,000 miles, by our estimate) as well as up to 21 days of complimentary luxury-vehicle rentals for when you want to escape the Golden State or go out of town and not be in a cold sweat about range. The Clarity is also eligible for the sought-after California High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) sticker, which grants access to carpool lanes even when driving solo.


Locations, Locations, Locations

It’s unfortunate timing that such fuel-cell vehicles are arriving just as long-range electric cars are starting to make sense. That’s a sticking point. Honda officials are pragmatic about the prospects for fuel cells, given that in the foreseeable future no single technology is likely to win out. As one spokesperson put it, the FCX Clarity sold in the hundreds. Honda wants to sell the fuel-cell Clarity in the thousands, over several model years. Through a partnership with General Motors, a higher order of magnitude is within sight, as these automakers are collaboratively developing a smaller next-generation stack that will be assembled in Michigan.

The hydrogen fuel cell has come a long way, but its supporting infrastructure has not. Consider that there are about 150,000 places to refuel a gasoline-powered vehicle today in the U.S.—and jerry cans and AAA fills if you can’t seem to work with that. Go electric, and there are more than 2000 publicly accessible fast-charging locations in the U.S., where most electric cars can get the better part of a recharge in the time it takes to grab lunch; less ideally, there are more than 14,000 Level 2 charging locations where you could plug in for a few hours. And the 120-volt outlets at home or at work are a snail’s-pace backup. By contrast, there are just 26 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in California today—and California is the only state with retail pumps capable of delivering the 10,000 psi needed to properly fill the Clarity.

Each hydrogen fueling station has a price tag of nearly $1 million. There are 23 more hydrogen stations under construction in California that are expected to open by the end of the year. A dozen Air Liquide hydrogen stations will open in the Northeast this year —just in time for fuel-cell-favorable California ZEV mandate requirements that will soon extend to several of those states.

We can’t predict whether hydrogen vehicles will go down as a failed experiment or the start of a sea change. Provided you’re okay in the living laboratory, which is essentially the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas (plus a waypoint in between at Harris Ranch and an outpost near Lake Tahoe), the fuel-cell Clarity makes a viable second car—not just because Honda has subsidized it so heavily but because it’s pleasant to drive. Perhaps most compelling of all, though, is the sheer science of it.

Consumer Review of the Week: 2017 Kia Sorento

CARS.COM — Kia’s lineup features two family-friendly all-stars, the Sedona minivan and the Sorento SUV. The Sorento offers loads of features for the price and the added flexibility of an available third row. One owner below explains why he traded in a GMC Terrain for the Sorento.

Ex Auto Industry Researcher from Florida writes:

“After reviewing all mid-sized crossover SUVs available for 2016 and 2017, I purchased my 2017 Kia Sorento SX Limited just under two months ago. Could not be happier with my choice. Traded in my 2013 GMC Terrain SLT2, with which I was very happy overall, but it lacked acceleration. My new Sorento was initially too quick off the line, as I had to retrain myself to use a lighter foot on the accelerator. Since then, I can honestly say I don’t have a single complaint, and for all the extra power, I still am averaging just under 25 mpg average city/highway. Safety-wise, this car is top-rated and has every conceivable feature one could ever need, including smart cruise control, autonomous braking, self-cornering headlights for night driving, and the nav system even voice-alerts you to sharp curves in the road ahead. The UVO Navigation and eServices system is totally compatible with my Samsung Android smartphone and provides many features that, to be honest, I have yet to learn how to use all of them. Value-wise, it’s hard to beat and has an outstanding warranty only matched by Hyundai as far as my research indicated. Don’t believe I could have done any better.”

Related: 2016 Kia Sorento: Car Seat Check

We get millions of car shoppers to Cars.com each month, and they would benefit from your experiences, so please, review your own car here. We’re giving you the megaphone, now tell the world what you think about your car, good or bad. Here’s how you do it:

  • Go to our Reviews landing page and select the make, model and year of your car.
  • On that page, click on the green “Write a Review” button.
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Remember, other shoppers will thank you for your efforts.

Editor’s note: Some comments have been edited to improve clarity.

Article source: https://www.cars.com/articles/consumer-review-of-the-week-2017-kia-sorento-1420694321609/

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell First Drive | Review | Car and Driver

At each new hydrogen-fuel-cell car introduction comes the assertion from the proud maker that its car is no longer a science experiment. The 2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell finally gives credence to that platitude. It actually realizes the potential that hydrogen-fuel-cell engineers have long worked toward: to make the fuel-cell hardware entirely invisible from the driving experience. Built on a dedicated platform that also will spawn a battery-electric version and a plug-in hybrid later this year, the fuel-cell Clarity drives just like a battery-powered electric car. Nearly all of the deal-breakers that have branded previous efforts as science experiments—the strident vacuum-cleaner sounds, poor packaging, sluggish performance—have been purged.

Hit the start button and there’s little to be heard from the driver’s seat. Press the accelerator moderately and the response is instantaneous and confidence inspiring—although the Clarity’s sprightliness fades somewhat above 60 mph or so. After all, the fuel-cell Clarity is an electric car; there are no dueling power sources sending torque to the wheels, just a single AC motor that delivers its peak 221 lb-ft right from the start. Step into it a little more and what you do hear, perhaps delayed by a second or two, is a turbulent whoosh of air from an electrically driven air compressor, force-feeding fresh air into this electric car’s onboard generator, the fuel-cell stack. The sounds lack any semblance of the whine made by the feline shriek of the Roots-type blower in the previous model, yet it supplies air at up to 70 percent greater pressure. It’s certainly a notch quieter than the Toyota Mirai, and ride quality isn’t bad either.

Otherwise, the fuel-cell Clarity drives like a very heavy Accord that is entirely aware of the added girth and doesn’t try any fancy dance moves. It tops 4000 pounds, despite an aluminum hood, doors, fenders, and trunklid. Honda says the Clarity’s center of mass is slightly lower than that of the Accord hybrid, but the prevailing impression is that it feels far more nose-heavy in tight corners than its claimed 57/43 front/rear weight distribution suggests. The steering is precise, but it could be weighted stronger on-center. Selecting Sport mode—signaled by red highlighting for the gauge cluster—gives you sharper accelerator response as well as what will be welcomed on mountain roads: more regenerative braking. The brakes themselves are precise and easy to modulate.

Honda doesn’t disclose the Clarity’s coefficient of drag, but you definitely don’t hear wind turbulence around the cowl and side glass at fast cruising speeds the way you do in the Chevrolet Bolt EV. That’s partly due to Honda’s comprehensive approach for keeping the cabin quiet. There’s acoustic glass used not just for the windshield but also for the door glass plus other noise-abating strategies that keep everything from road coarseness to motor whine at bay. Active noise cancellation was deemed unnecessary.


Stash the Stack

A fuel-cell stack consists of many waferlike layers, each of which harnesses a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, producing some waste heat, water vapor, and electricity. Honda has been working on hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles for 20 years, and in that time the fuel-cell stacks have gone from nearly steamer-chest sized to the volume of a modest carry-on suitcase. With this latest generation, Honda has pushed the efficiency of the stack over the 60 percent mark, increasing power to 103 kW, while cutting its physical volume by one-third. With the drive unit’s height reduced, too, the whole assembly (cell stack and motor) can fit under the hood for the first time, essentially taking up the same space as a V-6 engine and transaxle.

That rights some packaging weirdness of its predecessor, the FCX Clarity, in which Honda put the suitcase-sized fuel-cell stack between the front seats, cutting into interior space and making that vehicle a four-seater. With more space reserved for occupants, Honda has worked to normalize the interior packaging in the 2017 Clarity. There’s excellent space for four adults, with decent legroom all around and even reasonable headroom in back; five occupants fit, provided those in back don’t mind sitting close together. The front seats have long cushions and good support as well. There is one packaging sore point: The hydrogen is stored in two aluminum-lined, composite-reinforced cylindrical tanks; the larger of them (31 gallons) sits just behind the rear seatbacks and the smaller one (6 gallons) lies under the rear seats. The large hydrogen tanks enable a claimed 366-mile range, at the expense of cargo space. The trunk’s meager 12-cubic-foot volume is even worse than it sounds, as the space is deep only at the rearmost portion while one can only stuff softer items in what amounts to a ledge at the forward section. Also, there’s no folding rear seatback or pass-through.

Because the fuel cell still takes a few seconds to ramp up to its peak generation, an air-cooled, 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack (the size of a couple of laptops and located under the front seats) ensures that full power is always on tap. The pack acts as an energy buffer and has its own monitor at the far left side of the gauge cluster. Blast up to speed, foot to the floor—actually “waft” is a better term for it here, with apologies to Rolls-Royce—after you’ve been puttering along, and it’s the secret to the Clarity’s consistent, strong responses. You can churn through more than half of the battery’s reserves in well under a minute, but once the fuel cell has been whooshing away and you ease off the accelerator, the battery recovers rapidly, fed both from the stacks and from regenerative braking.


Clean Inside, Functionally Cluttered on the Outside

The design and styling of the Clarity are polarizing from the outside. From some angles it looks like it could be a future-generation Accord, while at other angles the Citroën DS comes to mind, and it’s peppered with hints of the original Insight—most notably in the two-piece rear glass that aids visibility. The design surely has more grace than that of the Toyota Mirai, and a few of the things that might look gimmicky are actually functional: For instance, the carved-out ducts in the lower rear doors are the first of their kind in any production sedan, Honda says.

The cabin is superbly trimmed, with high-quality finishes that would look at home in an Acura. Honda calls the interior concept Advanced Modern Lounge, which after some time in the car we read to mean mature and luxurious. Materials with a reduced environmental footprint have been used for nearly 80 percent of interior surface areas. The matte-finish, open-pore woodgrain on the dash isn’t real, Honda confessed, but it looks like it is.


Getting One’s Fill

One serious issue we’ve had with previous fuel-cell vehicles was getting a true fill—important if you need the vehicle’s maximum range. Honda claims to have solved this problem. The 10,000-psi tanks take just three to five minutes to fill, with full support from SAE’s J2601 protocol and its two-way communication to compensate for ambient air conditions.

Yet when we hopped into the car, with the tank having been filled less than 10 miles previous, the gauge cluster indicated 221 miles to empty—far less than the claimed 366-mile range. Again that afternoon, after another refilling, the estimated range briefly indicated around 260 miles before plummeting again. Officials said that the trip computer was responding to the way the car had been driven. Nevertheless, that’s a big gap, especially considering the trip computer indicated an average of about 55 miles per kilogram of hydrogen on a hilly, curvy route, followed by just over 60 miles per kilogram in more relaxed driving. The fuel-cell Clarity’s range estimate is based on an EPA-rated 69 MPGe city and 67 MPGe highway (one kilogram of hydrogen has roughly the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline, and the Clarity can hold 5.5 kilos).

At $16.47 per kilogram, based on the station we visited, those fill-ups would cost about $90. But as part of the Clarity’s $369-per-month lease—the only way you can get one, so never mind its $59,365 sticker price—Honda is throwing in both $15,000 worth of hydrogen (good for more than 50,000 miles, by our estimate) as well as up to 21 days of complimentary luxury-vehicle rentals for when you want to escape the Golden State or go out of town and not be in a cold sweat about range. The Clarity is also eligible for the sought-after California High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) sticker, which grants access to carpool lanes even when driving solo.


Locations, Locations, Locations

It’s unfortunate timing that such fuel-cell vehicles are arriving just as long-range electric cars are starting to make sense. That’s a sticking point. Honda officials are pragmatic about the prospects for fuel cells, given that in the foreseeable future no single technology is likely to win out. As one spokesperson put it, the FCX Clarity sold in the hundreds. Honda wants to sell the fuel-cell Clarity in the thousands, over several model years. Through a partnership with General Motors, a higher order of magnitude is within sight, as these automakers are collaboratively developing a smaller next-generation stack that will be assembled in Michigan.

The hydrogen fuel cell has come a long way, but its supporting infrastructure has not. Consider that there are about 150,000 places to refuel a gasoline-powered vehicle today in the U.S.—and jerry cans and AAA fills if you can’t seem to work with that. Go electric, and there are more than 2000 publicly accessible fast-charging locations in the U.S., where most electric cars can get the better part of a recharge in the time it takes to grab lunch; less ideally, there are more than 14,000 Level 2 charging locations where you could plug in for a few hours. And the 120-volt outlets at home or at work are a snail’s-pace backup. By contrast, there are just 26 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in California today—and California is the only state with retail pumps capable of delivering the 10,000 psi needed to properly fill the Clarity.

Each hydrogen fueling station has a price tag of nearly $1 million. There are 23 more hydrogen stations under construction in California that are expected to open by the end of the year. A dozen Air Liquide hydrogen stations will open in the Northeast this year —just in time for fuel-cell-favorable California ZEV mandate requirements that will soon extend to several of those states.

We can’t predict whether hydrogen vehicles will go down as a failed experiment or the start of a sea change. Provided you’re okay in the living laboratory, which is essentially the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas (plus a waypoint in between at Harris Ranch and an outpost near Lake Tahoe), the fuel-cell Clarity makes a viable second car—not just because Honda has subsidized it so heavily but because it’s pleasant to drive. Perhaps most compelling of all, though, is the sheer science of it.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox Review: First Drive

CARS.COM — No longer a plus-sized entrant among compact SUVs, the redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Equinox takes direct aim at popular models like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. The new Equinox is less distinctive than its predecessor, which had a certain bigger-is-better appeal among smallish rivals. This one feels more like the rest of them, but it lands there with undeniable refinement.

Related: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Video

Nearly 5 inches shorter than 2017, the 2018 Equinox shares its platform with the redesigned GMC Terrain but no other GM models in the U.S., officials at the automaker’s South Carolina media preview told me. (GM’s U.S. brands are Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.) The new platform helps shed about 400 pounds — more than 10 percent of curb weight — and it’s immediately noticeable. The new base engine, a turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower, 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.

Still Refined

Despite the 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 — front-drive 1.5-liter models with 19-inch wheels — exhibited some turbulence over undulating stretches of highway, but the chassis is otherwise unfazed by rough pavement, with controlled shock absorption and infrequent harshness. You can also get 17- or 18-inch wheels with higher-sidewall tires, which should theoretically soften things up more.

Fun to drive, however, the Equinox is not. 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. It’s a vague, slow-ratio process 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.

The Equinox will come with two more turbocharged four-cylinders: a diesel 1.6-liter (136 hp, 236 pounds-feet and a six-speed automatic) and a gasoline 2.0-liter (252 hp, 260 pounds-feet and a nine-speed auto). GM had neither engine to test but touted that the 2.0-liter Equinox can hit 60 mph in a speedy 6.5 seconds or so, versus the high 8s for the 1.5-liter model. That matches the old V-6 Equinox, as does the turbo 2.0-liter’s maximum 3,500-pound towing capacity.

Full gas-mileage figures are pending for the diesel and 2.0-liter models, but GM says the 1.5-liter Equinox gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 26 mpg with all-wheel drive — competitive numbers for the class.

The Inside

The dashboard is thematically similar to the redesigned Malibu, 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; these are, well, ordinary. Headroom and seat height are good across the board, but the optional panoramic moonroof annexes 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 now folds flat, 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 Nissan Rogue (or White Castle). Behind the backseat is about 30 cubic feet of cargo room, or a maximum 63.5 cubic feet with the seats folded. That’s roughly unchanged despite the truncated exterior, but anyone with serious cargo needs should look at the CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Rogue. All three max out (on paper, at least) in the 70s.

Like before, bulky C- and D-pillars still limit rear visibility, but at least the Equinox traded last year’s Stonehenge-sized head restraints for smaller ones you can flip down — a considerable help. Cabin materials are attractive overall, with stitched vinyl on the upper dash and patches where your elbows rest on the front and rear doors — a rarity in the latter area, where most competitors slap cheap plastic and call it a day.

Save the flimsy turn-signal stalks, most controls have a well-crafted look and feel, and the 7- or 8-inch dashboard touchscreen sits on a raised plane for a subtle layered effect. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard. One caveat, however: GM furnished only the Premier trim level for journalists. That’s the highest of four trims (L, LS, LT and Premier). Officials said lower trims don’t cheap out on materials — as they do in the Chevrolet Camaro — but the proof is in the pudding, so pay attention if you come across any pudding.

The 1.5-liter Equinox goes on sale this spring, and the 2.0-liter and diesel models arrive this summer. Pricing starts around $25,000 for the base Equinox L (which GM officials insisted you can really buy, as opposed to being a fleet-only model that dealers seldom stock). At the other end, a loaded Equinox Premier will top out close to $40,000. Stay tuned for a full review once we get some seat time with other engines and trim levels.

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Article source: https://www.cars.com/articles/2018-chevrolet-equinox-review-first-drive-1420694648600/

Crash of Cars review – Shouldn’t vehicular deathmatches be more entertaining?

I’m Briandrives. And right now Briandrives is driving a hotdog truck. I also have a homing missile attached to the top of my meat-styled vehicle, and I’m not afraid to use it.

A pirate ship on wheels rolls past, my target flashes over it and I let rip, chasing the boaty car so I can steal all of its crowns when it explodes.

This is Crash of Cars, and it wants to be every bit as ridiculous as I just made it sound. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t quite manage to pull it off.

Understanding in a car crash

The aim of the game is simple. You’re driving around an arena that’s filled with weapons and crowns. The more crowns you collect, the more coins you’ll earn when someone blows you up.

You can spend these coins on new cars. So the better you play, the more vehicles you’re going to be able to choose from.

Think of it a bit like Crossy Road meets Slither.io at a Micro Machines convention hosted by someone who didn’t really understand Burnout and you’re about three quarters of the way there.

But there’s something quite important missing here, and that’s mayhem. You should be cackling like a loon as you play the game, smashing into cars left right and centre.

You’ve got no control over the speed of your car. Tap a button on the right to go right and one on the left to go left.

When you’ve got a weapon another button pops up. Tap on that and you’ll fire a volley of rockets or drop a mine, depending on what you’ve managed to pick up.

The whole thing feels a little slow, and a little, perish the thought, sensible. Where chaos should reign, sometimes Crash of Cars feels like a sedate Sunday drive down a scenic route.

There are moment of madness, and when you start to unlock faster and sillier cars, things do get more interesting. But for a good long while you’re just sort of pootling along.

Toot toot

I really wanted to love Crash of Cars, but it mainly left me cold. There’s a compulsion loop here, and you will want to see what cars you unlock, but eventually you’ll tire of the grind.

Briandrives did some damage, and he collected some coins, but in the end I just didn’t care enough to keep blowing up ice cream trucks and stealing their loot. Even if I was a hot dog.

Article source: http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/iPhone/Crash+of+Cars/review.asp?c=73406

Review: In ‘CHIPS,’ Blown-Up Cars Overshadow Buddy Cops

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/movies/chips-review.html

Uber reviews India leasing scheme as driver incomes drop – sources


NEW DELHI Global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies is rethinking its car leasing strategy in India, its second-biggest market, as drivers have returned dozens of leased cars early after the company cut incentives, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Uber had planned to buy 15,000 new cars last year and lease them out in a bid to attract more drivers – a strategy it has used in other markets – but it suspended the scheme for a while in December after leasing just a third of that total.

After burning through millions of dollars over three years in a battle for market share with local rival Ola, backed by Japan’s Softbank, Uber has cut the incentives it gives to drivers and raised the fares it charges passengers.

The incentives – from free smartphones to cash bonuses worth as much as double a day’s fares – meant drivers could earn as much as 120,000 rupees ($1,838) a month.

Those incentive payments have been pared back, in some cases to as little as 10 percent of fare income. Ride fares have risen to 1.5 rupees per minute of travel from 1 rupee.

The incentives and, to an extent, the leasing scheme aimed at drivers without their own cars, boosted Uber’s driver numbers, helping it rapidly gain around 30 percent market share.

Uber has faced challenges elsewhere in Asia, but the stakes are high in India’s $12 billion taxi market, a key area after it exited China last year, and one where CEO Travis Kalanick has said it expects to be profitable soon.

Uber has said its services are in 29 Indian cities and it has more than 250,000 drivers on its platform, but it lags Ola, which says it operates in more than 100 cities with about 550,000 drivers.

BUSINESS SHIFT

Two people with knowledge of the matter said Uber miscalculated the impact that the reduced incentives would have on drivers’ earnings, especially those making lease payments.

At an open meeting for staff in December, around the time the incentives were being reduced, Uber’s India chief Amit Jain said the buying-for-lease scheme was being temporarily suspended while the company evaluated its leasing strategy, one of the sources said.

Uber did not comment on Reuters queries related to Jain’s announcement or the impact of the incentives cuts on its leasing program.

Raj Beri, business head for leasing in India, said the scheme was set up to help drivers without cars get on its platform and make money. “We are very pleased with our progress toward this goal so far, and look forward to introducing the opportunity to more prospective driver partners this year,” he said in a statement.

In a recent blog post on Uber’s website, Jain defended the cuts to driver incentives and signaled a strategic shift for India. “We can shift from start-up mode to a more sustainable business model,” he wrote.

“NO BENEFIT IN LEASING”

Leasing is only a small part of Uber’s overall supply in India, but is seen as a way to lock drivers on to its platform for longer, and stop them switching to Ola.

To lease a new small car through Uber’s scheme, drivers pay a 33,000 rupee ($499) deposit – less than what they would pay to buy a car from a dealer with a bank loan. But weekly payments of about 5,500 rupees over three years add up to nearly double what drivers would pay to service a car loan.

That wasn’t an issue when incentives were high.

Several Uber drivers said they feel trapped as a surge in the number of cars on Uber’s platform has led to fewer rides, at a time when incentives have been cut, making it harder to keep up lease payments.

“I’ll not be able to save even 10,000 rupees a month,” said Arjun Chouhan, 38, an Uber driver in Delhi who has leased a car. “There’s no benefit in leasing. What if I’m unwell? They don’t listen.”

In a dusty car lot on Delhi’s outskirts, guards told Reuters that dozens of cars standing idle belonged to Uber and had been returned by drivers.

When Reuters phoned Xchange Leasing, Uber’s local leasing arm that has an office near the car park, officials said no new cars were currently being leased out. One said the priority was to lease those cars returned by drivers, and it could be 2-3 months before new cars would again be offered.

An Uber spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on “anonymous speculation”.

As part of its review, Uber may reduce the three-year lease term and let two drivers share the rent on a car, one of the sources said.

Uber did not comment on its leasing targets or the future of the scheme.

“People left well-paying jobs to drive an Uber,” said Sandeep, another Delhi driver, adding his monthly ride income has nearly halved to 60,000 rupees in two years, despite working longer hours.

“We were tempted at the thought of becoming millionaires.”

($1 = 65.6550 Indian rupees)

(Additional reporting by Euan Rocha and Rahul Bhatia in MUMBAI; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-tech-india-analysis-idUSKBN16V04Z

Suzuki Swift

Overview

What is it?

It’s the all-new Suzuki Swift MkIV and this is very good news if you’re a regular follower of Top Gear, because the Swift Sport has always been one of our favourite everyday performance champions. No Sport to tell you about yet, sadly (although after a bit of gentle torture a Suzuki PR person did admit “the Sport is definitely on the way”), but there’s enough in the make-up of the regular hatchback to make us a bit excited about the forthcoming warm version of the Japanese supermini. More on that in a moment.

First, however, we probably need to clarify Suzuki’s range for you, as you’re no doubt wearing a puzzled expression, while possibly uttering the words ‘but I thought Suzuki already had a supermini, in the form of the Baleno?’ You’re right. But Suzuki would not be alone in offering a multitude of small cars of varying shapes that all seem to be of the same denomination. Look at Vauxhall, for instance: it has the Adam, the Corsa and the Viva. Ford similarly has the Ka+ and the Fiesta, as well as the EcoSport. Seems you just can’t get away with one supermini-sized offering any more, so Suzuki is hedging its bets and banging out three of the blighters, in the form of the Baleno, Ignis micro-SUV and this Swift, its longest-serving hatchback.

The Swift therefore fulfils a function whereby it provides a more chic and compact supermini as a counterpoint to the spacious-but-bargain Baleno, which is perhaps a more (how can we put this?) rational car. So you get some classic Swift design features, like the wraparound windscreen and the sloping roof, plus distinctive C-pillar treatment that now has a ‘floating roof’ effect. Even the light clusters front and rear aren’t that much different to the old car’s units, although the ‘smiling mouth’ lower front grille is not going to meet with universal rapture.

Nevertheless, the Swift is smaller (10mm shorter, 15mm lower, although 40mm wider) and considerably lighter than its predecessor, and it sits on the company’s ‘Heartect’ platform, used for the Baleno and Ignis. But a 20mm-stretched wheelbase means there’s plenty of space within and a boot that’s bigger by 54 litres than the old car’s cargo bay, standing at 265 litres with all seats in situ. That’s some clever packaging work.

Two engines, the 1.2-litre Dualjet normally aspirated four-cylinder petrol and the much more charismatic 1.0-litre Boosterjet three-cylinder motor do the donkey work and both of them can be mated to the Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki (SHVS) system; this doesn’t add anything in terms of outright torque or performance, but it does marginally cut the emissions and gives the combined economy a little tickle upwards. The 1.2 SHVS is also an Allgrip 4×4 model, while the 1.0 SHVS is the only Swift that comes with the option of an automatic transmission. So, with all this in mind, what’s it like behind the wheel?

Article source: https://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/suzuki/swift

2017 Audi RS 3 First Drive: Little Package; Big Boom

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After years of wistful gazing across the pond, reading glowing reviews that use words such as tyres and bonnet, and even being tantalized with a 2011 First Drive ourselves in Europe, Americans will finally be able to throttle one of the most highly anticipated performance cars in recent memory—the Audi RS 3—sort of. “Yeah? What’s so great about it? It looks like an A3 to me.” Remember that silly little ray gun given to Will Smith’s character, Agent J, in Men in Black? Remember what a big boom it made when he finally fired it? It actually had a name, and this is the automotive equivalent of the Noisy Cricket. Little package, big boom. It’s not the nuclear-powered all-wheel-drive hatchback we were hoping for, which was promised at least once by Audi. Instead, our first RS 3 will be a compact high-performance sedan based on the Audi A3, which has been highly rated in its own right since its migration to the excellent MQB platform. Of course, there’s already a more potent S3, so what more could we want? How does one more cylinder and an additional 108 horsepower sound? The RS 3 is an order of magnitude greater than the S3, and not just because of the power rating.

161.3-hp/Liter

2017 Audi RS 3 front three quarter 02

2017 Audi RS 3 front three quarter 02

We can distinctly remember how outrageous it was when Dodge announced that the 1992 Viper’s 8.0-liter V-10 would produce 400 horsepower. At the time, the highest-output Corvette ZR-1 made 375 horsepower with a quad-cam 5.7-liter V-8. Twenty-five years later, an engine with half the number of cylinders and just over a quarter of its displacement has the same 400-hp output. Sure, 10:1 compression and turbocharging at 19.6 psi (1.35 bar) manifold pressure gets most of the credit for the RS 3’s prodigious 161.3-hp-per-liter power density, but the RS 3’s aluminum 2,480cc inline-five is the culmination of numerous other upgrades above the car’s previous iron block. Incidentally, that power density puts the RS 3 just above a twin-turbo Nissan GT-R (157.9 hp/L) and just below the twin-turbo BMW M4 GTS (165.5 hp/L). The RS 3’s engine is a serious bit of kit. The new engine also features a lighter crank, a magnesium oil pan, port and direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and, of course, that larger turbocharger. Despite these credentials, it’s a smooth-revving little monster of a motor.

We tested the previous iron-block inline-five turbo (good for 360 hp) in the 2012 Audi TT RS and already compared the new one in the 2017 TT RS to the rally car that changed everything: Audi’s all-wheel-drive Ur-Quattro coupe. Besides the glorious and unique sound of it, especially with the optional sport exhaust system, it’s the linearity of how this new five-cylinder engine puts power down that’s unusual. There’s some barely noticeable initial lag as the single large turbocharger spools up, but from 1,700 to 5,850 rpm, there’s a line as straight as a tabletop that produces a constant 354 lb-ft of torque. If it were possible to squint your ears, you could almost hear a Viper’s V-10. Also, unlike some high-output turbo-fours, power isn’t as peaky and doesn’t even seem to wane at the 7,200-rpm rev limiter. It feels every bit a 400-horsepower engine everywhere above and below the 5,850-rpm peak output.

Porsche’s PDK seven-speed double-clutch automated manual transmission is the undisputed industry benchmark, but the standard seven-speed S Tronic automated manual in the RS 3 is a close second. Its seamless shifts in Drive and Sport Drive, its logic, and its manual-mode’s quickness and smoothness are just about as good as it gets. Yes, it does belch and burp with every wide-open throttle upshift, as it should. We only wish Audi had spent a little more money on the steering wheel–mounted shift paddles. Audi conservatively claims that with the car’s standard launch control, the RS 3 will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Phsaw! We’ve already clocked an S3 (9.9 pounds/hp) at 4.4 seconds, so we’re going to say the RS 3 (8.8 pounds/hp est) will do the deed in 3.8 seconds or better when we get one to test.

Twisty Bits

2017 Audi RS 3 front three quarter in motion 1

2017 Audi RS 3 front three quarter in motion 1

Besides the increase in output from 360 to 400 horsepower, one of the biggest benefits of the aluminum engine is the weight savings. Some 57 pounds have been taken off the nose of the car. What this does is make the steering rack’s 14.6:1 overall ratio very alert and responsive. Move the wheel 0.5 inch from center, and the RS 3 goes there right now. As with the best systems, the ratio quickens the more off center the wheel is turned. Our mountain pass drive had a mix of medium- to high-speed corners. In the quick ones, the car felt dead steady and held a line without the need to adjust the steering one bit. If we wanted to tighten the line, we bled throttle. Widen the arc, then add throttle. Part of this is due to torque vectoring with brakes, the other part is just damned good suspension/steering/driveline calibration and obvious integration. At the limit in the slower corners, there is a hint of gentle understeer. However, with the car set in Dynamic drive mode (affecting throttle, transmission, all-wheel drive, and suspension, with RS-specific sport stability control), lifting off the throttle momentarily tucked the nose in and even kicked the tail out. Any rally fan knows the next step was to apply a generous amount of throttle to allow the all-wheel-drive system to do its thing. The Haldex clutch-based system is noticeably rear biased and allows the RS 3 to hold a slight slip angle quite nicely—even more noticeably with ESP fully defeated—but there is always a huge amount of control available.

What a pleasure to drive an all-wheel-drive sedan that isn’t set up merely for slippy, slushy trips to the ski slopes. Although it certainly would be able to sort that out, too, this car is primarily set up to be driven hard in the dry. Rather than mere reactionary response, there’s some proactivity built into the AWD electronics, and it really shows. What a blast, and no doubt a nod to Audi’s Quattro rally-racing glory days.

Standard suspension is front strut/rear multilink with magnetorheological dampers all around. The damping characteristics among Comfort, Normal, and Dynamic modes are very distinct, yet even in Dynamic mode, there’s still a good deal of compliance not present in the optional Dynamic Plus package that uses firmer steel suspension and traditional multivalve dampers. Even in their softest setting, there was some gut-jiggling harshness on less than perfect roads around town. That package is intended to be the track-ready setup and as such also includes carbon-ceramic front disc brakes.

Will it be Worth It?
2017 Audi RS 3 Sportback front three quarter in motion 07

2017 Audi RS 3 Sportback front three quarter in motion 07

Worth the wait? Certainly. We’ve been chomping at the bit since 2011 when the RS 3 was introduced to the rest of the world. There will always be a market here for niche high-performance cars. When the Audi RS 3 sedan arrives this summer, you can bet initially there will be a very high demand for it. Had Audi decided to bring the RS 3 Sportback (four-door hatchback, shown above), our American predilection for sedans might have found fewer takers, and so that will remain overseas for now.

Will it be worth the money? With pricing and packaging still being determined as we write, Audi PR’s best estimate is that the RS 3 will be priced at between $55,000 and $60,000, or about $5,000 to $10,000 more than a comparably equipped S3. This price is right on top of a similarly focused 365-hp 2017 BMW M2 ($55,595) when equipped with a double-clutch automated manual transmission and two fewer doors. The RS 3 will be a bit more expensive than a 375-hp Mercedes-AMG CLA45 4Matic. Even adding adaptive suspension brings that car’s price up to $51,725.

The RS 3 is at least as engaging to drive as an M2, if not more so, and it offers more confidence with all-wheel drive. On a racetrack, the BMW might have a slight edge. On a sketchy mountain road, our money is on the Audi. In terms of everyday practicality and livability, the RS 3 makes the CLA45 look and feel like a project car. Where that Mercedes-AMG feels like a peaky, harsh front-driver with the rear wheels driven as a bolt-on addition, this Audi feels like a powerful rear-drive car with front wheels gnawing at the pavement only to save your bacon.

There’s an overall coherence and competence baked into the entirety of the RS 3 that’s hard to put into words. In this class, there really are few analogues for the Audi RS 3. This is what makes it so special and such a long-coveted addition to the U.S. market. It’s one of those once-in-a-decade performance cars enthusiasts will be talking about for some time. There’s something to be said for the stealthy sleeper sedan look, but we just wish the RS 3 looked as badass as it truly is. If it had blistered/box fenders, a carbon roof, or the Sportback(!), that would be an unmistakable sign that this is no ordinary A3/S3. Regardless, we can’t wait to test one on American tarmac and see what sort of defense the opposition will have for the Noisy Cricket. We’re suspecting not much.

A Little hRStory

Audi corporate builds the A3 and S3, and as such, they must follow rules. Rules that homogenize, rules that keep people comfortable, rules that intend to keep people safe from themselves, and rules that take most but not all of the best fun away. Audi Sport (formerly quattro GmbH), on the other hand, builds only the RS (RennSport) cars, which don’t have these restrictions.

Audi Sport traces its roots back to the discontinued Group B Rally series (too dangerous), disbanded IMSA GTO (too fast), current German NASCAR (or as they call it, the DTM Championship), and an annual French country road race called 24 Heures du Mans. Currently, Audi Sport’s core team of just 140 hand-picked rule-bucking engineers pretty much get to design the engines, chassis, brakes, and other under-the-skin hardware they want and implant them in unsuspecting production cars. As such, they compete with BMW’s M division and Mercedes-AMG for hardcore enthusiasts’ attention and loyalty. (You’ll find German go-fast division loyalty and fanaticism much like Americans’ for sports teams, beer, or pickups.) Over the years, and from the top down in the U.S. market, the RennSport production-car repertoire has included the R8 supercar, RS 7, 6, 5, 4, and TT RS coupe/convertible. They offered the RS 3 Sportback, 2, and RS Q3 sport utility in other markets.

The One That Got Away

In 2011 and 2012, quattro GmbH built the RS 3 Sportback, a compact four-door hatch that could rip the lungs out of most outright sports cars costing many thousands more. “Nestling under the bonnet is the same 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine that you’ll find in the TT RS, and in the RS3 it drives all four wheel via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission… The engine is epic too. The turbo’d five-pot sounds great, whistling and warbling, and making a hard-edged growl at high revs. And it makes the RS3 seriously quick,” is how CAR magazine put it. Built from the same platform as the VW Golf, the all-wheel-drive hatch was powered by an RS 3–exclusive turbocharged 2.5-liter iron-block inline-five engine making 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Every enthusiast worth his or her salt wanted this car, or at least wished his or her Golf were this car. Lower, wider, and featuring lightweight materials and unique styling details, that hot hatch was capable of a 4.5-second sprint to 60 mph with the aid of its ultra-quick automated manual transmission. In 2015, power increased to 360 hp, torque to 343 lb-ft, and the 0–60 time dropped to 4.3 seconds. This was the car Audi promised the now-hangry U.S. enthusiasts. Alas, it never was to be.

audi-RS-3-front-three-quarters-top-view

audi-RS-3-front-three-quarters-top-view

Finally, late in 2016, Audi Sport made it official: We would have our long-awaited RS 3 late in 2017, probably as a 2018 model. (We just learned that there will be a small number of 2017 RS 3 sedans making it to our shores in the summer before the 2018s arrive, so officially 2017 will be our RS 3’s first model year.) For our patience, we were rewarded with an all-new all-aluminum 2.5-liter engine, now making 400 horsepower, but only in sedan form. No wagon or hatchback.

With the exception of the Audi Allroad, luxury-branded hatches and wagons (Sportbacks and Avants in Audi parlance) just won’t sell in sufficient numbers in the States to warrant trying, according to Audi’s research. A sedan is a better bet for the high-performance model. In fact, Audi says that bringing the RS 3 sedan to the States is the only reason it will continue producing it. We saved the RS 3! Let’s hope BMW M and Mercedes-AMG don’t start thinking this way, or they’ll restricting imports of E63 S wagons and GLA45 hatchbacks, and comparisons like the GLE63 S versus X6 M sport utilities won’t happen. Although prototypes and homebuilt Touring versions exist, BMW has yet to produce an official M3 or M5 wagon. We can keep dreaming. Let’s hope Audi joins in soon so more folks can appreciate the full bandwidth of RS badged high-performance vehicles.2017 Audi RS 3 rear three quarter in motion 03

2017 Audi RS 3 rear three quarter in motion 03

Article source: http://www.motortrend.com/cars/audi/s3/2017/2017-audi-rs-3-first-drive-review/