Sep 282017
 

In the words of The Big Bang Theory’s Amy Farrah Fowler, “I’m a girl.” I’ve also been writing about cars for the last eighteen years and as such, I’ve tested several. This year I’ve decided to write my first Top Picks story for Latino Traffic Report on vehicles for Latinas, based on cars I’ve driven and tested. They will appeal to women at different stages of life, with different needs, priorities, goals, and income. Some, however, are just damn cute!

Cars for Girls

Younger women may have greater financial constraints when car shopping, but that doesn’t mean the choices need be lackluster. These shoppers can sacrifice utility for fun, if need be, which brings me to my first selection.

Fiat 500c Lounge Cabriolet

For 2017, all Fiat 500 models can be ordered as a cabrio for an extra $1,495, and what could be more fun than a convertible? The folding roof opens with the push of a button as much or as little as you like although less than fully opened will produce tons of wind noise.

The diminutive little convertible also offers respectable fuel economy, with an EPA estimated 27 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. I averaged 24.9 mpg on the test drive. Don’t expect a lot of oomph, however, from the 500c’s 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 101 horses, even when you select the Sport mode

The test model came in Celeste Blu on the outside, one of fifteen special shades, with similar toned accents on the inside, and for $250 more, Ivory leather-trimmed bucket seats. The combination gave it an upscale feel.

It’s two-tone interior also included some fancy features like a 5.0-inch Uconnect touchscreen, a seven-inch thin-film transistor cluster display, a USB port in the glove box, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It included a parking assist system but no back-up camera, nor is one available, or push button start.

Optional equipment added as part of the Customer Preferred Package, included GPS Navigation ($495). One option on the test model that I wouldn’t go for was the six-speed automatic transmission ($695). The five-speed manual would have certainly ramped-up this car’s performance and fun factor.

Granted, its cuteness may be its best selling point but it made me smile each time I saw it and for a prospective owner, that effect can be priceless.

Hecho en Toluca, México, pricing for the 2017 500c starts at $14,995. The as-tested price came to $23,420.

Kia Soul! Turbo

While the cuteness factor still applies to the Kia Soul, it gets more oomph for 2017 from an all-new 1.6-liter turbo engine with 201 horsepower. The test model, the Soul Exclaim (!), arrived in a Wild Orange shade that blended well in the Burnt Orange home of the Texas Longhorns.

Matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (an exclusive feature on the Exclaim trim), the Turbo did exhibit extra pep, but not without a little turbo lag. It has a combined EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 mpg. I averaged 33.3 mpg during the weeklong test drive. There is a six-speed manual version but only on the base model.

Well suited for city driving, the Soul offers extra versatility with its folding seats that produce 61.3 cu. ft. of cargo space with the rear seat folded, as well as an expansive glove box. To enhance the driving experience, it comes with a choice of two driving modes, Normal, and Sport.

The navigation system was relegated to Apple Car Play, which worked well but does eat up data. Creature comforts included AM/FM/MP3 with a seven-inch touchscreen, push button start, Bluetooth wireless technology, leather seats with cloth inserts, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and the UVO infotainment system.

While a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert systems were not included on the test model, they are available on the Exclaim and Plus trim levels. Standard safety features on all models include electronic stability control and Hill Start Assist.

Pricing for the 2017 Soul starts at $16,995. The as-tested pricing came to $23,620.

 

VW Golf SportWagen TSI S

I love a manual transmission, which is why I had to include this model, but it had me stymied over listing it under Cars for Girls or Cars for Moms on the Go but since most moms have their hands full, I decided that the enterprising millennial interested in learning a new skill might find this wagon appealing.

I tested the 2017 VW Golf SportWagen TSI S with a five-speed manual transmission matched to a peppy 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 170 horsepower and 199 lb.–ft. of torque. The manual transmission added tons of fun plus it helped with fuel efficiency. The EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy is 25/35 mpg, the best of all three trim levels. I achieved an average of 32.8 mpg at the end of a week.

The SportWagen combines fun and utility with the extra cargo-carrying ability of a wagon. The rear seats fold flat easily to offer 66.5 cu. ft. of volume.

As expected with the base model, the interior was a little plain, but it did include a few conveniences like cruse control, App Connect for smartphone integration (which I used for navigation), a leather-trimmed steering wheel, brake lever, and shift knob, an AM/FM/HD/CD stereo with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a CD player, and illuminated vanity mirrors.

It also came with a few safety features like a rearview camera, Automatic Post-Collision Braking and Intelligent Crash Response systems.

Not offered on base model, forward collision warning,  a blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control, are available on the SE trim and standard on the top-of-the-line SEL trim level.

Pricing for the 2017 Golf SportWagen starts at $22,400, which was also the as-tested pricing. A six-speed automatic transmission is available for an additional $1,100.

 

Cars (and a Pickup) for Moms on the Go

Honda Ridgeline AWD RTL-E

Named the 2017 North American Truck of the Year by a jury of automotive journalists, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, with its 64-inch bed, maximum payload of 1,584 lbs. and available in-bed trunk that can double as an 82 qt. cooler, offers Latinas a vehicle with greater capability than a sedan or wagon.

Redesigned for 2017, Honda gave the Ridgeline a truck profile, replacing the previous side panel with one that has an integrated truss, while retaining its unibody construction and smooth ride. Additionally, every Ridgeline has four doors and seating for five.

Powered by a more powerful and efficient direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Ridgeline two-wheel drive (2WD) has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive (AWD) model, like the one I drove, loses one city/highway mpg. I averaged 23.9 mpg after a week.

The test model included Ridgeline’s Intelligent Traction Management System that enhances off-road capability with drive modes for different conditions—Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand on the AWD. The 2WD includes Normal and Snow. Towing on the AWD maxes out at 5,000 lbs.

While the multi-angle rearview camera and push button start are standard on all models, a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert only come with the top trim levels.

The test model also included available technology like an eight-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a new generation of the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, Smart Entry, a power sliding rear window, and Remote Engine Start. Creature comforts included heated seats, adaptive cruise control, and a moonroof.

All these fun features, however, ain’t cheap. Starting price on the 2017 Ridgeline is $30,415. The as-tested pricing came to $42,270.

 

Toyota Highlander SE

Crossover utility vehicles have become the new family car and one of the leaders in the segment is the Toyota Highlander. It doesn’t pretend to have an SUV’s off-road bravado but it does offer families the versatility and convenience they’re after.

Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the Highlander has a city/highway EPA estimated fuel economy of 21/27 mpg. I averaged 20.4 mpg on the test drive. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder is the base engine.

Offered in five trim levels, the SE FWD I drove is the second from the top-of-the-line model. Standard features included leather seating and heated front seats, a backup camera with an eight-inch display, five USB ports, integrated side window shades, Toyota Safety Sense with a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Entune infotainment. The intuitive system also made it easy for me to expand preset channels for a total of 36.

Safety features carry particular clout on a family vehicle. The Highlander includes its signature Star Safety System with traction control and anti-lock braking, plus a backup camera and Hill Start Assist Control. The test model also included a blind spot monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and rear parking sonar that are not offered on lower level trims.

The versatile SUV can seat up to eight or seven and the rear seats are split to fold flat for an expanded cargo carrying space of 83.7 cu. ft.

Optional equipment included a rear seat Blue Ray DVD entertainment system with a nine-inch display ($1,810).

Pricing for the 2017 Highlander starts at $31,390. The as-tested pricing came to $42,440.

Cars for Posh Latinas

BMW i3

Brand conscious Latinas will gravitate to BMW, it’s just a natural instinct, but for those who would also like to save the planet, the i3 serves a dual purpose.

Powered by a synchronous electric motor with 170 horsepower and 184 lbs.–ft. of torque, available as soon as the electric motor begins to turn, and a lithium high-voltage battery, it produces an electric range of approximately 114 miles when fully charged. The test model also included the Range Extender, a two-cylinder gasoline engine that helps alleviate range anxiety. It switches on once the battery is depleted to 6.5 percent state of charge and provides an additional range thanks to a larger fuel tank (2.4 gallons).

While it arrived with a full gas tank, the i3 test model had no charge. It does have quick charge capability but it took three days to charge fully in my garage using the standard occasional use cable for connecting to a domestic power socket. According the i3’s onboard system, I had an estimated electric range of 130 miles, but that number dropped sharply within minutes of getting on the road. Still, I managed to power the car exclusively on electricity for the remaining four days of the test drive and avoiding gasoline was a welcome experience.

The inside of the i3 also deserves a mention. It reminded me of a first class club at the airport, very airy, clean and green with the available unbleached light eucalyptus wood trim. Other creature comforts included automatic climate control, and Dynamic Cruise Control. The i3 did lack a blind spot monitor but it did have a rear parking camera and sensors.

Pricing for the 2017 BMW i3 starts at $45,445, excluding tax credits. The as-tested price came to $54,295.

 

Infiniti Q70

Infiniti’s striking curviness sets its lineup apart in the luxury performance segment. The 2017 Q70, its flagship sedan, embodies the brand’s sensuality.

Available in a long-wheelbase version, for Latinas who really need legroom, as well as AWD, the test model I drove was the rear-wheel drive Q70 5.6 with the standard wheelbase and the Sport Package.

Powered by two available engines, the test model came fully loaded with 420 horsepower and 417 lbs.–ft. of torque via its 5.6-liter V8 engine. Adding even more sportiness was the seven-speed transmission with a manual shift mode and Infiniti Drive Mode Selector that added four more modes—Standard, Sport, Eco, and Snow. With this much power, fuel economy was the trade off but I managed an average of 19 mpg.

Inside, I found more sexy features, starting with the curves on the binnacle brow (that overhang that shades the instrument cluster from the sun’s glare), or in this case, binnacle bra. Expected creature comforts at this price point, like leather seating throughout and heated and cooled seats in the front, dual-zone climate control, a heated, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, navigation with traffic and weather information, an eight-inch infotainment screen, an around-view camera, and a Bose stereo, were included.

While the test model came equipped with the Premium Package, it did add two more, rather pricey packages, to bring features like a blind spot monitor, intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking to avoid a collision per the Technology Package, ($3,300). The Sport Package ($4,900) added sport suspension, magnesium paddle shifters, Bose Studio Surround 16-speaker premium audio system, among other features.

Despite the need for additional pricey packages, the Q70 is still a beautiful sedan for the posh Latina who can afford it.

Pricing for the 2017 Q70 starts at $51,295. The as-tested pricing came to $72,720.

It’s been well documented that women make 85 percent of household buying decisions. Of all the cars to choose from, this list is but a sampling for Latinas to consider and savor.

Sep 142017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is recalling certain 2017-2018 Audi A3 Cabriolet and A3 Sedan vehicles. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) software may misinterpret the flywheel rotation on engine start-up as a “knocking” condition, and the adjusted air/fuel mixture may result in an engine stall. An engine stall can increase the risk of a crash.

2017 A3 Cabriolet

Audi will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the ECU software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 29, 2017. Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 24DF.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sep 082017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that the communications team at Hyundai Motor America has added Hyundai veteran Brandon Ramirez as the senior group manager of Product Communications. In this role, Brandon is responsible for communicating the attributes of Hyundai’s entire product lineup to traditional and digital media. This includes auto show strategy, new vehicle launches and ongoing content creation for Hyundai vehicles. Brandon reports to Jim Trainor, director of Hyundai’s communications efforts in the United States.

Brandon is transitioning to the communications team from Hyundai’s product planning division, where he worked for the past thirteen years leading product development, market launches and lifecycle management for Hyundai’s lineup of cars, CUVs and alternative-powered vehicles.

BRANDON RAMIREZ

His expertise also includes target audience research, analyzing market trends, and serving as company spokesperson to media and other third parties. Brandon also has extensive multicultural experience serving as the chair of Hyundai’s internal “Amigos Unidos” employee group, which is tasked with community engagement and raising culture awareness at Hyundai.

“Brandon is the perfect fit in this role with his in-depth product and industry knowledge, experience as a media spokesperson and the relationships he has throughout the entire organization,” said Trainor. “The addition of Brandon completes the recent reorganization of the PR team that better aligns Hyundai communications with the evolving automotive business, media and digital landscape. We’ve built the communications team of the future that will be able to quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences and media habits, and can help us stay ahead of our competition.”

Prior to Hyundai, Brandon spent several years in product strategy at Mitsubishi Motors North America and was an acquisition analyst at Fairfield Investments. Brandon graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of San Diego.

Sep 062017
 

On an off-road course, like Moab, UT or California’s Rubicon Trail, Jeep’s reign supreme. Every Jeep offered has the ability to climb rocks, but some are more suited to city driving, like the Compass.

Redesigned for 2017, the small SUV brings more convenience features and an improved on-road experience as well. I recently test drove the 2017 Compass Sport FWD for Latino Traffic Report, and while it didn’t climb any rocks, it did get me through at least one on-road challenge.

The Compass Sport I drove was practically a base model, with a few optional packages. One option I would have passed up, and the most expensive one at $1500, was the six-speed automatic transmission. I would have preferred the standard six-speed manual transmission on the Compact Sport. Jeep also offers a nine-speed automatic for some 4×4 models.

While these transmissions could be matched to a choice of five engines worldwide, in North America, the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder powers the Compass. The test model had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I averaged 25.9 mpg during the weeklong test drive. To stretch fuel efficiency further, the engine cuts off at idle but it also tends to weaken the air conditioning.

The front-wheel-drive test model did not offer Compass’s best-in-class 4×4 off-road ability, but it did have some of the new features for 2017, like a 3.5-inch LED driver information display (DID) instrument cluster, Uconnect 5.0—one of four new Uconnect infotainment systems—displayed on a rather diminutive touch screen, a capless fuel filler, push button start, ParkView Backup camera, and Remote Keyless Entry.

Of the more than 70 available safety features on the new Compass, like electronic stability control, roll mitigation, and traction control, it was the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and tire service kit that really impressed me.

While driving around town, the TPMS warning light appeared. Some TPMS systems just show the alert icon, forcing the driver to guess which tire is low, but the  DID on the Compass displayed PSI levels for all four tires so that I was able to monitor the leak. Upon returning home, I could hear the sound of air hissing from the left rear tire and by the next day, Sunday, it was flat. With plans to fly out of Austin on Monday, I had to find a quick fix.

Checking the trunk for a spare tire, I found the tire service kit that included sealant and a pump. With a little help from a friend, we injected the tire with the sealant and while the leak persisted it did slow down. The electronic air pump helped assure me that I could refill the tire upon my return. After a few days, it had lost some air but the pump, which plugs into one of two 12-volt auxiliary ports, was quick and easy to use.

The test model also included the Technology Group ($495) with the Park Sense rear park assist system and Sport Appearance Group ($595) with 16-inch wheels and tinted glass. It did not, however, come with a blind spot monitor or forward collision warning technology, nor are these technologies available on this trim level.

Pricing for the Jeep Compass starts at $22,090. The as-tested price came to $24,680.

: The 2017 Jeep Compass offers segment-leading off-road capability, a manual transmission on the base model, and improved fuel economy.

No: The as-tested Compass Sport FWD lacked the ability to add important safety technology like a blind spot monitor, plus the engine stop-start technology weakened the air conditioning.

Aug 282017
 

Honda and Hispanic Scholarship Fund Honor Outstanding Latino Students with Scholarships and Internship Opportunities.

Latino Traffic Report offers congratulations to sixteen outstanding Latino undergraduate students from around the country were recently honored for academic excellence by Honda North America, Inc. and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) at the annual Scholar Awards Breakfast in Columbus, Ohio.

Each student is eligible to receive a scholarship up to $5,000 to help pay for tuition, books and living expenses, pending verification of fall enrollment. Recipients also had the opportunity to interview for Honda’s summer internship program.
“We are very excited to be able to maintain our relationship with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and these incredibly talented students,” said Yvette Hunsicker, assistant vice president of the Honda Office of Inclusion and Diversity. “Honda believes in the next generation of leaders and with the proper support, their ability to achieve a college education. My hope is that they will all be working here at Honda someday.”

The students, who qualified for the program by earning at least a 3.0 grade point average, also traveled to Marysville, Ohio, for an inside look at Honda’s manufacturing, research and development operations. This trip included a tour of the Honda Heritage Center Museum, which tells the story of Honda’s North American history through an array of historic and current products.

“HSF is proud of our partnership with Honda,” said Fidel A. Vargas, President & CEO, HSF. “When a company with Honda’s global reach invests in young scholars in this exemplary way, the whole world can see that Honda is deeply committed to higher education, the Hispanic American community, and the future of our country.”

2017 Students Selected for Scholarship:

Ana Cervantes, Arizona State University, Chemical Engineering major

Ava Mauser, University of New Mexico, Chemical Engineering major

Bryce Gutierrez, Texas A&M University, Engineering, Chemical Engineering major

Christopher Casares, Brown University, Electrical Engineering major

Eglen Galindo, Stanford University, Industrial Engineering, Management major

Gabriel Rojas, Oregon State University, Mechanical Engineering major

Gerardo Valdes Bustamante, Colorado School of Mines, Mechanical Engineering major

Gustavo Salazar, University of California, Riverside, Economics, Chemical Engineering major

Isabel Perna, University of Miami, Industrial Engineering major

Joanna Rivero, University of Pittsburgh, Mechanical Engineering major

Junnior Rodriguez, Cypress College, Mechanical Engineering major

Manuel Lopez, University of Texas at Austin, Electrical Engineering major

Mario Macedo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering major

Paige Esguerra, North Carolina State University, Engineering, Chemical Engineering major

Paulo Montoya, Texas A&M University, Industrial Engineering major

Robin Franklin, University of Texas at Austin, Electrical Engineering major

Aug 202017
 

XC60 Eclipse Viewer

(ROCKLEIGH, N.J.) Is this cool or what? Latino Traffic Report has just learned that Volvo Car USA has designed and developed a custom eclipse viewer for the standard panoramic moonroof in the all-new 2018 XC60. The viewers will be shipped to select Volvo retailers along the eclipse’s path, allowing individuals to view the August 21, 2017 event safely and comfortably in the all-new XC60.

The XC60 Panoramic Moonroof Eclipse Viewer is made with an ISO-certified 12312-2 material and features a magnetized frame to attach to the XC60’s roof. The size of the XC60’s panoramic moonroof allows viewing from all five seats in the vehicle. Select Volvo retailers in the eclipse’s path of totality in Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Missouri and South Carolina will be prioritized for the limited number of viewers.

XC60 Eclipse Viewer

“The development of the XC60 Panoramic Moonroof Eclipse Viewer gives those in the eclipse’s path a unique way to experience this historic event in both comfort and safety,” said Bob Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Product and Brand Communications, Volvo Car USA. “For those not in the path of totality, we will live-stream the the eclipse in virtual reality and 4K high-resolution, 360 degree video.”

Volvo’s “Racing The Sun” campaign will broadcast the 2017 total solar eclipse in 4K high-resolution, 360 degree video and, for the first time, in immersive virtual reality. More on that program can be found at www.racingthesun.com

Aug 172017
 

E-350

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2014 Ford F-150 and E-350, 2014-2015 Ford Escape, and 2015 Lincoln MKC vehicles. Improperly manufactured bolts may have been used to install certain seats, seatbacks, seatbelt buckles, or seatbelt anchors on these vehicles.

The improperly manufactured bolts may fracture. If a seat, seatback, or seatbelt anchor attaching bolt fractures, the affected component may not be properly secured, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

Lincoln MKC

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected bolts, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin August 28, 2017. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 17S17.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Aug 122017
 

How do you redesign one of your all time best-selling models? Hyundai chose to add new features and technology to the all-new 2017 Elantra while dropping the starting price by $100. Having attended the regional launch last year, I recently drove the Limited or top-of-the-line Elantra trim level in a week-long test, for Latino Traffic Report and was reminded of the value Hyundai continues to reflect in its lineup.

As the word implies, a redesign starts on the outside. Defined by Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille, the new Elantra also has smoother contoured lines that enhance its aerodynamics. The redesign also includes equipment firsts like the available HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lights, unique vertical LED daytime running lights, the LED door handle approach lights, and LED taillights.

The Elantra comes with two available powertrains, a 1.4-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s reserved for the Eco trim level. The Limited and base model SE are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horses and 132 lbs.–ft. of torque. It’s matched to a six-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission with the Active ECO System on the Limited, which also includes Drive Mode Select that allows the driver to choose between a Sport, Eco, or Normal setting to further enhance its performance. I kept it in the Eco mode for most of the drive to conserve fuel. The Limited, with its 17-inch wheels, has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. I averaged 35 mpg during the test drive.

Stepping up to the Limited trim level brings many more advantages, particularly when it comes to safety features. Standard advanced safety features include a rearview camera, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist. Surprisingly, some premium brands still include a blind spot monitor on an optional package so I’m always happy to find this critical safety feature included as standard equipment. Still, I would like to see it available throughout the lineup but it’s not available on the base SE with a six-speed manual transmission, it comes with a blind spot mirror on the driver’s side instead.

The Limited is the only trim with leather seating throughout, the Blue Link Connected Car system and a three-month trial of Blue Link Connected Care. The Limited trim also includes heated front seats and offers heated rear seats not found among its competitors.

Segment firsts include premium features like s a hands-free Smart Trunk (standard on the Limited)—there’s no need to swipe a foot under the bumper, just approach with keys in your pocket and in a few seconds, the trunk will open.

For added convenience, the rear seat is split 60/40, folding forward for additional cargo volume. Classified as a midsize sedan by the EPA. The Elantra already offers class-above total interior volume with 110.2 cu. ft. Cargo volume in the trunk reaches 14.4 cu. ft.

The test model also added the Tech Package ($2,500) that included navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Infinity Premium audio system, and the Ultimate Package ($1,900) with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian protection, Lane Keep Assist, and smart cruise control, among other features.

Pricing for the 2017 Elantra Limited starts at $23,185. The as-tested pricing came to $27,710.

Sí: The Elantra Limited offers great value with impressive standard features like the blind spot warning system.

No: Important safety technology should not be reserved for the top-of-the-line trim but should be available across the lineup.

Aug 072017
 

Believe it or not, the battle of the bulge (the war with the scale not the German counteroffensive in 1944) affects cars too. Dropping pounds can produce certain challenges for vehicles but in the search for better fuel economy, it’s worth it. Chevrolet took 400 pounds off of the all-new 2018 Equinox and Latino Traffic Report recently attended the launch in Asheville, North Carolina to test drive the redesigned compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). Turns out it has more to brag about than just being lean.

“In a word, crossover customers want one thing, everything. From comfort and connectivity to efficient performance and safety, the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox delivers on all counts,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers.

Turbos have been at the heart of Chevy’s approach to fuel economy and it really ramps up with the Equinox, which offers a choice of three—a 1.5-liter, 2.0-liter, and a 1.6-liter turbo diesel (a segment first). This makes the Equinox the first Chevrolet model in North America to use an all-turbocharged, multi-engine powertrain lineup. The 1.5-liter and diesel are matched to a six-speed automatic and the 2.0-liter is matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

GM estimates that the highway fuel economy on front wheel drive (FWD) models equipped with the 1.5-liter will reach 32 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, 29 mpg with the 2.0-liter, and 40 mpg with the diesel.

For many manufacturers, the compact SUV market is the new sweet spot and Chevrolet is no exception. Equinox sales have reached nearly two million units since its launch and it’s Chevrolet’s top selling SUV and second-best selling vehicle overall, after the Silverado.

An elegant interior complements the new exterior design, particularly on the top trim levels that offer striking color combinations for the leather seating and accents.

Inside, there’s also 3.5 cubic feet of interior volume for a total of up to 63.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, this despite a reduction in overall length of 4.7 inches, making it easier to park and maneuver.

This family vehicle is not without safety innovations. A rearview camera is standard on all trims, as well as Teen Driver that allows parents to set controls and review in order to encourage driving habits, even when they are not in the vehicle. The optional and improved Safety Alert seat buzzes the driver’s left or right upper thigh as a warning and the available Rear Seat Reminder pings when the ignition is turned off to remind drivers to check the back seat for children. These and other safety features like a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert are available although only on higher-end trim levels.

The MyLink infotainment system designed to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, can be matched to a standard seven- or an available eight-inch-diagonal color touchscreen. Other convenience features include cruise control, air conditioning, and keyless start.

Available in L, LS, LT and Premier trim levels, and FWD or all wheel drive combinations, pricing for the next-generation 2018 Equinox will start at $24,525.

 

Aug 042017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that DS Virgin Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez secured his second podium of the season during the thrilling Formula E season finale in Montreal, with team-mate Sam Bird finishing fourth to secure the team fourth place overall in the constructors’ championship. The result caps off the most successful season for the British team in terms of silverware, with an impressive six podiums and two wins, together with two pole positions and two fastest laps.

“I’m really pleased with the result, especially after what happened in race one, and to finish the season this way,” said Lopez. “I could tell straightaway what a difference the team had made to the car since my last race and it was frustrating our qualifying group meant we were unable to show this. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the race and of course the whole season, as well as working with the DS Virgin Racing team.”

Lopez  showed front-running pace but was drawn in the first qualifying group leaving him with the tougher of the track conditions to contend with, and starting from P11.

As the 37-lap race got underway, Lopez moved quickly up the field to lie sixth. Bird then made contact with the wall at Turn 3, damaging his steering and compromising both his handling and energy consumption during his first stint. Despite this, he was able to keep pushing and remarkably only lost one further place before pitting on lap 17, with Lopez stopping soon after and the two running third and fourth after the pit stop shuffle.

In the closing stages, race-leader and rival Felix Rosenqvist had dropped to second and into the clutches of Bird but with less usable energy, he was unable to maintain the pressure which allowed Lopez to get ahead. Lopez pushed until the chequered flag but was unable to get the better of Rosenqvist to cross the line third, one place ahead of his team-mate.

Team Principal Alex Tai commented: “My congratulations go to Jose for his superb podium today and his success in his debut season. Our achievements wouldn’t be possible without such a dedicated team, together with our partners, and we’re looking forward to continuing this momentum into season four.”

DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: “It was great to end DS Performance’s second Formula E season with a podium, and to add to our tally this season. Throughout the season, the team has developed the performance of the DSV-02, which has allowed us to fight at the top regularly and I’d like to thank the whole DS Virgin Racing team, to Total and our partners for this. This season has also been rich in terms of technological breakthroughs for us as well as brand awareness across the globe.”