Monday, December 10, 2018



Manufacturers of luxury SUVs tend to lean toward the performance side when it comes to the engineering and the design of their products, but aside from some issues with available stowage space behind the third row, Audi’s Q7 hits the sweet spot between get-up-and-go and comfort/functionality.

The 2007 Q7 debuted as Audi’s first SUV, got a refreshing for 2010, and moved into its second generation as a 2017, where it is the company’s No. 2 seller for 2018 behind the smaller Q5 SUV just ahead of the A4 sedan.

Aside from a few niceties like keyless entry and start on all models, a premium Bose sound system on Premium Plus trims, and power-closing doors on the top-of-the-line Prestige model, it remains virtually unchanged for 2018.

One of two engine choices, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder or a 3.0-liter turbo V6, power the Q7. Each is mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual gear selection.

The 2.0L is rated at a max 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, the V6 at 333/325, respectively, and mileage figures with Audi’e all-wheel-drive quattro system (standard across the line) are the same with either engine -- 19 miles-per-gallon city, 25 highway, and 21 combined.

Pricing starts at $49,900 for the base model. V6 models start at $56,400.

Optional items like a Premium-Plus package (Audi MMI Navigation, LED interior lighting, Audi Connect PRIME and CARE systems, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bose 3D Surround Sound); a Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control, active lane assist and high beam assist); and a vision package (including a surround-view camera and Audi’s virtual cockpit) ran the total to my vehicle for the week to $62,100 including $975 for destination and delivery.

A word here about the virtual cockpit. It allows the driver to reduce the size of the round display of the speedometer and tachometer to accommodate a pretty large map for navigation. It helps keeps your eyes directly on the road in front of you instead of having to sneak a peek to the right. You can keep the speedometer and tach in its usual size if a smaller map is all you need.

Standard features on my Q7 included roof rails, 8-way power adjustable front seats, leather seating surfaces, power folding third-row seats, power liftgate, three-zone automatic climate control, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, and a multitude of safety features like low-speed collision assist and electronic stabilization with off-road mode.

The Q7 offers a very comfortable, quiet riding experience with occupants coddled with high quality materials throughout the cabin. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is fairly easy to get the hang off, and the overall cabin ambiance shows Audi’s great attention to detail.

Seating for seven is standard on all models. The the third row is on the small side for adults, but first- and second-row seating is roomy and comfortable. A standard panoramic sunroof offers both tilt and sliding features along with a power sunshade.

The Q7 is very much an international vehicle. Most of the parts (39 percent) and the transmission come not surprisingly from Germany, but a healthy 33 percent are from Slovakia, which also is the final assembly point. The engine comes from Hungary.

Just thought I’d throw that out.

What I liked about the 2018 Audi Q7: I love the “virtual cockpit” concept and frankly wonder why other automakers haven’t come up with a version of their own. (Caveat here: Maybe somebody has and I just haven't seen it.) It puts everything that you as a driver might want right in front of your eyes. The Q7’s entire cabin is flush with luxury and high quality materials, and the ride is comfortable and quiet.

What I didn't like about the 2018 Audi Q7: The seating in vehicles vehicles with three rows is pretty much always limited in the last row and that is the case with the Q7, which offers occupants less than 30 inches of legroom in the far back. Cargo space is decent behind that third row (14.8 cubic feet) but less than 38 cubic feet with the third-row seats folded.

Would I buy the 2018  Audi Q7? Yes. It’s hard to go wrong with any offering in this class, and the Q7 is one of best and competitively priced.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Having debuted as a 2009 model as Volkswagen’s first compact crossover SUV, the Tiguan moves into its second generation as a 2018 model, which is bit longer than usual between redesigns.

But it was well worth the wait.

The new Tiguan is bigger than its predecessor with 57 percent more cargo capacity, an 8-speed automatic transmission (replacing a 6-speed), an engine that can run on regular fuel, and more available safety features that include adaptive cruise control, forward collision and lane-departure warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, and blind spot monitoring with rear traffic alert.

There’s also third-row seating that is standard on front-wheel-drive models and optional on models featuring VW’s four-wheel-drive, 4MOTION system. (If you don’t need that third row for little kiddies, stick to two-row models and you’ll get over 37 cubic feet of stowage capacity in the back.) 

All that makes the Tiguan a more attractive option for buyers, especially those “looking for something different.”

The 2018 Tiguan comes in S, SE, and SEL trims. The former R-Line model is now a package of exterior and interior design features offered on SEL and SEL Premium trims. It replaces standard 18-inch wheels with 19-inchers and adds Park Distance Control (ParkPilot) at a cost of $1,795 for SEL and $1,495 for SEL Premium models, which already include the larger wheels and ParkPilot as standard.

All Tiguan models come with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. That’s less horsepower and a bit more torque than its predecessor, and if not neck-jerking numbers, they are at least adequate enough to provide a comfortable ride around town or on the highway.

With South Florida’s flat terrain, it wasn’t possible to get a feel for what the Tiguan might  be like driving in hill country.

AWD models offer a selection of driving modes that include sport, eco, comfort, and personal as well as off-road. You can select gears manually, but without paddle shifters, that is kind of a waste. The only advantage for that would be to set the transmission in second or third gear for extra pulling power or going up steep inclines. Towing capacity on the 2018 Tiguan is only 1,500 pounds so it could use some help there.

Usually, with low power numbers, you are compensated with better fuel mileage numbers, but the Tiguan checks in at only 21 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway with AWD and 22/27 with FWD. But, as mentioned earlier, at least you aren’t required to use premium fuel for top performance as with the 2017 Tiguan.

The SEL trim gets features like Halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights, silver roof rails, power sunroof, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 40/20/40 split folding second-row, rear-view camera, Bluetooth communications, push-button start, and navigation along with many of the safety features that are optional on lower trims as standard. MSRP starts at $32,390 for the SEL.

My Tiguan SEL for the week came with the R-Line package and a special orange metallic interior which, along with a $995 destination and delivery fee, ran the total price to $35,325.

But the Tiguan S starts at $25,345, not including destination and delivery, and the SE starts at just over $30,000. SEL Premium models start at $36,250.

An aside here: Volkswagen is selling a 2018 Tiguan Limited that essentially is a carryover from the  2017 Tiguan. With it starting at just over $23,000, it will save you some money over even the 2018 Tiguan S, but it won’t have the updated features the new models feature.

Consider yourself forewarned.

What I liked about the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL: The 8-speed automatic is one of the smoothest-shifting transmissions you can experience. It almost feels like a CVT. There is nice stowage room in the back for five-passenger versions, and the radio and A/C are adjustable with easy-to-use knobs. 

What I didn't like about the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL: Fuel economy is only so-so.

Would I buy the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEC? Yes. It could use a little more power, but it’s fine for navigating urban streets. It offers a nice alternative choice for those who want an SUV but don’t need one the size of VW’s Atlas.

Monday, December 3, 2018


If you are among those who think the rising popularity of SUVs/crossovers and the decline of the family sedan is the coming of the end of the world, I have some bad news for you.

In what could be interpreted as confirmation of the impending apocalypse, Rolls-Royce has brought an SUV to the market.

Yes, Rolls-Royce, the manufacturer of the ultimate luxury sedan, has heard the wishes of its loyal followers and brought forth an all-wheel-drive, off-road capable, five-passenger  ... SUV.

South Florida automotive media members, of which I am one, got a look at this creation last week at the monthly luncheon of the Southern Automotive Media Association.

Gerry Spahn, head of communications for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, was here to preview it, appropriately enough, at the Acqualina Resort and Spa, a South Florida luxury oceanside resort in Sunny Isles Beach just north of Miami Beach.

The vehicle is branded the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. with the name taken from the Cullinan Diamond, the world’s largest, gem-quality diamond ever found. It was discovered in 1905 at a mine in Cullinan, South Africa, and named after the mine’s chairman, Thomas Cullinan.

I’ll resist the temptation here to call the Rolls-Royce Cullinan a “gem” of an SUV, but apparently Spahn couldn’t, referring to it as a “dynamic, moveable gem” during introductions. Spahn noted that the Cullinan sits atop of the food chain when it comes to luxury SUVs, and it’s hard to argue with that.

About the only thing it doesn’t have is three-row seating because, well, Rolls-Royce customers didn’t want it and Rolls-Royce customers get what they want. Or, in this case, don’t want.

Based on architecture of the Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan, the Cullinan comes with a 6.75-liter V12 engine rated at 563 horsepower with 627 pound-feet of torque kicking in at 1600 rpm. That kind of power is needed when you have nearly three tons of bulk to haul around,. (Alas, we could only look and touch the Cullinan, not drive it!)

Though shorter than the Phantom, the Cullinan is larger than what could be considered its only competitor, Bentley’s Bentayga, which has been around for a couple of years.

A very much a refined vehicle that features such niceties a “rear viewing suite” on the split tailgate featuring a small table (for holding champagne glasses) and jump seats for two (the better for viewing polo matches), the Cullinan is no pretender when it comes to off-road treks.

Pushing the button on the console marked “off-road” makes all the adjustments necessary for the Cullinan to take on the most-challenging tests. At the global premier a few weeks back in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, journalists had the opportunity to take the Cullinan to the summit of the 7,800-foot Snow King Mountain (and presumably back down).

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine taking such a beautiful vehicle into such conditions, and I doubt if many Rolls owners actually will. But they can do so if they want.

The Cullinan starts with a base MSRP of $325,000 but extras can take the Cullinan much higher.

But I have a tip that can get you one free.

Simply buy the move-in-ready “Palazzo del Cielo” Penthouse suite at the Acqualina Resort. The Cullinan is included in the suite’s $38 million price tag, and a full garage will be available right across Collins Avenue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018



When Ram designers and engineers sat down four years ago or so to create the next generation half-ton 1500 pickup, they were given a blank sheet of paper and the goal of producing a no-compromise truck that, according to Brad Pinter, 1500 brand manager, would be the strongest and most technologically advanced Ram the company had ever built.

One week in it pretty much convinced me they had more than accomplished their goals with the 2019 Ram 1500.

This is a full-size pickup that even a non-truck guy like myself can appreciate — stunning in looks, powerful in performance, and packed with easy-to-use techno features. It's big, but handles more nimbly than you might think as well.

Apparently, consumers like it. Ram 1500 sales were up over 20 percent for October, accounting for more than half of  total Ram sales in what was a record for the brand that month.

The Ram 1500 comes in several trims for 2019 starting with the base Tradesman and continuing on up the line with HFE, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited.

As has become customary with pickup trucks, you can get the trims in different cab, bed length, and powertrain combinations. The Quad Cab with a 6-foot, 4-inch bed is standard in Tradesman, HFE, Big Horn, Rebel, and Laramie models, and a Crew Cab with a 5-7 box is standard on the Longhorn and Limited trims. The Crew Cab with a 6-4 bed is optional on some trims as well.

Also, 4X2 configuration is standard across the line with 4X4 as an option on all but HFE trim.

The V6 Pentastar engine mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission and feature what Ram calls “eTorque” mild hybrid system is standard with the V6, but yes, the Ram 1500 also has a HEMI.

The 5.7-liter V8 that pumps horsepower up to 395 and torque to 410 pound-feet from the 305/269 on the V6 is available on all but HFE models. It also comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The eTorque system, which Ram says “combines belt-drive motor generator unit with 48-volt battery pack to enable start/stop function, short-term torque assist and brake energy regeneration,” also is available on the HEMI, adding 130 pound-feet of torque for even more pulling power.

The Ram 1500 I had for the week was the Limited Crew Cab 4X4 which with a base of $56,195 starts at the top of the food chain when it comes to price. But there are 10 models offered with a starting price at under $40,000.

Naturally, the Limited comes with a lot of bells and whistles as standard, including the UConnect 4C Nav system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, 9-speaker audio system, wood/leather wrapped and heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, rear under-the-seat storage (actually, there are tons of places to store items, including a huge console bin), heated second-row seats, SiriusXM satellite radio with a one-year subscription, 20-inch wheels, power running boards, LED bed lighting, and automatic high beam headlamp control.

If that's not enough, this one came with optional packages that took the 1500 Limited to even greater heights. The Level 1 Equipment Group (Harman Kardon Premium sound system, adaptive cruise control, advance brake assist and full-speed forward collision warning, ventilated rear seats, parking assist, and surround-view camera added $2,695 to the starting MSRP, but the HEMI engine was the only other option over $1,000. The off-road package adds $795.

All that and the $1,695 destination and delivery cost ran the total to $64,800, which  is another indication of how far pickups have advanced since the day when they were essentially mechanized workhorses with maybe three riders crowded into the front bench seat.

With generous use of leather trim on the inside, including the bucket seats, the Ram 1500 is right at home sashaying up any country club drive.

Passengers will find it spacious and comfortable. Legroom is a generous 40.9 inches up front in both the Quad and Crew Cab and 39.2/39.8 in the back for the Quad and Crew Cab, respectively.

There are also little touches like an adjustable air suspension, keyless go and remote start, blind-spot and cross-traffic warning, and a remote release for the tailgate. The tailgate, by the way, is one of the areas where aluminum was used in construction in place of high-strength steel to shave about 225 pounds off the previous Ram 1500.

Overall, the time those designers and engineers spent filling up that "clean sheet” handed them has paid off in one fine truck, and I am not alone in thinking so.

Most recently, Motor Trend recognized it as its 2019 Truck of the Year. Earlier, Green Car Journal named it its 2019 Green Truck of the Year, and Texas auto writers chose the Ram 1500 as Texas Truck of the Year.

And last summer, the Southern Automotive Media Association even recognized it for one of its awards at its annual Topless in Miami convertible competition for its dual-pane, panoramic sunroof (standard on Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited editions).

What I liked about the 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4X4: The infotainment display is, in a word, spectacular. The best thing about the double-screen display is that it is very user friendly. The only issue I had was finding the clock, and that was because somebody had turned it off. The power running boards (standard on Limited trim) are a must, and the power liftgate (also standard on the Limited trim) is a nice feature.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4X4: Frankly, there’s nothing not to like here when it comes to a pickup truck.

Would I buy the about the 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4X4? I have no real need for a pickup truck, especially a full-size one, but if you need one, you’re making a mistake if you don’t stop by a Ram showroom and take one out for a test drive. It is a remarkable truck.

Friday, November 9, 2018


Jaguar is going all-in with electric cars with plans to to put electric power into all of its models by 2020.

To help familiarize consumers who may have some qualms about the future of these vehicles (range angst, anyone?), the company is staging a nationwide tour billed as “Jaguar Electrifies Experience” that showcases its products with an emphasis on its first electric-power vehicle, the I-Pace SUV.

Well, it’s “nationwide” in that the debut was in San Francisco, and this weekend’s edition was in Miami. Next venues are in Los Angles in mid-December and New York early next year, which leaves a lot of the nation uncovered. But maybe some will be added later.

The Jaguar Electrifies Experience gives consumers not only the time to get a close-up look at all the new vehicles without a salesperson hovering over them but also the opportunity to see how the I-Pace handles on a “SmartCone” closed course and to take it out for short spin on city streets. There’s also see an exhibit from Wired magazine to learn how an electric vehicle can fit into their future.

A handful of South Florida automotive media members had the opportunity for a preview before doors were opened to the public. (Yes, we’re an overprivileged group, sometimes undeservedly so!)

In only a matter of minutes I learned a couple of things:

—Thanks to the location of the 90 kWh lithium-ion battery stretching across under the front floorboards, the I-Pace handled the closed-cone course with ease. There is no vehicle sway with the sharp changes of direction.

—The throttle response is amazing. I was in the back for the spin around a few blocks and when my driving partner hit the accelerator (can’t call it a “gas” pedal now, can we?) I was pushed back significantly in the seat.

That’s because the I-Pace is powered by two 197-horsepower motors, one operating the front wheels, the other the rear, for a combined 394 hp and a whopping 512 lb.-ft. of torque. The zero-to-60 mph clocking is 4.5 seconds!

Jaguar says the I-Pace has a range of up to 243 miles on a full charge, but the rep who rode with us said that there have been reports of a range of up to 290 miles. Heating or cooling the vehicle while it is plugged in and recharging also helps to get to maximum range by reducing the draw on the car’s battery to reach desired temperatures.

Charging time, always an issue with the electric vehicles I have had the opportunity to drive, also is reduced. Jaguar says that owners will be able to achieve a zero-to-80 percent charge in about 40 minutes using 100kW DC fast charging or just over 10 hours using home charging with a 230V/32AMP AC wall box (7kW).

I won’t get into the overall looks of the I-Pace here save to say it meets or even exceeds Jaguars models’ typical, distinctive good looks inside and out. Jaguar also has been doing a lot of catching up with competitors in the area of operation of technological features, though the short time in the I-Pace didn’t allow for much opportunity to check that out.

Assuming you live in either in South Florida or will be in the LA or New York metro areas when the Jaguar Electrifies Experience arrives there, you will have the opportunity to see for yourself. Just keep an eye out for the advertising and social media sources promoting the event for details!

Friday, November 2, 2018


Disposed of the Hyundai label and launched as a separate brand from the South Korean manufacturer three years ago, Genesis continues to expand its portfolio with the introduction of its G70 luxury sedan for 2019.

As you might deduce from the alpha-numeric naming system, it is the smallest of the three sedans now under the Genesis banner following the G90 and G80 sedans that have been around for a couple of years.

Genesis also says it is the third and last sedan of the six new models the company plans to have out by 2020. It should be noted, however, that “smallest” does not necessarily mean “subcompact” or “too small” for comfort.

In fact, at 184.4 inches long and with a wheelbase of 111.6 inches, the G70 virtually matches in size the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (184.5/111.8) and BMW’s 3-Series sedans (182.5/110.6).

For many, the G70 might be “just right.”

The G70 comes in five trim levels (Advanced, Elite, Prestige, Dynamic, and Sport) with either a 3.3-liter, turbocharged V6 or a 2.0-liter turbo-4 mated to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel also available on some trims.

Prefer a manual instead of paddle shifters? The 2.0T-6M/T Sport (RWD only) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Pricing starts at $34,900 for 2.0T RWD models and $36,900 for 2.0T AWD with the various packages adding to the base cost as the trim levels go up. The Elite package adds $5,000 to the base MSRP, and the Prestige, which includes the Elite features, adds another $3,000 to the cost of the Elite and on up the line.

The 3.3T models run from $43,750 for RWD models to $52,250 for the AWD, Dynamic Edition.

Oh. Add another $995 for destination and delivery.

My time was spent in the RWD 2.0T with the Elite, Prestige, and Dynamic packages running the final total to $44,895.

With those packages, in addition to standard features like 18-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, LED daytime running lights, dual climate control, lane-keeping assist and a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, you get such niceties as a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (replacing the standard manual), 19-inch wheels (replacing the 18s), a navigation system, full LED headlights, parking warnings, heated and ventilated front seats, a sunroof, premium Lexicon 15-speaker sound system, leather seating surfaces (replacing leatherette), head-up display, surround view camera system, microfiber suede headliner and heated rear seats.

Actually, the list of both standard and optional features is a bit longer, but you get the idea. As I wrote in March about the G90 and again last May about the G80, Genesis is a true luxury vehicle with all the trimmings you expect of the segment.

The ride is smooth and quiet, and you may set the G70 in one of five driving modes by  twisting a knob on the console to select Sport, Comfort, Smart, Eco or Custom to match your mood.

When it comes to comfort and convenience, the G70 ranks among the best of them for the passenger, too. Well, at least the rider in the front seat. Adults, especially taller ones, may find the back a bit confining when it comes to legroom.

Genesis may not have the brand cachet of some of the traditional luxury marques, but it has everything else. You’ll be doing yourself a disfavor if you don’t check it out if you’re shopping in the segment.

What I liked about the 2019 Genesis G70: Infotainment functions are very user friendly — thanks in a large part to the use of traditional knob and button controls — and there is plenty of them. The 8-inch display screen is much-appreciated. As I have noted in many reviews of Genesis and parent-company Hyundai’s products, the South Koreans have a knack for taking technology and simplifying it so even techno newbies can understand and operate it. It’s like Mac vs. PC. Finally, the fun-to-drive quotient is high.

What I didn't like about the 2019 Genesis G70: Trunk capacity is stingy (10.5 cubic feet), which makes it impractical as a family vehicle (but fine for empty-nesters). As with its competitors in the luxury small sedan segment, the backseat is on the tight side. Fuel mileage is ordinary in the 2.0T (22 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway, 25 combined).

Would I buy the 2019 Genesis G70? In a heartbeat. Your only qualm should be the overall size (including trunk capacity). If you need more room for you and your stuff, prepare to step up to the G80.

Monday, October 29, 2018


The A4 has been a stalwart seller for Audi for well over two decades now, moving into its ninth generation with the redesign for 2017.

In fact, the A4 and two crossover SUVs, the Q5 and the Q7, are largely responsible for keeping the company from a decrease in year-to-date sale through September comparing 2018 figures to those for 2017.

Audi reported that 28,783 A4s were sold over the first nine months of 2018, an increase of 4 percent over the same period in 2017. It announced an 11 percent jump for September alone with 3,185 sold this year compared to 2,879 in September 2017.

Obviously, those aren’t huge numbers when compared to top sellers in the passenger car segment overall, but they stack up well with their Teutonic brethren. Mercedes-Benz reported a fall of nearly 25 percent for C-Class sales month-over-month for September (4,682 for 2018, 6,194 for 2017) and the BMW 3-Series, long considered the bell cow in the segment, was down over 40 percent for September (3,615 for 2018, 6,045 for 2017).

Sales for the year-to-date were off 40.2 percent for the 3-Series and down 28.32 percent for the C-Class at the end of September.

The A4 neatly slots in between the Q5 and the Q7 as Audi’s leading sellers.

Which is not surprising. This is one great sedan that gets high marks for its performance, its looks inside and out, its comfortable ride, and its user-friendly technological features — especially when compared to its competitors. awarded it the title of Luxury Car of the Year at the 2018 North American International Auto Show at Detroit, citing its “balance of sport, luxury, function, amenities, quality and comfort.”

That’s pretty much a winning combination right there.

The Audi A4 is offered in Premium, Premium-Plus, and Prestige trim levels (we’re dealing with only the sedan here, not the Allroad wagon) all powered by a 2.0-liter, turbo 4-cylinder engine pumping out 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and mated to a 7-speed, S-tronic double-clutch or 6-speed manual transmission (depending on the trim).

That’s enough oomph for a spirited performance, but if you want more the all-new for 2018 S4 with its 3.0-liter turbo-V6 (354 hp, 369 lb.-ft.) zips you from zero-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

You can get the A4 with front-wheel drive or Audi’s all-wheel quattro system.

Fuel mileage figures run from 27 miles-per-gallon city, 37 highway for FWD to 24/34 for quattro models. 

My ride for the week was the 2.0T quattro S-tronic version that came with a base MSRP of $40,500. (Base models start at just a tad under $37,000.) Adding extras like the Premium-Plus package and Audi’s MMI telematics system with navigation ran the total to $48,290.

For 2018, Audi made a few more features standard over the previous model. Notable standard features include LED interior lighting, power sunroof, three-zone climate control, 8-way power adjustable heated front seats with 4-way adjustable lumbar support for the driver, LED daytime running lights and taillights, and Audi’s low-speed collision assist system.

Naturally, the cabin is rich with high-quality materials with leather and soft touches throughout, and you can add options like ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel as well.

Visibility is good all-around, and legroom is generous with 41.3 inches up front and 35.7 in the back row despite the A4’s classification as a “small” luxury sedan. It has more the feel of a mid-size.

The center screen is easy on the eyes, though designers really should find a way to incorporate it more smoothly into the flow of the dash. Sticking up like it does makes it look like an afterthought. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is easy to get the hang of even for techno newbies.

What I liked about the 2018 Audi A4: This is one of the best-looking sedans in a segment that has a bunch of them. The ride is sporty, and you can switch to the mode you prefer (comfort, auto, dynamic or individual). You can turn off the stop-start system. The “virtual cockpit” system allows the driver to personalize the instrument panel, reducing the size of the speedometer and tach to accommodate a full-size navigation map right in front of your eyes.

What I didn't like about the 2018 Audi A4: The list of standard features is generous (leather seats are included), but to get the really cool stuff you'll have to spend about $6,000 over the base MSRP for such items as a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, LED headlights, Parking System Plus, Audi side assist, and the Navigation and Telematics package. Truck size (13.0 cubic feet) is only adequate.

Would I buy the 2018 Audi A4? Yes. There are lots of good choices in the segment, though some can overwhelm you with all their geez-whiz techno gadgets. Not the A4. It strikes a nice balance between gee-whiz technology and user-friendly operation.