Sabtu, 24 September 2016


Many deals and conversations between Motor Trend worker bees are hashed out via text message. One riveting exchange went as follows.
“How did that trim piece come off again? Slammed the hatch lid hard?”
“Lol just closed the hatch. Didn’t think it was that hard.”
That piece of trim is the plastic cap that safeguards the Mazda CX-3’s rear window wiper arm mounting point. It had liberated itself from the vehicle at some point before the 19,000-mile mark. Whether our presumed-innocent individual did in fact put some extra muscle into shutting the rear hatch will remain a mystery for the ages
At least the piece was spotted lying on the ground. Roughly a thousand milliseconds later, I’ve snapped the cap back into place. The tabs that hold it in place are very shallow but appear to do a good job securing it (upon reinstallation). It must’ve taken a good amount of force to free it up. It’s a small issue resolved; it’s also one that doesn’t seem like it should have happened.
The CX-3’s glove box is another matter. As it goes while commuting in the usual L.A. traffic, my eyes wander. One time, these ocular miracles fell on the glove box, where I detected the bin edge nearest the center stack doesn’t sit completely flush. It’s not that noticeable from the front passenger’s seated position.
Optimistic that it could be leveled, I requested a remedy during the 15,000-mile service, the CX-3’s second overall. It turns out the glove box bin may be maxed out of its adjustment range. The paperwork says the dealer “adjusted [the] glove box to sit as flush as possible,” but it still juts out ever so slightly. The bin, emptied or laden, rattles softly and intermittently while driving around, as well. Naturally, the rattle vanishes if a hand is pressed against the box while the CX-3 is moving.
The little Mazda is seeing 27.6 mpg so far, close to its 27.0 combined Real MPG rating. Which means it’s time to take it to zigzagging roads such as Idyllwild National Forest Highway, where cell reception is spottier and texts don’t filter through as quickly.


Chevy chose September 22—the autumnal equinox—to unveil the day’s namesake compact crossover, which will go on sale next spring as a 2018 model. Last renewed on the Theta/GMT191 platform for 2010, this new model ashcans that architecture entirely, making the switch to a new D2 toolkit most closely related to the new Chinese-built Buick Envision. Also new are a 1.5-liter turbo-four base engine, a (new to North America) 1.6-liter turbodiesel-four, and a GM-designed nine-speed automatic transmission. The latter will, at least initially, come paired only with the top-performing 2.0-liter turbo-four, which is shared with cars such as the Camaro,Cadillac ATS, and Buick Regal. Sorry, the V-6 is kaput, and for now the other engines pair with a six-speed automatic.
Let’s start with the body. As with practically every new car, it’s lighter and stiffer thanks to expanded use of fancy high-strength steel, the stiffest of which is hot-stamped, press-hardened martensitic steel used in the A- and B-pillars and in a reinforcement under the toe pan that helps prevent intrusion of the powertrain during a severe frontal crash. Naturally, the design is optimized for the IIHS small-offset test but not specifically for the forthcoming NCAP 15-degree oblique impact test, the full details of which have not yet been finalized. But performance is expected to be good because the new crash rail structure in front now splays outward at the front to better absorb angular and offset impacts.
Overall mass is said to drop by as much as 400 pounds(!), owing in part to a slight reduction in size; the wheelbase and length are shortened by 5.2 and 4.7 inches respectively, height drops 0.9 inch—helping to trim the aerodynamic frontal area—and width actually expands by 0.1 inch. The size drop accounts for around half of the difference, and improved efficiency of the structure, including the aforementioned steel choices and a dramatic increase in the number of welds and structural adhesives employed, help trim another 80–100 pounds. The balance is in things bolted to the structure. Oh, and the shape helps drop the drag coefficient to 0.338.
Overall cargo capacity is virtually unchanged at 63.5 cubic feet, thanks largely to a new middle-row seat design that trades the ability to slide fore and aft for the ability to articulate the seat cushion forward and down when folding it, leaving a lower and more level load floor. Headroom shrinks by just under an inch front and rear, legroom is down a few tenths of an inch, and front shoulder room expands by 1.4 inches.
All the latest safety tech is included or available, including the safety-alert electro-whoopee cushion seat, 360-degree around-view monitoring for parking maneuvers, lane keep assist, and Chevy’s new rear-seat reminder to prevent kids being inadvertently left in hot cars. Keyless entry and starting is now standard, as are projector-beam headlamps and LED daytime running lamps. All the latest connectivity tricks are available, with a 7.0- or 8.0-inch MyLink touch creen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto phone projection, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot.
Performance should not suffer with the switch to a downsized turbocharged-engine lineup. The new 1.5-liter shares architecture with those in other products but gets its own unique cam timing (later intake valve closure) and an improved turbocharger to boost performance and economy in the Equinox fitment. It is expected to be SAE certified to 170 hp and 203 lb-ft. That’s 12 fewer horses but 31 more lb-ft of torque than the outgoing naturally aspirated 2.4-liter base engine made. EPA figures are not yet available, but we’re told to expect 31 mpg highway. The top-performing 2.0-liter, which we quite like in nearly every other application, should be certified at 252 hp and 260 lb-ft; that’s down 19 hp and 12 lb-ft from the V-6, but remember that this engine will get the added leverage of a nine-speed automatic with a wider gear ratio spread (7.6 versus 6.1), a taller ninth gear (eighth equals the outgoing sixth), and a shorter first gear (see sidebar for nitty-gritty transmission details). This combined with the lighter weight allows the 2.0-liter to match the V-6’s 3,500-pound tow rating and should ensure equivalent or better performance with highway fuel economy estimated at 28 mpg—well up from 24 with the front-drive V-6.
And then there’s the segment-exclusive diesel, which has been on sale in Europe for about three years powering such Opels as the Astra, Insignia, Meriva, and Zafira. It’s from a completely different engine family than the ones in the former Cruze and current Colorado. The European press has dubbed it “the whisper diesel,” so it should be plenty quiet thanks to its extra-rigid all-aluminum bedplate block design and the choice to locate its chain cam drive at the back of the engine, where the transmission helps muffle its noise. The turbo utilizes a variable-nozzle turbine inlet design to reduce lag, and the engine features a cooled-exhaust-gas-recirculation circuit and (new for North America) selective catalytic reduction emissions control system to keep it out of Dieselgate danger. We’re promised it makes the Equinox fun to drive with an output of 136 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque and an estimated highway fuel economy rating of 40 mpg. All three engines will feature auto start/stop.
Even the optional all-wheel-drive system gets a makeover, moving to the driver-selectable GKN design in use on the GMC Acadia. Its system of clutches allows the driveshaft to be disconnected, greatly reducing friction and rotational inertia during those times when drive to the rear is not required.
Through August, sales of the aging Equinox ranked fifth in the segment behind Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V. Chevy hopes this broadened powertrain lineup and greatly enhanced efficiency will help the Equinox spring forward in those rankings when it goes on sale around about next year’s vernal equinox.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox
BASE PRICE$24,000-$33,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINES1.5L/170-hp (est)/203-lb-ft (est) turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 1.6L/136 hp (est)/236 lb-ft (est) turbodiesel DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.0L/252-hp (est)/260-lb-ft (est) turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSIONS6-speed automatic, 9-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT3,350-3,550 lb (est)
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT183.1 x 72.6 x 65.4 in
0-60 MPH6.5-10.0 sec (MT est)
ON SALE IN U.S.Spring 2017 (base 1.5-liter, others Summer, 2017)


One of my favorite New York Dolls songs is the 1973 track “Personality Crisis,” and there’s a line that I think our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Duramax diesel can relate to:
“That personality everything starts to blend
Personality when your mind starts to blend
Personality impression of a friend,
Of a friend, of a friend, of a friend, of a friend”
That friend, my friends, is the GMC Canyon.
Our 2016 Colorado was far from perfect when it was first delivered. For those who missed the arrival story, after our Chevy was delivered, I fired up the 2.8-liter turbodiesel and was greeted with a GMC logo in the instrument cluster’s Driver Information Center (DIC). And, once the GMC logo cleared, the DIC’s color theme was red too, as opposed to the turquoise it’s supposed to be.
Basically, my Chevrolet Colorado thought it was a GMC Canyon.
I wonder if somewhere out there there’s a GMC Canyon that thinks it’s a Chevy.
As I drove home from the office, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So once the Colorado was parked safe in front of my apartment, I sought to fix it. I fiddled with the DIC’s display menus to see if I could find something buried in the settings to change the color or theme, but no dice. Then I started digging into the Chevy MyLink infotainment display in the center stack (which proudly displayed the correct logo), to see if I could somehow fix it from there.
I couldn’t, but in doing so I did find something else wrong with our Colorado—the rocker switches on the bottom portion of the center stack were poorly mounted. Four of the five buttons (including the hazards, thankfully) worked, but there was about a half-inch of play on all of them. The button that didn’t work was the button we at Motor Trend press the most—the traction control button.
I was not pleased.
With a vacation road trip only a few days away, I wanted the Colorado, as Michael Scott from The Office once said, fixed “ASAP as possible” even if none of our truck’s issues affected how it drove.
The next day, I drove to our local Chevy dealer to end our Colorado’s personality crisis. They were as perplexed as I was about the GMC logo on the DIC as I was; I was assured it was an uncommon issue. Nevertheless, they said they could re-flash the Colorado’s software with the correct version within an hour. As for the broken switches, our dealer didn’t have the parts on hand so I opted to hold off on the fix until after my trip. True to their word, the Colorado was returned to me 40 minutes later with the DIC now proudly displaying the Chevrolet Bowtie.

Jumat, 23 September 2016

Cars That Let You Work Anywhere

Cars With Wi-Fi and Other Productivity-Enhancing Features

For some lucky folks, going for a drive is the best way to get away from it all. For others who are required to be near Wi-Fi, that’s not an option. Automakers are catering to buyers who have to be plugged in at all times. From mobile Wi-Fi hot spots to high-tech infotainment interfaces, our cars are increasingly incorporating all the comforts of the workplace. Whether you simply prefer being connected on the go, or it’s a demand of the job, here are some of the best cars on the market for tech addicts.

What car experts say about the 2017 Honda Ridgeline

In this ongoing series, talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.  

2017 Honda Ridgeline

After putting its compact pickup truck on hold three years ago, Honda is reintroducing a redesigned Ridgeline to the marketplace, meaning consumers are getting a look at the first Honda Ridgeline produced since 2014.
The base Ridgeline starts at $29,475, which is expensive for the segment. It comes standard with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is available as an upgrade. It also comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 280 horsepower and gets a fuel economy of 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway. Additional features include a built-in trunk in the bed that can be used as a cooler. Meanwhile, higher trims offer a built-in audio system in the bed.
Editor’s note: With the exception of John Paul, the experts consulted here have not yet driven the 2017 Honda Ridgeline. They are sharing their professional opinions from their various fields of expertise on the Ridgeline’s reliability, safety, and suitability for New England living.
An innovative, reliable pick
“This is the Swiss army knife of vehicles. … Based on Honda’s previous maintenance and repair history, I would expect this to be a good and trouble-free pickup. It’s a similar vehicle to the Honda Pilot, which can go up to 250,000 to 300,000 miles with regular maintenance. I would expect no less from [the Ridgeline].” – John Paul, AAA’s “The Car Doctor”
A smart choice for New England living“I think it’s the right pickup for your average New England homeowner. … For a New England driver who has to deal with potholes, winter weather, and drastic changes in temperature, all-wheel drive is the way to go. Front-wheel drive works well, but it’s not as intuitive as all-wheel drive, which works constantly and is a better option for people in the winter.” – Craig Fitzgerald, president of the New England Motor Press Association / editor-in-chief of
A strong legacy of safety“We expect it to do well [in IIHS’s small overlap and front crash prevention system tests]. Honda has built a solid reputation for safety over the years. As of today, Honda, along with Acura, has earned a total of 11 Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards for performance in the institute’s safety tests. … Since the Ridgeline is a clean sheet redesign, we expect it to perform well in all of our tests.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Rabu, 21 September 2016


Our initial impressions of the Mazda CX-3 light crossover were positive when we tested the vehicle in the February 2016 issue. We loved the Mazda2-based model’s price, performance and overall packaging.

There were niggles, however, including an automatic transmission that showed a tendency to kick down too eagerly instead of letting the strong 2,0-litre engine mine the reserves of its 204 N.m torque peak to pull a higher gear. We will now be able to find out whether that mild irritation is one we can live after Mazda kindly offered us a CX-3 in Individual grade (R351 000) to use for 12 months.
Only available with the six-speed torque-converter unit, Individual spec brings a wealth of standard equipment, including satellite-navigation, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, head-up display and camera aided rear park assist.
Oddly, the CX-3 lacks certain features you’d expect to be standard on such a modern vehicle, including a central armrest, auto-locking doors and roof rails, but those are forgivable considering the aforementioned list.
I love the CX-3’s design inside and out. Mazda’s Kodo design language continues to impress, especially when covered in this vehicle’s Snowflake White Pearl Mica paintwork. The little crossover, which competes with another dual-purpose vehicle in our fleet, the Renault Captur, is one of the prettier vehicles in its segment.
The 2,0-litre SkyActiv engine as used in the MX-5 and Mazda3, which recently left the CAR offices after its 12-month tenure (see the April 2016 issue for its wrap-up feature), is one of the stronger powertrains in this class, despite eschewing turbocharged technology in favour of natural aspiration and sheer displacement. It’s also commendably quiet, which combines with the well-damped ride to render the CX-3 a pleasantly refined commuter.
Having received it with just 81 km on the clock, most of my driving up until now has been to simply run in the engine.
As a result, the average fuel consumption has been on the heavier side of 8,8 L/100 km, but I expect this figure to decrease over the course of the test in line with Mazda’s efficiency claims for its SkyActiv range of engines.
Throughout the 12-month stay, I’m hoping to discover whether the CX-3 can play the dual roles of daily commuter and weekend family vehicle equally well, and whether that transmission will endear itself to me, or continue to irk.
After 1 month
Current mileage:
 1 338 km
Average fuel consumption: 8,86 L/100 km
We like: attractive design; good engine; suspension tuning
We don’t like: unresponsive transmission; no centre armrest


In the Japanese domestic market, the Mazda3 is known as the Axela, and it’s just received a subtle facelift.
Judging by the photographs, not much has changed in terms of styling (you may just be able to spot the new headlamps and grille up front). But the mid-cycle update does include the addition of a new engine and some new dynamic features, too. All of these additions are aimed to improve the Jinba-ittaidriving philosophy that Mazda has been adhering to over the past four years.
The Mazda3 range in Japan gains a 1,5-litre turbodiesel engine, which joins the existing SKYACTIV-D 2,2 with all-wheel drive (which hasn’t been available in South Africa). The new diesel powertrain makes use of an optimised boost control for improved accelerator responsiveness. Both diesel engines are also said to be quieter than before.
The updated Mazda3 gains a new G-Vectoring Control system, which is essentially a torque distribution system that gathers the vertical load on each wheel to make for smoother dynamic cornering, collision avoidance manoeuvring and more stability on slippery surfaces. Changes in acceleration are also said to be smoother.
Other additions include a new multi-function steering wheel, more driving information on the HUD (including traffic sign recognition), adaptive LED headlamps and autonomous braking.
All of these options will be available in Japan from launch mid-July. No word yet on when or if these upgrades will reach South Africa.