CAR REVIEWS

The 2017 Audi A6 has an attractive design both inside and out.

I have high expectations of Audi vehicles.

From the time I first stepped into one years ago, they have impressed me highly, so any step down in new models will be noticed. As the saying goes, getting to the top is hard, but staying up there is harder once the standard is set.

I recently tested a 2017 Audi A6, the luxury automaker’s mid-size sedan entry, and I’m back with a full report on my experience.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Audi A6
  • Price as tested: $56,875 (starts at $47,600)
  • Best feature: Powerful, responsive engine, sharp Audi design; Safety scores
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Anyone who truly enjoys driving and is looking for a luxury sedan
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The Chevy Cruze gets a hatchback version in the United States for the 2017 model year.

Compact cars may be a smaller part of the sales pie than they used to be, but they’re not going away. Chevy knows this, and are doing what they can to keep the Cruze up-to-date in this extremely competitive segment.


One thing they were lacking was a hatchback option on the Cruze. While they long ago offered a hatch overseas on the Cruze, it’s just now coming to the U.S., having debuted with the 2017 model. I recently tested one out and I’m back with a full report.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback
  • Price as tested: $26,475 (starting price is $21,240 for hatchback; sedan starts around $17K)
  • Best feature: Smooth ride, strong tech, impressive storage in hatchback version
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Small car buyers who want to stay domestic and are into hatchbacks
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The Honda Civic remains a top seller despite a lack of flash

“Car guys” dislike vehicles like the Honda Civic for the most part, because they are pretty boring in the grand scheme of things, unless you go for the tricked-out versions.


But boring is safe, and boring is reliable, and boring is fuel-efficient. So boring is very attractive to the masses who don’t care about super-sporty motors and flashy colors and designs -- as evidenced by the countless grandmas and neighbors and cousins of yours who probably own a Civic.

I recently spent some time in 2017 Civic sedan, and I’m back with a report about which side of that argument I fall on.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Honda Civic
  • Price as tested: $18,640 (tops out at $26,500)
  • Best feature: Honda reliability, gas mileage
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those looking to skip the flash and get a reliable, fuel-efficient small car
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The Toyota Camry hybrid is more fun to drive than a typical hybrid.

Toyota has long been a leader in the areas of hybrid vehicles and pushing fuel mileage to new heights. While the Prius is their most well-known offering in this arena, it’s worth noting that there are others to consider -- including the hybrid version of their top-selling Camry sedan, which isn’t quite the fuel mileage champ as a Prius is, but excels in other ways to make up for it.

GETS YOU MOVING

The Camry hybrid features a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine; plus an electric motor. This provides you with 200 horsepower. The vehicle is front-wheel drive and the transmission is a CVT.

That translates to a bit of a surprise -- a much more enjoyable ride than you’ll get in a Prius or many other hybrids. You don’t hit the gas and wonder, “When it this thing going to get moving?” or worry about holding up traffic. You actually can get around pretty well and not even realize it’s a hybrid most of the time. What's interesting is that this Camry hybrid actually performs better than the standard 4-cylinder engine on the non-hybrid Camry.

It comes at a bit of a fuel economy cost, you lose at least 10 mpg off the 50+ mpg Prius, but 40 mpg is a realistic goal here and that’s not too bad. Official numbers on the Camry hybrid are 40 city/37 highway/38 combined, but I was able to top that during my testing. Using the Eco and EV modes will help boost your fuel mileage, but limit the fun of the drive at the same time.

 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Toyota Camry hybrid
  • Price as tested: $29,605
  • Best feature: Fuel mileage, reliability, good acceleration for a hybrid
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Hybrid buyers who want more power than a Prius, and want to stay in the Toyota family
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The new Genesis band, led by the G90, aims to take on the top luxury brands in a competitive market.

The phrase “launching a new luxury car brand” is not often heard, as it’s not an easy thing to do, because luxury car buyers tend to be very brand loyal. 


Thankfully, Hyundai didn’t care and did it anyway.

They decided last year to ditch the Hyundai Genesis and Hyundai Equus -- upscale Hyundai models that were still Hyundais -- redesign them and relaunch the two vehicles as the G80 and G90 in the new Genesis luxury line (their equivalent of Toyota’s Lexus, Honda’s Acura, Ford’s Lincoln, etc.).

Poppycock, many folks may have thought when the brand was launched. Hyundai’s not a luxury brand, their inner brain is telling them.

But are these folks right or wrong?

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2017 Genesis G90
  • Price as tested: $71,550
  • Best feature: True luxury look and feel; High-tech features
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury buyers who want a quality ride for a lower price and are willing to switch brands
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As 2017 approaches, and the final model year changeovers become complete, there opens the annual opportunity for new car buyers to cash in by snagging a year-old model at a steep discount so dealers can clear their lots for new models.

 

If you fall in this category, here’s some guidance in your search for a 2016 model, based on my experiences this past year testing the wide variety of vehicular options that came our way. Pricing listed on each vehicle is the official base price.

2016 Volkswagen Jetta (Starts at $17,680)

The 2016 Jetta is a mixed bag. On one hand it offers a fast and sporty drive, courtesy of a 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine. It’s a small car, so not a great option for families, but the rear seat is roomier than I anticipated. Fuel efficiency is another plus at 28 city/39 highway/32 combined mpg. And it has excellent safety ratings all around.

 

On the downside, the Jetta has transformed in recent years from being somewhat refined in the interior to going a bit more pedestrian with its materials, so it’s more no-frills than in the past.

I’ll call this one a fun, affordable car for those without big families who want a speedy ride and don’t need high-end materials inside.

 

 

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The Nissan Altima leads the midsize sedan pack in fuel mileage, with 39 highway mpg.

Sedans may not be the hippest kind of car you can buy, but boy do they sell.

Once you get past the pickup trucks and their dominant numbers, sedans make up most of the top selling cars out there, mainly due to their lower price point and the fact that, well, everyone’s gotta drive something and we don’t all need SUVs.

One of the models battling in the always busy midsize sedan segment is the Nissan Altima -- which has to find a way to compete against some of the biggest vehicle brands and models (think Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, etc.) and actually manages to do so quite well every year.

I recently spent a week in an Altima, and I’m back with a full report on how it fits into the sedan landscape.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2016 Nissan Altima
  • Price as tested: Price as tested: $32,115 (base price is $22,500)
  • Best feature: Class-leading fuel mileage, spacious interior, affordable price
  • Rating: Four out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: High MPG fans who want a roomy sedan for an affordable price.
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Cadillac hits the jackpot with new flagship CT6 sedan

The definition of the word flagship is: 1. the ship in a fleet that carries the commanding admiral. 2. The best or most important thing owned or produced by a particular organization.


As the brand undergoes a lineup transformation, Cadillac has unveiled its new flagship sedan, the Cadillac CT6 (not to be confused with the shorter CTS). After spending a week in the CT6, I must say the definition is fitting. If this was a fleet of ships, the CT6 would most definitely be the admiral, and it is the best and most important thing Cadillac currently produces.

The introduction of the CT6 comes as Cadillac works to firm up its position in the luxury car marketplace against the usual foreign brands that dominate the market, and it’s a bold and necessary move.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2016 Cadillac CT6
  • Price as tested: $88,460
  • Best feature: Beautiful design, massaging front seats, impressive drive quality
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those seeking a made-in-the-U.S.A. high-end luxury sedan and don’t want to explore foreign models; This is a worthy competitor to vehicles like the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-class
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