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Car Talk Test Drive Notes

2015 BMW X4 28i

  • The X4 is a cool looking crossover. Mechanically, it’s BMW’s X3 crossover with a fastback roof design-- a sloping rear roof-line rather than the squared off roof of most SUVs and crossovers.

  • If you want the utility of an X3 but are willing to trade some usefulness (in the form of rear headroom and storage space) for design, the X4 is worth considering

  • We drove the X4 2.8i, which has a two-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that makes an impressive 240 horsepower. A 3-liter, 300 hp straight-six is optional. But the four-cylinder engine absolutely got the job done.

  • It accelerated well, cruised easily at high speed, and had enough power to pass at all speeds. The only time it strained a bit was when accelerating uphill.

  • Handling and cornering are excellent for an SUV. Far more BMW-like than SUV-like. Not a sports car, but it’s closer to one than any other SUV we can remember driving. It feels solid, and its handling is reassuring.

  • The X4 absorbs roadway imperfections nicely. It’s a “firm” kind of comfortable.

  • All X4s come with all-wheel drive. The nearly perfect, unobtrusive 8-speed automatic transmission includes paddle shifters, as well sport, eco, and normal modes. We liked Normal.

  • To improve fuel economy, the X4 includes an automatic engine start-stop function, which we found to be reasonably unobtrusive. It can be turned off, too, if you want, although as far as we could tell, you’d have to do it each time you drive.

  • The entry and exit height is lower than in the X3, and just right for us. We neither had to climb up, nor fall down to get in. Seating comfort was firm, but very good.

  • The X4 has most of the accoutrements you’d ever want, including automatic headlights, Bluetooth, color navigation with traffic information, dual heating and ventilation controls, heated seats and more.

  • iDrive is improved from years past. And there are now knobs and buttons for frequently used controls. Some controls are conveniently duplicated on the steering wheel.

  • Sound insulation is impressive, and you hear very little engine noise, especially when you consider that there’s a 2.0 liter engine pulling a large, 4,145-pound vehicle. Engine noise was only apparent when in “sport” mode, which raised the shift points—but that may be intentional, as drivers may want to hear the engine in sport mode.

  • There’s plenty of room in the backseat for two passengers, and decent headroom for under-six-footers. Taller folks may notice the sloping roof. In practical terms, the X4 is also, basically, a hatchback, with a large, opening tailgate, and fold down rear seats that provide good cargo capacity when needed.

  • The X4 isn’t the most practical design. If you want more practicality, get the X3 with a more squared off back. The X3 is a little taller, and doesn’t handle quite as well, but it provides more rear headroom and cargo capacity.

  • You also pay more for the better styling. The X3 2.8i starts a $38,500. The X4 2.8i starts at $45,250.

  • As with most BMWs, there are plenty of luxury options available, but the prices of accessories border on outrageous. While the base price of the X4 is $45,250, our well-optioned version listed for $56,240. That’s $10,990 in options.

  • It takes premium fuel, so budget accordingly.

  • While the iDrive control system is pretty good, there remain some little quirks. There were times when iDrive would get stubborn, and refuse to play the tune we asked for, or revert to something that was on before.

  • Mileage is not great—While we admittedly drove it with a “heavy foot,” because it was fun to drive, we averaged just 23 MPG despite a lot of high-speed, highway driving.

  • Despite its impressive handling and cornering, it’s not a sports car. This is no M235i. But, if you have to drive kids or “stuff” around or otherwise need a car with some flexibility, and want something with style, too, it’s more fun than most cars that meet that criteria.

2015 BMW 428i Gran Coupe

  • BMW’s best looking sedan. It’s a slightly more stylish 3-series—a little lower, and little sleeker-- with the added practicality of a rear hatchback.

  • Overall, we liked this car a lot.

  • We loved the way it drives. It has a beautiful engine-transmission combination.

  • The four-cylinder turbo is very sweet. With 240hp, it has as much power as anyone could reasonably want. It pulls very nicely. It delivers an EPA rated 23/34, with an average mileage of 27 mpg. Not bad for a large, very sporty car.

  • The eight-speed manual transmission is great. Flawless. It always seems to be in the right gear without any hesitation. It includes a manual shift option with shifter paddles.

  • The 428i is basically a hatchback. Rather than having a regular trunk, the entire rear window lifts. We think this is a great advantage over the three series. You can fold down the rear seats, and carry a ton of stuff.

  • The car is beautiful. A lot of people commented on how beautiful it is. In fact, we think the 4 series is far better looking with four doors than two, because there's no long, flat space behind the two doors.

  • And from a practical point of view, four doors provide a great advantage over the regular, two-door four series coupe.

  • The ride is surprisingly good for a low, sporty car. Cars like this used to be harsher. But, the suspension does everything well – ride and handling.

  • The steering has a nice feel. It’s on the lighter side for BMW, but we liked it.

  • The one thing we don’t like, which might even keep us from buying it, is that it’s low. It’s noticeably lower than the three series BMWs. You need to fall down into the car. It’s lower than a regular sedan. The seating position is lower to the floor, to maintain the coupe’s low profile.

  • We had some smaller issues, such as the back seat, which is lacking in knee, and, to some extent, head room.

  • It has an automatic stop-start that turns the engine off at a stop light. We think BMW has improved the smoothness recently, but it would nice if they worked on it a little bit more. You do notice it, when the engine starts or stops. It’s not as nearly as smooth as Toyota’s stop-start, or nearly as bad as Volvo’s start-stop technology.

  • The iDrive control system has been improved. BMW has added buttons for everything except the radio tuning. There are knobs and buttons for the radio presets, volume, temperature controls, so it’s not necessary to go into the iDrive, except to tune the radio and change audio sources.

  • As with any BMW, the options are very expensive. You can start out with a base price in the low 40’s and easily end up paying well over $50K for the car you want, with options that come standard on other vehicles. We have to assume it’s a way to entice people into the showroom with a very reasonable base price, even though they really don’t sell cars at that price.

2015 Subary Legacy Sedan

  • Subaru has a well-deserved reputation for building practical, pretty reliable, all-wheel-drive cars that are durable, and get around well in lousy weather. The Legacy sedan should do all that.

  • Impressive safety features for our test car, which listed for about 25 grand. Not only can you get all-wheel-drive, but you get a rear view camera, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, and Subaru’s EyeSight system, which is an automatic emergency braking system. That’s unusual on a car that costs as little as this one does.

  • Combined 30MPG is impressive for an all-wheel-drive car. EPA says 26 city, 36 highway.

  • The tuning of the CVT (continuously variable transmission) makes the gas pedal very touchy when starting off. Subaru obviously wants to emphasize that the car is plenty quick, but instead it comes off as annoying, as it’s hard to start off from a stop without jolting the car and its passengers.

  • The manual shift mode in this car is not even worth playing with.

  • Now that the Camry has updated, modern styling for 2015, the Legacy sedan takes over the top spot as the industry’s most nondescript car.

  • Funny, but from the driver’s seat, the way the hood is shaped, with pointy ridges at both edges, is reminiscent of the old Dodge Dart. And that’s an apt comparison for the Legacy sedan: Practical, reliable, and homely.

  • It’s hard to come up with a really good reason why someone would buy this car, among all of the options available today. It’s perfectly adequate. Good, even. But unless you’re a Subaru fan who wants a sedan instead of a more useful wagon or hatchback, why would you buy a Legacy sedan? Not for the looks. Not for luxury. Not for sporty handling. Perhaps because of the value of the all-wheel-drive and optional safety equipment. But if you’re that driven by practicality, why wouldn’t you buy the wagon version?

2015 Ford Transit 150 XLT

  • Finally, an update for the age-old “Econoline” van that brings it into the 21st century.

  • Far more comfortable, airy, and spacious than the old Ford van. A pleasant place to be for a short or long ride.

  • Highly configurable. Three roof heights (the tallest of which can accommodate a 6’5” human standing up inside), three different lengths, and three different engine options. We drove the XLT low roof, the shortest version, which is still living-room-esque.

  • Our test model had comfortable seating for eight, with a huge amount of room behind the last row of seats for cargo. This thing could carry a small marching band and several backup tubas.

  • Entry and exit is easier than in the old Ford van. A built-in step allows driver and front passenger to easily climb in. Rear passenger entry is also easier than in vans past.

  • Seats are far more comfortable, and headroom eliminates the claustrophobia of the old van. It’s also easy to move inside the van, from front to back or seat to seat.

  • Huge windshield and cut-outs in the two front doors provide excellent forward visibility. Visibility is more limited out the sides and to the back.

  • Far more maneuverable than the old, full-size van. While it’s definitely a large vehicle, it operates like a car. Steering is easy. Controls are predictable.

  • Impressive turning circle. We were surprised by how few times we had to go back and forth to turn around. This thing is capable of a three-point turn in a city. So, you no longer have to take out three parked Hyundais when you pull a u-ey.

  • It’s still huge. For the love of everything holy, do not buy one of these unless you need one. It’s still an enormous vehicle that’s too tall to fit in many parking garages and too long to fit into many a city parking space.

  • Visibility out the sides is very limited, making changing lanes on the highway a “signal, pause, and pray” maneuver. Blind spot monitoring should be standard on this van for that reason. It’s not. And our test car didn’t even have it as optional equipment. You need it.

  • The rear visibility is also poor, in part due to a larger structural beam between the two rear windows. Fortunately, the optional back up camera works well, and quickly. You’ll need that, too.

  • The 3.7 liter V6 engine is adequate the vast majority of the time, but not over powered. It gets a little loud and strain-y when pushed, but it does the job. EPA rates it at 16 mpg overall (14 city, 19 highway) which is up from 13 to 14 overall in the old van—a 15- to 20-percent improvement.

  • It has stability control, so we don’t expect to see a lot of these tipping over. But it is a tall vehicle, and you do feel the body sway on turns.

2015 Ford Edge

  • Ford’s best crossover, in our humble opinion. 

  • Excellent, refined suspension system. This car has a fantastic combination of comfort and handling that really surprised us. It’s easily comparable to European luxury crossovers. The handling is not at all floaty, like the larger Explorer. It’s precise and agile for a large vehicle, with surprisingly flat cornering, little body lean, and good road holding. Yet the Edge gives up very little in comfort to get its Euro-style handling. The ride is comfortable, with bumps and road irregularities well absorbed.  

  • Smooth power from the four-cylinder, “Ecoboost” engine. The 2.0-liter, four cylinder engine produces 245 horsepower and accelerates the pretty heavy Edge easily, without any turbo lag. The six-speed automatic transmission is more or less unnoticeable, which is exactly what you want from an automatic transmission. You won’t miss a V6 at all.

  • Roomy. Unlike the narrow-feeling Escape, the Edge feels spacious inside. Seats are comfortable and supportive, and even rear seat passengers have lots of leg, head, and knee room.

  • Getting in and out of the Edge is also easy, front and rear, due to ample door openings. There is also a generous amount of cargo room behind the rear seats.  

  • Quiet inside.  

  • Simple, clean design. Both inside and out, the Edge is pretty straightforward. Some may consider this a drawback. But others will like the lack of flash and twisty sheet metal. It has a boxy, tank-like exterior, and simple, but high quality interior.  

  • Speaking of tank-like, there’s something about the position of the driver’s seat and the large, flat hood that makes the front of the Edge look massive when you’re driving it. It’s not, but the flat hood gives the impression of greater bulk than actually exists.  

  • Offers a good array of optional safety equipment on the higher trim variants.  We’d highly recommend the blind spot monitoring, even though it comes as part of an expensive luxury package.  And we’d recommend the automatic emergency braking, for $1,300.  All dressed up, our Edge Titanium all-wheel drive, even without the emergency braking, was tagged at $43,585.  

  • Our fuel mileage is mediocre. Even with the four-cylinder engine, we got an average of only 19 mpg in our more-city-than-highway testing.  EPA says 20 to 28 with a 23 MPG average.  

  • Visibility is limited. There’s virtually no visibility to the rear sides, due to very thick C pillars. That makes the optional blind spot monitoring an absolute necessity, and makes the standard rear view camera an important tool.   

  • The deep dashboard reflected in the windshield and created glare at times.  

  • The Ford Sync system requires you to touch the screen for various functions. And the screen is enough of a reach to make that inconvenient while driving. Other manufacturers have opted for a mouse-like controller to deal with that issue. Ford has not. A newer, updated Sync system is due next year.   

2015 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 TRD Pro

  • This thing looks bad --s.  It looks like it could go absolutely anywhere.  Some Africans who saw it described it as a “Chief’s car.”  Our test car looked particularly good in white, with black wheels. Think Tonka. Brings out the eight-year-old boy in most grown men.  Looks even better when it’s dirty.

  • It actually does go anywhere. Part of our test happened to include a very steep, potholed dirt road, heading down to a river, with the car loaded with people and belongings. Other cars couldn’t do it, but the 4Runner went down and back with no problem — it even backed up the hill one time.  

  • Using the electronics that already work the stability control and ABS systems, Toyota has added several, electronically controlled off-road modes that make this thing even more unstoppable.  We never had to use them, because even in basic, 4WD-high, the 4Runner never faltered.

  • Toyota durability and reliability.

  • Reminds us of what the Toyota Land Cruiser used to be, before Toyota upscaled it and starting charging $80,000 bucks for it. The 4Runner TRD Pro is more of a basic, capable, non-luxurious, go-anywhere truck. Although the definition of basic is now $43K, and includes things like a touch screen, Bluetooth, and a few modern safety features.  

  • Good amount of room in the cargo area, especially with the back seats folded down. Sliding platform helps with loading things.

  • We got a little more than 18 MPG combined.  For a real truck, that isn’t awful. The much more comfortable (but less off-road competent) Highlander only gets 20 combined. 

  • Unless you’re actually using this thing to do what it’s designed to do, you’ll probably come off looking like a poser. I mean, who needs a quasi-monster truck to go to Starbucks for a decaf latte with 1% milk?

  • Women are either intimidated or uninterested in it.  So if you’re looking for a vehicle to help you attract women, this is not it. If you’re looking to attract men, however, this is your ride.

  • It’s tall. Not a single person entered this vehicle without emitting a grunt while heaving him or herself up onto the seat.

  • Rear cargo floor is high off the ground, too, which makes loading heavy objects difficult.

  • The huge, off-roady tires are noisy and contribute to loose handling on the highway.  

  • The ride and handling reflect the 4Runner’s original pickup-truck roots.

  • The engine, while it has plenty of grunt off road, wheezes a bit in normal highway driving. It’s an old-style, big, four-liter V6. In these days of much smaller, twin turbo V6s and powerful turbo 4s, this engine feels like it’s ready for an update. 

  • Touch screen is small, and it’s not always easy to make selections while driving.

2015 Lexus NX 300H

  • Very sharp styling.  This is a small to mid-sized crossover that stands out in the Whole Foods parking lot.  Almost everybody we asked thought the NX looked great.  The body has as many creases as Keith Richards’ face, and a sharp snout.  But overall, the design works, and the NX looks good.

  • The hybrid version of the NX, the 300h, got excellent mileage.  We did even a little better than the EPA estimated 33 mpg overall in our front-wheel-drive version.  We actually got 33.5 mpg in mixed city and highway driving (more city than highway).  That’s pretty awesome mileage for an SUV, even a small one.  The non-hybrid 200t, with a more powerful, more fun four-cylinder engine and all wheel drive, is EPA rated at 24 mpg combined.

  • The interior is den like.  It’s cozy, with black leather-like materials, and lots of stitching everywhere.  Lots of soft touch materials that make it a pleasant place to be.  

  • It’s an easy car to drive every day.  It’s very reasonably sized — it doesn’t feel bloated or big butted.  You can drive it without having to worry where your starboard and port edges are.  It’s easy to live with, maneuver, and park in an urban or suburban environment.

  • It’s a great highway cruiser.  

  • In our loaded up test version, the engine noise was very muted.  On many hybrids, you really hear the engine revving when you call for extra power, but the sound insulation in the NX — at least from the engine bay — was quite good.

  • Handling is sportier than you’d expect from a Lexus.  It stays flat in corners and changes direction easily.  

  • Front seats are very comfortable.

  • The ride is not as soft and pliant as we’re used to from Lexus.  If you’re the princess, from The Princess and the Pea, you’re going to feel a lot of peas.  It’s not a punishing ride by any means, but it’s firm enough that you feel the imperfections in the road.  Traditionally, Lexus has gone for the down-pillow-ride.  Not here.  

  • Power in the hybrid is adequate, but not exciting from the combined 194 horsepower motor and engine.  While we love to be environmentally friendly, the 245 hp turbo four cylinder non-hybrid version is a lot quicker and a lot more fun to drive.

  • While there are individual buttons for many climate and the basic audio controls, the infotainment screen is operated by a point and click system.  Lexus has switched from a mouse to a touchpad, where you slide your finger to move the curser, and push down to select what you want.  It’s awkward, and requires many looks at the screen.   

  • This is a comment for all built-in navigation systems, not just Lexus’.  But there’s an increasing discrepancy between how easy it is to enter a destination in, say Google Maps, and how hard it is to enter a destination in a built-in nav system.  On your phone, you speak, or quickly thumb type a destination with two hands, and it takes five or ten seconds.  In the car you still have hunt and peck your way through each letter of the… C.i.t.y.… S.t.r.e.e.t.… S.t.r.e.e.t. N.u.m.b.e.r.….    Something’s got to give, especially with the high price of built in navigations systems.

  • The cabin is a little tight feeling.  Cozy is the good way to look at it.  The wider-butted and shouldered amongst us may find the width confining.  

  • Visibility is not great to the sides, or rear thanks to a high belt-line.  Definitely opt for the blind spot monitoring.  The back up camera works well and quickly, and is standard.

  • Cargo space in the back is limited and a bit on the skimpy side.  But if you don’t want to haul around a huge vehicle, you’re going to have to compromise on interior room.  

Other notes:

  • Our hybrid edition test car hybrid was $49,000, loaded. MSRP of the 300h hybrid starts at $39,720. Base price of the 200t version is $36,820.

  • Ray tried the NX Turbo, loaded, and had this to say about that engine option: "Except for the $43,000 price tag there was not much to dislike. Phenomenal power for passing and no noticeable turbo lag."

  • 2015 Volkswagen E-Golf

    • This is an all-electric version of VW’s Golf.  So it starts out as a very nice car, and adds battery power.

    • It’s a very practical, versatile design, with four doors, comfortable seating for four, and a hatchback for cargo.  

    • It’s got an upscale interior, and a solid, quality feel.  

    • It handles well, rides comfortably, and is quiet.  Really a pleasure to drive.  Like a VW Golf, but quieter. 

    • Like most electric cars, it feels very peppy when you hit the accelerator.   Because electric motors deliver all of their torque right away, there’s no sluggishness at all off the mark. 

    • The price is right.  Our loaded test model listed for about $36,000, before state or ($7,500) federal rebates.  And its MPG equivalent (MPGe) is 116. 

    • You’re helping to save the planet.  If you drive less than, say, 80 miles a day, and you have another family car you can use for long trips, you’ll never have to visit a gas station again.  Except perhaps to use the bathroom, and to sneak your extension cord into the bathroom outlet and charge up for a while.  

    • The range information (miles before you run out of juice and have to call Uber to get you home) seems pretty accurate.  It goes up and down, depending on how you’re driving.  So, for instance, after a full charge, the dashboard reading might say you have 85 miles.  If you’re driving gently, around town, the range might go up to 95 miles—meaning if you keep driving like that, you can go farther.  Likewise, if you get on a highway, and floor it, and climb up a grade at 65 mph, it’s going to drop very quickly.   But we found that overall, it averages out pretty well and the projected range was pretty accurate.

    • Range anxiety is a real thing.  When cars like this can go 250 miles on a charge, it’ll be a whole ‘nother ballgame. 

    • While it feels plenty peppy and powerful when you take off from a stop light, it feels a little underpowered when you’re get into middle speeds, say during acceleration onto a highway.  Overall 0-60 acceleration is in the 10-second range, which is certainly adequate, but may not be what you’re used to these days.  

    • While it’s a good handling car, it drives like it’s a little heavier than the standard Golf, and you can feel that in the body lean on turns.  

    • The navigation system takes forever to boot up.  Infotainment system needs more horsepower.  Due to be upgraded in 2016.  Worth waiting for.

    • A lighted outlet would be nice for charging up the car at night.  You get home after dark, you grab the charging plug, and you keep pushing it into the filler outlet by braille, until you finally get it lined up right.  Having it lit up by an LED when the “fuel” door is open would be a nice touch. 

    Other notes:

  • Check out Jamie Kitman’s review of his long-term eGolf.

  • Check out news about VW’s improved infotainment systems for 2016.

  • 2015 VW Touareg Executive

    • Solid, high-end feel.  Feels as good on the road, and inside the cabin, as a comparable Mercedes, Audi, or BMW. 

    • Quiet, comfortable.  The inside of the Touareg feels like the inside of a luxury car.  It’s very quiet, except for some not-unpleasant engine noise during harder acceleration.  It feels tank-like solid on the road.  Front seats are excellent, and even the rear seats are comfortable, with great room for two and passable room for a third in the middle.  

    • Great highway cruiser, easy power, tracks perfectly at high speed on highway curves.  

    • Ride is firm but comfortable.  You’ll feel the occasional bump, but it’s not going to upset any dental work.  

    • Plenty of power from a 280 hp 3.6 liter V6.  Eight-speed transmission is mostly smooth and flawless. 

    • You can actually see something out the back.  For those who like to throw your right arm behind the passenger seat and turn around to back up, you’ll be surprised to find you can actually see something out the rear window.  It’s not perfect, because large D pillars block the view to the sides back there, and the rear headrests obscure some stuff.  But compared to other recent vehicles we’ve driven, you can actually tell where the back of the car is.  To supplement, a very good backup camera with a separate, “birds-eye”- style view from above makes parking and backing up easy.

    • Clean, airy, high-end interior, with fairly simple, clear controls.  We noticed a few pieces of hard plastic next to the center console and on the inside door handle. But most of the cabin materials are high-end, softer plastics, and leather.

    • Modern safety features now available. For $2,500, VW will sell you a package of safety features that are well worth having.  Included in the package are adaptive cruise control, that will actually stop and start the car to move along in traffic, and a pre-collision braking system that will sense if you’re not braking when you should, and apply the brakes for you — even bringing the Touareg to a complete stop if you're that engrossed in your texting.  

    • Blind spot monitors (part of the optional safety package) seem particularly well placed on the insides of the exterior side view mirrors.  They did the job and were easily visible without being obtrusive. You can even adjust the brightness.

    • The price, as tested, is $62,000.  You can get a BMW X5 for that price, or a Mercedes GLC, and a lot of people will want that dollop of snob appeal if they’re plunking down that kind of schcarole. The fact that the Touareg matches up well with those cars won’t matter to those people.  However, if you’re someone who wants to drive a luxury SUV, but doesn’t want your employees to know you’re paying yourself 100 times what they make, the Touareg is a way to get the ride you want without being showy.

    • Going along with that, the styling is very traditional, some would say bland.  It’s handsome in a very plain way.  Again, it’s going to go under the radar. 

    • It’s a heavy vehicle.  That’s mostly not a problem, although you do feel the momentum of that weight at times on sharp turns or when braking from high speed.  

    • EPA mileage rating is a nothing-to-write-home-about: 17 city, 23 highway, 19 overall. 

    • It’s a step up to get in the Touareg.  Older folks may object to the grab and climb, and you have to go up and forward a bit to place yourself in the rear seat.  

    • The key fob is huge.  Automakers seem to be competing for the most prestigious key fob.  We’d like to see them compete, like cell phone makers were for years, for the smallest, thinnest fob possible. Wouldn’t that be nice?  Maybe a card you could slip into your wallet?  Walking around with this Touareg key fob in your pocket, people think you stole a can of sardines. 

    • VW still hasn’t come into the modern era with phone and device connectivity. They still offer only their proprietary media connector that comes equipped to hook up an iPhone 4— which nobody buying a $62,000 car still has.  Even their kids have iPhone 5s now.  VW says there’s an adapter for phones up to the iPhone 5s.  But that’s still behind the times, and you may want to wait until they offer a USB connection.  We couldn’t even charge a phone on a long trip.    

    2015 Audi A3 Convertible

    • Really nice car to drive. Good road and steering feel, great handling, and at the same time, good ride quality. Nice balance overall between comfort and sportiness.  
    • Convertibles, because of their lack of a steel roof, are structurally weaker than other types of cars.  So structural reinforcement is necessary to keep them from handling poorly. Whatever Audi did on this car works, because it feels rock solid.
    • The “manual shift” option on the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission works particularly well on this car, and gives you another way to really enjoy driving it. 
    • We got an impressive 32 mpg overall, doing more highway than around-town.  
    • High quality interior and sharp exterior design makes it feel like a “real” Audi, even though it’s Audi’s least expensive model. 
    • Front seats are very comfortable.
    • Small and maneuverable. 
    • Cruises effortlessly and comfortably on the highway, goes exactly where you point it.
    • Cloth convertible top is well made, fits tightly, and does a good job with noise insulation, especially around town. On the highway, you do hear some buffeting wind, but it’s not bad. The A3 seems like a convertible you could drive all the time, without feeling like you’re camping out on non-sunny days. 

    • No backup camera.  On a $40,000 Audi, with a rear window the size of a #10 envelope?  Seriously?  Because of the convertible top, the A3 Convertible has a small rear window to begin with.  And without a back up camera, you’re basically Mr. Magoo trying to park or back out of a driveway.
    • Rear seat is pretty much unusable for adults.  You could sardine someone in there for a short ride, but it’d be an uncomfortable short ride.  It’s a “turn sideways and try to squeeze your legs in there” situation.
    • Trunk is also small. Pack carefully. If you think of this as a two-person car, and use the back seat and trunk for cargo, you’ll be fine.  
    • Infotainment system could use a little more computing power.  There’s sometimes a wait while the system says “loading.” 
    • No USB connection for iPhone or Android phone.   Instead, Audi carries over its old proprietary connector, which fits the iPhone 4.  Audi, trust us, no one in an Audi showroom is still using an iPhone 4—not even the help.  Audi scrambled to add a USB port this year in the center console for charging devices (also necessary), but you still can’t hook up a modern phone to Audi’s infotainment system, which is kind of crazy, since the people who buy Audis are the same people who run right out and get the latest iPhone.  


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