Saturday Road Test – 2015 Mustang

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2015 Mustang

Don’t Write Off the Four

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – “That is one fine looking Mustang you’ve got there,” was the neighbor’s first comment when the “Triple Yellow Tricoat” exterior first caught his eye and had him reaching for his sunglasses.

Further comments also indicated that he believed it simply had to have the 5.0 liter V8 hiding under the hood with the promise of tire burn marks appearing on the street in short order.

Informed it was a turbo four, neighbor and two younger onlookers yelled in indignant chorus, “A FOUR?????”

Perhaps that reaction, much like the appearance of an IRS agent on his lawn, might also mimic your response. But fear not dear reader, the Mustang that eats hay and the one that sips gas both run on fours and to good effect.

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In this case it is a 2.3 liter EcoBoost I4 with turbocharging and direct injection rated at 310 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm with 320 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,500 rpm. It is the first Ford engine to use a low-inertia twin-scroll turbo.

You can feed it a shot or two of regular 87 octane but premium will have it humming the full opera of output. A six speed manual shift is standard but the test car had a fast acting six speed automatic with paddle shifts and robust sounding downshift rev-matching.

Does it all work? Surprisingly, YES! Motor Trend recorded a 0-60 of 5.6 seconds and again let me add this is a four!!

Operators can select various modes of steering depending on the heft they desire. I recommend the “Sport” setting, but you might prefer “Normal” around town.

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There are is also a center console toggle for altering shift calibration, throttle sharpness and stability control with the menu reading “normal, wet/snow, sport and track.” Sport really brings out what the drivetrain has to offer and track adds a healthy dose of what could be called “Carroll Shelby’s Red Hot Chili” mix.

It really is a lot of fun and in the real world, outside of any track, will raise your blood pressure a notch or two. Will it make you forget about the big 5.0-liter V8 on the option list? No, but how much are you going to use that 435 horsepower in your day in, day out driving? Plus, you probably will save a few bucks over the life of your ownership on replacement rear tires.

All new for 2015 is the multi-link rear suspension in place of the old solid rear axle, a move that brings the car into the 21st century. Along with revised MacPherson struts up front, this is a fun car to take out on curvy back roads. It simply refuses to be unhinged if some road deficiencies pop up half way round a curve. But there are times when the car feels like it weighs in at 3,524 pounds despite the 100 pound diet the new model went on from the old ‘Stang.

With ample room all around it was easy to settle into a comfortable driving position, the white on black numerals on the important instruments were easy to read in all lighting conditions, the shift paddles were right where you would want them, the navi screen was just a nod away, and the rear view camera sleuthed out vehicles in the supermarket parking lot long before I could see them.

There are two seats to the rear, but unless you are transporting “wee ones” as my Irish friends would say, forget about it. It had a more upscale interior with lots of stitching, including around the brake lever.

There was a chuckle or two on the tach and speedometer gauges. Written across the speedo were the words “Ground Speed.” (As opposed to?) And texted across the tach was “Revolutions Per Minute x 1,000”. Oh, THAT’S WHAT THAT GAUGE MEANS”!!!!

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Out on the interstate the “Triple Yellow” test car, that an auto buff friend said could only be hidden in a banana plantation, offered a quiet and smooth ride. Fuel economy for the week’s test came to a respectable 27.3 mpg and that is leaving it in the “Sport” mode virtually the entire time. EPA estimates are 21 city, 32 highway for a combined 25 mpg.

The test car came with the “Premium Package” that included dual zone automatic temp control, a center armrest with a real padding, (rare enough these days,) aluminum finished instrument cluster and foot pedals, leather wrapped steering wheel with speed and audio controls, 12.5” inch front and rear brake rotors with two piston calipers up front, 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar control, and heated and cooled front seats among other items.

Pricing for that one starts at $30,495 with the six speed automatic. The yellow paint added $495. An “Enhanced Security Package with “Electronic Locking Center Console, anti-theft system and wheel locking kit kicked in for $395. Plus $1,195 for the Adaptive Cruise Control and $795 for voice activated navigation. All that brought the bottom line to a reasonable $33,005 sans transportation.

With the huge dose of refinement added to the 2015, the fun filled 4, more upscale interior, and Ford’s relegating the solid rear axle to the scrap heap, this is beyond question the best Mustang I have driven.

For real world driving, do not scoff at the four. It works just fine for that galloping stallion on the front grille and it will work just fine for you.

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Auto News for May 28

On the one hand, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne predicted there will be a merger deal in the auto industry before 2018. He did not say if that would involve his firm. On the other hand, the CEO at Opel ruled out any deal with Fiat, in line with the New York Times report that GM has ruled out any merger with Marchionne.

Ford will offer competitors access to its electric vehicle technology patents to help accelerate industry wide research and development of those cars. Ford has filed more than 400 patents dedicated to electrified vehicle technologies.

Ford is recalling almost 423,000 vehicles to fix a power steering problem that could cause it to fail on the road. Involved at 2011-13 Ford Flex and Taurus, along with Lincoln MKS and MKT. Also in the recall are the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ from model years 2011-12 and some 2012 Mercury Milan models.

Auto Spies reports that GM CEO Mary Barra has ordered a new car, and it is not a Cadillac or other high end sedan that you might expect the top executive to drive. Instead it is a well optioned black Corvette Z06 according to a line worker at the plant where Corvettes are manufactured. Way to go!!!

GM will install Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto in 14 models of 2016 Chevy’s, Barra announced at a Los Angels’ tech conference. There are more than 2.3 billion smartphones in use globally and GM said customers are demanding better integration between phones and their vehicles. Barra said the Android and Apple systems will be available across a wide range of models, just not the high priced offerings.

You might remember pitchmen for Chrysler years ago extoling the 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty on its cars. Well that is going away. Automotive News says Fiat Chrysler will trim that to 5-years/60,000 starting with the 2016 model year, according to Automotive News. GM made a similar move in March.

Lamborghini will introduce a sport utility vehicle in 2018 to be built at the company plant in Sant Agata Bolognese Italy. Of course this will be a high performance model with a price tag to match. The official announcement came from parent company Volkswagen and will require a $762 million expansion of the plant.

 

Auto News for May 27

2013ToyotaAvalonLTD002

Toyota was named the most valuable auto brand in the world in an annual study commissioned by WPP and Millward Brown. Toyota has been consistent, topping the automobile category in eight of the last ten years. BMW finished second with Mercedes in third place. Rounding out the top ten were Honda, Ford, Nissan, Audi, Volkswagen, Land Rover and Lexus.

Overall, Apple took over the top spot as the world’s most valuable brand displacing Google.

Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the first new car to offer Android Auto, but you can bet others will follow the path to Google’s infotainment interface. It connects Android phones to the car’s dashboard screen via a cable thus allowing operators to utilize aps on the smartphone that are relevant to driving. That would include Google maps, hands free calling, and some music sources among other items. But to avoid driver distraction, not all of the aps on your Android will translate to your car. Here is a link that will explain it all:

http://news.yahoo.com/android-auto-finally-era-011450565.html;_ylt=AwrC2Q6kq2VVVR0AtS3QtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTBybGY3bmpvBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–

Techie types have been heaping praise on the new system for its simplicity and voice commands. They said unlike similar systems this one actually works!

Due to one less selling day, Kelley Blue Book predicts May auto sales will be down one percent compared to a year ago. Yet, it believes sales will remain strong thanks to warmer weather and special deals offered over the holiday weekend. Fiat Chrysler is expected to produce a sales increase for the 62nd straight month largely due to the Jeep brand aided by the new “Baby Jeep”, the Renegade.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance will provide a fleet of 200 all-electric vehicles for the UN climate conference in Paris later this year.

Zero motorcycle

More than 50 police departments around the country are using all electric motorcycles, according to Zero Motorcycles, a manufacturer of same. It said the lack of noise produced by the motor is proving to be “a tactical advantage for patrol officers.” The police model has a top speed of 98 mph and a maximum range of 178 miles on a charge.

 

Saturday Road Test – Hyundai Elantra GT

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Hyundai Elantra GT

DRIVE ONE!!!

By Ron Amadon

UNION BRIDGE, MD – There are some cars that you truly are sorry to see go away at the end of a test period, and the GT Elantra was one of them.

Long term readers will know that I favor cars that offer a nice balance of power, handling, style, classy interiors and value for the dollar. The GT got straight A’s in all those categories.

For 2016 the GT received a redesigned grille with horizontal chrome and argent slats that to my eyes gave it a slightly more aggressive look. And there were more than a few tech additions that will allow the owner to make the GT do everything but roll over and beg through the Apple Siri integration and expanded Hyundai Blue Link capability.

There are also newly styled 17-inch alloy wheels, and ventilated front seats that were most welcome on an early hot humid day in these parts.

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Propelling this slick looking hatch is a 2.0-liter four with 173 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 154 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. That is 28 horses more than the base 1.8-liter four and more torque on the high end of the rev counter.

For the technically inclined, it has direct injection whereby fuel is injected by a camshaft-driven, high pressure pump that operates at pressures up to 2,176 psi. It utilizes a higher than normal 11.5:1 compression ratio for increased power.

The test car had the six speed automatic that can also be shifted manually but there were no paddle shifts. A six speed manual is available as standard equipment. While the automatic did a good job, the manual would liven this this hatch up still further.

Fuel economy wise the EPA rated the GT at 24-33 mpg for a combined 27. During a week’s testing I came out shy of those figures at 21.3 mpg.

It slips through the wind thanks to a .30 coefficient of drag. This results in a surprisingly quiet ride on the interstates – the most serene interior that I have experienced on any Hyundai on the lower end of that brand’s food chain.

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The GT weighs less than many of its rivals, at 2,904 pounds for the tested automatic model, some 119 pounds lighter than the Volks Golf 5-door.

Inside there were easy to read instruments with the favored white numerals on a black background. The driver’s chair was powered with lumbar adjustments and it was easy to remain comfortable on a long day’s drive. To the rear, there is room for two adults with ample headroom thanks to the hatchback design and just enough leg and knee room with a six foot tall driver up front. The rear seats can fold flat by first folding the lower seat cushion upward. Cargo volume is on a par with competitors at 51 cubic feet with back row seats folded.

Closing the doors resulted in a very solid sounding thunk. Materials, fit and finish were excellent.

Handling was better than expected with the usual MacPherson strut front suspension and a front stabilizer bar that actually does limit body lean while exercising the GT on favorite country roads. There are also higher rear spring rates, a stiffer twist bean and Sachs damper for improved body motion control. The result is better than expected handling with a more than acceptable ride over pock marked roads, even with the Style Package’s sportier suspension calibration optimized for the lower profile P215/45R tires.

The test car came with a $3,950 “Tech Package” that included a larger than expected sunroof, ventilated front seats, navi with a 7-inch touchscreen, expanded Blue Link, Siri Eyes Free voice control, Google destination search, Pandora, dual zone climate control, rear view camera and automatic headlights.

A $1,975 “Style Package” which is a must to get the “Tech Package,” brought alloy wheels, fog lights, aluminum pedals, under floor storage, and keyless entry among other items.

Add in $125 for floor mats and $825 for delivery and the test car’s MSRP came to $26,675. Of course that included Hyundai’s long list of standard equipment.

With the exception of the lower than expected gas mileage, the GT racked up high marks to rank as one of the best little hatchbacks that I have driven in more than a decade of testing cars, especially when bang for the buck is factored in.

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Auto News for May 22

General Motors leads the news list this morning on a couple of fronts.

The federal government has extended for one year its oversight of GM’s review, decision making and communications about potential safety issues. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require GM to continue submitting reports to and meeting with officials on safety related matters. In a press release, the agency said the automaker has made improvements over the past year and this action “will help keep them on the right track.”

Last May the company agreed to pay a record $35 million civil penalty and take part in unprecedented oversight regarding its handling of ignition switch issues in millions of vehicles.

Chevrolet marks the 60th anniversary of the Corvette with the introduction of the 2014 Corvette Stingray Premiere Edition Ð a limited-production model that commemorates the impending launch of the all-new, seventh-generation Corvette, Friday, June 28, 2013 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Corvette Stingray Premiere Edition features a Laguna Blue Tintcoat exterior and Brownstone suede interior, a ÒstingerÓ hood stripe, ÒStingrayÓ-logo interior sill plates and wheel caps, and custom Corvette branded luggage from Thule. (Photo by AJ Mast for Chevrolet)

GM will spend $439 million to upgrade the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky including construction of a new paint shop. Work will begin this summer and take two years to complete.

Elsewhere …

Production of the redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot has begun at the company’s plant in Lincoln, Alabama. The upcoming Pilot is said to offer improvement gas mileage and additional space. It will go on sale next month.

Ford's trailer assist

Backing up with a trailer attached to your pickup is a skill that some do well with lots of practice and some never master. Now Ford has announced “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” for the 2016 F-150 that it says will make the whole process easier. It works by letting the customer steer the trailer with a control knob. The customer rotates the knob to indicate how much the system should turn the trailer and then automatically steers the truck to turn the trailer the desired amount.

Imagine a synthetic fuel that carried a 100 octane rating, uses no petroleum, and will allow for high compression ratios for enhanced efficiency. Audi calls it “e-benzin.” It will test the new fuel in the lab and in test engines and wants to modify the production process so it requires no biomass, just water, hydrogen CO2 and sunlight.

Audi also confirmed that it will produce a luxury SUV in 2019 called the Q8 to take on the Land Rover Range Rover, upscale Mercedes GL and BMW X7. It is expected to have a coupe like style but other than that Audi released few details.

 

 

 

 

Auto News for May 21

Lower gas prices will do it! The Transportation Department said drivers racked up 720.1 billion miles in the first quarter and that is not only a record, it is 35 billion more miles than a year earlier. The figures come at a time when there is a call for increased spending on highway infrastructure as Congress considers another short term extension of current highway spending.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s web site had occasional outages yesterday after getting more than 50 times normal traffic, the Detroit News reports. People turned to the site after the Takata airbag announcement that a record 34 million vehicles are being recalled. It is the largest government vehicle recall ever.

Yet research conducted by Autotrader shows that when consumers are made aware of a recall only 56 percent take their vehicle in for repairs. It said automakers face an uphill battle to convince 34 million owners to take their cars in for servicing.

BMW ZHP

BMW is going back in history when it produces the 2016 435i ZHP Coupe Edition. The ZHP name pays homage to a package offered from 2003-06 on the 3 Series. Key characteristics of the new model are a Track Handling Package, limited slip differential, M Performance Parts and Sport Package. Horsepower is increased by 35 over the current 435 model to 335 hp and torque is increased to 332 lb-ft, a 32 lb-ft gain. BMW said all that will make the ZHP two seconds faster 60 and five seconds faster from 50 to 75 mph. Only 100 of the new models will be made with either an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual gear box. Production will begin in July and pricing will be announced closer to the on sale date.