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Car Talk Test Drive Notes

Honda Civic EX-T 1.5L Turbo and EX 2.0L (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Looks great, with sharp edges and a flared, fastback style back end. When you look at the new Civic next to its main competitors, the Sentra and Corolla, it’s immediately clear which one is the cool kid on the block.

  • Engine transmission combinations. Feels like the perfect amount of power, and delivered smoothly and easily. One of the better continuously variable transmissions we’ve driven. The 174 horsepower 1.5L turbo is the more powerful of the two, but the 158 horsepower 2.0L is absolutely powerful enough. What you get with the 1.5L turbo is a little more pep, and less CVT-related engine noise on harder acceleration.

  • Gas pedal feel. One thing that Honda got right is that when you take off from a dead stop, you get the right amount of power, not so little that you feel like you’re driving a Prius in Eco Mode, but not so much that it snaps your head back or makes your passengers silently curse you. It’s just right.

  • Handling is definitely improved over previous Civics, and is perfectly tuned for urban and suburban environments. The car is comfortable and pliant on city streets, but seems to grip well without much body lean on corners. Feels like a far more expensive car than previous Civics, although it’s not.

  • Trademark Honda Lane Watch camera is great. It activates a rear-facing camera in the right side-view mirror whenever you signal to turn right. Helps you change lanes to the right. And in the city, it let’s you see if a bicyclist is coming up from behind you before you turn.

  • Interior feels large. Plenty of leg room, and because of the lower seating, lots of head room. Taller folks no longer need to wear their protective original-equipment Honda Yarmulkes while driving.  Back seat room is decent. Trunk room is generous.

  • The previous Civic was designed during the 2008 recession, and it felt cheap. Particularly inside. This one does not. The shapes and materials are definitely not “econo-box” anymore.

  • Excellent gas mileage. Both engines get around 30 mpg city and 40 highway. We got 32 in mostly city driving, and saw 40 on the highway.

  • The optional low-profile wheels are really nice painted, brushed aluminum. And, they don’t have a lip, fortunately—which means you won’t grind up the aluminum when you park a little too close to the curb.

  • Price. The 2.0L EX with keyless entry and the safety package lists for $22,875. It’s a nice car for that money. The 1.5L EX-T, similarly equipped, lists for $23,200, and is more fun to drive.

  • Con List IconCons
  • The touch screen, and especially the @#*& touch screen volume control. The whole infotainment system is annoying, not terribly intuitive, and makes you take your eyes off the road far more than is safe. Why Honda refuses to provide a volume knob in its higher trim models is a disappointing mystery. A volume control where your left thumb falls on the steering wheel, which you just slide your finger over to raise or lower volume, helps mitigate the problem once you get used to it. Apple Car Play and Android Auto help you avoid Honda’s software design some of the time.
  • Right where the volume and tuning knobs should be are the temperature controls for the driver and passenger. Whenever Car Talk came on, we kept turning the driver’s temperature down to try to avoid it.
  • While the Lane Watch camera is great for merging to the right during the day, it doesn’t help at all with your left side blind spot. And it does very little at night, where all you can see is headlight glare. It’s disappointing that Honda wouldn’t add a blind spot monitor to an otherwise good safety package.
  • It’s low. You fall down into the Civic. And you clamber up out of it. Particular when you get in the back seat.
  • You can barely see out the back at all. The sweeping belt line and wide pillars result in great styling, but a steeply raked back window. Fortunately, all Civics come with a standard backup camera. You’ll need it.
  • This car needs a rear wiper in the worst possible way. The window is too angled to rely on snow and rain sliding off without some assistance.
  • There’s a fair amount of road noise, particularly on the highway, and particularly if the road is anything but perfectly smooth. It might be related to the lower profile tires used to improve handling on the higher trim models.
  • Seats bottoms are rather short, and have limited thigh support. The cloth seats are a little bit on the soft side, too, giving us some concern about long trip back comfort. Leather seats in the EX-L might be better, but we haven’t tried them.

Toyota Prius Four (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Much improved suspension. Tracks well, feels more planted, not as light and tinny feeling, a lot less body lean in curves. The new, independent rear suspension makes a big difference, and removes a lot of the unpleasantness some people felt when driving a Prius. Less of an appliance on wheels, more of a car.

  • The accelerator pedal encourages gentle starts. We actually preferred to leave the Prius in “Power” mode, where the acceleration is zippier. We paid a penalty in mileage. Instead of the reported 52 mpg, we only got 48.5. Sold!

  • The interior continues to feel airy and spacious. Compared to the Chevy Volt, it feels almost palatial.

  • Interior materials are improved (with one exception).

  • Hatchback makes the Prius enormously versatile for carrying anything and everything.

  • While it’s not easy to see out the back, the new Prius does retain the extra slice of rear window below the rear spoiler. While you’ll still be grateful for the rear view camera, the extra piece of window helps.

  • Blind spot and cross traffic alerts are standard on the higher level Prii, and the available Toyota Safety Sense - P adds the safety stuff everybody should have now: Pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and emergency braking. Heads up display is also a nice safety add on, particularly when paired with the navigation system.

  • Looks. We’ll put this in the “Likes” category because the wife of our producer saw the 2016 Prius in the driveway and said “Wow, that is one bad-ass looking Prius.” Our Producer did not agree, finding it trying too hard to look futuristic. We’ll also note that her taste in looks is also suspect, since she chose him. But we’ll let you decide.

  • Overall, this is a much improved Prius. Handling, mileage, interior materials and safety equipment are all meaningfully improved. If you’ve been waiting to trade up from your old Prius, you can now feel good about doing so.

  • Con List IconCons
  • The bidet.The center console appears, on first glance, to be made of white porcelain, suggesting there is a bathroom fixture of some kind between the front seats. While that’s not a bad idea for long trips, we checked, and there is, in fact, no drainage via the cupholders. This thing is actually made of hard plastic, but it’s only available in “Kohler White,” so get used to it

  • .
  • Road noise is improved, but it’s still not great. At highway speed, it’s not easy to have a conversation with a back seat passenger at normal speaking volume.

  • Braking can still be a bit grabby in the Prius.

  • We found the navigation system a little difficult to follow, and you have to access it through the APPS menu, which is odd. However, having the navigation directions in the heads up display is a plus.


Chevrolet Malibu 2LZ (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • One of the nicest four-door sedans Chevy has created in a long time.

  • Very nice looking car. It has an almost fastback-like rear end. It stands out next to the Accord and Camry.

  • Handles well and rides smoothly. The Malibu has found a nice balance between ride and handling, making it an easy car to drive every day. The steering is tight, there's minimal body lean, yet the suspension soaks up city bumps pretty well. It’s a very comfortable car to drive in town or to cruise in on the highway.

  • The optional turbo charged two-liter, four-cylinder engine has plenty of power--250 hp, as a matter of fact.

  • That two-liter engine, in combination with the eight-speed automatic transmission makes the Malibu pretty efficient. It’s rated at 22 city, 33 highway, with an average of 26 MPG.  We got about 25 in mixed driving.  Not bad for a pretty large car. Transmission operates smoothly under most conditions (see below).

  • Roomy inside (including the back seat and trunk), with a nicely done interior. Lots of soft-touch materials in the right places, and a clean, airy, comfortable feel. If you’re used to cheap-feeling Chevy rental cars, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Ergonomically thoughtful — with a good balance of easy-to-see and easy-to-read hard controls on the console, and less commonly used controls in touch screen form. When you do use the touchscreen, it’s pretty intuitive, with a very useful “home” button well-located for easy reach. Apple Play is available.

  • Love the volume controls placed on the back side of the steering wheel, right where your fingers are already resting anyway.

  • Available with all the good, up to date safety features, including pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and blind spot monitoring. Unlike some other cars, you can order these options (called Driver Confidence packages) on mid level trim models, not only the highest end version.

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  • Our loaded Malibu, with all of that safety equipment, leather seats, the 9 speaker Bose system, the upgraded engine and more stickered for a shade over $34,000.  Not bad.

  • Con List IconCons
  • When you’re crawling along in traffic, the new eight-speed automatic transmission shifts hard between first and second gear. It’s not something you notice much when accelerating normally away from a stop light. But when you’re stuck in traffic, it gets pretty annoying. Hopefully that’s something Chevrolet can fix with software.

  • As nice a car as this is (and it is pretty darned nice), Chevrolet has long lagged behind Toyota and Honda in reliability. That has to be factored into a purchase decision, and only time will tell if Chevy has stepped up its game.

  • Visibility out back is poor. The price you pay for the styling. You’ll be making good use of the (fortunately) standard back up camera.

  • OK, we admit it, this is a truly picayune complaint. But the directional signal blinker sounds like it came off of a ’73 Vega. Given all the thought and effort that obviously went into making this car feel like a high-quality ride, maybe the next generation can upgrade the blinker to a less "plasticky" noise.


Nissan Altima 2.5 SV (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Competent.  It provides transportation for four or five people, in reasonable room and comfort, and, based on previous years’ experience, decent reliability.

  • Very good fuel economy.  Rated at 31 overall, with 27 mpg city and 39 highway.

  • Plenty-good-enough power from 2.5 liter, 4-cylinder engine.  182 horsepower.

  • CVT transmission is mostly very good, without the noise and high revving of some others.  See note below about low-speed operation.

  • Reasonably quiet at highway speed.

  • Airy cabin, with lots of glass and, as a result, pretty decent visibility.

  • Simple, easily understandable controls.

  • Roomy back seats.  Your passengers will praise you.

  • Con List IconCons
  • Mushy handling with more body lean than you’d get in an Accord, or even a Camry.  Scores very low on "fun to drive” scale.

  • Interior is showing its age.  Just feels old compared to other cars we’ve driven more recently.  It’s got more hard plastic than you see on arch rivals Camry and Accord.

  • Cheap feeling, too-soft cloth seats.

  • CVT transmission sometimes creates an unpleasant vibration at low speed operation.  To maximize fuel economy, the CVT always tries to use the highest gear ratio.  In the Altima, it tries a little too hard, and on streets where we were just trying to maintain our speed, we’d feel a sort of lugging, rumbly vibration.  It’s not awful, but slightly annoying.

  • While you can get blind spot monitoring, the most advanced safety systems, like pre-collision warning and automatic braking, are not available on the four-cylinder models.  To get those, you have to get the higher end V6.

  •   
  • There’s nothing particular memorable about the Altima.  It does everything reasonably well, but does nothing spectacularly well.  It feels like it’s due for a redesign, and is getting a bit of a rental-car vibe.  


Lincoln MKX (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Looks good.  For many years, Lincoln has approached design by simply dressing up Fords with every piece of costume jewelry in the drawer.   Or, as we once put it, making its cars look like the JC Whitney catalog just threw up on them.  The MKX is different.  It’s truly classy looking and, dare we say, desirable. It’s got a muscular elegance that works.

  • Feels like a luxury car.  The materials inside the cabin are rich looking and feeling.  The MKX is quiet, solid and calming.  The interior feels airy and spacious.

  • The 2.7 liter Eco-boost V6 is very smooth and powerful.  We don’t know what it’s long term reliability will be yet, but its performance is impressive with plenty of power available anytime.  Transmission operates unnoticeably.

  •   
  • It rides and handles well, with two qualifications, noted below.  The ride is actually on the firm side for a Lincoln.

  • Controls are intuitive and easy to use.  It seems to have the right balance of actual knobs and buttons to stuff that’s addressable via the touch screen.

  • Comfortable seats up front.  Good room in the rear seating and cargo area, which extends when the back seats fold.  Lots of good, usable space overall.  

  • Excellent rear view camera which comes on instantaneously, and features a bird’s eye view of the car, making backing up and parking pretty easy (available on high trim models).

  • It has a rocking Rebel sound system on the highest end model.

  • Con List IconCons
  • Price.  Our tester listed at $58,740.  Worth $10,000 more than an excellent, fully loaded Ford Edge on which it’s based?

  • Eco-boost is far more boost than eco.  We got a combined 16.8 mpg, which is several mpg less than the competitors Lincoln hopes to target.  Six speed automatic transmission may be part of the problem, as most competitors have seven or eight speeds now for better highway mileage.  But we’ve found that, in general, Ford's engines provide more boost than eco.

  • The ride is quite good, but the MKX does feel heavy.  We really felt the car’s 4,500 pounds on corners.  A fully loaded Ford Edge lists as 500 pounds lighter, and seemed to handle better.  Plus, the 20 inch wheels that came with our test MKX made the ride a little less smooth than it could have been.  

  •   
  • Our test vehicle came with the old, reviled My Lincoln Touch infotainment system.  Lincoln is in the process converting MKX's to the upgraded Sync 3.  Be sure the one you buy has the upgraded Sync 3 (wait if you have to), or your car will tick you off every single day.

  • You have to pay big bucks, and choose a higher end model to get the most important safety features, like forward collision warning and automatic pre-collision braking.

  • In a nod to “different” styling, the selections for the automatic transmission are in a long, vertical row, to the left of the touch screen.   As you might imagine, it’s not that hard to hit a transmission button with your thumb, while trying to use the touch screen.  


Chevrolet Camaro 2SS (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • If you missed your chance to have the coolest car in the parking lot in high school, now you’ve got another shot at it.  Unfortunately, people are going to find it extremely creepy that you’re lurking around the high school parking lot at your age.

  • If you like American muscle cars, you’ll like the way this car looks.

  • Our 2SS test car came with a whopping 6.2 liter V8 engine.  That’s between 3 and 4 times the size of the three different engines that come with, say, the mid size Chevy Malibu.  The Camaro 2SS engine produces 455 horsepower.  You want a stupid amount of power?  Here it is.

  • Surprisingly, the Camaro does a better job of going around corners than it used to.  The Camaro has long had a reputation for going really fast in a straight line, and not doing anything else well.  The 2016 chassis is definitely improved, and the car holds the road a lot better than previous Camaros.  It also absorbs road imperfections better than previous Camaros, too.  Not that it’s a luxury car — it’s a hard ride, in the SS version at least.  But it’s not crazy hard.

  • The interior is improved, too.  Gone is the cheesy retro stuff (that’s now limited to the exterior).  Instead, there’s an up-to-date touch screen, and up-to-date steering wheel, and a fairly modern looking dashboard and console.

  • Available with some modern safety equipment, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and heads up display.

  • Con List IconCons
  • Many people will find this car garish.

  • If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be blind, you might get a sense of that trying to see out of the Camaro.  You actually cannot see well in any direction while driving this car.  Out back, you see nothing.  Out the rear three quarter view, you see nothing.  Out front, a big, high hood prevents you from knowing where the front of the car ends.  And making turns, the huge A-pillars and tiny side windows make it all too easy to take out a pedestrian in a cross walk, or an errant Prius.  The rear view camera and blind spot monitoring help, but visibility is terrible. 

  • It’s a beast.  At least the 2SS model we tested is a beast.  We’d be interested in driving the more reasonable versions of the Camaro.  You can get a Camaro LT with a four-cylinder 2.0 liter engine, or a 3.6 V6 with an automatic transmission.  We’re guessing the suspension is a lot more forgiving in those “civilian” models, and they might be a lot more pleasant to live with everyday.  The SS, with it’s huge engine and heavy clutch, felt, in some ways, like driving a truck at city speeds.

  • It’s loud.  Granted, someone who buys a Camaro with a 6.2 liter V8 wants to be noticed.  So there are various settings for the exhaust sound level.  When our test car arrived, it was set on one of the middle settings (“Annoy your neighbors”).  When started up, it produced a roar like a small jet, regardless of whether you stepped on the gas pedal.  We quickly figured out how to set it to “Stealth” mode, which quieted it down to a witches cauldron burble.  Hardly stealthy, though.  We also had to turn off the LED rave lighting in the passenger compartment. There’s a certain tackiness that, presumably, Chevy believes buyers of this car want.  We prefer to limit our tackiness to Car Talk bumper stickers.

  • It won’t be much of a surprise, given the nature of this car, that it’s not very practical for back seat passengers or cargo.  Actually, the trunk is fairly good sized.  But unfortunately the trunk opening is tiny, so it’s hard to get much in there.

  • The window ledge is so high (to accommodate the small, gun-slit windows) that it’s awkward to pay a toll or take a ticket in a parking garage.  The bottom of the window was actually above our shoulder height, so when you stick your arm out to pay a toll, your arm goes up at a 45 degree angle.


Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • The perfect electric car for our times.

  • It’s a real electric car without the range anxiety.  The drivetrain technology really works.   You can drive it 50+ miles on batteries alone every day.  But then, if you need to keep going, the backup gasoline engine seamlessly kicks in, and you can go another 300 miles on gasoline.  So your total range is more than 350 miles.  Or, approximately SF to LA.

  • Most people who have modest commutes will never use the gasoline engine.  They’ll be — for all intents and purposes— driving an electric car.  We drove it for a week, and never used anything but electric power.  But the great thing is… the backup is always there if you need it.

  • On electricity, it gets 106MPGe.  Using just the gasoline engine, it gets an extremely respectable 42 MPG.

  • Feels more solid and luxurious than the last Prius we drove.  While the Prius has a well deserved reputation for quality, the Volt makes the Prius feel tinny by comparison.  And the plug-in Prius has less than half the electric range of the Volt.  Even though it’s based on the same chassis as the Chevy Cruze, the lower center of gravity and luxury add-ons hide its economy car roots pretty well.

  • On our “Premier" trim test car, the interior is hugely improved over the old Volt.  While the old Volt had a plasticky, pseudo-futuristic thing going on, this Volt has a pseudo-luxury thing going on.  All the surfaces feel like quality materials, from the steering wheel to the seats to the padding on the center armrest.

  • Controls are much more straight-forward, with proper knobs for heating, cooling, and audio volume.  A reasonably straight-forward touch screen (with a very useful home button) handles the rest, and features Apple’s Car Play.  We love the volume controls on the back of the steering wheel — right where your index and middle fingers naturally rest.  Everyone should have those.

  • Feels solid and handles pretty well.  It’s got a low center of gravity, thanks to the batteries.  But Chevrolet has tuned the ride for comfort rather than for sporty handling.  So on turns, there is definitely some body lean.  But on city roads, the Volt is quiet, and absorbs bumps well.  The Volt is well insulated and quiet inside.

  • Typical of electric vehicles (in our experience), the accelerator pedal starts the car gently.  I guess they want to encourage people to be economical.  If you really want to move, you have to press into the pedal some.  But when you do, it’s got plenty of power.  All you need.

  • You can get it with all the safety features we feel strongly about, including blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking (low speed only).

  • The hatchback (even though it looks like a sedan) makes the Volt a very practical and versatile car.

  • Back seat is comfortable for two, though you sit low.  Rear seats fold down to increase cargo room.

  • Charges easily overnight (approximately 8 hours) with a regular old 120V outlet.  About half that time if you get a 220V fast charger.

  • Very reasonably priced.  Our loaded Volt Premier (navigation, advanced safety equipment, leather, 8-speaker Bose system) listed for just under $40,000.  Subtract whatever state or federal tax rebates you get, and it’s a very nice, extremely eco-friendly, versatile car with great drivetrain technology, for a not-ridiculous amount of money.

  • Con List IconCons
  • Can’t see a damn thing out the back.  While the Prius came up with a clever slice of extra rear window in the lowest part of the hatchback, Chevy asks you to make do with the slit of rear window you can see out of from the driver’s seat.  Don’t expect to see anything.  The Volt comes with a rear view camera that’s a pretty good one.  Good thing, because you’d be backing into garbage cans every day without it.

  • It has the same problem in the three-quarter rear view.  Fortunately again, blind spot monitoring can save your bacon.  That’s optional, and we’d strongly recommend it.  The blind spot warning lights themselves, in the side view mirrors, could stand to be a bit bigger.

  • The touch screen’s Apple Play has a few quirks.  When we tried to listen to the radio while using Google Maps on an iPhone, the audio would switch to the iPhone whenever a navigation direction was given, and we’d be forced to manually switch the audio system back to the radio.  That may not be Chevy’s fault, but early adopters should take note.

  • The touch screen is large and easy to read, but it’s been canted back, presumably to add to the feeling of airiness and openness in the cabin.  Unfortunately, that makes it a little harder to reach.


Infiniti QX 50 (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Most people were attracted to the looks of the QX50.  It’s a sporty version of the style de jour, the crossover, similar in size to the Audi Q5, and it’s a good looking vehicle.

  • This used to be known as the EX35.  Infiniti added three inches to the wheelbase to make the back seat tolerable for adults.  They’ve done that.  There is adequate room in the back seat now, and the QX50 looks more like a mid-size crossover than a small one.

  • The 3.7 liter V6 engine has plenty of power.  Passing power is always quickly available.
  • The QX50 can be had with all of the modern day safety features, including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, pre-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.
  • Rides well on smooth roadways.  
  • Front seats are comfortable and supportive.  Interior is nicely designed with soft materials.  Storage is adequate, but not abundant.  
  • Wonderful, light lift gate in the back.  Most manufacturers have gone to electric motors to open the lift gate, realizing it’s beyond most of us to open our own rear hatchbacks anymore.  The result is you stand there waiting for eight seconds while the tailgate slowly grinds open and slowly grinds closed.  And if you try to override the motor and move the tailgate manually, you can’t do it.  Infiniti decided to forgo the electric motors and just made the tailgate out of aluminum.  It takes two fingers to open, and two fingers to close, each in a second-and-a-half.  Bravo.  
  • Our test car, well equipped, listed at around $42,000.   While that’s a lot of schcarole, a comparably equipped Audi Q5 with the six-cylinder engine (albeit a nicer car) could easily run you 10 grand more.  Even the nicely powered four-cylinder version of the Audi Q5 could run your 4 grand more.  
  • Con List IconCons
  • It’s sporty without really being sporty.  The steering is light, with little road feel.  The ride is on the firm side, especially on crummier roads.   The handling is decent, but you pay the ride penalty without really getting much of the “sport.”

  • Too many damn buttons on the dashboard.  We’re fans of knobs and buttons for frequently used controls.  But look at this.  Think about the time you have to take your eyes off the road to find the button to switch from your iPod to the radio.  Infiniti needs to rethink and update the infotainment controls.  And remember, this picture is closer than your eyes will be to the controls when you’re driving.

  • The engine, while powerful, sounds and feels a bit coarse, compared to others we’re driving these days.  It does it’s job, but doesn’t do it quite as smoothly or quietly as some competitors.

  • The wider-of-ass may find the passenger compartment a bit narrow.

  • We got an average of 15.9 mpg.  90% city driving, but still… 15.9?


Mini Clubman (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Rides and handles well.

  • Seats more people comfortably than before.

  • Material qualities seem improved.

  • Dash design less self-consciously quirky, though still wanting.

  • Its fast, eight-speed auto transmission helps to wring all the power out of the 2.0 liter turbo four engine.

  • Considerably more useful interior space, for passengers and luggage.

  • Four doors certainly more livable, sensible in family use.

  • The previous model would’ve been a stretch for a family of four; this would work.

  • It’s bigger, it’s slicker and it’s undoubtedly safer than earlier Minis, which surely offers peace of mind.

  • Con List IconCons
  • It’s not mini, it’s maxi, 168.3 inches in length, more than a foot longer than the car it replaces: parking advantage lost.

  • Feels heavy, and it is-–at nearly 3400 lbs., almost 900 lbs. heavier than the original Mini and now classified by EPA as mid-sized.

  • Lots of tire noise on certain road surfaces.

  • Not as abstemious with fuel as one might hope –35 mpg was the best I could achieve with the new Clubman, while 40 was once an achievable bogey.

  • Looks goofier, less cool than previous Minis.

  • Expensive – despite $26,000 base price, $40,000 as tested without going crazy on options list.

Other notes:
Review from Car Talk writer Jamie Kitman. Read Jamie’s full report on the 2016 Mini Clubman here.


Infiniti QX (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Most people were attracted to the looks of the QX50.  It’s a sporty version of the style de jour, the crossover, similar in size to the Audi Q5, and it’s a good looking vehicle.  

  • This used to be known as the EX35.  Infiniti added three inches to the wheelbase to make the back seat tolerable for adults. There is adequate room in the back seat now, and the QX50 looks more like a mid-size crossover than a small one.

  • The 3.7 liter, V6 engine has plenty of power.  Passing power is always quickly available.

  • The QX50 can be had with all of the modern day safety features, including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, pre-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

  • Rides well on smooth roadways.  

  • Front seats are comfortable and supportive.  Interior is nicely designed with soft materials.  Storage is adequate, but not abundant.  

  • Wonderful, light lift gate in the back.  Most manufacturers have gone to electric motors to open the lift gate, realizing it’s beyond most of us to open our own rear hatchbacks anymore.  The result is you stand there waiting for eight seconds while the tailgate slowly grinds open and slowly grinds closed.  And if you try to override the motor and move the tailgate manually, you can’t do it.  Infiniti decided to forgo the electric motors and just made the tailgate out of aluminum.  It takes two fingers to open, and two fingers to close, each in a second-and-a-half.  Bravo.  

  • Our test car, well equipped, listed at around $42,000.   While that’s a lot of schcarole, a comparably equipped Audi Q5 with the six-cylinder engine (albeit a nicer car) could easily run you 10K more.  Even the nicely powered four-cylinder version of the Audi Q5 could run your 4K more.  

  • Con List IconCons
  • It’s sporty without really being sporty.  The steering is light, with little road feel.  The ride is on the firm side, especially on crummier roads.   The handling is decent, but you pay the ride penalty without really getting much of the “sport.” 

  • Too many damn buttons on the dashboard.  We’re fans of knobs and buttons for frequently used controls.  But look at this.  Think about the length of time you have to take your eyes off the road to find the button to switch from your iPod to the radio.  Infiniti needs to rethink and update the infotainment controls.  And remember, this picture is closer than your eyes will be to the controls when you’re driving.

  • The engine, while powerful, sounds and feels a bit coarse, compared to others we’re driving these days.  It does it’s job, but doesn’t do it quite as smoothly or quietly as some competitors.  

  • The wider-of-ass may find the passenger compartment a bit narrow.  

  • We got an average of 15.9 mpg.  90% city driving, but still… 15.9?


Comments

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SiliconValley2000

I bought a brand new e-Golf, Nov 2015. Drove it 4 days and broke! It's been 1 month in the shop and still not repaired.

Volkswagen America answer (3rd week) - We will never give you a new car, that's why it has a warranty. - We will not give your money back. - We don't have to provide you a loaner nor pay for your transportation while your car is being repaired. - You will not get compensated for anything. - You owe us this month lease payment, btw!

Volkswagen America answer (4th week): We are not allowed to talk you. Get an attorney to reach out to us.

Still considering to buy an e-Golf?? Good luck!


Crispy Critter

You guys need to do a review of the 2016 Ford Focus RS when it comes out this summer. It's been five years since you've done a Focus review, and this (actually it's brother) is one of the best selling cars on earth. My impression is that if you think the BRZ/FRS is fun to drive you'll be blown away by the Focus RS.


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