No Mazda2 Planned for the US Market

2016 Mazda CX-3

Lack of consumer demand for the smallest of all cars is due in large part to low gas prices. As a result, no Mazda2 model is planned for the US market. Meanwhile, an all-new CX-3 crossover arrives this fall.

The smallest of all cars sold in the US occupy the A- and B-Segments, respectively. Also known as mini cars and subcompacts, these two segments have long suffered from tepid demand, due in large part to consumer interest in anything larger, beginning with compact models of all kinds — sedans, hatchbacks and crossovers.

Over the past year, low gas prices have also contributed to a shift away from A-Segment and B-Segment models. Moreover, for those consumers still placing a priority on fuel efficiency, models such as Chevrolet Cruze Eco are getting 42 mpg on the highway, offering more interior room and a wider selection of amenities in the process. Quite frankly, there is little reason for consumers to shop at the bottom end of the market.

Mazda2: Four-Year Model Run

Mazda, long a leader in small car innovation and fuel economy, no longer offers a car smaller than the Mazda3 in the US. Its previous Mazda2 model, introduced in 2011, had a four-year run before it was canceled following the 2014 model year. Mazda2 US sales came in at just 13,615 units in 2014, up 15.8 percent over the previous year, but well below the near 105,000 units for the compact Mazda3 line.

Last July, Mazda took the wraps off of the fourth-generation Mazda2, a model based on the Hazumi concept shown at the Geneva Motor Show the previous March. Notably, the Mazda2 is the best-selling car in Japan and has found its way into 2.4 million homes since its 1996 introduction.

2016 Mazda CX-3

Plans to bring the new model — built in Salamanca, Mexico — to the United States have been canceled, according to a story published in Automotive News over the weekend. The publication spoke with Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda’s US operations about its plans. Davis explained that the combination of low gas prices and weak demand will keep the Mazda2 out of the US market, although it will be sold in Puerto Rico. That means the PR-bound model complies with the same environmental and safety standards required in the states. Theoretically, Mazda could change its mind and import its smallest model to the continental US in short order.

Strong Global Demand

Another matter is also playing out — global demand for the Mazda2. Whereas the Mazda2 is receiving scant interest in the US, consumers elsewhere are drawn to it. Indeed, instead of diverting much-needed inventory to the US, Mazda can fulfill strong demand for its smallest product elsewhere.

American consumers fixated on the latest generation Mazda2 don’t have to go to Puerto Rico to buy one. A four-door hatchback, badged as a Scion iA, will hit the market this September. It represents just one part of an expanding agreement between Toyota and Mazda whereby the two Japanese automakers are collaborating on a number of projects, including engines and transmissions.

Mazda CX-3 Crossover

Despite the paucity of interest in its smallest model, Mazda is going with another type of vehicle — a subcompact crossover utility vehicle — to expand its US product lineup. That model is the five-passenger Mazda CX-3, based on the Mazda2 platform and advancing the same KODO-Soul of Motion design language of four other Mazda models, including the CX-5 compact CUV.

Available this fall, the CX-3 arrives just as the segment is gaining strength, a model that will compete with the Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V for customers. Notwithstanding its small size, the Mazda CX-3 offers the high profile and roomy cabin evidential in this emerging segment and a more profitable price point for that. Thus, instead of placing a slow-selling model such as the Mazda2 in dealer showrooms, Mazda has chosen a more profitable vehicle line that dealers should have little trouble selling.

See Also — Juked: 2016 Mazda CX-3

Photos courtesy of Mazda Motors.

First Generation Chevrolet Volt Clogs Dealer Lots

2015 Chevrolet Volt

Car-buying consumers continue to make the shift to heavier and less fuel efficient pickup trucks and crossover utility vehicles. As demand for veers to other body styles, both traditional and electric sedans and hatchbacks falls. The Chevrolet Volt is one such EV that consumers have left in the dust.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt arrives this fall.

Summer is typically the season for stepped-up new vehicle discounts, especially for departing models that are being canceled or replaced with the next generation version. The Chevrolet Volt occupies the latter category, a gas-electric hybrid entering its second generation this fall.

Bloated Volt Inventories

Inventories for the first-generation Volt are swollen, with more than 6,000 2014 and 2015 model year vehicles on dealer lots, according to the Detroit Free Press. That number would be manageable if it were the midsize Malibu or compact Cruze sedans, but the figure represents one-third of the Volt’s 18,805 sales in 2014 or four months of inventory.

A 120-day inventory supply is long for any vehicle, but could prove downright catastrophic for EVs, such as the Chevrolet Volt.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

First generation Chevrolet Volts are languishing on dealer lots.

Incentives and Tax Credits

The 2015 edition retails from $34,170, a price that includes $1,000 cash back. However, TrueCar has pegged the average price for the Volt at $31,588. And that’s before a $7,500 federal tax credit and whatever state incentives may be available are taken.

By the same token, most Volts are leased. Specifically, rates of $249 per month for 39 months with $500 down or no money down for conquest shoppers (customers who currently own non-GM vehicles) are available in some markets, such as in northern New Jersey. That being said, the deal covers just 32,500 miles over the span of the lease or just 833 miles per month. Push past that mileage threshold and you will pay 25 cents for each mile.

2015 Chevrolet Volt

Consumers in select markets can get a great lease deal on a 2015 Chevrolet Volt.

Lower Fuel Prices and an Improved Model

Several auto trends are conspiring to suppress Volt sales. Besides it higher base price compared with conventional models, fuel prices are the lowest we have seen in more than five years. A recent price boost above $2.50 per gallon in most markets to about $3.00 per gallon elsewhere could renew interest in the Volt and other EVs. Yet, new vehicle shoppers continue to make the shift to less efficient trucks and utility vehicles, while demand for all sedans — conventional and otherwise — falls.

Another factor is the 2016 Chevrolet Volt itself. The new version offers several improvements over the departing model, including a longer electric-only range (50 miles over the current 38 miles); a lighter battery, what allows for a three-seat row in the rear instead of the previous two; and an improved dashboard interface. Moreover, GM may be undercutting the first-generation Volt, by dangling its upcoming model in front of prospective shoppers.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

In two states, Chevrolet is offering extended financing on 2014 Volts.

EPA Fuel Economy Mandates

Critics are pointing to higher prices, swollen inventories and a shift in consumer preferences among the reasons why the Volt’s year-to-date sales are down 46.1 percent through April, numbering just 2,779 units sold. Some also are openly questioning GM’s decision to proceed with the Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric vehicle that comes to the market in 2016.

That being said, GM is responding in much the same way as other manufacturers are when faced with a federal regulatory environment requiring all automakers to attain a 54.5 mpg fleet average in 2025. Thus, it is only through an assortment of electric vehicles that car companies will meet those goals. And unless gas eventually reaches $5 per gallon, that mandate will collapse and a number of EV schemes may wither with it.

See Also — Give Me a Chevrolet “B” as in Bolt

Chevrolet Volt photos courtesy of GM.

Like a Rock: Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado offers rock solid performance with three new engines to show for it. The Silverado is the type of truck is fit for both work and family with three cabin choices available.

Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet and its GMC consort provide the only compilation of heavy-duty, full-size and midsize pickup trucks in the industry. While Ford is chasing aluminum in a bid to reduce weight and increase fuel mileage, General Motors is staying the course with its steel trucks. And not that the company had much choice: the 2014 model year marked the onset of the current generation of its large trucks — GM’s plans were thoroughly in place when Ford announced its initiative. Thus, it will be another four or five years before GM can make a change.

Is GM worried about Ford’s supposed engineering edge? No one is quite certain, although the automaker is not showing concern. And why should they? Demand for both brands is strong as lower gas prices and a broad number of models have coalesced to help GM outdistance Ford as the largest constructor of passenger trucks.

Rear-Wheel Drive Tester

I’ve had the pleasure of driving an assortment of GMC and Chevrolet pickup trucks over the past year, including the new midsize twins. A Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Double Cab was a recent weekly driver and it delivered the one thing that had been absent to date: a 4×2 or rear-wheel drive configuration. In the test model I didn’t mind the extra doors as it gave me extra interior storage space with the rear seat folded up.

As for the generational transmutation between the current and the previous truck, GM played it relatively safe by carefully modernizing the design, updating the sheet metal, overhauling the engine and introducing the third generation of its large pickup truck engines.

Chevrolet Silverado

The two smaller engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission while the largest V-8 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. And for the first time cylinder deactivation comes to the V-6, what shuts down two of the cylinders in certain driving conditions. In doing so, the top fuel mileage for the Chevrolet Silverado is now pegged at 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

In effect, GM chose engine finagling over aluminum engineering to nearly match Ford’s turbocharged V-6, coming in at just 2 mpg under. As for Ford’s naturally aspirated V-6, the Silverado’s fuel economy is dead even.

However, fuel economy is not the concern that it is in 2015 as it was more than a year earlier when prices were averaging a dollar or more per gallon higher than they are today. What’s big on a full size pickup truck owner’s list is payload and towing. The V-6’s payload is 1,800 pounds and its standard towing is 5,600 pounds (7,100 with the 4×4). With trailering packages for the V-8 engines, maximum towing passes 11,000 pounds.

Chevrolet Silverado

Three EcoTec3 Engines

GM’s EcoTec3 engines — the 4.3-liter V-6 (285 horsepower and 305 foot-pounds of torque), a 5.3-liter V-8 (355 horsepower and 383 foot-pounds of torque) and a 6.2-liter V-8 (420 horsepower and 460 foot-pounds of torque) come with two other features besides cylinder deactivation: direct injection and variable valve lift technology. Furthermore, the powertrain trio are outfitted with an advanced combustion system, ideal when trailering on a hot day — GM says the engines “reduce the need to trim back spark advance to control detonation,” what typically happens when towing on a hot day. In addition, emission output has been reduced.

Typical for this class is that you can order a Silverado in regular, extended (Double) and crew cab editions. Notably, there is an important distinction between the extended Silverado and the extended F-150. Whereas the Chevrolet has front-hinged, rear doors you get rear-hinged doors with the Ford. However, with the Ford, you must open the front door to get to the back door, an extra step the Chevrolet eliminates.

On the negative side, both extended cab models are tight getting in and out and lack sufficient leg room. If you have a work crew, invest in the crew cab.

Chevrolet Silverado

Exterior Demeanor

Pickup trucks are among the largest passenger vehicles on the planet and they look it. The Chevrolet Silverado is marked by a substantial, horizontal chrome grille flanked by stacked headlamps over a chrome bumper. A generously proportioned lower grille opening is present.

A muscular hood gives way to strong shoulders, slab siding and wheel well character lines. At the rear is a lift and fold tailgate. Access is provided by way of the corner step bumpers on either side. The Double Cab is outfitted with a six-foot-six-inch box, the crew cab has a 5-foot-eight-inch box; an eight-foot box is standard with the regular cab.

Interior Design

It is nearly impossible to convey the number of trim levels, package options and other permutations that Chevrolet offers with its Silverado line. For the most part, those differences pertain to audio, navigation and seating arrangements — the bones are essentially the same.

Notwithstanding some differences, the Double Cab 4×2 has a roomy front cabin, tight rear quarters and lots of plastic. That plastic is of both the softened and hardened varieties. It covers the dashboard, surrounds the instrument panel and center stack, and is found on the doors and door handles.

Padded material covers the armrests and door inlays and the seats are covered in stitched cloth. Even the steering wheel is polyurethane. Rubberized vinyl floor coverings are included.

All Silverado models come equipped with remote keyless entry, a tilt steering wheel, power accessories, air conditioning and cruise control. The instrument panel is a six-analog layout with large tachometer and speedometer readings flanking a digital driver information center. At the top of the panel are battery, radiator, fuel and oil gauges.

Chevrolet Silverado

So, the center stack is the preeminent focal point of today’s vehicles, right? It is that way in the Silverado too. But you will have to pay for it. Indeed, a 4.2-inch color display is included — tiny by today’s standards —and it does include a three-month SiriusXM satellite trial subscription. Navigation is extra and there is no backup camera — a feature that will be universally applied to US-spec vehicles beginning in 2016.

Beneath the display are knobs and buttons for the audio system with additional knobs and buttons for climate control below that. Two big switches for disconnecting traction control and activating the box light are also present. At the base of the stack is a storage compartment and a 12-volt outlet.

To the left of the steering wheel is where you would find the controls for the 4×4 models. To the far right is a two compartment glove box. Up above is sunglasses storage and reading lights. All four doors come with bottle holders and storage cubbies.


2015 Chevrolet Colorado

View manufacturer details and pricing


Seating For Six

The Silverado Double Cab was the first pickup truck I’ve driven with six seating positions. Surely, you get the requisite bucket seats up front, but you also get a flip up middle seat that doubles as a storage compartment. Let’s just say that this particular seat position should only be used in a pinch. And that means for short drives and with an equally short passenger. Leave the compartment in place and you get three cup holders, storage nooks, a place to hold your cell phone, two USB ports, an auxiliary input port and a 12-volt outlet.

Consider the rear seat sufficient for holding three people, but with a few caveats: legroom comes at a premium and the seat is much too thinly padded to be considered comfortable. So, instead, I drove around with the seat folded up most of the time, enjoying the sizable interior storage space gained.

The driver’s seat is supportive and manually operated — you must upgrade to get the power-operated seats.

Chevrolet Silverado

A Proven Workhorse

As tested, the media fleet special was priced from $31,940 and added several packages including the smallest of the V-8 engines ($1,095). A custom wheel package ($1,290) brought in 20-inch silver painted aluminum wheels and chrome embellishments. Other options included a stunning deep ocean blue metallic finish ($495), a spray-on liner ($475) and a trailer package with auto locking rear differential ($770). With discounting included, the final price came in at $35,660.

Initially I had thought that I was getting the V-6 engine and had hoped as much, knowing that its near 50 percent boost in performance has made it a worthy power plant. So worthy that it no longer is consigned to base work trucks as it is now available across the Silverado line.

The small-block V-8 is a proven workhorse and likely the powertrain of choice for most Silverado shoppers. While one of Chevrolet’s competitors is resorting to turbocharging to gain some much desired boost, the V-8 is naturally-aspirated and delivers the required performance. Pairing it with an 8-speed automatic would extend its usefulness and give this truck an optimum combination of performance and efficiency. Altogether you get what you need and for pickup truck buyers that amounts to everything.

If there is a particular deficiency with the Silverado line it would have nothing to do with light weighting, but everything to do with a diesel option. Presently, only a turbo-diesel is available with the heavy-duty trucks. At this instant, Ram has a turbo-diesel and beginning in 2016 the Nissan Titan will gain one too. Its an option that is not all that important when fuel prices are relatively low, but when the competition heats up and gas prices with it, diesel power is advantageous.



2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Double Cab 4×2

  • Sticker price from $31,940
  • Price as tested: $35,660
  • Seats 6 occupants
  • 5.3-liter 16-valve V-8 gasoline engine
  • 355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
  • 383 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,100 rpm
  • 3.78 inches bore by 3.62 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 11.0-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 143.5 inches
  • Length: 230 inches
  • Width: 80 inches
  • Height: 74.2 inches
  • Passenger volume: NR
  • Storage volume: 61 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: 5,600 pounds (11,000 pounds with trailering package)
  • EPA: 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline required
  • Fuel tank: 26 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 5,073 pounds
  • NHTSA safety rating: Five stars
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/100,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 6 years/100,000 miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Wentzville, Missouri

More Car Reviews

Upmarket Sedan: 2015 Hyundai Azera

Aluminum Tough: 2015 Ford F-150

GMC Sierra Denali: The Peak of Pickup Truck Living

Contemporary American Graffiti: 2015 Ford Mustang GT

Recalibrated SUV: 2015 Ford Expedition

Make it Five: Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country

GMC Canyon: Smaller Truck Big Amenities


2015 Chevrolet Silverado photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.


Takata Recalls to Pace Yet Another Record Year

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 6.47.40 PM

With tens of millions of vehicles under recall for replacement air bags, other recalls may get buried. Millions of other models are also under recall for an assortment of mechanical and software problems.

Takata is in the process of working with 11 car manufacturers to recall 33.8 million vehicles in the United States, representing nearly 1 in 7 registered vehicles. That staggering number will most likely push this year’s recalls above the 60 million vehicles recalled last year, a record.

As important as the Takata air bag recall is, there are a number of other recalls that have been recently announced or are currently in progress. Thus, Auto Trends is presenting a sampling of some of the more noteworthy recalls for 2015:

Lincoln MKZ

The Lincoln MKZ & Ford Fusion are under a recall.

Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ — Certain 2013, 2014 and 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ models manufactured earlier this year and Ford Edge models manufactured in late February are being recalled. Ford says that more than 487,000 models may have a steering problem affected by corrosion that could cause the steering gear motor to separate from the gear housing, increasing the risk of a crash.

Kia Soul — Owners of certain 2014 and 2015 Kia Souls and Soul EVs should have their vehicles checked for potential gas pedal breakage. About one dozen pedals have fractured, leading Kia to recall nearly 209,000 vehicles to install rubber supports underneath the pedal.

Volkswagen Jetta — At the beginning of the year, Volkswagen announced a recall involving approximately 50,000 2015 Jetta vehicles. The recall addresses a potential problem involving the halogen headlights. Specifically, software within the control module may shut down the low-beam headlights when the high beams are activated. The problem could affect the driver’s vision, leading to a crash.

GMC Canyon Recall

Under Recall: GMC Canyon

Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — Owners of certain 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks are being alerted to a problem affecting the driver’s and front passenger seat. Nearly 50,000 vehicles are being recalled to inspect the seat-frame attachment hooks to ensure that they are secured properly. If not anchored properly, the affected parts will be replaced.

Hyundai Elantra — More than 200,000 Hyundai Elantra sedans covering the 2008 to 2010 model years and Elantra Touring hatchbacks for the 2009 and 2010 model years are being recalled. Hyundai has identified a flaw in the vehicles’ electronic power steering system, what could affect steering performance. In essence, the affected models may perform in manual steering mode, requiring greater driver effort. No accidents have been reported related to this problem.

Toyota Camry recall.

Select Camry & Camry Hybrid models are being recalled.

Toyota RAV4 and Other Models — More than 112,000 Toyota vehicles are being recalled to address various problems. The RAV4 EV may have a software issue that could cause these vehicles to shift into neutral, increasing the risk of a crash. Other vehicles, including select 2015 Camry, Camry Hybrid, Highlander and Highlander Hybrid vehicles may have damaged electric power steering circuit boards.

Chrysler Minivans, Dodge Journey Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling more than 700,000 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 model years. They are also recalling 2009 and 2010 Dodge Journey utility vehicles. The issue for these vehicles has to do with the ignition key — what could shut the car off under certain conditions. As part of that recall, FCA is urging owners to remove extra keys from the key rings to prevent the vehicles from accidentally turning off, leading to a loss of control.

Recalls and Procedures

If your vehicle has been mentioned in any of the above listed recalls, contact your dealer to have it repaired. For everyone else, you can check whether your vehicle is under recall by first writing down your vehicle identification number (VIN) found on the dashboard. It also appears on your registration card.

Next, visit the NHTSA’s Safercar.gov website. Specifically, click here to be taken to a page where you can enter your VIN to find out if your vehicle has been recalled. The website covers recalls conducted over the past 15 calendar years.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 6.47.40 PM

Following that, contact any dealer for your manufacturer to schedule an appointment. The manufacturer will pay for repairs. You should also ask your dealer or the car manufacturer for a loaner vehicle as you wait for repairs to be completed.

Notably, signing up immediately for recall service will ensure that your name is on the list. When the parts become available, you will be notified. Finally, if your car is currently “in the clear” check back again periodically. When tens of millions of cars currently under recall, your vehicle may eventually find be listed.

Related Recalls and News

Make That 34 Million Takata Air Bag Recalls

NHTSA Recall Action Targets Rental Car Companies and Used Car Dealers

NHTSA Tells Takata to Order a National Recall

Killed by Takata; Denied Access by the NHTSA

Make That 34 Million Takata Air Bag Recalls

At the behest of the DOT, automotive supplier Takata will double its previous air bag recall initiative. The move will affect more consumers than any other recall ever conducted in the United States.

The US Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that air bag manufacturer Takata has acknowledged that its air bag inflators are defective. The move, following the department’s insistence, expands the earlier recalls to now include almost 34 million vehicles.

To date, six deaths worldwide have been blamed due to the defective air bags — what might explode when deployed. The move will affect certain types of driver and side passenger air bags.

Takata Consent Order

NHTSA TakataU.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx made the announcement at a news conference in the District of Columbia. At the conference Foxx explained that the DOT had issued a Consent Order to Takata, a move which requires the Japanese supplier to cooperate in all future regulatory actions as undertaken by the NHTSA. A formal legal process to expedite the replacement of defective parts will also begin shortly.

“Today is a major step forward for public safety,” Secretary Foxx said. “The Department of Transportation is taking the proactive steps necessary to ensure that defective inflators are replaced with safe ones as quickly as possible, and that the highest risks are addressed first. We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced.”

Affected Vehicles

Affected by the recall are approximately 34 million vehicles. The latest recall more than doubles the 16 million vehicles recalled earlier, previously limited to areas where humidity levels are the highest. The expanded recall brings in the remaining affected vehicles. However, the recalls will be prioritized based on risk with older models and certain geographic areas given precedence.

“From the very beginning, our goal has been simple: a safe air bag in every vehicle,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “The steps we’re taking today represent significant progress toward that goal. We all know that there is more work to do, for NHTSA, for the automakers, for parts suppliers, and for consumers. But we are determined to get to our goal as rapidly as possible.”

Updated Web Section

Along with its recall announcement, the DOT announced a new section on its website dedicated with providing updates for this and other top priority recalls: www.SaferCar.gov/RecallsSpotlight.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working with car manufacturers to obtain a comprehensive list of affected vehicles. Once the information has been obtained, the NHTSA plans to update the new section to provide the citizenry with instructions on what to do next.

In all, there are now 11 manufacturers who must work with Takata to recall their vehicles. Daimler Trucks was just added as Takata says that it has supplied air bags for a few hundred vehicles. The other manufacturers affected by the recall are: BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

Two Year Recall Process

So far, Takata has not been able to keep up with demand for replacement air bags. The company has expanded its production capacity and even some of the company’s competitors have been inducted in the replacement process. As it stands now, it could take at least two years before every one of the tens of millions of defective air bags are replaced.

Besides the 33.8 million air bags in US vehicles, another 20 million vehicles worldwide with Takata air bags installed are also affected. Further, a US Justice Department probe continues, a criminal investigation that found three Takata executives guilty for conspiring to fix prices of seat belts installed in cars sold in America states The Detroit News.

Largest Recall Ever

With the expanded recall, Takata will now have the dubious record of having the largest recall of its kind ever conducted within the United States. In 1982, Johnson & Johnson recalled 31 million bottles of its Tylenol pain killer after seven people in the Chicago area died after taking cyanide-laced capsules of Extra-Strength Tylenol.

Among automotive manufacturers, the single largest recall until now was one conducted by the Ford Motor Company in 1980 covering 21 million vehicles across 10 model years. That recall was for transmissions that slipped from park into reverse and may have claimed as many as 100 lives. Ford’s fix was to place a warning sticker on the dashboard.

Related Recall News

NHTSA Recall Action Targets Rental Car Companies and Used Car Dealers

NHTSA Tells Takata to Order a National Recall

Killed by Takata; Denied Access by the NHTSA

Ford Brings its EcoBoost Challenge to the Masses

EcoBoost Challenge Shiftphobia
EcoBoost Challenge Tour

Raleigh was just one of the 17 stops
on this year’s EcoBoost Challenge tour.

The Ford Motor Company has a certain technology that it wants potential customers to know about. Called EcoBoost, it is all about enhancing engine performance, by adding direct fuel injection, turbochargers and variable valve technology to the affected engines. The result is more power squeezed from a smaller footprint, boosting fuel economy while reducing emissions.

Widespread EcoBoost Implementation

First introduced in 2009, the EcoBoost trademark has found its way into more than 6 million new vehicles. From a 3.5-liter V-6 engine all the way down to a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder, nearly every Ford product sold today has at least one such motor in the fleet.

However, the Ford Motor Company is not satisfied that people know or even appreciate what EcoBoost does. That’s why for the third consecutive year it has conducted clinics across the country — what’s known as the “EcoBoost Challenge” — in a bid to allow people to drive a variety of Ford products.

This year’s event, a 17-city tour, traveled through my area — Raleigh, NC — so I took up the media side of the challenge to see what it was all about. That means a handful of media were on hand the day before the public had its own chance of participating.

EcoBoost Challenge

Fiesta ST & Focus ST are both in this year’s challenge.

EcoBoost Challenge Road Show

The EcoBoost Challenge is a free event and typically located in a parking lot of a large arena. At the PNC Arena in Raleigh, Ford set up several sections for test driving and included drag racing, slalom and standard driving courses. On hand were the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, the 2.3-liter Mustang, Fusion, Transit Connect, Edge, F-150 and Expedition. A 2016 Ford Explorer, the next generation of this popular crossover utility vehicle, was present for display purposes only.

Besides permitting people to test drive the fleet, Ford demonstrated its automatic parking system, what now includes perpendicular parking assist. And for those people who may be skittish about driving a stick shift model, Ford even provided a “Shiftphobia” clinic to teach them how to get the job done.

This writer drove both the Fiesta ST and Focus ST, then got behind the wheel of a Fusion before tackling the Transit Connect. Saved for last was the Mustang, the first forced induction engine to power this pony car. That drive came just three weeks after a Mustang GT departed the media fleet. The added power was welcome, but the naturally-aspired six- or eight-cylinder engines shouldn’t be easily dismissed.

EcoBoost Challenge Shiftphobia

Ford is doing its part to keep manual shifting alive
by providing a Shiftphobia clinic for wannabe drivers.

Potential Conquest Sales

EcoBoost represents a significant investment, even a risk for Ford, as turbocharger reliability concerns are valid. Turbochargers sometimes prove troublesome with outright failure a possibility. Some analysts, including Consumer Reports, aren’t impressed by the power or the fuel economy that such engines deliver. However, few people dismiss the low to mid rpm torque boost that such engines deliver. Furthermore, Ford has avoided the recall issues with its EcoBoost line and that’s a good indicator of its reliability.

From a marketing standpoint, Ford told Auto Trends that it is satisfied with the turn out it is seeing at this year’s EcoBoost Challenge, with more than 1,300 people showing up at Chicago and 750 registered in Raleigh. Of major importance is that Ford claims that 70 percent of the participants are not Ford owners, giving the company a chance to reach new customers.

Fortunately for those customers, no salespeople were on hand — contractors and Ford Motor Company were in attendance, but dealers were not included. Certainly, salespeople may yet follow up, but allowing people to get behind the wheel of a broad variety of Ford vehicles without sales pressure is too good of an opportunity for many people to pass up.

2016 Ford Explorer

The 2016 Ford Explorer.

To find out where the EcoBoost Challenge is traveling, check out EcoBoostDrive.com for those details.

See Also At a Glance: 2.7-Liter Ford EcoBoost Engine

Sixth Generation Chevrolet Camaro Pulls Out All Stops

GM bypassed the customary auto show venue to debut the sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro. The new model has sharper lines, updated powertrain choices and a more modern cabin.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

The Chevrolet Camaro is back in the hunt. Just one year after Ford threw the gauntlet down with its 50th anniversary Mustang revision, Chevrolet picked it up and has raised the power bar too. In the 2016 Camaro, Chevrolet not only matches the Mustang’s line of four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines, but does so by offering six new powertrain combinations.

The three engine choices include a 275-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; an all-new, 335-horsepower 3.6-liter, V-6 engine; and a 6.2-liter, V-8 engine making 455 horsepower and 455 foot-pounds of torque. All three engines come paired with a TREMEC 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic transmission.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Sixth Generation Chevrolet Camaro Inauguration

The sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro, debuting this fall, is a clean sheet update with only the Chevrolet emblem and SS badge carrying over. The new model weighs 200 pounds less than the outgoing Camaro, has improved sight lines and advances an even more aggressive stance.

The turbocharged four will provide the best combination of performance and fuel economy. GM says that its gas mileage will be north of 30 mpg on the highway. Meanwhile, its 0 to 60 mph time will come in under six seconds.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

The naturally-aspirated V-6 raises performance to the highest level seen in a modern six-cylinder engine thanks to direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing. Moreover, active fuel management — representing technology that shuts down half the cylinders when traveling at constant speeds, such as on the highway — is included for the first time.

But it is the crowning model in the Camaro’s line up that will have people wanting more. Indeed, the Camaro SS relies on an updated version of the small-block, 6.2-liter V-8 it has utilized in the past, what has been better optimized to produce more power than ever. Furthermore, the Camaro SS will offer improved handling performance, augmented by an available magnetic ride control active suspension system, an SS first. Previously, only the Camaro ZL1 offered it.

Rubber, Technology and a Drive Mode Selector

All 2016 Camaros will be outfitted with Goodyear rubber — 18-inch Eagle Sport all-season tires or available 20-inch Eagle F1 asymmetric all-season tires. The Camaro SS will feature standard 20-inch aluminum wheels and Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 run-flat tires. Brembo brakes will be available across the model line and standard with the SS.

Technology will play an even more important role in advancing the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. Even more, is how those technologies will improve the driving experience.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

For example, the Camaro will get an all-new drive mode selector: Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and – on SS models – Track settings. That’s something the 2015 Mustang rolled out and Chevrolet has responded to in kind.

Ambient lighting is a big deal in today’s cars and the Camaro will have 24 different lighting effects that will be revealed in the center console, the door panels and on the dashboard. Configurable color displays, in high-definition, will be available in the form of dual 8-inch-diagonal screens.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Lighter, Shorter and Narrower Layout

GM promised a lighter and leaner Camaro and they are making good on that promise. The new model is underpinned by the same platform powering the Cadillac ATS, with a more sculptured body. The upper grille is narrower, the lower grille broader, and the fog lamp recesses are sportier. The hood has fresh character lines with vent scoops included with the SS.

The sixth generation Camaro not only loses some weight, but it measures 1.6 inches shorter between the wheels and 2.3 inches overall. The 2016 edition is also about one inch narrower and its height comes in 1.1 inches lower.

More distinctive profile character lines, including sculptured rocker panel lines are present. The rear deck sits slightly higher and has a more furrowed look with a new rear diffuser and dual exhaust tips. Moreover, updated signature LED lighting treatments represent additional distinctives.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

The Bottom Line

The sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro comes in leaner and meaner than its predecessor and will offer stiff competition to the Ford Mustang. Both models make the Dodge Challenger seem extra large and heavy, but it is doubtful that loyal owners of all three pony cars will be swayed to switch to the competition.

Camaro photos courtesy of the General Motors Company.

13 Top Fuel Efficient 2015 Models by Category

Lexus NX fuel efficient hybrid.

The 300h is the hybrid variant for the Lexus NX.

With gasoline prices trending somewhere below $2.50 per gallon, the rush to fuel-efficient vehicles has certainly come to a grinding halt. On the other hand, demand for pickup trucks, large utility vehicles and other less-efficient models has soared.

Even though pump prices have eased, some drivers continue to search for new cars that offer excellent fuel economy, perhaps because they know that long-term fuel prices will only rise. Indeed, if you have long term ownership in mind, you need to consider prospective fuel and auto trends when exploring your purchase options.

The following list represents today’s top fuel economy cars, trucks, utility vehicles, and wagons by category. For this Auto Trends has included standard hybrid models, but removed plug-in hybrids and other electrified vehicles that skew the numbers.

1. Large Cars — The Ford C-MAX is categorized as a large car even though its chassis is based on the compact Ford Focus. In the federal government’s odd vehicle measuring criteria, it is interior room that dictates space. This five-passenger, front-wheel drive wagon-like model is EPA-rated at 42 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway for a combined 40 mpg. For a bona fide large car, you can choose a Toyota Avalon Hybrid and enjoy the same combined 40 mpg as the small Ford.

Toyota Prius fuel efficient hybrid2. Midsize Cars — The Toyota Prius has a large interior, room for five and is front-wheel drive. It is the best known of all hybrid vehicles and the most efficient of them all. To that end, Toyota takes a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder gasoline and pairs it with a hybrid drivetrain. This Toyota is EPA-rated at 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway for a combined 50 mpg. (Pictured: the PHEV version).

3. Compact Cars — The Toyota Prius C is a compact version of the larger Prius and is powered by a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a hybrid drivetrain. This hatchback seats up to five and is EPA-rated at 53 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway for a combined 50 mpg.

4. Subcompact Cars — A gasoline-only vehicle leads this segment, a Ford Fiesta SFE model powered by a 1.0-liter turbocharged, three-cylinder engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. This five-passenger Fiesta is EPA-rated at 31 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway for a combined 36 mpg. Incidentally, you can also opt for an Audi A3 outfitted with a turbo-diesel engine to equal the Fiesta’s fuel economy.

5. Minicompact Cars — Cars in this segment are the smallest on the road and include the three-passenger, Scion iQ. The front-wheel drive iQ is powered by a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable transmission.This model is EPA-rated at 36 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway for a combined 37 mpg.

6. Two-Seater Cars — The EPA has a category for two-seat cars that includes vehicles of varying sizes. The most fuel efficient car here is the Honda CR-Z, a hybrid model powered by a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and paired with a continuously variable transmission. This Honda is EPA-rated at 36 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway for a combined 37 mpg.

7. Midsize Station Wagons — There are very few wagons on the market. The Toyota Prius V is one such model, the largest of all Prius models. It is a hybrid vehicle with 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable transmission. This roomy five-passenger model is EPA-rated at 44 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway for a combined 42 mpg.

8. Small Station Wagons — Can the Honda Fit possibly be categorized as a small station wagon? Well, that’s exactly what the EPA has done with this five-door hatchback. The Honda Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable transmission. It is EPA-rated at 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway for a combined 36 mpg.

Honda Fit fuel efficient vehicle

9. Minivans — What category seems to defy its name? That probably would be minivans, comprised mostly of medium-sized models. One exception is the six-passenger Mazda 5, powered by a 2.5-liter, four cylinder engine and paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. This model is EPA-rated at 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for a combined 24 mpg.

10. Medium Sport Utility Vehicle — Sport utility vehicles typically do not get good gas mileage, but the exception is found in smaller models or with hybrids. In the medium SUV category. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and is EPA-rated at 27 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for a combined 28 mpg.

11. Small Sport Utility Vehicle — The most fuel-efficient small SUV is a luxury model, a Lexus NX 300h front-wheel drive hybrid. This model is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Seating five, the NX 300h is EPA-rated at 35 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway for a combined 33 mpg.

12. Standard Pickup Trucks — Ford may have a lightweight, aluminum-bodied truck in the F-150, but it is a Ram 1500 HFE 2WD model that is the most efficient in this segment. That truck is powered by a 3.0-liter, turbo-diesel engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is EPA-rated at 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for a combined 24 mpg.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado fuel efficient truck.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado.

13. Small Pickup Trucks — Small trucks are not as fuel-efficient as some would like, despite offering standard four-cylinder engines. Several models, including the Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado are tied in this segment, making a combined 22 mpg. The good news is that an upcoming turbodiesel for GMC and Chevrolet should boost fuel economy by about 20 percent when that engine comes out in 2016.

Fuel Efficient Tips

Official fuel economy numbers aside, you can maximize your efficiency in several ways, including avoiding jackrabbit starts and hard breaking, and by keeping your tires properly inflated. Use cruise control on the highway when road conditions are dry and you can increase your efficiency further.

See AlsoWhy Does My Gas Mileage Vary?

Toyota and Mazda Collaboration Will Lift Both Automakers

Toyota Mazda Collaboration

Left: Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda, right: Mazda President and CEO Masamichi Kogai
at the signing of the partnership agreement between these two automakers.

And so it begins. Giant Toyota and wee Mazda announced a collaborative agreement this week that will benefit both companies. The agreement allows each automaker to leverage products and technologies from the other, a partnership that does not include Toyota taking a financial stake in its much smaller competitor.

What the agreement effectively does is to expand an earlier arrangement whereby Mazda is supplying Toyota with a small car based on its Mazda 2 subcompact platform. That vehicle, the 2016 Scion iA, debuts this fall. In exchange, Mazda can now tap Toyota’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology.

Symbiotic Task Force

The two companies will establish a joint committee to determine how each automaker can make use of the other’s chief assets. The collaboration will be broad and involve a number of disciplines, including various environmental initiatives and advanced safety technologies.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Mazda, President and CEO Masamichi Kogai, held a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday to announce the accord.

Toyoda pointed to two strong Mazda initiatives that have helped this small car manufacturer succeed in an ultra-competitive global market: its SKYACTIV Technologies and KODO―Soul of Motion design. Both present an enticing edge that Toyota does not have and can most certainly benefit from moving forward.

Said Toyoda, “Mazda has proven that it always thinks of what is coming next for vehicles and technology, while still managing to stay true to its basic carmaking roots. In this way, Mazda very much practices what Toyota holds dear: making ever-better cars.”

Mazda 2 Scion iA collaboration

One of the earlier collaborations between the two automakers
has turned the Mazda 2 into a 2016 Scion iA.

Toyota Saves the Day

Not mentioned by Toyota’s president is that the provision essentially seals Mazda’s fate. Certainly, ever since the Ford Motor Company severed its three-decade relationship with one of Japan’s smaller automakers, the company has lacked the financial resources, especially the economies of scale, it once had.

For example, the earliest Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute models shared the same bones. Although the Tribute’s replacement, the CX-5, is a superior model, the cash outlay for the compact crossover utility vehicle has been enormous.

Quite frankly, Mazda working alone does not have the resources to keep pace with the big guys. But Mazda and Toyota working cooperatively essentially provides the former with a savior. You can now scratch Mazda off your list of vulnerable automakers.

Speaking on behalf of Mazda, Kogoi said, “Toyota is a company that has shown steadfast resolve in acting responsibly on global environmental issues and the future of manufacturing as a whole. I also have tremendous respect for Toyota’s dedication in its pursuit of ever-better cars through ongoing innovation.”

Toyota Mazda collaboration

Toyota will supply Mazda with hybrid technology.
Perhaps a Mazda diesel is in the offing for this Camry.

Hydrogen and Hybrid Technologies

No doubt, Toyota and its 10.2 million per year car building efforts will energize Mazda and its 1.2 million annual output. The two companies are competitors, but the move will enable each one to plug specific product holes.

For Mazda, the company will gain access to Toyota’s hydrogen vehicle technologies and expand its PHEV offerings. It isn’t quite clear how this arrangement will work, but look for a PHEV Mazda CX-5 or Mazda 6 in the future. Most likely both. Rebadging the hydrogen Toyota Mirai as a Mazda doesn’t seem likely, although that chassis might someday power a future Mazda product.

Toyota gains access to Mazda’s SKYACTIV technologies, represented by fuel-efficient gasoline and diesel engines, advanced transmissions and lightweight bodies. Of special interest could be Mazda’s diesel engines, one of the weakest areas for Toyota.

Toyota does have diesel technology, but readying those engines for the American market would be a costly undertaking. Mazda has a twin-turbo 2.2-liter diesel engine in the wings, one that meets both European and US emissions standards. The engine is suitable for the midsize Mazda 6 sedan and might also be made available with the Toyota Camry.

As for the Camry, not everyone wants a hybrid and the Mazda diesel would give Toyota something that does not involve vehicle electrification. And if certain KODO design elements transfer to the Camry and other Toyota models, the world’s largest automaker may suddenly gain a much-need styling edge.

Collaboration Gauntlet Thrown Down

FCA collaboration or suitor

Sergio Marchionne is actively campaigning
to win a suitor for FCA.

The Toyota-Mazda arrangement may prove to be the most comprehensive one amongst automotive manufacturers yet. Beyond outright mergers, acquisitions and stake holding, most relationships today are based on special projects involving complex technologies.

For example, Honda and General Motors are collaborating on hydrogen technology. Mitsubishi and Nissan are working on supplying the former with a midsize sedan for the US market. Daimler, Ford and Renault-Nissan are working on fuel-cell technologies with the first models expected to arrive in 2017. Every manufacturer is working with someone else to share technologies and to mitigate costs.

And beating the drum for ever broadening industry cooperation has been none other than Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO, Sergio Marchionne. Just this week Marchionne met with Tesla and Apple CEOs, raising speculation that a Silicon Valley partnership may be in the offing. Marchionne has made it known that FCA is looking for a suitor. He has also stated that the global market can only support six major players.

In any case, the Toyota-Mazda joint effort will likely encourage other automakers to boost their efforts. Importantly, the timing for Mazda couldn’t be better as the next economic turn down is approaching, what most certainly will shake out some of the weaker players.

Upmarket Sedan: 2015 Hyundai Azera

2015 Hyundai Azera Limited

In the Hyundai pecking order, the Azera sits between the midsize Sonata and the luxury Genesis sedan. That placement means that this large sedan has intense competition coming from below and above as well as from its competitors.

The Hyundai Azera continues to fall far short of sales projections, missing the 20,000-unit mark that the automaker had set when the current generation model was introduced in 2012. This year, the Azera is on track to sell just over 8,000 units, well above the 3,500 it sold in 2011, but still very much missing the mark.

Whether Hyundai stays with the Azera or not is something the Korean automaker has not made known. This sedan competes with the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Ford Taurus and the Chevrolet Malibu. And when dressed in Limited attire, it can also take on the Buick LaCrosse and the Lexus ES 350.

2015 Hyundai Azera Limited

2015 Hyundai Azera

Sedan crowding or not, the Hyundai Azera brings to the market what should be a strong competitor. Trouble is, it is only 2.6 inches longer than the far less expensive Sonata and is priced just $4,000 under the beautiful Genesis sedan. Product overlap is never a good thing in the auto industry and even with just a cursory inspection that’s become evident with the Azera.

On its own merits, the Hyundai Azera has certain attributes worth noting. Priced from $34,000, the 2015 Hyundai Azera is available in standard and Limited ($38,200) editions. As tested, this vehicle retails for $39,220 with carpeted floor mats ($125) the only extra.

Hyundai has moved the base price of this model around, going from $32,250 in 2013 to $31,000 in 2014. The $3,000 price increase for 2015 probably raised a few eyebrows on the faces of people that follow these trends, but that gain reflects both a styling update as well as new or revised equipment. In other words, you are paying more, but you are also getting more.

2015 Hyundai Azera Limited

Design Remodeling Outside and In

Indeed, beginning this year, the Hyundai Azera has received a redesigned grille along with refreshed front and rear bumper fascia. A new 18-inch alloy wheel design, a standard “smart trunk” opener and new LED fog lights for the Limited edition are also included.

Inside, Hyundai updated the center stack design to include a standard 8-inch color LCD navigation and audio display. The navigation system itself has gained additional features to include HD radio capability, Apple Siri — a hands-free voice-command recognition feature, Pandora capability, expanded Sirius XM Travel Link, boosted Google point-of-interest (POI) capabilities, and more.

Other additions for 2015 bring in standard illuminated door sill plates and two safety features: blind-spot detection with rear-cross traffic alert and lane change assist; as well as lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic high beam assist on Limited models.

2015 Hyundai Azera Limited


2015 Hyundai Azera

View manufacturer details and pricing


Exclusive Powertrain Combination

Each Azera competitor offers V-6 engines that displace at either 3.5 or 3.6 liters, or slightly larger than the 3.3-liter V-6 powering the Hyundai. Yet, the Azera’s 293-horsepower rating makes it the most power dense of the lot. This engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities. The 2015 Hyundai Azera is EPA-rated at 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway and takes regular grade gasoline.

One matter that Hyundai hasn’t tampered with is the sedan’s visage as its silhouette has retained the same sweeping demeanor since its last full redesign. That complexion amplifies Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design scheme, representing the second generation of this design iteration.

Fluidic sculpture is recognized by a number of characteristics, including a broad and flowing grille, ovesized wrap-around tear drop front lighting assemblies, sculpted front fog lamp ports, a canted windshield, a swept back greenhouse, sculpted side profile characteristics, a one-piece wrap-around tail light assembly and embedded exhaust ports. The guise is at once free flowing as it is exquisite.

2015 Hyundai Azera Limited

Capacious, Opulent Sedan

Inside, leather is standard and is found across the seating surfaces and around the steering wheel. Soft touch materials and brightwork trim accent the interior. The driver’s seat is 12-way power controlled; the front passenger enjoys 8-way adjustment. Happily, the driver’s seat also includes a seat cushion extension — ideal for those long road trips where fatigue is bound to set in.

Where the Sonata is the roomiest of all midsize sedans, the Azera only enhances that attribute. This sedan seats five and does so in comfort. Still, the three-place rear seat can be turned into a two-place seat by folding down the oversized middle position arm rest and opening the concealed cup holders.

The Azera’s dashboard is clean and uncomplicated, but sophisticated as curvilinear lines employing the same fluidic composition of the exterior is applied inside. That the requisite and dull climate control vents can be transformed into a design statement is a testament to what Hyundai’s designers have done. Even the placement of switches on the steering wheel evokes that free flowing look.

The instrument panel is bright, yet unembellished with analog tachometer and speedometer readouts flanking the requisite digital driver’s information center. The center stack is topped by a color display with climate control and audio control functions underneath. Below that is an oversized, covered storage compartment — the perfect place to store and connect your smartphone (USB port, auxiliary input port and a 12-volt outlet are present). Behind the floating stack is an open storage expanse.

2015 Hyundai Azera Limited

Power Accessories Galore

Dividing the front seats is the transmission shifter, with front seat heating and cooling switches, parking assist and rear power sunshade control. Further, the front center armrest doubles as a deep cubbyhole with a removable tray included. Moreover, the glove box is cooled and serves as an ideal place for keeping your drinks chilled while on the road.

Additional creature comforts for Azera passengers are enjoyed by the rear seat passengers. The side windows have manual sunscreens and the mentioned power sunscreen automatically unfolds and covers the back window. Moreover, that screen folds down when the transmission is placed in reverse. Furthermore, it disappears on command when the override switch is selected. And the second row air vents provide better airflow as well.

Given that the Azera is a large, front-wheel drive sedan, concerns about torque steer are relevant to this discussion. However, Hyundai has effectively mitigated the problem through its vehicle stability management system, what works in tandem with electronic stability control and the electric power steering system to subjugate the problem. Indeed, with nearly 300 horsepower sent to the front wheels, Hyundai countervails the expected pulling to one side by distributing pressure in the right direction. Consequently, this engineering feat is quite noticeable — and welcome — when maneuvering a corner or as you quickly shift lanes on the turnpike.

The Hyundai’s engine is a workhorse, delivering sufficient power from the start and up to highway speeds, with the transmission shifting smoothly through all forward gears. I detected no hesitation or gear hunting, testifying to the seamless integration of the Azera’s powertrain.

2015 Hyundai Azera Limited

Automatic Trunk Release Innovation

Trunk space, although not the largest in the segment, measures a generous 16.3 cubic feet. Kudos to Hyundai for designing arguably the best automatic trunk opening system on the market. Simply keep the key fob on your person, walk directly to the back of the trunk, listen for three beeps and watch the trunk open automatically.

Certainly, this system beats what Ford offers, requiring owners to move their foot from side to side across the bottom of the rear bumper. And it does so for the following three reasons:

First, the foot sliding or kicking move doesn’t always work. Second, you can get off balance if you have packages in your hand. Third, it simply looks silly! Consequently, Hyundai’s designers found a better way to make that trunk open automatically. This feature is standard with the Azera and optional with the Sonata.

Hyundai Azera Considerations

Should you consider the Azera? Certainly, especially if you have models from competing brands in mind. But, with Hyundai offering other great choices, that decision becomes difficult to justify. Indeed, at $38,200, the Azera Limited costs $200 more than the base Genesis sedan. And the base Azera is priced several thousand dollars above a fully-loaded Sonata.

Hyundai may want you to give the Azera serious consideration, but its own solid product offerings may be its undoing.


2015 Hyundai Azera Limited

 

  • Sticker price from $38,200
  • Price as tested: $39,220 (estimated)
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.3-liter 24-valve V-6 gasoline engine
  • 293 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
  • 255 foot-pounds of torque @ 5,200 rpm
  • 3.62 inches bore by 3.30 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 11.5-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 112 inches
  • Length: 193.7 inches
  • Width: 73.2 inches
  • Height: 57.9 inches
  • Passenger volume: 107 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 16.3 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: NR
  • EPA: 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,684 to 3,871 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Good — moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints & seats
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 10 years/100,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 7 years/100K miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Asan, Korea

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Hyundai Azera photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.