LATEST NEW CAR INFORMATION AND EXPORT NEWS
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Toyota HighlanderThe Toyota Highlander is a comfortable and smooth-riding midsize crossover with three rows of seating, standard front-wheel drive but available with all-wheel drive. It’s considerably larger than the RAV4 but not rugged like the 4Runner.
It was last redesigned for 2014, but for 2017 Highlander receives a facelift, more power, a new eight-speed transmission, and more high-tech safety features. It also gets four more USB ports, for a total of five. The third row remains very small.
There’s a new sporty Highlander SE, with a stiffer suspension and 19-inch wheels, so the ride is more firm and less smooth. The Highlander Hybrid is now available in lower LE and XLE trims.
Highlander can be compared with other large crossovers such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda Pilot, and Chevrolet Traverse.
The 3.5-liter V6 that powers most models of the Highlander gets upgraded with direct injection, which increases its horsepower to 295 from 270. The new eight-speed automatic transmission has a broader range for the torque-converter lockup, which gives it a more direct feel, according to Toyota. The new powertrain raises fuel mileage a bit, to 21 city, 27 highway, and 23 miles per gallon combined. It uses a start-stop system that shuts the engine off at stop signs and redlights, and restarts it when the drive takes his or her foot off the brake pedal.
The base Highlander LE uses a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Despite having much less power, it gets one less combined mile per gallon than the new V6, and three less highway mpg.
Hybrid models use an Atkinson-cycle version of the V6, also with direct injection. The hybrid system uses two electric motors, one for the front wheels and another for the rear wheels. It makes a combined 306 horsepower (up from 26), and brings 30 City, 28 Highway and 29 Combined miles per gallon. We got seat time in a Hybrid XLE, all of it relaxed city driving, and it returned considerably less than that. Not unlike our experience with the 2016 Highlander Hybrid.
With the forward-collision warning system, the IIHS gives the Highlander its Top Safety Pick+ rating, with top Good ratings in every test. The NHTSA gives it five stars overall, with four stars for frontal crash and rollover.
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Toyota 4RunnerThe Toyota 4Runner, last redesigned for 2014, and unchanged from 2016 to 2017, is Toyota’s offroad SUV, with its truck-like body-on-frame chassis. It hasn’t crossed over from the rugged days, unlike the Highlander, although it isn’t rough.
It comes with a smooth 4.0-liter V6 making 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque that makes it quick, and a five-speed automatic transmission, which feels like enough gears if you haven’t driven the eight- and nine- and ten-speeds, many of which have been disappointing.
The 4Runner drives better than it should. It’s even easy to maneuver in parking lots. It’s comfortable for long hours, with a fairly smooth ride and very little road noise.
Inside, it’s less refined than the Ford Explorer or Dodge Durango, two main competitors. And since the 4Runner’s bolted-on body is narrower and its floor higher, there’s less cargo space than in a same-sized crossover.
The TRD Off Road and TRD Pro Series models only come with 4WD. The TRD Pro is serious, with Bilstein shocks having remote reservoirs, Nitto all-terrain tires, TRD front springs, skid plates, exclusive wheels, and TRD trim and badging.
The 2017 4Runner TRD Off Road model is new in name, having been called the Trail previously.
Eight airbags are standard. It scores well in crash testing, but not always the top rating in each test by NHTSA and IIHS.
The base SR5 model with rear-wheel-drive is EPA rated at 17 miles per gallon City, 22 Highway, and 19 Combined; four-wheel drive gets 1 mpg less.
The 2017 Toyota 4Runner SR5 comes with rear-wheel drive ($34,210) or four-wheel drive ($36,085). Standard equipment includes power driver seat, roof rack, audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, and Toyota’s Entune services. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
4Runner Premium comes with 2WD ($36,090) or 4WD ($37,915). The Limited 2WD ($42,525) and Limited 4WD ($44,560) comes with dual power front seats, navigation, and a 15-speaker JBL sound system.
The 4WD TRD Off Road ($37,335) and TRD Pro ($42,400) are tuned for rugged terrain.
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Chevrolet SuburbanThe Chevrolet Suburban is an American institution dating to 1935, and enabling an American tradition, the big family hauler. It began its 12th generation in 2015 with fresh styling and a refined cabin, and hasn’t changed for 2017.
The chassis is body-on-frame, like a truck, and comes from the 11th generation. The engine was all new in 2015, a direct-injected 5.3-liter V8 EcoTec3 with aluminum block and heads. It makes 355 horsepower (380 hp on E85 fuel) and 383 pound-feet of torque (416 lb.-ft. on E85). It’s mated to a smooth six-speed automatic, but don’t be surprised if that’s soon replaced by a transmission with more gears, to increase fuel mileage.
Suburban’s only rival is the Ford Expedition EL with its EcoBoost turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that makes 365 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque, and a 9200-pound towing capacity.
It would be nice if the more powerful 6.2-liter EcoTec3 engine that’s available in the Tahoe and Silverado would also be optional for the Suburban, that needs it the most. The Suburban is rated to tow 8300 pounds with rear-wheel drive, but that’s making 355 horsepower work awfully hard. That much towing needs the bigger engine that can’t be had.
The handling is impressive for a nearly three-ton vehicle, that’s 224 inches long on 103-inch wheelbase. It’s surprisingly brisk, which contributes a lot to family safety. And the ride is smooth, which contributes a lot to family happiness. So does the quiet cabin.
The Suburban gets 15 city and 23 highway miles per gallon with rear-wheel drive, a whisker less with all-wheel drive.
The 2017 Chevrolet Suburban comes in LS ($49,915), LT ($55,515) and Premier ($64,840) models, all with 5.3-liter V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, six-speed automatic transmission, and fold-flat second- and third-row seats. All-wheel drive is $3000 more.
All Suburbans come standard with a rearview camera, seven air bags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, trailer sway control, traction control, and more.
Suburban LS comes with cloth upholstery, front bucket seats with 10-way power-adjustable driver and two-way passenger seats, tri-zone climate controls, AM/FM/CD audio, satellite radio, remote vehicle starting, rear view camera, rear park assist, manual-adjustable second- and third-row seats. A font bench seat is optional.
Suburban LT upgrades with leather trim for first- and second-row seats, heated power front seats with memory feature, Bose premium audio, MyLink infotainment system, power liftgate with programmable height, lane departure warning, forward collision alert.
Suburban Premier adds heated and cooled front seats, fog lamps, HID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, heated power side mirrors, power tilt/telescope steering column with memory, heated leather steering wheel, keyless entry, pushbutton start, power folding second- and third-row seatbacks, power adjustable pedals, 110-volt power outlet, 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, blind spot warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert.
Options include navigation, power-folding second- and third-row seats, power liftgate, cargo management system, Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system, and as many as six USB ports and six power outlets.
Safety features on all models include a safety alert seat that vibrates if the system determines the driver is at risk of colliding with another vehicle. A rear vision camera comes standard that shows the area immediately behind the vehicle on the audio screen, very helpful for hooking up a trailer. Bucket-seat models include a front center air bag that deploys from the inboard side of the driver’s seat and inflates between driver and front passenger for added protection in a side-impact crash. Also available: side blind-zone alert, lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, crash-imminent braking.
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Toyota SequoiaThe Toyota Sequoia is a full-size SUV with three rows of seating, with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. It’s traditional in that it’s based on a pickup truck, in this case the Tundra; its structure is body-on-frame, in no way a crossover.
Sequoia was a star when it came out in 2007, but it’s been a decade with few changes, which makes the 2017 Sequoia very dated compared to the competition, namely the redesigned GM models: Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.
It’s the cabin where the Sequoia feels most behind the times, with leftover plastic materials and lack of features like pushbutton start and USB ports. However only the Sequoia has a power rear window in the liftgate, a nice convenience.
The Sequoia uses the Tundra platform, but its ride is smoother and handling a bit better. There is just one engine, the trusty GM 5.7-liter, here making 381 horsepower 401 pound-feet of torque, mated to an old-school six-speed automatic. The Sequoia doesn’t offer any rugged offroad equipment, because the Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser cover that so well, and also have three rows of seating available.
With fuel mileage of 15 miles per gallon combined (14 mpg with 4wd), the Sequoia lags even farther behind the times. Its six-speed automatic is fine for transmission duties, maybe even better than some high-tech trannies like the Ford 10-speed, however the main reason for more gears nowadays is fuel mileage. The Sequoia may be bombproof simple, but it pays at the pump. The EPA rates it 13 mpg city and 17 mpg highway for 15 combined.
The 4WD Chevy Tahoe gets 18 mpg combined, and uses a fuel tank of the same size, 26 gallons, so its range is about 468 miles compared to the Sequoia’s 364 miles.
The Sequoia hasn’t been crash-tested by the feds or insurance people. However one good point is the many airbags: two-stage front bags, knee bags and side bags in front, and roll-sensing side curtains for all three rows. Rearview camera is standard, but auto emergency braking isn’t available.
The Sequoia can tow a big boat, but compared to the Toyota Highlander crossover, it’s less people friendly.
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Mercedes-Benz E-ClassThe 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 sedan is all new. It’s bigger, better looking, more efficient and more substantial than before. It’s more technologically advanced than the flagship S-Class, with more infotainment and safety equipment. The E300 can practically drive itself.
Competitors like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS, Jaguar XF, and Cadillac CTS can’t do that, although the American Tesla Model S can.
The 2017 E300 sedan is the first of the all-new E-Class. It will be followed by an all-new 2017 E-Class Wagon. The E-Class coupe and convertible continue in the form of the previous generation. We have seat time in the new E300 in heavy traffic outside Lisbon, Portugal, and freeway traffic outside San Francisco.
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan grows by 1.7 inches to 193.8 inches long, with a wheelbase that’s 2.6 inches longer, at 115.7 inches. It weighs about two tons, and would weigh more if it weren’t for the body’s aluminum panels and higher-strength steel.
For now, the new E-Class sedan has just one engine and transmission, the E300 with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 9-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, 4MATIC all-wheel drive available.
The 2017 E300 is fairly quick, able to accelerate from zero to sixty in 6.2 seconds (on the way to 130 mph), but it’s also gruff. The outgoing silky V6 engine the four-cylinder turbo replaces will be missed.
Two suspensions are available for the E300, and the handling varies with them. There is a firm multi-link suspension with adaptive dampers in either base or sport (firmer) tune, or an air suspension with adaptive dampers. In addition to that, the wheel sizes range from 17 to 20 inches, mounted with different tires. It’s not your father’s E300.
Driving systems with modes are also available: economy, comfort, sport and sport plus, that alter the suspension, steering, transmission, and throttle.
The 2017 E300 hasn’t been crash-tested by the government or insurance industry yet. However, crash ratings nowadays take into consideration not just crashworthiness, but crash-prevention features. Which is subjective. For example, the new E-Class will change lanes on its own, after the turn signal is on for two seconds. This is a good thing? Why? Can anyone besides us see the problems with that? Starting with maybe you want to give the person behind you more than two seconds’ notice. The government and insurance industry might say it’s safer than the driver making the decision to change lanes when he or she sees that it’s safe.
Other safety equipment includes the car telling you when it thinks it’s time for you to take a coffee break; a shriek when it thinks you’re going to crash, followed by automatic braking; maintaining an exact distance to the car in front of you at 130 mph like a NASCAR driver, meaning the guy in front of you has his feet on your pedals. When he floors it at 10 mph, your car does; when he slams on the brakes, your car does.
Another issue is inconsistency; the auto-driving turns itself off after about 20 seconds, maybe in the middle of your thinking it’s driving for you. And the cameras that see the white lines at the edge of the road can’t see a white line that’s faded. So you might think it will keep you from running off the road, but it only keeps you from running over visible white lines. It only knows a road is a road by the paint.
Meanwhile, there are potential virtues. A new system hits the brakes if you don’t see oncoming cross-traffic, preventing you from being T-boned or T-boning another.
It will park or unpark itself using a smartphone app. And there’s a trigger that will inflate a seat bolster that shoves the passenger three inches farther away from impact.
- Nicolas Popov
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- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Toyota Land CruiserBuilt for remote terrain around the globe, the hulking Toyota Land Cruiser feels forced into suburbia. It’s highly refined, with poise and presence, but it can’t escape its truck roots. It seats eight, but the third row is more of a jump seat. The Lexus LX 570 is the luxury version of the Land Cruiser, with hydraulic suspension to smoothen the ride and escape those roots.
The chassis is body-on-frame, and the drivetrain is full-time four-wheel drive, with a locking center differential. The engine is a brawny 5.7-liter V8 making 381 horsepower, mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The 5700-pound Land Cruiser is emphatically propelled down the road by this powertrain.
The Land Cruiser hasn’t been redesigned since 2008, although it got updates to styling, technology, and that new transmission for 2016. For 2017 it adds active safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross traffic alerts.
The Land Cruiser is a gas hog, no surprise, getting 13 miles per gallon city, 18 highway and 15 combined, about the worst in class. But at least the big V8 doesn’t need high-test fuel.
It won’t be crash-tested by the government or insurance industry because the cost is high and sales are low. But it’s a tank, no worries if you crash into a Fiesta. Standard safety equipment includes 10 airbags, rearview camera, tire-pressure monitor, and LED headlamps with auto high beams. And Trailer Sway Control, an important safety feature.
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Mercedes-Benz S-ClassThe elegant and powerful Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the benchmark for full-size luxury cars. It has some of the most advanced safety technologies on earth and is one of the most lavish and classy displays anywhere of wealth and exclusivity. It was last redesigned for 2014.
The 2017 S-Class brings two new models, the Mercedes-Benz S650 Cabriolet and the long-wheelbase S550 4MATIC. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz S550 gets a paddle-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission, and all 2017 S-Class models get the mbrace2 Connect infotainment package.
The S550 uses a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 making 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive is available for sedans, 4MATIC comes on all S550 coupes. Air suspension is standard.
The S63 AMG models use a 5.5-liter twin turbo V8 making 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque with 4MATIC. They will accelerate from zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds. The rear-wheel drive S65 AMG, and the Maybach S650 use a twin-turbo V12 making 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. The S600 models have a 523-horsepower V12.
The Mercedes-Maybach models go off into Rolls-Royce territory, with all the technology and features wrapped into a limo-like body that’s eight inches longer.
Standard S-Class safety equipment includes front, front side, rear side and curtain airbags; inflatable rear seat belts; adaptive brake lights; and adaptive head restraints. Optional safety equipment includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with following and steering ability, approaching autonomous driving functions in limited environments, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, and night vision with obstacle and pedestrian detection.
Fuel mileage for the popular S550 sedan is an EPA-estimated 18/26 miles per gallon City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined, not bad for a car this heavy and with this much power. The 4MATIC Coupe drops one mpg. The AMG and V12 models get about 16 to 18 combined.
There is an S550e Plug-In Hybrid model that gets an EPA-rated 26 mpg combined. It can go 12 miles on just electric power, using a an 8.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk, giving it a rating of 58 MPGe. It’s powered by a turbocharged V6 with an 85-kw electric motor tied to the transmission, making a combined 436 horsepower. It accelerates from zero to sixty in 5.2 seconds.
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 Mercedes-Benz C-ClassThe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class includes a range of sedans, coupes and convertibles, each of which offers stunning good looks. The sedan was launched for 2015, the coupe for 2016, the Cabriolet for 2017. They come with a selection of powertrains, designated by their nomenclature: C300, C350e, AMG C43, AMG C63, AMG C63 S.
The Mercedes-Benz C300 uses 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 241 horsepower, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, with rear- or all-wheel drive. It accelerates from zero to 60 mph in about 6 seconds.
The C350e plug-in hybrid uses a turbo four and battery pack combining for 275 horsepower.
The AMG C43 uses a turbo V6 making 362 horsepower, with a nine-speed automatic new for 2017. It shoots from zero to sixty in less than five seconds, and has sports exhaust and adaptive sports suspension. It’s a good fit, between calm C300 and radical hot-rod AMG C63.
The C63 and C63 S use a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, making 469 and 503 horsepower, respectively, blasting to sixty in less than four second and reaching a top speed of 180 mph. It competes with the Cadillac ATS-V and BMW M3.
The C300 sedan gets an EPA-rated 24/34 mpg City/Highway, 28 mpg Combined. With all-wheel drive it gets one less mile per gallon, while the coupe and convertible get two less. Over a 90-mile run in the C300 sedan, a mix of freeway, suburbia and country two-lanes, we got more than 30 mpg. The high-performance C43 AMG gets 20/28/23 mpg. The powerful V8 in the C63 sucks gas, with a score of 17/23/19 mpg.
The 2017 C-Class earns Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, despite a Poor rating for the headlights (and frankly we wonder how a car with poor headlights can be a top safety pick), and got five stars overall from NHTSA, with four stars in frontal crash and rollover. The Audi A4 does better.
For 2017 a rearview camera becomes standard. Some airbags are also new, the lot includes pelvis airbags in front, a new window airbag, side airbags in the rear, and driver knee airbag. Advanced safety technology includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, driver attention alert, and a semi-autonomous traffic assistant that follows the car ahead at up to 37 mph. There’s also an advanced brake assist system that detects pedestrians and parked cars, and automatically brakes, at up to 45 mph. The lane-keeping system applies the brakes on one side of the car to stop drifting. Active parking assistance, surround-view cameras, and traffic sign assistance (which warns of speed limits, no-entry signs, and other information) are also among the available high-tech safety equipment.
- Nicolas Popov
wrote:2017 BMW 4 SeriesThe BMW 4 Series is built on the platform of the 3 Series, and is the same size. The 2017 BMW 4 Series comes in two-door Coupe, hardtop Convertible, and five-door Gran Coupe versions, while the 3 is a sedan or wagon. Rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are offered, even on the Convertible.
There are two new engines, resulting in the 2017 BMW 430i from the previous 428i, and the 2017 BMW 440i from the previous 435i.
The four- and inline six-cylinder turbocharged engines are both new for 2017. The BMW 430i with the 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 258 pound-feet of torque, while the BMW 440i with the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 makes a healthy 320 horsepower with an emphatic 330 pound-feet of torque.
All models offer a flawless eight-speed automatic, though an engaging six-speed manual transmission is also available for the Coupe.
BMW created the 4 Series out of the 3 Series, but lost that old BMW magic in the process. We find the value in the 4 Series questionable, and its appearance frumpy compared to the Mercedes C-Class. The Gran Coupe seems to combine the best of the 3 and 4, which makes it the best of the 4 Series models. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has more room inside, with a sleek profile outside.
The 2017 BMW 430i coupe with the eight-speed automatic gets 23 miles per gallon City, 34 mpg Highway, and 27 mpg Combined. On the far side, the BMW 440i xDrive convertible gets an EPA-estimated 20/30/24 mpg.
The 2017 BMW 430i Coupe ($42,150), BMW 430i Convertible ($50,300), and BMW 430i Gran Coupe ($41,950) come with the four-cylinder engine, leatherette upholstery, air conditioning. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
The BMW 440i Coupe ($48,500) and BMW 440i Gran Coupe ($48,300) include the six-cylinder engine; the BMW 440i Convertible ($57,300) also upgrades to leather upholstery.
All-wheel drive comes on models denoted xDrive; the sDrive models are rear-wheel drive.
Leather upholstery and wood trim are optional. Navigation, rearview camera, and Apple CarPlay are options. M Sport packages include sports suspension, wheels and tires, and special trim. The Track Package has active suspension and bigger brakes.