FEED - MotorWeek
Call us crazy, but even with all of the Porsche books we’ve read over the years, we can’t get enough of them. The latest to cross our desk is Porsche: The Classic Era by Dennis Adler. The first part of this book focuses on Ferdinand Porsche’s early years as a highly sought after automotive engineer who always dreamed of building an affordable sports car. But that dream kept getting put on the back burner due to other priorities, such as designing the Volkswagen Beetle, developing race cars, and yes unfortunately getting forced into engineering vehicles for the German war machine. So, it wasn’t until 1948, that the first Porsche 356 prototype hit the streets. The rest, as they say, is history. From there, the book fast forwards to the development of the 911, does a cursory look at Porsche’s racing cars, and even runs through some Porsche advertisements and literature. So, no matter how many Porsche books you’ve already read, you’re sure to learn something new from this Must Read.
Engine: 4.0 liter
Torque: 450 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.1 seconds @ 91 mph
EPA: 11 mpg city/ 11 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 30.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 13.7 tons/yr
The original Jeep was the first military vehicle that found widespread popularity in civilian dress. Then came the Hum-Vee, which also spawned GM’s hummer brand of over-the-top 4x4s. Still, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, or G-Wagen, stands apart. Now in production for almost 40-years, the “Gelandewagon” has long since left its military side behind, and become the pinnacle of Mercedes exclusivity.
Whether it’s our own Jeep and Hummer, Japan’s Land Cruiser, or Britain’s Land Rover, every developed country seems to have a battle-ready vehicle built to conquer both enemy territory as well as suburbia. For almost 40 years in Germany that role has been played by the Mercedes-Benz G-wagen, or as it’s now known, the G-Class.
As has always been the case with all of these military-inspired utes, the G-Class has become more-and-more popular, continuing to grow more user-friendly, with ever increasing levels of comfort and luxury.
But then every once in a while, engineers seem intent on proving that these leather-lined rigs are built for a lot more than just trolling country clubs or making a statement in the carpool lane. Thus, we get special versions like this 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4X4 squared.
It’s large, in charge, and towers over just about everything on the road. Yet despite the massive rolling stock, jacked-up suspension, and high center of gravity; steering remains responsive, and there’s very minimal wandering, even at highway speeds. Of course there’s not much sidewall flexing with these 22-inch wheels wearing 325/55 Pirelli Scorpion A/Ts either. Overall, it feels more tame and confident, than macho or overbearing.
Moving this behemoth around is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that delivers 416–horsepower and 450 lb-ft. of torque. It feels fantastically powerful, just adding to the assertive nature that this truck gives you.
We let it loose at our test track and hit 60 in just 6.5-seconds. For reference that’s over 3 seconds faster than the last Hummer H2 we tested. There’s enough low end grunt at launch to spin these 22s up a bit, but not enough to make it too difficult to get away cleanly.
Plenty of mid-range beef keeps it moving, while the 7G-Tronic automatic clicks through gears quickly and firmly. It’s easy to forget you’re riding so high off the ground, as the ¼-mile flies by in 15.1-seconds and 91 miles-per-hour.
Perhaps more impressively, the 4X4 squared will stop from 60 in just 112-feet. Pretty amazing considering it weighs an astounding 6,700-lbs.
But, on to what this thing is really all about, off road supremacy. Mercedes has taken the already capable G-wagen to the ultimate extreme, and it all starts with new portal axles.
The quick and dirty way of explaining what they are, for those of you who don’t read Crazy Offroad Vehicle Weekly; is the rear differential and axles, instead of being directly inboard of the wheels, are mounted much higher, up in the frame. And power gets down to the wheels through a set of gears. It allows for a whopping 17-inches of ground clearance; that’s about 10-inches over a stock G-class.
All three differentials can be locked, and while there is some electrical assistance, it’s nothing like a nearly automated Land Rover. Here, you pretty much take control of everything.
After two weeks of blasting around hill and dale in this beast, we found it hard not to be nervous about tearing up the terrain in this thing. But, it seemed to laugh off the worst we could muster around here. Our biggest test complaints come down to defaulting to eco power and comfort suspension every time you power it up, and the awkwardly low hanging rear bumper obviously done for compliance sake.
Once you manage the extremely high up entry, you’ll find nothing lacking in creature comforts. This brute is every bit a Mercedes-Benz; whether you’re talking about the quilted leather upholstery, climate-controlled seats, or features like navigation and onboard WiFi.
The boxy Bronco-ish body gets a lift of its own; while fender flares get serious extensions to cover all of that rubber.
And yes, Government Fuel Economy Ratings are as abysmal as you expect, 11-City, 11-Highway, and 11-Combined. Hey, at least they’re consistent. Somehow, we managed to eke out 13.3 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
The Energy Impact Score is about as bad as it gets too, burning through 30.0-barrels of oil every year, and emitting 13.7-tons of CO2.
By far, the worse numbers are the OMG prices. While you can get into a base G550 for $123,325, you’ll have to pony up at least $225,925 to get squared. Of course, you could build an equally capable Wrangler for half of that, but that’s not exactly the point of this rig now is it?
So, what is the point of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4X4 squared? Well, it’s a way for Mercedes-Benz engineers to showcase what the brand is capable of. And at the same time, if you can afford it, you get to enjoy their labor of love, on or off road, in one of the most insane vehicles we’ve ever driven.
Road Test: 2018 Audi A5/S5
Clean Cities: West Virginia Electric Charging Stations
Goss' Garage: Death Wobble
Muscle Car Memories: AMX
Long Term Update: Honda CR-V | Chrysler Pacifica
Road Test: Kia Optima Hybrid
We pay a lot of attention to what happens to the driver when metal meets metal on the road. But now a new study focuses—instead--on the person sitting next to the driver --in a crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently put 13 midsize cars through a "passenger-side" small overlap front test. It’s similar to the crash tests where the driver’s side hits a barrier at 40 mph. In this new test, 10 cars earned good ratings for passenger-side protection. The 2017 Ford Fusion and 2017 Honda Accord take the top two spots. Last year the IIHS conducted passenger side crash tests on small SUVs. These results are also now part of the criteria for the Institute's 2018 TOP SAFETY PICK PLUS award.
For the first time in more than 25-years, a vehicle manufacturer is opening a new plant in Southeast Michigan. And the company building that plant is based in India.
Mahindra Automotive North America has opened a new US headquarters and assembly plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Their initial plan is to build off-road vehicles. Mahindra already assembles tractors and electric scooters in the states. Earlier this year they began to collaborate with Ford on new products including electric vehicles.
The government’s annual Fuel Economy Guide has now gone paperless and will only be available online. It’s been published in hard copy form since 1975. But, beginning with the new 2018 edition, it will only be available online and via the smartphone app—which is how most people access this information. The Department of Energy tells us the printed version quickly became outdated as new vehicles were being launched mid-year. The web-based guide is constantly updated and always current. The 2018 Fuel Economy Guide is on-line now.
And that’s the latest automotive headlines for this week’s Motor News.
2018 Audi S5 Sportback:
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 369 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.1 seconds @ 107 mph
EPA: 21 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
2018 Audi A5 Coupe:
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 273 lb-ft.
EPA: 24 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
With so many vehicles these days, choosing winners for our annual Drivers’ Choice Awards is usually pretty difficult. But one of the easiest we’ve made in recent years is our pick for 20-17’s best sport sedan, the Audi A4. It has the perfect play of luxury, technology, and of course performance. And, now, it’s time to see if Audi knows how to share the wealth.
The A4’s chassis is not only capable, it’s flexible, with more than enough beef to handle whatever Audi engineers feel like throwing into it.
It was a given that Audi would follow up their latest A4 sedan with a coupe, and indeed they have, the 2018 Audi A5.
But, what about an even more practical side of the car equation? Well, they’ve also added a fresh 5-door hatchback with more cargo flexibility. And, also offered it in a higher performance variety with true Grand Touring flair. That would be the 2018 Audi S5 Sportback. So, let’s start there.
We know that Audi’s S-line has always well-straddled that middle ground between the standard A cars and the ultra-high performance RS’.
And, the S5quattro powertrain follows that creed to the letter. Its response is fantastic. Flog it, it goes; providing seamless power for seemingly days.
The 3.0-liter turbo V6 that makes it happen is not new of course, but has been revised for ’18. Horsepower is up 21 to 354; torque climbs 44 lb-ft. to 369.
With the 5th door hatch, there’s wide open access to the Sportback’s 21.8 cu-ft. of luggage space. That’s 8.8 cu-ft. more than the sedan, and the space expands to 35.0 cu-ft. with the seatbacks folded. Coupe-like styling in hatchback form is nothing new to Audi, or any other European brand for that matter; as almost everything including SUVs, seems to boast a coupe-like profile these days.
And, that slick shape also fit’s the S’ road handling profile. Under throttle, the S5 is very well balanced and yearning to go, almost like you’re holding it back when tooling around town. And, when we unleashed it at our test track; it reacted with such responsiveness through the turns, it seemed to be begging us for more. There’s still a mild understeer tendency, as we’ve found typical in quattros, standard on all Sportbacks, but very little body roll. The S’ new sport differential transfers power side to side quicker than before. It’s hard to say we could truly feel a difference, but nothing about this car is sluggish.
And certainly that can be said of straight-line performance as well. The turbo V6 pays out a wealth of torque right from the get go; and quattro invests it wisely with a treasure trove of traction for getting off the line in a hurry. We hit 60 in 4.6-seconds.
Audi’s 8-speed Tiptronic automatic handles gearing. Audi claims there’s not enough demand for a manual, and it’s getting harder and harder to argue with that. This auto fires hard and fast, taking us to the end of the ¼ in 13.1-seconds at 107 miles-per-hour. Well done!
But, what about that true A5 two-door Coupe we mentioned earlier? Now, it may not have the practicality of the Sportback, or our test car’s S performance treatment, but it still takes the A4 design theme in a traditionally sporty direction.
The A5 Coupe’s long wheelbase, exaggerated wheel arches, and power dome hood set the tone; while the tall and wide Audi Singleframe grille, slender headlights, and LED tail lights keep the family resemblance strong.
This A5 Coupe, like the base Sportback, has a familiar 2.0-liter I4 turbo as standard. Along with 252-horsepower comes 273 lb-ft. of torque. Also as in all Sportbacks, quattro all-wheel-drive is standard; but here a 6-speed manual transmission is available, as is a 7-speed DCT; same price for either. The Coupe may be less practical inside, but certainly no less comfortable or luxurious. With all of the high performance Audi’s we’ve driven lately, it was refreshing to spend some time in a volume model; and find the same light but confident steering, and potent turbo linked to an equally impressive transmission.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the A5 Coupe automatic are 24-City, 34-Highway, and 27-Combined. Our average, a good 29.1 miles-per-gallon.
The S5 Sportback’s ratings are 21-City, 30-Highway, and 24-Combined; with our average an acceptable 22.3 miles-per-gallon. A5 Coupe Pricing starts at $43,775 for Premium trim, $6,800 over an A4 sedan. Sportback pricing starts at $43,575; $55,375 for an S5.
Whether you’re looking for sporty luxury for two from the 2018 A5 Coupe, or more practicality and performance from the 2018 S5 Sportback, they make without a doubt, along with the A4, an unbeatable hand, and we’re all in.
This time I want to explain a common problem that we see on a lot of 4- wheel drive vehicles, and every once in a while on a passenger car; but especially on Jeeps, and the problem is what’s called a death wobble; and what this is you're going down the highway; you’re doing highway speed; you hit a bump; and all of a sudden the vehicle the steering wheel everything starts shaking violently to the point that it’s difficult to even control it.
The only way to get rid of it is usually to pull off the side of the road, stop and then re- accelerate, and it will be fine until you hit the next big bump at speed.
Alright now, what are some of the things that you should look for. Well you want to look at all of the different bushings, and everything underneath; like here, we have a worn out sway bar link bushing, we have a worn out sway bar frame bushing.
We want to look at the bushings in the trailing arms. If the car is equipped with that anyone of these rubber bushings any place in here can allow movement so that when you hit a bump and your wheels start wobbling back and forth and they can’t be controlled.
Now here we have a track bar that of course wants to be checked.
There is a rubber bushing over there on the other end, but the number one problem right here this is a steering damper. It’s like a shock absorber for the steering system and it dampens out the sideways movements of the steering linkage, these things go bad, and when they do it doesn’t make any difference on how good or bad the rest of the system is, you will wind up with a death wobble.
So you check that very carefully because that’s the number one culprit right there; or of course you could have bad shock absorbers as well, and you could have a situation where none of these bushings are really badly worn but they and they all have a little bit of wear, and the cumulative effect of that is that there is enough free play in the entire suspension to cause the death wobble.
Also, if you’re going to do it you may want to do something like this. This is a master kit, this kit is a couple hundred bucks a little over two hundred with new shocks, and everything. This is poly urethane and it tightens up the suspension and the steering and makes it feel a lot more modern so poly- urethane is a good way to go, keep in mind though that putting some of these in can be a lot of labor, so in some cases you may find that it’s cheaper to buy new replacement arms and things like that.
Any way the problem can be solved and in most cases it’s not a huge expense.
And if you have a question or a comment drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.
Our success story this week takes us to West Virginia, where you can find an e-v charging station at every state park lodge.
All 10 lodges are equipped with 3 tesla chargers, as well as a level 2 universal charging station. Drivers are invited to pull in and plug in for free!
Paul Redford: “We’re getting a good bit of unsolicited traffic from those folks who own electric vehicles. And they’re coming in and there hitting our level 2 destination chargers and while they’re charging they’re vehicles, they’re browsing our gift shops, they’re dining in our full service restaurant and we’re actually even getting some over night stays in our lodge rooms and cabins.”
John Davis: Funds generated by those plugging in and shopping is footing the bill for the electric current. Now, other state park systems are reaching out to learn more. With help from the West Virginia clean cities coalition, charging up and enjoying the natural wonders of the mountain state has never been easier.
Engine: 2.0-liter I4
Torque: 271 lb-ft.
EPA: 39 mpg city / 46 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 7.8 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 3.5 tons/yr
The euro-styled kia optima mid-size sedan has been quite a hit for the brand, and a favorite of ours here at Motorweek as well. But what most people may not realize is that the optima lineup includes a gasoline-electric hybrid. And for 2017, it gets a full redesign, encompassing all of the benefits of the optima’s new 4th generation chassis.
Kia has actually had a high mileage hybrid in the Optima lineup since 2011. And with the 4th generation of Kia’s midsizer kicking off last year, 2017 sees an all-new powertrain for this gasoline-electric. The new hybrid system consists of 2.0-liter I4, downsized from the previous gen’s 2.4-liter. But, there’s a bigger electric motor in place to aid it, 38-kW compared to last year’s 30-kW motor. Combined, horsepower is actually down from 206 to 192; but torque is much torquier, climbing from 195 lb-ft. to 271.
Battery size increases from 1.4 to 1.6-kWh; and as before, it’s placed under the rear trunk floor, robbing a bit of storage space, though keeping the split/folding seatbacks in play. Capacity is 13.4 cubic-ft., compared to the base sedan’s 15.9. Thankfully, the transmission is still a 6-speed auto; and there’s been no change to a CVT. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 39-City, 46-Highway, and 42-Combined; so our average of 41.7 miles-per-gallon on Regular was just about spot on. That makes for a very good Energy Impact Score, with use of just 7.8-barrels of oil per year while emitting just 3.5-tons of CO2.
That’s a significant improvement over last gen for sure, but still short of many other hybrids out there. For those looking for more, a plug-in version with a larger battery and up to 27 miles of EV-only driving is on the way. As for daily use, the Optima hybrid makes some noises you wouldn’t hear in a typical petrol Optima, but otherwise operates with the same smooth, Euro-like demeanor. After an hour or two behind the wheel, it’s easy to forget you’re even in a hybrid. If you wish to be reminded, a new Eco-Driver Assistance System will coach you on how to get the most efficiency as possible, with prompts in the IP, as well as with audible alerts. With very good steering feel, this gen’s stiffer chassis, and the aforementioned transmission; this is one hybrid we truly enjoyed driving.
There’s good comfort in all seating positions and plenty of nice soft touch materials. EX trim comes with heated leather seats, heated steering wheel, surround sound, and navigation. Adding the Technology package will get you a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a host of safety systems including Autonomous Emergency Braking. The exterior differs little from base Optima. That’s a good thing as far as we’re concerned, as we feel the Optima is one of the best looking rides in the family sedan segment.
But, nothing is for free, as there’s always a price to pay. Here, it starts at $26,890 in Premium trim, or about a grand less than the stingier Toyota Camry Hybrid. Optima Hybrid in EX trim, at $31,885, is about 5-grand over a standard non-hybrid Optima.
The 2017 Kia Optima may come up short when it comes to absolute fuel economy. But, much like the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, it offers handsome styling, and a traditional sedan feel, that many other modestly priced hybrids can’t match, plus, it adds a unique driving experience that’s clearly European in flavor. So, don’t look at the Optima Hybrid as the ultimate hyper-miler’s choice, but a more efficient option for those looking for a roomy, great looking, fine driving car.
Road Test: 2018 Honda Accord
Goss' Garage: TPMS
Auto World: Simeone Museum
Quick Spin: Porsche 911 GT2 RS | Lamborghini Huracan Performante | Chevrolet Equinox Diesel
Road Test: 2017 Land Rover Discovery
In MotorWeek Podcast 170, we talk about the sporty new Kia Stinger. Then the crew also discusses the technologically advanced Range Rover Velar. Next, Lauren Morrison talks about a unique DIY car club. Then, the panel debates the usefulness of manual shift mode, and they help a viewer with questions about long-term storage of a hybrid vehicle.
So you have a car that has a tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS as we refer to them. And you think you can take your trusty tire pressure gauge and toss it in the trash. Not so.
See TPMS only warns you if a tire is dangerously low on pressure. It doesn’t tell you the ideal pressure in most cases. So the only way to make sure you get proper tire life and gas mileage and all the things that go along with tire pressure you need to check manually at least once a month.
Alright, a couple of things about tire pressure monitoring systems there a couple of types. One is indirect reading and it reads off of the wheel speed sensors for the ABS system. They’re o.k.
The others are direct reading systems and they have a sensor in each wheel that tells the car’s computer the pressure inside each one of those tires. And within those direct reading systems there are two types. One is right here this is held on by this giant clamp those goes all the way around the inside of the wheel. Not all that popular. The others replace the valve stem. The sensor’s inside the wheel, the valve stem is out so you can check tire pressure and add and delete as needed.
Now some of the things we see with theses, well we see lots of weird things were people hit curbs and stuff like that or technicians who don’t realize they’re dealing with a TPMS sensor and yank it right out of the sensor and stuff like that, really weird stuff. Have to use a little common sense with these things. But one of the more frequent things that we see is people who want decorative valve stem caps, and they go out and buy this gorgeous set of metal caps, they put it on to the stem and a little while later they go to take it off and the whole end of this valve stem falls off, turns to dust, and that’s because of electrolysis.
So there’s two things. Number 1, don’t use metal caps on these aluminum valve stems, use plastic caps. Number 2, use dielectric grease to grease whatever cap you out on there to help prevent corrosion and make it so it’ll come off easily. So even though it’s a passive system, there’s still some things you need to do in order to keep yourself safe. And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line. Right here, at MotorWeek.
Engine: 1.5 liter / 2.0 liter
Horsepower: 192 / 252
Torque: 192 lb-ft. / 273 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 100 mph
EPA: Average 28.6 mpg
An accord by definition is an agreement. And I think we can all agree that the Honda Accord has been one of the most successful cars of all time, with over 13 million sold here in the U.S. alone. So while an all-new Accord may not spike the excitement meter around here, it certainly is an important vehicle for Honda, as well as for other car makers, as they see what they’ll be up against for years to come.
Sedan sales being what they are these days, you might think Honda would just do a light makeover for the 2018 Honda Accord and call it a year. That’s not the case.
This 10th generation Accord is all-new, riding on a lighter chassis that allows for a lower, wider stance.
Wheelbase is up by over two inches, with virtually all of it upping rear leg roof. There’s genuine full-size sedan space back here, and while the sloping room means really bending over to get in, there’s 6-footer-plus headroom once you do.
Up front, Honda has blended a sportier theme into the familiar space; starting with a nicely thick steering wheel, and adding additional bolstering to the seats.
The gauge panel is virtual, but there are dials here, not just a digital readout for speed like some other Hondas.
A full slate of tech. features naturally, including an 8-inch touchscreen with vastly improved interface; though that’s mostly due to adding some antiquated knobs and buttons back into the mix.
On the practicality front, split folding seatbacks are standard, and trunk space increases by almost a full cubic-ft. to 16.7.
There’s lots new in the powertrain department as well. Base, and destined to be the most popular, is a 1.5-liter turbo-4, which at 192-horsepower, is the most ever standard in an Accord; torque is 192 lb-ft. It comes mated to either a CVT or a 6-speed manual transmission. For a small turbo, it operates very smoothly, and feels totally adequate for daily use.
The upgrade is no longer a V6, but another turbo-4, a 2.0-liter no less. But don’t fret, it’s actually a detuned version of the Civic Type R’s, cranking out 252-horsepower, with 273 lb-ft. of torque, more than the last V6. It connects to either a new 10-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual.
We really enjoyed the manual. It’s not Honda’s best shifter ever, but it just feels like you’re getting away with something, rowing through the gears in this family car.
Finally, the hybrid makes a return as well, combining a normally-aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with two electric motors for a combined output of 212-horsepower.
Regardless of powertrain, the Accord feels as quiet and functional as always, but bigger, and still with just a dash of fun in the mix. It’s not Lexus quiet, or Mazda capable, but it finds a really nice sweet spot in between.
While visibility wasn’t an issue before, A-pillars have been slimmed to enhance the outward view further.
Despite the wheelbase stretch, overall length is actually down, even as the front overhang is up slightly.
But, the altered proportions work wonderfully, yielding a sleeker, coupe-like, profile. Indeed, Honda clearly wanted to steer things in a sportier direction styling-wise; but thankfully without going overboard.
A bit of weight was lost along the way as well, around 150-lbs for most trim levels. Wheels are 17 or 19-inch alloys.
Most of our time, both at the national press launch in New Hampshire and around our headquarters, was spent in a Touring trim Accord with the optional 2.0-liter and 10-speed automatic. New is an Adaptive Damper system with real-time damping control with Normal and Sport modes.
Despite all of the gears, the transmission displayed only the occasional clunkiness.
And at our unfortunately frigid test track, the 2.0T-10 speed combo still delivered; with a 0-60 of 6.5-seconds. There’s plenty of low-end rumble, enough to battle quite a bit of wheel spin. With warmer temps, we feel sub-6 seconds would be more the order of the day.
Things are smooth and steady from there, eventually tripping the lights in 14.8-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. Easily comparable to last year’s V6.
It doesn’t feel vastly lighter than before, but nimbler for sure with noticeably less body roll. Turn-ins are quicker and overall the car simply feels more responsive, and yes sportier!
Honda Sensing safety systems, including Collision Mitigation Braking are standard on all Accords.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings aren’t finalized for the 2.0-liter, but in mixed driving we averaged a good 28.6 miles-per-gallon on Regular.
Pricing starts with LX trim at $24,445; top level Touring trim begins at $34,675.
Yes, it’s not a great time to be in the 4-door car business these days; but if there’s one sedan that should have no problem staying relevant in this SUV obsessed world, it’s the 2018 Honda Accord. It’s because it still delivers what it always has; reliable, highly efficient, practical, trouble-free transportation in an increasingly refined and sophisticated package. Honda fans are sure to follow… Accordingly.