automobile


Kia 900: A Luxury Sedan for Value Shoppers

Kia continues to challenge buyer’s perceptions winning JD Powers awards for initial quality and now digging deeper into the luxury car segment with the surprising K900. Not only is this Kia well priced, it is loaded with features that challenge any car in the luxury car range. This sedan has a tremendous array of electronics and safety features and a standard 311 horsepower V6 or a neck snapping V8 option pushing 420 horsepower to the rear wheels. This Kia is all about value and class.

2017 K900

There are not only an abundance of opulent features in the K900. The leather seats are quilted and that makes them quicker to heat and cool and avoid sticky cling. Even the least expensive Premium V6 model offer heated seats, navigation and a large infotainment screen. Move to the Luxury model and you get better sound and the V8 option offers a 360-degree camera and lane departure warning. Select the VIP package add lumbar support, front-seat cushion extensions, soft-closing doors and a larger display screen monitor. The interior is attractive and functional with some sensational features such as a heads up display that shows the speed limit, your speed, and even the speed of the windshield wipers. On the downside, the exterior is conservative and the smooth handling may be too soft for some. However, it corners very well. Our fuel mileage was 18 mpg in mixed driving. The K 900 has transmission settings such as Winter, Eco, Sport and Smart. The latter learns your driving habits and adjusts accordingly. Eco is for better fuel mileage and Sport is when you want to challenge your insurance premiums.

Mom’s view: The Kia K900 seats five and all the seats were very comfortable. In our loaded model where you could get ventilated and power-reclining rear seats. The leather is very soft and comforting and the easy to read optional 12.3 inch infotainment screen quick to react. The trunk lid opens wide and reveals nearly 16 cubic feet of cargo room. I always tell 909 readers to order all the safety options they can afford. The K900 has satellite navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and Kia’s UVO smartphone app that lets you set driving boundaries and speed alerts and even locate the car. Even base models have front and rearview cameras, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and headlights that pivot as the car turns. Optional items include a lane departure warning, a 360-degree-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with braking assist and, if the Kia computers detect a possible front-end collision, it can apply the brakes. There are airbags everywhere, traction control and stability control, ABS, and more.

Dad’s view: This is a large car that has an understated look that is quite appealing. The V8 engine is very quiet, except when provoked by selecting the Sport setting. After all, you have 420 horsepower to explore and the sound when whipped snarls with enthusiasm. The brakes are excellent and the steering well weighed for a car in this class. To give you an idea of the features the K900 offers consider that the Luxury models also offer a 900-watt 17-speaker audio system, leather seating, heated steering wheel, Kia’s Surround View Monitor, side and rear sun screens, Dynamic Bending Lights, and an LCD instrument cluster. Though some competitors’ nontraditional gearshift selectors can be annoying the Kia’s operates easily enough, clicking into gear with a leather pistol grip. The seamless shifts from the 8-speed transmission make long distance travel relaxing. Some people would call the handling dull, but when you enter a corner at speed the K900 it clings quite well.

Young working woman’s view: This is a really enjoyable car, but it is very large. Regardless, get the Luxury version with the VIP options and let your rear seat passengers enjoy the generous leg room and a panoramic sunroof that extends over their heads. With the key in your pocket the car can recognize you and turn on the lights. When you exit, just a touch of the door handle and it is locked.

Young working male’s view: There is an abundance of USB and 120V outlets and they are well lighted. On many cars, these outlets are hard to locate, but Kia added a light around the outlets so they are simple to find. I was able to connect my cell phone to the system easily thanks to the large button in the center console that controls many features and enables you to enter navigation, sound, and more. Kia also, thank goodness, makes the radio easy to access with a simple on-off and a volume control knobs. Back to the basics are sometimes the best, even for a techno guru like me. The 3D camera was well displayed and the upgraded stereo, a Lexicon, is the same type of system used by Rolls-Royce, should anyone be interested. The LED headlights are especially good as they provide excellent illumination to the sides of the road.

2017 K900

Family conference: Relaxed driving is the K900’s forte. It has plenty of grunt when needed, can corner better than you would expect, has a plethora of safety features, and a starting price under $50,000. The outstanding 10-year/100,000-mile power train warranty and award winning reliability statistics make this an appealing choice to those willing to march to a different drummer.

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Kia Cadenza: Economical Luxury
by The Car Family
for more reviews got to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

With the average new car price around $33,000 one wonders how Kia can price the feature laden Cedenza for less and still offer what J.D. Powers acknowledged is the highest Initial Quality rating of any car. They even bettered the luxury brands such as Buick and Cadillac. Well, the answer is simple, they offer more. Indeed, if you are looking for a family sized sedan that is all new for 2017, loaded with electronics, a stately stance, an abundance of cargo and passenger room, and a regal look the Cadenza is one of the best deals anywhere.

2017 Cadenza SXL

Mom’s view: Driving it makes you feel like you are the Duchess of Cambridge with an interior that is comfortable adorned in faux wood and chrome accents, easy to master controls, and a quiet ride. There is leather everywhere, power-adjustable front seats, a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, position memory settings and even heated rear seats. The luxury car feeling abounds, The trunk is 16 cubic feet, but the Cadenza has a smart opening trunk that automatically opens when the proximity key is close to the back of the car. You really need to see it in action. The interior has an abundance of storage areas that are well placed. Safety wise there is a rearview camera and such options as blind spot detection, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning system, lane change assist, lane departure warning, and a 360-degree camera system. All the controls are in easy reach, although the touch screen is a bit far for shorter people. The doors open wide and it makes entry easy even wearing a dress. Visibility is good in all directions and the cabin is very quiet. Our test car, the Technology model, had heated and cooled front seats. I would recommend this version over the less expensive Premium model. Mall parking is much easier with the overhead camera view. All told, this is an exceptional value and enjoyable drive. The main competition is more expensive, but certainly not as luxurious.

Dad’s view: All Cadenzas are front wheel drive and have a 290 horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. We got 25 mpg in mixed driving. The sedan is meant for driving in comfort and that is reflected in its smooth handling with adequate acceleration for passing and onramp merging.
There are four driving modes. On start-up the car defaults to Comfort mode. Next you can choose from Eco, Sport, or Smart mode with each selection changing steering weight and transmission dynamics. We left it in Smart mode. That mode monitors your driving habits style and adopts accordingly. your driving style.
The transmission is smooth and brakes easy to modulate and provide exceptional stopping. This is a large sedan and it smooths out roads easily, but high speed canyon runs are not its forte. Steering is a bit light. The Cadenzas is enjoyable to drive and relaxing. I found driving it in heavy traffic was reassuring with all the safety features and above average braking and gas mileage. With the usual 909 traffic almost worse every day, the Cadenza seemed to smooth all that over with and an 18.5 gallon fuel tank enabling 500 miles of highway travel on regular fuel. The bottom line is that this Kia is priced even under the competition and they do not offer nearly as much. If you are into value and still want luxury, the Cadenza is easily your best bet.

Young working male’s view: Where to start? Well, the only thing Kia lacks is a hotspot Internet connection. Otherwise it has the electronics handled and fairly nicely. With Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key, an eight-speaker sound system, infotainment system, a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a USB port, HD Radio, and satellite radio. You can also order an optional 12-speaker Harman/Kardon surround-sound audio system, a wireless smartphone charger, an 8-inch touch screen, voice-command navigation it pretty much leaves the higher priced competition in the dust and when you add the head-up display with turn-by-turn directions and speed you can’t help but wonder what Kia has in store for us next. Overall, a little to big for me, Kias Niro and Sorento being my favorites, but certainly noteworthy for those wishing to make a statement without busting the credit rating.

Young working woman’s view: The Kia Cadenza comes in three trims: Premium, Technology, and Limited with each offering a few more options. Regardless, this is a friendly sedan that is well thought out right down to the deep glove compartment and a pocket in each door. LED interior lighting is a nice touch and I loved the vanity mirrors.

Family conference: Kia products have vastly improved, and the all new Cadenza is just one example. Kia caries the exceptional five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. It is a bargain even though we thought the infotainment system was a little slow. It you like luxury and don’t like paying for it the Cadenza must be considered.

Kia Hybrids: Ready for Higher Gas Prices.
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

This is the best time to look into hybrids with new fuel taxes on the horizon and no better place to start are with the new Kia Niro SUV and Kia Optima starting at $22,890 and $25,995 while pushing past 40 mpg. No doubt these Kias with their exceptional reliability rating and stellar warranty are worth considering especiallyconsidering the average new car is going for $32,000.

With most readers having an average one-way commute time of over 30 minutes and 15 percent spending an hour in traffic these hybrids are ideal, essentially offering savings up to 50 percent in fuel savings over typical competitors.

Kia Niro Hybrid Overview: This is a subcompact SUV and is priced under most of the hybrid competition. You can average nearly 50 mpg overall which is outstanding for a car this versatile. It has a slightly higher stance and comfortable seats, but the real star is the way six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission shifts.

2017 Niro – Red

Kia Optima Hybrid overview: The 2017 is new and appealing offering a calm driving experience, plenty of cargo room and 40 mpg average. Loaded with technology such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and safety features that include autonomous emergency braking. The ride is quiet and you get 13.4 cubic feet of storage with a lot of inside bins for personal items. Although the exterior is not as exciting as some competitors, it nevertheless looks sleek and should age well. You can also get an Optima plug-in.

2017 Optima Hybrid

Mom’s view: The Niro is fun, but get the EX model as it offers so much more with heated seats, blind spot monitoring and an abundance of other safety and convenience features. The less expensive FE is the mileage champ, but a warm bottom is well worth the extra for the upgraded model. You can get the more loaded Touring and Touring Launch as well, but their isn’t any all wheel drive option on any model. The back seats of the EX fold down giving you ample room for packages. The Optima hybrid allows you to select Eco or Sport mode outside of the standard setting. Eco takes the edge off driving and gives you superior mileage, but the cost is more relaxed acceleration. Sport brings the Optima on boil and is excellent for passing or lane merging.

2017 Optima Hybrid interior

Dad’s view: The Niro is a 1.6 liter four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid with 6-speed dual-clutch automatic drive train. It is fun to drive, but it isn’t going to set any speed records. The brakes on both vehicles take a while to get used to as they regenerate the batteries. This is good as it save on brake wear, but can be abrupt at times until a gentle touch is mastered. Steering is quite good and makes the Niro nimble and corners well. The electric motor works with the transmission and makes driving in heavy traffic easy. The Optima has an electric motor and 2.0-liter engine that combine to produce 192 hp. While most hybrids have a continuously variable transmission, but the Optima Hybrid sticks with a six-speed automatic transmission for a more traditional shifting feel.

Young working woman’s view: The Niro isn’t as comfortable to drive as the larger Optima with the latter being quieter as well. The Optima seats are fairly flat and so heavier drivers will find them a good fit. Entering and exiting both cars is easy, but the larger doors on the Optima make it a long reach to close at times. Both cars are good for those with mobility problems with just a little step over to get into a seat. The slopping roof of the Optima restricts rear vision, but the excellent rear view camera takes care of that problem. Interestingly, the vehicles are loaded with pockets for caring everything from large water bottles to small handwipes. As similar as these two Kia products are they appeal to a very different buyer. The Niro is handy and versatile. Perfect for the active family. The Optima is larger and more gentrified, perfect for those who like a quieter ride and more space. I like larger cars, but worry about mall parking lots. The special rear and skyward views on the monitor relieves that stress.

2017 Niro interior

Back to school male’s view: Working on my computer security certificate, but in the meantime the Kia’s offered some excellent technology, although the GPS was a bit slow. We had the Harman Kardon system, which was fine, and the optional wireless smartphone charging worked well. There is an adaptive cruise control and voice control, including Siri. My choice would be the handy Niro. Looks good, handy, and fuel frugal.
Family conference: The front-wheel-drive Optima hybrid has been restyled this year and improved in many areas and the Niro is all new. Kia’s warranty is special with a basic five year/60,000 coverage and roadside assistance and 10 years and 100,000 miles on the powertrain. Kia ranks highest among all automotive industry nameplates in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study and this is the first time a non-luxury brand has led the industry. Others to consider are the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue.

SUVS of a Lesser God: VW vs Infiniti
by The Car Family

For more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Two flagships, both loaded, the VW Touareg and Infiniti QX60 are not your mainstream SUVs and yet each deserves consumer respect with high marks for safety and useability. The major differences between these two stalwarts is that although they are priced similarly they are world’s apart in spirit. The Volkswagen is tough as nails, ready to handle any terrain while the Infiniti is spacious, and smooth. Both test vehicles cost in the mid $50,000 range, but were heavily optioned.

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NASHVILLE (Dec. 15, 2016) – Infiniti has comprehensively enhanced its versatile QX60 premium crossover for 2016, introducing a wide range of changes that improve the seven-seater’s exterior design and its driving dynamics, while showcasing new features and technologies that improve comfort, convenience and safety.

NASHVILLE (Dec. 15, 2016) – Infiniti has comprehensively enhanced its versatile QX60 premium crossover for 2016, introducing a wide range of changes that improve the seven-seater’s exterior design and its driving dynamics, while showcasing new features and technologies that improve comfort, convenience and safety.

The loaded Volkswagen Wolfsburg edition is the more rugged performer, but it is not by any means without its comforts. There is a 7700 pound towing rate, fine interior styling, nice handling despite its height, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, a trailer hitch, an 8-inch touchscreen, and more. It does not have a third row seat as the Infiniti does and the engine is not as responsive as its Japanese counterpart. The Volkswagen impressed us with its quiet demeanor while still offering a capable off-road ability that would make it ideal for 909 readers who are tempted by moutain and desert drives as well as the dangers of torrential rainfall.
2017_touareg_int

Infiniti’s QX60 was more luxurious with a smooth ride and a new 3.5 liter V6 that gave us 22 mpg and never lacked for effort, unless you selected the Eco mode which neutralized the performance in the interest of better fuel economy. The Touareg average a bit less, at 20 mpg.

Mom’s view: I would choose the Infiniti if I needed the third row of seats. The interior appointments were lush and the ride more cushioned. The Volkswagen had a more modern interior design and was easier to park, although I loved the QX60’s monitor that displayed an aerial imagery that showed you what was around you.The brakes in the Volkswagen were superb. Both vehicles did well in crash tests, although you need to order the forward collision warning on the Infiniti. The Infiniti’s third row seat is fairly easy for youngsters to access as the second row seats fold down. The Touareg is strictly a two-row, five-passenger SUV, but its rear seat is roomy, with reclining seatbacks and sliding seat travel. There is 64 cubic feet of room with the rear seats down in the VW while larger Infiniti has 76.5 cubic feet. As 909 reader know well traffic is getting worse. Thus I recommend as many safety features as you can afford of which both of these vehicles have an abundance.

Dad’s view: The Volkswagen Touareg comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower driving through an eight-speed automatic transmission to a 4Motion all-wheel drive. It was an enjoyable vehicle, but the engine does let you know when you poke it. On the road it is pleasant even over rough roads. The Infiniti V6 was a bit smoother and stronger with 295 horsepower. It has a continuously variable automatic transmission and our Q also had all-wheel drive. The QX60 V-6 is rated to tow up to 5000 pounds. The Infiniti is all about traveling in luxury and so there is much less road feel in the QX. The seats in both vehicles were excellent with a fairly low step-in height. As similar as these two SUVs are in cost there is no question that the Infiniti is designed for those who like to be coddled whereas the Touareg is a tough customer ready for whatever comes your way.

2016 Infiniti QX60

2016 Infiniti QX60

Young working man’s view: The Infiniti offers an infotainment system and some nice graphics with the always handy buttons to make navigating fairly easy. The telematics can locate the vehicle if it is missing and can even unlock it. If you have teenagers you can set the car up so that it will notify them if they are going to fast or leaving an area you don’t want them to leave. The sound system in both vehicles was satisfactory, but you should consider upgrades. The WolfsburgTouareg offers Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, a navigation system, an eight-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, and a CD player. Touareg’s infotainment system functions well, however the Infiniti offers more including an available Theater Package.

Young working woman’s view: Standard features are abundant in the Volkswagen such as LED cabin lighting, VW’s Driver Assist package and Park Distance Control, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, HID headlights and rearview camera. Volkswagen also offers an eight-inch touchscreen, a Dynaudio premium audio system, a hands-free power liftgate, rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, and a Car-Net telematics system which notifies roadside assistance if you need help. On the other hand, Infiniti has HID headlights, a post-collision safety system and a remote anti-theft alarm. Also offered are a Driver Assistance package that includes forward and reverse collision warnings, automatic braking, blind-spot alerts, and Active Trace Control. I found the Infiniti softer and more relaxing to drive. The Volkswagen more eager, but not as comforting.

Family conference. The Infiniti and Volkswagen appeal to those who march to a different drummer. They are competent and durable, but lack the cachet of the mainstream SUVs. To this end the rugged Volkswagen Touareg and Infiniti QX60 offer owners the advantage of owning a unique vehicle that can handle whatever is thrown at them while still proving comfort and safety.

Mazda’s CX-9: Seating for Seven
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Mazda, perhaps most renowned for building smaller, agile vehicles, is starting to expand its appeal by offering a new flagship, the seven passenger CX-9. The result is encouraging for SUV buyers as it combines a refined interior, good fuel mileage, and an abundance of safety features. Perhaps the most notable feature is that this well loaded, family oriented vehicle places the emphasis on utility and enhances it with the interior of a luxury vehicle. In fact, if you opt for the Signature edition no one is ever going to know you are not driving around in an upscale European model.

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Adding to the uniqueness of the CX-9 is the fact it has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine while most competitors offer a six cylinder alternative. Don’t fret, the Mazda is plenty potent for two lane road passing or freeway merging thanks to its SkyActiv technology and smooth six-speed automatic transmission that keeps everything at peak efficiency. Even better our mpg average was 24 in mixed driving with 27 mpg on a quick trip to San Diego. As an aside, four cylinder engines are becoming the engine of choice as manufactures work to meet ever increasing environmental standards as such lxuru brands as Audi, Lexus, and Cadillac now offer these hard working units to consumers.

Mom’s view: If looks matter, Mazda is going to sell a lot of Mazda CX-9s and the good news is that the beauty of this SUV goes beyond appearances. You can get it with a full range of safety options including blind-spot monitoring, radar-based cruise control, and lane-departure warning that activate the adjustable collision-warning system and uses the automatic emergency braking system to avoid problems. The interior is splendid and feels scrumptious using real rose wood and aluminum accents as well as leather seats, and the exterior is snappy looking as well. This is not your typical SUV appliance. The ergonomics are easy to master and visibility is good, the automatic rear hatch gentle to use, and interior lighting is excellent. Even with the base Sport model you get three zone climate control, rear view camera, and seven-inch monitor with Mazda Connect, Bluetooth, and inputs. The CX-9 height helps eliminate worry when entering or leaving the vehicle and the ancillary controls on the steering wheel can be used easily even with long nails. It took me a while to get used to the accelerator’s need for a gentle touch as I am a bit of a lead foot, but once mastered it was pleasant to drive at any speed.

Dad’s view: The big news is how responsive the new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is thanks to some creative engineering to combat turbo lag. Mazda uses three values in the intake manifold that can close to force more pressure into the system creating more power at low rpms. The engineers have also devised a better way to harvest gases from the exhaust to keep the turbo on task consistently. The result is an engine that thrives while producing 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque. The result is plenty of pep, even for mountain driving. You can order an optional all wheel drive, but it was standard on our Signature model. The ride was similar to a much more expensive luxury vehicle and acceleration to 60 mph took around eight second seconds. Touch the accelerator and the CX-9 is ready to play right now with no noticeable turbo lag to hamper its class leading mpg rating. Steering is a bit light, but perfect for tight parking spots, and the overall feel is of a much smaller, lighter on its feet, SUV especially when in sport mode. The CX-9 is impressive, especially when given its pricing and features.

Young working male’s view: There is plenty of standard equipment, but Mazda does offer some interesting options. My suggestion is to go for the loaded versions such as the Signature or Grand Touring models, which feature a power front seat, power liftgate, eight inch monitor, navigation, 12 speaker Bose system, heated front seats and all types of safety equipment. The dash has a variety of analog dials that work well, but when is the most startling is that one of them carries a color LCD screen that can display trip-computer information and a compass. The eight-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard was a long reach, but what I liked was the fact you didn’t have to use it to control functions as there was a large knob located near the console mounted gear shift that helped with imputing data. Mazda isn’t at the cutting edge of electronics, but its meat and potatoes approach should appease all but the most dedicated gadget break.

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Young working woman’s view: There are several models of the CX-9 to choice from, but the Grand Touring and Signature are worth the extra cost because of the added features. Mazda’s price range is from just over $32,000 to around $45,000 so do your homework. Inside, the second row has ample room and the seats slide and are foldable so there is easy access to the third row of seats, which are best used for children. Cargo space varies from 14 cubic feet of space to 38 to 71 depending on which seats are folded down. I greatly love the Mazda 6 and find it better looking, better handling then the competition. The same goes for this Mazda.

Family conference: The Mazda CX-9 is enjoyable, useful, and well priced being a significant value over the more expensive seven seat models from Honda and Ford, among others. Just a fun family vehicle with a heaping helping of value over a topping of exceptional styling. It may not go Zoom Zoom so Mazda might change its theme to Room Room.

Mazda 6 : Not Just Another Pretty Face

by The Car Family
for more car reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Overlooked, underestimated, and undervalued, the Mazda 6 is not only a bargain, but an exceptional family fun sedan with a frisky disposition, above average fuel economy, and a responsive engine. If you enjoy driving and still have frugal family obligations the Mazda is a must drive. For example, if you opt for its i-Eloop system you can get over 30 miles per gallon, and this isn’t a hybrid. And you don’t sacrifice quickness either as the 6 is energetic, maneuverable, and nimble. The steering is excellent as are the brakes. The downside of the Mazda 6 is two-fold. First, the ride can be a bit rough for roads that have been deprived of taxpayer funding. Secondly, the competition is staggering. There are the Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Kia Optima, and Toyota Camry tugging at the buyer’s dollars. However, none of them are as fun to drive as the Mazda, although each has its own attributes that make this segment of the market a treasure trove of choices for buyers.

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Mom’s view: Finally, a sporty looking family car. The Mazda 6 comes in three flavors, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. We tested the premium packed Grand Touring. Standard safety features included anti lock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat and side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Our test car also came with a rearview camera, parking sensors and blind spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring.

The 6 also had Mazda’s frontal collision mitigation system with forward collision warning system. Crash test scores were good as well. I feel saddened that this Mazda is overlooked by so many. It does everything well and yet feel people even know what a “6” is. Perhaps Mazda should consider going back to naming their vehicles instead of giving them numbers to help people identify. Everyone knows what a Miata is, but a MX-5 even though it is the same car? Different vibe. The interior is functional, but not without much charm. The aluminum trim pieces are well placed and the 7-inch screen on our test car was easy to read and use. The touchscreen has a knob controlled on the center console that helps with interactions, but it takes time to master. The trunk is ample with a fairly low lift-over and the doors open wide enough to make entry wearing a dress worry free. Plenty of storage areas and comfortable seats. Overall, the Mazda 6 is your morning cup of coffee that keeps you going.

Dad’s view: Peppy and personable, the 6 is a front wheel drive sedan powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and can even be ordered with a manual transmission if the six-speed automatic transmission isn’t to your liking. It isn’t blistering fast, but it will keep up with most anything in daily driving and still provide 30 mpg in mixed driving. The Mazda 6 feels light on its feet with a sporty feel that can be stiff at times. The engine is very responsive and eager to please. Quiet, efficient, and easy to love, the Mazda 6 is athletic and appareling to those stuck in daily grind who enjoy driving home in something that isn’t an appliance. This is one of the few family sedans you can order with a standard transmission. Basically, this is a five passenger Miata. I liked everything about it except for the GPS interface. I found it better to utilize Waze. The fact that it is available with a stick shift is noteworthy and tends to deliver on the Mazda zoom message. Fun and practical.

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Young working woman’s view: There is an abundance of standard features such as air-conditioning, cruise control, 60/40-split rear seat, mufti-information display, Bluetooth phone, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod /USB interface with axillary audio jack. I would recommend the Grand Touring with keyless ignition and entry, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sliding console armrest and a six-way power driver seat. For the 6 Touring there’s an option package that adds a sunroof, an upgraded 11-speaker Bose audio system and satellite radio. The Technology package that features LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, heated front seats and a collision mitigation system with automatic braking. I would also opt for the rear parking sensors. The Mazda 6 would probably be on my short list of family sedans.

Young sort of working male’s view: Back to school and working part-time makes one appreciate the advantages of being rich. Until that day arrives I must scuttle my dreams of a new Lexus and remind myself of the benefits cars such as the Mazda 6 offer the non-lottery winners such as being affordable, dependable and not a total bore to drive. The rear seat is actually usable and the trunk can hold nearly 15 cubic feet of Amazon Prime bargains. The base version starts in the low$20,000 range , but options can push the price over $30,000. My sage advise, look for deals with the loaded Grand Touring model. The added safety options are worth it.

Family conference: Mazda has a hidden gem in the 6 and that is too bad because this family sedan appeals to those who love to drive, but need the practicality of a four-door. The technology is current, the option package attractive and the pricing competitive. Besides, the sharp looks makes it easier to spot in a parking lot.

Toyota’s Top Hybrids: Prius and RAV4
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/
Toyota RAV 4 and the Prius have provided consumers with a nice combination of utility and frugality with both cars offering room for a young family and exceptional fuel mileage. Both vehicles have a lot in common from pricing, to Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrains to class leading fuel mileage in the over 50 mpg for the Prius and 30 for the RAV. Indeed, if you are after economical travel these two are tough to top.

Prius Tourning

Prius Tourning

RAV4 Hybrid

RAV4 Hybrid

Of course, the real reason hybrids are popular is their fuel mileage. However, buyers need to do some math homework with several important variables to consider. First, how much more is the hybrid going to cost over a similar vehicle. The government has a handy site that simplifies this math at fueleconomy.gov.
With that in mind we tested two of the best hybrids from the most successful hybrid company in the world, Toyota. We weren’t disappointed.
Mom’s view: The RAV4 hybrid is easy to drive, park, and use. It can seat five, but is only available in the more expensive trim models. I wasn’t impressed with the RAV’s interior as it just looks and feels dated. I did like the utility tray and storage areas and the easy to use automatic rear hatch. You loose a little cargo area with the hybrid, but still get between 35 to 70 cubic feet of room depending if the rear seat is lowered. Safety wise, the RAV4 top of the line Limited includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length airbags, a driver knee airbag, rearview camera, blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert. An optional Advanced Technology package that includes an 11-speaker JBL premium audio system with a top-down-view parking camera system is also worth considering. We tested the Prius Four Touring model that has a much improved electronics and is loaded with safety features, too, with a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and air-bags most everywhere. My only problem with the new Prius was the white, really white, center console, and losing some rear seat leg room due to the placement of the batteries. Otherwise a really great car. My opinion is that the RAV4 is an excellent all-around family vehicle and the Prius, and I hate to write this, a really fun sedan. Both cars have excellent quality scores.

Dad’s view: The RAV 4 hybrid is all wheel drive and is the most fuel efficient vehicle in its class. The ride is excellent and, best of all, aggressive pricing makes it difficult to pass by for bargain hunters. The brakes take a bit to get used to as they are regenerative, but almost all hybrids have a similar feel. The RAV4 has the same system as Lexus NX uses and it shows. This is the best hybrid in its class for cargo and mileage. The ride is smooth and fairly quiet, but can be rough over tax-money deprived roads Driving the hybrid is enjoyable once you get used to the thrust the electric motors provide. All in all the RAV4 is a tidy SUV with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motors front and rear and a continuously variable transmission. The result is 194 horsepower SUV that uses front-wheel drive in normal operation, but automatically engages the electrically driven rear wheels when needed. In other words, a perfect vehicle for readers who want to be prepared for whatever nature throws at them while still being fuel frugal. The Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine aided by a pair of electric motor/generators. Using the console mounted power button maximizes thrust making it easier to pass and merge. In fact, it is addicting. However, the best feature in this new Prius is its improved brakes, suspension and driving dynamics. My choice would be the Prius because it is fun to drive and consistently get 50 plus mpg. With its 11 gallon gas tank full of unleaded a 500 mile trip will cost under $25 and no TSA waiting line.

Young working girls’ view: Neither car is beautiful, but both have an inner beauty and that is reliability. The RAV4 is spacious and honest and doesn’t try to fool you into thinking you are driving a luxury car. I found the Prius too difficult to get into with its lower entry and the unique center gauge placement wasn’t to my taste. The RAV4 hybrid was much easier and, with certain options, was a breeze to park. I would definitely get Toyota Safety Sense that includes collision alert, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, radar cruise control and more. I really liked the intelligent park assist that can be used for both perpendicular and parallel parking especially living in a parking challenged city. The cargo space is very generous and rear seat room was ample. A perfect SUV for a single or young family who love to travel winter or summer.
2016_Toyota_Prius_Four_inter

Young working male’s view: Both hybrids are loaded with electronic choices that make option selections difficult. For example, one package includes larger wheels, parking senors, and heated seats. No substitutions allowed. One thing I would get is Toyota’s Entune with the bigger 7-inch screen, smartphone-connected services,and a navigation. Not the best, but much improved, and make sure you get help with the set-up and tie-in with your cell phone. As much as I liked the vastly improved Prius driveability, the RAV just appealed to me more for its usefulness.

RAV4 Interior

RAV4 Interior

Family conference: Loaded with safety features, both priced similarly, the choice between the RAV 4 and Prius Touring hybrids is basically perception. Are you bold enough to make the Prius your daily driver or does the utility of the RAV4 hold sway. Either way they are unique and family friendly.

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