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small family cars

small family cars

Much like its sister company, Hyundai, Kia has been designing cars that not only offer its customers low-cost options to higher-priced brands, but also cars that offer high-quality workmanship and stylish appearances. We all knew that the Kia Forte is going to be up for a significant redesign when its 2014 model year debuts at the 2012 LA Auto Show, but we were not too sure what direction Kia would take it.

But now that the covers have been officially pulled and we have our answer.

We want to say that the Forte blew us away, but that just wouldn’t be fair to it. Sure, there are things about it that we like, but some elements of the car still leaves a lot to be desired. Then again, a car like the Forte, or any other in this segment for that matter, isn’t subject to an all-or-noting affection level.

There are things about it we liked. There are things we didn’t like. At the end though, the Forte received good marks from us because the things we liked outweighed the things we didn’t like.

Not by much. But hey, that’s still worth some salt to us.

Updated 02/24/2014: TopSpeed editor in chief, Justin Cupler, spent a week with a Kia Forte EX with all sorts of goodies installed. Did he love it? Check out the "Driving Impressions" section after the jump.

Find out what we think of the new 2014 Kia Forte after the jump

Honda’s entry into the hybrid hatch market hasn’t come without any adversity. It’s tough enough to break into a segment long dominated by the Toyota Prius and etch a name for itself; even more so that you’re coming into the fight with less fuel economy than the proverbial kingpin.

But all is not lost in Honda’s quarters. After all, the 2014 Insight still has some cards up its sleeve, starting with a price considered as the least expensive in the market. And like with most hybrids , fuel economy is always a hallmark for the Insight, thanks to its capability to hit 41 mph in the city and 44 mpg on the highway.

All that, though, and you’re still likely to take what you can get with the Insight. It doesn’t look nearly as good as what you’d like, but for a car that doesn’t do much outside give you bang for your buck in mileage, you take what you can get on the other things.

Click past the jump to read more about 2014 Honda Insight

Source: Honda Insight
Posted on by Simona  

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI arrived for the first time on the North American market in 1984, and to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the company announced today the special edition Edition 30. The model will be offered in two trim levels: Edition 30 and Edition 30 with Navigation, and will be put on sale in early 2014.

When compared to a base Jetta GLI, the new Edition 30 version will be distinguished by a red trim on the front grille, a trunk lid-mounted spoiler, "Edition 30" badges and a set of 18-inch, “Laguna” aluminum-alloy wheels. Buyers can order the Jetta GLI Edition 30 in just in four exterior colors: Deep Black Metallic, Pure White, Tornado Red and Reflex Silver Metallic.

The interior will be distinguished from normal Jetta GLIs by V-Tex leatherette seats with contrasting red accents, a new steering wheel with the same red contrast stitching. There will also be carbon-look trim inlays; "Edition 30" kickplates and floormats with red stitching.

Depending on the trim level, the new GLI Edition 30 offers as standard feature: leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, Premium VIII touchscreen radio with SiriusXM Satellite Radio or RNS 315 touchscreen navigation system.

Click past the jump for a short history on Jetta GLI’s presence on the North American market.

Posted on by Simona  

Mini decided to add some flavor to the Countryman and Paceman lineup and added a new Frozen Black metallic paint offered in a limited edition for the top models in the lineup. The new paint features a textured, shimmering matte finish and offers the Mini model a more expressive appearance.

Applying the new Frozen Black finish requires a special procedure, and Mini applies it in three layers: special surface treatment, color, then a clear lacquer finish. For the attached exterior parts, like the front and rear aprons and the exterior mirror caps the new Frozen Black metallic paint is applied separately.

This new paint is completely weather resistant and car wash resistant, but Mini advices against waxing or polishing it by hand. BMW BMW — Mini’s parent company — offers a special line of products developed for treating the Frozen Black metallic paint finish. Typical Bimmer move: specialize everything to maximize future profits.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Countryman and Paceman.

Posted on by TB +  

All this talk of gorgeous HD Point-of-View driving videos reminds me of a knockout drive to share here as part of a travel article.

The four videos show the high-def ascent of the Pikes Peak Toll Road outside Colorado Springs, Colorado. Taken earlier this summer by none other than this grinning goon.

The car of choice for this adventure is the only car for the job, in my opinion. My cherished but battered 2005 http://www.topspeed.com/cars/subaru... Subaru Legacy GT manual Wagon.

This is the car that I mention in my bio as currently non-functional in garage ion the updated TopSpeed Team page...

It is still needing a big electronics overhaul to come back to life as spunky as it was when new.

But watching the clouds roll by while the upgraded turbo spins furiously and boost spikes as high as 19 PSI.

Climbing Pikes Peak takes about 45 minutes and costs about $12.00 per car. It is mostly tourists driving very slowly, with double yellow no-passing zones all the way to the top.

But on that rare sunny day, the only things slowing you down are fear of heights and the thin atmosphere at the 14,000-foot crest of the peak.

Click past the jump for the next four videos in this series, in order, going up and coming down the legendary Pikes Peak in all its high-definition glory.

Posted on by Simona  

The second generation Hyundai Tucson was announced in 2009 and the only update it received was back in 2011 when the old GL trim was replaced by a new GLS version. Things are completely different for the 2014 model year though, as the Tucson was updated with some minor changes on both the exterior and the interior, but under the hood it received two new, more efficient engines.

The 2014 Tucson will be Hyundai ’s first vehicle on the American market to be powered by the new 2.0-liter Nu GDI engine, with other models to follow at a later point. Next to the new engines, the 2014 Tucson is also offering an all-new SACHS Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD), Hyundai’s Blue Link safety, service and infotainment telematics system, two-stage reclining rear seats and third-generation navigation with a larger seven-inch touchscreen display and HD Radio technology.

For 2014 model year the Tucson will be offered in three trim levels: GLS, SE and Limited with prices ranging from $21,450 to $27,700.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Hyundai Tucson.

The failed relaunch of the latest Malibu is still haunting Chevrolet, with slow sales and heavy, heavy discounting needed to move anything near the projected sales numbers. Or even half the sales totals of the larger previous generation.

Car commercials are designed to elicit an emotional response, even a subconscious one. If successful, good creative that focuses on the brand can even plant a purchasing seed in that shopper’s mind for their next car.

Chevrolet has taken full advantage of this with a new television ad showcasing the 2014 Malibu. The target of the campaign is the Chevy family.

Chevy dads, moms, kids, and friends are shown enjoying the most important things in life while driving around in their new Malibu family-mobile. Thought-provoking piano music sets the tone as a meaningful life moments play out and we’re reminded of what matters most – and how grown men can cry like babies when viewing such television spots.

The full-blown marketing campaign aims to rectify the mediocre sales the all-new 2013 Malibu fetched, even with its complete redesign. Chevy received large numbers of customer complaints about bland styling, tight rear legroom, and below-segment-average fuel economy.

Chevy appears to be confident the expedited fixes to those problems will be what customers are looking for and will be enough to win buyers away from the Camry, Accord , Fusion , and Altima .

The front fascia of the 2014 Malibu receives the bulk of the remodeling with a cleaner, more aerodynamic and aggressive look while the interior only gets very minor changes to the center console.

The big interior changes happen in the back seat to address customer complaints of tight rear legroom. Although the car hasn’t changed in length, the rear seats cushions were trimmed by half an inch to visibly enlarge the space and seatbacks were moved rearward, allowing occupants to sit deeper within the seats. The front seatbacks were also scalloped 1.3 inches inward, allowing for more rear seat knee room.

Changes under the hood include the addition of a stop-start feature on the base 2.5-liter inline four. The simple change bumps EPA fuel economy numbers from 22 city/34 highway to 25/36. With the customer complaints addressed and fixed, we’re curios to see how the ’14 Malibu fares against the stiff competition the midsize sedan class offers.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu

Posted on by TB +  

Infiniti’s name change is starting to take hold with the QX50 and QX80 officially carry over from their previous nameplates aside from the new badges. The name change is hard to swallow. Let’s just get that in the open.

Not only are the new names confusing, but they ditch all the old short-hand for model and engine size. One upside I know from starting my career as an Infiniti dealer runner is to call the pronounce the name differently. QX4 became "Q by four" - and so QX50 could be called "Q by 50." Still not exactly peachy to say, but I digress.

The EX37 is now the QX50 for 2014, and comes in four flavors of trim and rear- or all-wheel-drive traction from about $35,000. Where does this model fit with the new Infiniti Q50 that is leading the brand?

Style-wise, the crossover QX50 was never really the centerfold of its first-gen FX cousins. Even so, it is an even closer replica of a G35 wagon that was never offered stateside. Near-perfect weight distribution, a 325-horsepower engine and a swanky seven-speed automatic are still the main benefits of this sporty crossover.

Quality and interior luxury is up there as well, but certainly not space, with no quoted figure for the seats-down luggage capacity, one has to fear the worst.

How does the 2014 QX50 stack up versus the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class , the Audi A4 Allroad or the cute BMW X1 ?

Click past the jump for all the details from Infiniti on the freshly-renamed QX50.

Posted on by TB +  

The 2014 TSX Sport Wagon is the perfect example of Acura giving shoppers a competitive, unique and well-built luxury station wagon for just above $30,000. And what does the market say in response to the only low-roof hauler in a time when Shooting Brake and coupe bodies have never been hotter?

The market yawns, then saunters over to the RDX sitting nearby in the (usually totally empty of humans) Acura showroom floor. A slightly taller ride height and a V-6 engine are available for a few thousand over this classy and nimble TSX Sport Wagon.

For that cash, the RDX brings much, much newer infotainment controls and available AWD that the TSX lacks.

But the RDX is wearing (even worse) looks these days that are like a melted and shrunken MDX. Or maybe a mushed up Starburst candy.

So the RDX solution is not quite as appealing as when the RDX was a spunky turbocharged bandit.

After being outsold by the brand’s crossovers by more than twenty to one, the TSX wagon is 100-percent carryover for 2014. Some new pics that are not renderings or a photochop are welcome from Acura , but the TSX is in a holding pattern while Acura tries to define its future strategy.

The TSX Sport Wagon is not alone in offering frugal family transit with great quality and handling. The BMW X1 is a sporty and quick rear- or all-wheel-drive crossover new in America for 2013, while the Mazda CX-5 is even a bit more eager in corners than the Acura .

But for the shopper who really wants to make a wagon envy statement?

Please follow the jump for all the details on the 2014 Acura TSX Sport Wagon.

With every passing year, compact cars seem to get better and better, so it’s no surprise that the the Sentra is not the same entry-level, cheapo Nissan it used to be. Our Sentra tester is fitted with the SR trim package, which adds in plenty of bells and whistles that you would expect from a more expensive vehicle, including keyless entry, push-button start and navigation. The best part is the price; at $21,550 as tested, the Sentra SR offers plenty of bang for your buck.

The Sentra SR’s exterior is very well appointed with LED headlight surrounds, sport front and rear bumpers, and side skirts that look like they belong in "The Fast and the Furious" series. Even the alloy wheels look pretty good for the price.

What really pulls the whole exterior together is that Electric Metallic Blue paint that we last saw on the 370Z a few years back. Sure, it’s not a Ferrari, but there’s a lot to take in for the price point.

Nissan Sentra SR

The interior is a not quite as satisfying as the outside, but the push-button start and navigation system for under $22k, we’re not complaining.

The seats are cloth, but they look good for the class, and the dash is padded with the more expensive, soft plastic. Add to that trimming that doesn’t feel like it was stamped in the same Chinese factory as your iPhone case, and the overall interior package is fairly attractive. Top that with good rear leg room, nice visibility all around and folding rear seats, and you have a flexible product with very little compromises.

On the road, the Sentra drives okay, but with a CVT driving the front wheels, it is not an overly exhilarating experience. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels better than a lot of more expensive cars, and the CVT does a good job at limiting torque steer and unwanted movement in the steering wheel.

The suspension is comfortable for daily use, but it also allows you to take corners with confidence. We even caught ourselves taking a few corners fast enough to get a little feedback from the tires, which added a some extra fun to the drive. Is it Porsche fun? No, but it is above average for the econo-box class.

Overall The Nissan Sentra SR gives you a lot for your money. On the outside, it looks good enough to prevent your buddies from chuckling at you when you roll up in it, and inside, you have plenty of premium features to keep you happy for years to come.

Of course, with the 2014 Toyota Corolla debuting a sporty look, your choice of entry-level sedans is getting harder.

Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla
Nissan Sentra SR

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