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How Does a Ballgown Compete with a $40 Million Bugatti?

All designers take their inspiration where they can find it (a flower! a film!), but rarely is the relationship quite so obvious.

Or quite so detrimental to one of the elements. The juxtaposition of cars and clothes made the connection clear, but unfortunately also the fact that the automotive design was far and away more interesting, complex and original than the fashion. Full of high polish though the collection was, in translating his passion to his products and giving it accessibility, Mr. Lauren had dumbed it down; taken the rare and specialized and made it almost ordinary.

Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison — the cars, after all, are the best of their kind, selected over decades; the fashion collection is one of many, produced twice a year, and all designers struggle to be original on that schedule — but Mr. Lauren is the one who set it up by bringing everyone out and letting them in on his source code.


Slide Show

Ralph Lauren: Spring 2018

CreditGuillaume Roujas/Nowfashion


Such grand gestures and palpable extravagance seem to have fallen out of favor. The watchwords of the moment, whether uttered in self-aggrandizement or sarcasm, may be “Huge!” “Epic!” “Biggest ever!” — but as far as New York fashion is concerned the vision has been small. Mr. Lauren was the exception that proved the rule.

Maybe it’s an attempt by designers to distance themselves from the conspicuous consumer-in-chief. After all, as the New York catwalks made clear last season with a flurry of position-taking not only on the runway but on shirts, skirts and caps, a lot of the fashion world is not exactly enamored of the current administration. At this stage, however, and ironically just as Hillary Clinton (fashion’s candidate of choice) steps into the spotlight with the release of her book “What Happened,” the industry seems to have largely muzzled itself. Instead there’s been a lot of noncontroversial championing of “America.”

At Michael Kors, for example, the designer stretched his signature glossy sportswear over both men and women from “Manhattan to Malibu” (according to the show notes), Brooklyn to Beverly Hills, reimagining tiered chiffons and linen trenches, silk georgette blouses and sarong skirts in palm-tastic prints and nonpareil shades.

Atop a sun-scored wooden boardwalk, double-breasted blazers and crisp cotton shirts brought the beach back to Broadway. Or maybe Broadway to the beach. Sara Bareilles provided a live accompaniment, belting out Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Presumably it was a reference to the clothes, albeit with a touch of Botox and some fillers involved.

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At Coach, Stuart Vevers continued to develop the Route 66 elements of his brand vernacular — shearlings and prairie dresses, cowboy shirts and varsity sweaters — by jazzing them up with a bit of sparkle, a lot of sequins, and some new, lacy slip dresses (he’s expanding the evening offering); also a nod to Keith Haring in the form of prints and intarsia sweaters. “He represented the democratization of art, and that felt very personal to me, and also right for the moment and Coach,” Mr. Vevers said backstage.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/fashion/ralph-lauren-coach-stuart-vevers-new-york-fashion-week.html

If your college kid needs a car, consider these leases – messenger

If your college kid is in need of a car, here are some vehicles with excellent current lease deals that will fit both parental and college-driver requirements. Edmunds chose the cars to meet three key criteria:

EXCELLENT REVIEWS: Edmunds editors chose these vehicles as among the best in their segment.

TOP SAFETY RATING: Each vehicle on this list is a Top Safety Pick+ , a designation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). To qualify as a 2017 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests, earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention, and an acceptable or good headlight rating, according to the IIHS. Cars with this designation are the best vehicle choices for safety within size categories, the IIHS says. Each car also earned an overall five-star rating in the 5-Star Safety Ratings system from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration .

While subcompact and compact cars are sometimes touted for young, college-bound drivers, this list focuses instead on midsize sedans and small SUVs. Safety is the reason. Although new small cars are safer than small cars have ever been, larger, heavier vehicles are still safer than small ones. It’s a matter of physics: Bigger and heavier is safer than smaller and lighter. Large vehicles weigh more and have longer hoods and bigger crush zones, which give them an advantage in frontal crashes. And because price also is of paramount concern to parents and students, the list skips the more expensive large sedans, large SUVs and luxury vehicles.

AFFORDABLE LEASES AND LOW COST OF OWNERSHIP: This list focuses on leasing because the monthly payment for a leased new car is typically lower than the monthly payment for a financed car. Also, the car will likely be under warranty for the duration of the lease, so parents and young drivers don’t have to worry about the cost of upkeep or expensive repair bills. Contrast that with buying an older, out-of-warranty used car for your son or daughter. The car might have a low price, but its reliability and repair costs could be hard to predict.

The nationally advertised leases shown below are all $1,999 to start and have a payment of either $199 or $189 per month. All leases are for three years and 36,000 miles. With a little bit of negotiation, it may be possible to shave a few dollars off the monthly payment or due-at-signing cost shown.

A final word about leasing: It’s not for everyone. Leasing has constraints that buying doesn’t. The driver-to-be needs to understand and abide by the lease’s conditions to avoid the high cost of exceeding the mileage limits or the excess wear-and-tear charges that come into play if the driver treats the car badly. It’s a good idea to have a frank talk about those factors before signing a lease agreement.

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SEDANS:

2017 Honda Accord

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: It’s nearly impossible to ignore the 2017 Honda Accord’s across-the-board excellence. Whether you’re prioritizing interior space, fuel economy, value or an engaging driving experience, the Accord does it all.

THE DEAL: $1,999 due at signing; $189 per month.

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2017 Kia Optima

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: The Optima offers lots of bang for the buck compared to rivals, including an easy-to-use infotainment system. Bluetooth, a backup camera, selectable driving modes and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel are standard.

THE DEAL: $1,999 due at signing; $189 per month.

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2017 Mazda 6

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: The Mazda 6 has great fuel economy, handles well, and has a responsive engine and transmission.

THE DEAL: $1,999 due at signing; $199 per month.

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2017 Toyota Camry

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: The Camry is comfortable and easy to use. It also has a great reputation for being durable and reliable. Some rival sedans might be a little flashier or sportier, but the Camry remains an honest and worthy pick.

THE DEAL: $1,999 due at signing; $199 per month.

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SMALL SUVS:

2017 Mazda CX-3

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: The CX-3 is on the small side, but sometimes less is more, especially in places where parking is a concern. If interior space isn’t a priority, this is a good pick. It’s stylish, fun to drive, easy to park, and gets an estimated 31 mpg in combined city/highway driving in most trim levels.

THE DEAL: $1,999 to start; $189 per month.

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2017 Toyota RAV4

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: For 2017, the Toyota RAV4 gains a host of driver assistance features as standard equipment, including a forward collision mitigation system, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise.

THE DEAL: $1,999 due at signing; $199 per month.

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EDMUNDS SAYS: Having a child in college can be a challenge. But knowing that your young scholar is driving around in a safe, budget-friendly and reliable car gives you one less thing to fret over.

Related links:

Edmunds: How to Lease a Car http://edmu.in/2eLt9fl

Edmunds: Should You Lease or Buy Your Car? http://edmu.in/2oMq59z

Edmunds’ New Car Buying Guide http://edmu.in/2uiP8VW

Article source: http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/features/business/if-your-college-kid-needs-a-car-consider-these-leases/article_925c7a7e-9a3f-11e7-aa70-d34f1159e725.html

Tesla Model 3 (2018) review: an early drive in the cheaper Tesla

 New Tesla Model 3 review
 Early short drive in cheaper EV 
 Priced from £35k, on sale 2019 

Tesla’s Models S and Model X are premium products with list prices to match; superior electric vehicles for the wealthy. The Model 3, now delivering to its first US owners (UK buyers must wait until late 2018 or, more likely, 2019), isn’t cheap but it’s considerably more affordable. UK pricing is yet to be set but is likely to start at a shade over £30,000.

For that you get a five-seat saloon with a single e-motor driving the rear wheels, Autopilot self-driving readiness, a starkly minimalist interior and a compelling turn of speed: 5.6sec 0-60mph and 130mph, despite weighing 1610kg.  

The launch of an important new model – a new Ford Fiesta, BMW 5-series or Ferrari – makes a cover story for CAR and other specialist magazines. But the first deliveries of the Model 3 made full-page news stories in broadsheets around the planet. Why? We didn’t learn much more about the Model 3 from the event at the factory in Fremont, California, where the first 30 customers (all Tesla staff) got their cars. The test drives for journalists were extremely limited. And wise industry owl Bob Lutz pointed out that as those first deliveries were to employees, not customers, and so are more akin to the late-stage prototypes which major car makers give to their workers to shake out the final bugs before paying customers get theirs. 

But the world analyses Tesla founder Elon Musk’s every burp. Such is the market’s faith in his ability to predict and create the future that, despite building only 84,000 cars in 2016 Tesla is America’s most valuable car maker, with a market capitalisation of $53 billion (£39bn). That’s slightly greater than GM’s and a quarter more than Ford’s. If GM or Ford launched a new model which quintupled their sales, that would lead the news too. 

The markets’ reaction to the Model 3 was downbeat, but that’s to be expected. Tesla’s value is based on the anticipation of glittering future success. Its actual achievements – like delivering the first Model 3 – will at best meet the markets’ expectations. In this case, investors thought Musk sounded ‘squeamish’ about the challenges of building so many cars, and the share price slipped around 3%. 

Tesla Model 3 review: is it actually any good to drive?

As with the S and X, slipping behind the wheel of Tesla’s newest EV feels like sliding into the future, thanks in part to its shockingly minimalist interior: a 15-inch touchscreen panel proudly signals an all-digital interface, and access is keyless and granted via smartphone. Perhaps in a few years such tech will seem as dated as a Nokia flip-phone, but right now the Model 3 is the new iPhone of the motoring world, a package of must-have features wrapped in a sleek, designer pod. 

A very airy cabin: new Tesla Model 3 has a huge panoramic glass roof

Teslas have always looked generically global and the view from the front seats is pretty much that of a business lounge in a Scandinavian airport. Passengers behind will enjoy plenty of legroom and a rear window that stretches to form half the roof (above). 

Digital natives will take to the tablet screen in moments. Older drivers might want to pack the manual (and a pair of bifocals) to navigate the car’s endless menus. 

When Tesla unveiled the Model 3 to the world

At least the driving experience remains enjoyably analogue, with acceleration matching the response – if never the brute force – of the Model S, and rock-solid cornering. One-pedal driving soon becomes the norm thanks to strong regenerative braking.

There is also the option of zero-pedal driving with Tesla’s semi-autonomous upgrade package, bringing adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and self-parking. Like the current generation of Autopilot in the Model S, this still needs a fair bit of human oversight. However, Elon Musk is promising full self-driving, possibly within the next couple of years, as another pricey upgrade.

That’s just one of the unknowns with the Model 3, which still include the cost of using Tesla’s Supercharger network, the exact specification of the 215- and 310-mile battery options (215 is standard), and even how much you will actually pay for the version you choose. But one thing is for sure: the Model 3 looks, smells and drives like the future on four wheels.

Who’s buying the Tesla Model 3?

People like Ian Vinten, a London-based marketing director. ‘The early hands-on reviews I’ve read have made me more excited,’ says Vinten. ‘It’s a cliche but Tesla really is the new Apple when it comes to excitement around the latest tech. The final Model 3 looks amazing, inside and out, and when I was a kid 0-60mph in five-point-something was a Ferrari stat on a Top Trumps card, so it’s fast enough for me.

Tesla Model 3: specs, review and prices from 30,000 in UK

‘According to the queue on tesla.com, we’re due to get ours late in 2018, even though UK deliveries aren’t expected to start until 2019. I’m okay with that as early Tesla production models have historically had a lot of bugs. And who knows what other goodies might be available by then: hopefully the all-wheel-drive, dual-motor model. And maybe self-driving legislation will be clearer by then, allowing greater autonomy.

Price of a Tesla Model 3

‘Tesla hasn’t revealed UK pricing to us in the queue, and by  the time our car comes we’ll be staring Brexit full in the face, so who knows what the exchange rate will be.

‘I’ll definitely order the long-range battery, and I’m hoping the Model 3 helps me get a solar roof and powerwall for the house early. With Autopilot and other future-proof extras, I think we’ll be looking at £50k-plus, which is not cheap. It’ll be interesting to see how that compares to a secondhand Model S: for the same money the S might offer greater range and 0-60mph in 3.0sec.

‘That’s the interesting thing: right now, I think the only company Tesla is competing with is itself. I haven’t seen anything from another car maker that would tempt me away from the Tesla. I love that Tesla is making the established names make big statements about phasing out combustion-only engines. Tesla feels like it’s genuinely driving the industry, so I’m okay with it having my deposit for a bit longer yet.’ 

We interview Tesla boss Elon Musk

The question remains: can Tesla meet Model 3 demand?

Probably not, but nobody cares, apart from those in the queue. Over half a million people have now paid a refundable deposit of $1000 (or £1000 in the UK) for a Model 3. Tesla says that production will hit 240,000 cars each year by the start of 2018, and 10,000 cars a week – or half a million in a full year – at some point during 2018. 

So Tesla won’t build half a million Model 3s next year, but it estimates its total output will be in that region, of which around 400,000 will be Model 3. It currently makes about 100,000 Model S and X annually, although battery supply problems have caused the increase in production of those cars to stall, and Model 3 could have the same problems.

Few people outside Tesla believe that it will hit those numbers. Musk said at the launch event that Tesla is about to enter ‘production hell’. A major car maker increasing volumes five-fold in a year is improbable, and would be unprecedented. 

Tesla Model 3

Tesla has made things slightly easier for itself by designing the Model 3 to be simple to produce: features like that huge, single, central touchscreen and single full-width air vent cut the car’s complexity and part-count. It’s about to sign a joint-venture deal with a Chinese car maker which will let it build cars in China, giving it extra production capacity, losing the heavy import duties it currently pays on its cars and at least doubling its sales in the short term in the world’s biggest and fastest-growing EV market. And a significant number of those deposit holders will drop out: a refundable deposit doesn’t need much commitment.

The big question is not whether Tesla will keep its promises, but how much it will miss them by. Morgan Stanley thinks that Tesla will make just 2000 Model 3s this year and 80,000 in 2018, around a fifth of what Musk has promised. But this doesn’t make the financiers bearish on Tesla’s share price, because everyone expects Musk to set hyper-aggressive targets, and miss them.

More Tesla Model 3 news, specs and scoops

The future: what will Tesla be doing  in 10 years’ time?

Last year Musk published his Master Plan, Part Deux (a movie reference), 10 years after his original (unpublished) masterplan which he claims to have implemented in full. So we know what he thinks Tesla will have done by 2027. It will have added a pick-up, a small SUV, a heavy truck and an autonomous bus to its range. It will have introduced full autonomy by 2019, long before any other car maker. It will be the world’s biggest battery maker. It will have created an integrated home solar fast-charge system, and it will have built car-sharing and ride-hailing apps which will both create a market for Tesla cars and reduce the net cost of owning one. 

Essentially, it will be a mobility company, not a car maker. It will have created an ecosystem of software and services which make ‘driving’ its cars cheaper and more convenient than any other option. This is the stuff that Silicon Valley is typically very good at, and the established car makers generally very bad at. And in the medium-to-long term, it’s what really counts. That’s why the markets value Tesla as highly as they do: one analyst says that Tesla’s autonomy plans alone account for a quarter of its valuation. 

It’s also why the markets don’t care much if Tesla misses its targets now: by the time its services come on-stream, its car production will be sorted and will no longer be such an important part of the business. The same is true of that hyper-aggressive target on autonomy: Tesla will almost certainly miss it, but it will get there at least as fast as anyone else. Google’s Waymo project has way more cash, but Tesla gets the machine-learning benefits of having hundreds of thousands of Autopilot-equipped cars already on the road. Google will only offer its autonomous systems through the major car makers, who are notoriously risk-averse. Musk would rather get the tech out there first, and fine-tune later. 

The biggest challenges might be regulatory, but Tesla will find legislators increasingly flexible. If the UK Government’s plan to ban internal combustion engines in cars by 2040 is to have any meaning, it will need to assist, not obstruct, innovative companies such as Tesla.

With additional reporting by Mark Harris

More Tesla reviews by CAR magazine

Article source: http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/car-reviews/tesla/tesla-model-3-2018-review/

2018 Nissan Leaf first drive: better without branching out

The 2018 Nissan Leaf was never likely to be a scene-stealer the way the Chevrolet Bolt was last year or the Tesla Model 3 is this year.

After all, Nissan already had the show to itself when the first Leaf went on sale nearly seven years ago. There was no Tesla Model S back in 2010, and its only significant competition was the Chevrolet Volt, which still used gasoline. Those days are gone, though. Nissan left the Leaf to wilt a bit with a range of around 100 miles when Chevy and Tesla start to offer ranges with 200-plus miles, and now there are a number of other new EVs well past that 100-mile mark.

Still, more than 113,000 Leafs have been sold in the US since it was launched, with more than 283,000 around the world. That’s not exactly as many as Nissan may have hoped for (and they’re being quiet on projections for this new one), but it’s far from a drop in the EV bucket. Leaf is synonymous with “electric car,” and therefore this new one has a reputation to uphold.

The 2018 Leaf’s mission is to be different from other EVs by being strikingly normal, and that’s a fine line it might be able to navigate. For a while, at least.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

At least the old Leaf’s dumpy styling has been sharpened for 2018. Compared to Nissan’s US lineup, the Leaf comes across as fresh and somewhat interesting. But some quick research into what the automaker offers in other countries revealed it has a similar profile to the Honda Civic-sized Pulsar hatchback that’s offered in Europe.

What’s more disappointing, however, is that the interior looks and feels like your average new Nissan. Most buttons are lifted out of models such as the Rogue and Sentra, apart from the round shifter rocker that looks and feels like the mouse from a 20-year-old iMac. Where Chevrolet and, of course, Tesla have made the center touchscreen a dominant part of the interior, Nissan chose a 7-inch display that looks to be shared with basically every other car they make. And even their more mainstream cars, the display is starting to fall behind the pack. Apple CarPlay isn’t standard on the base model and Android Auto isn’t available at all yet. At least you can get a 360-degree camera on the top Leaf SL model.

Nissan reverted to an analogue speedometer because its research found customers preferred to see a physical dial at a glance rather than the digital numbers. That’s fine, but the dial itself could’ve been ripped off of a rental Altima, and it clashes badly with the LCD display next to it that shows all of the other vehicle status updates, such as range and battery life. It sort of sums up the entire interior: it gets the job done, nothing more.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

At least interior space is much improved. Four adults can sit comfortably, and the rear seat has good headroom and a comfortable cushion. The driver sits a little bit higher than they would in a conventional hatchback, but shorter people might appreciate that, and it gives everyone who gets behind the wheel a good view out.

Getting onto the freeway is not memorable anymore. The 2018 Leaf benefits from a 40 percent bump in power, with 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, with a 40kWh battery that the cars arriving early next year will all get. Nissan has already announced an upcoming 60kWh battery that should offer more performance as well as a range greater than the EPA-estimated 150 miles, and there are rumors of a more performance-oriented model. For now, though, the Leaf is fine to drive, rides smoothly, and is mostly quiet. But this isn’t the fun-to-drive EV you might be seeking.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

The Leaf is also the first Nissan to get the ProPilot driver assistance technology that will, one day, allow Nissans to be self-driving. For now, it’s primarily a device that keeps you in your lane and works with the adaptive cruise control to maintain a comfortable distance from the car in front of you. I’ll go more in depth with this technology in a separate piece, but the system on the Leaf I drove on a Las Vegas highway had issues with the lane markings, which may be attributed to the fact that this was one of the first Leafs built with the system, and the technology may be refined more before the first models are delivered early next year.

What the Leaf should continue to do is ease wary consumers into EV ownership. Nissan invited a few loyal customers to Las Vegas, along with some of their most EV-centric dealers and some journalists, to see the new iteration. I sat in the back of a new Leaf with a woman from Nashville, whose husband was a devout Leaf-er. She immediately said it was roomier and heard the motor strain less as we merged onto the highway than the 2013 model her husband bought. Another Leaf couple told me they were the second in Virginia to get one. The new one, possibly the longer-range model coming next year, would make them an all-Leaf household. They were wary of what kind of Model 3 they might get for the same money and liked that the Leaf looked like, well, a Leaf.

To these consumers: the price has to be right, too. The 2018 Leaf S starts at $29,600 before a $7,500 federal tax credit and other state and local incentives. Most consumers will likely go for the better-equipped SV or SL models. An SL with every option (including the two-tone white and black paint job) is $37,495 — or just less than $30,000 with the tax credit. That’s likely to give the Leaf a favorable 36-month lease offer, which is how most people get into an EV in the US. A loaded Leaf, therefore, will be in the ballpark of a basic Bolt or Model 3.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

Until that longer-range, 60kWh model arrives, the 2018 Leaf doesn’t seem to target the Bolt or any Tesla. Its prime rivals will likely be the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Volkswagen e-Golf, both of which are compact hatchbacks with about 125 miles of range. The Leaf’s comfortably greater range and 50-state availability may be enough to sway potential buyers, even if both the Hyundai and the VW are significantly nicer to sit in and, to my eye, more attractive on the outside.

The 2018 Leaf obviously caters first and foremost to current Leaf owners. It fixes mostly everything that was lacking in the old car without getting too different all of a sudden.

Photography by Zac Estrada / The Verge

Article source: https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/12/16269388/2018-nissan-leaf-electric-car-review-drive

How Does the 2018 Nissan Leaf Measure Up?

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2018 Nissan Leaf
Cars.com photo by Mike Hanley

CARS.COM — The redesigned 2018 Nissan Leaf’s 150 miles of range is a big improvement over the previous model’s 107-mile range, but that’s still short of competitors like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3. The new Leaf lags behind the other two on range, but it has a big advantage in price.

Related: 2018 Nissan Leaf Review: Quick Spin

Here’s how the three competitors stack up in price and range, with and without the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit.

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Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan

The Leaf will work best when it is used primarily as a city car or for commuting where 150 miles of range is sufficient. The new version also is available with Nissan’s latest safety technology, ProPilot Assist, a commuter-friendly, semiautonomous driving system we tested in our quick spin of the new Leaf.

But for those who plan to use one of these three electrics as a primary vehicle or for longer trips, the higher price does offer good value compared to the Leaf. The Model 3 offers 47 percent more range than the Leaf, but costs only 22 percent more. Similarly, the Bolt EV offers 59 percent more range than the Leaf with a 28 percent increase in price. All prices in our graphic include destination.

Nissan says a longer-range Leaf will show up as a 2019 model. We used the standard Model 3 for this comparison since it more closely compares with the Leaf and Bolt EV. Tesla will offer a long-range Model 3 with an estimated 310 miles range for roughly $45,000 before any tax credits.


L.A. Bureau Chief Brian Wong is a California native with a soft spot for convertibles and free parking. He is based in Los Angeles. Email Brian

Article source: https://www.cars.com/articles/how-does-the-2018-nissan-leaf-measure-up-1420697155038/

PowerSteering: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review

Introduction

Size trumps substance. Or at least Americans seem to think so when gas prices are low. Historically, trends have shown that U.S. consumers prefer their vehicles to be larger than in other parts of the world, a sentiment fed by inexpensive fuel and wide-open spaces.

Volkswagen, long behind curve with regard to American vehicle preferences, finally responds with the all-new 2018 Atlas. While the Tennessee-built Atlas is classified as a midsize utility vehicle, Volkswagen has carved out an impressive amount of space within this oversized crossover, giving those consumers who need lots of room for people and cargo room a credible alternative to a minivan or a full-size SUV.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas front quarter right photoImpressively, you can get a Volkswagen Atlas for just over $30,000, specified in minimalistic S trim. There are plenty of available features and packages to ladle on, and when full equipped the Atlas SEL Premium is nearly a $50,000 vehicle. That clearly treads into luxury SUV territory.

For this review, we evaluated an Atlas SEL Premium with 4Motion without any additional options. The price came to $49,415, including the $925 destination charge.


What Owners Say

Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the new 2018 Atlas, it is helpful to understand who typically buys a midsize SUV, according to data collected by the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM

Men predominately own midsize SUVs (59%) and their median age is 56 years. They enjoy a median annual household income of $113,384, and 48% of them identify as members of the Baby Boomer generation.

They prefer to buy a vehicle from a domestic company (61%). Fuel economy is important to 56% of Midsize SUV owners, and 52% of them agree that they are willing to spend more for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly.

In terms of design, 70% agree that they like a vehicle that stands out from the crowd, while only 36% characterize a vehicle as just a way of getting from place to place. Performance is more important, with 91% claiming to like a vehicle that offers responsive handling and powerful acceleration.

Quality, dependability, and low maintenance costs are key considerations. Nearly all Midsize SUV owners (96%) say that reliability is a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle, with quality right behind (95%). Among Midsize SUV owners, 91% claim they avoid vehicles that they think will be expensive to maintain.

Safety is less important, with 83% of Midsize SUV owners agreeing that they will pay extra to make sure their vehicle has the latest safety equipment.


What Our Expert Says

In the sections that follow, our expert provides her own perceptions about how the new Atlas measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the 2017 APEAL Study.

Exterior

With its massive grille, T-square design and flared wheel arches, the Atlas is not shy about emphasizing its size. In my opinion, this SUV’s face would not be out of place on a full-size pickup truck, while the Atlas’s macho countenance and muscular stance ensure that the SUV bears absolutely no resemblance to a minivan. The SEL Premium test vehicle’s standard 20-inch wheels added to the stout look, while the Platinum Gray paint job toned down the masculine rhetoric.

Interior

Cohesively designed and arranged, and with nice-feeling materials covering the surfaces where your hands often come into contact with the cabin, the SEL Premium’s interior looks and feels upscale from the driver’s seat. The further back you go, however, the cheaper the materials become, especially in the third-row seating and cargo areas. In turn, this makes it harder to accept the SEL Premium’s asking price.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed driving cars with digital instrumentation, which has come a long way in terms of sophistication. Volkswagen offers this as standard equipment for the SEL Premium, allowing owners to customize the look of the gauges and the size of the driver information center. While Volkswagen Digital Cockpit obviously isn’t as cool as similar technology available in Volkswagen Group’s upscale Audi models, it retains the ability to view a navigation map within the instrumentation, and it digitally displays current speed in big, easily referenced numbers.

Seats

Comfort is one of the best things about the new 2018 Atlas. My SEL Premium test vehicle had a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat and an 8-way power adjustable front passenger’s seat, each well bolstered, supportive, heated, and ventilated. The driving position was perfect, too, and the steering wheel offered a heating element. Real leather is only available for the SEL Premium model; other Atlas trims have V-Tex leatherette.

What’s truly noteworthy about the Atlas is second- and third-row seating comfort. Shoulder, hip, head, and legroom are downright lavish, and the second-row bench slides fore and aft on tracks and reclines. My test vehicle also provided separate climate controls for the rear passenger area, along with side window sunshades and USB charging ports.

But wait, there’s more! The third-row seat is actually inhabitable by fully-grown adults. Not that you’ll find anyone clamoring to ride back there, but it’s much more livable than in other three-row midsize crossovers, and approaches the same comfort level as a traditional minivan.

Climate Control System

Laid out in a logical manner, the Atlas’s climate system is easy to use. However, on my test vehicle, the air conditioner seemed rather underpowered during the hot and sunny week that I drove the Atlas. At no point did the interior reach that delicious frostiness that has you wishing for a jacket despite outside temperatures reaching near 100 degrees. Making matters worse, the ventilated seats weren’t powerful enough to offer much relief.

Infotainment System

Volkswagen installs its latest infotainment technology in the new Atlas, and the SEL Premium comes with the top version of the system, which is equipped with an embedded navigation system and a Fender premium sound system.

In addition to an 8-inch touchscreen display that looks and works just like a smartphone, Volkswagen wisely includes big knobs for adjusting stereo volume and radio station tuning. Touch-sensing infotainment system shortcut buttons are well marked and widely separated, making them easier to use with reduced requirements for precision.

In order to access real-time traffic, you must sign up for most costly Car-Net package. You can save yourself some money by simply plugging in your smartphone and letting Apple CarPlay or Android Auto do their thing. Their navigation systems are also much easier and familiar to use than the native system of the Atlas, which frequently didn’t understand voice commands, gave the wrong information, and lost its GPS positioning data.

Storage and Space

If you need space to cart around your belongings, and you just don’t see yourself driving a minivan, this Volkswagen has your number.

To be specific, the Atlas supplies 20.6 cu.-ft. of space behind the third-row seat, 55.5 cu.-ft. behind the second row, and a maximum of 96.8 cu.-ft. when all rear seats are folded down. Try to find another midsize SUV that can match those numbers. The Atlas even beats some full-size SUVs at carrying cargo.

Aside from the cargo area, Volkswagen also supplies plenty of bins and cubbies throughout the cabin, making it easy to organize your belongings. Even third-row occupants receive small spots in which to stash their stuff.

Visibility and Safety

From the driver’s seat, you’ll enjoy a nice, high perch from which the pilot the Atlas, and because the hood is relatively flat you can see where the front corners of the SUV are located, making it easier to park. Of course, with SEL Premium trim, you could just look at the 360-degree surround-view camera display to help you park without bashing in the big front grille. Or rely on the front and rear parking sensors.

You can equip the 2018 Atlas with any of a number of standard and available active safety features, such as forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, low-speed reverse automatic braking, a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and more.

My test vehicle was fully armored, and the systems worked well to identify threats. However, I kept the lane departure warning and lane keeping assist feature turned off because of how loose, vague, and disorderly it made the SUV’s steering feel.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2018 Atlas a “Top Safety Pick” designation for its ability to protect passengers in the event of a crash. It wasn’t able to achieve the extra “Plus” point because the headlights on vehicles with lower trim levels performed at a marginal level. The Atlas has yet to be tested by the federal government.

Engine/Transmission

While Volkswagen will ultimately offer a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in the Atlas, all versions with 4Motion all-wheel drive are equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 making 276 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 266 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,750 rpm. The engine delivers smooth, capable power, but doesn’t show much in the way of spirit or robust energy. It might behoove the folks at Volkswagen to put a turbocharger on this engine, instead, and just forget about offering a less powerful turbo four.

In standard format, power is sent to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission that was, at times, slow to downshift when the driver requested extra bursts of speed. In such cases, I put the manual shift function to use, as well as the Sport mode that gives the drivetrain a little more life.

My test vehicle was equipped with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system, which, in combination with the Atlas’s 8 inches of ground clearance, should come in handy for those living in areas with frequent inclement weather. It also includes different traction and stability control settings designed to match whatever terrain the Atlas is traversing.

Fuel Economy

Given this SUV’s size and weight, combined with an older V6 engine design, it was not surprising that I averaged 18.2 mpg during a week of driving around town and on highways. This result fell a bit short of the EPA’s official estimate of 19 mpg in combined driving (17 mpg in the city, 23 on the highway). Many other midsize crossover SUVs are more fuel-efficient than the Atlas V6.

Driving Dynamics

If you have previous experience driving smaller Volkswagens, you might expect the Atlas to exhibit a familial Germanic liveliness. Sorry to say, but the same modular platform that allows a Golf and all of its variants to shine on curvy roads doesn’t produce the same result when tasked with forming the foundation of the big and heavy Atlas.

Not that it’s bumbling, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s quite graceful on canyon roads, with just a bit of side-to-side motion during weight transitions. Rather, the Atlas doesn’t demonstrate the same get-up-and-go vivaciousness of something wearing a VW badge.

Steering is precise and tuned to be light, and the brakes are easy to modulate and showed no fade during harder driving, despite the local heat wave. My test vehicle’s 20-inch wheels did translate to a harsher ride than expected, accompanied by some cabin quakes when going over bumps.

In short, the Atlas is capable, if not engaging.


Final Impressions

Volkswagen builds the Atlas right here in the USA (Chattanooga, Tennessee), delivering to its American customers a useful midsize crossover SUV with a heaping extra scoop of cargo room and passenger space. And it’s all wrapped up in a rugged-looking, wallet-friendly package, as long as you reign in the impulse to check all of the option boxes.

The Atlas is not, however, a lower-cost Audi Q7. The Atlas shares a foundational component set with smaller VW and Audi models, while the Q7 is related to vehicles such as the Bentley Bentayga and upcoming 2019 Porsche Cayenne.

It may not be as fun to drive as the Golf, but the new 2018 Atlas is useful and functional, and should meet all of your family- and cargo-hauling requirements with aplomb.

Volkswagen supplied the vehicle used for this 2018 Atlas review.

Article source: http://www.jdpower.com/cars/articles/new-car-reviews/powersteering-2018-volkswagen-atlas-review

The best cars and leases for college drivers

SMALL SUVS: 2017 Mazda CX-3

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: The CX-3 is on the small side, but sometimes less is more, especially in places where parking is a concern. If interior space isn’t a priority, this is a good pick. It’s stylish, fun to drive, easy to park, and gets an estimated 31 mpg in combined city/highway driving in most trim levels.

THE DEAL: $1,999 to start; $189 per month

(Photo: David Dewhurst/Courtesy of Mazda North America Operations via The AP)

Article source: http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/the-best-cars-and-leases-for-college-drivers/collection_23c45ed0-abd2-5a2c-bf34-e7d0b3493510.html

2018 Nissan Leaf first drive: better without branching out – The Verge

The 2018 Nissan Leaf was never likely to be a scene-stealer the way the Chevrolet Bolt was last year or the Tesla Model 3 is this year.

After all, Nissan already had the show to itself when the first Leaf went on sale nearly seven years ago. There was no Tesla Model S back in 2010, and its only significant competition was the Chevrolet Volt, which still used gasoline. Those days are gone, though. Nissan left the Leaf to wilt a bit with a range of around 100 miles when Chevy and Tesla start to offer ranges with 200-plus miles, and now there are a number of other new EVs well past that 100-mile mark.

Still, more than 113,000 Leafs have been sold in the US since it was launched, with more than 283,000 around the world. That’s not exactly as many as Nissan may have hoped for (and they’re being quiet on projections for this new one), but it’s far from a drop in the EV bucket. Leaf is synonymous with “electric car,” and therefore this new one has a reputation to uphold.

The 2018 Leaf’s mission is to be different from other EVs by being strikingly normal, and that’s a fine line it might be able to navigate. For a while, at least.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

At least the old Leaf’s dumpy styling has been sharpened for 2018. Compared to Nissan’s US lineup, the Leaf comes across as fresh and somewhat interesting. But some quick research into what the automaker offers in other countries revealed it has a similar profile to the Honda Civic-sized Pulsar hatchback that’s offered in Europe.

What’s more disappointing, however, is that the interior looks and feels like your average new Nissan. Most buttons are lifted out of models such as the Rogue and Sentra, apart from the round shifter rocker that looks and feels like the mouse from a 20-year-old iMac. Where Chevrolet and, of course, Tesla have made the center touchscreen a dominant part of the interior, Nissan chose a 7-inch display that looks to be shared with basically every other car they make. And even their more mainstream cars, the display is starting to fall behind the pack. Apple CarPlay isn’t standard on the base model and Android Auto isn’t available at all yet. At least you can get a 360-degree camera on the top Leaf SL model.

Nissan reverted to an analogue speedometer because its research found customers preferred to see a physical dial at a glance rather than the digital numbers. That’s fine, but the dial itself could’ve been ripped off of a rental Altima, and it clashes badly with the LCD display next to it that shows all of the other vehicle status updates, such as range and battery life. It sort of sums up the entire interior: it gets the job done, nothing more.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

At least interior space is much improved. Four adults can sit comfortably, and the rear seat has good headroom and a comfortable cushion. The driver sits a little bit higher than they would in a conventional hatchback, but shorter people might appreciate that, and it gives everyone who gets behind the wheel a good view out.

Getting onto the freeway is not memorable anymore. The 2018 Leaf benefits from a 40 percent bump in power, with 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, with a 40kWh battery that the cars arriving early next year will all get. Nissan has already announced an upcoming 60kWh battery that should offer more performance as well as a range greater than the EPA-estimated 150 miles, and there are rumors of a more performance-oriented model. For now, though, the Leaf is fine to drive, rides smoothly, and is mostly quiet. But this isn’t the fun-to-drive EV you might be seeking.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

The Leaf is also the first Nissan to get the ProPilot driver assistance technology that will, one day, allow Nissans to be self-driving. For now, it’s primarily a device that keeps you in your lane and works with the adaptive cruise control to maintain a comfortable distance from the car in front of you. I’ll go more in depth with this technology in a separate piece, but the system on the Leaf I drove on a Las Vegas highway had issues with the lane markings, which may be attributed to the fact that this was one of the first Leafs built with the system, and the technology may be refined more before the first models are delivered early next year.

What the Leaf should continue to do is ease wary consumers into EV ownership. Nissan invited a few loyal customers to Las Vegas, along with some of their most EV-centric dealers and some journalists, to see the new iteration. I sat in the back of a new Leaf with a woman from Nashville, whose husband was a devout Leaf-er. She immediately said it was roomier and heard the motor strain less as we merged onto the highway than the 2013 model her husband bought. Another Leaf couple told me they were the second in Virginia to get one. The new one, possibly the longer-range model coming next year, would make them an all-Leaf household. They were wary of what kind of Model 3 they might get for the same money and liked that the Leaf looked like, well, a Leaf.

To these consumers: the price has to be right, too. The 2018 Leaf S starts at $29,600 before a $7,500 federal tax credit and other state and local incentives. Most consumers will likely go for the better-equipped SV or SL models. An SL with every option (including the two-tone white and black paint job) is $37,495 — or just less than $30,000 with the tax credit. That’s likely to give the Leaf a favorable 36-month lease offer, which is how most people get into an EV in the US. A loaded Leaf, therefore, will be in the ballpark of a basic Bolt or Model 3.


2018 Nissan Leaf.

Until that longer-range, 60kWh model arrives, the 2018 Leaf doesn’t seem to target the Bolt or any Tesla. Its prime rivals will likely be the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Volkswagen e-Golf, both of which are compact hatchbacks with about 125 miles of range. The Leaf’s comfortably greater range and 50-state availability may be enough to sway potential buyers, even if both the Hyundai and the VW are significantly nicer to sit in and, to my eye, more attractive on the outside.

The 2018 Leaf obviously caters first and foremost to current Leaf owners. It fixes mostly everything that was lacking in the old car without getting too different all of a sudden.

Photography by Zac Estrada / The Verge

Article source: https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/12/16269388/2018-nissan-leaf-electric-car-review-drive

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe

Drivers can select among five driving modes—Individual, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Race—which adjust suspension stiffness, throttle response, shift programming, stability-control intervention, and exhaust sound. In Individual mode, you can personalize a setting of your own. For casual driving, for example, we rather enjoyed having the transmission in full manual mode, the exhaust spitting back under deceleration in the Sport+ mode, and the suspension and throttle response at their softest settings. This provided a satisfying combination of driver involvement and overall comfort. When left to shift automatically, the dual-clutch transmission generally swaps cogs intelligently and smoothly, but there’s an occasional slight lurch that you never experience in a Porsche PDK.

Article source: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2018-mercedes-amg-gt-c-coupe-first-drive-review

Top 10: most popular car reviews | What Car?

The Dacia Sandero demands compromises, but it’s likeable and offers more practicality than anything else in this price range.

Article source: https://www.whatcar.com/news/top-10-most-popular-car-reviews-what-car/