Posts from ‘First Spin’
Yikes, where does the time go? The MX-5 Miata is fast closing in on its 30th birthday, but Mazda apparently couldn’t wait until the pearl-anniversary year of its beloved two-seat roadster to roll out a welcome round of enhancements. Ever since the first Miata debuted at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show as a 1990 model, Mazda has stayed wonderfully true to its original MX-5 concept: a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, lightweight two-seat sports car with modest power, an easily removable roof, and a sporty-yet-compliant suspension.
You had to figure this was coming.
After setting the record books ablaze last year with the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon — and keeping its promise that it would be a one-year-only model — Dodge unveiled a more “streetable” version of much the same car for 2019. Plus it carried over some of the Demon’s drag-racing technology to a more budget-priced model aimed at … well … drag racing.
Although somewhat late to the subcompact-crossover party, at least Hyundai showed up with a nice present: the 2018 Kona, introduced earlier this year.
Our first exposure to the Kona came recently in Detroit, perhaps one of the few major cities in this country with roads as bad as ours here in Chicago. That’s notable because our preview drives usually take place in areas with smoother pavement, making it tough to judge ride quality. Not a problem in this case.
Let’s get the basics out there first: The Kicks is a new low-cost small crossover focused on providing great passenger and cargo space with segment-leading fuel economy and a very strong value equation, but it’s offered only in front-wheel-drive form.
If we didn’t lose you on that last point, read on.
Since its U.S. debut for 1990, the Lexus ES has been positioned at the luxury end of the premium-midsize segment. Today its front-drive layout is in the class minority, and it’s the only member that isn’t offered in all-wheel-drive form.
Although most of the “new” in new vehicles has been focused on crossovers of late, many manufacturers are still committed to cars. And Volkswagen proves it’s one of them with the introduction of the redesigned 2019 Jetta compact sedan, due on sale in the next couple of months.
First, let me allay your fears: This is not THE redesigned 2019 Corolla; it’s the redesigned 2019 Corolla Hatchback, which will be sold alongside the existing 2018 Corolla sedan when the Hatchback hits dealer showrooms in July. (When asked about a corresponding 2019 Corolla sedan, a Toyota rep gave the usual, ”We can’t comment on future products” line. But chances are strong it’s coming by the end of 2018.)
It’s not just about ROI any more.
Back in the 1970s, diesels became attractive for passenger vehicles due to their superior fuel economy, and in some cases, the lower price of diesel fuel. As diesels often cost significantly more than a gas engine – and also suffered from noisy operation and meager power output – it was a diesel’s fuel-cost savings over time that accounted for their appealing Return On Investment.
But lower per-mile fuel costs are no longer a diesel’s only attraction.