CAR REVIEWS

The 2018 Genesis G80 may not be from an established luxury brand, but it holds up well with the best of them.

To be a successful competitor in the luxury automobile world is no easy task, even for established brands, which jockey back and forth for position annually.

And for a new entry in the field, it’s that much harder. Enter Genesis, now in its second model year as the official luxury brand offshoot of Hyundai (Like Lexus to Toyota; Acura to Honda; Infiniti to Nissan, etc.).

 

In this cutthroat area of the industry, where most buyers are fiercely brand-loyal, how does the Hyundai offshoot fare, and will car buyers respect it as a luxury brand? I recently spent some time in the 2018 Genesis G80, and I’m back with a full report.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Genesis G80
  • Price as tested: $55,325 (base price is $41,750)
  • Best feature: Elegant style; smooth as silk; strong tech setup
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury buyers not tied to a brand who are seeking a strong, smooth and sporty ride
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The 2018 Subaru Legacy comes standard with all-wheel-drive, making it unique in the segment.

Avoiding anonymity is a fight all sedans that aren’t the top sellers in the category must take on. The way to do it is distinguish yourself in a way that the bigger names don’t, and hopefully that will lead to a maintained or growing market share.

Subaru is one of the smaller brands fighting this battle, and I recently tested out a 2018 Subaru Legacy, their midsize sedan offering. While the vehicle has its hits and misses, the good news is that its standard all-wheel drive very strong tech and safety features are standout in the segment, so it does make a name for itself.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Subaru Legacy
  • Price as tested: $29,300 (starting price is $22,195)
  • Best feature: Top-notch safety and tech features; standard all-wheel-drive
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Sedan buyers seeking a leader in safety/tech and all weather capability
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2018 Toyota Camry reboots a ubiquitous sedan Featured

Mar 02, 2018
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The 2018 version of the Toyota Camry gets a fresh new look.

If you look down any street in America, you’ll probably see a Toyota Camry … or two, or three. That’s because it’s been among the top-selling vehicles in this country for a decade plus, and they last, so people hang on to them.

Still, everything needs to change, and as it faces challenges from other sedans and some small SUVs, the Camry has been redesigned for 2018, inside and out. I recently spent some time in on and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

The new look of the Camry starts up front, with a grille full of bright metallic horizontal strips that some will like, and others not so much. The new Camry is also lower to the ground, and I was a fan of the headlamp and taillight designs. 18-inch chrome alloy wheels were also featured.

On the inside, a redesign on the gauges and center console is somewhat improved, but still trails competitors in terms of design. Inside, the vehicle is definitely a quality offering, but it’s far from a luxury feel, featuring some prominent hard plastic. Also, the back seat felt a bit tight for taller people. (You can seat 2 up front and 3 in the rear).
Cargo room is pretty limited too.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Toyota Camry
  • Price as tested: $37,808 (starting price is $23,495)
  • Best feature: Reliability, safety features
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Sedan buyers seeking an established name with a fresh new look
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The 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL offers compact sedan buyers strong fuel mileage and a roomy interior.

In the arena of compact vehicles, Hyundai makes sure to have you covered at all angles. Their Elantra lineup features everything from a Euro-styled GT hatchback model, to an Eco sedan, to a Sport sedan … and then there’s the old standby, a regular compact sedan.

That final one is the version I recently tested, the 2018 Elantra SEL, and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up in the compact sedan segment.

LOOKS

The big difference when you go to the standard sedan, as opposed to the hatchback version of the Elantra, is less storage space.
By comparison, the GT hatchback offered 25 cubic feet of storage even with the back seats up. In the SEL sedan I tested, that number is 14.4 cubic feet. So if storage is a dealbreaker for you, you need to go the GT route. If you don’t plan to haul a lot of things in the back of your vehicle, you can go the sedan route and save a few grand.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL
  • Price as tested: $19,860 (starting price is $16,350)
  • Best feature: Low starting price, roomy back seat, peppy drive
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those in the market for an affordable, quick and roomy compact sedan.
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The Kia Cadenza is a full-size sedan with an upscale character.

Unique vehicles are hard to find, but the Kia Cadenza is a unique vehicle in a couple of ways.

First, it’s a full-size sedan; and there aren’t many of those left for sale.

Second, it’s an attempt by a non-luxury brand (Kia) to create a vehicle that’s designed in a luxurious way to compete with the luxury models.

I recently had a chance to get behind the wheel of a Cadenza, and I’m back with a full report on what it offers and who might want to give it a look. (Note: I tested a 2017 Cadenza, but the 2018 model has only minor changes)

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: Kia Cadenza
  • Price as tested: $45,290 (starting price is $32,290)
  • Best feature: Luxury feel, smooth ride and strong technology features
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Buyers seeking a classy ride who aren’t concerned with following brand trends
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The performance-oriented 2018 Audi A5 is aimed at those who love driving.

Luxury car buyers are very picky, but also very loyal. If you get them to be a fan of your brand, the key is to not mess things up so they’ll stick around and not jump ship.

In the case of the Audi A5 coupe, which I recently tested, the vehicle has been updated for 2018. This competitor in the luxury coupe segment keeps most of its heritage but also sees key improvements; Will it be enough to keep buyers loyal and not have they sway over to BMW or Mercedes or other Audi competitors?

LOOKS

With Audi generally more focused on what’s under the hood, exterior design on the A5 is attractive (including the instantly recognizable Audi grille and four-ring logo up front), but not overall showy or gaudy like some of the competition. The A5 features sharp-looking 18-inch 10-spoke wheels and all-season tires, with options to upgrade to 19-inch or 20-inch wheels.

 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Audi A5 coupe
  • Price as tested: $55,300 (Price starts at $42,800)
  • Best feature: Nimble, responsive and fast ride -- a true driver’s car
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury coupe buyers who love to drive
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The 2018 Hyundai Sonata competes well in the busy midsize sedan segment

There seems to be an endless stream of midsize sedans available these days, so it’s easy to lose sight of some of the better options. One such diamond in the rough is the updated 2018 Hyundai Sonata, which faces tough competition but holds its own against the Camry/Accord/Fusion/Mazda6, etc. brigade.

Here are a handful of key points you need to know about the Sonata if you’re shopping for midsize sedans.

Stellar safety ratings

Let’s talk crash test numbers. You get a 5-star government safety rating overall; and 5 star ratings for front crash (driver and passenger sides) and side crash (front and rear seats); The only non 5-star rank is the 4-star rollover rating. Not too shabby.

In addition, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert  is now standard equipment on the Sonata. That’s something that’s only optional on the competition, so it’s a score for the Sonata. Other safety features such as forward collision warning, lane keep assist and auto emergency braking are optional.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Hyundai Sonata
  • Price as tested: $25,710
  • Best feature: Responsive ride, safety features
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Midsize sedan buyers seeking an enjoyable, safe ride
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The 2018 Toyota Avalon hybrid is a rare find -- full-size sedan with a hybrid option.

In the world of non-luxury hybrid vehicles, the Toyota Avalon hybrid is a unique animal. With the vast majority of hybrid sedan offerings being in the midsize or compact realms, this is the only hybrid offered to U.S. buyers among full-size sedans. And considering that full-size sedans are already a rare offering, the Avalon hybrid is sort of a rarity within a rarity.

I recently spent some time in this unicorn and I’m back with a full report on my experience.

LOOKS

The Avalon is the largest sedan offered by Toyota, and you can tell when you get inside. It’s spacious all around, and feel very comfortable for all passengers. My only complaint on size is that the trunk could have been bigger. Materials used are quite high-end, as least when compared to all other non-luxury sedans (and even some of the entry-level luxury models).

 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Toyota Avalon hybrid
  • Price as tested: $44,302 (starts at $37,500)
  • Best feature: Excellent fuel mileage for a large sedan, comfort/quality of interior
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Hybrid sedan buyers who want strong mileage and some roominess in their vehicle
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