Oct 152021
 
The Hyundai Project Youth check presentation at Someone Cares Soup Kitchen on Oct. 10, 2021 in Costa Mesa, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

As Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15–Oct. 15) winds down, Latino Traffic Report has learned that Hyundai has launched a campaign to honor the Latino communty and celebrate their achievements and contributions. The multifaceted campaign includes philanthropic and community-based support as well as sponsorships highlighting Hispanic achievements and contributions to America.

“Hyundai is proud to support and spotlight the Hispanic community’s rich and diverse heritage and celebrate the achievements and invaluable contributions Latinos have made to America,” said Angela Zepeda, CMO, Hyundai Motor America. “Hispanic Americans are an integral part of our nation’s fabric and a key driving force of the automotive industry.”

CANELA.TV Sponsorship
CANELA.TV’s Journey to Success Series Presented by Hyundai highlights the real stories of today’s Hispanic heroes and explores a day in their lives. The 6-episode inspirational series features Kiki Melendez, La Marisoul and Edoardo Chavarin. The all-new series is currently available to stream at CANELA.TV Journey To Success Presented by Hyundai. Hyundai is also presenting CANELA.TV’s My Latin Roots section featuring classic films from Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema. 

Kristin Gomez and Brandon Ramirez from Hyundai Motor America present Karen Ruan and Marisol Parand from the Project Youth OCBF with a donation to help at-risk youth in Fountain Valley, Calif., Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

Philanthropic Efforts
Hyundai will make a $25,000 Donation to The Hispanic Scholarship Fund, an organization founded in 1975 that empowers students and parents to successfully complete a higher education, while providing support services and scholarships to as many exceptional students as possible.

Hyundai’s support to empower future generations of leaders extends beyond Hispanic Heritage Month and is a year-long commitment. Hyundai and its employee resource group (ERG), Amigos Unidos, will be hosting the Fourth Annual Hyundai Career Experience Virtual Program for first- and second-year college students to learn about automotive career opportunities.

Latin American Museum in Long Beach (MOLAA)
Hyundai is also sponsoring the Latin American Museum in Long Beach (MOLAA) Día de los Muertos community event and exhibition celebrating this important holiday. This year MOLAA will present an onsite event on Sunday, Oct. 17 as well as online programming that is accessible to all. For more information, please visit Day of the Dead Festival at MOLAA.  

Hyundai’s Amigos Unidos ERG members have also been volunteering their time and providing financial assistance to community-based organizations. This includes the Project Youth OCBF in Santa Ana which helps keep at-risk youth in school, healthy and drug-free through education, counseling, mentoring, and family strengthening, and Someone Cares Soup Kitchen in Costa Mesa, Calif. that provides a daily nutritional meal to all members of the community in need. 

Sep 222021
 
Expedition Premium
Expedition Max King Ranch

As sport utility vehicles (SUVs) grow, so do their price tags so that even the base model of a full-size SUV can produce a bit of sticker shock.  With a starting price above $50,000, the Ford Expedition is no exception.

Redesigned in 2018 (it’ll be refreshed for 2022), the Expedition continues to serve buyers with the need for transporting multiple passengers, lots of cargo, and towing. Latino Traffic Report recently tested the two highest end models of this fancy workaholic, the Expedition Platinum and extended length Max.

The Expedition

Regardless of trim level, all Expeditions benefitted from a new exterior design that gave them a more refined look in 2018. Three years later, the fourth generation Expedition still showcases a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and ten-speed automatic transmission that produce up to 375 horsepower and 470 ft.–lbs. of torque with best-in-class maximum towing capability of 9,300 pounds.

It has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 23 on the highway. The aluminum-alloy body, redesigned high-strength steel frame, and stop-start technology help stretch fuel further. The extended version adds 11.9 inches in length but loses a couple mpgs with a city/highway EPA estimated fuel economy of 16/21 mpg.

Flexible seating and storage solutions include second-row tip-and-slide seating, standard on all models, that provide easy access to the third row.

Improved utility on the all-new Expedition comes with the class-exclusive Pro Trailer Backup Assist camera that helps drivers maneuver with confidence when backing up to a trailer.

Standard safety features include a perimeter alarm, the SOS post-crash alert, traction control, and a blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, pre-collision warning, and automatic high beams as part of Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 technology suite.

Platinum 4X2

Fully loaded with technology and otherwise optional features, the Platinum trim level also improves on aesthetics with satin chrome scuff plates, ivory leather seats, and body color door handles.

As a 4×2 configuration, the test model was meant to stay on the road and as such, provided a comfy, quiet ride ensconced in a plush interior. Ford sets the bar regarding seating comfort, in LTR’s experience.

Not only were the front seats heated but so were the second row. The front seats, however, were also cooled or ventilated. The rear seats deployed easily with the push of a button as did the hands free liftgate. Both test models offered seating for seven with captain’s chairs in the second row rather than a bench.

Maneuvering such a large vehicle requires extra technology like a 360-degree camera when in reverse with sensors to make sure to avoid people and objects. For the smaller statured, power running boards make getting in and out of the vehicle much smoother and adjustable pedals improved driver confidence and safety.

A panoramic sunroof on the test model and a hotspot with wireless phone charging included on both, added luxury and convenience.

The Premium averaged 20.4 mpg on the weeklong test drive.

Built at Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky, pricing on the 2021 Expedition starts at $52,290 with destination fees. The as-tested price came to $75,925 with 22-inch wheels and second-row buckets seats adding $595.

King Ranch 4×4

Not only is the Expedition Max longer than other Expeditions, the test model came in one of the most successful and plush trims that Ford offers, the King Ranch. Named for the famed ranch in Kingsville, Texas, purchasing this trim rewards the buyer with Del Rio leather seating and accents that bear the King Ranch logo.

The test model swapped a panoramic roof for the roof rack found on the Premium and added a ten-way driver and passenger memory seat.

While max towing on the King Ranch can reach 9,000 lbs., a little less than its shorter sibling, its added length expanded cargo room for a maximum of 121.5 cubic feet.

The test modal also lost a bit of fuel efficiency due to its size, it averaging 17.9 mpg.

The main feature on the King Ranch that sets apart, however, really boils down to its interior. There’s more plastic included than in the past but the leather seating, with saddlebags on the seat backs for added storage, achieves quite a high standard in the segment.

The as-tested price for the King Ranch came to $81,680 with an added $1,570 for its 22-inch wheels and heavy-duty trailer tow package.

Sí: Both test models offered what buyers would expect in a large SUV, particularly at this price point, lots of luxury, comfort, and convenience.

No: The infotainment system didn’t offer enough presets and the start-stop fuel saving system was abrupt.

Midsize Sedan Reviews: Mazda6 and Lexus IS 350

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Jul 312021
 
Mazda6 Signature
Lexus IS 350 F Sport

Believe it or not, fans of the sedan do still exist and at a time when computer chip shortages have made most sport utility vehicles hard to find, overlooked sedans may lurking on the lot. Packed with standard features and new technology, the modern sedan has gotten sleeker inside and out. Latino Traffic Report recently drove the Mazda6, specifically the top-of-the-line Signature trim as well as the Lexus IS 350 F Sport, two viable sedan options with more in common than expected.

Mazda6

UltraSuede dash.

Mazda’s flagship midsize sedan, the Mazda6, pushes style and refinement but the Signature trim is considered the most aspirational in the lineup.

Regarding its design, the test model Mazda6 set itself apart on the outside with unique features like a gunmetal front grille and on the inside, with Nappa leather seating enhanced by heated and cooled seats, Japanese Sen wood and gilded UltraSuede (right), accents that most carmakers save for their luxury nameplates.

Convenience features on the Mazda6 also hit a high mark with a 360-degree View Monitor (backup camera) with front and rear parking sensors, a seven-inch reconfigurable digital gauge cluster, and Mazda’s navigation system with Traffic Sign Recognition, an essential feature for speed traps. On the test model, a black headliner, frameless rearview mirror, LED ambient lights and unique stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel completed the heightened look and feel. Plus, the rear seat was split 60/40 for added utility and access to the trunk.

For 2021, Mazda enhances the standard safety suite of features by adding radar cruise control with stop-and-go function, pedestrian detection, collision and lane departure warning with Lane-Keep Assist, and a blind spot monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.

The test model added a rear spoiler, ambient cabin lighting, and XM Travel and Traffic Link.

While it offers more luxury than most in its segment, the Mazda6 doesn’t ignore performance. A more powerful turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with Mazda’s signature Skyactiv fuel saving technology with 227 horses and 310 lb.–ft. of torque powered the test model. The engine was matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with a Sport mode for a more aggressive performance.

The EPA estimated fuel economy on the Mazda was 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. It averaged 26 mpg on the weeklong test drive.

The starting price for the base model 2021 Mazda6 is $25,270. The as-tested price came to $36,620. For fans of Mazda’s signature Soul Red Crystal Metallic exterior paint color, that’ll cost an extra $595.

Lexus IS 350

The IS represents the entry level Lexus sedan model for car buyers who aspire to move into the luxury segment.

As such, the IS reflects the brand’s distinctive design DNA, namely the spindle grille, while pushing its sportier side.

One would assume luxury nameplates always include a bigger list of standard features but that’s not always true, for instance, leather seating is not offered on the IS, including on the test model, IS 350 F Sport considered near the top-of-the-line IS—replacing rear-wheel drive with all-wheel drive on the test model would have made it top of line. NuLuxe, a man-made leather upholstery, is standard on the IS but also convincing as a leather alternative. Lexus’s dramatic color palate for the seating also helps. The test model came with black seats with gray accents and blue stitching. The shift knob and steering wheel, however, were leather trimmed.

As expected, the Lexus included a healthy list of safety features, like pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and Smart Watch and Alexa Skill integration, among other features. The parking sensor, however, didn’t always engage.

Lexus is one of the few automakers to stick with a six-cylinder engine and that’s what powers the IS, specifically a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 hp and 280 lb.­–ft. of torque. Matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the test model also came with drive modes and paddle shifters on the steering wheel for better performance. It had an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 20/28 mpg and averaged 23.3 mpg on the test drive.

As mentioned, the test model came equipped with the F Sport package ($3,735) that put badging wherever possible and with a sportier look inside, like metal pedals and bolstered front seats, but more importantly, a sport tuned and adaptive variable suspension, limited slip rear differential, and 19-inch alloy wheels. It also added fancy features like a power rear sunshade and illuminated door sills. For 2021, only the IS 350 comes in an F Sport model.

Starting price on the 2021 Lexus IS is $39,050 without destination fees. The as-tested price came to $52,484.

Sí: The Mazda6 may seem pricey but it effectively combines luxury amenities with a sporty performance.

The Lexus IS 350 F Sport offers a sporty performance in a snazzy package.

No: The lack of leather seating on any Lexus seemed odd and the level of road noise was surprising.

The infotainment system on the Mazda6 was a bit clunky and hard to program.

Crossover Review: Hyundai Venue

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Jun 152021
 

Competition may not be the mother of invention, but it’s certainly related. In the escalating crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) market, carmakers have had to get creative when trying to compete. Hyundai opted to approach the challenge from a value perspective when introducing yet another crossover, the Venue, to its lineup. Latino Traffic Report recently got to drive the thrifty little SUV, specifically, the Venue SEL, and while it may be cheapest SUV offered, Hyundai’s certainly not giving it away.

To hold their own, crossovers need to offer what car buyers want, utility combined with the performance of a sedan. Introduced in 2020, the Venue certainly checks this box offering a 60/40 split second-row seat that deploys easily to expose 31.9 cu. ft. of cargo room. Despite being Hyundai’s smallest SUV, its interior as a whole felt roomy, the seats were a striking black and white two-tone and there were creative cubbies for storage like the one pictured (right) under the dash. The ride, however, was a bit bumpy.

For added convenience, a rearview camera, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with cruise and cruise control, cruise control though not adaptive, remote keyless entry and forward collision avoidance are standard. Initially, getting more comforting technology, like a blind spot monitor, required the Convenience Package but for 2021, it’s now standard on SEL and Denim trim levels. The test model also added a sunroof and leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, as well as the Premium package ($1,750 ) that brought heated fronts seats, LED headlights and taillights, and an eight-inch navigation touchscreen, among other features.

A 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine with 121 horsepower and 113 ft.-lbs. of torque powers the Venue, matched to a continuously variable transmission. Compact SUVs should also try to be fuel-efficient. The Venue has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 on the highway. It averaged 33.8 on the test drive. The test model included Snow, and Drive modes to improve performance but oddly, not an Eco mode to improve fuel efficiency.

Available in three trim levels, S, SEL, and Denim, pricing for the 2021 Venue starts at $19,870. The as-tested price came to $23,405.

Si: As advertised, the Venue offers utility and value in the compact crossover segment.

No: While adding a blind spot monitor as standard equipment on SEL and Denim was a good move, the base model is excluded. Consumers should at least have the chance to purchase this technology.

Hybrid Review: 2021 Honda Accord

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Jun 062021
 

By Andy Stonehouse

I managed, somewhat accidentally, to provide perhaps the most harsh real-world test for one of Honda’s two new hybrids, the 2021 Accord: a bone-chilling -11 degree F snap we experienced out in Colorado in February, part of the system that walloped Texas and much of the South and Southeast. One would not think that an amply-sized, electrically-enhanced, Ohio-made family hybrid sedan such as the Accord would respond well to that kind of thing, but it did, with aplomb.

After a night in actually sub-zero temperatures, it started right up and continued doing what it had been doing before the cold, getting 48 miles per gallon (MPG) both in city and highway driving. Overall, the hybrid variant of the new Accord boasts a 600-mile range between fill-ups.

That’s a pretty impressive figure for a $37,435 vehicle (as-tested price in the top-of-the-line Touring trim level) I felt had more physically in common with an old Ford Crown Victoria than Accords I remember from the past.  Redesigned in 2018, the tenth-generation Accord is indeed a large and comfortable cruiser, and despite producing just 212 horsepower from its electrical setup, it climbed hills and even offered some sporty-lite careening capabilities.

For the most part, the hybrid aspect remains absolutely invisible, with absolutely no complicated power handoffs when the car switches between generator and engine power. Its system uses a clutch to enable a direct transmission link when the gasoline motor kicks in.

Handling feels tangibly solid with slightly heavy steering. The suspension is also exceptionally stiff and the vehicle rolls very flat and smooth.

You can play with the amount of regenerative braking using control buttons, especially while headed downhill; oddly, the Accord is only configured to offer a single mile’s range in all-electric mode, as that is apparently not a priority for Honda customers right now.

That’s maybe a slightly odd move, given every other manufacturer’s ambitious attempts to offer longer-range, plug-in hybrid options, but Honda is still pushing hydrogen power as its Moon Shot technology. At 48 MPG, the Accord already sort of seems like it’s running on electricity, so why mess around with expensive and complicated batteries, for now?

There’s also a bit of juxtaposition in design as the Accord offers increasingly sporty lines and an overall look that borders on flashy. The gleaming samurai sword on the grille, swept headlamps and open-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels, plus chrome-edged lower body bulges for better aerodynamics. Inside, however, you won’t find the glitz and glow of an Acura, but you’ll still be impressed by the somewhat sedate, soft-touch interior and broad seating. There are acres of legroom in the back.

I also managed to finally sit down and pre-configure the large Display Audio infotainment screen for easier use while driving; during other drives I was unable to even find the digital XM Radio controls, and spent a lot of dangerous time poking the screen. Set up all of that before you drive and it’s really seamless and easy to use.

Hybrid data geeks (with families to cart around) will appreciate what seemed to be about 25 different system metrics and readouts in the left bezel of the instrument display.

Pricing for the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid starts at $27,565.

Sí: Wow, the mileage. Mileage other hybrids only dream about, 48 MPG, almost consistently, in a very large and comfortable vehicle, not a weird little econo-box.

No: While it’s really flashy outside, the new Accord remains pretty boring indoors. There is not an ounce of drama in the dash and cabin design. But, as one of America’s best-selling cars of all time, maybe that’s the plan.

Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Golden, Colorado.

Premium SUV Review: Lincoln Navigator

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May 042021
 

Positioned near the top of the automotive food chain, premium full-size sport utility vehicles (SUVs) offer an exceptional level of luxury, comfort, and convenience. At a price nearing six figures (sometimes more), they appeal to a select consumer who expects a lot of bang for the buck.

Latino Traffic Report recently drove the Navigator, one of four plush Lincoln SUVs and its oldest and largest SUV nameplate Filled with lots of bells and whistles, including possibly the most comfortable seats in the business, the driving experience did not disappoint.

Redesigned for 2018, the Navigator continues to recover from two generations ago that was polarizing at best, e.g. an excessively chromed grille that made the Navigator appear to be wearing braces. The new look harkens back to Lincoln’s reputation for understated elegance.

The interior includes accents that should come with this segment, like real wood, aluminum, and leather. The test model Navigator Reserve with all-wheel drive (AWD) also came with a 12-inch configurable display in the instrument cluster, plus a ten-inch voice-activated touchscreen in the center console. The Sync3 system directed its connectivity, including access to AppleCar Play and Android Auto capability.

Modern features such as wireless charging and standard Wi-Fi, six USB ports, four 12-volt power outlets and a 110-volt plug were included. Lincoln added a new standard feature, Phone As A Key that allows owners to lock and unlock, open the liftgate and, start and drive their Navigator by utilizing the Lincoln Way app.

Features like the illuminated Lincoln logo that reflected on the ground as the driver approached for improved security, especially at night, a button to automatically fold the second and third rows, heated and cooled seats in the front, and heated seats in the second row, power running boards, and a panoramic sunroof elevated the test model even further.

SUVs this size don’t just bring luxury, they also offer some utility, namely towing and cargo capacity. A twin-turbo V6 engine with an estimated 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission, powers all Navigators. Maximum towing can reach 8,700 lbs. (or 8,300 lbs. when equipped with AWD) and there’s 103.3 cu. ft. of room behind behind the first row. The Navigator’s lighter, high-strength aluminum-alloy body improves the ride as well as fuel economy earning an EPA estimated 16 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. It achieved an average of 19.3 mpg on the test drive. Multiple drive modes also improved performance.

Drivability can be tricky on hefty SUVs like the Navigator but its warning bells from Advanced Park Assist, the blind spot monitor, and Pre-Collision Assist, improve confidence. Its ample size also brings another benefit, seating for eight. Equipped with the optional captain’s chairs, the test model offered seating for seven.

Other standard technology on the test model included adaptive cruise control, a hands-free liftgate, Sync3 voice activated navigation, and a head up display.

Pricing on the 2021 Navigator, including destination fees, starts at $77,480. The as-tested price came to $92,020.

Sí: The Navigator carries the aspirational brand, technology, and premium features that justify its price.

No: The test model also included Cappuccino-colored leather seats, that while elegant, showed wear on the sides of the front seats.

Sports Car Review: 2020 Toyota GR Supra

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Oct 022020
 

After more than 20 years, Toyota opted to bring back one of its most relished models, the Supra. Latino Traffic Report recently got to test the fifth generation of the sports car, the 2020 GR Supra. From its exterior to its performance, the test model lived up to the Supra’s reputation and its fans’ expectations. Sharing much of its chassis with the BMW Z4 doesn’t hurt either.

Its uniqueness starts with its curb appeal. Its twin-scroll turbo charged in-line six, rear-wheel-drive design, low center of gravity, and optimal weight balance set it apart in the Toyota lineup. However, getting in and out of it can be a challenge.

Under the hood, the 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo charged in-line six-cylinder engine produces 335 horses with 365 lb.–ft. of torque. For 2021, that power is expected to grow to 382 hp. It’s matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and accelerates from zero–60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds. Unlike its predecessor, however, there is no manual transmission option.

 It has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Switching to Sport mode will enhance its performance and engine rumble while sacrificing a bit of fuel economy. It averaged 23.2 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The test model came in Renaissance Red on the outside with a black leather-trimmed interior, including black sport seats, a black steering wheel and black center console with carbon-fiber accents. The instrument panel was a bit plain, though it did include a four-color Head-up Display.

The infotainment system on the test model included an 8.8-inch touchscreen, the JBL audio system with an amplifier, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Programming presets, however, was less intuitive than other infotainment systems tested on Toyota products.

Standard safety features on both grades, as well as the Launch Edition, include the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, and automatic high beams. 

On the test model, adding the blind spot monitor required an extra $1,195 as part of the Driver Assist Package that also included Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Parking Sensors with an emergency braking function. These were particularly handy for protecting the Supra’s front bumper lip.

Pricing for the Supra 3.0 starts at $50,920.  Available in three trim levels, the as-tested price on the mid-range 3.0 Premium came to $58,280.

Si: The GR Supra has the sporty looks and performance that fans have long anticipated. Young men were especially inquisitive during the test drive.

No: Any sports car should offer a manual transmission and while fun to drive, it’s pretty pricey.

Compact Car Review: 2020 Mazda3 Hatchback

 Mazda, Reviews  Comments Off on Compact Car Review: 2020 Mazda3 Hatchback
Aug 122020
 

How do you become a brand’s top-selling model in the world? Features like fuel economy and affordability seem to help, but give car a hatchback and it earns another advantage, utility. Mazda accomplished that with its entry-level model, the Mazda3, but not content to stop there, Mazda decided compact hatches needed one more attribute, performance. Latino Traffic Report recently tested the 2020 Mazda3 hatchback and it delivered on most of the above, although its sportiness does come at a cost.

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 186 horses and 186 lb.–ft. of torque powers all Mazda3s. While it’s available with a six-speed manual transmission, which tends to heighten the sporty experience, the test model came with the six-speed automatic transmission with the Sport mode.  

Mazda3 gauge cluster.

Equipped with iActive all-wheel-drive, the test model had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. It’s the lowest EPA rating for the Mazda3 lineup but only by two mpg in the city and three mpg on the highway. It averaged 29.3 mpg during the weeklong test drive. The 60/40-split rear seats folded flat to reveal 47.1 of cubic ft. of cargo room.

While the test model did not come in Mazda’s signature Soul Red Crystal exterior paint color, it did have red leather seats on the inside by virtue of being the top-of-the-line or Premium trim level.  The Premium trim also included a power moonroof, paddle shifters, a head-up display on the windshield or in Mazda vernacular, Active Driving Display, and adaptive front lighting, among other features.

Compared to a sedan, a hatchback brings added value and fun so the list of standard safety features gets a bit more generous. All Mazda3 hatchbacks include a rear backup camera, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and Driver Attention Alert that monitors the driver’s alertness and issues an alarm if it senses fatigue, among other features.

Mazda’s infotainment system starts with Mazda Connect and an 8.8-inch display, HD radio, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, eight speakers, and voice command. The test model also came with XM Satellite, but the overall set-up, with a volume control in the center console next to the shift knob, was awkward and the process for setting channel favorites was counterintuitive.

Other luxury features on the test model included heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, aluminum speaker grills, the Bose premium audio system, and an eight-way power front seat.

Pricing for the 2020 Mazda3 hatchback starts at $24,495. The as-tested pricing for the hatchback came to $31,470. By comparison, the Mazda3 sedan starts at $21,895.

Sí: Fun to drive, the Mazda3 hatchback lives up to its promise of performance and utility.

Muscle Car Review: Mustang Bullitt

 Ford, Reviews  Comments Off on Muscle Car Review: Mustang Bullitt
Jun 302020
 

Which came first, the Mustang Bullitt or the 1968 movie with the same name? Apparently, it was the latter. Two Mustang GT fastback models were used in the movie and then Ford adopted the name to release a Bullitt of its own in 2001.

In 2018, Ford re-introduced the iconic fastback for the 2019 model year and Latino Traffic Report recently got to test it. In a nutshell, fans of the Bullitt’s reputation for power, performance, and a loud engine rumble will not be disappointed but more timid drivers will be compelled to push the throttle too.

The fun begins with the Bullitt’s upgraded 5.0-liter V8 engine that delivers at least 475 horsepower and 420 lb.–ft. of torque, pushing it to a top speed of 163 miles per hour (mph), an eight mph increase over the latest Mustang GT. As an added treat, all Bullitts come with a six-speed manual transmission featuring a cue ball shift knob like the original—an automatic transmission is not an option.

Retuned exhaust tips give the car a signature roar, as well as a new Open Air Induction System and Shelby GT350 intake manifold. The adjustable exhaust mode cranks it up further for those who really want to make noise.

Not that it matters, especially for Bullitt enthusiasts, but the fuel economy for this muscle car was better than expected. The EPA estimated miles per gallon (mpg) wasn’t even included on the Monroney (window sticker) but it did average 23.7 mpg on the test drive.

Only two color choices exist for the Bullitt, Dark Highland Green and Shadow Black, the test model came in the latter. It was accented by chrome around the grille and front windows, 19-inch five spoke heritage aluminum wheels, red painted Brembo brakes, and a unique black front grille.

There’s also plenty of Bullitt badging throughout, like on the illuminated door sill scuff plates, in the instrument cluster, and on the driver air bag cover.

Pony reflected on the ground from the side mirror as driver approaches the Bullitt.

The Bullitt comes with all the standard equipment included on the GT Premium trim level, like selectable drive modes with toggle switches, dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled leather front seats (the fan for cooling, however, was loud), the Sync3 voice recognition communications and entertainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen with Pinch-to-Zoom capability, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

As a top-of-the-line trim level the Bullitt adds a 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument cluster with a unique Bullitt welcome screen that starts in green with an image of the car rather than the pony, green accent stitching and a heated leather steering wheel.

The test model also included Recaro black leather seats and the Bullitt Electronics Package ($2,100) that added a blind spot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, a CD Player, HD radio, and navigation.

Pricing for the 2020 Mustang starts at $26,670. The as-tested pricing for the Bullitt came to $51,290.

Original 1968 Mustang from movie Bullitt.

Sí: The Bullitt lives up to its reputation for power, speed, and thrilling ride.

No: The lack of access to a blind spot monitor across the lineup was disappointing and the seats were difficult to program.

Sports Car Review: Hyundai Veloster

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Mar 312020
 
Hyundai Veloster Turbo Ultimate

From coupes to convertibles, sports cars can be found in several automotive segments, but among three-door sport coupes, there’s only one option, the Hyundai Veloster. Redesigned for 2019, the more refined model bears a cleaner exterior design and improved engine choices. For 2020, the Veloster gains even more standard equipment. Latino Traffic Report recently zoomed about town in the Veloster Turbo Ultimate.

The Veloster’s third door.

There are six available trims and each comes in unique colors, materials, and accents. The redesign smartly included a two-tone exterior paint option reserved for the Turbo Ultimate trim. The test model came in a Chalk White body with a black roof.

While a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a six-speed manual powers the base model, the test model came with the turbo-charged 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horses and 195 lb.–ft. of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters. A six-speed manual transmission had been available on the Turbo Ultimate, but not for 2020. That’s a shame because at the Veloster launch, where LTR drove both transmissions, the manual really ramped up the coupe’s sporty performance. The manual is also standard on the R-Spec trim.

 The automatic, however, will earn the best EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. During the test drive, it averaged 33.8 mpg.

To customize the driving experience, Drive Mode Select comes standard on all Velosters and offers three driver-selectable modes—Normal, Sport, and Smart. Left in Sport for most of the weeklong test, the ride was noticeably stiff and heavy. Active Engine Sound, standard on the R-Spec trim and above, allows the driver to adjust the engine rumble for a sportier effect.

The Veloster’s appeal may be connected to its sportiness but it is a hatch and as such, it offers something other sport coupes don’t, utility, namely 19.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row seat and 44.5 cu. ft. with it folded flat.

Standard safety features on the Veloster include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with autonomous braking, Lane Keep Assist, and a rear view camera with dynamic guidelines. One away from the top-of-the line trim, the Ultimate added Forward Collision-Avoidance with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

Features like Blind-Spot Collision and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, as well as Blue Link, Hyundai’s onboard emergency, diagnostic, guidance service, are standard on all but the base trim.

Standard creature comforts include basics like air conditioning, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, a seven-inch display screen with AM/FM radio, dual USB ports, steering-wheel-mounted audio, Bluetooth, and cruse control, plus Apple CarPlay/Android Audio. Stepping up to the Turbo Ultimate brings fancier features like an eight-inch display with the Infiniti Premium audio system and navigation, a proximity key, leather seating with heated front seats with an orange accent stripe, a sunroof, and a heads-up display.

Pricing for the 2020 Veloster starts at $19,755. The as-tested price came to $29,440.

Si:  The three-door Veloster stands alone among sports coupes with its design and value.

No: The automatic transmission didn’t elevate the driving experience.