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Wednesday
May202015

2015 Durango R/T

2015 Dodge Durango R/T

5.7 L Hemi V8 360 HP with 8 Speed Automatic Transmission

Redline Pearl Metallic with Black Nappa Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the Durango...Click.

The Durango does not attract a lot of attention. Its one more SUV among an increasingly wide choice. The same applies to us until we were offered to spend a few days with a Durango R/T.

Suddenly you notice the Durango.

The styling has a Detroit coolness of no chrome, which is unique and distinctive. It immediately ads several layers of character to the street presence.

The interior ads more character with 4 bucket seats, and a rear console.

At this point the Hemi under the hood is almost required to fully reinforce the character of this truck.

The Durango is not small, its right sized for a multi purpose SUV, with a third row seat.

The interior is surprisingly well finished, our tester had the optional Premium Nappa leather with red contrast stitching and again the 4 bucket configuration is a distinctive feature. As well as the 8.4 inch screen with U Connect and an impressive sound system. In addition to every comfort feature that you expect from power, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, sunroof, power tailgate, keyless entry, ventilation ducts in the headliner for the rear passengers,  to name a few.

The front seats are very comfortable.

All the features that you expect in a luxury SUV are present, this tester even had the well integrated optional DVD entertainment screens for the rear passengers.

This truck has a 2 speed transfer case. Yes...its got a Low range for off roading, for pulling a boat out of the water, and to simply have fun in more extreme conditions.

A cool truck oozing character with a Low range...its a serious SUV.

You can configure your own Durango...here.

How does it drive?

The seating position is high, the visibility is good all around, the lane change blind spot alert will warn you in a can't miss audible fashion.

You were wondering about the Hemi? Its has an authoritative V8 rumble, coupled to the 8 speed automatic there is no situation where there is a lack of power. With good starting acceleration, and excellent passing power on the highway.

The adaptive cruise control is seamless to the point that you would think its not working.

The steering feel, brakes, are what you would expect in an SUV with a 3rd seat. This truck will not encourage you to get exuberant in an on/off ramp environment. Its not a sport sedan...

If you are considering an SUV with a 3rd seat capability, while feeling that a low range and towing capability would increase the versatility of the ownership experience. Perhaps like us, the Durango did not grasp your attention. We urger you to make it a point to exprience a Durango R/T prior to finalising your decision.

Strada Talking Points

  • Unique styling cues.
  • 2 Speed transfer case and 3rd seat.
  • Hemi with 8 speed automatic.
  • Imperceptible adaptive cruise control.
  • 4 bucket seats

 The quick review

 

Monday
Mar302015

2015 Lincoln MKC

 

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost

2.3L 4 Cylinder Ecoboost 285 HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission

Platinum White with Ebony Leather Interior

The photo gallery / slide show of the MKC...Click

We have been captivated by the looks of the MKC for some time. Spending a few days with one merely reinforces that its an handsome, well proportioned compact utility.

With good street presence that often generates a second look. Especially in Platinum White.

Our tester is the top of the line 2.3 Ecoboost version with a myriad of options. Including an immense panorama roof.

The distinctive grille immediately communicates that its a Lincoln, and perhaps Matthew McConaughey is lurking from somewhere. 

From our perspective its "right sized" in the ever increasing CUV segment. Its not a full size, or a mid size, its the right size luxury urban utility.

The interior is well designed, and finished, with limited luxury touches. All the features and options are present, the THX sound system is very good, the heated and cooled front seats, back up camera, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel to name a few.

The center screen controls are relativey easy, and reasonably intuitive. The dash mounted gear selector is distinctive to Lincoln.

The front seats are comfortable and multi power adjustable as you would expect. The rear seat provides good leg room to accommodate adults, and obvious with folding seat backs to increase the cargo area.

The exterior puddle lighting with the Lincoln crest illuminated on the ground is quite cool.

You can configure the MKC...here.

The drive...

We had an opportunity to drive a few hundred highway kilometers. Its a smooth and relaxing highway cruiser, while the smart cruise control maintains a set distance from the vehicle ahead. On surface streets the engine has appreciable levels of torque that belies its 2.3 liters of displacement. Providing an interesting and endearing substantial torque moment for most situations. The shift algorithm of the transmission is finely calibrated with imperceptible shifts.

Between the back up camera, parking sensors, and cross flow traffic alert, navigating parking lots suddenly becomes a simpler task.

The steering feel, suspension tuning, brakes are calibrated for surface street and highway cruising, and comfort.

From our perspective in a competitive CUV segment the MKC holds its own, and is worth experiencing if you are considering a CUV.

Strada Talking Points:

  • Handsome Styling
  • Impressive Torque
  • Ample interior space
  • Superior highway cruiser
  • Effective use of technology

 

The short review

 

 

Monday
Mar232015

2015 Acura TLX

2015 Acura TLX Elite

3.5L V6 290HP with 9 Speed Automatic Transmission

Basque Red Pearl with Ebony Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the TLX...click

A few months ago we reviewed the outgoing TSX, a car that caught our attention.

We did not pass up the opportunity to spend a few days experiencing the replacement.

This TLX is bristling with technology, and impressed us. Its obvious that the folks at Acura sweated the details to have the various technology perform and function in a seamless fashion. 

Technology from tensioning seat belts if the stability program engages, a fast heating steering wheel, heated seats that turn on automatically just to name a few. In addition to the double screens in the center of the dash. Its a technology cool car.

You expect subdued, conservative styling from Acura, this TLX from our perspective flows smoothly, which again captures the attention of the owner if not passers by. The street presence is discreet, although it clearly conveys the message that its an Acura with the iconic grille.

The jewel eye LED headlamps are unique, and distinctive. While becoming a feature of the Acura brand.

The 5 Star safety rating reinforces that Acura engineered a solid, safe car.

The interior is well crafted for an entry level luxury car, the choice of materials is good, most panels have a pleasant tactile feel. The seats are confortable, and power adjustable, as you would expect. The premium sound system which is almost infinitely adjustable delivers a solid sound experience. The dual screens in the center of the dash from our perspective are a novel way to display the information that is usually on only one screen. The various controls and functions are easier, and intuitive when divided between 2 screens.

Rear seat leg room is adequate for adults. The rear seat folding seat back augments the versatility of the trunk space.

You expect a full complement of options, the TLX delivers. It was bitterly cold on a few morning and the automatic heated seats, and almost instant hot steering wheel where totally cool.

The drive...

Its an Acura, its solid, inspires confidence, the steering is precise, the brakes are good. The engine delivers a good level of performance accompanied by an authoritative growl at higher revolutions. The 9 speed transmission is smooth especially in the normal mode.

You can select various modes from normal, sport and sport plus. Sport from our perspective is the most attuned mode with increased responsiveness from the throttle and crisper shifts. The car provides excellent traction in snow, with quick and responsive, ABS, traction control, and stability program.

You can configure your own TLX...here.

This TLX is competent while inspiring confidence, with discreet technology that comes into play when required.

Strada Talking Points:

  • Pleasant flowing styling
  • 5 Star Safety Rating
  • Bristling with discreet technology
  • Dual screens
  • Responsive engine with 290 HP
  • Shift control on the console

  The quick review

 

 

 

Tuesday
Oct282014

2015 Jaguar F-Type

2015 Jaguar F-Type Roadster

3.0L V6 Supercharged 340 HP with 8 Speed Automatic Transmission

Red Metallic with Jet Black Performance Seats

The photo gallery/slide show of the F-Type...Click.

This F-Type captures the imagination, awakens the senses, exudes passion. We know that styling is a strong attraction, but when its combined with tradition, and passion it becomes an automotive aphrodisiac. 

The street presence is powerful, attracting constant attention, second, third looks, and gawkers. Generating constant wow moments for onlookers.

Jaguar is well versed in working with aluminum. They let their passion flow with the aluminum of this car.

We could keep on going...the styling of this car is superior to all the other roadsters in the segment. In our own deliberations..."would your rather have X or the F-Type" the F-Type always came out ahead.

The interior is well executed, with good materials, enhanced by contrast stitching. This tester had the optional performance seats which are phenomenal with their support and myriad adjustments...totally cool. The 380 watt Meridian sound system is not what you would expect, we would opt for the optional Meridian with double the watts. The round analog gauges are traditional while the center screen display is the modern touch. 

The recessing center vent provides a smoother dash when motoring with the top down and the climate control system turned off.

Its a wonderful snug roadster fit, you immediately become part of the car. The operation of the soft top is quick, efficient, and simple not having a cover once the top is opened.

How does it drive?

The V6 coupled to the speed shift 8 speed is a brilliant combination especially in sport mode. The shift algorithm is well thought out with quick shifts, while holding gears for the appropriate time especially in sport mode.

The exhaust sound is a feast for the senses, its almost an exhaust musical instrument reinforcing what the engine and transmission are doing. Obvious that with the top down this feast turns into a concert.

The car is quick, nimble, while constantly inciting towards exuberance. Its a fun roadster, with instant shifts when using the paddles which includes a blip of the throttle. The brakes are powerful, the steering is quick and precise. The suspension is firm while being compliant, always composed and reassuring.

The aluminum body, feels like a solid billet, even on broken pavement with no squeaks or rattles from a convertible.

Its a wonderful toy, especially with a lighter color interior than the all black of our tester. 

If you are seeking a roadster there are a few offerings although from our perspective none exude passion like the F-Type. Make it a point to experience an F-Type, the styling, the exhaust note, the ease of operation of the softop are a few features that will grasp your attention. 

Did we mention styling and passion...

The quick review

 
Monday
Sep082014

2014 Silverado 1500

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Crew Cab 4x4

5.3L V8 355 HP with 6 Speed Automatic transmission

White Diamond with Jet Black leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the Silverado...Click.

We were anxious to spend a few days with the new Silverado, especially that the last time was a few years ago with Clifford.

The competition in the pick up segment is at epic levels in Canada. Yes... discovering this new Silverado generated excitement.

By now you have concluded like us, that grilles on pick ups are massive. This Silverado does not disappoint with a huge grille, complemented by softer lines, its an appealing truck.

The street presence is unmistakable how can you miss that its a pick up, and from the grille a Chevrolet. This tester finished in Diamond White had the luxury look too.

The quiet interior is immense ready to accomodate a work crew or a family, putting any car to shame, and with a myriad of features, including heated and ventilated seats, complemented by an immense sunroof, directly competing with any luxury car. 

Obvious the console facilitates working in the truck, the outlets enable charging, and using various smart devices. 

The instrument layout caught our attention with the small gauges on top, its refreshing to see actual gauges with needle indicators.

Chevrolet refined the interior of this new Silverado with a larger center of the dash screen, a huge panorama roof, a power rear sliding window, a great sound system. In addition to paying attention to details, enhanced by contrast stitching. Agreed most folks also come to expect luxury car features in a top of the line crew cab, obvious this Silverado does not disappoint.

This pick up has the uncanny ability to constantly communicate that its ready to work, its prepared to perform a task. Even the ride improves and smoothes out with a few hundred pounds of stuff in the bed.

Lets not the forget that this pick up has a frame, a 2 speed transfer case with a low range for the 4x4, its a configuration to work, compared to most urban SUV's.

How does it drive?

When a pick up drives like a pick up, feels like a pick up, constantly communicates that its ready to work, its an endearing feature. We get the feeling that the folks at Chevrolet ensured that its a pick up. It certainly has enough power, the 6 speed automatic has a pick up algorithm to smoothly carry or pull a load, the steering is on center, the brakes are strong. 

Its a great cruiser, effortlessly maintaining highway speeds, and feels a little cumbersome navigating parking lots, its remains a crew cab which is huge compared to most cars.

What struck us is the myriad of improvements from the previous version, the gauges in the dash, the steps in the rear bumper, the soft open of the tailgate, the quieter cabin to name a few. The improvements all add up to make a compelling, and capable pick up. 

 

The quick review

 

 

 

Wednesday
Aug272014

2014 Cadillac CTS V Sport

2014 Cadillac CTS V Sport

3.6 L Twin Turbo V6 420 HP with 8 Speed Automatic transmission

White Diamond with Kona Brown / Jet Black Leather interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the CTS V Sport...Click.

By now you are aware that we have some sort of a soft spot for Cadillac. There is something about all the latest Cadillacs that is appealing to us. Obvious that one finished in White Diamond, quickly captures our attention.

Yes Cadillac owns the "pearl white" finish for its cars. 

Now factor in that its a CTS V Sport and it becomes a very interesting car, although a little pricey with a base price of $74,495.

Cadillac's have their own distinctive styling, which produces a compelling street presence. The bolder grille, distinctive vertical LED's. and square exhausts are by now unique to Cadillac.

The interior is inspiring, and superbly finished, the 2 tone leather is elegant, the texture of the wood paneling is unique. Starting with CUE and all the other features that you expect are all present, complemented by an impressive sound system.

You can configure your CTS V Sport...here.

If you had doubts that Cadillac can develop a discreet performance model without resorting to the all out V version with the supercharged V8. This car will reassure you.

This V Sport embodies our perspective of a luxury car with waftability, its elegant, its discreet, its quiet, while delivering an astonishing level of performance. 

The twin turbo V6 with the well calibrated 8 speed automatic is a powerful combination and the transmission has a precise shift algorithm which is well matched to the capabilities of the engine. Yes...when the turbos spool up its exhilarating. The Brembo brakes are reassuring, the steering is precise, the suspension is inspiring. 

The folks at Cadillac have done their due diligence with this version of the CTS. The car instantly communicates that its competent, it has a strong level of power, it has all the features, its right up there with the best in the segment.

There is a special something about luxury cars with a higher level of performance that sets them apart, and reinforces the traditional "luxury factor"...this CTS has an abundance of the something. The entire Strada editorial team was impressed by this car.

We can keep on going here, suffice it to say that this car inspires.

If you are considering a luxury sedan with a higher level of performance than the base engine. While not desiring the "boy racer" versions that many German manufacturers offer. You owe it to yourself to experience the CTS V Sport. 

This CTS will recalibrate your perspective of a luxury sedan that performs.

 

The quick review

 

 

Wednesday
Aug132014

2014 Chevrolet Malibu

2014 Chevrolet Malibu LT

2.5L 4 Cylinder 196 HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission

Ashen Grey Metallic with Grey Leather Interior

The photo gallery slide show of the Malibu...click

We started doing reviews a few years ago with a Malibu, and 100 reviews later we again have the new Malibu. You could not plan this out if you tried, this is our 100th review, its a Malibu.

It is a milestone for us!

We were anxious to spend a few days with this Malibu. Especially to see how it compared to the previous version which was a benchmark car for GM at the time.

The styling is mid size sedan inoffensively appealing. Accompanied by a subdued street presence. Yes we know that styling is a personal preference.

The interior is well executed for this segment, and price range. As you know GM made quantum leaps a few years ago with interiors. This Malibu continues the interior progression. Its as good as it gets in a mid size sedan. Good materials, soft touch areas, contrasts stitching.

This tester has the 7 inch screen in the center of the dash, My Link, as well as navigation, accompanied by a solid performing sound system to enjoy the satellite radio. The front seats are comfortable, supportive and power assisted, the rear seat provides ample leg room for adults. The trunk is a generous size.

You can configure your own Malibu here.

With a 4 cylinder and a 6 speed automatic the performance is middle of the road, like most mid size sedans. Its an impressive, superb highway cruiser that encourages you to cover appreciable distances.

One gets the impression that the folks at Chevrolet did an appreciable amount of due diligence to refine the Malibu so that it does everything well, with a strong value proposition. Its a competent, solid, reassuring car. 

From our perspective Chevrolet did everything right. Compared to the previous model, its an improvement in all areas. With the exception of being inspiring, for some reason Chevrolet overlooked making this car inspiring. 

Why you should consider a Malibu? In a crowded and competitive mid size sedan segment this car is supremely competent, and does everything that you expect very well. It does it so well, in such an unassuming fashion that its quickly taken for granted. 

The Malibu might not blip on your radar screen. We urge you to make it a point to experience the Malibu, it will realign you mid seize sedan thought process.

 

The quick review

 

 

Thursday
Aug072014

2014 Range Rover Sport

2014 Range Rover Sport HSE

3.0L Supercharged V6 349 HP with 8 Speed Automatic

Corris Grey Metallic with Espresso/Ivory Leather

The photo gallery slide show of the Range Rover...click

Range Rover through the years has created its own niche in the luxury SUV market segment. This new Sport is making a solid contribution to expand the niche for Range Rover.

It was presented as a concept a few years ago, has softer lines, a dramatic sloping roof, and still maintains the iconic Range Rover look. Although styling is a personal preference, we find it appealing. The street presence remains compelling, distinctly Range Rover, and as usual attracts attention.

What is it about Range Rovers?

They communicate a distinct message that the owner has risen beyond the increasing noise of luxury SUV's, risen to a higher level. The legendary off road capabilities, which will seldom be used add a unique cachet to the image.

As you would expect the inerior is superbly well finished, and styled with a meticulous choice of materials, and soft touches. It makes you feel good. All the amenities are present, from power seats, heated seats including the rear, back up camera, navigation to name a few. 

Yes...the sound system fills the voluminous interior with authority.

The rear seat provides ample room for adults, augmented by a cool center armrest.

Yes...there are distinctive front LED lights, which are a "de rigueur" feature on a luxury vehicle, these are totally cool.

This Range Rover inspires the moment you open the door, and sit in the driver's seat. The new all aluminum structure is impressive. It feels like a solid block of aluminum.

The suparcharged V6 generates a good level of performance with 340 HP, the 8 speed automatic augments the versatility of the performance, while shifting in an uncanny, intuitive fashion. Although the console shifter requires a learning curve in its "unintuitive" operation.

Be it on the highway or surface streets there is always a reserve of performance that is available. Its a great highway cruiser, while being uncannily quiet.

The steering is precise, and on center, the brakes are good, althought from our perspective they could offer an additional level of stopping power at higher speeds (which are easily attained).

Why you should consider a Range Rover Sport?

You are seeking a luxury SUV, while desiring to make a stronger statement. You appreciate having superb off road capabilities, accompanied by a brilliant terrain management system. You undrestand and appreciate the inovative approach of making an all aluminum structure and body panels.

Make it a point to experience the Sport, yo will be impressed.

 

The quick review

 

 

Monday
Jul212014

2014 Honda Civic

2014 Honda Civic EX Coupe

1.8L 4 Cylinder 148 HP with 5 Speed Manual Transmission

Dyno Blue Pearl with Charcoal Cloth Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the Civic...click

Last time we experienced a Civic was almost 2 years ago. We were anxious to spend a few days with the restyled Civic again.

Yes, its the best selling car in Canada for countless years now, in a very competitive segment. The message is clear this car is loved by Canadians.

The Civic does everything well in a discreet fashion, and you would not expect anything else.

The styling is discreet with a subdued street presence which still conveys the message that its a Honda. The fastback roof line conveys a sporty appearance, the black accented alloy wheels reinforce the sport styling of the car. The restyled front fascia ads a touch of boldness.

The cloth interior is well crafted with attention to all the details. The digital instrument panel is refreshingly different with the center mounted tachometer. The screen in the center of the dash is the correct size, the sound system augments your level of enjoyment. The right hand side Blind Spot camera is an appreciated feature, in addition to the back up camera.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive, with a wide range of manual adjustments. Obvious that the rear seat is for occasional use only.

You can configure your own Civic here.

Its a car that pleases such a wide spectrum of buyers, and drives in a competent, assured fashion.

Our tester had a 5 speed manual transmission. You have to wonder why not a 6 speed? There is a good level of power, the shifter is smooth, the performance is middle of the road. The steering is on center, the brakes are up to the task. 

Its not a car that will encourage you to get exhuberant, but it does reassure by its middle of the road competence. 

If you are seeking a car in this segment be it a sedan or a coupe. The Civic surely appeared on your radar, or was suggested to you. Make it a point to experience the version that you are seeking.

The quick review

 

 

Wednesday
May282014

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

1.6L 4 cylinder 197 HP Ecoboost with 6 Speed Manual Transmission

Molten Orange with Charcoal / Orange Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the Fiesta...Click

This Fiesta ST is small with a strong fun factor to make it an interesting car. In addition to having all the styling cues that augment its street presence, while setting it apart. 

The Fiesta captured our attention a few years ago, and we still think its a cool car. 

The ST version raises the coolness, and exhuberance factor to another level.

The street presence of our tester n Molten Orange is bold, forceful, unique, augmented by an authoritative exhaust sound from the dual pipes.  The ST styling accents from the black grille to the rear spoiler are subtle, distinctive, youthful. Instantly conveying the message there is something special about this car.

The Recaro seats reinforce the uniqueness of this car, they are bold, comfortable, while holding you securely in place. While raising the cool factor to the next level, and capturing the attention of the entire Strada Crew. The interior is appealing, while the materials are in line with the price segment of the car. 

The controls are intuitive, the center screen is easy to navigate, yes...automatic climate control in a small car. The sound system is good too, the rear seat is acceptable for adults considering the size of the car. The rear hatch and fold down rear seat enhance the versatility when having to carry oversize items.

You can configure your Fiesta...here.

How does it drive?

The folks at Ford sweated details that make it a pocket performance car. The car immediately communictes a sense that its purpose is to generate a hogher fun factor. Its has a good level of power considering the size of the engine. The transmission is a joy to shift up or down, the electric power steering is direct and precise, the brakes are strong.

Torque steer is almost non existant with the included Torque Vectoring Control.

Yes this car is small, nimble, and encourages exhuberant driving. The sport tuned suspension, which makes the ride a little hard is a joy in situations where you want to get a little aggressive.

This version of the Fiesta inspires a high level of confidence and competence, be it in cornering situations, highway cruising, and navigating surface streets. Its always ready to perform.

There are many choices of small performance cars, and if you are considering one, the Fiesta ST will impress you by the attention Ford applied to the details that make it a well designed and thought. Make it a point to experience the Fiesta ST for yourself...you will be impressed.

The quick review: