2017 Indian Chieftain Limited & Chieftain Elite
Indian Motorcycle, under the Polaris Industries umbrella, has been pushing hard to increase its footprint since its relaunch in 2013. The demise of Victory Motorcycles (also owned by Polaris) should lend new impetus to this effort as resources are freed up, but the dynamic duo I want to look at today began life long before this shakeup. I’m talking about the two new additions to the Chieftain lineup; the “Limited” and the “Elite.” Indian took its boulevard bruiser “Chieftain” and steered it even further toward the customized end of the spectrum with a number of aesthetic changes that change the attitude significantly. This is an important move for the factory as it expands its range of top-end rides to square off with its long-time foe Harley-Davidson. Let’s see how it all pans out, shall we?
Continue reading for my review of the Indian Chieftain Limited and Chieftain Elite.
MV Agusta brings Granturismo to the table with its trio of sport-tour bikes in the Veloce family. We have the base model Turismo Veloce 800 plus the “Lusso” version that comes complete with panniers and other tour-tastic features. The “Lusso RC” takes it a step further with red, white and green racing livery and even more special features for the true, top-end bike fans out there. As a concept, the word “tour” seems to mean something different once you leave U.S. shores, evidenced by the lack of baggage on the base Veloce. Although the “tour” label is a bit of a stretch, the word “Veloce” means “fast,” and there can be no argument on that point whatsoever. Today I’m going to delve into this trio of Italian Stallions to see what kind of yummy-goodness the Meccanica Verghera Agusta packed in for our riding pleasure.
Continue reading for my review of the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800, Lusso, and RC.
2018 Hyundai Kona
It would appear as though Hyundai has decided to take on the popular Nissan Juke with a stylish sub-compact crossover all its own. The unnamed future model was recently spied by the carparazzi undergoing road tests in Germany in full camouflage, leading to speculation over what lies beneath the covers. If rumors are to be believed, the upcoming Juke fighter from Hyundai will pull from the i20 and i30 parts bins, boast a good deal of youth-oriented exterior styling, and most likely come equipped with the latest interior gadgets.
Backing the rumors are statements made in August of 2014 by Hyundai’s American CEO Dave Zuchowski, who suggested in an interview with Edmunds that the South Korean brand might be interested in a sub-compact SUV that would slot under the Tucson. Such a vehicle “would be really designed for Gen Y, for new first-time buyers,” Zuchowski said, later adding, “Think of maybe something that looks like a Juke or something that has edgy, dramatic styling.”
It’s not a lot to go on, but we’ve done more with less. Read on for our speculative review.
Updated 04/07/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Hyundai Kona out for a new testing session. According to Hyundai, the name "Kona" is derived from the Kona district on the Big Island of Hawaii, reflecting the island’s energetic image and unique lifestyle
Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Hyundai Kona.
Indian Motorcycle Expands Lineup To An Even Dozen With New Chieftain Variants
Indian Motorcycle adds two new models to its Chieftain family for a total of four siblings that brings its overall number of bikes up to an even dozen. First, we have the Chieftain Limited that pares down the fat Chieftain front end a bit with a 19-inch hoop and less-than-full fender that does away with the typical skirt and headdress ornament for a clean, custom look. This gives us an unimpeded view of the front wheel which, unfortunately, is of the cast/mag variety. I say “unfortunately” because this bike would look bad-ass with some twisted or diamond-cut spokes to lace the rim to the hub. It ain’t just the front end that lost some mass, the seat comes with a bit of a taper so it doesn’t bite the thighs once your training wheels are deployed. At the top of the food chain we have the Chieftain Elite with all of the above plus a 100-Watt stereo, billet boards and a convertible windshield. Naturally, this is on top of all the stuff that already comes on the stacked Chieftain, so these machines are really carrying almost everything but the kitchen sink, by American cruiser standards anyway. The Limited rolls in any color you want as long as you want Thunder Black (thank you Mr. Ford) for $24,499, while the Elite commands a lofty $31,499 in a dead-sexy, Fireglow Red Candy color that sports marble accents for even more custom seasoning. Sounds like a lot you say? Compare to some of Harley-Davidson’s top baggers and get back to me.
Continue reading for my take on the new models.
Chevy Brings the Heat with Performance-Minded Tahoe
Chevrolet is finally adding the Corvette-derived 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8 to the Tahoe. For the 2018 model year, Tahoe customers will be able to order the 420-horsepower V-8, paired with several performance parts as Chevy’s new Rally Sport Truck Package, or RST. Included is GM’s new 10-speed automatic transmission co-developed with Ford and found in the Camaro ZL1 and F-150 Raptor. Larger brakes, a free-flowing Borla exhaust, 22-inch wheels, and a monochromatic appearance package round out the RST option. The Chevy Suburban is also getting the RST, but sadly without the larger V-8.
This is a big deal for several reasons.
First and most obvious, this marks the first time the Tahoe is available with the 6.2-liter. Second, this is the first street-performance package ever offered on the large SUV. And unlike most other “special edition” packages offered by Chevy, this one actually improves performance.
Beyond the powertrain upgrades, the Tahoe RST gets Magnetic Ride Control with a performance calibration; larger, 16.1-inch Duralife front brake rotors squeezed by six-piston Brembo performance brakes; and a Borla dual exhaust system Chevy says adds 10 horsepower at the wheels thanks to a 28-percent improvement in flow. These speed parts, along with the powertrain upgrades, are part of the RST’s optional Performance Package. The Tahoe RST is rated to tow 8,400 pounds and is expected to hit 60 mph in less than six seconds.
Sadly, Chevy is not offering the 6.2-liter, 10-speed auto, or Magnetic Ride on the Suburban. RST-equipped Suburbans will only receive the monochromatic cosmetic upgrades and have the option of upgrading the brakes and exhaust.
The Tahoe and Suburban RST will arrive in Chevy showrooms beginning this fall. Pricing has not been announced, but we’ll speculate on that down below. Be sure to click below to continue this story, along with leaving your comments.
Continue reading for more information.
The 2017 Lexus IS Interior’s Big Annoyance: Form over Function
Form and function are two concepts often competing for the same space. Form, the beauty and style of an object, can prove hard to retain when adding functionality, the ingrained usability of an object. The 2017 Lexus IS sedan is a perfect example of an automotive battleground where these two concepts duke it out. And in the Lexus’ case, form is winning.
Let’s back up a bit. I’m driving the revised 2017 Lexus IS 200t F Sport sedan this week – the 2.0-liter turbo-four-powered, RWD sports sedan from Toyota’s luxury brand. This compact 3 Series competitor offers a taught suspension with summer performance tires, sexy bodylines, and a beautifully designed interior, all powered by 241 horsepower. There are negatives about the IS, but they relatively few and far between. The biggest complaint, however, is the lack of functionality within its center console.
Lexus designers did an amazing job sketching out the dashboard, steering wheel, and center console. Sadly, they seemed to forget how Americans use their cars. There is simply a lack of handy storage space and usable cup holders.
The two cup holders are placed too far rearward, making it hard to reach for drinks. Even worse, the presence of cups renders the passenger’s left arm an orphan, consuming all the armrest space afforded to the shotgun rider. The cup holders are also too small for larger drink containers. Secondly, there is no space for cell phones, wallets, or other odds and ends people tend to store in a console cubby hole. Yes, there’s the under-armrest storage compartment, but it’s not the handiest place for such items.
The remedy for this form over function layout is simple – though it doesn’t change anything: think of the IS as a driver’s car. Sure, the vast majority of American IS buyers use the car as daily transportation, but the designers apparently thought coin trays, storage bins, and convenient cup holders weren’t necessary to the task of driving. And while they’re right in the purest sense of a sports car, the lack of everyday usability is unwelcomely compromised.
The faux pas doesn’t diminish my appreciation for the IS sedan, but would make ownership a bit more challenging. Let’s hope Lexus finds a way to inject functionality into the cockpit of the next generation.
2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription – Driven
Volvo has been making the XC90 since 2002, and with great success. The first generation SUV sold well all over the globe. Even in the U.S., the XC90 sold roughly 35,000 examples annually before the crash of 2009. Updates late in the first-generation XC90’s life kept it kicking, though with only modest sales in America. That’s all changing with the second-generation XC90, which debuted for the 2015 model year. A highbrow design, an opulent interior, sophisticated powertrain options, and a matured sense of luxury all bring the XC90 into the modern times. Even with the 2017 model already two years old, the Volvo SUV continues to look like a futuristic concept.
To get a better feel for the Swede, I spent a week driving a 2017 XC90 fitted with the T6 AWD powertrain and decked out with the high-end Inscription trim line.
For those unfamiliar, the XC90 (and most Volvos, for that matter) come standard in the Momentum trim. The XC90 is also available in the R-Design, the Inscription, and the range-topping Excellence trim. While the limo-like Excellence trim is absolutely stunning thanks to its reclining second row bucket seats and full-length center console, the Inscription trim provides all the luxury anyone without a chauffer could desire. Skipping the Excellence trim also keeps the XC90’s third-row seats.
So what’s it like to live with the 2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription? Keep reading to find out.
Continue reading for more information.
2018 Cadillac XT3
A few years ago, Cadillac finally admitted that it’s way behind its competitors in the premium market and hired Johan de Nysschen, who devised a new strategy for America’s iconic luxury brand. The new plans includes a host of new models, of which the range-topping CT6 sedan and the XT5 crossover have already been launched. Come 2017 and Cadillac is readying the XT3, an even smaller crossover that will compete against the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
Spotted testing on public roads in February 2017, the XT3 is set to make its global debut in the first half of 2018. When that happens, it will slot beneath the XT5. It will also become Cadillac’s third SUV and complete the largest crossover lineup ever alongside the XT5 and the massive Escalade.
While the larger XT5 is a replacement for the dated SRX and aims at the midsize luxury crossover market, the XT3 is actually a brand-new entry. And it’s not surprising that Cadillac wants a piece of the compact market, as this is where a lot of car makers are making huge profits. Having missed out on sales for so many years, Caddy is finally trying to catch up. The question is, will the XT3 be good enough to give the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 a run for their money?
We will find out soon enough, but until then, let’s have a look at what we already know about the upcoming XT3.
Continue reading to learn more about the Cadillac XT3.
The Road King has long been an alternative for Harley-Davidson riders who want a tour-capable bike sans barn-door fairing. It keeps getting better in the 2017 model year with the new Milwaukee-Eight engine and a special trim package called — wait for it — the Road King Special. Updated looks and performance are the main selling points here, over and above the usual litany of reasons to consider the Road King, and the recent demise of Victory Motorcycles makes this ride even more important to H-D in the long run.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Road King and Road King Special.
Moto Guzzi fans with tour-bike tastes looking for a ride to take them hither and yon on the open roads have been more or less limited to the California 1400 — until last year. After much buildup and fanfare, the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 “Flying Fortress” (FF) was finally released, and it brought long-distance touring capacity and comfort to the table with a decidedly dated look that targets fans of classic American car design from the ’60s.
A big, 1,380 cc V-twin pushes the FF with torque to spare, and a highly stylized front fairing, windshield and saddlebags completes the tour-tastic package. Here in the U.S. of A., we have different ideas than the rest of the world about what makes a proper tour bike I had to admit that I’d been looking forward to the release, and couldn’t wait to see how well ’Guzzi interpreted the classic American touring bagger. I wasn’t disappointed.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress.
2017 Ram Power Wagon – Driven
The Ram Power Wagon has been a modern fixture in the heavy duty truck segment since its rebirth in 2005. Like the Jeep Wrangler, the Power Wagon owes its beginnings to the fight against the Axis powers in WWII. See, the U.S. Government needed an all-terrain weapons carrier that was large enough to carry heavy supplies, yet small enough to traverse tight jungle trails and the winding roads of Europe. Today, the Power Wagon’s legacy lives on, though only in the civilian sector. It’s based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty and comes backed with loads of hard-core hardware for pounding terrain into submission. Now for the 2017 Model year, Ram has given the Power Wagon a fresh look and some welcomed interior enhancements.
These changes reflect the times. Vehicles with outlandish graphics, black wheels, and sinister faces are popular with the car-buying public, so automakers are responding accordingly. Ram has seen impressive sales with its Rebel – an off-road appearance package that brings the Ram 1500 into the spotlight for extroverts who like a loud vehicle. Well, Ram has taken the Rebel’s features to the 2017 Power Wagon. The nostril-style grille, the powered-coated bumpers, black wheels, smoked headlights, and ostentatious badging are all present. Even the front seats are similar to the Ram 1500 Rebels. The cloth inserts feature a tire tread pattern that matches the OEM rubber. In the Power Wagon’s case, it’s Goodyear’s Wrangler DuraTrac tire.
Ram decided these changes were reason enough to hold a press launch event near Las Vegas, Nevada and was kind enough to fly me out. The bright lights of The Strip quickly fade into desolate desert not far from town, with sheer cliffs, slick rock ledges, and millions of acres of sand and sagebrush. The Valley of Fire State Park and its hidden trails outside Logandale, Nevada proved the perfect spot for testing the Power Wagon’s chops.
Continue for the full driven review of Ram’s 2017 Power Wagon.
2018 Ford Expedition
Ford worked tirelessly to improve the current F-150 by reducing mass and adding efficient turbocharged engines all mounted on a high-strength steel frame. It’s now those same advancements will make their way onto the all-new 2018 Expedition SUV. Ford pulled the covers off the new three-row crossover ahead of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, and boy, does its F-150 roots shine through.
The 2018 Expedition rides on a modified version of the F-150’s fully boxed steel frame, but uses a four-wheel independent suspension system for a smooth ride. Both the standard-length and long wheelbase version are making the generational jump. The new sheet metal is stamped from aluminum, of course, which Ford says helps save more than 300 pound over the outgoing model. The interior also features the same dashboard and steering wheel as the F-150 and Super Duty. The Expedition does get plenty of bespoke bits inside, including a rotary gear knob, terrain selector controls, and newly redesigned second and third row seats.
Technology improvements are vast, as well, including all the modern active safety equipment like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and automatic emergency braking. The in-dash tech also sees a big improvement, with Ford’s Sync 3 system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot for 10 devices in a 50-foot perimeter around the SUV.
As expected, the Expedition is powered by Ford’s updated 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which mates to the new 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford has not, however, released horsepower and torque specs, but we’re betting it will match the F-150’s 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. If so, the Expedition will solidify itself as one of the most powerful of the domestic three-row SUVs – not counting the outrageous SRT 392 Durango Dodge just debuted, of course.
So without further summarizing, let’s jump into all the details Ford has released.
Update 02/07/2017: Ford has debuted the all-new 2018 Expedition ahead of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. The three-row SUV features a host of F-150-based updates, along with a slew of safety upgrades. And as expected, the body is aluminum.
What Make a Ram Power Wagon?
This week we spent time behind the wheel of Ram’s slightly refreshed 2017 Power Wagon. The headlining changes include the Rebel-like front grille, black bumpers, new wheels and tires, side graphics, and the massive R-A-M logo on the tailgate. The interior also sports some new features, including tire tread patterns on the cloth seats and the Power Wagon logo along the side bolsters. But that’s about it. The mechanicals haven’t changed for 2017 – and that’s just fine.
The Power Wagon is based on Ram’s 2500 Heavy Duty pickup and uses most of the same underpinnings. Power comes from the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that makes 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. The venerable six-speed automatic manages the power, sending it to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions. When the road turns to dirt, the manually operated transfer case borrows power from the rear, sending it forward to the solid front axle. Yep, the Power Wagon is old school to the point of solid axles at both ends. But even the standard Ram 2500 can be had with those mechanical bits.
There’s long list of parts unique to this pickup. Some can’t even be had anywhere else in the industry, not counting the Jeep Wrangler, of course. So let’s dive in and see what the Power Wagon is all about.
Continue reading for more information.
2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet
The Audi S5 first appeared on the scene in 2007, initially dropping cover as a coupe alongside its more pedestrian sibling, the A5. Two years later, at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi introduced the S5 Sportback, a five-door model promising greater practicality in a still-sporty package, plus the open-air S5 Cabriolet, both of which went on sale for the 2010 model year. A mid-cycle refresh arrived in 2013, including new technology, styling, and powertrain updates. Now, it’s time for a new generation to take the reins, and as such, Audi has unveiled the 2017 S5 Cabriolet, rounding out the new A5 lineup with a sportier soft-top iteration of the compact luxury two-door. The next gen brings with it slightly larger dimensions, tweaked styling, a sleek interior packed with gadgets, a more powerful turbo six-cylinder, an updated rear suspension, and new systems for safety and convenience.
Being the best in this segment takes style and attitude, mixing the fun of unlimited headroom with a decent punch when you press on the loud pedal. Keeping up with the technological Jonses is also critical, with competition from Europe and Japan vying to impress in the cabin as well. Does the new S5 have what it takes to compete?
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet.
2017 BMW 5 Series Touring Unveiled
BMW just revealed the 2017 5 Series Touring model, giving the recently debuted seventh-gen mid-size 5 Series line an extra dose of usability and practicality. The new model gets the same styling outside as the updated 5 Series sedan, plus new interior technology, the latest driver’s assists and safety features, and enhanced infotainment.
Four engine options are on the table at launch, all of which are turbocharged. On the gasoline front, there’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 252 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and posting a 0-to-62 mph time of 6.5 seconds. There’s also a 3.0-liter six-cylinder and eight-speed auto combo, plus AWD, which lays down 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque for a 0-to-62 mph time of 5.1 seconds.
It you prefer oil burners, you can get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel with 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which mates to a six-speed manual transmission as standard (the eight-speed is optional), and gives a 0-to-62 mph time of 8 seconds. Finally, there’s a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel with 265 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque, offered with either RWD or AWD, plus an eight-speed automatic. All that twist yields a 0-to-62 mph time of around 5.6 seconds with AWD grip added.
BMW says it’ll add further engine and drivetrain options, including both RWD and AWD models, throughout the year.
Additional aluminum was used to reduce overall weight, including in the side members and the tailgate, cutting up to 100 kg (220 pounds) compared to the outgoing model. The suspension incorporates a rear air ride system as standard, while Dynamic Damper Control, an Adaptive Drive system, Integral Active Steering, and M Sport suspension are all optional.
Outside, you’ll find active grille shutters in the nose, plus standard LED headlights.
In the cabin is a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a color heads-up display, gesture control, voice control, and wireless phone charging. The seats also get eight massage programs, while the rear cargo space is up to 570 – 1,700 liters (20 – 60 cubic feet). Safety features include steering assist, lane keep assist, lane change assist, cross traffic warning, and wrong-way warning.
Look for the new 5 Series Touring in the metal at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show this coming March. Sales will commence in June. No word on whether or not BMW is planning on bringing this thing stateside, but odds are against it. And that’s a shame, because the U.S. could absolutely use more wagon hotness, don’tcha think?