small family cars

small family cars

Posted on by TB +  

The second-generation Equinox is a huge sales it for Chevrolet, notching up well over 200,000 sales per year in the United States alone. This five-passenger crossover focuses on technology, value and space, and comes in four-cylinder or V-6 engines with optional AWD for about $30,000.

A leader in the fast-growing small crossover segment, Chevrolet has seen Equinox sales rise of over 14 percent in 2013 even in the face of competition from three rivals that are much newer: the Ford Escape , Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 .

In a way, that somewhat reflects the Chevy lineup in general, the Equinox is a tale of two cars. On the base side, this is functional transport with great backseat legroom and a versatile cargo area. The base LS delivers value with a low purchase price and great fuel economy - up to 32 mpg on the highway for the Equinox FWD.

On the other side of the coin are the LT and LTZ trim levels that include dozens of desirable features missing from the LS trim. The FWD V-6 Equinox makes over 300 horsepower and has a deep interior tech list that includes MyLink touchscreen infotainment. These options future-proof the car very nicely and help make the Equinox’s interior as much of a selling point as its fashionable exterior design.

How does the Equinox compare with its arch-rivals from Ford, Honda and Toyota? Is the Chevy ’s huge back seat enough to stay on top of rising stars like the Kia Sportage ?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox with highlights on how it compares with its rivals in the mid-size crossover segment.

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In the 2014 Chevrolet Captiva Sport’s senior yearbook, the standard headshot would have been replaced by a blank “No Photo Available.” This commercial vehicle sits in the fleet-only section of Chevy ’s U.S. lineup. These models major on sale price and fuel mileage – but typically include few tech or luxury features and zero trendy styling.

The opposite of trendy, the Captiva Sport is eerily familiar on all American roads. By george! It is the stillborn, second-gen Saturn Vue in a bowtie grille! Additional fender flares and chrome accents appear where there were once maroon Saturn badges.

Reviving this car is a special treatment within General Motors, and only replicated with the (also fleet-only) Chevy Caprice PPV that started life as the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT. What this distinction means for the Captiva Sport is that the vehicles have to be delivered directly to a commercial operator, thereby skipping the local retailer in favor of bulk orders.

The Captiva Sport’s big news for 2014 is an updated infotainment unit that now offers Chevrolet MyLink touchscreen audio and mobile connectivity.

The Captiva Sport is therefore a work car for people who might otherwise be in a Malibu Classic (yes, it existed..) or a Cruze – neither of which have AWD winter traction.

The larger Chevrolet Equinox is also on the fleet books for virtually identical list prices. How do they compare?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, the only autobahn-tested AWD crossover in the Chevrolet’s American commercial fleet lineup.

Scion tC Sports Coupe

We have seen nearly every gimmick under the sun with various automakers, from Saturn and its "No Haggle" pricing — see where that got it — to Volkswagen with its "Sign Then Drive Event." One gimmick that we’ve been waiting for is for when dealerships start renting out their cars for extended test drives or just a weekend trip.

Well, the wait is now over, as Toyota has done just that. From the looks of things, about 85 percent of Toyota and Scion dealers across the U.S. participate in this program and Toyota claims that its rental rates are competitive with local car-rental companies. According to the Toyota Rent a Car website, you can rent cars, trucks, SUVs, Hybrids and even the 2013 RAV4 EV for a day, week or even months. Unfortunately, the 2013 Scion FR-S isn’t on the list of available models, but the almost-as-cool Scion tC is on the list.

So, we can now check brand-new rent-a-buckets off of our wish list, now we are just waiting for all of the dealers to morph into rental showrooms and Internet-based car buying — now that is "no haggle pricing!" Those two will likely never happen, but at the rate that Tesla is changing the car-buying experience, you just never know what will happen.

Your move, Elon Musk...

Click past the jump to read about some of the coolest models that Toyota is renting out under this program

Posted on by Simona  

When Skoda says that the new Octavia vRS is the "fastest road-going skoda Octavia yet", we have to stand up and pay attention.

That’s why it’s important for us to pay heed to the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed this coming July because that’s the event where the all-new Octavia vRS is scheduled to make its world premier.

The car will be based on the new generation Octavia , a car that Skoda had just unveiled earlier this year. Keeping in line with the automaker’s renewed attempt to gain some traction in the industry, the Octavia vRS is being pegged to be longer, wider, and lighter than its predecessor, all important qualities that will make for a pretty interesting vehicle.

Describing the new sporty Octavia, Skoda officials are saying: "Never before has an Octavia RS been so fast and dynamic and yet so spacious, convenient, safe and comfortable as the third generation of our compact sports car."

Updated 06/05/2013: This review has been updated with the official details, images and specs.

Updated 07/11/2013: Skoda announced British prices and standard specifications for the new Octavia vRS. Click past the jump to learn them.

Are they right? Click past the jump to find out.

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Fiat has unveiled the seven-seat MPV version of its mini car with the official 500L Living name badge for the European market. This model is not yet on U.S. Fiat price lists, but it is expected in spring 2014 under the 500XL badge with a larger engine and optional automatic gearbox.

Much about the new 500L Living is directly derived from the successful 500L series, but a few key additions join the length stretch that puts two mini seats in the third row for the first time. The most notable are the multiple two-tone pastel plus white or black paint schemes and an in-dash espresso machine for fresh coffee.

The Lavazza coffee-maker promises individualized lattes, using a similar one-cup system best known from the Keurig K-cup series. The Fiat’s coffee maker reclaims some of Italy’s pride for inventing modern coffee practices… but then largely missing the boom in café culture epitomized by Starbuck’s global rise.

The expanding Fiat 500 line wants to avoid the same mistake of letting the premium city car segment — a long-time Fiat specialty — fall into the hands of BMW’s MINI brand.

The 500L Living beats the expected MINI Countryman Traveler "Spacebox" to market by more than year but will also face competition in American dealers from the upcoming passenger version of Ford Transit Connect as well as the existing Mazda5 . Secondary competition comes from base-model Dodge Grand Caravans from just $20,000 and some base seven-seat crossovers from $25,000.

Fiat is betting these competitors cannot match its quirky flair, brand image and unique European styling.

Click past the jump for the full preview of the Fiat 500L Living ahead of its anticipated U.S. arrival next year as the 500XL.

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The 2014 Patriot includes plenty of updates over the 2013 model, including a new transmission and a new Freedom Edition for those looking for some extra features.

What better time to announce updates to the patriotically named Jeep than the Fourth of July weekend. This little model has plenty of Jeep image and even some of the capability of its bigger brothers via the available four-wheel-drive systems. Its boxy looks also house a roomy and versatile interior with fold-down seats and a wide tailgate.

The Patriot was the first to map out the mini crossover segment that is now exploding with new entries. The Hyundai Tucson , Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the Subaru XV Crosstrek all compete for the same buyers.

Despite the low base prices, most of the volume for the Jeep Patriot comes from the better-equipped four-wheel-drive automatic models. How does little Jeep perform as both a lifestyle economy car and a light off-roader versus these rivals?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Jeep Patriot.

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The Audi Q5 is the company’s best-selling model after narrowly dethroning the aging A4 in 2013 sales through May. It’s easy to see why this little truck is so popular. Good dynamics, speedy engines, a good cabin and conservative styling. The Q5 also packs some of the best-looking LED technology Audi makes… but that is not likely to move the needle on its own.

The Q5 packs a few changes for 2014 but largely carries over the successful package with new trim options on the exterior, more horsepower from the base engine and some additional safety technology available as options.
Set to underpin the next Porsche Macan , almost everything about this $40,000 small SUV is very impressive.

The Audi is massively more fun to drive than its nearest competitors while also packing handsome styling that evolves the Q7 look effectively. The Q5’s compact dimensions and decent fuel economy also contribute to its rise in the charts.

Both the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and the BMW X3 trail the Q5 in 2013 sales by more than 3000 units each and the Q5 is on track to move more than 30,000 units in the U.S. in 2013. So the car is a hit. There’s more to the story, however.

Even as the Q5 line is set to broaden with a U.S. performance model called the SQ5 , the base package will still consume most sales. There’s little actual need for a larger engine when the supercharged V-6 can reach 60 in just 5.8 seconds.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Audi Q5 with highlights on the new S-Line trim package that runs 20-inch titanium rotor wheels from the RS5 supercoupe.

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Audi’s rugged allroad wagon is back in America with some major changes, following a hiatus of the previous A6-based models. The new allroad is based on the latest A4 , but shares a family appearance with the A6 allroad that will not be coming across the pond in its latest generation.

The realignment of the allroad brand also includes dropping the A4/A6 badges from the official lower-case names. It is a tedious distinction but one also shared by the deliberately-lower-case quattro GMBH tuning division of the luxury automaker. The latest allroad replaces the standard A4 Avant in U.S. price lists.

Naming tweaks aside, the new model is quite handsome and packs a torque-rich turbo four-pot engine in place of the previous model’s 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 option. The latest allroad also loses a few features from the original model, namely the adjustable-height suspension that really increased the older model’s versatility but easily adds $5,000 to the build cost.

When lowered, the old allroad had a more aggressive appearance than even the RS6 Avant due to its huge fender flares and flashy aluminum graphics front and rear. The only fly in the ointment was the two-tone bodywork that used unpainted grey plastic for the fenders and sills.

The new Audi allroad goes a long way toward refining the style of the allroad. It offers a large, luxurious interior and some of the most sought-after tech solutions of any car on the market.

The allroad was always a wagon for people who didn’t like following the normal SUV route. This continues with the latest model as it competes for consumer attention with Audi Q5 small SUV. Other thorns in its side include the GLK350 Mercedes-Benz and the BMW X3 .

What the allroad delivers is a far more car-like experience paired with light off-road capability. Is this butch wagon enough to lure drivers away from boxy small SUVs?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2013 Audi allroad including details on ordering a fully painted model with no grey plastic cladding.

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The Acura TSX Sport Wagon is a niche model aimed at driving enthusiasts who don’t want to sacrifice handling and style to accommodate small families or dogs. Despite sales running far below the more mainstream RDX crossover, the TSX wagon is a unique offering in a segment where most competitors are ditching wagons in favor of compact SUVs.

There are a few caveats with the TSX wagon versus the sedan: the wagon is only offered with the base four-cylinder paired with a five-speed automatic. The 2013 TSX sedan is offered in a manual for the four-cylinder as well as a V-6 automatic in top trims.

Sport Wagons are firmly back in style, as the new Audi RS4 and RS6 are offered in Avant form only. The new Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake takes the hot wagon style to a new level with ultra-chic dimensions.

Wagons make sense by maintaining a low center of gravity for better handling while also packing more versatile cargo areas. Additionally, Audi claims that wagons are more stable at ultra-high-speeds versus sedans and coupes by offering a long, flat roof and a chopped rear end.

The TSX wagon emphasizes handling above both acceleration and interior room. Acura owns this segment since all mainstream sedans have ditched their wagon variants. The new Mazda6 may come to the U.S. in a wagon body in mid-2014, but it is not likely due to the Mazda CX-5 crossover’s success with buyers. The only other non-crossover wagon on the sub $40,000 radar is the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen that looks dreadful but undercuts the TSX in price.

Click past the jump for the full review of the Acura TSX Sport Wagon.

Posted on by Simona  

Chrysler has unveiled the first details on a new limited-edition vehicle set to be unveiled at next month’s Chicago Auto Show. The new Mopar ’13 Dodge Dart will join the current lineup of limited-edition vehicles offered by Mopar: Mopar ’10 Dodge Challenger , Mopar ’11 Dodge Charger and Mopar ’12 Chrysler 300 .

This special Dart will be distinguished by a gloss-black finish with a pair of car-length Mopar Blue stripes, plus a very cool aerodynamic kit and an updated interior.

The new Dodge Dart Mopar ’13 will be limited to only 500 units, and will be put into production this spring at the company’s assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois. Each customer will also get a limited-edition sketch of the vehicle signed by Mark Trostle, Chrysler Group Chief Designer for the Mopar Brand.

Updated 01/31/2013: This review has been updated with the official details, images and specs.

UPDATE 06/13/13: Dodge has released pricing details for the Dart Mopar ’13. Click past the jump to read at least how much it’s going to cost you to own one.
Hit the jump to read more about the Mopar ’13 Dodge Dart.


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