2020 Toyota Avalon Trd First Drive Review | Grandpa's Got A Hot Date

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD First Drive Review | Grandpa's got a hot date

DALLAS, Tex. — How badly does Toyota want to remake its image as a purveyor of reliable but boring vehicles? Very badly indeed, it would appear. We've seen the fruits of the company's effort with the return of the Supra sports car, but we've also seen it in unexpected ways, perhaps none more so than the arrival of the 2020 Avalon TRD. With an average age in the mid-60s, the Avalon has the oldest owner body of any model in the Toyota lineup. Yet Toyota has sent its full-size sedan in for a TRD makeover, and the result is  curious but also endearing. Grandpa's got a brand-new bag. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is the brand's tuner arm, and its ministrations to the Avalon largely mirror those of the only-slightly less-surprising Camry TRD, which debuted alongside its bigger brother. As with the Camry TRD, the chassis has received the bulk of the attention, with the aim of improving the big sedan's handling. Perhaps owing to its senior status (or status with seniors), the work is not quite as extensive here as it was with the Camry. But you'll notice it on the outside, where the Avalon TRD builds off the XSE trim level, adding a larger front splitter below the gloss-black mesh grille, lower body skirts in black with red striping, black window trim and outside mirrors, a rear diffuser, and a larger rear spoiler (although not the Camry TRD's rear wing). There are TRD-specific 19-inch wheels, also in black, and the brake calipers are painted red. Exterior colors are limited to red, black, silver, and pearl white. You'll notice it, too, on the inside, where the TRD's seats are upholstered in perforated SofTex (Toyota's manmade-leather material), with microsuede inserts, and feature red accents and "TRD" stitched into the headrests. There's more red stitching on the dash pad, the door armrests, the steering wheel, and the shift boot. The floor mats are edged in red, and the pedals get metal trim. As in the XSE, textured metal trim is used on place of wood on the dash and door panels, but there's grained hard plastic on the console that is somewhat disappointing. Functionally, there's nothing to criticize here, and the 9-inch infotainment screen that sits atop the center stack includes hard buttons to quickly jump between major functions. Unlike the Camry TRD, the Avalon gets a sunroof. From behind the wheel, you'll notice the TRD changes most off all on a tight autocross course. We drove a TRD back-to-back with a regular Avalon, and the difference between the two was marked. Wheeling the regular Avalon through the cones felt like piloting a Ford LTD in a 1970s cop show. Crank the wheel in the standard Avalon, and you wait, wait, wait for the car to come screeching around the corner, heeled over on its outside front tire. The Avalon TRD, by contrast, still feels like a big car, but it's a big car that responds. Turn-in is much more energetic, understeer is under control, and transitions are far tidier. Note that this comparison was against an Avalon Touring, with its adaptive dampers in Sport+ mode. The Avalon TRD, however, does without that technology. Instead, the Avalon TRD uses non-adaptive dampers with firmer tuning and internal rebound springs. The TRD sits 0.6 inch lower on stiffer springs, and its anti-roll bars are stiffer than those of the standard model. The TRD also adds Toyota's Active Cornering Assist, which can brake an inside wheel under power in curves to reduce understeer and tighten the car's line. Additionally, the front brake hardware has been beefed up with larger rotors and two-piston calipers. The Avalon also has more robust underbody braces (three of them) as on the Camry TRD, but it does not get that car's V-brace behind the rear seatback. Nor does it get the Camry TRD's stickier summer tires, instead retaining the all-season Michelin Primacy MXV4s used by the Avalon Touring model. The Avalon's TRD-specific 19" wheels are 4.5 pounds lighter, however. The TRD is powered by the same naturally aspirated V6 found in other Avalon models, and it is unchanged for TRD duty. Displacing 3.5 liters, it spins out 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, distilled to the front wheels through a smooth-shifting and responsive 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. In a sedan weighing well under 4,000 pounds, that's enough for robust acceleration, but not so much as to induce annoying torque steer. Even with a mashed accelerator, this Avalon goes where it's pointed. What is different with the powertrain here is the TRD-specific cat-back exhaust system. Although it doesn't alter the output totals, it does contribute to a satisfying, tearing-paper engine sound as the tach needle climbs past 4,000 rpm or so. The downside of the more free-flowing exhaust system is some droning resonance around 60 mph, but it's really not enough to disrupt the Avalon's still-placid highway demeanor. Nor is that demeanor totally upended by the firmer suspension. The Avalon TRD feels pleasantly tied down but not terribly harsh — at least that was the impression on the fairly smooth roads where we drove the Avalon in north Texas. Beat-up boulevards in the Northeast or Midwest might reveal something more. Priced at $43,255 (with destination), the TRD sits near the top of the 2020 Avalon lineup, just $200 below the Touring and $5,000 above the XSE. Toyota says production is limited to fewer than 2,600. That's not a huge number, but it should be enough to raise a few eyebrows and help raise the profile of this once-sleepy sedan.

2020 Toyota Camry Trd First Drive Review | Driving Impressions, Specs, Photos

2020 Toyota Camry TRD First Drive Review | Driving impressions, specs, photos

DALLAS, Tex. — Autocrossing a Toyota Camry shouldn't be fun … should it? Everyone knows a Camry is best enjoyed from the rear seat, while your Uber driver chauffeurs you home after a night at the bar. Or at least, that has historically been the case. But Toyota's mainstay sedan has evolved into a car that also can be appreciated from behind the wheel, and buyers appear to be taking notice. Since the latest-generation Camry debuted for 2018, the SE and XSE models combined have accounted for some 60% of the model mix, according to Toyota. But the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD moves beyond those models, taking the Camry to a place it has never credibly gone before: a coned autocross course. The brand's in-house tuner arm, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), has to date mostly expended its energies making trucks and SUVs more off-road ready. TRD-branded models include the 4Runner, Tacoma, Tundra, and Sequoia. In creating the 2020 Camry TRD, the first TRD-branded sedan, the primary objective was to improve handling. Of course, the car also has to look the part. There's the rear wing — a Camry first — but also side aero skirts in black with red striping, extended front splitters, and a diffuser under the rear bumper. A gloss-black grille, special matte-black wheels, and a black roof complete the look. Exterior colors are limited to black, red, pearl white, and silver. Sorry, no beige. Inside, drivers are treated to red accents before they get the red mist. The TRD Camry's black interior sees red stripes on the seats and a red "TRD" stitched into the headrests. There also are red seatbelts; red edging on the floor mats; and red contrast stitching on the dash, steering wheel, gear lever, and shift boot. The gauge numbers also are red. The Camry is one of the final holdouts still offering a V6 engine in a class that has increasingly downsized and added turbocharging, and that engine is unchanged for TRD duty, making the same 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque as it does in the XSE and XLE models. It does, however, get a revised cat-back exhaust system to trumpet more engine sound. A stiffer structure always benefits handling, and the TRD folks have added a V-brace behind the Camry's rear seatback (sacrificing its fold-down function). Additionally, three under-car braces have been beefed up. The revised suspension features firmer coil springs and dampers and beefier anti-roll bars, all employed in a quest for increased roll stiffness. The dampers also gain internal rebound springs, and there are new jounce bumpers to preserve some semblance of ride quality. The new setup lowers the ride height by 0.6 inch, which pays ancillary benefits in the visual department. Toyota's Active Cornering Assist, which can brake an inside wheel in turns, is employed here and is exclusive to the TRD. The Camry TRD dons a set of athletic footwear in the form of model-specific 19 x 8.5" alloy wheels that are half-an-inch wider and 3.1 pounds lighter than the 19" units on the XSE. For maximum stick, they're wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza summer tires, size 235/40. Peeking through the matte-black wheels are snappy, red-painted brake calipers. The fronts have been upgraded to two-piston units (the rears are unchanged), and they squeeze 0.9-inch-larger rotors. We drove the TRD back-to-back with the next-sportiest Camry variant, the V6 XSE. In a tight coned course, the TRD exhibited far more grip, body control, and eagerness to turn in. Where the XSE just wanted to push, the TRD was less prone to understeer and ultimately felt more balanced. It also stayed more planted in quick transitions and was much more resistant to body roll. The car actually was fun to toss around. We also made time to drive the Camry TRD on the street, where the difference versus the XSE model was less transformative but still evident. The TRD car has retuned electric power steering, and that combined with the different (although same-size) tires makes for improved steering feel, with the helm noticeably more precise on center. It's best appreciated in Sport mode, which reduces steering assist compared to Normal mode. Cruising through a couple of fast sweepers, this Camry feels athletic, and isn't terribly upset by bumps. The roads north of Dallas were generally pretty smooth, but crossing a set a railroad tracks we did feel some impact harshness, and we suspect that over broken pavement the TRD's firmer suspension will exact a toll in ride quality. As noted, TRD left the Camry's powertrain alone except for the exhaust system, but this V6 makes about as much as you'd want to send through the front wheels anyway. The Camry steps lively off the line, but with peak torque arriving at 4,700 rpm, the engine unsurprisingly provides its most muscular response as the tach needle swings toward 5k. With the revised exhaust, this vociferous V6 sounds better than any 2.0-liter turbo four at higher revs. But there is also a bit of not-so-welcome resonance when cruising at a steady 50 to 60 mph, although it's pretty faint, taking a back seat to the noise from the Bridgestones. In all other ways, this is a Camry, which means it has a roomy interior, comfortable front seats, and good outward visibility. It has the same funhouse dashboard with its slashing curves, agreeable mechanical shifter, and fairly simple infotainment system as its siblings. The TRD-specific Softex fabric does a reasonable approximation of leather, and the red elements are sporty without being cheesy – but the red instrument markings are hard to see when wearing sunglasses. With a starting price of $31,995 (with destination), the TRD is the lowest-priced Camry with a V6 engine. It comes in $3,410 below the V6 XLE and $3,960 less than the V6 XSE. That may seem surprising, but the TRD's equipment level is more akin to the four-cylinder SE model. Thus, the TRD skips the sunroof, leather, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and larger touchscreen with navigation that are all standard on the XSE and XLE V6 models. Among the included features are adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Toyota says that production of the 2020 Camry TRD is limited but seems not to have settled on an exact number. We're told that fewer than 6,000 will be built. It would be a shame if at least a few of them don't find their way to an autocross.

A Road Trip Review Of The 2019 Honda Passport

A road trip review of the 2019 Honda Passport

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — The 2019 Honda Passport is aimed squarely at someone like me. I turned 30 the weekend I had the Honda, and we decided to go camping in western Michigan to celebrate. Like any millennial couple pulled from an advertising department's demographics, we don't have kids but we do have a couple of dogs. After a weekend away, we say that Honda nailed it. The Passport isn't perfect, but it might be perfect for my family. And it might just replace our old CR-V when the time comes. Autoblog has already spent a good bit of time in the 2019 Passport, which is essentially a two-row Honda Pilot with a slightly sportier demeanor – off-roading in Moab, and later on a long road trip through Oregon. As West Coast Editor James Riswick put it, the Passport is an exercise in design, taking a competent but bland crossover and transforming it into a sharp SUV with some real presence. All it takes is a few tweaks, the most notable of which are the 6.2 inches cut out of the Pilot's rear and the 0.8-inch increase in ride height. It's handsome, though the Passport is still not nearly as tough-looking as a Toyota 4Runner or Jeep Wrangler. That said, the interior is a far more comfortable place to be than either of those vehicles. Honda does interior packaging better than nearly anyone, and so the Passport is clean and hugely functional, with tons of pockets in the doors and a huge bin in the center console. The missing third row means there's a large storage area under the rear floor, making up for much of the lost cargo area versus the Pilot. We packed enough for a weekend, but the Passport could have swallowed a month's worth of our gear. The rear is wide enough for a dog bed so they can relax in the shade while we camp. My only real complaint about the interior is that the cupholders aren't large enough to pass the Nalgene test, a strange oversight for a vehicle aimed at adventure seekers. Not that our weekend away could be called adventurous. Located on a blueberry farm, our tent was nicer than most cabins, with toilets and showers behind a wall. We had power outlets (I had originally planned to use one of the multiple outlets in the Passport) to charge our phones and decent cell service the entire time. We parked near our tent and spent the evening drinking wine, eating pie and making s'mores with the proprietor and other fellow glampers. If we hadn't already tackled Moab, I'd feel I was doing the Passport a bit of a disservice.   But the thing is, the Passport is made for weekends like this. The roads to the farm were dirt and gravel, with bits where the extra ground clearance helped, but it wasn't remotely challenging. I just wanted to pack a bunch of stuff in the rear, including my bicycles and my dogs, and take a weekend away. Like most buyers, I didn't need anything more than the Passport offered. For the few that do, the real 4x4 SUVs are an option. It may seem disingenuous to compare the Passport with the Wrangler or 4Runner, but that's what Honda signed up for when it decided to go after the active lifestyle crowd. With less extreme off-road capability but just as able to tote kayaks or snowboards, the Passport represents an arguably more realistic interpretation of buyers' needs. It's a much more livable proposition than those body-on-frame SUVs, with generally superior fuel economy, better ride and handling, and a more functional interior. The Passport also feels lightyears ahead of more direct competition like the Nissan Murano, Ford Edge and Chevy Blazer. Those vehicles can't match the Passport's utility or refinement, going high on style but missing out on substance. They're also not as adventure-oriented. The powertrain is smooth and quiet, and Honda seems to have worked out most of the kinks with its often frustrating nine-speed automatic. That said, there was the occasional hiccup while searching for the right gear. Honda is also still cursed with one of the worst adaptive cruise control systems on the market. It's far too cautious, leaving huge gaps and tapping the brakes when someone inevitably fills the space. We had the same issue in our long-term Honda Ridgeline. My advice: turn it off and just use the traditional cruise control. The Passport starts at $33,085, in the same ballpark as the competition and about $7,500 more than a base Honda CR-V. Our tester was a fully-loaded blue over grey Elite model. For $44,725 you get features like heated and ventilated leather seats, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, tri-zone climate control, 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, taillights and fog lights, and safety features blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and forward collision warning. A base Jeep Wrangler $33,040, though that's a barebones model with a soft top and a manual transmission. The entry-level Toyota 4Runner SR5 is a little more expensive at $35,155. If it's not obvious by now, I really dig the Passport. The things it does well — interior packaging, comfortable ride, a smooth V6 and a sharp design — it does just as well as any other leader in its class. My wife and dogs loved it, too, as it's a far more comfortable place for passengers than some of the competition. I wish the Passport delivered more on its pretense of off-road prowess, but as noted earlier the capability it does offer is more than adequate for realistic needs. When it comes time to replace her CR-V, I think I know what we'll be shopping.

Honda Civic Type R Tcr | Race Car Review - Autoblog

Honda Civic Type R TCR | Race car review - Autoblog

PONTIAC, Mich. — The Honda Civic Type R is a wonderful machine. While the exterior design is not for everyone, there's no arguing about how well the car drives. We love its sharp steering, slick six-speed manual and nimble chassis, making it one of the best hot hatches of all time. On a sunny afternoon at M1 Concourse, an 11-turn, 1.5-mile road course in Pontiac, I was given a brief opportunity to sample something even hotter: Todd Lamb and Atlanta Speedwerks' No. 84 Honda Civic Type R TCR. The Type R TCR is a fully-prepped, factory-backed spec racer ready to compete in a number of global series. The TCR formula is FIA sanctioned, with races found all over the world, the most notable of which is the World Touring Car Cup, where you'll see Type R TCRs battle against models like the Audi RS3 LMS, Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR and Hyundai Veloster N TCR. Honda HPD even provides support at certain races. You still have to field your own crew, but Honda is there to help. And it's available to anyone with enough cash. For $172,238, you get the car, complete with an XTRAC sequential gearbox, a MoTec ECU, Ohlins dampers, 18x10-inch O.Z. wheels, stainless exhaust, an FT3 100-liter fuel tank and an adjustable differential preload. Other features include a cage, an air-jack system, an OMP seat and harness, and a multi-function quick-release steering wheel. You can purchase set-up tools – a quick-filling fuel system, toe setting equipment, clutch centering tool, footrest assembly, shock pump, set up wheel, front pads changing spacer tool and side impact panels – for $13,298. Spare suspension components, brake discs, a front splitter and wheel spacers are another $21,402. An upgraded ABS system is $12,768, a data and scrutineering logger is $4,664 and homologation documents showing the car meets TCR regulations is $1,344. Final assembly for the car is handled in Italy by J.A.S. Motorsports, but, like the regular Type R, the engines are built in Ohio while bodies-in-white come from England. The front and rear bumpers are both composite, as are the significantly wider front and rear fenders meant to cover the 10-inch wide wheels. The front fenders in particular look massive, but they only add 2.9 inches to the Type R's width. The adjustable rear wing makes the standard car's aero look paltry by comparison, but the whole thing comes together in a purposeful sort of way. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's pretty, but – especially when viewed from the front – it's quite intimidating. The gutted interior means every rock or pebble snaps, pings and reverberates throughout what amounts to a giant metal and composite can. The doors and dash are both black plastic, meaning the only things to really look at inside are the digital display and the smattering of buttons and toggles where the center console used to be. The display itself shows tons of data, from individual wheel speed to steering angle to temperatures for just about everything on the car. You're locked in tight thanks to the six-point harness, but visibility is still pretty good. After all, this is still a Civic. On the track, the Type R TCR drives like a single-minded Civic with all semblance of comfort stripped away, leaving you with a very loud and very fast hot hatch. It still feels like the same basic car, but everything has been dialed to 11. The standard Civic Type R's 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four sends 306 horsepower to the front wheels, but the TCR turns things up a bit thanks to a modified intake, exhaust and a unique engine map. Output is around 340 horsepower, though that can be adjusted to keep parity within the racing class. It's not the most explosive thing I've ever driven in a straight line, but, outside of some wheelslip in the track's tightest corner, the Type R TCR puts the power down with ease. There's a clutch, but you only use it to get rolling in first gear. Beyond that you only need to pull one of the wheel-mounted paddles to shift the six-speed sequential gearbox. Shifts are sharp and aggressive, cracking off with a loud bark from the engine. The steering feel is excellent. It doesn't take much movement from the small wheel to bend the Civic around a corner. There's a slight tug if you get on the power too early, but wind things out and the car points straight and true. The brakes require a bit more pressure than I expected, but when the calipers do clamp, they clamp hard. There's no drama or protesting squeals from the tires, just a bit of a dip in the nose and a little pressure in your chest as the harness holds you down. We only had 10 laps in total and I could have gone for 50 more. It was a riot, but not in the same way as something like a Lamborghini, Ferrari or McLaren. Those cars are brutally quick and could easily outgun the Type R TCR in a straight line. But the raw sensations are what make the Civic Type R TCR so enjoyable. It cuts through the fat and delivers the single most exhilarating experience I've ever had in a front-wheel-drive car, and one of the most enjoyable I've had in any car. Sure, you can buy a sleek, leather-lined mid-engine Italian supercar for roughly the same money, but this is a real racecar prepped to compete in a professional series, complete with spare parts and factory support. Trust us, that's sure not something you get if you spend a quarter million on a Lamborghini, nor will you get the same steady dose of adrenaline handing the keys off to a valet as you will dicing it up with WTCC competitors turning laps in anger. There are cheaper ways to go racing, but considering what the Civic Type R TCR provides, it seems like a bargain to us.

2020 Subaru Outback First Drive Review | The Big Payoff - Autoblog

2020 Subaru Outback First Drive Review | The big payoff - Autoblog

NEWPORT, Calif. — The 2020 Subaru Outback marks the sixth generation of a vehicle, first introduced for 1994, that is in no small part the lynchpin to its company's current success. The Outback's sales have increased in every generation, with more than 700,000 sold in the most recent generation that started with the 2015 model year. Subaru doesn't expect things to slow down as it introduces the all-new 2020 Outback, which has undergone a major overhaul despite its familiar sheetmetal. The Outback has moved to the Subaru Global Platform (SGP), joining the Impreza and Forester on lighter, stiffer, and stronger underpinnings. If the 2019 Forester is any indication of how the SGP can improve a vehicle, this would mean the new Outback will also be calmer, quieter and more refined. Staging from the Inn at Newport Ranch on Northern California's "Lost Coast," with a day full of driving both on- and off-road, we were about to find out for ourselves if this would live up to our expectations. Our first driving stint was in an Outback Touring equipped with the lesser of two available engines. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer-four, with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, feels perfectly adequate for the driving we did at or near sea level, and climbs competently on steep grades. While it didn't perform passing maneuvers with a sense of urgency, we still felt comfortable overtaking slower vehicles when we had to. For daily driving somewhere like the California coast, or the suburbs of the Detroit, the more economical 2.5 (26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined) would be our choice to live with. This is mated to a CVT, one programmed to "shift" like a traditional automatic, staying out of its own way, and providing a nice linear pull — without a rubber band type of feel — when you need to climb a hill. Paddle shifters on the back of the wheel give you a sense of more control, if that's something you need. We rarely used them. If you live at higher elevations, need to tow up to 3,500 pounds, or just really miss the days of a turbocharged Outback, there's now a 2.4-liter turbo-four available in the resurrected XT models. You sacrifice some fuel economy — 3 mpg across the board, 23/30/26 mpg — but get a significant power boost, with hardly any turbo lag and satisfying response. We're certain customers who've graduated from the likes of a WRX to something that can better accommodate kids and dogs will appreciate the boost. As we had hoped, the SGP platform quiets down the ride considerably – we didn't notice any squeaks or rattles, and tire roar was only apparent on rougher pavement. Wind noise is low, too, even without the acoustic glass on the front doors — a feature standard on the Limited XT and Touring XT models. On narrower, curvier mountain roads, the Outback handles surprisingly well. The steering is particularly good, with just-right weighting, and offers the perfect amount of resistance as you dial in more angle. The ratio is quick enough that juking from corner to corner ad infinitum is done with very little hand-over-hand shuffling or unnecessary grabwork. There's just enough feedback to give you a sense of what's going on between the tires and the road surface while filtering out most of the vibration. This Outback is seriously easy to drive, and more important, it's enjoyable. Additionally, it behaves much more like a passenger car than its size and height would suggest — and it's easy to forget that the Outback is essentially a lifted wagon when it competes against the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and even the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Despite its ample 8.7 inches of ground clearance (more than most compact SUVs), there's minimal body roll, which means less stress for passengers who don't have to brace against it. When we did just that on some dirt roads, the all-wheel drive, brake-based torque vectoring and other stability systems help keep the Outback pointed where we wanted to go. Despite its sedan-like behavior, it's not confined to the pavement, and feels at home on terrain where other soft-roaders would lose their footing. A good part of our day was spent off-road, climbing mountain trails overlooking the coastal plains below. Between the Outback's standard hill descent control and all-wheel-drive grip, climbing steep, muddy trails was essentially drama free. When we couldn't see over the crest, we displayed the feed from the front camera (a feature standard to the Touring trim) to see which direction the trail led. It's no trail-rated Jeep, though, and is limited by specs like its 18.6-degree approach angle. Deeper ruts led to some scraping at the front fascia. Subaru reps told us that their team is discussing a quick-release lower front fascia that could help avoid such scrapes, but no final decision has been made. In this Outback, the EyeSight driver aid system has been improved to include lane centering assistance, bringing it to parity with the Touring Assist we tested out on a WRX in Tokyo last year. Subaru refers to the system here as EyeSight Driver Assist Technology with Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering. We found it to work well, with some limitations. While it will certainly make congestion or stop-and-go traffic less stressful, on sharper curves, the lane following system would reach some limit, chime at us, and turn off momentarily. It's certainly not the best or most robust driver aid suite we've used, but we're glad that not only has the technology improved, but that it comes standard in all Outbacks. In contrast to the outside, the interior has been massively overhauled. Front and center, literally, is a huge, vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen, which is standard in all but the base trim. It fits surprisingly well into the cockpit's overall design, and moreover we appreciate that it bucks the "floating tablet" trend. It's straightforward to use, and if you don't like Subaru's native UI, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. The screen's size and orientation make it easy to glance over and see the information you need. Subaru maintained hard buttons for a number of functions, including redundant temperature controls, for which we are thankful. This is the second Subaru vehicle to use the company's DriverFocus monitoring tech using facial recognition and biometrics. This driver-facing camera keeps a digital eye on you making sure you're not getting groggy or distracted, and will chime a gentle reminder to keep your eyes on the road. What's even niftier, DriverFocus will also recognize the faces of as many as five registered drivers, and welcome the individuals with their own settings as they slide in behind the wheel. The new Outback provides a number of other conveniences, like a hands-free proximity tailgate that opens up when you approach the rear logo with the key fob on your person. With hands full, you can even nudge the flap on the cargo cover with your elbow to get it to retract. Cubbies abound, and the front cupholders are massive. The Outback also retains the nifty "Swing-n-Place" roof rails, and adds tie-down spots at the ends. And this is a bigger Outback than before, at least inside. It's only 1.4 inches longer and 0.6 inches wider overall than the outgoing model. Inside, there's a little over 3 more cubic feet of cargo space than before, rear legroom increases by 1.4 inches, and headroom increases by 1.8 inches in front and by a fraction of an inch in the rear. This go-around, Subaru offers a version of the Outback called the Onyx Edition, with the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine, and is targeted toward younger buyers (in a car whose average customer is 45 years old). It features blacked-out (well, dark-gray-ed out) wheels, grille, mirrors and badging. Inside, it features water-repellent interior trim called Startex, which actually feels quite nice for a synthetic material, though certainly not as plush as our Touring model's Nappa leather. While other Outbacks have a donut in reserve, the Onyx has a full-size spare tire. It also features an upgraded version of the X-Mode system, with a setting for sand and mud, and has the 180-degree front monitor featured on the Touring trim. The Subaru Outback starts at $27,655, including destination, for the base trim with the 2.5-liter engine, and goes up from there. Premium starts at $29,905, and adds the 11.6-inch head unit, all-weather package, power driver seat and dual climate control. The Limited adds 19-inch wheels, leather seats, blind-spot monitoring and reverse auto braking for $34,455. Touring costs $38,355, and adds Nappa leather, ventilated seats, DriverFocus, power folding mirrors and 180-degree front monitor. The XT turbo models start with the Onyx Edition at $35,905. Limited XT costs $38,755, and the line-topping Touring XT has a price of $40,705. We came to California expecting a better, more refined Outback with updated tech features. We would have been happy with that. But the 2020 Outback isn't just competent, it's actually a pleasure to drive – a tall wagon with stellar handling, which makes it a standout against the crossovers it competes against. It does that while maintaining the utility and charm we've come to expect from the brand. Just as it did with the Forester, Subaru applied a practiced, winning formula for the new Outback, then refined it. When Subaru sales keep climbing, bolstered in no small part by the Outback, we won't be surprised.

2020 Acura Rdx Review And Buying Guide | Specs, Features, Photos, Impressions - Autoblog

2020 Acura RDX Review and Buying Guide | Specs, features, photos, impressions - Autoblog

The 2020 Acura RDX is a bold compact luxury crossover that represents a return to its roots – providing some athleticism and adrenaline to a segment not known for either. We think this is a positive development, as the previous RDX lost its way a bit. However, that last RDX's biggest strength was its very spacious interior for its overall size, which carries over to the new version despite the increased athleticism. These aren't usually attributes that go together; sporty vehicles can be smaller, with poor space utilization. That isn't the case here. The turbocharged engine and advanced all-wheel drive system mean the RDX is as lively as any crossover buyer could want. The bottom line is that it has more character and a superior combination of attributes than many of its sport-luxury competitors.

What's new with for 2020?

The RDX carries over mostly unchanged for 2020 after receiving a complete redesign last year. There's a turbocharged engine under the hood again, instead of the V6 in the last-generation model, and the technologically-advanced Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system also makes a return. On the outside, the chrome grille "beak" has thankfully vanished, and there's some nifty tech in the slick interior – although its signature touchpad infotainment controller is a mixed bag. More on that below. You can read about last year's changes more fully in our 2019 Acura RDX First Drive, but in short, it's sportier, more distinctive and more luxurious than its predecessor. Part of that is the fact it's no longer based on the same vehicle platform as Honda's CR-V.  

2020 4runner First Drive Review | Photos, Specs, Impressions - Autoblog

2020 4Runner First Drive Review | Photos, specs, impressions - Autoblog

MOAB, Utah – I'd love to put random SUV owners inside the 2020 Toyota 4Runner, and point them toward the console lever inside. No, not that one, the familiar automatic transmission lever – I'm talking about the stubby, silver-capped lever positioned around two o'clock. It's the transfer case selector, of course, but I'm wondering what percentage of today's crossover owners would know what to do with it, or what "L4" stands for. Toyota must have thought the same thing, because they put together a brief video tutorial for the 4Runner's manually operated, two-speed transfer case. It lets you shift the truck between two- and four-wheel-drive (at speeds below 50 mph); or to its low-range 4WD for low-speed rock crawling, driving in soft sand – or wherever you want, frankly. Yanking that high-effort lever into L4 – don't forget to stop and shift the transmission lever into Neutral first – is essential on the beautiful desolation of the Hell's Revenge trail, a slick rock jaunt in Moab. The Toyota's outstanding Crawl Control can automatically trigger brakes at individual wheels to walk you up or down hills with no human throttle or brake inputs, if those inclines seem beyond a driver's skill grade. By now, serious off-roaders – can I get a show of dirty hands? – are rolling their eyes and asking why I'm bothering to explain the obvious. But that's the point: The 4Runner, and vehicles like it, were once synonymous with the SUV: a steel-frame, truck-based vehicle with genuine four-wheel-drive. Today, the 4Runner is a niche vehicle, including features and capabilities that can seem odd or superfluous to the crossover-driving masses. If your lifestyle and geography favors off-road adventure, the 2020 4Runner is as charming and trustworthy as ever. If your lifestyle leans toward commuting, family chauffeuring, or road trips on the Interstate, well, let's put it charitably: The 4Runner is not the ideal tool for the job. Besides the inherent detriments common to truck-based SUVs, the 4Runner was last full redesigned for 2010. As such, its ride and handling, interior and fuel economy especially (you won't see 20 mpg on a bet) have fallen behind the competitive curve. To address some – but not all – issues, Toyota has mildly updated this 2020 version. Grilles are slightly revised, in part to accommodate a new front radar sensor for the previously unavailable but now standard Toyota Safety Sense Plus suite of accident avoidance features: automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automated high beams and lane-departure alert with trailer sway control. The 4Runner also adds new wheel designs, including the TRD Pro's black 17-inch TRD alloys with Nitto Terra Grappler tires. That top of the line trim can also now be had in "Army Green" paint, which like 2019's Voodoo Blue, was last seen on the FJ Cruiser. Toyota says the resurrected Army Green "will bring out your inner drill sergeant." Preferably not this drill sergeant. Inside, a new driver's instrument panel is more handsome and informative, including a chrono-style speedometer and tach. Toyota has also managed to shoehorn in its 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Alexa. The 4Runner previously had a tiny 6.1-inch touchscreen and none of those smartphone connectivity features. Should you choose a TRD Pro or Limited model, the new system adds a 15-speaker, 550-watt JBL audio unit. In another nod to modernity, back-seat riders get a new pair of USB ports that fans have been demanding (the old 4Runner had one). Proximity entry with push button start also becomes standard on nearly all models. Mechanically, the TRD Pro adds a cat-back exhaust system with a slightly huskier growl. Though it's questionable whether anyone really needs to hear the 4Runner's ancient, 4.0-liter V6 groan its way to high revs. That V6 delivers an unchanged 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. Toyota says it's good for a 0-60 mph run in a reasonable 7.5 seconds, which is a touch quicker than a burly Dodge Durango with its 293-hp V6. Unfortunately, the five-speed automatic transmission remains on hand from Toyota's old soldier's home. In theory, the shift lever's manual function should make things snappier, but the 4Runner's transmission often ignores downshift commands, with annoyingly tardy upshifts in manual mode. While the 4Runner remains roomy and relatively comfortable, it's looking as tired your grandpa's Barcalounger. Inside, plastic imitates seemingly every conceivable natural material: There's plastic that looks like leather, plastic as rubber, plastic as metal or carbon fiber. Fold the seats, including the optional, child-sized third row (only on SR5 and Limited models), and the 4Runner can swallow an expedition's worth of gear. Its maximum capacity of 90 cubic feet is actually comparable to three-row midsize crossovers, although it does have a higher liftover. As noted, nothing announces the 4Runner's authenticity like the manly-man transfer case once found on every four-wheeler. (You might crawl beneath the TRD Pro version to spot its 2.5-inch-diameter Fox shocks, or its expanded skidplates, but that would take more effort). Today, even most Jeeps (or the 2020 Toyota Tacoma pickup we tested at Moab) have replaced manual transfer cases with electronic knobs or switches, which are easier to operate but not nearly as tactile and cool. Toyota's Multi-Terrain Select system and Crawl Control are still operated with knobs, though they're oddly located on the ceiling forward of the rearview mirror. With all the above off-roading weapons loaded, the 4Runner proves to still have the Right Stuff, from the Flintstones-like landscapes of Moab, which instantly expose any SUV poseur, to hours on dirt roads through the high passes of the LaSal and San Juan ranges toward Ouray, Colorado. And it wouldn't be a Toyota review without a fond mention of the 4Runner's reputation for bulletproof reliability: It's something that could save your relationship, or your bacon, on lonely trails and in the wilderness. Realizing that we've spent most of the past two days on boulders, sand and dirt-roostertail roads, I take a pre-dinner solo run from Ouray on actual pavement. On these everyday roads, there's just no getting around the 4Runner's antiquated state: The placeholder powertrain, the sloppy and disconnected steering, the way the 4Runner wanders in its lane. It's here that 4x4 fans may do a facepalm, and say something like, "C'mon! It's an off-road truck. What did you expect, a Bentley?" Sure, the Toyota's off-road chops help explain its on-road shortcomings, but no longer excuses them here in 2020. For proof, look no further than the latest Jeep Wrangler, the (also aging) Grand Cherokee, or at higher price points, any Land Rover or the Mercedes G-Class. That Wrangler JL's all-new (cough, cough) design has proven that even a hardcore off-roader can achieve a respectable level of civility. While the current 4Runner is more livable than the Wrangler, considering how far that Jeep has come, couldn't Toyota do better? Toyota hasn't divulged pricing for the 2020 4Runner that goes on sale this fall, but cost increases should be negligible. For reference, a rear-drive, 2019 SR model starts from $36,405, while the TRD Pro goes for $47,910. Analysts' crystal balls do see Toyota bringing an all-new 4Runner to showrooms, finally, around 2022. It seems likely that the 4Runner can withstand market pressures until that sixth-generation model arrives, especially with its antiquated infotainment and missing safety tech features being corrected for 2020. Its market niche is also showing surprising endurance, thanks in part to Americans' increasing demand for SUVs with authentic design and rugged personality. This old soldier actually sold nearly 100,000 more units in 2018 than it did when it was brand new in 2010.   Still, if you couldn't care less about four-wheeling and have no idea what that other shifter does, you might wait for another SUV that's also tripled its sales since 2009: The Toyota Highlander, whose all-new 2020 version goes on sale late this year. Choose that family favorite over the more purpose-built 4Runner, and Toyota won't mind a bit.

2019 Infiniti Qx50 Essential Review | Features, Specs And More - Autoblog

2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential Review | Features, Specs and More - Autoblog

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is the brand's second smallest crossover, and it's fully redesigned for the 2019 model year. Infiniti decided to use the stylish QX50 as a technology flagship, specifically using it to debut its variable-compression engine technology. It has since been shared with Nissan in the new Altima, but Infiniti got the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder first. It makes a solid 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, numbers that are very similar to the outgoing QX50's 3.7-liter V6. However, the 2019 QX50 with all-wheel drive (as our tester is equipped) nets you 26 mpg combined to the old car's 20 mpg combined rating. Infiniti pairs the new engine with its continuously-variable transmission. We happen to be testing the absolute pinnacle of what a QX50 can be: the "Essential" trim level. The base QX50 Pure starts at $37,645, whereas ours towers up to $59,085. That steep price is thanks to the addition of several high-dollar packages, including the $7,500 Sensory Package. This is the price you'll pay to get the ultra-luxe interior that we happened to fall in love with. The Autograph Package added $2,000, netting us white leather with the blue suede accents. Then the ProActive ($2,000) and ProAssist ($550) packages provide all the advanced driver assistance features like ProPilot Assist. Take note that the frustrating steer-by-wire (DAS) system is also included in the ProActive Package. Assistant Editor, Zac Palmer: When fully optioned as our QX50 Essential tester is, this interior can mix it up with the best in the business. You may have to sell a kidney to afford it, but the quilted white semi-aniline leather, soft blue suede and light maple (real) wood is going to make it all worthwhile. Infiniti certainly nailed it on the materials, but the interior design and styling flourishes are executed just as successfully. There's a simplicity to the flatness and gently curving horizontal lines that feels so graceful and luxurious. I feel that I'd never tire of the cream, brown and blue color combination, though that light-colored leather means I'd forever be trying extra hard to keep it clean. All of this interior loveliness was almost enough to make me forget about this crossover's interior tech shortcomings. Infiniti hasn't integrated Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the stock infotainment system isn't nearly polished enough to warrant such an omission. I'm no fan of Infiniti's unusual stacked dual-screen setup, and the newest infotainment systems from the Germans are far more advanced. Even when connected via Bluetooth, the QX50 was unable to tell me the name of the song and artist that was currently streaming from my phone. At least I thoroughly enjoyed that sound quality from the 16-speaker Bose Performance Series speakers. If you're able to overlook the tech issues, then spending time in the most expensive of QX50s becomes a luxury experience right at the top of its class.

Was a bit shocked at how nice the interior can get on a fully-loaded @INFINITIUSA QX50. The quilted stitching, blue suede and brown leather all play together rather nicely. But where's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay? @therealautoblog pic.twitter.com/gaGpFWpUXy — Zac Palmer (@zacpalmerr) June 20, 2019 Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I enjoyed my weekend in the QX50. The VC Turbo engine, a finalist for the 2019 Autoblog Tech of the Year Award, sounds good and has plenty of pull. A compact crossover with 280 lb-ft of torque and all-wheel drive feels right. The 268-hp output is middling, but the torque more than makes up for it. The four-cylinder engine is achieving efficacy in the car business. We see it used in everything from sports cars to full-size trucks and it's working. Infiniti spent a lot of time and money developing the VC (Variable Compression) Turbo and it's giving a vehicles throughout the brand's lineup a new energy. Like Zac says, the interior is gorgeous. It's quiet, well-laid out, comfortable and near the top of the class. The only issue I have is with the infotainment. It's fine, but the controls and workflow are a bit nebulous. Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: Zac and Greg went over the best parts of the QX50, so I guess I get to talk about the less stellar ride and handling. The ride itself is fairly good, very smooth and isolating, but handling is pretty disappointing. There's a fair amount of body roll, and not a lot of grip. You wouldn't know that through the steering wheel, though, which is connected to Infiniti's steer-by-wire system known as "Direct Adaptive Steering." It's feather-light and completely uncommunicative. But on the plus side, it doesn't feel nearly as disconcertingly disconnected as Infiniti's past steer-by-wire iterations. Maybe one day it will finally feel decent. Or maybe Infiniti will wise up and just stick to a direct physical connection between the wheel and the steering rack. At least it's an option, so you can skip if you want (and trust me, you do want). All this being said, if you're just looking for something comfortable to get you from A to B, this isn't a big issue, and the engine's impressive power, the Autograph package's spectacular interior, and reasonable pricing for this size of crossover, all make a compelling case for the QX50.

2019 Honda Hr-v Review | Price, Specs, Features And Photos - Autoblog

2019 Honda HR-V Review | Price, specs, features and photos - Autoblog

The 2019 Honda HR-V is one of the most space-efficient SUVs, managing to provide far more passenger and cargo space than you'd think possible from its diminutive exterior dimensions. If getting the most out of the least is important to you, the HR-V is going to make a lot of sense. It also boasts a reasonable price given that size plus a high-quality interior, ample feature content (especially the EX trim) and Honda's legendary reliability. Even its crash scores were improved for 2019 along with a number of other elements described below. The HR-V has a lot going for it, but it's certainly not a slam dunk. Acceleration is among the slowest in the segment, and you don't need a stopwatch to notice. Its all-wheel-drive system isn't particularly sophisticated and isn't a great choice if you'll be dealing with deep snow or mud. Taller drivers are also unlikely to be comfortable in the driver seat, which has insufficient travel in all but the top Touring trim. As such, we'd recommend also considering the Subaru Crosstrek, Hyundai Kona or even the Kia Niro Hybrid.

What's new for 2019?

The HR-V gets its first significant update this year. The styling has been tweaked, but it's minor. New Sport and Touring trim levels debut, bringing with them distinctive styling and noteworthy features (the Touring includes a sorely needed power driver seat). The top three trim levels now come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of accident avoidance technologies, which were previously unavailable on the HR-V. IIHS crash scores have also improved. As in other updated 2019 Hondas, the touchscreen interface gets a volume knob and some other updates. In terms of the oily bits, you can no longer get the HR-V with a manual transmission, which no one should be particularly concerned about. Happily, the CVT has apparently been retuned to be more refined than before.

What's the HR-V's interior and in-car technology like?

The HR-V's cabin is distinctive in the Honda SUV family as it skews a little more toward form than function. The rising "floating" center console that can be wrapped in padded simulated leather looks great, as do the unique touch-operated climate controls. Materials quality is excellent for this budget segment, and in general, we think this one of the more attractive and well-made interiors in the segment. The same cannot be said for its infotainment system. Sure, Honda added a volume knob to the available touchscreen for 2019, but that omission wasn't the system's only flaw. It's still a bit slow, and the menu structure convoluted. You only need to look inside an Accord to see what Honda infotainment is capable of. Along with that touchscreen, all but the base LX trim come with two USB ports (inconveniently located under that floating center console), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a variety of smartphone apps through HondaLink.

How big is the HR-V?

If you're looking for a sub-compact SUV (or at least an inexpensive SUV) with the most interior space possible, it's hard to beat the HR-V. It features the same "Magic Seat" as the Honda Fit – with the gas tank under the front seat, the back seat can fold completely flat into the super-low floor – affording it unmatched space and versatility. There's a best-in-class 24.3 cubic-feet with the seats raised (FWD) and 57.6 cubic-feet with them lowered. Only the Nissan Kicks comes remotely close to that. The Magic Seat's 60/40-split bottom also flips up, allowing you to store things across an ultra-long rear footwell. Up front, those of above-average height will struggle to get comfortable behind the wheel due to a driver seat that doesn't slide far enough back or dip far enough down. There is thankfully an eight-way power driver seat available for 2019 that should at least partially rectify this, but it's exclusive to the top trip level. Outside, the HR-V is 169.1 inches long, which is pretty much mid-pack for the segment, falling in between the bigger Subaru Crosstrek and smaller Hyundai Kona. Its 63.2-inch height is typical for the segment, and its ground clearance is modest at 7.3 inches with front-wheel drive and 6.7 inches with all-wheel drive. That's actually as good or better than many competitors, but also not well suited to actually venturing off the beaten path (its unsophisticated all-wheel-drive system doesn't help on that front, either).

What's the HR-V's performance and fuel economy?

The situation under the HR-V's hood is pretty simple. Every version comes with a 1.8-liter inline-four that produces 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque, one of the lowest outputs in the segment. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard, while all-wheel drive is an option. The front-drive HR-V returns an estimated 28 mpg city, 34 mph highway and 30 mpg combined, making it one of the thriftiest in the segment. All-wheel drive lowers those estimates to 26/31/28 in most trim levels with the LX basically getting 1 mpg better. 

What's the HR-V like to drive?

The HR-V is very slow. Honda says it improved the sluggish responses of the CVT for 2019, and although we haven't yet sampled this change, we doubt it'll do much to help one of the weakest engines in the segment. This is a shame, since Honda has much better engines at its disposal. It's also a shame since the HR-V is otherwise a competent little SUV to drive. Corners are taken with relative poise and the steering is precise. Meanwhile, ride comfort is better than most as are wind and road noise.

What more can I read about the Honda HR-V?

2019 Honda HR-V: More trims, higher prices, no manual

Our breakdown of what's new for the 2019 Honda HR-V.

2020 Toyota Tacoma Driving Review, Offroad At Moab - Autoblog

2020 Toyota Tacoma driving review, offroad at Moab - Autoblog

MOAB, Utah – The 2020 Toyota Tacoma may be a mild-sauce update of a truck whose basic design dates back to 2005, but when you look at the sales charts, it certainly doesn't seem like customers are clamoring for something all-new. The Taco is crushing its competition, recording nearly 246,000 sales last year and on its way to besting that in 2019. By contrast, the Chevy Colorado, which itself enjoyed a 16% rise last year, was still at just 168,000 units. From there, things fall off a cliff to the Nissan Frontier (about 80,000), Honda Ridgeline (about 31,000) and GMC Canyon (about 18,000), with Ford just ramping up Ranger production.   However, owning the segment doesn't mean the Tacoma should get a free pass. Yes, there are a few tweaks for 2020, but this fundamentally remains the same pickup that came in fourth in our recent midsize truck comparison. The cabs, frame, engine and transmissions remain the same, and the exterior alterations consist merely of a new grille, standard LED headlights and some new wheel choices. Most of the noteworthy changes are inside. A new, 10-way power driver's seat applies a band-aid to the Tacoma's longstanding issue of a too-low seating position that forces taller folks into an uncomfortable, legs-splayed-out position. But without changes to the cab dimensions, jacking the seat up exacerbates the Tacoma's shortage of headroom versus key rivals. Otherwise, the Tacoma's smartly finished interior remains competitive, something that we noted in the midsize truck comparo. A new multimedia system happily replaces a much-derided unit, and now includes a larger 8-inch touchscreen (or 7 inches on the SR starter model) with newfound Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa connectivity. A new panoramic view monitor is standard on up-level versions, while the extra-off-road-focused TRD Pro models – with retuned, 2.5-inch, Fox internal-bypass shocks – offer a cool new Multi-Terrain Monitor (MTM) that lets occupants see the ground beneath their truck and the position of the front wheels. That's useful for negotiating off-road obstacles with less need for a human spotter. As with Land Rover's similar system, the MTM slightly delays a view from a grille-mounted camera, and stitches it together with images from side-mirror cameras, to create the onscreen view. MTM is just another reason for the Tacoma to still shine brightest off-road, including here in Moab on the Hell's Revenge trail, a slick-rock gauntlet that tested every inch of the Taco's ground clearance, approach/departure angles and 4x4 capability. For these Double Cab models in TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims, that capability includes an electronically controlled, low-range 4WD setting, a locking rear differential and Multi-Terrain Select driving modes. Toyota's Crawl Control, now with five speed settings instead of three, continues to excel at walking the Tacoma up or down perilous grades with no need to touch the throttle or brakes, allowing the driver to focus on steering and positioning. I personally prefer the DIY method, which is half the fun of off-roading, but Crawl Control is a real confidence-booster for people who'd rather let the machine do it. Following a full day on these daunting trails near the Lion's Back, our convoy of bone-stock Tacomas emerged onto Sand Flats Road, none the worse for wear. The next day brought an all-day run from Moab to equally splendorous Ouray, Colorado, via Geyser Pass Road. This rugged dirt track crosses the LaSal range at 10,528 feet, with snow still hanging on in mid-July. Through it all, the Tacoma's off-road act was exceptional, perfectly complementing the outdoor scenery.   On pavement, however, its flaws and foibles are as glaring as ever. It has a jittery ride on even modestly bumpy pavement, and poorly controlled body motions. Its automatic transmission has only six gears, versus GM's eight and Ford's 10, and obtrusively hunts for those gears even on mild grades. At least you can get a manual transmission on the various TRD 4x4 models. Its engine is also lacking in refinement and power, a 3.5-liter V6 with 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. You can also get a 159-hp 2.7-liter inline-four, but unless you need to stay as close to the $26,945 base price as possible, it's best to pretend it doesn't exist.   All of that, along with the still-unusual driving position and cramped Double Cab back seat, amount to a truck that just isn't as livable as its competition. As we found in our comparison, the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger are demonstrably better in many key areas, mostly due to their vastly newer designs. They're quicker, more refined, and can tow and haul more. The Jeep Gladiator is a different sort of animal, but it too scored higher than the Tacoma in our test despite a sky-high price tag (the Tacoma tops out around $44,000 for a TRD Pro Double Cab). There are a lot of disadvantages, but there's one thing those competitors don't have: a Toyota badge. It speaks volumes to the brand's hard-earned reputation for unbeatable durability and peace-of-mind,  demonstrated ably during our drive by our intrepid guides' 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, still going strong after 140,000 hard miles of adventure in the U.S. and Mexico. The Tacoma's trade-in values have also become legendary: Check out what owners can get for, say, a 12-year-old Tacoma with 180,000 miles on the odometer, and it'll blow your mind. If I'm venturing into Moab in a 4x4 – or the gnarly off-road trails of Vermont, or the African desert – I'd choose a Toyota over a Jeep, GM, Ford, Nissan or even Land Rover. As a former Jeep Wrangler owner, I will say I loved my Jeeps, but I'd also be first to admit that they were never as reliable, overall, as Toyota FJ's or Land Cruisers. That familiar Toyota hat-tip aside, there's no overlooking that the 2020 Toyota Tacoma represents a holding pattern. Yes, the Tacoma remains popular, and truck buyers are notoriously loyal. But it's fair to ask Toyota: At what point do your own loyal customers deserve an all-new, genuinely innovative Tacoma? The latest Chevrolet Silverado shows that complacency can eventually lead to loyalty being trumped by a deluxe, innovative and creamy-riding competitor in the Ram 1500 – and that Silverado is an all-new truck. While it seems unlikely that the Tacoma is in danger of turning over its sales crown, especially with Ranger's less-than-explosive debut, there's also not enough in the 2020 refresh to further entrench its position. Toyota executives insist that they recognize the growing competitive threat, and that they're taking it seriously. Perhaps we'll see how seriously soon enough.

2019 Nissan Murano Drivers' Notes Review | Price, Specs, Features And Photos - Autoblog

2019 Nissan Murano Drivers' Notes Review | Price, specs, features and photos - Autoblog

The 2019 Nissan Murano is one of six crossovers or SUVs in Nissan's ever expanding lineup. This third-gen model hit showrooms back in 2015 and received a minor update for 2019 focused mainly on appearance. Like its predecessors, the current Murano is a stylish offering compared to models like the Rogue and Pathfinder, much the same way the Maxima relates to the Altima sedan. It may seem odd to have so many models right on top of each other in terms of size and price, but Americans bought more than 87,000 Muranos in 2018, an increase of 8.9 percent over 2017. That said, sales are down significantly through June 2019. As before, power comes from a version of Nissan's long-running VQ engine line. This 3.5-liter V6 makes 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, sending power to all four wheels through a continuously-variable transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. Our fully-loaded Platinum model comes with niceties like leather seats with diamond-quilted inserts, ventilated front seats, heated seats both front and rear, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, LED lighting, a Bose audio system, and a 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A base front-wheel-drive Murano S starts at $32,415 with our Murano Platinum tester coming in at $46,420. Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: The Murano is a crossover that isn't confused about its purpose as a comfortable daily driver, but it also doesn't offer anything special to set it apart from the other mid-sizers. Perhaps the most distinctive part about it is the design, yet it's no more eye-catching than similarly stylish competitors like the Edge, Passport and Blazer. In fact, the Murano looks more like a generic crossover than any of those. Comfort is the priority in all facets, and that's probably the way it should be for the buyer Nissan is after here. The semi-aniline leather seats were big pillows that were shockingly great to sit in. There's a dedicated leather pad for your right knee to rest against that is greatly appreciated. Then the armrests on both sides are positioned just right for relaxed driving, soaking up the highway miles. The center armrest actually has a little split in the cushions that acts as a neat little nook/resting place for your elbow and arm. Some may dislike it, but I found that it worked for me. These may seem like no-brainer, small things, but the Murano nails it all, and not every car does. As for the rest of the interior … Nissan has some work to do. Even though this crossover was ever-so-slightly refreshed for 2019, it doesn't feel it on the inside. A clashing mashup of fake wood and silver trim muck up the dash in an attempt at looking luxurious. I appreciate all the physical buttons to control the climate settings and radio, but the steering wheel buttons are incredibly ill-conceived. The most-used control — volume up and down — is just out of your thumb's reach, meaning you have to physically take your hand off the steering wheel to press them. At that point the knob close to your right hand on the dash is easier to use. Then the cruise control "Cancel" button is a difficult stretch at the top on the right side. Pretty much everybody else makes these buttons usable without any sort of trouble like this, so Nissan really needs to get that layout changed. Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I've always liked the looks of the Nissan Murano, and in Platinum trim, this thing is blinged out. I give Nissan credit for really going for it with this sometimes polarizing design. Nissan made the Murano, which was always quirky, into a sleek, futuristic design for the 2015 model year. I think they've pulled it off better than companies like Hyundai and Ford, which have also tried similarly aggressive styles with mixed results. The Murano's prominent grille, angled headlights and long hood make a statement, while the chiseled beltline and raked roofline keep the design mojo going from stem to stern. Some think the Murano is a bit much. It probably is, but it's a risk-taking design in a crowded segment. Road Test Editor Reese Counts: Like so much of Nissan's current lineup, I forgot about the Murano about 10 minutes after I got out of it. It looks ... interesting? I don't know. I don't hate it, but I sure don't love it either. It's certainly more distinct than some of Nissan's other crossovers, but I'm not sure if that's a plus or minus. I do like the engine, or at least I like the power. With everyone going to downsized turbocharged inline-fours, it's good to see Nissan sticking with a naturally-aspirated V6. The VQ is a little uncouth, but I don't think most buyers will mind. Power is relatively smooth, though the CVT saps any bit of joy from the driving experience. It's fine I guess, but, like the Maxima, I don't know or understand who is buying these things. 

2019 Honda Passport Elite Review | Cargo Space, Technology, Pricing - Autoblog

2019 Honda Passport Elite Review | Cargo space, technology, pricing - Autoblog

The words "design" and "styling" are largely used interchangeably in the automotive world. In the fashion world, however, they are quite different. The way a dress looks is the result of design. The jacket, shoes and purse you pair with it are styling.

I mention this because the 2019 Honda Passport is largely the work of styling in the fashion sense. Yes, it's shorter in overall length and seat count than the Pilot, and there are design tweaks to the front end and tailgate. But much of what makes the Passport distinctive and arguably more attractive than its rather drab three-row sibling comes down to "styling." There are the blacked out wheels and trim, the beefier roof rails and crossbars, and the more macho grille. There's also the ground clearance increase that does as much for aesthetics as it does for off-road ability. Take all that away, and the Passport really is just a shorter Pilot, albeit with better proportions.

2019 Honda Civic Sport Sedan Review | Keep Up The Fun

2019 Honda Civic Sport Sedan Review | Keep up the fun

If the ninth-generation 2012 Civic was considered a sizeable step back, the tenth-generation 2016 Civic represented two giant steps forward for the nameplate and the entire lineup. The mildly facelifted 2019 Civic expands on that progress by introducing a Sport trim for the sedan that offers a six-speed manual transmission. But don't think of the long, lean four-door as a trunked version of the more expensive Sport hatchback with its more powerful turbocharged engine. The sedan, which Honda describes as "entry-level performance," aims at the hearts of budget-conscious and first-time buyers seeking sedan sobriety leavened by a touch of old-fashioned Honda fun.

Cosmetic changes across the lineup for 2019 introduce a gloss black grille, a wider, more sculpted lower bumper, and repositioned Honda Sensing gear to add symmetry to the lower front intakes. The Sport trim goes without the chrome accents around the front fog lights found on the other four trims — LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. And unlike those other variants, the Sport sedan slots a trapezoidal exhaust finisher into a four-fin, diffuser-like insert. Inside, the instrument binnacle glows with red lighting, the pedals are made of aluminum, it has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and it features the nicer infotainment system with a 7-inch screen (and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration).

2019 Honda Accord Review And Buying Guide | Making A Case For The Sedan

2019 Honda Accord Review and Buying Guide | Making a case for the sedan

Midsize sedans may no longer be the vehicle of choice for most families who increasingly prefer SUVs, but for those happy to keep kicking it old school, the 2019 Honda Accord is a top choice. Its large dimensions house unmatched interior space, but the driving experience remains responsive and imparts a feeling of being light on its feet. Its turbocharged engines offer compelling performance, but also return exceptional fuel economy. Meanwhile, the Accord Hybrid might actually be the pick of the litter for its superior fuel economy and lack of major drawbacks. There's also the matter of its well-made interior, generous feature content and the Accord's long-standing reliability reputation.

If you're looking for a midsize sedan, the Accord should be at the top of your must-drive list. Its well-rounded nature made it an easy pick when we compared it to the Toyota Camry and Mazda 6. We also think shoppers shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Accord in favor of a compact SUV. The back seat is more comfortable and spacious, the fuel economy is better, and you're not sacrificing that much utility thanks to its enormous trunk. Oh, and if you're like us and appreciate wringing every bit of driving fun out of a car as possible, the Accord Sport offers a six-speed manual as a no-cost option.