Tag Archives: Car Review

Scion iA review

2016 Scion iA One Week Test Drive Review: A Great Value for Teen Drivers

I spent a week driving the 2016 Scion iA, a new model sedan that offers an incredible value for teen drivers and their families.  The iA is a new model for Scion for 2016, and offers several premium features as standard equipment.

Scion iA review

The 2016 Scion iA is available in one trim level, which includes a seven inch touchscreen display, an integrated rear view camera, two year no cost maintenance plan, 24 hour worry free roadside assistance, an advanced low speed collision warning and avoidance system, front and rear side curtain airbags, as well as hands free Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, all included in the no-haggle worry free starting price of $15,700. Available extras include a six speed automatic transmission, navigation capabilities for the center mounted seven inch touchscreen infotainment system, as well as a variety of storage solutions.

We are in the market for a car for Sebastian (he’ll be 17 years old this year) and the Scion iA is definitely a contender.   I want to know he’s driving a safe car and the Scion iA is an IIHS Top Safety pick AND has all the bells and whistles he’d like to have including Sirius XM, Bluetooth, and navigation.

Scion iA review
Under the hood, the 1.5 liter 106 horsepower four cylinder engine offers up to an EPA estimated 33 miles per gallon in typical city driving as well as 42 miles per gallon on the highway. On top of the included two year no cost maintenance plan, an additional 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty and 5 year/60,000 mi powertrain warranty provide further peace of mind against costly vehicle repairs.The Scion brand was created in 2003 to introduce entry level vehicles with premium features to the American market. While the Scion brand is being phased out at the end of 2016 to transition to Toyota, all Scion vehicles will be easily serviceable at your local Toyota service department.  The 2016 Scion iA competes with other subcompact cars including the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, and Toyota Yaris.

Scion iA review

The 2016 Scion iA offers an incredible, safe introduction to driving for your teen driver at an unbelievable value. Advanced safety features included standard on the 2016 Scion iA such as the low speed collision warning and avoidance system, side curtain airbags, advanced anti-lock brakes, and an electronic stability control system will keep your loved ones safe. The 2016 iA was rated a 2016 Top Safety Pick + by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and earned a ‘Good’ rating, the highest available, in all testing categories.

Purchasing a subcompact vehicle no longer means having to sacrifice on safety, premium features, or comfort. The 2016 Scion iA offers unbelievable value which its in-class competitors simply can not match. As a first car for your teen driver, as an efficient commuter vehicle, or as a city car, the 2016 Scion iA offers something for everyone in your family.
Some photos sourced from Scion.com

2015 Nissan Pathfinder SUV review

One Week Test Drive + Car Review: Nissan Pathfinder SUV

2015 Nissan Pathfinder SUV review

Tested Model: SV 4WD
MSRP: Base starts at $29,510
MPG: 20 City / 27 HWY
Engine as tested: 3.5L V6 4×4 CVT

Tested car reviewI drove a 2015 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4WD for one week, to St. Simons Island from Atlanta and back.  I spent many hours and drove many miles in the Pathfinder am sharing my  thoughts about the SUV here.  Upon delivery of the Pathfinder, I thought the SUV looks so different from previous Pathfinder models seen on the road.  The Pathfinder is no longer a boxy SUV but one with soft exterior curves and a more streamlined body style.  Once I took a seat in the SUV, nothing crossed my mind except how gorgeous it was.  Based on looks, I felt like I was sitting in a $60k SUV.

Nissan has made a number of small but meaningful upgrades to the Pathfinder for 2015.  It is a great 7 passenger SUV for families who need easy access for car seats and cargo. While it isn’t as sharp a handler as some other large crossovers, its powerful V6, smooth ride and relatively strong fuel economy make it a good choice for under $30,000 to start.

The Pathfinder has best-in-class total passenger volume, lots of cupholders and easy-to-clean fabric upholstery (leather is available at higher trim levels). It can tow a small boat and climbs large hills with ease, and is even available as a fuel-saving hybrid.

Interior Top Features for the Family

With 7 seats, enough third-row legroom for 6-foot adults, and an innovative second-row seat that can slide for easy access to the rear seating positions even when a child seat is installed, the Pathfinder earns high marks as a primary vehicle for large families. While the Pathfinder has the most total usable passenger volume of any vehicle in its class, its available cargo space does lag behind the class leaders at just 16 cubic feet behind the third row. Fold the second and third rows flat and you’ll find a generous 79.6 cubic feet.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder

Interestingly, Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio are not included as standard equipment here, and can’t be ordered at all on the base Pathfinder S, something that would keep me from purchasing the S.  Only the SL and above have streaming audio, though the SV gains easy access to hands-free calling, a feature that I use in whatever vehicle I’m driving, all the time.  You will find an easy-to-use navigation and infotainment system on the SV and Platinum or as optional equipment.  The navigation got me to St. Simons Island without a hitch and when I needed to find a gas station or drug store on route, finding the closest of either was never an issue.

Nissan also offers a robust in-car DVD entertainment system that parents and kids will both love, since it features independent controls for three different zones: the front dash screen for front-seat passengers, and two individual screens for the second and third rows on the headrests can each run independent video or gaming content.

Car Review - Nissan Pathfinder

Safety Ratings and Features

The 2015 Pathfinder comes equipped with six standard airbags, including side-curtain airbags above the doors that cover all three rows and have sensors to deploy automatically in the event of a rollover. Nissan’s 7 passenger crossover also earned five of five total stars in government crash testing, making it a strong choice for parents who care about safety more than anything else.

While the Pathfinder does offer Nissan’s patented AroundView 360-degree camera system for parking and tight maneuvers, the active safety aids like adaptive cruise control and lane-change assist you’ll find on some competitors are missing altogether here, even at the higher trim levels. One nifty feature is the Easy Fill Tire Alert system, which beeps the horn while adding air to the tires once the factory-recommended pressure level is reached.

Powertrains, Efficiency and Performance

While some other 7 seat crossovers come with available four-cylinder power, even the base Pathfinder S comes standard with Nissan’s refined VQ-Series V6. Here making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, the 3.5-liter port-injected engine comes mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that, for 2015, gains Nissan’s new D-Logic stepped-shift system to still save fuel while better mimicking the driving feel of a traditional automatic transmission.

Nissan Pathfinder CVT

Though the step up in price is not insignificant, the available Pathfinder Hybrid is a good choice for heavy drivers. Using an innovative 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder combined with an electric motor that’s sandwiched between the CVT transmission using a specially designed clutch, the hybrid sees a big jump in efficiency while sacrificing just 10 horsepower compared with the gas V6.

All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional for around $1,700 at each of the Pathfinder’s trim levels and on the hybrid. Selecting AWD allows the big Nissan to be a good choice for larger families in climates that see a lot of rain and snow. We live in Atlanta but last winter I sure wished I had an AWD vehicle.  With a 5,000-pound towing capacity and its strong V6, the Pathfinder will have no trouble with smaller boats or trailers.

The 4WD offers three modes of driver-selected options selected by a dial on the console.  The options are Front-wheel drive for maximum economy; automatic operation, which monitors conditions and feeds torque to all four wheels when necessary; or four-wheel-drive lock, which is selected by turning the dial and then depressing an integral button.

During my trip to St. Simons Island and back, about 700 miles today, my average MPG was 24.  The EPA rates the standard V6 Pathfinder’s fuel economy with FWD at a respectable, if not groundbreaking, 20 city and 27 highway mpg. Opting for AWD will see those numbers dip slightly to 19 city and 26 highway mpg. The Pathfinder Hybrid, however, fares significantly better and makes a strong case for its extra cost in the hands of those who do a ton of driving. EPA ratings come in as highway as 25 city and 28 highway mpg.

Pricing and Availability

The Pathfinder is competitively priced, though avoid the meagerly equipped base S trim unless cost of entry is your primary concern.

S (FWD): $29,510
S (AWD): $31,200
SV (FWD): $32,810
SV (AWD): $34,500
SL (FWD): $36,060
SL (AWD): $37,750
Platinum (FWD): $41,410
Platinum (AWD): $43,100

If you have questions about the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, ask in the comments below. I will do my best to answer!

Learn more about the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder on the Nissan website and call or visit your local Nissan dealer to test drive a Nissan Pathfinder with your family today!

Lexus LX 570 SUV review

One-Week Test Drive + Car Review: Lexus LX 570 SUV

Lexus LX 570 SUV review

MSRP: Standard LX V8 – $83,855
MSRP: Luxury LX V8 – $91, 469
MPG: 12 City / 17 Hwy
ENGINE: 90° V8 / TYPE 5.7 L / DISPLACEMENT 383 @ 5,600

The Lexus LX 570 SUV is a luxury SUV originally designed in the late 1990s.  Just as in the 90’s, the elegant, roomy interior of the LX 570 is sure to please your family – maybe as much as it did mine.   The Lexus LX 570 is designed as an off-road crossover vehicle, with a high ground clearance and a towing capacity of 7,000 pounds.   The LX is perfect for traveling on the interstate or traversing rugged terrain, something that we don’t have much of in our parts of Georgia, but I took the LX 570 up our local ‘mountain’ during which it performed beautifully – quietly and with ease.

Specialized safety features have been incorporated into the LX 570 SUV, making it appealing to parents in particular.

In today’s world, SUVs are becoming smaller and some even less durable.  The Lexus LX 570, however, does not follow this trend.   This SUV has maintained its large size, with capabilities that are the modern equivalent of those from 20 years ago.   Flashback – Do you remember when automatic locks were made available in cars and we didn’t have to push the lock down anymore?  Thinking back at the Volvo stationwagon I grew up with, I remember the manual locks so well I could probably draw it for you if I had the time.

Lexus LX 570 SUV Navigation

Source: Lexus.com

Moving on from flashbacks.. The 2015 Lexus LX has new technological features, including HD radio with iTunes tagging, a Navtraffic app to help the driver easily navigate through traffic and the specialized Siri Eyes-Free compatibility feature, allowing the user to connect his or her smartphone to the vehicle’s touchscreen control panel and operate it with Siri.

Because the LX seats eight, this vehicle is perfect for families. Safety features include a rearview camera, a must-have feature for any vehicle I drive, for use when backing up, 10 airbags and a pre-collision warning system. Many important features, such as audio and cell phone connectivity, can be controlled hands-free through Bluetooth. Additional features include: leather upholstery, mahogany wood trim, a 14-way power driver’s seat, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, the unique Lexus Enform infotainment system, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod and USB input ports, stability control and an Emergency Assistance feature that attempts to make contact with the driver after a serious accident and contacts emergency dispatchers if the driver fails to respond in a suitable manner.

Lexus LX 570 SUV review

One of the heaviest SUVs available, the Lexus LX handles very well compared to smaller SUVs.  The smooth ride is a result of an intricate three-mode suspension feature, a V8 383HP engine and 20-inch tires, making the ride as comfortable as possible for the occupants.  The Active Height Control System (X-AHC) and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system on the LX combine to automatically raise the vehicle’s height by up to three inches and allow greater wheel articulation to better accommodate rough conditions.   While we didn’t go offroading, the kids each got to lift the LX 570 a couple of times, providing them with excitement beyond what I imagined it could.   The specialized steering system provides optimum performance, giving the Lexus LX an agile and quick response. The very quiet cabin allows the owner of the Lexus to either fully enjoy music or to simply relax in the peaceful silence.

Unfortunately, the weight of this vehicle contributes to its emissions anything but green.  The miles per gallon are 12MPG in the city and 17MPG on the highway.

The kids will especially appreciate the rear-mounted TV screens on the back of the front seats – my kids loved them!  This feature helps keep children occupied during long drives, allowing you to focus on driving with minimal interruption. What a bonus! For families with smaller children, the cup holders provided for each occupant will be invaluable for holding toddlers’ beverages.

Lexus LX 570 Interior

The cargo space offered by the Lexus LX 570 is truly amazing. The staggering 83.1 cubic feet available ensures that you can take all the gear you need to for the next camping or road trip. Both of the rear rows of seats offer fully automatic fold features. The third row does not lie flat, but rather along the sides, allowing for the hauling of tents, luggage or other gear. While the legroom in the second row of seats is perfect for children as well as adults, the limited spacing in the third row could become uncomfortable for adults.

The Lexus LX 570 may be pricey, but the exclusive features of this luxury vehicle are well worth it. For many years, the Cadillac Escalade was the pinnacle of luxury SUVs, but the latest version of the Lexus LX is quickly moving up the charts.

If you have any questions about the Lexus LX 570, ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Contact your local Lexus dealer to schedule a test drive with your family today!

One-Week Test Drive + Car Review: 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Family Car Review - Test Drive

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport review

MSRP: Starting at $24,950
MPG: 20 City / 27 Hwy
ENGINE: 190-hp 2.4L GDI 4-cylinder engine

The first vehicle I purchased after my car accident 14 years ago was a Hyundai Santa Fe, a 2001 I believe.  I loved the sleek but curvy, and then feminine, look of the SUV and the price was appealing too.  My Santa Fe had all the bells and whistles without the cost normally associated with such features as heated seats, adjustable gas pedal, leather, and a sunroof.  The warranty was great too.

Fast forward about 13 years – I test drove a 2015 Hyundai Sante Fe for a week, bringing back memories and making me wonder why I ever traded it in for a minivan, which I transitioned away from in the last two weeks by the way, after a few years of owning my Santa Fe.  During our test drive, we took a quick trip – 3.5 hours actually, to Nashville, TN to stay at Opryland for a couple of nights.  What a nice ride for a road trip!  The kids were comfortable, I was comfortable, the navigation got us there without a hitch and even kept me informed of the current speed limit the entire time, and the audio system with XM radio made sure we were entertained for the drive.

My husband and I appreciated Hyundai’s impressive suite of available BlueLink features which include speed limit and even curfew alerts and geo-fencing to help keep new teen drivers safely accountable.  I will tell you about my new car soon, but if I had opted for a SUV instead of a sedan (gasp!), I would have purchased the Hyundai Santa Fe. That’s how much I love it.  Available extras like heated second-row seats, ventilated front seats, integrated rear sunshades and a massive panoramic sunroof are just a few features that make the Santa Fe Cars.com’s Family Car of the Year!

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2015 Navigation System

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Overview

The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a smooth-riding and spacious compact crossover SUV that appeals to families because of its high safety scores, its generous safety and comfort features relative to an affordable base price, compelling advanced technology options at the higher trim levels, and the industry’s best factory warranty.

With space for five passengers including enough room for full-sized adults in the rear outboard seating positions, the Santa Fe Sport also packs up to 71.5 cubic feet of cargo space, or enough room for an extended vacation’s worth of gear for a family of five.

The 2015 Santa Fe Sport is available in two basic trim levels, each most prominently differentiated by its standard engine. The entry-level base trim features a 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine with 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, which comes paired to a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is available as an extra-cost option. The EPA rates the naturally aspirated four-cylinder at 20 city and 27 highway mpg with front-wheel drive, dropping slightly to 19 city and 25 highway mpg when equipped with AWD. Those who do a lot of driving should note that these efficiency ratings are well behind other similarly priced compact crossovers.

Stepping up to the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T model brings with it a direct-injected and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder outputting 264 horsepower and 269 lb-ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and FWD are once again standard, while AWD is optional. Those who can afford a moderate step up in price from the base model would do well to consider the 2.0T, as its power is impressive for the class and its EPA mpg ratings fall just slightly from the 2.4-liter.  The EPA rates the 2.0T at 19 city and 27 highway mpg with FWD or 18 city and 24 highway mpg with AWD.

Hyundai Santa Fe Features

Hyundai Santa Fe Models & Features

Introduced as a completely redesigned vehicle just 2 years ago for the 2013 model year, the Santa Fe Sport gains a number of welcome new features for 2015. Daytime running lights are now standard, as is a two-tone grille and a driver’s blind-spot mirror. Hyundai also revamped the crossover SUV’s steering system for better control and road feel, and the optional equipment packages gain a number of cutting-edge tech features.

Rather than offering the SUV in a large array of trim levels, the Santa Fe Sport is available in just two, differentiated by their engines, while extra features are grouped into option packages. Standard on the base crossover are 17-inch wheels, LED headlamp accents, Bluetooth phone and audio sourcing options, a 40-20-40 split-folding rear seatback, and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio. Some option features include automatic headlights, foglamps, a 4.3-inch in dash touchscreen – an 8-inch unit is also available with the top-tier Technology Package – and Hyundai’s Blue Link emergency telematics system.

The 2.0T gains more standard features such as 18-inch wheels and a power rear liftgate, plus most of the options from the base model as standard equipment. Available only on the 2.0T, the Ultimate Package brings the primary contents from the lower-tier model’s Technology Package, plus 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights and a 12-speaker premium audio system.

Like all of Hyundai’s product lineup, standard features are quite generous for the crossover SUV’s price point. While base pricing is right around that of the top Japanese offerings, your out-the-door price will likely be considerably lower after considering the fact that less of the features you really want come at an extra cost.

Hyundai Santa Fe Interior


Hyundai Sante Fe Sport Safety

The Santa Fe Sport earns high marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning the highest possible rating of “Good” in all categories for a Top Safety Pick Plus award. Seven airbags, including side-curtain and driver’s knee airbags, come standard at all trim levels. Traction, stability and hill descent control systems are also standard. A rearview camera and a blind-spot monitoring system are optional on the base model, coming standard on the upscale 2.0T.

Parents with teenage kids will also appreciate Hyundai’s system of limiting functionality when lending the vehicle to new drivers. Using the car’s infotainment system, parents can set limits on speed and geolocation. The system even has the power to create driving curfews.

The Santa Fe Sport is a true standout for its strong crash test ratings, space, and available safety features, most of which do not cost extra. That said, its unimpressive fuel efficiency is a significant drawback that needs to be considered by buyers who do a ton of driving.

If you have a question about the Santa Fe, ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer based on my 1-week test drive.

Visit your local Hyundai Dealership to test drive a Hyundai Santa Fe with your family today!