Kia recently brought us out to beautiful Aspen, Colorado to test drive the all-new 2016 Kia Optima on some stunning mountain roads. This sunny landscape with the lovely fall leaves was a perfect setting for Kia to introduce the redesigned version of the most important vehicle in the Kia lineup. The Optima has been a big hit for Kia and sales continued to increase nicely this past year. Naturally, Kia’s goal is to build on the success of this sharp yet practical mid-size sedan which has become one of the staples in a crowded segment.
The Scion FR-S is one of three models in a series of sports cars developed jointly by Toyota and Subaru. It’s known as the Toyota 86 outside the US and as the Subaru BRZ worldwide. I had the FR-S for a week through some mild November weather and was pretty disappointed to give it up.
I’m impressed with the understated design of the FR-S with its clean, aggressive lines. It’s not gaudy at all and the designers resisted any impulse to go overboard. The low stance and aerodynamic shape fit the FR-S perfectly and I like the front headlights as well. The car looks great from every angle.
Mazda has introduced the CX-3 as an all-new nameplate to take advantage of the growing subcompact crossover segment and I had the chance to drive it on some demanding roads through the canyons north of Los Angeles. With Mazda you know the company will try to make every vehicle in its lineup fun to drive, and with the routes selected I suspected they were particularly proud of how the CX-3 would perform. The vehicle exceeded even those lofty expectations.
The CX-3 is shorter and lower than Mazda’s best-selling CX-5 with a long front hood and large wheels. It’s a beautiful vehicle as you can see from the photos and is the fifth vehicle in the U.S. with Mazda’s KODO—Soul of Motion design language. The designers tried to create the look of pent up energy so the vehicle always looks like it’s moving forward. I also love the front end as the Mazda grille continues to evolve and the headlights make the vehicle look alive. It’s a much more aggressive and interesting look than the smiley face impression of some Mazda models of the past. The CX-3 comes with 16-inch wheels and the option for 18-inch wheels that contribute to the distinctive look. Overall the design of this vehicle gives Mazda an obvious hit even before you sit inside and then start driving.
What I remember most about the CX-3 interior is that the seats were very comfortable and would hug your body, which was particularly helpful as I powered through the curves on our drive route and made up for the lack of power seats. The overall design of the interior is quite bold and should appeal to most consumers, with a prominent 7-inch touch screen and standard rear camera. The various color combinations in the interiors we also very impressive.
Standard features also include a push-button starter, Mazda Connect infotainment offering Bluetooth phone pairing, audio streaming, and USB ports for phone charging and entertainment connectivity. Optional features include blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, which frankly would be hard to live without these days for this spoiled driver.
As expected, the CX-3 isn’t one to just rely on its good looks. The vehicle handled beautifully on the route through the winding curves as we enjoyed the canyons north of LA. The CX-3 showed nice responsiveness and acceleration, particularly in Sport mode, and it hugged every turn daring you to push it harder.
All trim levels (Sport, Touring and Grand Touring) come with a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission producing 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. While CVTs are getting better I’ll take a six-speed transmission any day and you can feel it in the linear acceleration.
The CX-3 also incorporates Maxda’s SKYACTIV Technology, so while front-wheel drive comes standard, Mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV AWD system is also available on all trim levels. This system improves handling in bad weather by using sensors to route power to the most surefooted wheels as you’re driving.
The subcompact crossover segment is growing quickly, and Mazda characterizes the CX-3 as their attempt to “defy the category.” The Mazda team acknowledges there may be some overlap with the Mazda3 hatchback for consumers but that didn’t deter them. There are many impressive options in this category but frankly the new CX-3 is the must-drive vehicle in this class if you’re out test-driving options. It’s one of the best vehicles we’ve tested in 2015 and we’re confident you’ll be impressed.
The Dodge Charger Scat Pack 392 has a tremendous dollar per horse power ratio. You get 485 horsepower for $42,680. That works out to roughly $88 per horsepower.
On a car with 500 plus horsepower and a six figure sticker, the ratio was $192 per horsepower. The Charger Scat Pack might be the best deal around when it comes to the horsepower per dollar scale for cars with 400 plus ponies under the hood.
What’s even better is that the Charger Scat Pack is a sleek, four-door full-blown sedan. In other words, it is capable of carrying four people comfortably – friends, girlfriends, their friends, whoever.
The car has 475 pound feet of torque, which it delivers at a respectable 4,200 rpm. The Scat Pack’s engine is a normally aspirated 6.4-liter V8 with sequential multiport fuel injection and a fuel saver mode. Four cylinders shut off when not needed.
Mazda prides itself on building cars that are fun to drive, and the Mazda MX-5 roadster, also known as the Mazda Miata, has been the purest expression of that principle for several decades. The original MX-5 was a huge hit when it was first released in 1989, and now Mazda has completely redesigned the roadster using the original version as an inspiration.
I had the opportunity to drive the all-new 2016 MX-5 on some incredible mountain roads just north of Los Angeles as Mazda introduced the new vehicle to the press, and it was by far one of the most enjoyable driving experiences I’ve had in the past several years. I had a smile planted on my face all day as I pushed the MX-5 through challenging turns through the scenic mountain roads. The MX-5 is a fine-tuned machine that will impress anyone who still appreciates the driving experience.
Browse through the photos of the new MX-5 and you’ll see design that matches the impressive driving experience. After years of making incremental changes, the look of the MX-5 had grown a bit stale. It looked adequate but hardly inspiring.
Mazda went back to the drawing board and came up with a beautiful, modern design featuring sharp lines and curves worthy of this iconic roadster. I particularly liked the red Miata we tested with the black wheels.
Mazda designers created a lower and sleeker profile, giving the impression of a vehicle gripping the road, which perfectly represents the sensation you feel when driving the MX-5.