Mustang brings out emotions

 

Cargazing
By Derek Price

After a brilliant redesign last year, the Ford Mustang is finding new ways to tug at buyers’ heartstrings in 2016.
The new design certainly tugs at mine. Before 2015, I’d always struggled to “get” this car because of quirky things like its out-of-date suspension and inexcusably cheap feeling interior. It took a Shelby Mustang with its drastically revamped, sports-car-like suspension to make me really enjoy driving it.
With this new generation, though, the Mustang is so much easier for me to love. It dumped its old ox-cart rear suspension in favor of one that feels like it belongs in a modern car, and its new interior — perhaps the most dramatic and uniquely styled cabin on the market today — is a vast improvement.
And oh, that body. It’s a drop-dead gorgeous car on the outside with an overabundance of raked-back lines that give it the unmistakable look of a ‘Stang. It’s an instant classic in my eyes.
For 2016, Ford is toying with Mustang lovers’ emotions by adding several features that harken back to the pony car’s golden years.

The new-generation Ford Mustang has stunning good looks. It’s instantly recognizable as a Mustang with long doors and a sweeping fastback roofline that show it’s proud of its heritage.

The new-generation Ford Mustang has stunning good looks. It’s instantly recognizable as a Mustang with long doors and a sweeping fastback roofline that show it’s proud of its heritage.

One is putting turn signals into the hood vents on GT models, a nod to the Deluxe Hood that had the same feature back in 1967. When you put the turn signal on, you can see it flashing in the left or right vents up on the hood — a smart idea that keeps the driver from becoming a blinker nerd. Ford says this is something the Mustang’s rabid, history-conscious fan base has been clamoring to get for years.
Another is adding the California Special Package for 2016, a style and option upgrade that holds a special place in Mustang lore. It’s inspired by the special edition Mustang that was created for California dealers in 1968, a car that’s highly desired by collectors today.
The 2016 California Special — which is the version Ford sent me to test — comes drenched in nostalgia with a long list of styling touches to catch your eye. The most noticeable are the black pedestal spoiler and bold, wicked hood and side stripes, but it’s the little things I like even more. Its 19-inch ebony painted wheels, red stitching on the seats and carpet, unique gas cap and tri-bar pony logo on the grille are all nice details.

Special trim and badging make the interior of the new California Special package stand out.

Special trim and badging make the interior of the new California Special package stand out.

My test car came painted in Triple Yellow, or arrest-me yellow, as I like to call it. If you want attention, that’s one way to get it, especially with the rumbling V8 and racing stripes that make this one of the most extroverted cars I’ve driven in quite some time.
And boy, it’s a lot of fun. The sounds, the sensations, the feel over the road — they’re all exactly what you want from a modern-day muscle car. Who can argue with a 435-horsepower V8?
I did miss the GT Performance Package that made the Mustang I drove last year feel so much better in corners. Without that package, it feels a bit more sloppy in turns but also more comfortable on highway trips, so it’s a matter of personal preference. As for me, I’ll always take the corner-carving ‘Stang when given the chance.
Another notable change: Ford is putting the new Sync 3 system in the Mustang this year, which is a major upgrade over the slower, fussier system in last year’s model. It uses voice controls that, while not quite as slick and intuitive as Apple’s Siri, can still be useful for doing things like entering your destination in the navigation system.
Pricing starts at $24,145 for a V6-powered Mustang and $32,395 for the GT with its drool-worthy V8.

At a Glance

What was tested?
2016 Ford Mustang GT Coupe Premium ($36,395). Options: Shaker Pro audio upgrade ($1,795), Triple Yellow paint ($495), enhanced security package ($395), California Special package ($1,995), voice-activated navigation system ($795). Price as tested (including $900 destination charge): $42,770
Wheelbase: 107.1 in.
Length: 188.3 in.
Width: 75.4 in.
Height: 54.4 in.
Engine: 5,0-liter V8 (435 hp, 400 lb.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Mileage: 15 city, 25 highway

RATINGS

Style: 10
Performance: 9
Price: 6
Handling: 6
Ride: 7
Comfort: 6
Quality: 7
Overall: 8

Video Review:
2016 Ford Mustang
bit.ly/16stang

Why buy it?
Changes for 2016 are designed to make rabid Mustang fans happy, including turn signals in the hood vents and a new California Special package that is inspired by the classic 1960s Mustangs.

Posted in Ford

New Tucson has an edge


Cargazing
By Derek Price

No car company is hotter than Hyundai over the past five years. They just can’t seem to make a dud.
Now this Korean brand is continuing its unlikely string of home runs by hitting another one out of the park: a redesigned Tucson crossover for 2016 that’s one of the most refined and sporty-looking vehicles in its segment.
In fact, if Hyundai were a baseball player, opponents would be screaming for it to take a random drug test. It doesn’t seem right for one company to be so strong so consistently.
Yet here I sit in a $31,110 crossover that feels in many ways like a $40,000 entry-level luxury ride. It’s obviously designed to be a good value at that price, with features like a touchscreen navigation system, blind spot detection and sensors that warn you of oncoming traffic when you’re backing out of a parking spot. Those are all upmarket features at a downmarket price.
But the crazy thing is this isn’t a vehicle you’d buy because it’s a great value. You’d buy it because it’s great, period.

With raked-back headlights and a sleek roofline, the Hyundai Tucson looks sportier than ever after a complete redesign for 2016.

With raked-back headlights and a sleek roofline, the Hyundai Tucson looks sportier than ever after a complete redesign for 2016.

None of the Japanese brands that once seemed untouchable can match the quality of the interior in my Tucson Limited tester. The best come close, but they always leave me feeling like, “I wish they would have replaced the hard plastic right there.” I didn’t have those little gripes in the Tucson, which seemed to put soft-touch materials in all the right spots and was screwed together tight enough to withstand a nuclear blast or, even worse, children.
The version I tested also came with something pioneered on $100,000 Porsches: a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. That’s unheard of in the world of small crossovers, particularly those with a starting price of $22,700.
You have to pay $24,150 for the Eco model with that fancier, faster-shifting, more fuel-efficient transmission. Still, that’s a steal for a technology that not too long ago was only the stuff of supercar dreams.

A digital touchscreen mounted high on the dash, a prominent shifter and easy-to-access controls make the Tucson’s cabin feel modern, athletic and simple to use.

A digital touchscreen mounted high on the dash, a prominent shifter and easy-to-access controls make the Tucson’s cabin feel modern, athletic and simple to use.

My lone complaint about the new Tucson is that the driving feel doesn’t match the sporty body. It’s one of the sleekest, sexiest crossovers on the road — which isn’t saying much considering how boring most of its cookie-cutter competitors look — but even with the dual-clutch transmission and turbocharged engine, it lacks a certain oomph that would make it more fun.
If you’re a driving purist like me, take a look at the Mazda CX-5. It’s the only crossover that I think is really, truly fun to drive. Otherwise, the Tucson offers enough sensory engagement to feel lively for most drivers. And — let’s face it — most people buy crossovers because they’re great for hauling a family from place to place, not for carving corners on switchback mountain roads.
Despite my irrational wishes for more spirited performance, I spent most of my week driving the Tucson with my jaw dropped. It gets so many things right, from the highway comfort to the body styling and practical, easy-to-configure cabin layout, that it just doesn’t seem fair for the competition.

At a Glance

What was tested?
2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited FWD ($29,900). Options: Carpeted floor mats ($125), cargo cover ($190). Price as tested (including $895 destination charge): $31,110
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Length: 176.2 in.
Width: 72.8 in.
Height: 64.8 in.
Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged inline four cylinder (175 hp, 195 lb.-ft.)
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Mileage: 25 city, 30 highway

RATINGS
Style: 10
Performance: 8
Price: 10
Handling: 7
Ride: 7
Comfort: 8
Quality: 9
Overall: 9

Video Review:
2016 Hyundai Tucson
bit.ly/16tucson

Why buy it?
An all-new design for 2016 makes it more refined than before. It’s one of the quietest, best-riding vehicles in its class and feels like a more expensive car in many ways.

Posted in Hyundai

Outlander gets an upgrade


Cargazing
By Derek Price

The Mitsubishi Outlander is trying hard to stay competitive with a long list of updates for 2016, including a much improved sense of style and a quieter cabin.
To be clear, it had a long way to go after being outclassed last year. The updates are needed and overdue for a vehicle that was too thirsty, too noisy and too dull before.
I think Mitsubishi recognized these drawbacks, which is why they made more than 100 improvements to the Outlander in a major refresh for 2016. And it starts with the way it looks.
The Outlander has a more sculpted body now that Mitsubishi has applied what it calls the “Dynamic Shield” design to the front end. It’s an interesting mixture, combining the rugged looking bumpers inspired by the old Montero SUV with a sleeker, sexier, more car-like shape overall.

The Mitsubishi Outlander gets a long list of small changes for 2016 that add up to a big difference. It feels more refined and offers a better value on some trim levels this year.

The Mitsubishi Outlander gets a long list of small changes for 2016 that add up to a big difference. It feels more refined and offers a better value on some trim levels this year.

Personally, I think it works perfectly. It’s a nice improvement.
Even more than the fresh styling, though, the Outlander was screaming for refinements to its ride and handling last year. For the most part, the changes deliver a nicely composed, surprisingly quiet ride.
A new suspension design and electric power steering make it feel lighter and more controlled. Thicker glass on the rear doors, better weather stripping and more sound insulation help to keep out the road, engine and wind noise. The overall impression is a vehicle that feels more up-to-date and sophisticated than before.
The interior gets a thorough refresh, including a new steering wheel, better seating materials and accent trim, and a standard digital display for its audio system.
Until it gets a new-generation design, though, it’s still got some drawbacks of the older model: tight rear seat space, only so-so gas mileage (25 city, 31 highway) and acceleration that feels hampered by its heft.
The base engine is a 2.4-liter four cylinder that makes 166 horsepower, barely enough for a 3,300-pound vehicle, but it also offers a rare V6 treat for a compact crossover. The 3.0-liter V6 offers a much more comfortable 224 horses, but it does so at the expense of gas mileage, dropping it down to 20 mpg in city driving with all-wheel drive.

New seating and trim materials, plus a standard digital display on the audio system, are noticeable improvements on the Outlander.

New seating and trim materials, plus a standard digital display on the audio system, are noticeable improvements on the Outlander.

Overall, the Outlander is aiming to offer a good value in the crossover market. It comes standard with automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and LED markers and taillights that make it look more upscale at night.
It’s also offering a lower price for its high-end safety features like forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
As a whole, the small changes add up to a big difference for the Outlander. It’s almost like a completely different vehicle now, with drastically improved road manners and refinements that keep it competitive in the hotly contested crossover market.

At a Glance

What was tested?
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL 2WD ($24,995). Options: SEL Touring Package ($5,250). Price as tested (including $850 destination charge): $31,095
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Length: 184.8 in.
Width: 71.3 in.
Height: 66.1 in.
Engine: 2.4-liter inline four cylinder (166 hp, 162 lb.-ft.)
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Mileage: 25 city, 31 highway

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

Video Review:
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander
bit.ly/16outlander

Why buy it?
It offers a noticeably quieter, more supple ride than before. Other improvements make it feel more refined both inside and out.

Posted in Mitsubishi

Reviews