First Drive: 2013 Acura ILX

Small Acuras have always held a special place in the automotive pantheon. Small, nimble and always ready to be wrung out, they delivered a premium driving experience without the premium cost. The Integra and RSX were thesis statements for what the Acura brand stood for: technologically advanced, fun to drive, and a great value for the money. The new ILX is the newest small Acura, and although not a true successor, it looks like it will continue Acura’s brand mission.

Exterior

The ILX shares a platform with the Civic, like the Integra and RSX did, but it does not look as differentiated as its predecessors. Acura took great pains to change the look though. The windshield was brought forward and raked farther back; the nose of the car has less overhang; and scalloped sides were added, not to mention the premium touches added such as the headlights, taillights, and metallic surrounds around the windows.

But although it looks completely different than its platform mate, it’s just not distinctive enough for a near premium car. The Integra and RSX could be spotted from across a parking lot because of their distinctive look; looks that drew in a generation of car enthusiasts. The ILX does not – it is attractive, but not in a way that will tug at the heartstrings.

Interior

Acura spent a great deal of attention on the interior of the ILX to give it a premium feel over the Civic as well. Acura started out with the concept of a “cockpit” to make the driver feel connected and the passenger comfortable. To do this, Acura designers created two character lines on the dash on each side. The result, they believe, was to give it a sporty but mature character. Without hearing their motives behind the design, you may not notice it, but it can surely be felt while sitting in the car.

Fit of the interior is also top notch, but material quality falls flat. Some of the materials are soft touch, including the dash, but the buttons on the console and the plastic trim are brittle and harsh. Some of the detailing also falls short. For example, Acura saw fit to give the ILX the connectivity system a TFT screen, but didn’t see fit to upgrade the graphics from something seen on the N64. The interface works well, but its design is straight out of much older cars.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Azera – The Return of the Full-Size Sedan

Before crossovers, minivans, SUVs, and “lifestyle utility vehicles” entered the marketplace, U.S. roads were full of full-size sedans. These cars offered average American families size, comfort and presence that no one else in the world could experience. But like dinosaurs, fedoras and cheap coffee, this segment went extinct as gas prices rose, the products became worse and different segments replaced them. But now, this uniquely American segment is seeing a revival, with the Hyundai Azera leading the charge.

The Azera is not new to our shores, but until now has always occupied an odd spot in the lineup. In fact, with a revised Sonata, it was on the verge of extinction. But for 2012, the Azera is all new. New looks, more power and all for around 30k. What you’re witnessing is not only a new car, but also one of the first entries in a revitalized category.

Exterior

Big cars need to be distinctive on the outside. You should be able to see them coming from two miles away on the highway because of their presence and size. The Azera is certainly an attractive car, but not in the traditional big car way. The Azera continues Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design theme seen in the Sonata and Elantra, but has been toned down compared with its smaller siblings.

Gone are the deep creases along its flank, like the Sonata, and the overly stylized headlights. In turn, the Azera is more subdued, refined and upscale. This can be seen in its arching rear taillights that span the entire rear, or the slightly upraised haunches. But presence is added by chrome detailing and upscale design cues, such as the jeweled headlamps.

The car looks expensive, but so do many in its segment. Cars such as the Taurus and LaCrosse, and especially the 300C, have also brought styling into the full-size segment. With this in mind, the Azera loses a bit of that full-size presence on the road. That being said, it brings Hyundai’s design language into a new class segment and looks good doing it.

Interior

Interior space and design is the killer app of full-size sedans. They must not only provide space and comfort for occupants, but also a sense of design that takes advantage of the size these cars offer. The interior of the Azera lives up to this tradition. The Y-shaped dash welcomes occupants much like that in the Sonata, but immediately apparent is the new found shoulder, head and legroom. It’s not much larger than the Sonata, but the overall result is comforting – just enough to be accommodating, but not so big to make you feel like you are wearing an ill-fitting suit.

The car is also well equipped with a host of standard features that are optional in much more expensive vehicles. For instance, niceties such as navigation, heated front and rear seats, and a navigation system are all standard. And for $4,000, you can add an Infinity sound system, HIDs, panoramic sunroof and a few other premium touches.

The fit and finish is snug and upscale, with soft touch plastics where most of the touch points are and small panel gaps all around. Detailing, though, is one downside. For example: the fake carbon fiber trim that spans the length of the dashboard. This trim piece undersells the air of luxury that this car has and looks gimmicky. Wood would be a much better fit for the image that this car exudes. Some people enjoy the look of carbon fiber, but wood should at least be an option. Styling niggles aside, the interior showcases the value that Hyundai continues to offer by bringing a dearth of technology and convenience pieces to the table standard, and raising the bar that much higher for not much more money.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

First Drive: 2012 Nissan Versa

Seattle is usually spectacular in the summer, as the gray skies and drizzle is replace by clear and crisp summer days. So I was pleased to hear we’d be driving the redesigned 2012 Nissan Versa in the Great Northwest in July. The weather cooperated for the most part and I was able to test the pre-production vehicles in both city and highway settings while taking in some of the sights around Seattle.

Exterior

Nissan has completely redesigned the 4-dour Versa for 2012, while the update for the 5-door hatchback will come a little later. The new Versa is the first Nissan model to sport the new front grille for sedans, which is a huge improvement over the previous Nissan grille. That combined with the stylish headlights completely changes the look of the vehicle. It’s more polished and elegant that its predecessor, giving off the impression of a more expensive sedan. The previous model had a more vertical feel to it, while the new Versa has a much more aerodynamic look.

The lines of the new Versa are clean and sophisticated, and this will appeal to small car buyers who are turned off by the edgier designs from competitors that are common in the compact segment. I was impressed by the look of the car from all angles as I walked around it.

Interior

The interior was roomy and comfortable. The interior comes in two colors, charcoal and sandstone, and both fit nicely with the new exterior design. Again, consumers who prefer a more elegant vehicle over an edgy design will be pleased with the new Versa. It’s also very roomy in the back seat and has best in class trunk space, making it very practical for buyers who expect to have passengers and cargo.

Performance

The Versa features a continuously variable transmission (CVT), so you won’t feel gear changes as you’re driving the vehicle and accelerating. The new Versa sports Nissan’s second-generation CVT design, improving fuel mileage over the previous model by 5 MPG. The Versa now gets 30 MPG City, 38 MPG Highway and 33 MPG combined. Nissan official stressed that the combined mileage was tied for best-in-class, as the CVT provides great mileage performance in city driving. It also features a new 1.6-liter engine with 109 horsepower @6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at @4,400 rpm.
I liked how the Versa felt, particularly in city driving where the CVT performed nicely. It has competitive power for vehicles in this class and solid handling.

Overview

The 1st generation Versa was introduced in 2006 and was the U.S. segment share leader for the in 2010. The small car segment is growing rapidly as more buyers look for fuel economy, and with this update we can expect the Nissan Versa to continue to be a sales leader in this space. Consumers will have many choices as more brands enter this space, and the new design will appeal to many consumers drawn to a more elegant look. It will appeal to many younger buyers and consumers looking for a commuter vehicle.

The Versa has the lowest standard MSRP of any vehicle in this space at $10,990 for the S MT. This entry-level model has few options and has a manual transmission instead of the CVT but is equipped with standard air conditioning and a radio. The S CVT starts at $12,760, the SV CVT starts at $14,560 and the SL CVT starts at $15,560, and you can add a Tech Package with Navigation, XM radio and USB for an additional $700.

  

Hanging out with AutoWeek at the New York Auto Show


We recently attended the New York Auto Show as guests of AutoWeek and had a great time. AutoWeek’s Wes Raynal gave us a tour of the show, and we were joined by John Raho, one of AutoWeek’s readers. Having an expert like Wes on the tour along with a knowledgeable car buff like John made the experience very fun and informative.

These are exciting times in the auto industry, as all of the major brands, including the U.S. automakers, are putting out excellent products. Check out our car channel for new car reviews every week. Also, if you’re a car enthusiast, check out the reviews and other car features at AutoWeek as well.

  

2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS Gallery

Previous Previous
img00276-20110405-1715
Previous   Previous

Bullz-Eye recently began our review of the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS and this is one sharp ride! Some vehicles out there just blend in but the Azure Gray Metallic Suzuki Kisashi stands out in a crowded field. Look for our full review in the coming weeks on Bullz-Eye.com

  

Related Posts