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Car Talk Test Drive Notes

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?


Subaru BRZ (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • This is a fun car to drive.  Seriously fun to drive.  It’s a throwback in a way, to older sports cars that felt like the machines they were—minus the oil leaking, unreliability, and occasional engine fire.  In the BRZ, you hear the engine, and feel the road.  It’s a little coarser, overall, than the Miata, its closest competitor, but no less fun.

  • The BRZ has the absolute perfect amount of power.  It’s a 2.0 liter, 200 horsepower boxer-style engine (horizontally opposed cylinders).  There’s just enough power to let you work through the gears between stop lights, even in the city, making almost any commute (with moving traffic) fun again.  Any more power and it would be less fun.  The morons who are calling for a turbo-charged engine should go buy a BMW Z4 and leave this car alone.  

  • It has a short-throw stick shift that’s a blast to use.  You hear the sounds of the boxer engine, you feel the car lurch forward and backward when upshifting and downshifting.  Interestingly, we drove an earlier version of this car (or was it the twin Toyota FR-S?) with an automatic transmission, and it was totally underwhelming.  With the stick, however, this car is a really fun toy.

  • Handling is tight.  It’s what you’d expect from a low slung sports car.  You can cut through curves and highway on-ramps and generally annoy people in their Camrys.

  • Ventilation controls are the height of simplicity.  Large, chunky knobs to adjust temperature and ventilation directions.  Bravo.

  • The front seats, while not large, are well bolstered. Our Premium trim model had heated leather seats, that were supportive, once you got in them. The wide-of-butt or wide-of-shoulder may find them confining. .

  • It’s a sharp looking car.  It’s not garish, but looks appropriately sporty.

  • It’s a bargain.  Our pretty-much loaded test model tipped the cash register at $28,500.  

  • Con List IconCons
  • It’s low, and tough to get in and out of.  If you’ve ever uttered the word sciatica, you might want to walk past the BRZ in the showroom.  The roofline comes down low over the sides, so getting in is a duck and cover operation.  

  • The visibility is actually pretty good to the front and the rear, with a big, flat hood and decent sized rear window.  But looking out the back to the left or right, you see pretty much nothing.  It’s got huge C-pillars that create big blind spots.  And while there’s a standard rear-view camera for backing up, sadly, there are no blind spot monitors available.  We really missed them in this car.  It could sorely use them.  As cool as you look in this car going down the highway, there’s nothing less cool than pulling back into the right lane after passing, and being cursed and honked at by an irate milk truck driver.

  • While we missed the blind spot monitors the most in day-to-day driving, you also can’t get the BRZ with other now-common safety features, like automatic pre-collision warning and braking — stuff that’s available as Subaru EyeSight in other Subaru models.

  • The flip side of the fun of hearing the engine and feeling the road is… hearing the engine and feeling the road.  While it’s fun for commuting, we would imagine that during a long journey in the BRZ, you might get engine and road noise fatigue and a sore tuchus from the firm ride.  Although the ride did not bother us at all on shorter trips.  

  • While the ventilation controls are perfection, the infotainment touch screen is slow and a bit old fashioned. That’s where Subaru should put additional horsepower, not in the engine bay.

  • It calls for premium fuel.

  • The rear seat is useless for anyone with legs.  It’s there to carry stuff.  And it’s nice to have it.  The Miata, by comparison, has no place for stuff, which is a real limitation for an everyday car.  The Subaru’s back seats also fold down, giving you a pretty large, flat shelf back there for “stuff.”  The only downside is that the rear opening is not a hatch back, so anything you put in there has to either go through the small trunk opening, or through the passenger doors.  So forget about transporting that bar-sized refrigerator.


Nissan Sentra SV (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • For 2016, Nissan realized the Sentra was not looking that good or driving that well compared to the Mazda 3, the Toyota Corolla, or the newly remade Honda Civic, so they improved the looks, the interior noise level, the interior quality, the transmission drone, and the suspension.  The result is a perfectly acceptable small car for a lot of people.

  • This is the very definition of a good automotive appliance.  If you’re someone for whom a car is something to get you from point A to point B, and you want it to do so reliably and unobtrusively, the Sentra will do those things.

  • At a price point around $20,000 the Sentra SV (there are trim levels from about 18K to 23K) comes with a lot of what you need, including blind spot monitoring, push button start and door unlock with key sensor, rear camera, navigation, heated seats, and more.

  • The mileage is excellent, and comparable to the competition.  We got north of 28 mpg combined.  

  • Rear seat room is very good for a small car.  Trunk is huge.  

  • Interior has been upgraded.  They’re now using higher quality materials for the steering wheel and other parts you see and touch.  Interior is clean, uncluttered and up-to-date, with Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and a decent, if small touch screen.

  • The Sentra is easy to drive.  It’s a reasonably sized car that maneuvers well in city traffic and rides comfortably on the highway.  

  • Power is adequate from the 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine.  The CVT (continuously variables transmission) works well around town, mostly going unnoticed.  On hard acceleration, like most CVTs, it gets temporarily whiny and then settles down.

  • Con List IconCons
  • The steering is pretty numb.  If you’re just looking to get from one place to another, it won’t bother you a bit.  But during our time with the Sentra, we also happened to take a ride in a Kia Forte, whose steering seemed downright sporty in comparison.  Nissan is not going for the sporty crowd with the Sentra.  If that’s you, opt for the Mazda 3 or Honda Civic.

  • Visibility, like most cars these days, suffers a bit out back and to the back-sides.


Honda Pilot (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Lots of great safety features. Standard on the top trim levels are collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and even a “lane keeping mode” that shakes the wheel if you doze off and start pointing towards a guard rail. This suite of features, sold as Honda Sensing, is optional on lower trim models.

  • Seats eight, flexibly, which is pretty nice. I guess the catcher can ride on the roof.

  • The 2016 Pilot is a new design. Its wheelbase is about two inches longer than last year, and the vehicle is a little longer overall. One result is that the third row of seats has a bit more legroom than in previous years. Meaning? They’re less horrible for short trips if you’re an adult.

  • When the third row of seats is folded down, the cargo area is enormous. An up and coming Mafiosi, who can’t afford an Escalade yet, could put a ton of bodies back there, saving many trips to the NJ dumping grounds.

  • Ride quality is good. Ride is tuned for comfort, and the Pilot absorbs bumps easily and smoothly.

  • Very good power from the 3.5 liter V6, available instantly at all speeds. Typically smooth Honda engine.

  • Aside from a small amount of wind noise from the sunroof area (which we hope Honda will address before the production model comes out), the inside of the Pilot is very quiet. Honda did a good job with the sound insulation.

  • Con List IconCons
  • It’s big. Really big. It’s a pain in the butt to park, and maneuver in crowded urban environments.

  • Handling is sloppy. This is a big, heavy vehicle, that doesn’t really like to turn. If you’re used to agile, little Hondas, this ain’t one of them. This is the price you pay for the comfortable ride – little connection to the road and lumbering cornering.

  • The higher level trim options come with a new, ZF 9-speed automatic transmission that has been generating all kinds of complaints in Jeeps and Chryslers. Beware. The lower level trims have the tried and true Honda 6-speed automatic.

  • The top–priced Elite trim level we tested came with a blind spot monitor, which is great. Everyone car should have one. But the lower level trims have only Honda’s LaneWatch system – which uses a camera on the right side of the car to show you what’s approaching on your right when you put on your right directional signal. That’s a great feature in the city, where you can see bicyclists and pedestrians coming up from behind. But it’s not a substitute for blind spot monitoring on both sides. Even cheap cars have blind spot monitoring now. Why not offer both?

  • This year, the Pilot has added Start-Stop functionality, to improve fuel economy. But it’s not a particularly smooth Start-Stop system, and we noticed a glitch: There’s a notable lag in the power steering when the engine restarts and hydraulic pressure is building up in the system.

  • The Pilot has got to have the slowest power windows in history. They’re positively glacial. You’ll be distracted, though—because they’re a bit noisy, too.

  • The Pilot is supposed to get 26 on highway, but we only got 21 MPG, when driving in the (relatively warm) winter here in Our Fair City, at 65 MPH. And that’s despite the direct injection engine and a new, advanced, and undetectable cylinder deactivation system. Overall mileage is supposed to be 20 MPG, which is about average for similar vehicles.

  • The touch screen infotainment system is ridiculous. There are no knobs at all. Not even a volume knob. Knobs are one of the best ergonomic features known to man. Why Honda would forego them is a mystery to us, and an unpleasant one.

  • Having to reach (a long way) for the touch screen in the center of the dashboard, take your eyes off the road, place your finger precisely on the right spot, and then hope you hit the right pixels is a big step backwards in interior ergonomics, in our humble opinion. Maybe they can add a trim level above Elite: The Pilot Knob. Then those of who want volume and tuning knobs can pay an extra thousand bucks and get them. It might be worth it.


Subaru Forester (2016)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • An absolute triumph of function over style.

  • Great car for the person who swears by Consumer Reports and couldn’t care less about his or her image. The ultimate in practical, economical cars, especially for people in snowy climates. Subaru checked all the boxes with this car: decent fuel mileage, not too big, not too small, good visibility, all-wheel drive, latest safety electronics, room in the back… what else do you want?

  • The Forester has perhaps the best rear and side visibility of any car for sale in the U.S. today. While other manufacturers shrink rear and rear-side windows down to gun slats, you can actually see out of the Forester in all directions. It’s refreshing.

  • Optional EyeSight system adds forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, two features that will save lives and fenders. We highly recommend them to everybody, and it’s nice to see them available on a modestly priced car like the Forester. The whole “suite” of features adds about $2,000 to the price of the car, but they throw in a Harman/Kardon audio system to make it sting less.

  • Large doors, and raised seat height provide easy access, in and out.

  • A bit better insulated and sturdier feeling than previous Foresters. We noticed less road noise and a slightly more solid feel overall.

  • While our test model, the 2.5i Limited came with all of the options and listed at nearly $32 grand (and you can push a Forester up to the high 30s!), the base model Forester is good, simple, affordable, basic transportation with the added safety of all-wheel drive. It’s possible to find a base model Forester in the mid 20s—which is pretty affordable for a practical, versatile car with all-wheel drive, though you might be hard pressed to find one with the EyeSight system.

  • The Subaru all-wheel-drive system is time-tested and reliable. In many respects, this car is tried and true. You should expect to get 150k miles out of a new Forester—with a repair caveat, noted below.

  • Very good fuel economy for its class. We got about 26 MPG in mixed driving.

  • Handling, while not sporty, is predictable and sure footed.

  • Con List IconCons
  • Not a looker. It’s like wearing old lady shoes. But while other idiots are getting their four-inch-heel cars stuck in sewer grates, you’re cruising along.

  • Ride is on the firm side. Don’t expect to be coddled.

  • Even with the upgraded sound insulation, the Forester does not feel like a luxury car. So loading one up to $37,000 would be a tough pill to swallow.

  • As good as they are, Subarus are not quite as reliable as Toyotas and Hondas. We see a number of Subarus in our shop with 100,000 miles or even sometimes less, having expensive issues with oil leaks or head gaskets. Until we see evidence to the contrary, we’d expect this level of reliability with the 2016 model. So as good as the Forester design is, it’s still tough to recommend it over the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 to people who want to keep a car for 150,000 or 200,000 miles. To be fair, Subaru may have addressed these issues, but we won’t know until a bunch of 2016 Foresters have 150,000 miles on them.

  • Our test car came with the “Starlink” touch screen infotainment system. Even though it’s been upgraded, it still feels old-timey, with old-style graphics, cheap-seeming navigation, and barely useful “apps.” Plus, without radio dials, you’re forced to dive into the touch screen (which is one reason we highly recommend the automatic emergency braking).


Mitsubishi Outlander (2015)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Like its ancestor, Ray’s beloved Dodge Colt Vista, the Outlander has three rows of seats, and can carry up to seven passengers, making it a practical hauler for families.

  • Kids can sit comfortably in the two back seats, as can adults—briefly, anyway— as long as they not in the 95 percentile for height in their fourth grade class. Anyone taller than Peter Dinklage, however, will find their knees up around their chins.

  • The Outlander’s a good-sized vehicle with lots of hauling capacity. When the third row of seats isn’t being used, the seats fold flat, which makes for even more cargo room.

  • Pretty good driving position. All the controls were straightforward, easy to understand and use. It had a pretty old fashioned simplicity.

  • For what it is-- a mini-van-like SUV-- the handling was not bad.

  • The road noise is about equal to that of a Honda CRV—middle of the pack.

  • We drove both the V6 and four-cylinder engine, and preferred the 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder that’s in the ES and SE trim levels. The engine is amazingly quiet—much more so than the GT’s V6 engine. It’s got enough power to climb hills and pass on the highway. And, there’s plenty of room under the hood—which means cheaper repair bills, when that day arrives.

  • Con List IconCons
  • Mitsubishi seems to always be teetering on the edge of going out of business in the United States. Denials to the contrary, they sell so few vehicles here, that it wouldn’t surprise us if they decide to pull out. Mitsubishi dealers are already few and far between, and if those dealerships disappear, it’ll be even harder to get good service down the road. Resale value will also plummet.

  • This would have been an amazing vehicle in 2005, but it feels a generation behind in handling and interior quality, with hard plastics that you see less and less of these days.

  • The 2.4-liter SE version came in at $26,200 MSRP, compared to $26,000 for a roughly equivalent Honda CR-V. So, would the Outlander stack up against a CR-V? At first, in some ways, yes. But after 100,000 or 250,000 miles? Probably not.

  • The Outlander’s most obvious competitors have very high resale value. Will the Outlander hold onto its value as well? We doubt that, too. There’s going to be a huge trade-in differential. So, unless you’re really hankering for that third row of seats, we’d suggest opting for the CR-V, RAV4, or Forrester.

  • The V6 is overkill, and it’s stuffed into the engine compartment—so when the Outlander starts to get six figures on the odometer, be prepared to the open up your wallet. To make matters worse, we’d expect the engine and transmission to be only average in terms of reliability.

  • This would be a perfectly acceptable vehicle if you could get it for a fire sale price. So compare it to the CR-V, RAV4, and Forrester, and if you can save several thousand bucks (that you don’t have to spend), consider the Outlander.


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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