Sep 292016
 
2016 BMW M2

2016 BMW M2

Latino Traffic Report has learned that BMW North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain model year 2016 BMW M2 Coupe vehicles, 2015-2017 M3 Sedan vehicles and 2015-2016 M4 Coupe and M4 Convertible vehicles. During servicing of the rear differential for a prior service action, the rear sub-frame bolts may have been reused instead of being replaced. Reuse of the existing bolts may cause the bolts to loosen.

2015 BMW M4

2015 BMW M4 Coupe

Loose rear sub-frame bolts may adversely affect vehicle handling and control, increasing the risk of a crash.

BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear sub-frame bolts with new bolts, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 24, 2016. Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

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 262016
 

2015-11-10 miata

Summer’s winding down and in Texas that means convertible season is about to begin. The selection in this segment has dwindled over the years but one little roadster celebrated 26 years of success this year. For 2016, the Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a whole new look and improvements. On a recent test drive of the MX-5 Grand Touring for Latino Traffic Report, it made me smile just looking at it, and from ear-to-ear after getting behind the wheel.

While the convertible still requires a manual release rather than an automatic one, the cloth top is light so it can be done quickly and easily—with one hand in my case.2015-11-10 miata.side

As expected, the diminutive Miata is fuel efficient, but the fourth-generation MX-5 adopts SKYACTIV Technology for a 25-percent greater fuel-efficiency and drops 150 pounds to make it faster and save even more gas.

The test model powertrain included a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine matched to the SKYACTIV six-speed manual transmission. It had an EPA estimated rating of 27 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. I averaged 31.2 mpg during the weeklong test. While the manual transmission ramps up the Miata’s sporty performance, a six-speed automatic transmission is also available.

2015-11-10 miata.seatsA double-wishbone front suspension further enhanced performance as well as a lightweight but rigid rear multilink setup.

Known for a driving experience best described as “zoom-zoom,” Mazda was also one of the first to offer safety technology that had been reserved for premium brands, like a blind-spot monitor. On the top-of-the-line Touring model that I tested, Mazda goes further by adding rear cross traffic alert as a standard feature, along with the blind spot monitor. Sadly, these features are not available on the Sport and Club trims.

2015-11-10 miata.dashAll three MX-5 trim levels, however, come equipped with air conditioning, a push-button starter, cruise control, steering wheel mounted audio and speed controls, power door locks, USB input, Bluetooth wireless phone pairing and audio streaming, a leather shift knob, and as an added bonus, a CD player. The Touring adds heated leather trimmed seats, a Bose audio system and Mazda Connect infotainment system (standard on the Club trim as well) with a seven-inch color touch screen, and navigation. The number of radio presets was limited to twelve and couldn’t be set while the car was in motion, an odd inconvenience.

Probably the greatest appeal of the Miata, besides the open-air ride, is its value—it’s one of the most affordable convertibles in its segment. Pricing for the 2016 Miata MX-5 starts at $25,735. The as-tested pricing came to $31,315.2015-11-10 miata.rear

 

Sí: The Miata is a fun and affordable roadster, packed with lots of features.

No: Safety features like a blind spot monitor should be available on the lower trim levels and I need at least 40 presets on a radio.

Mar 172016
 

photo by Valerie Menard

If you ask me, there really aren’t enough convertibles on the road today. Thankfully, Buick will add to this niche of a segment with the 2016 Cascada. Hoping to compete with higher-end models like the Audi A3 Cabriolet, the Cascada combines good looks with a competitive price.

Fun by nature, convertibles elevate the driving experience with a unique sense of freedom, but there’s usually a premium placed on feeling the wind in your hair. Considered a halo car for Buick, the Cascada is the brand’s first convertible in 25 years.

photo by Valerie MenardLatino Traffic Report recently attended  the launch in Miami where the two-door ragtop embraced what little sunshine peaked through the clouds on the way to Key West. Offered only in black, the automatic roof should take 17 seconds to recline fully beneath a hard tonneau. You can start the process with the car moving up to 31 mph.

Built as a convertible not a topless version of an already existing model, the Cascada looks good with the top up or down. Its global profile reflects the Opel version upon which it’s based. However, it also means that the Cascada lacks technologies like a blind spot monitor, active cruise control, and push button start because they’re not currently on the Opel version, according to engineers at the launch.

Current standard safety features include a rearview camera, Rear Park Assist, rollover bars behind the rear seat, articulating headlamps and front LED daytime running lamps, and StabiliTrak stability and traction control. Stepping up to the Premium trim level adds Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Front and Rear Park Assist.2016-01-21 14.06.30

Powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, direct injection and variable valve timing complement the turbo engine’s performance. Matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and using electric power steering, it should achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

The innovative HiPer Strut front suspension introduced on the LaCrosse and Regal, and the Watts Z-link suspension in the rear improve ride and handling. There weren’t many curves on the way to Key West but the Cascada felt firm and confident on the road.

On the inside, the posh theme continues with soft-touch material and authentic stitching on an instrument panel. Standard creature comforts include dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel, Buick IntelliLink with a seven-inch-diagonal color touch screen featuring Text Message Alerts, Siri Eyes Free for Apple phones with an iOS 6 or newer operating system, AM/FM/SiriusXM stereo,  CD/DVD player and MP3 player with navigation, remote vehicle starter, and OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot.

2016-01-21 14.04.25While some tech features are missing on the Cascada (hopefully they will be added in future versions), a new entry in the convertible segment is cause for applause.

With only two trim choices on for Buick’s new convertible, the Cascada and Cascada Premium, pricing starts at $33,990 and $36,990 respectively.