8.14.2016

Cheap Jeep: The 2016 Jeep Renegade Sport 4X4

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Jeep Renegade Sport 4X4
2016 Jeep Renegade Sport 4X4.
The phrase "small, inexpensive Jeep" causes great heartburn among the Jeep faithful.  There is the contingent that believes the only true Jeep is the original CJ, the current generation of which we now call the Wrangler, and that it was always meant to be small and inexpensive,  Another group has wholeheartedly embraced everything from the wood-paneled 1980s and 90s Grand Wagoneers to today's Grand Cherokee, but knows that, from the evidence of the Compass and Patriot models, when Jeep tries to go small and cheap something gets lost in the translation, and the product ends up being a lesser one (Patriot) or not a Jeep at all (Patriot).

When word got out that the next small Jeep, the Renegade, would actually be based on the same platform as the Fiat 500L and built in Italy, the predictions of a disaster were fast and furious.

What's A "Sport" Button Doing In A Hyundai? The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T.
Show me a squiggly line on a road map and I just naturally want to drive it.  Mrs.TireKicker and I were in the last three days of our ten-day honeymoon drive up California's Highway 1 from Morro Bay to Gualala.  As noted in our review of the 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring, we'd begun our trip in that car...but we traded in Monterey two days earlier for the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T (our thanks to the fine folks at DriveShop for their flexibility in pickup and dropoff locations).

The trade netted us considerably more room for people and cargo (the Sonata's trunk easily accommodated what we had to fold down the rear seats in the Mazda 3 to hold), and without a horrendous penalty in fuel economy (an EPA estimated 23 city/32 highway compared to the Mazda 3's 26/35...and ultimately both wound up getting 29.5).  But the biggest squiggly line of the trip lay ahead.

The Real Deal: 2016 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL
The 2016 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL.
With Volkswagen's green image in tatters from a very nearly year-long diesel emissions cheating scandal that continues to make headlines as VW tries to come up with an owner compensation plan regulators will agree to, automotive journalists, industry analysts and especially dealers are asking "So what is Volkswagen, now?"

It's not the current Beetle,  a niche product that appeals to a shrinking fan base.  Nor is it the Passat or the CC, never strong contenders in the now-evaporating midsize sedan market. SUVs and especially crossovers are hot, but the Touraeg and Tiguan aren't.

Truth be told, at this moment, Volkswagen is the Golf and its sedan sister, the Jetta.

8.13.2016

Costco To Costco On A Tank Of Gas: The 2016 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring

Front 7/8 view of 2016 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring
The 2016 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring.
Over the past two years and several months, regular TireKicker readers have seen references to Navigator, the best travelling companion known to man.  Well, Navigator is now Mrs. TireKicker, and we decided our kind of honeymoon was a leisurely ten-day trip up California's Highway 1 from Morro Bay (a charming place, but don't book a family vacation based on what you saw in "Finding Dory" without doing some research, Mom and Dad) to Gualala (pronounced wah-LA-la), 356 miles north.  And the car in our possession the day we would leave would be the 2016 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring.

So what's that got to do with the Costco to Costco reference in the headline?