CAR REVIEWS

BMW M240i kicks you in the pants Featured

Nov 20, 2017
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The BMW M240i coupe is one of the most fun-to-drive vehicles on sale today.

If you can’t have fun in this hot rod, you must be an empty shell of a human being or just hate the idea of driving.

Featuring 365 horsepower from a 3.0-liter, turbo 6-cylinder engine, the M240i features stunning speed and agility and was one of the strongest vehicles I tested this year.

It’s a two-seater by default (back seat isn’t really capable of holding humans of any significant size, and even the front seats are a bit cramped). But it’s all worth it due to the performance.
This machine isn’t just fast; it launches you forward, going 0-to-60 in under 5 seconds.
It’s a thrill to drive, even if you don’t have a particular destination (perhaps even moreso).
It doesn’t just hug the turns, it gives them the “I haven’t seen you since last Christmas so we’re going to make this count” embrace.

Bottom line: Enthusiasts who want to enjoy every second they’re driving should take a BMW M240i for a test drive when shopping for their next ride,, as the M series vehicles from BMW are perennial contenders for their attention.

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu. 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 BMW M240i
  • Price as tested: Price as tested: $50,695
  • Best feature: Speed, handling
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those seeking a true hot rod at a somewhat affordable price.
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The 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe offers superb handling and impressive engine options.

Luxury sedans come in all shapes and sizes; some meant for carrying the whole family and others meant for driver experience and limited cargo. In this second category, you will find the 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe, which I recently was able to test.

While not practical for families, the compact ATS coupe continues to be a  great choice if you’re looking for a thrilling and responsive ride and aren’t going to carry many passengers. Read on for a full breakdown.

LOOKS

Visually, Cadillac has not changed the look of the ATS, its entry level luxury ride, much in the past five years. That’s OK, because it looks pretty sharp. The exterior offers distinct lines and creasing that make it uniquely Cadillac. It’s one of the vehicle lineups on the roadways that don’t blend in with the competition.

Inside, you can choose either leatherette (synthetic leather) or leather seating materials. There’s a nice dash of wood trimming to complement the equally sharp interior design, which is up there with the best in the class in terms of high-end look and feel.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe
  • Price as tested: $54,445
  • Best feature: Sporty drive, impeccable handling
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury sedan buyers who seek a fun, sporty ride and need limited space
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The 2018 Volvo S60 is among the safest vehicles you'll find anywhere.

Volvo is a curious brand to most Americans. While the Swedish by origin but now Chinese-owned brand has a reputation for safe and reliable vehicles, it’s generally not thought of in the same breath as the traditional big names in the luxury segment.


Volvo continues to double-down on trying to change that view, even if they recognize that they won’t match the mostly German segment leaders in terms of pure performance most of the time, and part of that effort is focused on groundbreaking safety and tech features, in addition to creating a luxury look and feel.

I recently spent some time in a 2018 Volvo S60 sedan, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS
Volvo’s exteriors have never been too audacious and this is no exception. Compared to some in the luxury realm, they are downright tame, though the Volvo nameplate up front and fan-blade style grille do grab your attention.

The interior is where we start to approach the luxury level a bit more.  Front seats are high end and comfortable via their leather upholstery, and the back seats aren't far behind. You will find some nice wood grain features worked into the interior design, and no materials feel cheap inside this vehicle. Speaking of comfort, the Climate package offers heated everying: front seats, rear seats, steering wheel and even the windshield washer nozzles.


Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Volvo S60
  • Price as tested: $47,715
  • Best feature: Excellent safety record and impressive tech
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury sedan buyers who care more about safety and comfort than they do about power and performance.
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Storage space is a key selling point on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT

A mainstay of the compact car segment for a quarter-century, Hyundai’s Elantra comes in many forms, from its base SE model to the Eco version to the Sport version, and a few in between.

But for 2018, the lineup gets another shakeup, this time with the introduction of the Elantra GT, a compact hatchback which ups the performance aspect a bit compared to the other choices.

I recently spent some time in an Elantra GT, which is based off the European version of the Elantra, and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up against other small hatches.

LOOKS

Being a hatchback, a form which is growing more common in this segment, the focus is going to be on storage space, and the Elantra GT delivers. You get ample trunk room (55 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, 25 with them up; numbers that rival some small SUVs).
But as far as using the back seat, you better have some kids or short adults sitting there. Such is the woe of the compact car segment -- you usually have to choose between more trunk or more back seat, and rarely if ever do you get both.


On the plus side, front seats are quite roomy and comfy, interior materials are above average quality, and the exterior of the Elantra GT is somewhat attractive for the segment, particularly up front. The vehicle offers 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, and projector headlights.

And for a smaller vehicle, there is a generous amount of storage locations for your keys and wallets and drinks and things (unlike some other vehicles, where that seems like an afterthought, or something not even thought about).

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT
  • Price as tested: $21,360
  • Best feature: Storage space, agile drive quality, low price
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Buyers who seek both a bargain and an enjoyable small car experience
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The interior of the 2017 Kia Optima SX Limited is near luxury level.

Despite the continuing rise of SUVs, to many carbuyers a sedan is still what they crave. So automakers can not afford to ignore this segment.

Kia recognizes that, and has paid close attention to its recently redesigned Optima sedan, which is larger than its compact Rio and Forte options, but just shy of the full-size Kia Cadenza sedan.

Kia needs to turn heads if it’s going to take a bite out of the top sellers in the segment. I recently spent some time in a 2017 Optima, and I’ll let you know how it holds up.

LOOKS

Standing out in this segment is hard, but Kia puts in a strong effort, particularly on the interior. You’ll find high-end stitched leather seating offered, and an overall roomy and comfortable interior that borders on a luxury feel.

The trunk space is quite generous, rear legroom is strong for the class, and front seats provide comfort even on long rides.
On the exterior it’s a decent effort too, though probably not best in class. I like the front of the vehicle and its grille and headlight design, but the remainder of the vehicle sort of blends in with the competition.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Kia Optima SX Limited
  • Price as tested: $36,985 (base price is $22,200)
  • Best feature: High-powered turbo engine
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Sedan buyers who want a bit of a boost from the norm in this segment.
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The 2017 Dodge Charger maintains a classic muscle car look unlike anything else on the road today, a rarity in the modern cookie-cutter car world.

I recently read a news story about a person arrested after leading police on a chase that including him going roughly 150 mph -- He was driving a Dodge Charger.

Not that you should do that, unless you like jail, but it’s a testament to what this brand is about; speed and power.

Even on the lower ends of their spectrum, Dodge’s vehicles stand out. I recently tested a more pedestrian version of the Charger (SXT model with just 292 horsepower, as opposed to the optional 707 horsepower Hellcat version) and I’m back with a full report (and no, I didn’t try to hit triple digits, though I’m sure it would have been a blast).

 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Dodge Charger SXT
  • Price as tested: $36,165
  • Best feature: That patented Dodge power, roomy interior
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those seeking a powerful ride, within reason, and still want to tote the family around
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The 2017 Chevy Bolt and its estimated 238 mile top range are a sign of the future for EVs

The future is now. That’s how General Motors sees things, at least.

Having announced this month a move toward a future heavy with electric vehicles (aka EVs), and an estimated 20 new General Motors EV models promised by 2023, GM (and other automakers) are banking on this being the way we travel in the future. The biggest brand in the Motor City sees a future not of loud hot rod engines, but of quietly humming EVs.|

I was able to spend some time in the brand new Chevy Bolt EV this month, and it’s not a stretch to call this vehicle GM’s biggest news in decades. I have driven many EVs in recent years, and the Bolt was arguably the best experience I’ve had in one -- mainly because due to its very impressive 238-mile maximum electric range. I never once had even a thought of “range anxiety,” the issue that has plagued previous EV models and limited their success.

My initial thoughts on the Bolt were that it’s an awesome leap for GM to put out those kind of numbers. This puts other EVs to shame (outside of a pair of overpriced Tesla models that beat the Bolt’s numbers), and has drawn some eyes to GM who normally would not look at the brand.

Built in Michigan at GM’s Orion Township plant, the Bolt ditches the gas backup engine you’ll find on the Chevy Volt (essentially rendering the Volt obselete), and despite being a true EV it actually drives like something pretty close to a normal car. The Bolt offers 200 horsepower from the electric motor, and features a 60-kWh battery pack. Regenerative braking charges the battery, so it’s most efficient in stop-and-go traffic.

Read on for my full take on the Bolt EV, and the future of EVs in general.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV
  • Price as tested: Starts at $37,495 ($29,995 after tax credit)
  • Best feature: Best extended range on an affordable pure-electric vehicle
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those who want to make the jump to full EVs and were waiting for some proper range
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The Lexus Hybrid Drive system provides an impressive driving experience in the 2017 Lexus ES 300h.

In this age of full-on plug-in EVs with extended range and autonomous cars edging closer to reality, talking about hybrids seems almost old-school. But there was a time when this technology was the one being hotly debated. Think back to when the Prius first came around two decades back and some people wondered if it would survive.

Nowadays, hybrids are accepted with little discussion, and recognized as one more option for the eco-friendly crowd or for those who just don’t like stopping to get gas (or paying for it.).

Most automakers now offer some hybrids, and a few reside in the luxury realm inhabited by Lexus.

That’s where my test vehicle, the 2017 Lexus ES 300h, comes in. This sedan aims to provide not only strong fuel economy but also an enjoyable driving experience. It’s a smaller hybrid sedan, with limited direct competition in the segment, but does it deliver enough to get the attention it seeks?

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Lexus ES 300h
  • Price as tested: $48,213 (starts at $41,820)
  • Best feature: Impressive performance for a hybrid; bold design
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: People seeking a luxury hybrid that’s also fun to drive
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