A Solar Powered Car? The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

To say the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a solar powered car is a bit of a stretch, but I am not too far off. Instead of a traditional sun roof, the production vehicle that I drove for a week featured a large solar panel on the roof. This allows the car to re-charge its batteries while sitting in the hot sun. Effectively allowing you to drive an electric vehicle up to 2-miles per day on solar alone. Hyundai did a great job with this; not only from an engineering side, but from an understated design perspective. It look like a sleek Hyundai sedan from a distance, which I like. Solar powered roof only gets noticed when you closely look at the roof. Click Here To Continue Reading

2021 Kia K5: Luxury car styling for an economy car pricing

My 2021 Kia K5 press car is the best value sedan I have driven in a long time. You can get one for about $23,000 ,and if you hide the Kia badges, you would almost think you are driving a small Audi. On the exterior, you have well sculpted lines reminiscent of a fastback sedan.

Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic. Acceleration is adequate for everyday driving with 180 horsepower and 195 pounds of torque. However, if you feel the need for speed, a “GT” version of the K5 is coming next month with a 290 horsepower 2.5L Turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. This is promising to out run most European entry-level luxury vehicles.

The interior of the K5 offers a driver centric cockpit, with faux wood trim and aluminum. My press car also had faux leather on the seats and steering wheel, but the material felt convincingly real. The K5 is also available with both heated and ventilated front seats, as well as a panoramic sunroof to keep you at the optimal temperature at all times.

The Kia K5 is available with the near standard issue drive safety technology, such as auto emergency braking technology, lane keep assist, blind spot collision avoidance and electronic stability control. As a driving enthusiast, most of these items are annoying when you want to fully control the vehicle, however these options should significantly reduce your insurance premium.

The only true fault I could find with the car is its infotainment center. It was very beautiful to look at, especially the radio app, but the interface was terrible to use. With a price tag of less than 30,000 for a fully equipped model, I can’t complain too much. Anything else this good looking overall would cost you $5,000 to $10,000 more.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia

It is the forgotten hero. It is one of the best kept secrets in the automotive industry, which makes it even cooler. Its drivers are performance enthusiasts, stylish, and daring to standout from the crowd. I am talking about the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I don’t see more Alfa Romeo Giulias on the road. You get authentic Italian design for less than $40,000. And with the optional Quadrifoglio trim level, you get a Ferrari derived engine with 505 horsepower for less than $75,000. It is the bargain of the century when it comes to a taste of Italian automotive excellence.

My test vehicle for a week was the Giulia TI. The all-wheel-drive version, which enhances grip while cornering and offers improved 0 to 60 mph times. Although, I suspect the rear-wheel-drive version would be more fun. Out of the box, the TI trim level has a 280 horsepower turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. The car feels peppy, with the torque peaking at low RPMs.

Alfa Romeo’s motorsports pedigree, dating back to the 1920s, shines through on the Giulia. It is available with column-mounted paddle shifters controlling the 8-speed gearbox, you get a four leaf clover badge with the Quadrifoglio trim level, and all vehicles offer near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Also standard on all vehicles is a carbon fiber driveshaft. This is something you would expect to find on a car 10 times the price.

The interior is pretty nice too! It comes in an assortment of color choices and trim options. The controls are intuitively placed, with the ignition button cinematically placed on the steering wheel – very cool! There is quite a bit of plastic pieces for a car at this price point, but the Giulia makes up for it with carefully placed aluminum details.

But the best thing about this car is that no one else has one. Its exotic and rare appearance means that you will be the talk of the office water cooler crowd. Did he get a raise? Or in today’s world, the Monday morning Zoom meeting.

Subaru makes a vehicle (or two) for every occasion

The brand is known for its active lifestyle, with a hint of motorsports pedigree. All of which contributes to the affection of Subaru customers. Rarely will you find someone that has only bought one Subaru vehicle. Customer testimonials often times include the phrase, “This is my 3rd Subaru” or “My entire family drives a Subaru.” I am honestly not surprised since Subaru makes a vehicle for every stage of life:

First Car: Subaru Impreza

At $20,000 new, the Subaru Impreza is the smart choice for first time new-car buyers. It is affordable and easy to drive. It is also safe, with standard EyeSight Driver Assist on all models. This piece of technology has been found to reduce rear-end crashes by up to 85%. The suite include automatic pre-collision braking the lane-keep assist to avoid at speed accidents.

First Job: Subaru Crosstrek or Legacy

At $22,000 new, both of the vehicles deliver a more “grown up” look and level sophistication. From both the sedan and hatchback, you get all-wheel drive, plus design elements that offer a premium feel. The Crosstrek is the sportier, outdoorsy option. My recent Crosstrek test car featured blue and yellow design accents. While the Legacy delivers more of a suit and tie type of vibe. My recent Crosstrek test car showcased a luxury car styled dash, doors, and seats.

First Management Position: Subaru WRX or BRZ

Just because your are the boss, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a square. The Subaru WRX traces its motorsports roots to rally racing. You get that feeling all the way through for a package that starts at $27,495. With the Subaru BRZ, you get small nimble sports car for $28,845. It is the only Subaru without symmetrical all-wheel-drive, but you still get that famous boxer engine with a low center of gravity. Do you know who else makes a sports car with a boxer engine? Porsche!

First Kid, Second or Third Kid: Subaru Forester or Ascent

Both of these SUVs offer enough room for the whole family, plus their toys. The Forester offers 5 passenger two rows of seating, along with 76 cubic feed of cargo space for $24,795. While the newest member of the Subaru family, the Ascent, give you three rows of seating for up to 8 passenger. The Subaru Ascent can also tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Retirement: Subaru Outback

With your golden years ahead of your, it is time to sit back and explore. The Outback is the perfect size vehicle for road trips in my opinion. It is large enough to be comfortable and carry all of your luggage, but small enough to be easy to drive. With the rear sets down, you can easily carry a month’s worth of luggage for you and your spouse. My most recent test vehicle was super comfortable for ~$35,000, but the Outback starts at only $26,795. Of course it was equipped with a 2.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder boxer engine, leather seats, and a sunroof.

Hyundai Venue Is A Great Starter Car

In a world were folks are clamoring for crossovers and SUVs, the Hyundai Venue delivers a compact affordable option designed for young drivers. It’s bold two-tone paint option remind me of a Range Rover, yet you can get a well equipped new Venue for less than $20,000. With it for the price point, your kids will love the 8” touchscreen infotainment center with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You will love the fact that it comes standards with the latest safety equipment, which includes lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and a blind spot warning. With level of style, easy of drivability, and standard equipment, I challenge you to find a better used car for $20,000. Plus it comes with a 5-year 60,000 mile warranty.

Genesis G70, G80, and G90 Comparison

This year, I have been lucky enough to try all three Genesis sedans. The G70, G80, and G90. Each one was put through their respective paces, based upon performance, luxury, and value.

GENESIS G70

This car has its sights set on performance. Its closest competitor is the BMW 3-Series, however the regular 3-Series has grown soft. Whereas Genesis has gone full-throttle with delivering an engaging driver experience. You get actual feel through the steering wheel and drivetrain to create a symbiotic relationship between the drive and vehicle.

There isn’t an M offering for the G70, but 365 horsepower with the 3.3L twin-turbo V6 is more than adequate for the average sports sedan enthusiast. And for quicker lap times, plus stability on road, the G70’s all-wheel-drive system is available with F1 derived torque vectoring. The system dynamically transfers power independently between each wheel to help you turn faster. My test car was peppy and fun to drive.

This is the Genesis to get if you want a sporty, but semi-luxurious ride on your daily commute.

GENESIS G90

With an interior that is equally attractive from the front as it is the rear, the Genesis G90 is the car to get for a true luxury experience. Front occupants will be able to drive the vehicle effortlessly, while rear occupants will be able lounge in style. It is a car that I would almost rather be chaffered in than drive. The Genesis G90 makes a great alternative to the Mercedes S-Class sedan, particularly if you want a car this size without having to spend $100,000. The G90 starts fully equipped at $72,950 with a V6 engine. Or you can get 5.0L V8 engine for just $79,200. The engine size if your only paid option, everything else is standard equipment options.

My test vehicle offered a ride supple enough that I could drive across the English channel, and still be refreshed enough to take the Queen out to lunch.

This is the car to get if you will be driven often or you will be driving clients around town. It is a status symbol without the status symbol price tag.

GENESIS G80

If I were to spend my cold hard cash on a Genesis, it would be this one. With a recently updated exterior and interior for the 2021 model year, the Genesis’ G80 charismatic good looks will be sticking around for a while. Future model years will likely have minimal updates. My test vehicle was the 2020 model, which carried a near identical style since 2013. That previous 7 year run should also mean that the new 2021 Genesis G80 will hold its value well over time.

The 2020 G80 that I tested was the perfect size car. Not too big, where it feels like you are driving a boat. And not too small, where you can’t stretch your legs. It is kind of the perfect blend of sportiness and comfort. It seems like Genesis took the best from both the G70 and G90 in this case. But in actuality, the G80 was on the market long before the G70 or the G90.

In my mind, the Genesis G80 securely squares off with the Audi A6. But at a starting price of around $47,000, the Genesis G80 is priced at nearly $10,000 less for similar equipment. And you arguably get a better looking car with the G80.

The entire line up can be explored here – https://www.genesis.com/us/en/genesis.html

The Cadillac CT4 V is a grownup’s Camaro

Despite what most of my automotive journalist colleagues say about the 2020 Cadillac CT4 V, the car delivers exact what we need from a Cadillac. On and off-the-record, they have critiqued its performance, styling, and choice of materials. It is easy to say that the Mercedes C43 AMG has a nicer interior or that the BMW M340i has more horsepower, but both of these vehicles’ has a starting price of $10k+ more than the CT4 V. As journalists who are lucky enough to drive a new car every week, we often forget price points… The CT4 V is crazy good for $45,000.

I will be amongst the first to admit that the 2020 CT4 V doesn’t deserve the “V” badge. The legendary ATS V and CTS V were “bad ass” cars. The ATS V produced 464 hp, as much horsepower as a Corvette. The CTS V had a Corvette Z06 motor under the hood pumping out 640 hp. In comparison, the CT4 V only has a wimpy 325 hp 4-cylinder engine. But to redeem your street cred, you can tell your friends that your CT4 V has more horsepower than a Porsche Cayman. And in sport mode, you can just as easily get the rear wheels to loose traction and create a nice little drift. Performance options are enhanced with the Brembo Brake package and Magnetic Ride to control the dampers.

Yes, the interior of the Cadillac CT4 V seems a little simplistic. And yes, the materials used don’t seem quite as luxurious as other cars in its segment. But a fully loaded CT4 V cost less than the base price of its competition. I also thought the infotainment controls are more intuitive than most of its competitors. For instance, there are four different ways to change the radio station – so take your pick between two knobs, touch screen display, or switches. Another plus is that the Cadillac CT4 V comes standard with leather seats, where as it is an upgrade on most Mercedes and BMW vehicles.

Americans want a small sporty sedan for running errands. We want something fuel efficient for sitting in rush-hour traffic. We want a status symbol that lets everyone in the office parking lot know we are a part of the management team. And we don’t want to take out a second mortgage. On all of these fronts, the Cadillac CT4 V delivers. It is a grownup‘s Camaro.

Mini Cooper Electric

Finally, an exciting and affordable electric vehicle! The Mini Cooper Electric. Most EVs are slow and boring (Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt), or they are super expensive (Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model S). This little car in neither. You get 181 horsepower and 110 miles of range for less than $30,000. Plus it looks like a cool car!

Now 181 horsepower might not seem like a lot of power, it actually isn’t this day and age. But remember, this is a small and agile vehicle. So you don’t need a lot of power to scoot this fun, little car around town. Also since this Mini Cooper is electric, you have instant torque, which makes it feel quicker than it is. In terms of weight, it is one of the heaviest Minis ever built. Lithium batteries weight a lot. However, you don’t feel the weight. The Mini Cooper Electric feels surprisingly well balanced when going around a corner. The handling characteristics are on par with its siblings, which are know for world-class handling. Even F1 World Champion James Hunt drove one for fun.

I had the Mini Cooper Electric for one week, and range anxiety was my only cause for concern with the vehicle. 110 miles is very respectable, however I don’t have a Level 2 or Level 3 charging station at my home or office. This means it took 4 days to fully charge the vehicle. For comparison, a Level 3 charging station would have charged the Mini Cooper Electric to 80% in 36 minutes. I would have this problem with any electric vehicle, so it isn’t Mini’s fault. It is just something you have to keep in mind if you purchase an electric Mini over a gasoline powered Mini.

One thing I loved about the Mini Cooper Electric is that it looks inside and out like a proper car. It isn’t a science experiment. In fact, the interior is identically to that of its gasoline sibling.

My advice is to get the Mini Cooper Electric if you have fast home charger and don’t take a lot of road trips. Otherwise, get the John Cooper Works Edition of the Mini Hardtop 2 door for $32,900.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica

I am a mid 30s married man with no kids on the way (yet), so mini vans are still uncool for me. Even this one, with its blacked-out grill and wheels. However, after a week with the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica, I can understand why Moms and Dads across America love them. My test vehicle was the ultimate utility vehicle:

  1. It superb gas milage, at 82 MPGe. That is with a fully charged battery and a full tank of gas.
  2. I could easily fit 7 of my friends
  3. The Pacifica is surprisingly comfortable to drive. I could easily sit all day behind the wheel. It is also relaxing to drive. The suspension mitigates bumps quite well. The steering feedback is minimal, but enough to give you a sense of control at highway speeds.
  4. The rear seats fold into the floor. This is a feature you may never need, but it is extremely valuable if you have to haul furniture or lumber. And it is better than a pickup, because your cargo is covered in case of rain or snow.
  5. The rear doors slide backwards. This makes getting in and out of the car while parked in a tight space super easy.

If I was a Dad with one or two kids, I would probably stick with a sedan, station wagon, or SUV. But 3 or more kids, and a Chrysler Pacific would be golden!

The 2020 Range Rover Velar Delivers Even More: Now With Supercharged V8 Goodness

Look out Range Rover Sport, your little sister is getting an upgrade. The Velar is arguably the beauty queen of the Land Rover family. Its perfect proportions and minimalistic styling, make it worthy of a museum piece. Even the door handles pop in and out in order to not detract from its sleek lines. While the Range Rover Velar is a very capable off-road, its fun is better suited to wet or dry tarmacs. Leave it to the regular Range Rover or the Range Rover Sport if you really want to go rock crawling with their locking differentials and low-speed transfer cases.

My test vehicle for this review is the model range topping Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition. It is a brand new trim for the 2020 model year. The biggest standard equipment enhancement is the 5.0 L supercharged V8, which pumps out 550 horsepower and 502 pounds of torque. The engine transforms the Velar from a beautiful SUV, into a beautiful machine that eats sports cars for breakfast. That, combined with lighter wheels and a calibrated 8-speed gearbox, mean that the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. It sounds absolutely incredible when you smash the gas pedal thanks to a sports-tuned quad exhaust. Click Here To Continue Reading