Car Review: 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab V6 4X4

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The midsize truck segment has started to draw more entries as of late, but when it comes to the King of the Hill, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab V6 4X4 is still on top. We drove a blue ribbon Tacoma recently and walked away more impressed with this truck and more convinced that this segment has a very bright future.

EXTERIOR

The 2014 Tacoma configurations are based on three cab types: Regular Cab, Access Cab with rear seating, and the four-door Double Cab as tested. The rear-opening doors on Access Cab models open to 80 degrees to give passengers easy ingress and egress. Bold overfenders distinguish PreRunner and 4×4 models. PreRunner models combine the 4×2 drivetrain with the 4×4’s raised riding stance and styling. Double Cab models offer a roof rack system with crossbars that deploy from the roof rails. The Double Cab is offered with a 60.3-inch bed on the 127.4-inch wheelbase or with the 73.5-inch-long bed on a 140.6-inch wheelbase chassis.

On all models, the composite inner bed is made from a sheet-molded composite (SMC) deck and tough, durable walls that are 10 percent lighter than steel. The bed deck features two-tier loading and an integrated deck-rail utility with four standard adjustable tie-down cleats. The rails are compatible with Genuine Toyota Accessories, including cargo bed cross bars, a fork-mount bike rack and diamond-plate storage boxes. An available 115V/400W power point further extends the bed’s utility. The 16-inch alloy wheels were thick and confident looking, as this truck means business even from the exterior!

INTERIOR

As good as the skin looks on the 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab V6 4X4, the cabin space is what really leaves an impression with the toughness and refinement that reaches a heightened mark. Tacoma’s instrument gauge panel lends a sporty look in all models. The center console (standard on Access Cab and Double Cab models) flows into the instrument panel for a unified appearance. The console integrates three cup holders, two of which can accommodate extra-large containers. Tacoma’s interior provides durability and comfort with high-grade fabric and generous standard equipment. Sound absorption material in the headliner and behind the rear seats, along with insulating carpeting, help to provide a quiet cabin. All Tacoma models provide dual bottle holders in driver- and passenger-side doors. Audio controls are mounted high for easy access.

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Car Review: 2015 Kia K900

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Kia is now officially in the luxury car business. With one fell swoop, they have launched the K900, a modern and elegant sedan that signals a new era for Kia and advances the brand to new levels sophistication. We drove the all-new 2015 Kia K900 and had to keep reminding ourselves that this car was a Kia! Things change so fast in the car business, and I’m sure some rivals keep wondering what the folks at Kia will come up with next.

EXTERIOR

When you first take a look at the 2015 Kia K900, you know that this car is for real, and a serious attempt by Kia to be a player in the luxury car segment. The long 119.9-inch wheelbase and wide 63.8-inch front and 64.1-inch rear track of the V8 translate to considerable road presence. In profile, the swept rake of the greenhouse, subdued cut lines along the doors and high rear deck lid lend a muscular tension to the sheet metal. The K900 V8’s standard 19-inch multi-spoke chrome wheels are shod with 245/45R-19 tires up front and 275/40R-19 tires at the rear.

Kia’s signature grille resides nearly vertically in the smoothly contoured front fascia. A chrome halo surrounds the dark chrome inner elements, which hints at the power and potential behind it. Airflow-smoothing underbody panels mounted beneath the nose, engine bay and cabin help reduce drag and improve efficiency. Standard on the V8 as tested are adaptive LED headlights. With 16 LED bulbs providing powerful, natural light for enhanced luminosity, the beams, which adjust to follow the bends in the road, shimmer beneath crystal clear lenses that pull back deeply into the front fenders. Soft-glow LEDs frame the multi-faceted headlights. Mounted low and at the far corners of the nose are sleek LED daytime running lamps and LED fog lights. Similar use of LED technology can be found at the rear of the K900. The trapezoid taillights offer defused LEDs for the brakes and bright LEDs for the turn signals. A tasteful chrome bezel cuts high across the K900’s standard powered rear deck lid, adding elegance and lending visual width. The standard power and heated rearview mirrors integrate auto dimming, LED turn signal indicators and Blind Spot Detection System (BSD) in a smooth, aerodynamic form that helps reduce wind noise. The rear bumper is accented with fully integrated, dual chrome-tipped exhaust ports that mimic the shape of the taillights.

INTERIOR

Open the door to the all-new K900 and the same sense of elegant sophistication can be found within the luxuriously appointed cabin. The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel is substantial and features controls for audio, cruise control, entertainment and vehicle information. A heated wheel is available on the V6 and standard on the V8. Standard high-grade leather is found throughout the cabin on the V6, which can also be optioned with soft Nappa leather in black or white with contrasting piping. The V8 K900 arrives with standard Nappa leather. Soft-hue LED interior illumination is standard across the K900 line. Genuine walnut (with black Nappa leather) or poplar (with white Nappa leather) wood trim sweeps across the dash and door panels, beautifully complementing the richness of the interior and is available on the V6 and standard on the V8. A 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, including power lumbar support, is standard on both the V6 Premium and V8 Luxury models, and a 16-way power adjusted driver’s seat features power headrests and cushion extender for added thigh support as part of the V6 Technology Package and the V8 VIP Package. The front seats feature standard multi-stage heating and ventilation for individualized comfort in all climates.

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Car Review: 2014 Lexus IS 250 F-Sport Convertible

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When you have a sleek luxury coupe with a hardtop that transforms it into a convertible in 20 seconds, a choice of 204-hp or 306-hp V6 engines, F-SPORT Package with 18-inch wheels and tuned suspension and Lexus Enform multimedia and Mark Levinson audio, all you can do is say “bring it on.” We drove a 2014 Lexus IS 250 F-Sport Convertible in beautiful September weather in Northeast Ohio and the days all got just a little brighter!

EXTERIOR

The IS 250 C model cuts a sharp profile, which looks sharper still with the addition of the available F-SPORT package as tested. This package’s combination of sport-tuned suspension, F-SPORT 18-inch wheels, exclusive interior trim and aerodynamic body features give the IS C models a decidedly sporty stance, with enhanced agility to match. Additional F-SPORT Performance Accessories available for the IS C models include 19-inch forged alloy wheels, suspension and brake upgrades, air intake, exhaust systems and more.

Just 20 seconds separates coupe from convertible worlds in the 2014 Lexus IS C models. That’s how long it takes for the three-panel aluminum roof to lower once the driver has pushed the switch. The coupe’s retractable hardtop disappears beneath a locking panel, with no need for the driver to secure a tonneau cover or hold-down snaps. Constructed primarily of lightweight aluminum, the retractable hardtop features an automatic front lock assembly that provides the interior security not found in most soft-top convertibles. When the top is stowed, a lock assembly engages to keep the panel in a fixed, stable position. Lexus ensured smooth, low-noise roof operation by using a lightweight aluminum four-link design. The roof even closes quietly, thanks to a roof-speed brake system that slows the roof as it approaches the end of the closing operation.

When the IS C is equipped with the available Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), roof operation will stop if an obstacle that might interfere with operation is detected behind the car. The driver will get an audible warning, and a warning light illuminates in the instrument panel. This is a sight to see and guaranteed you’ll have folks that will want to see it open and close in awe! When the hardtop drops, this car becomes one of the most attention-getting vehicles we drove this year!

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Car Review: 2014 Lexus LX570

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Lexus has been upfront with the innovations and capabilities of the 2014 Lexus LX570, and for very good reason. The Lexus LX was the first premium, full-capability prestige three-row luxury utility vehicle, and the latest edition wears the bold, brand signature spindle grille front design. We had a full week to test this hulking SUV to find out exactly what you can get for close to 90K these days!

EXTERIOR

You will notice the 2014 Lexus LX570 immediately once you see this beast on the road, and with the sleek designs of Lexus brand vehicles these days, this SUV goes in a different direction. There is a true off-road look to the LX 570, which is fine, but you kind of get the feeling that this huge SUV might have came out of the 90s. There are also some very good looking exterior features on the Lexus LX570, such as a very aggressive-looking front fascia and a high-end side view. The 20-inch, 5-spoke wheels with liquid graphite finish really pop on this SUV. At night, you can see the LX570 from afar with the high intensity discharge headlamps (HID) and integrated fog lamps with LED daytime running lights and LED tail lamps. We also liked the illuminated running boards with tow hitch and ball mount.

INTERIOR

There is as much leather as a Texas boot shop in the cabin of the 2014 Lexus LX570! The Luxury package delivered semi-aniline leather trimmed interior with contrast stitching, driver and passenger heated and ventilated seats with second row heated seats, center console mounted cool box, smart access card key and wood-trimmed door switch plates. When full 8-passenger seating is not needed, the Lexus LX 570 can open up a large, useful cargo area. With the 50/50 split power-retractable third row seat folded into the floor, the LX 570 provides 41 cu. ft. of carrying space, and this expands to 83.1 cu. ft. with the 40/20/40 split middle row folded. The clamshell-design tailgate, which features a power upper section, is much more versatile than a typical one-piece hatch. Cutting-edge multimedia abounds in the Lexus LX 570, providing something for everyone onboard. Lexus Enform can make a compatible Bluetooth smartphone even smarter. The available Enform service, with Destination Assist, eDestination and App Suite, comes with the Navigation System/Mark Levinson Audio Package. Lexus Enform provides access to the subscription-free App Suite. These voice-enabled apps let you search the Internet through Bing, make restaurant reservations through OpenTable, get movie tickets via MovieTickets.com, listen to Internet radio including Pandora and iHeartRadio, search business reviews on Yelp, and check in on Facebook Places.

Lexus Enform with Safety Connect is available by subscription. Complimentary one-year trial subscriptions are available on all purchases of new Lexus vehicles equipped with these features. Safety Connect is standard on all vehicles, while Lexus Enform with Safety Connect is on all vehicles equipped with the optional Navigation system. The Lexus Enform and the Safety Connect response centers operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Lexus Enform vehicles are factory ready for subscriptions to a variety of innovative SiriusXM services, including NavTraffic, NavWeather, Sports, Stocks and Fuel Prices. SiriusXM services offer complimentary one-year trial data subscription.

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Car Review: 2014 Kia Cadenza Limited

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Kia continues to roll out new models, and since the debut of the all-new 2014 Kia Cadenza sedan, this offering from Kia has garnered praise for its premium feel and long list of amenities. We drove the new Cadenza for a week and had the opportunity to find out if Kia is still churning out winners!

EXTERIOR

With the Cadenza, you first notice the broad shoulders, contoured hood, large wheels and wide stance that give it a strong, grounded appearance. The striking design has a distinctive sport-sedan form that you normally find on much more expensive models. The signature grille and front fascia make Cadenza instantly recognizable as a Kia. Flanking the grille are quad headlights that nestle deeply behind crystalline lenses. The lower fascia is wide, lending to the Cadenza’s imposing stance, and chrome trim accents around the fog lights and grille add to the vehicle’s premium presence. LED positioning lights and projection beam headlights provide additional European sophistication. The vertical nose is imposing and the long hood is sensuously sculpted to meet the swept-back windshield. The greenhouse curves gracefully to the C-pillar and is surrounded by a tasteful chrome bezel that flares upward at the rear door, effectively creating a beautiful glass droplet. Beginning just aft of the front-door cutline is a chiseled indentation that sweeps upward, seamlessly transitioning into the tail lights. Classic chrome accents adorn the lower portions of the doors and the treatment continues into the rear fascia. The 19-inch alloy wheels offered in the Technology Package resemble a jet turbine and add to the Cadenza’s athletic stature.

Moving to the rear, the standard LED taillights sit high on the deck and are designed to cut across a large portion of the vehicle, lending to the Cadenza’s broad stance. The twin oval tail pipes accentuate the Cadenza’s sporty and elegant design. What universally garnered plenty of attention were the sleek 19-inch chrome alloy wheels that give this new Kia some street cred.

INTERIOR

The interior of the Cadenza envelops its occupants in a premium environment complete with soft leather upholstery and tasteful accents of wood and chrome. Ambient lighting and a horizontally positioned switch gear communicate an uncluttered and sophisticated aesthetic. An elegant analog clock positioned between the automatic climate controls lends a classic feel. The center console is angled slightly toward the driver for optimized control, and an available large 7-inch high-resolution TFT LCD screen in the gauge cluster showcases a wide range of vehicle information, including turn-by-turn navigation and infotainment. Elegant chrome bezels surround the HVAC and audio controls, air vents and the standard push-button start. Standard Bluetooth, wood-trim door inserts, one-touch automatic up/down power front windows and power-folding heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators all enhance the Cadenza’s premium image.

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