Saturday Road Test – Fun In A CX-3



            2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

                   Just Plain Fun To Drive

 By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – What sets the CX-3 ahead of the pack is its personality – It loves to party on back roads.

 But wait a minute, the uninitiated might mutter, aren’t we talking about a mundane little run about here?

 Nay, nay!

 With lots of low end grunt, quick acting paddle shifts, and a suspension that is about three whiskers on the firm side, this little crossover just hangs in there during spirited driving on rural roads. It is darn near sports car like. That’s why it really comes to life when you engage that little silver console switch and call up the “Sport” driving mode.

 After all, Mazda does proclaim that “driving matters.” And we should not overlook the very attractive exterior design, to my eyes, the best of the compact crossover class.


 All CX-3 models share the 2.0-liter four with 146 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 146 lb-ft of torque 2,800 rpm. It is matched to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifts.

 Zero to 60 comes up in the mid-eight second range, but again, where this combo really shines is in low end acceleration.

 With all wheel drive the EPA rated economy comes to 27/32/29 mpg. I came in at 28 during a week of heavy stop and go traffic that goes with errand running.

 Range could be an issue on long trips with only an 11.9 gallon gas tank. It came to just 240 miles on the first tank full. Of course if there are young ones aboard that may not matter.    



 Up front were two very comfortable leather and suede bucket seats, a sporty sized wheel and excellent white on black instruments with the tach center stage as it should be.

 A small plastic head up display pops up above the instrument panel for quick speed reference. There is also a digital speed read out at the bottom of the tach.

 While fit and finish and materials were above what one might expect at this price range, all was not well.

  Leg room for adults in the second was quite tight. And the front cup holders were too far to the rear making for an awkward reach for your drink. Also one must raise the center arm rest to use them.

 Cargo space is the smallest in its class. A total of 12.4 cubic feet with the second row seat up, and 44.5 with them folded.

 And the knob that controls some audio functions such as off and on is located too far back on the center console for an easy reach. . 

 Offsetting some of this was a very quiet interior on interstate trips, well above average for its class.


 What do you get:

  The top-level CX-3 Grand Touring includes automatic climate control, a rear cargo cover, moonroof, Bose Audio with 7 speakers, HD radio, satellite radio, and cargo rea cover. The Grand Touring Preferred Equipment Package includes parchment or black leather with red accents and suede upholstery, LED lights, navi and paddle shifters.

 The CX-3 is now in its third model year and offers Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels.


 For 2018 the base Sport model starts at $20,110, or $21,360 for all-wheel drive.

 Our top-of-the-line Grand Touring starts at $25,165 for front drive and $26,415 for all-wheel drive. Add in $1,435 for the GT Premium Package.

 If all you carry in the back seats are kids, and cargo capacity is not a huge issue, what you get here is a small crossover that is simply good fun to drive. If space is an issue, I would recommend a close check of the CX-5.

 And as a daily commuter carrier, the CX-3 in Grand Touring form would be a very fine way to get to work.







Auto News for Sept. 29 – A $94K pickup?

2018 Ford F-Series Super Duty Limited
Are you ready for the $94,000 pickup? A Ford F-450 Super Duty Limited 4×4 with every option box checked would hit that price level.

“There are heavy-duty truck customers who need Super Duty-level capability and want true luxury,” said Eckert Ford Truck group marketing manager. “We created this new truck to answer the call for even more premium choices in the Super Duty range as we see more and more truck customers trending to more premium models.”

More than 50 percent of the Super Duty lineup’s retail sales this year are high-end models – including Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum series. Limited goes even further.

“Imagine opening the door to your humidor and sinking into your favorite leather lounge chair – that’s the sensation new Super Duty Limited inspires,” said Ford design manager Aileen Barraza.

Custom Camelback two-tone leather seats, premium stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel, armrests and instrument panel, suede headliner, hand-finished dark ash wood trim, and special badging set the interior apart.

Outside, a special twin-bar satin grille with chrome accents, quad-beam LED lights and satin-finished tailgate applique are Limited’s unique calling cards. Each Limited also has a dedicated serial number laser-etched on the center console armrest.

This big puppy will also tow more than 30,000 pounds about the weight of a stealthy Air Force F-35 fighter jet.

priest porsche

A Porsche 911 Turbo SE that inspired Judas Priest lead guitarist Glenn Tipton to write platinum-selling album Turbo, and best-selling single Turbo Lover, is to be auctioned by Silverstone Auctions at the Porsche Sale in Great Britain October 21. It may sell for well over $260,000.

Audi electric racer

Audi has presented its first all-electric race car in Neuburg, Germany. The Audi e-tron FE04 will compete in Formula E, which is designed for all electrics. The Audi will use a high efficiency transmission with only one gear. Its first race will come up in December at the Formula E season opener in Japan.

2018 Accent

Hyundai’s new Accent has made its U.S. debut in California. Fractionally larger than the 2017, the new coupe comes with a 1.6 liter four good for 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. That is seven fewer horses than the current model.

Customers can choose from a six speed manual, (how about that!) or a six speed automatic with a choice of normal or sport operating modes. Various modifications are said to improve noise levels inside and torsional rigidity is up 32 percent. Look for the new model to appear in showrooms this fall. But don’t look for the hatchback version. It will not be offered in 2018.

Nissan is encouraging drivers to ‘hit the bottle’ – that’s water not alcohol – to raise awareness of the impact dehydration can have on road safety. A new study has concluded that drivers who consume only sips of water per hour “made more than double the number of mistakes on the road that those who were properly hydrated.” Mistakes included late-braking, drifting within a lane and even crossing lane lines. So a bottle of water in the cup holder is a good idea on a trip.

Auto News for Sept. 28 – Wild 3-seat McLaren

It sure is different! The interior of the McLaren BP23 hybrid concept that will seat three, with the driver sitting in the middle, just like the original McLaren. Top Gear has the picture at:

The BP23 is expected to hit the market in limited numbers in 2019. Little is known for sure about how it will be powered but speculation is that its top speed will be over the 200 mph level.
Were you stuck in big traffic jam on the way home from work? If it occurred along I-95 from the Fairfax County Parkway to Fredericksburg, Virginia you were stuck in the single worst traffic hotspot in the U.S., according to a new study. The Seattle-based traffic data firm Inrix found the average traffic jam on that stretch lasted 33 minutes and covered six miles. Inrix counted 1,394 traffic jams there during the two-month period it conducted the study in March and April.
Yet the D.C. area ranks third to New York and Los Angeles in terms of overall traffic congestion.

The study analyzed more than 100,000 hotspots in 25 of the nation’s most traffic-congested cities.

Mazda, Toyota and Denso will join forces to develop basic structural technologies for electric vehicles. This agreement covers a diverse range of models, from mini vehicles to passenger vehicles, SUVs, and light trucks. By creating a basic architecture for electrics, the companies will reduce development costs. Denso is the second largest auto parts supplier in the world and is 25 percent owned by Toyota.

Edmunds is more bullish than Kelley Blue Book when it comes to September auto sales forecasts. Edmunds believes that Labor Day holiday weekend sales will boost sales 2.9 percent for the month. “Labor Day weekend got September auto sales off to a strong start,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis. “Automakers are finally starting to dial up the incentives to clear excess inventory, which we anticipate will continue through the rest of the year.” KBB is forecasting a one percent sales gain.

Remember when just about everyone drove home in a sedan when they purchased a new wheels? As you undoubtedly know, those days are gone due to the popularity of SUV’s, crossovers and trucks. Edmunds said midsized sedans now account for only 10.7 percent of all sales – the segment’s lowest number since it began tracking in 1991. Now that shoppers can now get an SUV for a similar price as a sedan and not have to pay much more at the pump, it’s hard to convince them a sedan is a better choice, Edmunds said.



Auto News for Sept. 27

California governor Jerry Brown is said to have expressed an interest in studying a possible ban on gasoline powered vehicles.

That according to the chair of the California Air Resources Board, in an interview with Bloomberg News and reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.
There has been no comment on all this from the governor. And it is unclear this morning how such a ban would work.

While California leads the nation in the number of electric cars on the road they remain a small proportion of the total number of vehicles on the highway.

GM and union officials have resumed talks to settle a strike that began Sept. 17 at a large assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. It produces the very popular Chevrolet Equinox. The union said the main sticking point is future job security.

Ford is teaming with Lyft in the development of self-driving cars. The goal, one day, is to allow you to open a Lyft app and a self-driving car will arrive at your door as “quickly and safely as possible.”

“We don’t, however, plan to put customers in them until we are certain our technology delivers a positive, reassuring experience where we can gain meaningful feedback,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification.

Dyson, best known for its vacuum cleaners, plans to develop an electric car by the year 2020, according to its leader James Dyson. It has already acquired a Michigan firm that makes solid-state batteries and is said to have two teams working on batteries that would extend the range of totally electric cars.

Porsche Cars North America 911-GT2-RS-Nurburgring-Record-B

Porsche set a new lap record for street legal sports cars on the 12.8 mile Nürburgring-Nordschleife with the 2018 911 GT2 RS. The lap time of 6:47.3 minutes even surpassed internal expectations. “This result makes it official: The GT2 RS is not only the most powerful, but also the fastest 911 model ever built,” said Frank-Steffen Walliser, head of Motorsport and GT Cars for Porsche.

The heart of the high-performance sports car is a twin turbo flat-six engine producing 700 horsepower. This enables the two-seater weighing 3,241 pounds to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.7 seconds. The top track speed of the rear-wheel drive Coupé is 211 miles per hour.

Auto sales will increase one percent this month, according to forecasters at Kelley Blue Book as consumers in Texas and Florida replace vehicles destroyed by the two hurricanes. Demand has already started to pick up in some areas, KBB said, and will continue into October and potentially November, as vehicle insurance payouts are received.



Auto News for Sept. 26 – Subaru Teases

Subaru Viz

 Subaru is teasing the “Viziv Performance” concept car that it will unveil at the Tokyo Auto Show that begins on October 25.  “The model expresses the enjoyment of driving by adopting a sports sedan style based on Subaru’s shared design philosophy of “DYNAMIC x SOLID”, while realizing its future vision for safety with advanced driver-assist technology, centered on Subaru’s original EyeSight driver-assist system,” said Suby. And that’s all we know at this time.

 Also at the show, Subaru will display two limited edition models. The S208 (only 450 units available, sale by lottery), based on the WRX STI, and the SUBARU BRZ STI Sport (Cool Grey Khaki edition only limited to 100 units, sale by lottery).

 Volvo announced that the XC90 will be the second car to be built at its new plant in Berkeley Country, South Carolina starting in 2021. This takes Volvo’s investment in its U.S. manufacturing operations to more than $1.1 billion. The added model will raise the number of new jobs at the plant to nearly 4,000, the maker said. The S60 will also be a South Carolina product.

 Millennials are the least likely to respond to recall notices regarding their current set of wheels, according to a survey from Stericycle Expert Solutions. It surveyed over 1,000 Americans and found millennials are twice as likely to throw the notices in the trash when compared to baby boomers. Millennials ranked recalls of consumer electronic products least important, but agreed with their fellow Americans that food and pharmaceutical recalls are most important. More than one-quarter (26 percent) of respondents believe that vehicle recall notices are not serious and are sent mainly out of legal obligation.

 One month after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, motorists are finally seeing consistent declines in gas prices. At $2.57, today’s national average is five cents less than a week ago, 22 cents more expensive than a month ago and 36 cents more than a year ago, said AAA.

 “Gas prices are getting cheaper by the day,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Pump prices may not be dropping as fast as motorists would like, but with the switchover to winter-blend gasoline, consumer demand beginning to slow and Gulf Coast refineries getting closer to normal operations, consumers can expect gas prices to continue to be less expensive through October.”


Auto News for Sept. 25


Here is a great way to start your week – along with a strong cup of Joe. It will get all your senses up and working.

It is Top Gear’s Chris Harris driving the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, the high performance Lambo that set a Nurburgring lap record.

Power? Well yes! A V10 good for 640 horsepower, a sweat inducing amount of torque, 443 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and a 0-60 time of just 2.4 seconds. Top speed of 202 mph.

Good news and bad news for workers at the GM plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. GM will end the third shift but the Detroit News reports not all of the 1,000 workers on that shift will be laid off. The automaker is still determining how many will be furloughed. Spring Hill produces the Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia – two brands that dealers have an adequate supply of as overall new vehicle sales continue to slow.

It is worth nothing that GM has announced it will make a substantial investment in the plant to produce an upcoming compact Cadillac SUV.

Kia Motors America 2018 Rio Pricing

Kia announced pricing for the all-new 2018 Rio sedan and 5-door hatchback. Expected to arrive in Kia retailers beginning early October, the subcompact duo will be offered in three trim levels – LX, S and EX.

LX starts at $13,900

S starts at $16,100

EX trim starts at $18,400

That compares to a starting price of $14,165 for the current base model.

The Rio offers Bluetooth hands-free functionality, a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a rear-view camera system. Available only on the top-tier EX trim is a seven-inch floating touchscreen interface, UVO3 voice recognition infotainment system and smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as Autonomous Emergency Braking.

A Toyota Sequoia Platinum edition has rolled off the assembly line at the plant in Princeton, Indiana. It has now produced five million vehicles over the last 20 years.


Saturday Road Test – Kia Forte S

2017 Forte Sedan EX

                              Kia Forte S

                              A Hot Seller

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Kia made some styling changes to its compact Forte, added a new four cylinder engine, spruced up the interior with a new “S” model, and then settled down to see how it worked out in the market place.

 To date, it has all worked out rather well. When August sales figures were released the Forte was the Kia’s second best-seller trailing only the Soul. But year to date sales show the Forte holding a slight lead over the Kia with Soul.

2017 Forte Sedan EX

 Along with a restyled front end, the Forte welcomed the S trim level that fits in between the entry level LX and the top EX models. It brings a “sport-tuned suspension,” 16 inch- alloy wheels, LED lights, rear spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip to the drive.

 Inside, the seats were dressed in black cloth, the leather wrapped steering wheel had a comfortable sporty touch, and the shift knob was clad in leather as well. In the outback, there was excellent room for two adults, and three if everyone was on speaking terms.

2017 Forte Sedan EX

 A 4.2 inch TFT information display was tucked between the main instruments and a 7.0 inch touchscreen was center stage on the dash and thank you Kia, there are actual knobs for audio system volume and tuning. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are accepted.

 Replacing the previous 1.8-liter four is a standard 2.0-liter Atkinson I-4 that makes 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm.

 Passing slow farm oriented trucks on rural roads showed acceleration is not the Forte’s forte as it were. A 0-60 in a tenth or three under 9 seconds. But with its compact size, this would be an excellent combination for commuting and running the million and one errands that so many of us have stacked up.

 The base model LX is available with a six speed manual, the only Forte to have that option. All others get a revised six speed automatic. I have driven it, and the manual is a nice box.

 On regular unleaded, the Forte S is rated at 29 city and 38 highway mpg, and I came in at 30 at the conclusion of the week long review.

 The Forte runs on regular unleaded captured in a 13.2 gallon tank. (Good trivia question for passengers!)

 Want more? The final gear ratio is 4.333:1

 There was ample storage space inside, and noise levels were on par with the competition.

 Consumer Reports said owners can expect better than average reliability.

 Safety equipment was included in the Technology Package with Autonomous Emergency Breaking, Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure and Assist, and a Rear Traffic Alert.

 A base model LX starts at $16,600 with the tested S trim level starting at $19,300. The tech package added $1,490 that also brought LED taillights, turn signals in the outside mirrors, and push button start. Add in $896 for delivery, and that brought the old bottom line to an easy digest $21,686.

 With its long warranty, excellent build quality, and spruced up trim, the Forte S is well worth considering as a back to school vehicle if that old sedan with fins your son took to college is gasping its last.


 The 2018 model is expected to be little changed.

2017 Forte Sedan EX