Thursday, August 17, 2017


Having resurrected the Pacifica nameplate in early 2017 with the introduction of a full-fledged minivan replacing the combination wagon/SUV that went out of production after the 2007 model, Chrysler has unveiled a hybrid version of the same for the more fuel-conscious among you.

Both the standard Pacifica and the Pacifica Hybrid are labeled as 2017 models, though the former has been around for well over a year and the latter just hit showrooms this past spring.

They are essentially the same vehicle with the obvious difference in powertrains, plus the popular Stow-’n-Go seats that hide the second row captain's chairs under the floor for more storage are not available on the Hybrid. That's where they put the battery for the electric motor.

Well, there is also a difference in price.

The Pacifica Hybrid Premium (the base trim) carries an MSRP of $43,090 including the $1,095 destination and delivery charge with a $7,500 federal tax credit bringing the effective price down to well under $36,000. (Chrysler says it’s under $35,000 but that doesn’t figure in the destination charge.)

The top trim level for the Hybrid, the Platinum edition, checks in at $46,090, which is competitive with the Pacifica Limited with its 3.6-liter V6 (base MSRP of $42,990) when that tax credit is applied. Various options can make a difference when doing comparison shopping, of course.

The Pacifica Hybrid Platinum I had for a week carried a total MSRP of $47,885 with the Customer Preferred Option Package, which included such features as adaptive cruise control, blind spot and cross path warning, and the UConnect Theater Package, was counted in.

The Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in model that can go up to an estimated 33 miles on electric power only, which may be enough for running the kids to school or making a grocery trip depending upon where you live and shop. Past that, power comes from the V6.

With an electrically variable transmission with dual motor EV drive capability, the Pacifica Hybrid earns a fuel economy rating of 84 miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe), which the company says leads the minivan segment. Keeping that battery charged for the most efficient operating takes up to 14 hours on standard housing 110-volt storage. Get the level 2 charger (240 volts) and that time is cut to just two hours.

That works for routine daily tasks, and for long family trips where public charging stations may not be available, the gasoline-only operation is rated at 32 miles-per-gallon overall.

With the exception of the second-row, Stow-’n-Go seating, the Pacifica Hybrid comes with all the features you are looking for in a minivan, No. 1 being lots of space for seven passengers and all their stuff.

There are all kind of nooks and crannies for storing items throughout the spacious, nicely appointed cabin. There is 32.3 cubic feet of storage area behind the third row, and the Stow-’n-Go system that is missing on the second row still works for the third with the back seats folding neatly into the floor to boost cargo capacity to 87.5 cubic feet.

The Platinum edition in particular comes with a plethora of standard features that make the difference in price worthwhile. They include a hands-free power liftgate, power sliding doors on both sides, keyless operation with push-button start, capless fuel filler (push a button on the driver’s door and a signal in the instrument panel lets you know when it is ready for fueling), three-zone A/C, UConnect 8.4 NAV (which is one of the more intuitive systems to operate), automatic headlamps with LED daytime running lights, fog lights, LED tail lamps, leather seat surfaces, and an 8-way power driver’s seat with 4-way lumbar lumbar support. 

That Customer Referred Package, a $1,795 option, is well worth it. In addition to the features mentioned earlier, it also includes a 360-degree surround view camera and rear-seat entertainment and park assist systems.

So why go for the Hybrid over the standard Pacifica?

The bottom line to me comes down to how many miles you drive in a typical year and if the savings you get from the Hybrid are worth the difference in upfront costs. I’ve seen people crow about the virtues of their hybrid car and then just let it sit in their driveway most of the day/week.

If you do drive the normal amount and keep that battery charged up, you’ll get the full benefits of the Hybrid, and there also may be state and local tax breaks in addition to the federal tax credit that will make a difference in cost as well.

I’ll let you do the math for your potential savings. It gives me a headache.

What I liked about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: Lots of high quality materials are found throughout the interior. The ride (with an exception I’ll note in a minute) is very quiet and comfortable. It cruises nicely on the highway, and power (estimated 260 horsepower) makes for a nice drive around town.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: The whine from the electric motors — which is typical on many hybrids — as you slow to a stop grinds on the nerves. Also, I don’t like fooling around with the extension cords that come with plug-in hybrids. 

Would I buy the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid? Well, no, I wouldn’t at this stage of my life. I’ve been an empty nester for quite some time. But when it comes to family transportation, a minivan is hard to beat, and the Pacifica Hybrid has to be near the top of your list. If price is the determining factor, check out the gasoline-powered Pacifica. You can get the Stow-’n-Go seats with the vacuum cleaner with it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class often serves as an introduction to the luxury automotive class for many buyers. It is the company’s best-selling model and ranks high in its class in sales overall.

But not this C-Class.

Not the new AMG C43 Coupe.

This is a C-Class in another, well, class.

The AMG should be your tipoff here. Those initials get the juices flowing for any performance enthusiast.

Basically, it means engineers from what used to be a separate company but now is a division of Mercedes-Benz have tuned this vehicle for the ultimate in driving exhilaration with a more powerful engine, a fine-tuned 9-speed automatic transmission, sport-tuned suspension, and a more muscular exterior appearance with special design touches.

Not your standard C-Class, for sure.

The C43 is a new designation for 2017, replacing what was last year’s AMG C450 with a new biturbo V6 engine rated at 362 horsepower and sending 384 pound-feet of peak torque to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system (69 percent to the rear wheels).

You can select gears yourself via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters or switch modes from C (Comfort) to S (Sport) or S+ (Sport Plus) and let the 9G-Tronic transmission do the work for you. Sport and Sport-plus ups the performance level with Sport-plus adjusting exhaust flaps for a sweet-sounding throaty growl.

A company release defined Sport-plus this way: partial cylinder suppression during full-throttle gear changes by means of a precisely defined delay in both ignition timing and fuel injection allows for faster and more audible gear changes.

In short, more bang for your buck.

The AMG C43 Coupe also features an ECO mode and an automatic stop/start function for the fuel-conscious. EPA figures are 20 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway for a respectable 23 mpg combined considering all that power.

The interior of the AMG C43 Coupe is exquisite. The sport seats give plenty of lateral support, and the red stitching around the seats and doors and across the dash is an eye-pleasing touch. Even the floor mats get a border of red stitching.

Standard equipment covered on the $55,500 base MSRP for the 2017 AMG C43 includes the paddle shifters, a trunk spoiler, heated power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, automatic LED headlamps with twilight sensor and locator lighting, front seat belt presenters (a thoughtful touch that means you don’t have to twist around awkwardly to secure them), a rearview camera, and blind sport and collision prevention systems.

LED daytime running and taillights also are standard.

Optional packages, like high-performance tires and exhaust system, a head-up display giving the driver his speed, rpm level, and gear (assuming the driver is not wearing polarized sunglasses), COMAND navigation and voice control, parking assist, and surround-view camera, plus other AMG design touches and the $995 destination and delivery charge, ran my test vehicle up to $66,496.

That’s a pretty hefty hike over the C300 Coupe with its starting price of $42,650.

The AMG C43 also comes as a Cabriolet starting at $60,400.

That’s just another sign the AMR C43 is no ordinary C-Class.

What I liked about the AMG C43 Coupe: The styling is beautiful, and the performance matches. A manual transmission might add to the fun, but running in Sport-Plus is not a bad substitute. Access to the backseat isn’t bad as the front seats slide forward to provide a bigger gap. Of course, there’s not a lot of room once you get back there — only 32 inches of legroom, but that’s not unusual for its genre.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 AMG C43 Coupe: You might think that with as many engineers and designers that they have at their disposal that Mercedes might come up with a better way of incorporating the display screen for the COMAND system into the dash. As it is, it sticks up like (as I’ve said somewhere before) somebody just stuck an iPad above the center stack. I’ve gotten the hang of operating the COMAND system using the knob on the center console to select various functions on the screen, but I still think it needs to be dumbed down a bit. Sometimes you have to take your eyes off the road to make sure you are getting to the right place.

Would I buy the 2017 AMG C43 Coupe? For sure! South Florida Media members judging convertibles at this year’s annual Topless in Miami Presented by Haartz convertible competition liked the AMG C63 S, which comes with a Biturbo V8 (503 hp, 516 lb.-ft. of torque) well enough to score it the winner in its class. It starts at almost $81,000, so you can save a lot with the C43 Coupe or Convertible if you’re willing to give up a half-second on your zero-to-60 time (4.6 seconds with the AMG C43).

Wednesday, August 2, 2017



A recently released list of the world’s Top 100 most valuable brands from BrandZ, an international firm that complies such lists from a database of information, contains the usual automotive suspects.

Toyota checks in at No. 30, BMW at 35, Mercedes-Benz at 40, Ford at 83, and Honda at 91 on the ranking of most valuable global brands.

Not making the Top 100 overall companies but checking in at spots 6-8 on a side list of the Top 10 automotive brands are Nissan, Audi, and Tesla.

No real surprises there. 

But No. 9 among automotive brands might catch you off guard.

Remember, we’re talking globally here, and Land Rover checks in at No. 9 just ahead of No. 10 Porsche in the listing of the Top 10 most valuable automotive brands.

Yes, Land Rover may rank only 27th overall in U.S. sales with less than half a percent market share, but thinking globally, the famed British marque has been on a rise since the Indian conglomerate Tata purchased it and Jaguar from Ford in 2008. According to BrandZ, Land Rover has a net worth of $5.534 billion.

That’s a 17 percent jump over 2016 and places it right between Tesla ($5.876 billion) and Porsche ($5.141 billion). Land Rover actually was one of only three automotive brands that saw an increase in value over the past year, the others being Mercedes-Benz (4 percent) and Porsche (16 percent). (Ford remained the same.)

You don’t do that unless you are doing something right.

Actually, a lot of things right, and that includes sprucing up the product line. In recent years, it introduced a more performance-driven SUV with the Range Rover Sport and a more urban-oriented vehicle in the Range Rover Evoque. It even came out with a convertible version of the Evoque for 2016.

That refining process continues with the Land Rover Discovery.

Possibly not as familiar to the casual shopper as the Range Rover or Evoque, the Discovery gets its name back as it enters its fifth generation. Over the last 12 years it carried first the LR3 badge, then LR4 in the U.S. Land Rover claimed the name change was due to the “negative” association shoppers had with the Discovery label, but I think it was done by the same people who like to tinker with website designs. A curse on them!

For 2017, the Discovery has been redesigned inside and out, with the exterior getting more rounded lines to alleviate the Land Rover’s usual boxiness, which givesthe rear end a somewhat bulbous butt, and the interior coddling up to seven passengers with lots of room and soft, high quality materials.

It comes in three trims — base SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury — with a fourth, Launch Edition, offered in a limited production run of 500 vehicles so you probably can’t find one now. A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 is standard, though diesel models also are offered on the two higher trims.

The V6 provides plenty of punch with 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission resulting in fuel figures of 16 miles-per-gallon city, 21 highway, and 18 combined. Four-wheel drive is standard on all models.

The Discovery may be a beast, but with the transmission set in Sport mode, it is an agile one. And it has plenty of muscle with a towing capacity of just over 8,200 pounds.

Of course, being a Land Rover, it also has exceptional off-road capability, which being in South Florida and its flat terrain, I did not get an opportunity to test out. Alas. Couldn’t really challenge it on any curvy road either.

I spent the week in the top-of-the-line HSE Luxury model, which has a third-row as standard as well as air-suspension that allows you to lower the vehicle for easier in-and-out as well as for cargo loading. The back- and second-row seats lower and raise at the push of a button just to the inside of the rear and can be configured in up to four different ways.

Standard equipment on the HSE Luxury includes (but is not limited to) a gesture-operated tailgate (a wave of the foot at the corner of the rear bumper opens and closes it), electronic air suspension, 16-way power adjustable driver and front-passenger seats, three-zone climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, beaucoup Bluetooth and USB connectivity (up to nine USB charging points when the rear-seat entertainment package is included), front and rear parking aids, rear-view camera, and LED automatic headlights and fog lights.

That all is included in the base MSRP of $63,950.

The vehicle I had also included optional packages that included adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot warning, reverse traffic detection, chrome paddle shifters, towing package, a Dynamic body kit, brushed aluminum console, Terrain Response 2 with settings for automatic, grass/gravel/snow, mud ruts, sand, and rock crawl, upgraded Windsor leather seats, 21-inch wheels, rear-seat entertainment system, a head-up display,  roof rails, and a 360-degree camera.

All that plus the $995 destination and delivery charge ran the total MSRP to $82,300. The base SE starts at $50,985, the gas HSE at $57,945 (including destination and delivery).

What I liked about the 2017 Land Rover Discovery: It’s a big vehicle (nearly 196 inches long and just under 79 inches wide), which means you have to be aware of its size when in tight places, but it doesn’t particularly drive like one. It is smooth and quiet on the highway with little-to-no road or wind noise.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Land Rover Discovery: It’s packed with a lot of technology, but isn’t very intuitive to operate. I get that the idea of “pinching” the touchscreen is the new way to adjust scale for the navigation system, but I’m just as content tapping the plus or minus sign on the screen. My main peccadillo would be the lack of storage space when the third row is upright. It’s only 9.1 cubic feet. With the third-row seats folded, it jumps to 45 feet, then to 82.7 to 85 with the second-row down.

Would I buy the 2017 Land Rover Discovery? I have no need for a vehicle of this size or off-road capability, but that shouldn’t hold you back if that’s what you want/need. I think sometimes reviewers tend to be overly critical of the Land Rover, but I find it to be an interesting combination of luxury and functionality in the SUV world.

Friday, July 28, 2017



Sales of the Ford Mustang have hit a dip in the U.S. recently, but the car that inspired the Pony Car craze over a half-century ago may be more popular than it ever has been.

That’s because the demand for it globally continue to rise even as monthly U.S. sales numbers, which are still good enough to lead the segment by a wide margin, by the way, begin to fade just a bit.

According to an Associated Press report this week, the Mustang became the world’s best-selling “sports” car — more on why I put “sports” in quotes later — in 2016 with over 150,000 sold world-wide, even though U.S. sales slipped 13 percent.

Ford actually laid claim to the title last spring after scoping data from IHS Markit, an international company that collects data and information for analysis of various industries around the world. The automaker says that it will ship the iconic vehicle to over 140 countries in 2017 with Germany and China the most popular destinations.

Frankly, as long as they keep shipping them to South Florida I’ll be happy (even though it has been years since I actually owned one).

My recent time spent in a 2017 Ford Mustang convertible confirmed that.

Of course, I may be biased here. I don’t recall ever seeing a convertible I haven’t liked, so the Mustang that was delivered to my driveway one sunny morning (alas, the sun didn’t last all that long) was ahead of the game before I had even gotten behind the wheel and pushed the button down at the bottom of the center stack to start it up.

But my continued time did nothing to dim my original enthusiasm.

My colleagues in the Southern Automotive Media Association chose the Mustang as the winner in its category (full-size) in this summer’s Topless in Miami Presented by Haartz convertible competition, so I am not alone in my enthusiasm. It is also a very popular rental in the Florida Keys where on a drive on U.S. 1 it seems like one passes you every mile whether you are headed north or south.

There likely are many reasons behind its popularity, but I have to think its versatility rates high. It has been offered with a V8, V6 (for this year; it’s to be discontinued for 2018) or even a 4-cylinder engine with either an automatic or a manual transmission, which helps spread out the cost to fit more budgets. 

No matter what powertrain you select, the dual exhausts send forth that special Mustang sound that is a delight to the ears. And you don’t have to go up to the V8 for a fun drive.

The 2.4-liter Ecoboost 4-banger sends 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels, which is actually more than the 300/280 you get with the V6. The 5.0-liter V8 is tuned to 435/400, respectively.

But I think another factor is that unlike with the Thunderbird, which it introduced about a decade before, Ford stuck with the basics with the Mustang. The 2017 Mustang convertible I drove for a week in July 2017 was much like the same droptop I would have driven in July 1967 as far as the fundamentals go.

Obviously, the styling has been updated, and the 2017 model has up-to-date conveniences (like anti-lock brakes and traction control) and technology that we wouldn’t have dreamed of over 50 years ago when FM radio was considered exotic and eight-track stereos were just coming into being. 

And the top opens and closes with the twist of a handle and push of a button and folds neatly into a compartment behind the rear seat without intruding on the trunk space. No awkward opening and close dual clamps.

But it’s still a fresh-air ride for four-passengers (or one, for that matter).

The Thunderbird, on the other hand, morphed into a four-seater in 1958 after just three years as a two-seater and each succeeding generation it seemed to grow and grow and even was targeted as a competitor to Lincoln luxury before it was returned to a two-seater for 2002. It disappeared after 2005 while the Mustang lives on.

The 2.3L Premium edition I had came with a cloth top, HID projector headlights and LED fog lights, dual-zone auto climate control, leather trimmed seats, two Smart charging USB ports, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera (especially handy for when the top is up), and selectable drive modes for normal, sport, and eco performance.

All that was included in the $35,695 base MSRP.

Throw in option packages that included Shaker audio to replace the standard premium sound system, a rear deck spoiler, heated and cooled seats, and the automatic transmission and the total MSRP came to $39,585 including the $900 destination and delivery fee.

Coupe Mustangs start at $25,185 and the V6 convertible at $30,685. You get into the low $40K range with the GT Premium convertible and on into the mid-$50K range with the Shelby GT350 Fastback.

Oh, yes. I put the word “sport” in quotes up there somewhere and said I would have more on that later, didn’t I? Well, here is why.

There is no doubt that the Mustang, even with the 4-banger and especially the GT, falls in the category of a performance vehicle. You can get it with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and the firm ride certainly is sports-car like. It won’t jar your teeth, but you will know when you go over a bump in the road.

But when I was growing up to me a sports car was a nifty two-seater like a Triumph TR4 or an MG known more for their agility than their brute power. The Mustang with its backseat just didn’t seem to fit in that genre.

Still doesn’t to me, even though the backseat in the convertible is pretty much useless padding unless you move the front seats so far forward you are bumping your nose on the windshield.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

What I liked about the 2017 Ford Mustang convertible: Pretty much everything. Well, maybe not the backseat, but hey! I was driving all the time! It’s a quiet ride with the top up as well.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Ford Mustang convertible: Ford really ought to take a closer look at how the top is secured. It’s not a major effort to turn the handle at the top of the center windshield to open or secure, but so many other manufacturers have found a way to see that the latches click into place automatically. Those who like to see their cars “glide” may not like the firm suspension, but it is a Muscle Car after all.

Would I buy the 2017 Ford Mustang convertible? Of course!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017



Last October I spent a week driving a 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco and noted how many features were included as standard in the base MSRP of under $22,000.

They included things that are offered only as options or are not available in the class at all, like a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, cross-traffic detection, blind-spot detection, projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights, etc.

So when it came time to answer my closing question — would I buy this vehicle? — my answer was yes, I would. But I added a caveat. I’d also want to take a look at the Elantra Limited before making a final decision.

Well, I recently got that look at the 2017 Elantra Limited, and much of what I said about the Elantra Eco last fall (you can read my earlier review by clicking on “October” on the list on the right to get to the proper link) holds true for the Elantra Limited.

You get a ton of similar features as standard in both models with the key differences in the powertrain (a 1.4-liter turbo and 7-speed double-clutch transmission on the Eco) and wheels (17-inch alloys on the Limited, 15s on the Eco).

I guess you decision would have to come down to how much gas you want to save. EPA figures for the Elantra Limited are 28 miles-per-gallon city, 37 highway, and 32 combined) and for the Elantra Eco 32/40/35. Not a huge difference, really, considering how real-life results often vary.

On the other hand, the Limited enjoys a power edge with its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder producing 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque to the 128/156, respectively, in the Eco. But thanks to the extra torque in the Eco, there’s not a whole lot of difference when it comes to off-the-line performance.

Both models come down in the category of “adequate” for most situations. If you want better mileage from the Limited, you can always drive it in “Eco” mode and if you want more in the way of response, put it in Sport instead of Normal.

The Limited is mated to a 6-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission, which means that you can select gears manually if you desire, though without paddle shifters, it becomes a bit of a chore to keep changing gears.

It’s when you start adding the extras, however, that the real advantages of the Limited come into play.

With the Limited you can get options like a Tech Package that includes navigation with an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, premium audio, a power sunroof and heated front and rear seats and an Ultimate Package that includes HID headlights, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Smart Cruise Control, and lane-keeping assist.

Those two packages (you need the Tech Package to get the features from the Ultimate) are a huge upgrade for and extra $4,400 added to the base MSRP of $22,350.

That, plus a couple of stand-alone options like carpeted floor mats, a cargo net in the trunk, first-aid kit, and rear bumper protection plus the $835 destination and delivery charge ran the total MSRP to $27,860 for the Elantra Limited that I drove for a week.

It wasn’t all that long ago that such a number for an Elantra would have sent shock waves through the showroom, but that falls into the reasonable category now. In fact, even with the options included, that total MSRP falls in the bottom half of the compact car segment.

Also, the base Elantra SE with a 6-speed manual transmission starts at under $18,000.

What I liked about the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited: The front is very room with up to 42.2 inches of legroom, and the back offers 35.7, which isn’t bad. The ride itself is quiet and smooth enough, and the cabin has a nice feel about it. Operation of the infotainment system is very intuitive, and there are plenty of functions to operate.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited: It’s not a requirement, but if you are going to have a shiftable automatic transmission, it’s nice to be able to accomplish that mission via paddle shifters. I don’t use them all that much on South Florida’s flat roads, but if you are one who likes to shift gears even with an automatic, you would want them. The engine overall could have a little more oomph in the performance department.

Would I buy the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited? Yes, I would. I would probably go for the Limited for the Eco, especially if I could swing the options financially. They make a huge difference when compared to the Elantra’s competitors. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I like coupes.

They’re not my favorite automotive style — that would be convertibles — but there’s just an air about a coupe that appeals to me.

Especially when it’s as stunning as the Audi A5.

Introduced a decade ago as a two-door version of Audi’s A4 sedan, the A5 Coupe is getting its first redesign as a 2018 model. Yes, that’s a rather long time to go between generations, but apparently Audi follows the well-tested philosophy of “it it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Still, a new drivetrain, added technology, and several styling tweaks to the exterior are welcome updates. The latter include a new grille and longer lower hood lines, more sweeping lines, a lower stance, and standard 10-spoke 18-inch wheels (19s are available) with special spoke designs, giving the A5 a sexy, alluring profile.

The new engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and is mated with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters for manual gear selection.

With the automatic, you get from zero-to-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, according to the company, and consume premium fuel at the rate of 24 miles-per-gallon city, 34 highway, and 27 combined. With the manual, the zero-to-60 clocking is a tick slower (5.7 seconds) and fuel numbers are virtually identical, according to the government. (We can always trust the government, right?)

There is no difference in pricing when it comes to the transmission. The A5 Premium starts at $42,800 with either the automatic or manual, the A5 Premium Plus at $45,800, and the A5 Prestige at $50,400 plus the $975 destination and delivery fee.

I spent my week in the A5 with the automatic and the Prestige package, which includes Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, an alarm system with motion sensors, 10-way power adjustable heated front seats, full LED headlights, a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, a parking system with top view camera, head-up display, Audi MMI Navigation package and a couple of other niceties.

The Virtual Cockpit is a fascinating features that was introduced a couple of years ago on the Audi TT. Drivers can adjust the instrument panel in front of them to display whatever information they want, including a high-resolution map for navigation.

The size of the tach and speedometer readout also can be adjusted via a small knob on the steering wheel to provide the driver with a larger or smaller map. It means you don’t have to divert your eyes to the monitor at the top of the center stack but can see navigation features with a quick glance through the steering wheel.

Adding other options like the driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control and high-beam assistant and traffic sign recognition), glacier white color, adaptive damping suspension, and high gloss dark brown walnut wood inlays ran the total MSRP to $55,300 for my A5, which, quite frankly, as a bit lower than what I guessed before I looked at the spec sheet.

In addition to the technological and convenience functions in the Prestige Package, standard features on the A5 include LED interior lighting, HID headlamps, a panoramic power sunroof, three-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and numerous other safety features. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive also is standard.

Operating that technology is accomplished via a knob on the center console which, depending on what function has been selected (navigation, radio, media, vehicle setting, etc.), also can put you in one of four driving modes — comfort, dynamic, auto, or individual.

Obviously, the dynamic mode provides a more spirited performance, but even in comfort mode the A5’s acceleration will get your attention. Yet it never intrudes on the ride the passenger is experiencing. It’s just fun. Which is just like a coupe!

What I liked about the 2018 Audi A5 Coupe: There is a lot to like, frankly. Even some of the issues inherent with the genre, like getting to the backseat and lack of cargo space, are not as intrusive. The front seats slide forward to give fairly easy access to the back, and cargo space is 11.6 cubic feet, fairly comparable to a small sedan.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Audi A5 Coupe: The electromechanical steering had a kind of odd feel about it. At higher speeds, it seemed to be nudging me to one side or the other as I went through turns, kind of like some lane-keeping assist systems do. But it wasn’t that. When traffic was clear, I tried to see what would happen if I changed a lane without signaling, and it didn’t kick in. Maybe it just takes some getting used to.

Would I buy the 2018 Audi A5? Yes, though I might take a serious look at the S5 with its V6 power if my budget could afford it. It starts in the mid-$50,000 range. The good news: the A5/S5 is also available as a convertible that starts around $50,000 (A5) and $60,000 range (S5). Also new this year is the Sportback, an A5/S5 hatchback that boosts cargo capacity to 21.8 cubic feet behind the second row and 35.01 with the rear seats folded. It also seats five passengers instead of four like the Coupe.