Seat Time: 2016 Fiat 500X

April 27th, 2015 at 3:00pm

500X Exterior

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Seamus McElroy
Manufacturer: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Make: Fiat
Model: 500X
Type: Compact Crossover
Competitors: Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Chevy Trax, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3
Price: Starts: $20,900. Top: $28,000. As tested: $24,900
Made in: Melfi, Italy
Drivetrain: 1.4L four-cylinder w/ 6-speed manual. 2.4L four-cylinder w/ 9-speed automatic.
EPA Ratings: Not Available

Final Impression:
2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus
Fiat’s new compact crossover, the 500X, is entering one of the hottest segments and one that’s about to get even more competitive. The Chevy Trax just hit the market plus Honda and Mazda are set to introduce their own small CUV’s. The 500X is built in Italy alongside the Jeep Renegade which it shares a platform with. But it’s not just a rebadged Jeep, the styling is completely different and the Fiat doesn’t have the off-road capability that the Renegade does. But it’s still a bit surprising to see that the 500X has a starting price that’s $2,000 more than the Jeep. $18,000 vs. $20,000. Even though it will be sold in 100 countries, this is the first Fiat developed for the North American market.

The 500X is much larger than the regular 500 and has its own unique styling, but you’ll instantly recognize it as part of the family. Much like MINI does with its models. The nose, clamshell hood and air intake are reminiscent to the 500. But there are some cues that help set the X apart from the others in the 500 line-up. The headlights are more rounded and it has a higher ground clearance plus wheel arches. The interior has a simple layout which makes it easy to use infotainment and climate controls. There are 3 different screen sizes to choose, ranging from 3 to 6.5 inches. It doesn’t feel like you’re in a compact, you sit a bit higher than you normally would in a car that size. And there’s a decent amount of room for passengers in the rear, for your legs and head, but you wouldn’t want to sit back there for a long road trip.

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AAH # 284 – Tearing Down the Model T of Our Time

April 24th, 2015 at 4:07pm

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SPECIAL GUEST: Sandy Munro, Munro & Associates
- A teardown analysis of the BMW i3 so complete that the company thought the secrets were leaked!

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Lindsay Brooke, SAE.

 

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Henkel

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Auto Tune: “99 Miles from LA” by Art Garfunkel

April 22nd, 2015 at 3:00pm

Driving, riding, roads and of course cars themselves have all been immortalized by writers, composers and musicians around the world. Auto Tune is our way to spotlight a unique transportation song to celebrate these “ridden” gems along with the artists or composers who crafted them. Some you may know, many we’re sure you don’t.

Art-Garfunkel-BreakawaySometimes great “Auto Tunes” have strange origins. Take the Albert Hammond story for instance. Who, you ask? Well if you don’t know the name you certainly know his work. He had a top five hit in the early ‘70s that’s still in heavy rotation on the oldies stations with “It Never Rains In Southern California” co-written with fellow Brit Mike Hazelwood. They also teamed up with “The Air That I Breathe” which was a hit for The Hollies. But perhaps this pop singer’s strangest collaboration came when he co-wrote a couple of songs with unquestionably the greatest lyricist of all time Hal David. One song, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” made Julio Iglesias a household name – and plenty of money — while the other is this week’s Auto Tune.

99 Miles From L.A.” appeared on Hammond’s 1975 album of the same name but never generated the attention he hoped. That same year, however, Art Garfunkel released “Breakaway,” a star-studded disc that contained not only with his duet with former partner Paul Simon (“My Little Town”), but also his cover of “I Only Have Eyes for You.” But in addition to those hits, tucked away toward the end of Side 2 was the Hammond/David tune, which on its face sounded like a simple drive to Los Angeles, but in fact was, and remains, a hauntingly beautiful understated song about the evanescence of love. The Albert Hammond score married with Hal David’s heartbreaking lyrics sung by Garfunkel — one of the greatest voices to ever record music — is a treasure to enjoy over and over again. Especially if someday you find yourself on the 5, 10 or 405 as you’re driving around Southern California.

- Chip Drake, Executive Producer, Autoline

Feedback on Auto Tunes? Send us your comments.

Seat Time: 2015 KIA K900

April 21st, 2015 at 3:39pm

KIA K900

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: KIA
Make: K900
Model: Luxury
Type: Large Sedan Segment
Competitors: Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S550, Audi A8, BMW 740 LI
Price: MSRP  $59,500 + VIP Package $6,000 + F&H $900  =   $66,400 (as tested)
Made in: Sohari Plant, South Korea
Drivetrain: 5.0L Gas Direct Engine V8 Engine, 8-Speed Automatic Transmission
EPA Ratings: 15mpg City, 23mpg Highway, 18mpg Combined

Final Impression:
KIA K900
Over the past week I’ve been dealing with a lot of LSE, or the Lazy Susan Effect, as I call it. That’s when I see pedestrians, passengers or fellow drivers transfixed by the car I’m driving. Heads automatically roll right or left as they attempt to get a better look at it.

Now to be honest, it doesn’t happen very often, so when it does it’s sort of unique. So which so-called super car caused the latest version of LSE this past week? Something British, Italian or German perhaps? Amazingly enough, the answer is none of the above. This car was all Asian: the South Korean KIA K900.

This rear-wheel-drive car is the brand’s first foray into the luxury segment and for whatever reason the car seems to have struck a nerve.

Now maybe it’s drawing so many eyeballs on the street because some see its luxury competitors in the design; A little Jaguar on the nose perhaps, maybe a bit of Mercedes peeking out from the inside and then how about a look of Cadillac on the rear.

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Seat Time: 2015 BMW i8

April 20th, 2015 at 8:00am

BMW i8

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Manufacturer: BMW AG
Make: BMW
Model: i8
Type: Plug-in hybrid sports car
Competitors: Tesla Model S P85D, Porsche Panamera Plug-In
Price: $137,450
Made in: Leipzig, Germany
Drivetrain: Rear: Twin-turbo 1.5 L 3-cyl. Front: 96 kw electric motor
EPA Ratings: Gasoline: 28 mpg combined; Gas + Electric 76 MPGe

Final Impression:

BMW i8 InteriorThis is one of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever seen and one of the weirdest I’ve ever driven. If not for its super-model good looks and rocket science technology, the i8 could win medals for being one of the quirkiest car on the planet.

It starts with getting into the car. You have to duck under the flip-up doors and figure out a way to flop into the seats. The door sill is actually higher than the seats, so the easiest way is to squat down on the sill, then slide backwards and down into the seat at the same time you swivel your legs into place.

2015-BMW-i8-ingress-and-egress

If that doesn’t sound very elegant, getting out is even worse. You have to lift your legs up and over the sill, hoist your butt off the seat and onto the sill, and then duck out from under the door. I hope you’re in good shape because most people physically struggle to get out of the car. And I defy you to find a woman who will do this in a skirt.

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AAH #283 – No Love Lost Between Me & My EV

April 17th, 2015 at 3:04pm

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- The CT6 is NOT the vehicle Cadillac needs
- Will Fiat Chrysler find a third partner or a buyer?
- Volt production pauses and the price of the Spark EV drops
- Furious 7 is the highest-grossing film in that franchise

All that and much more with Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Aaron Gold, About.com; Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press; Chris Paukert, Automotive Freelancer.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Henkel

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Auto Tune: “In My Gremlin” by the Rave-Ups

April 15th, 2015 at 3:00pm

Driving, riding, roads and of course cars themselves have all been immortalized by writers, composers and musicians around the world. Auto Tune is our way to spotlight a unique transportation song to celebrate these “ridden” gems along with the artists or composers who crafted them. Some you may know, many we’re sure you don’t.

The Rave-UpsYou may remember the band from its angst-ridden ‘80s hit “Positively Lost Me.” You might recognize the band from its brief appearance in the John Hughes blockbuster “Pretty in Pink.” Then again, perhaps you’ve heard the founder and lead singer, Jimmer Podrasky, is the cousin to our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts.

However, you may or may not know The Rave-Ups, this “alt country” or “punkabilly” band which only put out three albums before its demise, did craft one of the greatest “Auto Tunes” dedicated to arguably one of the worst cars of all time entitled “In My Gremlin.” Yes, it was sort of an ‘80s anti-version of one of those epic 1960s Cali cars songs complete with the rather rough harmonies (on purpose) and even a nod to the Beach Boys’ 409, though that song never asked “Do you have a buck for gas?”

Like the car itself, this band and this song isn’t for everyone, but if you’re nostalgic for a 1970-78 Gremlin, this song may just put that hankering on ice.

- Chip Drake, Executive Producer, Autoline

Seat Time: 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550

April 13th, 2015 at 9:00am

2013 Mercedes-Benz G550.

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Daimler-Benz
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: G550
Type: Sport Utility Vehicle
Competitors: Lexus LX, Land Rover Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator
Price: $115,400 (Suggested Retail Price); $116,525 (As Tested w/ Optional Packages)
Made in: Graz, Austria (by hand)
Drivetrain: 5.5 Liter V-8 (382 Horsepower, 391 lb-ft Torque)
EPA Ratings: 12city, 15highway, 13combined

Final Impression:
2013 Mercedes-Benz G550.I’ve loved the look of the G-Wagon since I first spied one in 1986 parked in the Hollywood Hills. Now, since Mercedes didn’t start selling the SUV in America until 2002 (as an ’03 model), you might be wondering what a G was doing in LA some 16 years early. Well, since it was Steven Spielberg’s personal vehicle, and he had just finished raking in all that cash from the first two installments of the Indiana Jones series, importing one straight from the factory in Graz, Austria didn’t seem to be a problem.

And as far as I’m concerned, whether it was Hollywood 1986 or Detroit 2015, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a work of art. Its striking boxy structure continues to stand out on the road differentiating itself from every other SUV out there. From the grill to the trim to the rear door mounted spare, it’s as beautiful as a Sinatra standard.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G550

But as any aging super model will attest, beauty only gets you so far. And that’s kind of the way I now feel about the G550 after recently having my first opportunity to drive it; sometimes, as they say, it’s better to love from afar.

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AAH #282 – Rini, Steve & the Safety Strut

April 10th, 2015 at 3:05pm

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- NY Auto Show one week later: Who were YOUR winners and losers?
- Tesla Q1 Sales: How does a company get so much attention with zero advertising?
- And the 2015 World Car of the Year is… definitely not American.
- Who’s insulting Mary Barra with this poster?

SPECIAL GUEST: Rini Sherony, Sr. Principal Engineer, Toyota
- Inside Toyota pedestrian safety with its walking dummies, “Steve” and “Steve Jr.”

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Jeff Gilbert, WWJ.

Thanks to our sponsor who makes Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone

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Seat Time: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

April 9th, 2015 at 9:00am

Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Seamus McElroy
Manufacturer: Volkswagen
Make: Volkswagen
Model: Golf Sportwagen
Type: Station Wagon
Competitors: Subaru Outback, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Toyota Prius v
Price: Gasoline model starts at $22,215; Diesel model starts at $25,415
Made in: Puebla, Mexico
Drivetrain: 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with direct injection mated to five-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic transmission. 2.0L turbocharged diesel engine with direct injection mated to six-speed manual transmission or six-speed dual clutch transmission.
EPA Ratings: 1.8L w/ manual, 25 MPG city, 36 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined; 1.8L w/ automatic, 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. 2.0L w/ manual, 31 MPG city, 43 MPG highway, 35 MPG combined; 2.0L w/ automatic 31 MPG city, 42 MPG highway, 35 MPG combined.

Final Impression:
Volkswagen Golf SportwagenLast year Volkswagen introduced the all-new Golf family whose line-up includes a gasoline powered version, a diesel model, an electric version plus two performance variants, the GTI and R. And now the Golf family is about to get bigger. Starting this month, the new Golf Sportwagen hits dealerships in the U.S. The new wagon, which replaces the Jetta Sportwagen, is built on the same MQB architecture as the Golf.

Not surprisingly it looks pretty much the same as the hatchback version except bigger. There’s plenty of room up front for the driver and passenger but taller occupants will feel cramped in the back seat. There is plenty of trunk space and if more room is needed the rear seats fold flat.
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