Friday, May 17, 2019


While hybrid drivetrains are offered in many so-called mainstream vehicles these days, Hyundai created the Ioniq hatchback as a conventional gas-electric hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and electric powertrain, but with no gasoline-only engine option and without some of the quirks that often come with the hybrid segment.

In fact, driving the Ioniq Hybrid can make you forget you’re being the wheel of a traditional hybrid.

Not that you’d confuse it with a high-performance sports car or anything, but shifting on the go from Eco to Sport mode gives you a hybrid that actually is fun to drive.

As noted, the Ioniq comes with the choice of three drivetrains, with the Hybrid and Plug-in mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and the Electric to a single-speed reduction gear set.

This review is limited to the standard Hybrid in Limited trim with a base MSRP of $29,435 including the destination and delivery charge ($885). The base model for the hybrid is the Blue model with a starting price of $23,285. The SEL is a step up at $25,835.

Both the standard Hybrid and the Plug-in get a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 104 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque and matched with an electric motor that gets its power from a lithium-ion battery (located under the rear seat) to produce 125 pound-feet of torque. Combined horsepower is 139 hp.

The motor in the all-electric version is rated at only 118 hp but puts out a significant 218 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Blue trim Hybrid is rated at a segment-leading 57 miles-per-gallon city, 59 highway while  the Limited and SEL come in at 55/54 (assuming you haven’t spent all your time driving in Sport mode).

As the top dog in the lineup, the 2019 Ioniq Limited gets as standard such features as HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, power tilt-and-slide moonroof, proximity key entry and push-button start, leather seating surfaces with heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual automatic temperature control, 7-inch color touchscreen audio display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, and Hyundai’s Blue Link system with a complimentary 3-year trial.

New as standard this year is safety equipment that includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane-keeping assist, Smart Cruise Control, High-Beam Assist, and Driver Attention Warning.

Other safety features include blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, vehicle stability management with traction control, a rearview camera, and the usual collection of airbags (front, front-side impact, side curtain, and driver’s knees).

At 176 inches long, the Limited Hybrid offers more stowage capacity (26.3 cubic feet) than its Plug-in and Electric brethren (23 cubic feet) with front legroom of 42.2 inches. Rear legroom in all Ioniqs is 35.7 inches, which isn’t cramped but not particularly generous either.

The ambiance of the interior isn’t luxury, but nice enough for the its class. There is some road noise, but it isn’t excessive.

Options like an Ultimate Package and carpeted floor mats runs the total tab to $31,760, which may produce sticker shock for those who haven’t been car-shopping in the last decade, but is in line with other current hybrid and electric models.

The Ultimate Package includes navigation that operates off the touchscreen, Infinity premium sound, and rear parking sensors for an extra $2,200.

All in all, the Ioniq is a hybrid you should find very comfortable to live with.

What I liked about the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Limited: With the Ioniq, Hyundai has eliminated the annoying whine that often is heard when a hybrid slows to a stop by going with a traditional transmission instead of a CVT. Operation of infotainment features is very user-friendly, as is usually the case with vehicles out of the South Korean’s stable. Fuel efficiency is excellent, though if you want a better driving experience you have to go into Sport mode and sacrifice some of that advantage.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Limited: The backseat is on the small side, but what is more distressing at the rear is the annoying crossbar that splits the large rear window. It is a feature that first popped up with Toyota’s Prius and impacts the rear view. 

Would I buy the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Limited? Of all the compact hybrids on the market, this is one I would seriously consider. A well-equipped Limited model would be my choice, but SEL trim also can be fitted with key options as well.

Thursday, May 9, 2019


For over four decades, Ford’s F-Series has been America’s top-selling pickup truck, and it doesn’t appear that it will give up that title any time soon.

Numbers for the first quarter of 2019 show the F-Series holding a hefty margin over its top two competitors, falling just short of matching the sales numbers for the Ram pickup and Chevrolet Silverado combined.

Ford reported sales of 214,611 F-Series pickups in 2018, a slight increase of 0.2 percent over numbers for the same period in 2017 with the Ram showing a significant, 15.4 percent increase for this past quarter with 120,026 sold and the Silverado showing a decline of 15.7 percent to 114,313.

The three domestic manufacturers hold a comfortable lead over their import competition with No. 4 Toyota selling 54,183 Tacomas in the period from January through March.

The bell-cow in the Ford F-Series is the F-150, which began life when the company introduced Ford “Bonus-Built trucks” to replace the car-based pickups it had previously been manufacturing. The half-ton model became the F-1.

In 1953 when it moved into its second generation, the half-ton pickup got the label F-100,  and it served as the base truck through the 1984, though the F-150 had been launched in 1975.

Just two years later the F-Series became the best-selling pick up on the market and the remake the company gave it in 1987 when it moved into its eighth generation would eventually lead it to become the best-selling vehicle in America period. It still is that.

No doubt, those who designed the early F-Series models would be dazzled as to what the truck has become in 2019. The new F-150 is stunning in looks, more than capable in performance, and packed with a full-menu of technological features in the higher trim levels.

This review is based on the Limited edition, which is near the top of the food chain and carries a base MSRP of $67,135. A couple of options ran the final price tag for my test vehicle to $71,350 including the $1,495 destination and delivery charge, which is approaching Lincoln Navigator luxury SUV company.

MSRPs start at just over $28,000 for the base XL model with King Ranch, Lariat, Platinum, and Limited going up the scale. (The Raptor is pretty much in a class by itself.)

The Limited gets as standard the Supercrew cab with a 5-foot, 5-inch box and such features as LED quad-beam headlamps, power sliding rear window, remote tailgate release, power deployed running boards, twin-panel moonroof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats (with 43.6 inches of max legroom), adjustable pedals with memory, memory driver’s seat, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 360-degree camera, 8-inch center stack touchscreen, active park assist, push-button start, lane-keeping assist, voice-activated navigation (which could use some updating with changes in some key road configurations in South Florida), and pre-collision assist with automatic braking.

The 3.5-liter, Ecoboost high output V6 engine feature auto stop-start technology, but it can be turned off by pushing a button at the top of the center stack. The engine is rated at 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection via a button on the shifter. Mileage figures are 17 miles-per-ballon city, 22 highway, and 19 combined, and towing capacity is 7,000 pounds.

The F-150’s ride is remarkably smooth, quiet, and comfortable, especially considering the vehicle’s size. At 231.9 inches long and 96.8 inches wide including standard mirrors, the F-150 Limited is no shrinking violet. But then, why should it be?

What I liked about the 2019 Ford F150 Limited: The cabin is spacious with lots of legroom in the second row and very comfortable. The ride is not as rough as you might expect of a full-size workhorse like this. The retracting running boards also makes getting into the cabin a snap, and the fold-out step in the tailgate (a $375 option) eases the climb into the rear bed. The 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 provides plenty of punch for a pleasant driving experience. Oh, yes. Infotainment features are user-friendly. Let’s hear for big knobs to operate audio and climate control functions!

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Ford F150 Limited: Some areas of the cabin could use an upgrade but my main complaint would be about the segment itself. The size of a full-size pickup like the F150 is not conducive to many mall parking lots. 

Would I buy the 2019 Ford F150 Limited? For $70K-plus? That’s a pretty high figure for a pickup, but you can get an F150 for under $30K so unless you just like to show off, that may be the spot to start looking. Several other nice trims are available as well.

Friday, May 3, 2019


With the demise of brands like Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and, earlier, Hudson and AMC, the number of Muscle Car makes on the market today falls considerably short from their hey day of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Fortunately, Chevrolet resurrected a charter member of the genre when it brought back its Camaro for 2010 after ending production following the 2002 model year.

The present Camaro represents the sixth generation of the renown coupe/convertible with the 2019 model getting a mid-cycle refreshing that includes new front-end styling, new rear fascia that features LED taillamps, a new 20-inch wheel design, a 10-speed automatic transmission in place of the previous 8-speed, an updated infotainment system with an 8-inch screen, and revised ambient lighting.

Chevy offers it in several trims and either a turbo 4-cylinder, V6 or V8 power starting at just under $26,000 and running into the $60,000 bracket for the top ZL1 performance model.

This review is limited to the 2019 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible that carries a base price of $48,995 (including destination and delivery) plus another $1,595 for the automatic transmission for a bottom line of $50, 590.

That puts the 2SS version at the high end of the portfolio, but it carries a lot of nice features that come as standard. About the only thing missing was a navigation system, but with Waze and other apps available on Smart phones, factory-installed navigation is becoming less and less worth the extra cost.

Powering the Camaro 2SS Convertible is a 6.2-liter, V8 engine rated at 455 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 455 pound-feet of torque at 4400. The automatic transmission drinks recommended premium fuel at the rate of 16 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway which is very close to the manual numbers of 16/25.

An official zero-to-60 time from Chevy isn’t available, but Motor Trend reported a clocking of 4.1 seconds, or about a half-second or so slower than the top ZL1 model.

Standard features for the 2SS  include the 20-inch, bright silver painted aluminum wheels, performance suspension, drive mode selection (tour, sport, track, snow/ice), Brembo performance brakes, HID headlights with LED signature lighting, keyless open and start, dual zone climate control, premium Bose sound system, memory seating, illuminated sill plates, and safety equipment that includes rear park assist and rear cross-traffic alert, HD rear vision camera, and lane change and blind spot warning.

Lowering and raising the top is basically a one-finger operation. You do have to have the trunk divider in place before lowering, but it automatically latches in place when closing.

Connectivity systems on the 2SS model include Chevy’s 3-Plus infotainment system with 8-inch diagonal screen, 4G LTE hotspot, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and, as is customary on GM products, OnStar services.

SiriusXM Satellite radio capability also is included with a subscription fee after 12 months.

Driving the Camaro 2SS Convertible with that V8 power under the hood is a kick, and the ride is unusually civilized for its segment. Even when in Sport mode, it is comfortable and not unbearingly stiff, even for picky riders.

What I liked about the 2019 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible: Being able to lower the top by pressing a button on the key fob is a nice feature. It allows you to air out the interior on a hot day. I like it much better than being able to start the engine by pushing another button. Also, this is the first vehicle that I have been able to see the “head-up” display while wearing polarized sunglasses. Infotainment features are plentiful and intuitive to operate.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible: The backseat is pretty much useless, and the trunk is small even by convertible standards. When the top is down, the available storage is more like a glove box than a trunk. The interior has a lot of hard surfaces and could use some upgrading. Visibility with the top up is restricted.

Would I buy the 2019 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible? Yes! And I would stick for the V8 version. If you are going to get a Muscle Car, you need to get a vehicle that matches the description.