Category Archives: Sport Sedan

Officer Matt, Pulls Over To Test New Autos

5/16/2019 – 2019 Spring Brake  –  Bear Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, New York.

Automotive Rally Tents

Upon arrival, approximately 50 different vehicles were grouped by manufacturer. Prior to arrival, I surveyed the list of cars and formulated a plan that would maximize my time to test drive as many vehicles as I could by 1530.

 

 

Officer Matt and the 2019 Acura NSXThe first vehicle driven was Acura’s NSX. Luckily, my teammate had secured a reservation to be the first test driver of this $190K Supercar. By far the most anticipated drive of the day and the NSX did not disappoint.  The sheer power of the car and its ability to stick to the road like glue was absolutely amazing, producing goosebumps on my arms and chills down my spine. The fit and finish were very luxurious. The seats and steering wheel felt as if they were designed specifically for me. The exterior was a statement of beauty with artfully designed curves and creases precisely where they needed to be placed as if Michelangelo himself designed the shell. Everywhere you drove, heads turned to look and listen.

 

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck climing a gravel hill
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck is almost too pretty to take offroad.

The rest of the day was spent testing vehicles ranging from compact sedans to full-size trucks. A notable appearance was the GMC Sierra Denali 1500. As luxurious and useful as a truck could be, it fell short when compared to similar trucks in its class due to the lack of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The “revolutionary” new tailgate was cumbersome to use after spending ten minutes trying to figure it out.

 

Red 2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
2019 Acura TLX A-Spec made on the same production line as the NSX.

Another vehicle that got my attention was the Acura TLX A-Spec with SH-AWD. This upscale sport sedan had never even registered on my radar as a vehicle that would impress me. Boy, was I ever wrong, as soon as I stepped into the vehicle, the interior design was subtle yet sporty and luxurious all at the same time. Every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be. The operating system was incredibly easy to figure out. The sound system was incredible when compared to other

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec Dash
Acura TLX Interior every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be.

higher-end luxury vehicles. The mix of leather and suede on the heated and cooled seats, perfectly proportioned. Outside, the pearl coat of burgundy paint complemented the aggressive exterior styling cues perfectly. To finish off, the exterior was a gorgeous set of black rims. I kept finding myself wandering back to the TLX throughout the day, admiring it. At a price of just around $44K for a fully optioned top of the line, model forced me to see how affordable and attainable the Acura really is. I found myself smiling not only while behind the wheel, and even now, each time I think of it.

 

Genesis G90 Parked in front of a rock face
Genesis G90 a worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series.

 

Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.
Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.

The final vehicle that commanded my attention was the Genesis G90. A worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series. Sliding into the rear seat is like entering a private jet. The G90 is a vehicle to be driven around in, not just drive.  Rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.  With heated and cooled rear seats, the only thing missing was a massage function. The rear passenger seat had a single button that would turn the seat into a fully functioning lounger, sliding the front seat all the way forward and down towards the dash to allow the rear occupant to stretch out. Feeling as if you were enveloped in an incredibly soft sofa and could easily take a nap.

 

 

Genesis G90 Dash view from rear seat.
Genesis G90 provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal.

The G90 driver experience was just as luxurious, minus the rear passenger lounge seat. With a quick and responsive engine propelling the car forward from a dead stop to 60mph with barely an effort, and with minimal noise. Genesis provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal. The lane keep assist and nearly autonomous driving assistant made driving even on twisty mountain roads a breeze.

 

 

Rear of the Genesis G90
Classic Design makes the Genesis G90 a worthy competitor.

At the cost of almost $20,000 to $30,000 below what one would pay for a comparable S Class or 7 Series. The only reason I can think of why wouldn’t you want a G90 before one of its competitors would be the brand badge bragging rights. Perhaps it was wise of Genesis to distance their flagship vehicle from the Hyundai line, creating a new image to compete with Mercedes and BMW.

 

Reflecting on a day driving more than 25 vehicles, this was my first automotive journalist rally,  and for me, it was a resounding success.

Words by Corporal Matthew Rihl,
Photos by William West Hopper
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department in Virginia.
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department.
Corporal Matthew Rihl has served the public for 15-years with a local county police department in Virginia. In addition, he is also a Field Training Officer and a member of the Honor Guard. Officer Matt is a vital member of the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund, which its sole purpose is to honor surviving partners and family members of LGBT police, fire, EMS and the military who have been killed in the line of duty during a special ceremony during National Police Memorial Week every year in Washington, DC.

 

Spring Brake is put on by the International Motor Press Association for professional automotive journalist members, offering them the chance to experience many different vehicles in one day. Membership and an entry fee are required to participate. Neither Matthew nor William were compensated for their time or reviews of any automobiles.
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Kia Stinger

Red Kia Stinger

The Kia Stinger has been the topic of many auto review writer’s posts over the last year. We all saw mock-ups of it well over a year ago, and now that it is on dealer’s showroom floors, we are just now getting the chance to drive it.

Trim Levels of the Stinger vary widely, but the basics are all there, the sports sedan body styling, the transmission, tire sizes and more. What changes is the powertrain and how detailed the inside is, which may not be as easily noticed by everyone.

The Stinger Concept

West Coast Customs Kia Stinger
West Coast Customs Kia Stinger

Luxury Sports sedans have dominated the market for more than thirty years. People like cars that are both sporty looking, functional, and fun to drive. It is that driving experience that really defines them. Add on practicality, the touch, and feel of a more upscale branded vehicle, then put on a reasonable price tag and you have the Kia Stinger.

 

Design

Queer4Cars Kia StingerKia has given the Stinger muscle and graceful lines, though in our minds there are a few hiccups in the exterior design, those disappear once you get your hands on the vehicle. Outside the car has a wide stance and a low roofline giving it a fast look, even parked. Inside, both luxury and sports car touches give it a fun to be in the car feeling. So much so that you want to turn the key and hit the open road and drive it.

 

 

Amenities

Brembo Brakes on the Kia StingerThe Stinger is well equipped even in the most basic configuration. You get the look and feel of a more expensive car than it really is. Which is what Kia does so well. The driver centric cockpit complete with leather seats are upgradeable to Nappa Leather with heated and cooled seats. The Stinger provides a spacious interior with easy egress for passengers and driver. What one may not notice is the trunk is actually a hatchback, which adds to the functionality in many ways. Guages and controls that are within easy reach of the driver and switches that feel good to the touch. All of this provides for the perfect long distance road car or short hall daily driver.

Two Powertrain Choices

20180310_120224While the body style, eight-speed automatic gearbox, and rear-wheel drive stay the same no matter the model. You can choose between a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder and 3.3-liter 6-cyl engine and add all-wheel-drive.

2.0 Liter twin-scroll turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine puts out 255 horsepower, and provides 22 miles per gallon city, 29, highway and 25 combined.

3.3-liter twin-scroll turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine provides 365 horsepower, 19 mpg city, 25 highway and 21 combined. The addition of Brembo brakes does provide for additional stopping power, and those RED brake calipers do make a statement.

Many Model Options

Two models with the 2.0-liter engine: A base Stinger and the upgraded premium model. What you get in the Premium is a tad more technology in the way of a premium Harman Kardon audio with surround sound, voice command activation and a larger 7″ display screen as well as a power sunroof, and tilt & Telescopic steering wheel.

20171012_120526The optional list of safety items is long; from the Blind Spot and Rear Cross Traffic to Forward Collision Avoidance and Warning systems. Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Warning, High Beam Assist and Rain-Sensing Wipers, as well as the Heated Steering wheel, are all extra charge options. Well worth the price even as an add-on, for both use and if you were to resell the Stinger at a later date.

Three models options come with the 3.3-liter engine. GT, GT1, & GT2, with each adding on standard features. At the GT2 level, there are only two real options; All-Wheel Drive and a Heated Steering wheel.

Kia Full LineupKia’s ten-year, 100K mile warranty is still one of the best in the industry, add to that the value that the Kia Stinger provides, at a price tag from $31,900 for the base 2.0 liter to $49,200 for the top of the line 3.0 liter powered GT2. With current incentives and added discounts, you can be driving one of these off the dealership lot at a tremendous price. While it is too early yet to determine resale values, once the car is out about a year, we should see how they price out on the second-hand market.

 

Our Overall Thoughts

Not quite Kia Stinger CompetitorsThis is a great value car, as it seems all Kia products are between all you get in the base model, the added options, the selling price and the vehicle warranty. It is hard to go wrong. Driving the vehicle was nice to experience in both the 2.0 liter four and the 3.3 six-cylinder versions. The weight and balance of the vehicle and the handling were all excellent. While this vehicle was being compared to, in the drive experience, we took to much higher market positioned vehicles. It really belongs dead in the center of the mass market: Alfa-Romero Gulia, BMW 4-series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the others that dominate today’s roads.

Kia Dealership WallDealership experience is going to be key for buyers of the Stinger, as most buyers of premium sports sedans are used to a very customer service oriented experience. In the few times, we have visited a Kia dealership, the overall feel has not been what one might expect from a car selling in this market segment.

 

Notes:

Kia Ride and DriveWe only got to drive the Stinger around a short autocross track at a recent Kia Experience Tour event. We hope to spend more time in one very soon.

We paid for our transportation to and from the event, and were given no compensation to produce this post, other than a swag box from, which had some great items in it.

Words and Pictures by William West Hopper

 

William West Hopper and the Kia Stinger
William West Hopper and the Kia Stinger

 

 

The Toyota Camry, All New for 2018

Docile, Domesticated, Dependable, Durable, and Now for 2018, Dynamite!

What would improve, the ever-popular Camry? Currently, the most American made vehicle on sale in the USA. An every day plain-jane sedan that has sold over ten-million vehicles since it was introduced in 1983.  Styling!  Toyota has made the 2018 edition sportier. Actually, it is all-new for 2018, from the ground up.  Let’s take a look!

The hand painted roof is only available on Camry's upper X trim models, notice the lower stance and swooping lines.
The hand painted roof is only available on Camry’s upper X trim models, notice the lower stance and swooping lines.

This new model will not alienate previous owners who have been devoted to Toyota’s four-Door Sedan for years. Buyers of sports sedans will now be taking a second look at this model as a viable competitor in the market place. Toyota’s reputation for reliability, safety and more are now embraced in this new model.

Styling

Designed from the ground up, the dull staid image has been left in the dust! With an all-new platform and powertrain, still that dependable, long lasting, and safe Camry. Now, some might even say it has become sexy. Where the 2018 Camry grabs attention is in the flowing lines. Inspired by the design of a catamaran, known for skimming across the water’s surface with strong bold outriggers, and a very light and airy body. Now you will be able to tell the difference from the SE and LE models by defined front-end styling cues.

2018 Camry interior is very cockpit inspired. Focused on the driver.
2018 Camry interior is very cockpit inspired. Focused on the driver.

The Camry’s sweeping lines flow from outside into the passenger cabin.  A wraparound cockpit for the driver and front passenger bring controls within easy reach of the driver, and with the upper trim level offers a head’s up display (which wearing polarized sunglasses is a tad hard to see) keeping the driver’s eyes on the road. The front passenger will feel snug in the wraparound interior design. Visually it may be a bit confining, though there is plenty of space.

For rear passengers, no gymnastics are needed to get into the rear seats, as in some sports sedans. The rear bench seat fits two comfortably and 3 snugly. While the trunk is spacious, it’s rectangular trunk lid opening may take some negotiating with bulky items. Even the Camry Logo has been redesigned – individual letters stamped across the center of the trunk lid.

The rear of the 2018 Toyota Camry is different as well. Only the Logo remains the same.
The rear of the 2018 Toyota Camry is different as well. Only the Logo remains the same.

Engineering – TNGA Platform

Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) is a re-engineering of the whole vehicle, not just one part. Resulting in a new and improved driving dynamics for the 2018 Camry. Which was very apparent behind the wheel. This chassis has 3-times more welds giving it a stiffer more in control feel. A double wishbone rear suspension still provides a comfortable ride. While wider and with a lower center of gravity, the Camry has tighter handling due to this new platform as the weight is evenly distributed over the four tires. This results in better overall performance. “The new Camry is an extremely balanced machine with much more excitement.”

Toyota New Global Architecture is what the 2018 Camry is all about.
Toyota New Global Architecture is what the 2018 Camry is all about.

Three Power Trains

Three new drivetrains, a 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder gasoline engine, and a new second-generation hybrid powerplant mated to a new Eight-Speed automatic transmission are what drive the 2018 Camry.

2018_Toyota_Camry_LE_Hybrid_03_291A080C9D9BCA2A2D7D8EE7A412740433B7FB8BWhile the 2.5 4-cylinder is fine, we found the 3.5 six provides a better powerband for our driving style. At the time we drove the new Camry the hybrid was not in the press fleet. With MPG numbers reported to be over 50 mpg this will be the one to test drive. The car handles like it on rails, having the hybrid system repositioned in the engine bay and battery moved out of the trunk and under the car will definitely provide a more evenly balanced feel of driving.

 

The Direct Shift 8 Speed Transmission offers plenty of gears to operate in at all speeds and load parameters, we found it to be smooth and best of all, a gear shift lever positioned where one would expect it, in the center of the console. Some classic styling touches just seem right.

Camry Safety

New light designs are just a part of the 2018 Camry. Lights were one of the first safety features on cars.Safety TSSP – is a suite of safety sysems including pre-collision system and if the vehicle is equipped with an electric parking brake can take the car down to zero. Combine that with the other dynamic safety systems (Saftey systems are standard in all models of Camry models for 2018.) And like the 2017 model, no doubt the all new Camry will also have a Five Star Overall Saftey Rating.

 

Camry Trim Levels

Making the trim levels distinguishable from each other was part of the redesign. Now there will be no mistaking the SE and L grade models.  It is details like the quad tip exhaust, a dual exhaust with four tips and other details you will notice.

  • L Model –  Will be the most base entry-level – very budget friendly.
  • LE Model – You will see a large chunk of Camry models outfitted in this high tech trim level.
  • XLE – The top of the line luxury model with all the technology that is available and special options will be available.
  • XLE V6 – Total luxury with the power of the V6 engine.
  • SE – Sport Trim – Toyota expects this to be a volume leader.
  • XSE – Full sport with full tech!
  • XSE V6 – Adding the V-6 powerplant to the top of the line sport model, even a hand painted black roof will be available in this trim.
Cockpit focused controls for the driver in the 2018 Toyota Camry.
Cockpit focused controls for the driver in the 2018 Toyota Camry.

Camry’s interior is driver-centric focused with the center console stack wrapping around the driver and the passenger. Controls turned toward the driver giving it a cockpit feel.

 

New Camry Colors

While we are used to seeing a lot of the basic colors, silver, white, black, there are three new colors coming to the 2018 Camry; Windshield Pearl, Brownstone, Galactic Aqua Mica.

A Two Tone Roof is now showing up in different manufacturers lines, as well as in the Toyota  C-HR.  Camry will offer the hand-painted black roof on three different colors of the XSE model completing the aggressive look in sports sedans along with black painted window trim and side mirrors. You can order the two-tone roof when you order your XSE in Blue Streak Mettalic, Celestiral Silver, and Wind Chill Pearl.The Camry has an all new center console.

 

The redesigned 2018 Toyota is now available at dealers nationwide. This model is the most American Made vehicle sold in the USA today. Produced at the Georgetown Kentucky plant for the American market.

 

Words by William West Hopper
Photos by William West Hopper & Toyota Motor Company’s media site.
For more information on Toyota go to toyota.com