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Heru Lesmana 's Entries

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  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition.There was talk that the Honda Ridgeline (at the time ten years into its first and only generation) would leave us about mid-decade.  Honda instead gives us an all-new one, just in time for the boom in mid-size pickup trucks.  And the good news is that this Ridgeline is still weird.2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition.Weird in this case means "not like every other truck".  Honda, as it does when it is at its best, has come up with the vehicle most truck owners really need instead of what they think they want.  That formula pretty much shifted the family sedan market from the Chevrolet Impala to the Honda Accord over the past 35 years.The Ridgeline is a maneuverable size, isn't packing overkill under the hood (though with the current rush in most vehicles to 2-liter turbocharged fours, a 3.5-liter V6 is on the large side), and it delivers and EPA fuel economy estimate of 18 city/25 highway.Thoughtful touches abound.  The tailgate folds down like any other truck's, but it also opens out like a door.  Then there's the lockable compartment underneath the truck bed:2017 Honda Ridgeline trunk.Yes, it's a truck with a trunk.  And most of us who use a truck most of the time for hauling people and not things, will find that handy.  Also handy is the fact that the trunk is lined in plastic and has a drain plug at the bottom, because you can do this:2017 Honda Ridgeline trunk/ice chest.Apparently, there is a phrase in Japanese for "tailgate party", and Honda is familiar with it.What about things that won't fit in the trunk under the bed, and that you don't want to leave in the bed?  The Ridgeline has that covered, too:2017 Honda Ridgeline rear seat.There is significant space under the rear seat, all the way across, for storage.  And if that's not enough:2017 Honda Ridgeline folding rear seat.That same rear seat, folds up, allowing for large items, from boxes to a bicycle.2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition interior.Our tester was the top-of-the-line AWD Black Edition.  $42,870 is what it costs and it comes with every feature Honda offers in the Ridgeline...a leather-trimmed interior, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel (Sidenote: In my first real winter....yes, this is my fourth, but the drought meant more sunny, warmer days the past three winters) back in Northern California, I have become a huge fan of the heated steering wheel), an eight-speaker premium audio system with subwoofer, Apple CarPlay, navigation, tri-zone climate control, heated power front seats with memory for the driver, and Honda Sensing, a safety suite including collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and road departure warning.In other words, one seriously loaded truck,,,for one price.  Add in $900 destination and handling charges, and it stops at $43,770.  Which, these days, is reasonable money for a truck, let alone one with the features and usefulness of the new Honda Ridgeline.  We're fans and we hope there'll be a generation three after a long and successful run for this one.
    13 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition.There was talk that the Honda Ridgeline (at the time ten years into its first and only generation) would leave us about mid-decade.  Honda instead gives us an all-new one, just in time for the boom in mid-size pickup trucks.  And the good news is that this Ridgeline is still weird.2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition.Weird in this case means "not like every other truck".  Honda, as it does when it is at its best, has come up with the vehicle most truck owners really need instead of what they think they want.  That formula pretty much shifted the family sedan market from the Chevrolet Impala to the Honda Accord over the past 35 years.The Ridgeline is a maneuverable size, isn't packing overkill under the hood (though with the current rush in most vehicles to 2-liter turbocharged fours, a 3.5-liter V6 is on the large side), and it delivers and EPA fuel economy estimate of 18 city/25 highway.Thoughtful touches abound.  The tailgate folds down like any other truck's, but it also opens out like a door.  Then there's the lockable compartment underneath the truck bed:2017 Honda Ridgeline trunk.Yes, it's a truck with a trunk.  And most of us who use a truck most of the time for hauling people and not things, will find that handy.  Also handy is the fact that the trunk is lined in plastic and has a drain plug at the bottom, because you can do this:2017 Honda Ridgeline trunk/ice chest.Apparently, there is a phrase in Japanese for "tailgate party", and Honda is familiar with it.What about things that won't fit in the trunk under the bed, and that you don't want to leave in the bed?  The Ridgeline has that covered, too:2017 Honda Ridgeline rear seat.There is significant space under the rear seat, all the way across, for storage.  And if that's not enough:2017 Honda Ridgeline folding rear seat.That same rear seat, folds up, allowing for large items, from boxes to a bicycle.2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition interior.Our tester was the top-of-the-line AWD Black Edition.  $42,870 is what it costs and it comes with every feature Honda offers in the Ridgeline...a leather-trimmed interior, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel (Sidenote: In my first real winter....yes, this is my fourth, but the drought meant more sunny, warmer days the past three winters) back in Northern California, I have become a huge fan of the heated steering wheel), an eight-speaker premium audio system with subwoofer, Apple CarPlay, navigation, tri-zone climate control, heated power front seats with memory for the driver, and Honda Sensing, a safety suite including collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and road departure warning.In other words, one seriously loaded truck,,,for one price.  Add in $900 destination and handling charges, and it stops at $43,770.  Which, these days, is reasonable money for a truck, let alone one with the features and usefulness of the new Honda Ridgeline.  We're fans and we hope there'll be a generation three after a long and successful run for this one.
    Aug 18, 2017 13
  • 18 Aug 2017
    Petaling Jaya, 24 January 2017 � Honda Malaysia (or the Company) announced today that the newly launched All-New BR-V has received over 4,000 bookings barely 3 weeks since its official launch in Malaysia. The number of bookings achieved for All-New BR-V surpassed the Company�s monthly sales target of 800 units and is equivalent to the total sales target for 5 months.Honda Malaysia assured that eventhough booking numbers exceeded the target, the expected delivery period for the All-New BR-V remains at 1 to 2 months. The Company is able to sustain this waiting period due to the ability to adjust production schedule based on demand at its manufacturing plant which currently works on 2 production lines. The V variant leads the number of bookings at 83% of the total number of units booked while the remaining 17% accounts for the E variant.Based on the bookings thus far, the Company noted that the All-New BR-V attracts both urban and sub-urban customers from all over Malaysia. Due to its many practical features and affordable price tag, the All-New BR-V has received bookings from many first time customers who have never owned a Honda vehicle before.The All-New BR-V was the first Honda R&D Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. (HRAP) model launched in Malaysia and it is very well received by customers who are looking to own a comfortable Full 7-Seater which is stylish, practical yet affordable. The versatility of the Full 7-Seater Crossover is ideal for family usage be it daily travel to work or to ferry the children; weekend outings or even outstation travels.The All-New BR-V also made impressions with its best in class features such as the biggest trunk space of 223L with all seats up and 539L with 3rd row seats folded, highest engine output of 120PS and highest ground clearance at 201mm.The solid wing face design on the exterior of the All-New BR-V provides a sleek and stylish outlook to the car. The design are further complemented with a set of Roof Rail, Daytime Running Light (DRL) and 16� Dual Tone Allow Wheels which further highlights the ruggedness of the vehicle.Other features of the All-New BR-V include Rear Air-Conditioner, 11 cup holders, 6.1� Display Audio and Auto Air-Conditioning, Push Start Button and Smart Entry - all of which is equipped in the V variant. The All-New BR-V was awarded the 5-Star ASEAN NCAP, the highest safety standard for a vehicle in Malaysia. The 7-Seater Crossover is equipped with various safety features including Dual Front SRS Airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and ISO Fix.Another appealing feature would be the Multi-Configuration seats. The 2nd row seat adjusts with an effortless One Touch Tilt and Tumble in a 60:40 configuration while 3rd row seats comes in a 50:50 Tilt and Tumble. The versatility of these seats enhances the spaciousness of the vehicle.As a goodwill gesture of appreciation and to share the joy of surpassing its booking expectations, Mr. Katsuto Hayashi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Honda Malaysia embarked on a special project to personalise his very own hand drawn All-New BR-V card to be delivered to all Honda customers in conjunction with their birthdays.For more information on the All-New BR-V or to book a test drive, customers can visit any of the 88 Honda authorized dealers nationwide or call Honda�s Toll Free number at 1-800-88-2020 or log onto www.honda.com.my.SOURCE: Honda Malaysia Press Release... https://www.honda.com.my/corporate/press_release_details/609/All-New-BR-V-Surpasses-Honda-Malaysias-Booking-Target nuffnang_bid = "272dfcd6b634a8934319853fcada4fcc";
    13 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • Petaling Jaya, 24 January 2017 � Honda Malaysia (or the Company) announced today that the newly launched All-New BR-V has received over 4,000 bookings barely 3 weeks since its official launch in Malaysia. The number of bookings achieved for All-New BR-V surpassed the Company�s monthly sales target of 800 units and is equivalent to the total sales target for 5 months.Honda Malaysia assured that eventhough booking numbers exceeded the target, the expected delivery period for the All-New BR-V remains at 1 to 2 months. The Company is able to sustain this waiting period due to the ability to adjust production schedule based on demand at its manufacturing plant which currently works on 2 production lines. The V variant leads the number of bookings at 83% of the total number of units booked while the remaining 17% accounts for the E variant.Based on the bookings thus far, the Company noted that the All-New BR-V attracts both urban and sub-urban customers from all over Malaysia. Due to its many practical features and affordable price tag, the All-New BR-V has received bookings from many first time customers who have never owned a Honda vehicle before.The All-New BR-V was the first Honda R&D Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. (HRAP) model launched in Malaysia and it is very well received by customers who are looking to own a comfortable Full 7-Seater which is stylish, practical yet affordable. The versatility of the Full 7-Seater Crossover is ideal for family usage be it daily travel to work or to ferry the children; weekend outings or even outstation travels.The All-New BR-V also made impressions with its best in class features such as the biggest trunk space of 223L with all seats up and 539L with 3rd row seats folded, highest engine output of 120PS and highest ground clearance at 201mm.The solid wing face design on the exterior of the All-New BR-V provides a sleek and stylish outlook to the car. The design are further complemented with a set of Roof Rail, Daytime Running Light (DRL) and 16� Dual Tone Allow Wheels which further highlights the ruggedness of the vehicle.Other features of the All-New BR-V include Rear Air-Conditioner, 11 cup holders, 6.1� Display Audio and Auto Air-Conditioning, Push Start Button and Smart Entry - all of which is equipped in the V variant. The All-New BR-V was awarded the 5-Star ASEAN NCAP, the highest safety standard for a vehicle in Malaysia. The 7-Seater Crossover is equipped with various safety features including Dual Front SRS Airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and ISO Fix.Another appealing feature would be the Multi-Configuration seats. The 2nd row seat adjusts with an effortless One Touch Tilt and Tumble in a 60:40 configuration while 3rd row seats comes in a 50:50 Tilt and Tumble. The versatility of these seats enhances the spaciousness of the vehicle.As a goodwill gesture of appreciation and to share the joy of surpassing its booking expectations, Mr. Katsuto Hayashi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Honda Malaysia embarked on a special project to personalise his very own hand drawn All-New BR-V card to be delivered to all Honda customers in conjunction with their birthdays.For more information on the All-New BR-V or to book a test drive, customers can visit any of the 88 Honda authorized dealers nationwide or call Honda�s Toll Free number at 1-800-88-2020 or log onto www.honda.com.my.SOURCE: Honda Malaysia Press Release... https://www.honda.com.my/corporate/press_release_details/609/All-New-BR-V-Surpasses-Honda-Malaysias-Booking-Target nuffnang_bid = "272dfcd6b634a8934319853fcada4fcc";
    Aug 18, 2017 13
  • 18 Aug 2017
    nuffnang_bid = "272dfcd6b634a8934319853fcada4fcc"; In this blog entry, I'm reviewing the NEW Honda BR-V Crossover.   I'll kick off with my own words review, Launching Photos, YOUTUBE Playlists and reviews and Brochure scans...Lastly, I'll finish it off with my MEGA 200+ Photo gallery. The Honda BR-V was launched back in 5 January 2017, it is priced to sell at RM85,800 for E spec and RM92,800 for V spec.  Price OTR with Insurance and GST.  So far, Honda Malaysia received 40,000+ bookings in 1st month of its launch,INTRODUCTION:The Honda BR-V is a mini SUV/MPV or a crossover that was introduced by Honda through the development of Honda Research and Development (R and D) Asia Pacific Co. Ltd. (HRAP), Thailand as well as PT. Honda R&D Indonesia. The Honda BR-V stands for Bold Runabout Vehicle. This vehicle is a derivation of the Mobilio MPV which based it's platform from off a Honda Brio hatchback and the Amaze saloon. The BR-V sits between the City and the HR-V range. (source Honda Malaysia Press release).Colour Choices are as below:(Below is Sourced from Carlist.my):From Carlist:Standard features of the BR-VType E1.5-litre i-VTEC naturally aspirated Honda City engineCVT GearboxLED Daytime Running LightsProjector halogen headlightsSide mirrors with turn signalsRoof railsPole type antennaShiny dark metallic finished instrument panelManual air-conditioningFabric upholsteryUrethane steering wheel and gearknob11 cupholdersStandard audio system with Bluetooth, USB, AUX and Hands-Free connectivity, 4 speaker audio16-inch alloy wheelsTwo airbagsISOFIX (Second row)Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)ABS with EBDHill-Start Assist (HSA)Reverse sensorsSecurity alarm with ImmobiliserType VChrome door handlesBumper lower garnish and side protectorElectrical tailgate lockSteering wheel audio controlWater print matt finished instrument panelAuto air-conditioningLeather upholsteryLeather steering wheel and gearknobLeather 'door lining' armrest6.0 inch display audioHDMI input portReverse cameraEnd of source.My (Jefferson Lim) test drive experience.I only have 5km test drive.  But it's a good mix of routes (Except Uphill).  During the 5km drive, I noticed a commendable NVH and Just right amount of damping.  Soundproofing's MUCH MUCH better than Thai spec (which my relative tested in Hatyai).  It's Quite nippy too...  AS Powerful as Honda City with 4 on board.  We hit 110km/h briefly at that speed, RPM only hovering at 2200rpm.  Due to the 201mm high ground clearence, driving over speed-breakers and potholes were a breeze.   I also noticed the theatre like Seating positions.  This is where the 2nd row's slightly higher than 1st row (to accomodate the Fuel tank) and 3rd row higher than 2nd row (to fit the rear suspension and spare tyre - photo below).Another welcome addition's the Ceiling mounted Rear Air-cond vents with individual compressor.  As for the seats, the 1st row and 2nd row were quite comfortable and came with high quality FULL leather seats (in the test car).  As for the 3rd row, unfortunately, it's Thinly padded (but still comfortable in terms of Head and legroom - I am 175cm tall).   Above and below: 3rd row. Above and below: 2nd row.Saving grace's the 2nd row can slide forward and 1 touch double-flip tumble down for easier 3rd row access.Top speed was 170km/h according to a Thai Journalist while 0-100km/h in mid-12 seconds.  A check in Lowyat forum BR-V owner's club shows Mixed driving 13.9km/l.  Best 18km/h and worst 11km/l city driving.  Oh! Check out the Boot space with 3rd row seats up, a WHOOPING 223 litres.  Note this is AS Spacious as a Hyundai i10.  It rises to 539 litres with 3rd row seats folded up (make sure you hook the seats to the 2nd row headrest bar, (see photo below) else the whole bench will Come tumbling down.My only complaints were "Outside smell" such as Diesel fumes, durian stalls seeping into the cabin.  A check with Honda Indonesia and India revealed "NO Air-cond Cabin filter fitted".  2nd complaint are Exposed screws at door panels and boots and light-ish Door (compared to Honda City).  See photos below:And lastly, no front armrest and a bit tight in 2nd row for 3 adults.  This is more to 6+1 seaters.  END OF MY Driving review...  Without further ado let's proceed to Youtube playlist...END OF Youtube playlist...Let's proceed to brochure and pricelist scanEND OF BROCHURE SCANS...Let's proceed to My original Photo gallery:Rating: 8/10 for E-spec and 8.8/10 for V-spec.  Highly recommended...If you want to buy this car, please  call this 2 fellas from Tiong Nam motors, Setia Alam.Edward Lee - 018-761-5877orHIM - Owen Wong (lost his Phone No).OR IN Petaling Jaya, Setapak, Penang OR Bangi, me...Jeff Lim: 012-6852-718.Before I sign off, I'd like to present "INTERACTIVE" Forum and discussion, Lowyat Forum:Link as below:https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/4128844Official Honda BR-V Owners' LYN ForumThey are generally helpful and sincere in Helping you answering questions, doubts and ultimately, Brainwashing you to buy this value for money BR-V.That's all folks, thanks for having the time and patience to read this blog entry.  Partially original work.  Copy like a man, please state the Source like me, don't plagiarize.
    18 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • nuffnang_bid = "272dfcd6b634a8934319853fcada4fcc"; In this blog entry, I'm reviewing the NEW Honda BR-V Crossover.   I'll kick off with my own words review, Launching Photos, YOUTUBE Playlists and reviews and Brochure scans...Lastly, I'll finish it off with my MEGA 200+ Photo gallery. The Honda BR-V was launched back in 5 January 2017, it is priced to sell at RM85,800 for E spec and RM92,800 for V spec.  Price OTR with Insurance and GST.  So far, Honda Malaysia received 40,000+ bookings in 1st month of its launch,INTRODUCTION:The Honda BR-V is a mini SUV/MPV or a crossover that was introduced by Honda through the development of Honda Research and Development (R and D) Asia Pacific Co. Ltd. (HRAP), Thailand as well as PT. Honda R&D Indonesia. The Honda BR-V stands for Bold Runabout Vehicle. This vehicle is a derivation of the Mobilio MPV which based it's platform from off a Honda Brio hatchback and the Amaze saloon. The BR-V sits between the City and the HR-V range. (source Honda Malaysia Press release).Colour Choices are as below:(Below is Sourced from Carlist.my):From Carlist:Standard features of the BR-VType E1.5-litre i-VTEC naturally aspirated Honda City engineCVT GearboxLED Daytime Running LightsProjector halogen headlightsSide mirrors with turn signalsRoof railsPole type antennaShiny dark metallic finished instrument panelManual air-conditioningFabric upholsteryUrethane steering wheel and gearknob11 cupholdersStandard audio system with Bluetooth, USB, AUX and Hands-Free connectivity, 4 speaker audio16-inch alloy wheelsTwo airbagsISOFIX (Second row)Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)ABS with EBDHill-Start Assist (HSA)Reverse sensorsSecurity alarm with ImmobiliserType VChrome door handlesBumper lower garnish and side protectorElectrical tailgate lockSteering wheel audio controlWater print matt finished instrument panelAuto air-conditioningLeather upholsteryLeather steering wheel and gearknobLeather 'door lining' armrest6.0 inch display audioHDMI input portReverse cameraEnd of source.My (Jefferson Lim) test drive experience.I only have 5km test drive.  But it's a good mix of routes (Except Uphill).  During the 5km drive, I noticed a commendable NVH and Just right amount of damping.  Soundproofing's MUCH MUCH better than Thai spec (which my relative tested in Hatyai).  It's Quite nippy too...  AS Powerful as Honda City with 4 on board.  We hit 110km/h briefly at that speed, RPM only hovering at 2200rpm.  Due to the 201mm high ground clearence, driving over speed-breakers and potholes were a breeze.   I also noticed the theatre like Seating positions.  This is where the 2nd row's slightly higher than 1st row (to accomodate the Fuel tank) and 3rd row higher than 2nd row (to fit the rear suspension and spare tyre - photo below).Another welcome addition's the Ceiling mounted Rear Air-cond vents with individual compressor.  As for the seats, the 1st row and 2nd row were quite comfortable and came with high quality FULL leather seats (in the test car).  As for the 3rd row, unfortunately, it's Thinly padded (but still comfortable in terms of Head and legroom - I am 175cm tall).   Above and below: 3rd row. Above and below: 2nd row.Saving grace's the 2nd row can slide forward and 1 touch double-flip tumble down for easier 3rd row access.Top speed was 170km/h according to a Thai Journalist while 0-100km/h in mid-12 seconds.  A check in Lowyat forum BR-V owner's club shows Mixed driving 13.9km/l.  Best 18km/h and worst 11km/l city driving.  Oh! Check out the Boot space with 3rd row seats up, a WHOOPING 223 litres.  Note this is AS Spacious as a Hyundai i10.  It rises to 539 litres with 3rd row seats folded up (make sure you hook the seats to the 2nd row headrest bar, (see photo below) else the whole bench will Come tumbling down.My only complaints were "Outside smell" such as Diesel fumes, durian stalls seeping into the cabin.  A check with Honda Indonesia and India revealed "NO Air-cond Cabin filter fitted".  2nd complaint are Exposed screws at door panels and boots and light-ish Door (compared to Honda City).  See photos below:And lastly, no front armrest and a bit tight in 2nd row for 3 adults.  This is more to 6+1 seaters.  END OF MY Driving review...  Without further ado let's proceed to Youtube playlist...END OF Youtube playlist...Let's proceed to brochure and pricelist scanEND OF BROCHURE SCANS...Let's proceed to My original Photo gallery:Rating: 8/10 for E-spec and 8.8/10 for V-spec.  Highly recommended...If you want to buy this car, please  call this 2 fellas from Tiong Nam motors, Setia Alam.Edward Lee - 018-761-5877orHIM - Owen Wong (lost his Phone No).OR IN Petaling Jaya, Setapak, Penang OR Bangi, me...Jeff Lim: 012-6852-718.Before I sign off, I'd like to present "INTERACTIVE" Forum and discussion, Lowyat Forum:Link as below:https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/4128844Official Honda BR-V Owners' LYN ForumThey are generally helpful and sincere in Helping you answering questions, doubts and ultimately, Brainwashing you to buy this value for money BR-V.That's all folks, thanks for having the time and patience to read this blog entry.  Partially original work.  Copy like a man, please state the Source like me, don't plagiarize.
    Aug 18, 2017 18
  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 Ford Escape SE.It is mid-cycle freshening time for Ford's hot-selling small crossover, the Escape.  The new grille treatment makes the Escape look more like a Ford, and more to the point, a Ford truck, than an Asian import of indeterminate brand, which was pretty much the look through 2016.2017 Ford Escape SE.The rear end, which many thought was very Hyundai-like, gets a new treatment as well, and is unmistakably Ford.  All this is a very good thing, because if there is one domestic brand that doesn't have an image problem, it is Ford.  Thank the F-150 and the Mustang for that.Our test vehicle was the mid-line SE with front-wheel drive.  Base price is a very reasonable $25,100, but the options sent it skyrocketing from there.Some of the options are absolutely musts in our book---especially the 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine, which gives the Escape some serious thrust, while still delivering an EPA-estimated 22 city/29 highway.  Well worth the additional $1,295.2017 Ford Escape interior.The rest?  Well, they are all nice to have---the SE Technology Group including Sync 3, a reverse-sensing system, roof rack side rails, a blind spot information system and Sync Connect for $1,395; a power liftgate for $495; the panoramic vista roof for $1,495; a voice-activated touchscreen nav system for $795; 18-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels for $595 and the SE Leather Comfort Package with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power heated side mirrors and heated front seats for $1,595---but they add up to $6,370.  And that put the as-tested price for our vehicle, including $895 destination and delivery, at $33,660.At that point, why not just go all the way and buy the Escape Titanium?  That's the model our Publisher and Executive Editor drove last year and even with the additional cost of the four-wheel-drive model he drove, the as-tested price of that car was $34,975.   Doing some rough calculations using this year's pricing, it is essentially a wash.  If you want this level of equipment, buy the Titanium.  If you're looking for a reasonably-priced small crossover with a low price tag, the SE with the Ecoboost engine can be had for about $27,000, making it a terrific value.
    21 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 Ford Escape SE.It is mid-cycle freshening time for Ford's hot-selling small crossover, the Escape.  The new grille treatment makes the Escape look more like a Ford, and more to the point, a Ford truck, than an Asian import of indeterminate brand, which was pretty much the look through 2016.2017 Ford Escape SE.The rear end, which many thought was very Hyundai-like, gets a new treatment as well, and is unmistakably Ford.  All this is a very good thing, because if there is one domestic brand that doesn't have an image problem, it is Ford.  Thank the F-150 and the Mustang for that.Our test vehicle was the mid-line SE with front-wheel drive.  Base price is a very reasonable $25,100, but the options sent it skyrocketing from there.Some of the options are absolutely musts in our book---especially the 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine, which gives the Escape some serious thrust, while still delivering an EPA-estimated 22 city/29 highway.  Well worth the additional $1,295.2017 Ford Escape interior.The rest?  Well, they are all nice to have---the SE Technology Group including Sync 3, a reverse-sensing system, roof rack side rails, a blind spot information system and Sync Connect for $1,395; a power liftgate for $495; the panoramic vista roof for $1,495; a voice-activated touchscreen nav system for $795; 18-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels for $595 and the SE Leather Comfort Package with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power heated side mirrors and heated front seats for $1,595---but they add up to $6,370.  And that put the as-tested price for our vehicle, including $895 destination and delivery, at $33,660.At that point, why not just go all the way and buy the Escape Titanium?  That's the model our Publisher and Executive Editor drove last year and even with the additional cost of the four-wheel-drive model he drove, the as-tested price of that car was $34,975.   Doing some rough calculations using this year's pricing, it is essentially a wash.  If you want this level of equipment, buy the Titanium.  If you're looking for a reasonably-priced small crossover with a low price tag, the SE with the Ecoboost engine can be had for about $27,000, making it a terrific value.
    Aug 18, 2017 21
  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 Volkswagen CC Sport.The four-door coupe took the luxury car world by storm a few years ago.  Volkswagen jumped in with the CC---really just a lowered Passat with a different roof and taillights---and found that the phenomenon was not universal.  So, 2017 will be the last year for the CC.2017 Volkswagen CC Sport.And that's really a shame.  Our Publisher and Executive Editor has been the one to drive and review the CC the past two years, and he loved it, noting that people guessed the price at $50,000 to $60,000 instead of the mid-30-thousand range it actually sells for.I have the same overall impression he did.  Solid, quick---thanks to the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine---reasonably economical with an EPA fuel economy estimate of 22 city/31 highway, and built and equipped like the right-sized German sedan it is.2017 Volkswagen CC Sport interior.The CC Sport is actually the base CC, with the only step up being the Executive R-Line Michael drove last year.  The price begins at $34,475, with 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-Xenon automatic adaptive headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, front fog lights, heated, foldable power side mirrors, rain sensing windshield wipers with heated washer nozzles, dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, heated power front seats with lumbar support, a split-folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through, leatherette seating surfaces, an adjustable front center armrest with storage, auto-dimming rearview mirror, front and rear reading lights, carpeted floormats front and rear, stainless steel door sill scuff plates, an electric parking brake, a rearview camera, keyless access, pushbutton start, navigation, an AM/FM/HDRadio/CD eight-speaker audio system, cruise control and a six-speed automatic transmission, all standard.That is tremendous value.  It also includes VW Car-Net, with smartphone integration, and an infotainment and safety app suite.  All for $34,475.   And that is how our test vehicle came, just what was standard. Zero options.  With $865 destination charge, the as-tested price was $35,340.The CC is a winner in every way except the sales charts.  Get one while you can.
    22 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 Volkswagen CC Sport.The four-door coupe took the luxury car world by storm a few years ago.  Volkswagen jumped in with the CC---really just a lowered Passat with a different roof and taillights---and found that the phenomenon was not universal.  So, 2017 will be the last year for the CC.2017 Volkswagen CC Sport.And that's really a shame.  Our Publisher and Executive Editor has been the one to drive and review the CC the past two years, and he loved it, noting that people guessed the price at $50,000 to $60,000 instead of the mid-30-thousand range it actually sells for.I have the same overall impression he did.  Solid, quick---thanks to the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine---reasonably economical with an EPA fuel economy estimate of 22 city/31 highway, and built and equipped like the right-sized German sedan it is.2017 Volkswagen CC Sport interior.The CC Sport is actually the base CC, with the only step up being the Executive R-Line Michael drove last year.  The price begins at $34,475, with 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-Xenon automatic adaptive headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, front fog lights, heated, foldable power side mirrors, rain sensing windshield wipers with heated washer nozzles, dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, heated power front seats with lumbar support, a split-folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through, leatherette seating surfaces, an adjustable front center armrest with storage, auto-dimming rearview mirror, front and rear reading lights, carpeted floormats front and rear, stainless steel door sill scuff plates, an electric parking brake, a rearview camera, keyless access, pushbutton start, navigation, an AM/FM/HDRadio/CD eight-speaker audio system, cruise control and a six-speed automatic transmission, all standard.That is tremendous value.  It also includes VW Car-Net, with smartphone integration, and an infotainment and safety app suite.  All for $34,475.   And that is how our test vehicle came, just what was standard. Zero options.  With $865 destination charge, the as-tested price was $35,340.The CC is a winner in every way except the sales charts.  Get one while you can.
    Aug 18, 2017 22
  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.I'll confess.  I have no idea who's buying the Hyundai Veloster.  What is the market for a three-door coupe of unusual proportions?   Doesn't matter.  Enough of them sold in 2016 to edge out the Corvette, not that they are in any way direct competitors.2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.The Veloster Turbo does pump up the performance quotient---boosting horsepower to 201.  Mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the EPA says 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway is achievable.  A weekend run from suburban Sacramento to Mendocino County netted us 28.6.Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, projection headlights, heated side mirrors, ground effects and a body color rear spoiler, a rear windshield wiper, a Dimension premium audio system, a rear-view camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, as well as leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and pushbutton start.2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo interior.Our tester also had the Tech Package (panoramic sunroof, automatic temperature control, navigation, backup warning sensors and a 115-volt AC outlet in the center console.I'd love to tell you how much it cost, but the window sticker that came with the car was blank when it came to pricing, and Hyundai's website hasn't updated the Veloster page to include 2017 models.  Based on 2016 pricing, the Veloster Turbo starts at $22,600.  Add $2,700 for the Tech Package and maybe $900 for inland freight and handling and you're at $26,200....so assume a price increase for the new year and figure somewhere around $27,000.It is quick...it rides reasonably well, all things considered....but the seats, well, your mileage may vary and it may have to do with age and things like that, but after 90 minutes, my back was talking to me, and our weekend drive was three and a half hours each way.  If I was between 16 and 25 years old, I' have probably loved it.  But would I have 27 large to spend on a new car?Somehow, Hyundai's moving enough of them to land about midway on the sales charts.  More power (turbo joke) to them.
    15 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.I'll confess.  I have no idea who's buying the Hyundai Veloster.  What is the market for a three-door coupe of unusual proportions?   Doesn't matter.  Enough of them sold in 2016 to edge out the Corvette, not that they are in any way direct competitors.2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.The Veloster Turbo does pump up the performance quotient---boosting horsepower to 201.  Mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the EPA says 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway is achievable.  A weekend run from suburban Sacramento to Mendocino County netted us 28.6.Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, projection headlights, heated side mirrors, ground effects and a body color rear spoiler, a rear windshield wiper, a Dimension premium audio system, a rear-view camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, as well as leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and pushbutton start.2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo interior.Our tester also had the Tech Package (panoramic sunroof, automatic temperature control, navigation, backup warning sensors and a 115-volt AC outlet in the center console.I'd love to tell you how much it cost, but the window sticker that came with the car was blank when it came to pricing, and Hyundai's website hasn't updated the Veloster page to include 2017 models.  Based on 2016 pricing, the Veloster Turbo starts at $22,600.  Add $2,700 for the Tech Package and maybe $900 for inland freight and handling and you're at $26,200....so assume a price increase for the new year and figure somewhere around $27,000.It is quick...it rides reasonably well, all things considered....but the seats, well, your mileage may vary and it may have to do with age and things like that, but after 90 minutes, my back was talking to me, and our weekend drive was three and a half hours each way.  If I was between 16 and 25 years old, I' have probably loved it.  But would I have 27 large to spend on a new car?Somehow, Hyundai's moving enough of them to land about midway on the sales charts.  More power (turbo joke) to them.
    Aug 18, 2017 15
  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription.After several years of status quo, Volvo is getting a lot of attention thanks to its newest vehicles---especially the car that sits atop the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right of this page, the new S90.It and the XC90 SUV are leading the way to the next generation of Volvo products, but a week in the XC60 is a great reminder that, while they've been around a while, the current-generation Volvos are pretty wonderful vehicles.2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription.The XC60 is a size class down from the XC90...fitting nicely into the midsize crossover segment populated by the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350, Lincoln MKX, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.As for all that comes after the "XC60" in the name, T6 means it's equipped with a 2-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 302 horsepower, AWD is all-wheel drive and Inscription is the top trim level.  There are T5s, with a 2-liter four that is simply turbocharged, with an output of 240 horsepower.  Those can be had in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.  All T6s are all-wheel drive.As for the trim levels, there's Dynamic and Inscription, and in the XC60 T6 AWD, both have the same base price of $46,350.  The difference is in the equipment, with Inscription models getting linear walnut wood inlays inside, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, accent lighting, front comfort seats (among the best I've ever sat in) and 20-inch Titania diamond-cut alloy wheels.Also standard: a 160-watt high performance audio system with 8-speakers, a CD player, HDRadio, SiriusXM Satellite radio and a navigation system, Volvo's City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system, a laminated panoramic roof with power sunshade, leather seating surfaces, eight-way power front seats with lumbar support, keyless entry and drive, a power-operated liftgate, a tilting and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, electronic parking brake, dual-zone electronic climate control, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, heated power outside rearview mirrors with memory, and 40/20/40 flat-folding rear seats.The combination of the 2-liter super-and-turbocharged engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission results in decent fuel economy...an EPA-estimated 20 city/27 highway.  And the performance is far more than adequate. Ride and handling are excellent, and noise levels are very low.2017 Volvo XC60 interior.Unlike the iPad-like center screen found in the S90 and XC90, the XC60 is still working with buttons and knobs, designed nearly ten years ago, but updated.  And working with them is a reminder that there's nothing wrong with the old way, especially if it was done right the first time, which Volvo's interior was.Our tester had options, as well...a preferred option package of active dual Xenon headlights with headlight washers, HomeLink, electric folding rear headrests, front park assist and a 12-volt outlet in the cargo area.  Volvo values this at $1,975, but applies an instant option package credit of $625, knocking the price down to $1,350.We also had the climate package and child booster seats, which brings heated front seats, power child locks for the rear doors, dual outboard two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts, an interior air quality system, heated windshield washer nozzles, a heated steering wheel and a heated windshield for $1,550.And then there was the Advanced Package...adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist, collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with auto brake, distance alert, lane departure warning, active high beams, road sign information and an upgraded Harmon/Kardon premium sound system (which sounded very, very good) for $2,500.But wait, there's more!  The Osmium Grey metallic paint was extra-cost at $560 and there was an upgrade to 20-inch Avior wheels for $250.  With $995 destination charge, that brings the bottom line to $53,555.  And that is pretty much ballpark for this segment. So why go with the XC60?  It's solid, proven and manages to load itself with luxury and tech without the feeling that you're drowning in any of it.  In a way, as Volvo moves into the new era, the 2017 XC60 is the remaining product that feels like the Volvo we've known for decades.  And that's a reassuring feeling.
    18 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription.After several years of status quo, Volvo is getting a lot of attention thanks to its newest vehicles---especially the car that sits atop the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right of this page, the new S90.It and the XC90 SUV are leading the way to the next generation of Volvo products, but a week in the XC60 is a great reminder that, while they've been around a while, the current-generation Volvos are pretty wonderful vehicles.2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription.The XC60 is a size class down from the XC90...fitting nicely into the midsize crossover segment populated by the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350, Lincoln MKX, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.As for all that comes after the "XC60" in the name, T6 means it's equipped with a 2-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 302 horsepower, AWD is all-wheel drive and Inscription is the top trim level.  There are T5s, with a 2-liter four that is simply turbocharged, with an output of 240 horsepower.  Those can be had in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.  All T6s are all-wheel drive.As for the trim levels, there's Dynamic and Inscription, and in the XC60 T6 AWD, both have the same base price of $46,350.  The difference is in the equipment, with Inscription models getting linear walnut wood inlays inside, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, accent lighting, front comfort seats (among the best I've ever sat in) and 20-inch Titania diamond-cut alloy wheels.Also standard: a 160-watt high performance audio system with 8-speakers, a CD player, HDRadio, SiriusXM Satellite radio and a navigation system, Volvo's City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system, a laminated panoramic roof with power sunshade, leather seating surfaces, eight-way power front seats with lumbar support, keyless entry and drive, a power-operated liftgate, a tilting and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, electronic parking brake, dual-zone electronic climate control, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, heated power outside rearview mirrors with memory, and 40/20/40 flat-folding rear seats.The combination of the 2-liter super-and-turbocharged engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission results in decent fuel economy...an EPA-estimated 20 city/27 highway.  And the performance is far more than adequate. Ride and handling are excellent, and noise levels are very low.2017 Volvo XC60 interior.Unlike the iPad-like center screen found in the S90 and XC90, the XC60 is still working with buttons and knobs, designed nearly ten years ago, but updated.  And working with them is a reminder that there's nothing wrong with the old way, especially if it was done right the first time, which Volvo's interior was.Our tester had options, as well...a preferred option package of active dual Xenon headlights with headlight washers, HomeLink, electric folding rear headrests, front park assist and a 12-volt outlet in the cargo area.  Volvo values this at $1,975, but applies an instant option package credit of $625, knocking the price down to $1,350.We also had the climate package and child booster seats, which brings heated front seats, power child locks for the rear doors, dual outboard two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts, an interior air quality system, heated windshield washer nozzles, a heated steering wheel and a heated windshield for $1,550.And then there was the Advanced Package...adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist, collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with auto brake, distance alert, lane departure warning, active high beams, road sign information and an upgraded Harmon/Kardon premium sound system (which sounded very, very good) for $2,500.But wait, there's more!  The Osmium Grey metallic paint was extra-cost at $560 and there was an upgrade to 20-inch Avior wheels for $250.  With $995 destination charge, that brings the bottom line to $53,555.  And that is pretty much ballpark for this segment. So why go with the XC60?  It's solid, proven and manages to load itself with luxury and tech without the feeling that you're drowning in any of it.  In a way, as Volvo moves into the new era, the 2017 XC60 is the remaining product that feels like the Volvo we've known for decades.  And that's a reassuring feeling.
    Aug 18, 2017 18
  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 smart fortwo cabrio.First, before you comment to complain about typographical errors: The car company known as smart chooses to spell its name in all lower-case.  The same is true for its model names. So it is, accurately, the smart fortwo cabrio.Ten years ago, the smart fortwo was supposed to be the next big thing in very small cars.  In some places, Europe, for example, they are everywhere, and are a valid solution to narrow streets and challenging parking.  In the United States, a handful of eastern cities and San Francisco are probably closest to those conditions.  But probably not close enough.  The smart fortwo has not taken America by storm. Now, miraculously, some say, a second-generation smart fortwo has come to the USA.2017 smart fortwo cabrio.There are definite improvements to this second generation.  Our Publisher and Executive Editor drove the first generation smart fortwo five or six years ago and told me the automatic transmission was the worst he had ever been exposed to.  I am pleased to report that the 2017 smart fortwo cabrio has an optional all-new dual-clutch automatic that does not feel, as Michael put it back then, "like a bucking bronco".  A six-speed manual is standard.The new fortwo is 3.9 inches wider than the old one, giving the car a more substantial look---as substantial as a car that is only 8.8 feet long can look.  The soft slopes of the previous fortwo's body have been replaced with blocky styling---the taillamps doing an almost convincing impression of a Jeep Renegade. And there's been change for the better in the engine bay, as the 70-horsepower three-cylinder engine of the original has been replaced by a turbocharged three-cylinder that puts out 89 horsepower.  That engine, mated to the dual-clutch automatic, doesn't make the 2017 smart fortwo especially fast, but it is smooth and drivable.  The EPA estimates city fuel economy at 33 miles per gallon and highway mileage at 38.The top is a nice design.  Two touches of a button and the open air is yours.2017 smart fortwo interior.The added 3.9 inches of width makes the interior feel like a much bigger car.  A bigger small car, that is.  Still, it is now 1.4 inches wider than a Fiat 500C, so in the realm of small cars, the smart fortwo no longer feels abnormally tiny.  And interior materials have been upgraded.  It is a pleasant place to be.Except.This may not be the case everywhere---though even in trendy, tolerant San Francisco, smart owners have found their smart cars tipped over by smart alecks---but here in the Desert Southwest, particularly in Phoenix, there are guys in ball caps driving jacked-up pickup trucks who see a smart car as a target.  Even at and a bit above the speed limit, I endured repeated encounters with drivers who felt that because it was a microcar, it was automatically in their way.  I was a mobile outlet for everyone's aggression. The 2017 smart fortwo cabrio's base price is $18,900.  Our test vehicle had midnight blue metallic body panels for $350, a smartphone cradle for $100, an armrest for $100, 16-inch 8-Y-spoke alloy wheels for $100, a dashboard-mounted instrument cluster for $120, proximity warning function for $250, the dual-clutch automatic transmission for $990 and the proxy package---the top trim line with white man-made leather seats with contrasting blue fabric inserts---for $2,000.With $750 destination charge, the as-tested price was $23,660. So, is the 2017 smart fortwo...smart?  Depends on your situation.  If you live in a place where narrow, congested streets and cramped parking are a daily reality, then maybe.  But check the redneck jacked-up pickup population first.
    12 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 smart fortwo cabrio.First, before you comment to complain about typographical errors: The car company known as smart chooses to spell its name in all lower-case.  The same is true for its model names. So it is, accurately, the smart fortwo cabrio.Ten years ago, the smart fortwo was supposed to be the next big thing in very small cars.  In some places, Europe, for example, they are everywhere, and are a valid solution to narrow streets and challenging parking.  In the United States, a handful of eastern cities and San Francisco are probably closest to those conditions.  But probably not close enough.  The smart fortwo has not taken America by storm. Now, miraculously, some say, a second-generation smart fortwo has come to the USA.2017 smart fortwo cabrio.There are definite improvements to this second generation.  Our Publisher and Executive Editor drove the first generation smart fortwo five or six years ago and told me the automatic transmission was the worst he had ever been exposed to.  I am pleased to report that the 2017 smart fortwo cabrio has an optional all-new dual-clutch automatic that does not feel, as Michael put it back then, "like a bucking bronco".  A six-speed manual is standard.The new fortwo is 3.9 inches wider than the old one, giving the car a more substantial look---as substantial as a car that is only 8.8 feet long can look.  The soft slopes of the previous fortwo's body have been replaced with blocky styling---the taillamps doing an almost convincing impression of a Jeep Renegade. And there's been change for the better in the engine bay, as the 70-horsepower three-cylinder engine of the original has been replaced by a turbocharged three-cylinder that puts out 89 horsepower.  That engine, mated to the dual-clutch automatic, doesn't make the 2017 smart fortwo especially fast, but it is smooth and drivable.  The EPA estimates city fuel economy at 33 miles per gallon and highway mileage at 38.The top is a nice design.  Two touches of a button and the open air is yours.2017 smart fortwo interior.The added 3.9 inches of width makes the interior feel like a much bigger car.  A bigger small car, that is.  Still, it is now 1.4 inches wider than a Fiat 500C, so in the realm of small cars, the smart fortwo no longer feels abnormally tiny.  And interior materials have been upgraded.  It is a pleasant place to be.Except.This may not be the case everywhere---though even in trendy, tolerant San Francisco, smart owners have found their smart cars tipped over by smart alecks---but here in the Desert Southwest, particularly in Phoenix, there are guys in ball caps driving jacked-up pickup trucks who see a smart car as a target.  Even at and a bit above the speed limit, I endured repeated encounters with drivers who felt that because it was a microcar, it was automatically in their way.  I was a mobile outlet for everyone's aggression. The 2017 smart fortwo cabrio's base price is $18,900.  Our test vehicle had midnight blue metallic body panels for $350, a smartphone cradle for $100, an armrest for $100, 16-inch 8-Y-spoke alloy wheels for $100, a dashboard-mounted instrument cluster for $120, proximity warning function for $250, the dual-clutch automatic transmission for $990 and the proxy package---the top trim line with white man-made leather seats with contrasting blue fabric inserts---for $2,000.With $750 destination charge, the as-tested price was $23,660. So, is the 2017 smart fortwo...smart?  Depends on your situation.  If you live in a place where narrow, congested streets and cramped parking are a daily reality, then maybe.  But check the redneck jacked-up pickup population first.
    Aug 18, 2017 12
  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 Kia Niro Touring.It was just over a month ago that we reviewed the 2017 Kia Niro FE, the base trim level for Kia's new hybrid...and our take was that, at 52 miles per gallon city/49 highway and $23,785 including delivery, the Toyota Prius has reason to worry.Now, we've just finished a week in the top-level 2017 Kia Niro Touring and we're still very, very impressed.2017 Kia Niro Touring.Things do change as you move up the five-model ladder of Kia Niros.  The FE stands for "Fuel Economy"...and the aforementioned 52 city/49 highway is the best of the bunch.  The mid-level LX and EX models are EPA estimated at 51 city/46 highway and the Touring Launch Edition and Touring (separated by leather seating, a power sunroof, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats in the Touring) are estimated at 46 and 40.Why the differences?  Generally the EPA will average out the fuel economy of several trim levels (which can vary because of the weight of standard equipment or other factors) for simplicity's sake, but Kia wanted the biggest number possible for the FE, so it submitted the trims for testing separately. 2017 Kia Niro Touring interior.Still, even 46 city/40 highway is remarkable fuel economy for what is essentially a crossover (though, as we noted with the FE, you could also call it a hatchback or a wagon and not be wrong).  The closest true competitor to the Niro is not the standard Prius with its 54 city/50 highway EPA estimate, but the Prius V, which trails the Niro Touring in fuel economy with an estimated 43 city/39 highway.And then there's price.  A loaded Prius V Five has a base price of $30,935.  The Kia Niro Touring is everything (18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, Harmon Kardon premium audio system, navigation with eight-inch touchscreen and a rear camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the aforementioned leather seat trim, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and power sunroof,  pushbutton start, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking assist, projector beam headlights with LED positioning lamps, LED daytime running lights, power-folding heated outside mirrors with turn signals, roof rails, rear spoiler and rear privacy glass) for one price: $29,650.  With $895 inland freight and handling, it's $30,545.  And there's always Kia's 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty to consider.The only question (as we've said before) is whether a hybrid has to look different to sell. Arguably, the Prius has taken that a bridge too far in its latest generation and is paying a price in slumping sales.  If people will embrace a highly useful hybrid that doesn't scream "I'm a hybrid", Kia's got a winner in the Niro.
    17 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 Kia Niro Touring.It was just over a month ago that we reviewed the 2017 Kia Niro FE, the base trim level for Kia's new hybrid...and our take was that, at 52 miles per gallon city/49 highway and $23,785 including delivery, the Toyota Prius has reason to worry.Now, we've just finished a week in the top-level 2017 Kia Niro Touring and we're still very, very impressed.2017 Kia Niro Touring.Things do change as you move up the five-model ladder of Kia Niros.  The FE stands for "Fuel Economy"...and the aforementioned 52 city/49 highway is the best of the bunch.  The mid-level LX and EX models are EPA estimated at 51 city/46 highway and the Touring Launch Edition and Touring (separated by leather seating, a power sunroof, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats in the Touring) are estimated at 46 and 40.Why the differences?  Generally the EPA will average out the fuel economy of several trim levels (which can vary because of the weight of standard equipment or other factors) for simplicity's sake, but Kia wanted the biggest number possible for the FE, so it submitted the trims for testing separately. 2017 Kia Niro Touring interior.Still, even 46 city/40 highway is remarkable fuel economy for what is essentially a crossover (though, as we noted with the FE, you could also call it a hatchback or a wagon and not be wrong).  The closest true competitor to the Niro is not the standard Prius with its 54 city/50 highway EPA estimate, but the Prius V, which trails the Niro Touring in fuel economy with an estimated 43 city/39 highway.And then there's price.  A loaded Prius V Five has a base price of $30,935.  The Kia Niro Touring is everything (18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, Harmon Kardon premium audio system, navigation with eight-inch touchscreen and a rear camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the aforementioned leather seat trim, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and power sunroof,  pushbutton start, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking assist, projector beam headlights with LED positioning lamps, LED daytime running lights, power-folding heated outside mirrors with turn signals, roof rails, rear spoiler and rear privacy glass) for one price: $29,650.  With $895 inland freight and handling, it's $30,545.  And there's always Kia's 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty to consider.The only question (as we've said before) is whether a hybrid has to look different to sell. Arguably, the Prius has taken that a bridge too far in its latest generation and is paying a price in slumping sales.  If people will embrace a highly useful hybrid that doesn't scream "I'm a hybrid", Kia's got a winner in the Niro.
    Aug 18, 2017 17
  • 18 Aug 2017
    The 2017 Toyota Highlander SE.It has been a little more than a year since our last review of a Toyota Highlander.  That one was a loaded Limited Platinum that nudged the as-tested price perilously close to the $50,000 mark.  For a vehicle that TireKicker has always been somewhat lukewarm about since its last redesign---and don't get us started on the dubious value proposition of the Highlander Hybrid---that was a bit much.Some good news: Toyota has freshened the look of the 2017 Highlander.  The chrome strip behind the Toyota badge on the grille has been banished, and a body-color strip at what would be the bumper line has been moved up and thinned out.  That breaks up what had been a bottom-heavy and, to our eyes, awkward-looking grille.  It's a definite improvement.2017 Toyota Highlander SE.Fuel economy is improved, as well.  The Highlander now benefits from an eight-speed automatic transmission mated to the tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6.   The EPA fuel economy estimate in a front-wheel drive model like the one we tested is now 21 city/27 highway.Better yet, to illustrate that the Highlander in well-equipped form can be an excellent value, the vehicle we were given for a week was the SE model.   It is the next-to-top-of-the-line of the five Highlander models, and at a base price of $39,690, it carries a lot of very nice equipment as standard, such as projector-beam dark accent halogen headlamps with LED running lights, integrated fog lights, color-keyed heated outside power mirrors with turn and blind spot indicators, a power moonroof with sunshade and jam protection, 19-inch black finish multi-spoke machined alloy wheels, a flip-up rear hatch window and dark-painted roof rails.2017 Toyota Highlander SE interior.With all that, the test vehicle had only one option, the rear-seat entertainment system---a Blu-Ray DVD player with nine-inch display, RCA jacks, remote and two wireless headphones.  That added $1,810 to the price.  With $940 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price came to a reasonable, refreshing and thoroughly competitive $42,440.  In fact, for nicely-equipped SUVs in this size class, that's a bargain.We have wanted to like the current-generation Highlander a lot more than we have.  The changes made for 2017 go a long way toward that.
    13 Posted by Heru Lesmana
  • The 2017 Toyota Highlander SE.It has been a little more than a year since our last review of a Toyota Highlander.  That one was a loaded Limited Platinum that nudged the as-tested price perilously close to the $50,000 mark.  For a vehicle that TireKicker has always been somewhat lukewarm about since its last redesign---and don't get us started on the dubious value proposition of the Highlander Hybrid---that was a bit much.Some good news: Toyota has freshened the look of the 2017 Highlander.  The chrome strip behind the Toyota badge on the grille has been banished, and a body-color strip at what would be the bumper line has been moved up and thinned out.  That breaks up what had been a bottom-heavy and, to our eyes, awkward-looking grille.  It's a definite improvement.2017 Toyota Highlander SE.Fuel economy is improved, as well.  The Highlander now benefits from an eight-speed automatic transmission mated to the tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6.   The EPA fuel economy estimate in a front-wheel drive model like the one we tested is now 21 city/27 highway.Better yet, to illustrate that the Highlander in well-equipped form can be an excellent value, the vehicle we were given for a week was the SE model.   It is the next-to-top-of-the-line of the five Highlander models, and at a base price of $39,690, it carries a lot of very nice equipment as standard, such as projector-beam dark accent halogen headlamps with LED running lights, integrated fog lights, color-keyed heated outside power mirrors with turn and blind spot indicators, a power moonroof with sunshade and jam protection, 19-inch black finish multi-spoke machined alloy wheels, a flip-up rear hatch window and dark-painted roof rails.2017 Toyota Highlander SE interior.With all that, the test vehicle had only one option, the rear-seat entertainment system---a Blu-Ray DVD player with nine-inch display, RCA jacks, remote and two wireless headphones.  That added $1,810 to the price.  With $940 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price came to a reasonable, refreshing and thoroughly competitive $42,440.  In fact, for nicely-equipped SUVs in this size class, that's a bargain.We have wanted to like the current-generation Highlander a lot more than we have.  The changes made for 2017 go a long way toward that.
    Aug 18, 2017 13