Saturday, November 23, 2019



In the interest of full disclosure, I should state at the start that I have been a fan of South Korean automaker Hyundai’s products for close to 20 years now. We had a good experience with the 2003 Santa Fe SUV we bought, and it worked well for my daughter and son as well.

So that could be seen as influencing my opinion of the new Genesis G70 sedan, which is no longer a Hyundai but a stand-alone entity, much like Lexus is Toyota’s luxury outlet, Acura is Honda’s, and Infiniti is Nissan’s. (Interesting that they are all Asian products.)

Except a lot of other reviewers feel the same way I do, and analysis by U.S. News & World Report, which is based on different sources, rates the 2019 Genesis G70 No. 4 among luxury small cars behind a couple of Audi models (A5 and A4) and the BMW 2-Series, which is pretty strong company.

It just nudged out its cousin from Kia, the Stinger sedan and was rated ahead of both the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3-Series, generally seen as the standard bearers in the segment. In a comparison test, Car & Driver gave the edge to the Genesis G70 over the BMW 340M in its final analysis, noting that the G70 “does everything nearly as well as the BMW, and it even manages to do a few things better.”

Yes, the report said, the BMW holds the advantage in overall oomph, but the G70 “has more than enough performance and handling for 90 percent of drivers 95 percent of the time.”

The price advantage runs well into five figures in the G70’s favor.

With the 2019 Genesis G70 an all-new model, the new G70 gets only a few modifications for 2020, the more significant being some new brake packages for the middle-of-the-pack 2.0T Sport model and a power-operated trunk lid for the top-of-the-line 3.3T trim.

This review is based on my experience in the 3.3T, which logs in with a starting MSRP of $45,645 or just over $9,000 more than the base 2.0T (but still well under the starting price for its Teutonic competitors).

It comes with a 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine that is rated at 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. The G70 3.3T can cover zero-to-60 in under five seconds and is mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission that can be set to several drive modes starting with Comfort and going on to Sport and Eco.

Mileage figures are about the only shortcoming with the 2020 G70 getting EPA ratings of 17 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 20 combined. According to the EPA, you’ll spend about $4,750 more on fuel over a five-year period compared to the average new vehicle. Annual fuel cost is an estimated $2,450.

Frankly, I’m suspicious of those kinds of numbers, but it’s the government, so we should trust the government, right? (You do? You want to buy some beachfront property in the Florida Everglades, too?)

The G70 3.3T has a long list of standard features. Among the more significant are Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Driver Attention Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, Rearview camera with parking guidelines (the guidelines make a difference), Brembo Brakes, Sport-Tuned suspension, Proximity Key with push-button start, LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights, sunroof, leather seating surfaces, l6-way power adjustable driver’s seat with 4-way lumbar support, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, adaptable cruise control (Smart cruise control in Genesis speak), Lexicon 15-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth communications.

Optional packages like Elite (rein-sensing wipers, low-beam assist, parking distance control, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and wireless charging port) and Prestige (head-up display, surround-view monitor, Nappa leather seating surfaces, power trunk, and suede headliner) add to the niceties.

Those packages are going to fun the final cost to over $50,000, but the Genesis still remains a top luxury vehicle with economic pricing.

What I liked about the 2020 Genesis G70: It looks great, inside and out, and its ride is comfortable and quiet. It has all the bells and whistles you want in a luxury car, and all the systems are very easy to operate.

What I didn’t like about the 2020 Genesis G70: The trunk is a bit on the small side (10.5 cubic feet) and fuel economy is not quite as good as many of its competitors, but it’s not overly thirsty either, though premium fuel is recommended.

Would I buy the 2020 Genesis G70? Most definitely. Genesis also offers slightly larger sedans with the G80 and the all-new for 2020 G90, but for me, the G70 strikes the right chord.

Friday, November 15, 2019



Based on the seventh generation of Volkswagen’s popular Golf hatchback, the 2019 VW Golf GTI 2.0T is the Germans’ answer for those buyers asking for a little more punch from the iconic Golf hatchback.

Using Teutonic terms, the GTI is a “hot hatch” offering a bit more in the way of horsepower over the 2018 GTI and a lot more than the 147 horsepower the standard Golf delivers.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the 2019 is rated at 228 horsepower, 8 more than the 2018 GTI though torque numbers remain the same at 258 pound-feet starting at 1500 rpm. Those power numbers are achieved using premium fuel, but you can use regular unleaded if you aren’t seeking that peak performance.

A 6-speed manual transmission is standard with a 6-speed automatic as optional for an extra $1,100. Fuel economy is pretty much the same with either transmission with the manual rated at 24 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway and the automatic 25/31. Combined mpg is the same for either at 27.

The 2019 GTI comes in four trim levels including a limited edition Rabbit Edition that slots in between the S and SE. Sitting at the top of the line is the Autobahn trim on which this review is based.

It is easily the most expensive of the bunch with a starting MSRP of $37,990 including the $895 destination and delivery charge with the automatic transmission. The base S model with the automatic starts at $29,590, which puts it at the high end of the segment (remember, subtract $1,100 for the manual tranny).

Additional features you get as standard in the Autobahn over the other trims include a 12-way power sport driver’s seat with lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Fender premium audio, 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, VW’s Car-Net system for enhanced connectivity, active blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, park distance control, and park steering assistant.

Leather seating surfaces and Sirius/XM satellite radio are standard on both the Autobahn and SE trims. S and Rabbit models get cloth seats with “Clark” plaid inserts (Google it).

Special safety features like forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and rear traffic alert come on the upper three trims and are optional on the base S trim.

The interior is nicely done with techno features easy enough to operate. Both the radio and climate control systems are operated with knobs doing the volume and tuning on the former and temperature and blower on the latter. Of course, there are duplicate controls for the radio on the steering wheel.

The GTI is pretty roomy for a compact with 41.2 inches of legroom up front, 35.6 in the back, and cargo capacity of 22.8 cubic feet. The ride is solid but not overly stiff under normal conditions, and, like most smaller cars, it gives the illusion of higher speed when whipping through the streets and roads.

Little wonder that, according to research by J.D. Power, more than half of GTI buyers identify themselves as “performance” buyers. And they are not kids either. J.D. Power describes the average GTI buy as a male, with a median age of 46 years and median yearly household income of nearly $114,000.

What I liked about the 2019 Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn: Technology is user friendly, though the navigation system map was not updated so I didn’t get a chance to test it, but audio and climate control were fine. You can turn off the automatic stop/start function with the push of a button. Performance was pretty lively. Red accents on the exterior are a nice touch. The interior is roomy for its class.

What I didn't like about the 2019 Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn: The price tag is pretty steep for a compact hatchback.

Would I buy the 2019 Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn? I no longer fit in this demographic, but if I did a lot of driving on crowded urban with scant parking, I would consider it for sure. It’s a good vehicle for daily commutes.

Friday, November 8, 2019


If you’re looking for a reason for the rise in popularity of SUVs/crossovers and the corresponding slumps in sedan sales, you need look no further than the 2019 Audi Q3, a compact SUV that drives and rides like a traditional car while offering the roominess and hauling capacity that today’s buyers appreciate in an SUV.

Redesigned for this year, the Q3 has it all.

It has two rows of seating to accommodate five passengers comfortably, and its 23.7 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row is 7-10 more cubic feet than you usually get from the traditional sedan trunk. Fold the second row and there is up to 48 cubic feet behind the front row. Even sedans that allow you to fold the back seat can’t match that.

Legroom for second-row occupants is 36.1 inches, which is more than your usual sedan offers. Those in the front get a healthy 40 inches.

Yet you can squire the Q3 with ease through mall parking lots and slide it comfortably into the tightest of spaces without fear of door dings (unless occupants of the adjacent cars are exceedingly careless or rude or both).

Behind the wheel, you get the feel of driving a midsize sedan, whether in urban environs or on the highway. In either case, the ride is smooth and quiet.

The new 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and delivers 228 horsepower from 5000-7500 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque from 1700-4400 rpm.

The zero-to-60 mph clocking is 7.0 seconds, not neck-snapping but certainly not sluggish. With Audi’s all-wheel drive quattro system, fuel mileage is 19 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway, and 22 combined.

Those are not particularly impressive numbers for the class, especially with some of its luxury competitors boasting highway numbers into the low 30 mpg. But if you’re shopping in this segment, I doubt that would be a deal-killer.

The 2019 Audi Q3 comes in two models with three different trims.

The base Q3 starts at $35,695 (including destination and delivery) with Premium trim and $38,795 with Premium Plus.

The Q3 S Line runs $36,995 in Premium mode, $40,095 in Premium Plus, and $43,995 with Prestige Plus trim.

The S Line rides on 19-inch wheels with 20-inchers as optional, while the base Q3 gets 18-inchers.

In addition to differences in standard equipment, some option packages are also offered only on the upper trim levels on S Line models. A Sport Interior Package available on S Line Premium Plus and Prestige trims includes S line sport seats in black or gray leather with contrast stitching, steering wheel shift paddles and brushed aluminum, matte inlays.

With that Sport Interior Package, you can also add an Alcantara® Interior package which enhances the interior with orange Alcantara accents on the dash and door armrests.

What I liked about the 2019 Audi Q3 S Line quattro: It's a great looking car and the inside is packed with high quality materials. The ride is firm but not not too firm, and performance lively for the segment. A wealth of technological features are very user friendly. Audi's “virtual cockpit” gives you the option of having the navigation map projected into the instrument panel right in front of the driver’s eyes. Setting it to Google Earth view over the standard map also enhances the feature view. Standard all-wheel drive is nice, too.

What I didn't like about the 2019 Audi Q3 S Line quattro: Fuel efficiency could be improved. It seemed like I blinked and the gauge was down to half a tank.

Would I buy the 2019 Audi Q3 S line quattro? Yes. If are wary of giving up your sedan to get an SUV, don’t be. The Q3 will ease that transition for you.