Ford Edge is all-new

By Derek Price
Automotive Writer

Like the original iPhone, the Ford Edge was introduced in 2007, which means it was a banner year for rectangles with rounded corners.
Not only did the curvy-but-still-boxy Edge make a huge styling statement with its Ivory Soap shape, but it also introduced new technologies and refinements to the mid-size crossover segment.
And now Ford is doing it all over again.
The Edge gets a completely new design for 2015 that still stands out — although perhaps without as much revolutionary fervor as the original — all while raising the bar for crossover tech once again.
How high did Ford raise it?

The Ford Edge gets a clean-slate design for 2015, giving it a fresh look and long list of tech features. A forward-facing video camera and the ability to automatically guide you into parking spots are among the headline additions.

The Ford Edge gets a clean-slate design for 2015, giving it a fresh look and long list of tech features. A forward-facing video camera and the ability to automatically guide you into parking spots are among the headline additions.

Fancy versions of the Edge can virtually park themselves into parallel and perpendicular parking spots. The parallel-parking magic has been done before, but the ability to help you back into a perpendicular spot is brand new. Ford hasn’t even rolled out that feature on its Lincoln luxury division yet.
The new Edge also is available with a forward-looking camera to keep you from accidentally rolling over something in front of you, for example. And if that’s not cool enough, Ford added a robot-like washer nozzle to keep the lens squeaky clean.
A long list of improvements are executed beautifully on the new Edge — as they have to be in this hotly competitive slice of the car world — with only two exceptions.
One, the designers were a bit too liberal with their use of hard plastics on the center stack, which is a no-no in today’s soft-touch world.
And two, the best engine in the lineup isn’t available on the luxury trim level, which seems odd to me. The 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is exclusive to the firm-riding Sport model, and while its output of 300-plus horsepower feels and sounds spectacular, I wish it were an option on the dolled-up, smooth-riding Titanium trim.
Maybe that’ll change next year.

The Edge’s cabin is more refined and sophisticated for 2015, with the goal of feeling like a relaxing, comfortable sanctuary from busy life.

The Edge’s cabin is more refined and sophisticated for 2015, with the goal of feeling like a relaxing, comfortable sanctuary from busy life.

For now, you can still get Ford’s tried-and-true, 3.5-liter, normally aspirated V6 in the Edge, along with a new twin-scroll, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which is a better choice for its mix of power and fuel economy.
The fresh interior is meant to be relaxing and refined — a “sanctuary,” Ford’s chief interior designer calls it — and it succeeds for the most part. The construction quality all feels tight and precise, and I like the level of attention to detail that was paid to the back seats. The second row feels less like an afterthought, with nicely sculpted armrests and some snazzy trim pieces.
Exterior styling is almost Lexus-like, especially on the back end where lots of functional scoops and aerodynamic features come together in a culmination of creases and high drama. Like its ancestor, it stands out from a pack of lookalike crossover vehicles without stepping over the edge into bizarro territory, which is a tough boundary to straddle.
Pricing starts at $28,100 and ranges up to $38,100 for the Sport model with that delicious engine.

At a Glance

What was tested?
2015 Ford Edge
Base price (including $895 destination charge): $28,995
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Length: 188.1 in.
Width: 85.8 in.
Height: 68.6 in.
Engine: 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4 (245 horsepower, 275 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Estimated Mileage: 21 city, 30 highway

RATINGS
Style: 10
Performance: 8
Price: 8
Handling: 6
Ride: 9
Comfort: 9
Quality: 8
Overall: 9

Video Review:
2015 Ford Edge
bit.ly/15fordedge

Why buy it?
Technology and style set it apart from its many strong competitors. Advanced safety features and electronic innovations make it seem like a cutting-edge crossover.

 

Posted in Ford, Uncategorized

A straightforward approach

By Derek Price
Automotive Writer

Nissan should have changed the name of today’s Pathfinder, a comfy, family-friendly crossover that shares nothing with its rough-riding, off-roading ancestors.
Then again, maybe Pathfinder is the perfect name for a vehicle that’s blazing a new trail for itself.
Whatever you call it, the current generation Pathfinder has morphed into something quite different for the Nissan brand. It doesn’t rely on avant-garde styling like its smaller cousin, the Murano, nor does it try to be sporty and thrilling like the Altima and Maxima sedans.
Unlike the style-oriented Nissan Murano, the Pathfinder takes a more traditional approach to design. This three-row crossover is a great fit for family road trips.

Unlike the style-oriented Nissan Murano, the Pathfinder takes a more traditional approach to design. This three-row crossover is a great fit for family road trips.

It simply does its job as a family hauler, which is unusually straightforward for this Japanese brand.
The Pathfinder is certainly spacious, offering NBA-caliber knee room in all three rows of seating, and exudes a sense of higher quality than many of its competitors. Honda and Toyota in particular ought to be jealous that Nissan has managed to cram acres of soft-touch materials and tightly assembled parts into the Pathfinder’s logical, practical cabin.
That used to be their turf.
It also drives as nicely as any big crossover on the market — assuming you’re not expecting something sporty. A soft, compliant suspension and highly effective sound insulation make it a great highway cruiser.
If I want to get picky, there are two things I’d like to see changed on it.
One is adding Bluetooth to the base model. Believe it or not, Nissan provides the wireless hands-free phone connection on the $11,990 base Versa Sedan but not on the $29,630 base Pathfinder. That’s crazy.
The other is adding a little more cargo space behind the third-row seat. You can fold down the back seat to have tons of room for hauling your stuff, but with the seat up it seems rather limited. Nissan favors legroom over cargo volume in this cabin configuration, which is great for carrying people but not so great when you need to load up their luggage.
My tester rang up at $39,160, or about $10 grand more than the base version, and it reminded me of the higher priced luxury crossovers sitting on Infiniti lots. The Infiniti QX60 starts at $42,400, and that’s before you add any options, making the Nissan seem like a steal when you look at the polish and features you get for the money.

The Pathfinder has one of today’s best designed cabins, including dedicated buttons for the navigation system and radio. That means the driver doesn’t have to use a complicated touchscreen interface as often as in some cars.

The Pathfinder has one of today’s best designed cabins, including dedicated buttons for the navigation system and radio. That means the driver doesn’t have to use a complicated touchscreen interface as often as in some cars.

Another plus is how easy all those features are to use. Connecting your smartphone and running the navigation system are super simple, so you shouldn’t have to constantly refer to the owner’s manual to figure it out.
I also like how the Pathfinder doesn’t force you to use the touchscreen all the time. It’s got enough physical knobs and buttons to let you quickly change the radio station or zoom in on the map, for example, without sending you to the Land of Digital Confusion — a popular destination for too many of today’s cars.
It’s a three-row crossover that does its job without any gimmicks, a rare and wonderful thing in 2015.

At a Glance

What was tested?
2015 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4×2 ($36,060). Options: Carpeted floor mats ($210), SL Tech Package ($2,030). Price as tested (including $880 destination charge): $39,160
Wheelbase: 114.2 in.
Length: 197.2 in.
Width: 77.2 in.
Height: 70.2 in.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6 (260 horsepower, 240 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Xtronic CVT with D-Step Logic Control
Estimated Mileage: 20 city, 27 highway

RATINGS
Style: 7
Performance: 7
Price: 8
Handling: 6
Ride: 9
Comfort: 9
Quality: 9
Overall: 8

Video Review:
2015 Nissan Pathfinder
bit.ly/2015pathfinder

Why buy it? 
It’s a comfortable, practical family hauler with a quality feel. It has ample knee space a smooth, luxurious ride on the highway.

Posted in Nissan

A new path for SUVs

By Derek Price
Automotive Writer

Take a look at pictures of this car, the Trax, and guess how big it is.
This newest crossover from Chevrolet may look like a roomy family car in photos thanks to its SUV-like face, but in reality it’s about a foot shorter than compact sedans like the Kia Forte and Honda Civic. And that means you have to re-think exactly what the word “crossover” means when you drive one.
Fortunately for General Motors, pint-size crossovers like the Trax are a fast-growing niche in today’s car world. They have the fuel efficiency and nimble driving feel of compact cars, but they look more upscale and have more practical interiors for busy lives.

The Chevrolet Trax has the styling swagger of a big, SUV-like crossover, but it’s actually dramatically smaller than most.

The Chevrolet Trax has the styling swagger of a big, SUV-like crossover, but it’s actually dramatically smaller than most.

That’s why sales in this category are expected to grow a whopping 80 percent in the next few years.
They also can be surprisingly comfortable on road trips, as I found out on a long drive from Texas to Ohio in the new Trax. Its suspension is tuned to be softer — and hence much more comfortable for long days on the interstate — than sportier competitors like the Nissan Juke and Kia Soul.
The Trax shares its family tree with the Buick Encore, so that squishy ride shouldn’t really be a surprise. The Chevy version will save you around $4,000 compared to its luxury-oriented cousin from Buick, but it’s got the same basic architecture, spaciousness and practicality.
It’s obvious where GM cut corners to save that four grand, though. Compared to the Encore, my Trax test car had more wind and road noise and a cheaper feeling cabin with a disappointing abundance of hard plastics.
Still, it’s hard to complain about a car that starts under $21,000, an almost unheard-of price for crossovers in 2015.
And it’s even harder to complain when you look at the standard features it includes at that price. There’s the air conditioning and power windows and locks, which you’d expect, but also a long list of things you wouldn’t: a seven-inch touch screen, built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, 10 air bags, USB port and remote keyless entry.
You can also rack up the luxury options, if you choose, by adding all-wheel drive, a Bose sound system, heated front seats, rear park assist and 18-inch wheels on the higher-end trim levels.
Just for fun, I spec’d out a loaded Trax on Chevy’s website to see what it would cost. A fully optioned LTZ with all-wheel drive can cross the $30,000 mark, but it takes some work. You’ve got to go crazy on the option boxes to get there.

Because of its bulbous shape, the Trax interior feels spacious and airy, despite its short length. It has more than 48 cubic feet of cargo space when you fold the rear sets down.

Because of its bulbous shape, the Trax interior feels spacious and airy, despite its short length. It has more than 48 cubic feet of cargo space when you fold the rear sets down.

Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s a good fit for this car. It makes 138 horsepower, which is adequate, while earning a 34-mpg highway rating for fuel economy.
It’s also only available with one transmission: a six-speed automatic.

At a Glance

What was tested?
2015 Chevrolet Trax LT FWD ($22,445). Options: LT Plus Package ($670). Price as tested (including $875 destination charge): $23,990
Wheelbase: 100.6 in.
Length: 168.5 in.
Width: 69.9 in.
Height: 65.9 in.
Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (138 horsepower, 148 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Estimated Mileage: 26 city, 34 highway

RATINGS
Style: 7
Performance: 5
Price: 10
Handling: 6
Ride: 8
Comfort: 8
Quality: 7
Overall: 7

Video Review:
2015 Chevrolet Trax
bit.ly/2015trax

Why buy it?
It has the bold SUV styling of a crossover vehicle and a lot of standard features for the money. It also has the nimble maneuverability and fuel efficiency of a compact sedan, but with more cargo space and versatility.

Posted in Chevrolet

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