Tuesday, October 19, 2021





The 2021 Miami International Auto Show opened this past weekend in Miami Beach, and though there were considerable no-shows, there also were several interesting vehicles on display on the Miami Beach Convention Center floor.

At the top of that list would be the new 2023 Nissan Z, which earned “Star of the Show” honors from the Southern Automotive Media Association, a Miami-based media group that has recognized top vehicles at the show since the organization’s founding in 2007. (Just for the record, the show dates back to 1971.)

The iconic, seventh-generation Z also was on display (see above) at a special reception at an opening reception at a Miami hotel the night before the show’s Saturday opening (Oct. 16). 

The Z features a twin-turbo V6 engine that is rated at 400 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 350 pound-feet of torque from 1600-5200 rpm and mated to either a 6-speed manual or 9-speed automatic transmission that features standard and sport modes.

When it goes on sale next spring it will be offered in two grades — Sport and Performance — in the U.S.

The Z — Nissan has dropped the numerical designation from the name —  will hit showrooms as a coupe with a convertible to follow later.

Though the Z received top honors from SAMA, it was not the only vehicle to get attention on the show’s Media Day.

Stellantis, the corporation that emerged when Fiat-Chrysler and the French PSA Group (think Peugeot and Citroen) joined forces, showed the new resurrected Wagoneer SUV and the L version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

Like Ram’s breakaway from Dodge, the Wagoneer is now a stand alone brand after a long history under the Jeep banner. The 2022 model is available as a standard Wagoneer and the fancier Grand Wagoneer. It may be a separate vehicle now, but it still retains Jeep’s traditional seven-slot grille!

Toyota also previewed the new Corolla Cross, an SUV-version of its best-selling sedan, as well as its full-size Tundra pickup. The Tundra is all-new for 2022 and Toyota East Coast Communications Director Zachary Reed is particularly high on it.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “I can say with supreme confidence that this new Tundra is better in every single way over the outgoing model. It is absolutely a game-changer.”

As for the Corolla Cross, Reed said it is expected in dealerships in the next few weeks. The first ones just rolled out of the new Mazda Toyota plant in Huntsville, Ala., last week, Reed said.

I mentioned “no shows” earlier. The list of manufacturers with vehicles on display included Cadillac and Chevrolet from General Motors, Ford and Lincoln, Hyundai and Genesis, Kia, and Subaru.
In addition to a Toyota display, Lexus is there, and Stellantis leads the way with displays for Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Ram in addition to Jeep and Wagoneer.

Notably absent are usual participants Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi from Japan and all the European brands. No Audi. No BMW. No Jaguar. No Land Rovcer. No Mercedes-Benz. No Porsche. No Volkswagen. No Volvo.

No doubt much of that has to do with Covid cautions — even the Miami show’s scheduled February 2021 dates were pushed back to the traditional fall time period because of the pandemic — but also perhaps a change in the way some manufacturers are looking at auto shows as opposed to using other venues to get their products in front of the public.

Detroit even canceled its 2021 North American  International Auto Show in September for a program it called Motor Bella. It was an outdoor event featuring three days of press and industry previews followed by three days for the public. 

The current Miami Show opened to the public last Saturday afternoon and runs through Sunday (Oct. 24). For information on hours and tickets, visit www.miamiautoshows.com.

Thursday, October 14, 2021




Fully redesigned, the 2021 Nissan Rogue looks to continue its role as not only the company’s best seller but also as one of the most popular compact crossover SUVs on the market today.

Through the first three quarters of the year, the Rogue holds a solid third place in U.S. sales as one of three in its class with over the 200,000 mark behind only Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V.

Only one other small SUV, Chevrolet’s Equinox with 151,111, has managed to get over the 150,000 mark for the first nine months.

The Rogue also jumped over 40 percent when compared to last year’s COVID-restricted sales numbers, among the biggest increases in the segment with a total of 234,646 sold from the first of the year through September.

No doubt, the upgrades Nissan gave the Rogue have played a big part in that sales success.The 2021 Nissan Rogue, which went on sale last fall, looks sharp, has a quality interior, and is packed with a myriad of convenience and safety features that make it ideal for families, seniors, and young couples alike.

The Rogue comes in four trim levels starting with base S that is equipped with such standard features as LED headlights with automatic on/off, LED fog lights and taillights, NissanConnect technology with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition, two USB ports up front, Bluetooth hands-free communications, keyless entry, and safety systems like forward collision warning, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.

SV and SL trims keep adding features. At the top of the portfolio, the Platinum trim this review is based on incorporates features from those trims and adds such exclusive features as a 12-inch digital dashboard display, a head-up display that gives the driver speed and cruise setting at a glance, a wireless charging pad, upgraded leather seats with quilted stitching, and heated rear seats.

All the features in the optional SL Premium package also are standard on the Platinum. That adds Bose Premium Audio and Nissan's ProPilot Assist with Navi-link to the features.

By the way, "assist" is the key word on the word on the ProPilot Assist system. It is not a hands-free system but allows the driver to cruise even in heavy traffic with its adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist systems.

Cargo space across the lineup is good with 36.5 cubic feet with the Divide-N-Hide setup in the Rogue Platinum lowered, an extra 5.5 cubic feet over the rest of the lineup. With the second-row seats folded, max cargo space is 74.1 cubic feet.

Passengers in the front enjoy up to 41.5 inches of legroom. Those in the second row get up to 38.5.

All Rogues come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission, and there is about the only rub. The engine could use a bit more punch. It is rated at 181 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 181 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm, resulting on less-than-inspiring performance. The website zeroto60times.com reports the Rogue Platinum takes 8.1 seconds to get from zero to 60 mph.

The good news is that fuel economy is good (25 miles-per-gallon city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 combined for all-wheel-drive Platinum models and 26/34/29 for those with front-wheel drive).  Numbers for other trims vary slightly with the FWD S model topping the chart at a combined 30 mpg.

Further good news: the engine uses regular octane fuel, the CVT offers a manual shift mode via paddle shifters, and adjusting the transmission setting to Sport mode keeps the revs at a slightly higher level for more performance. 

There are also settings for Off-Road, Eco, Snow., and Automatic, each adjustable via a handy dial on the console.

The 2021 Nissan Rogue starts at $27,225for the FWD S trim including the $1,175 destination and delivery charge. The FWD SV starts at $28,915. The FWD SL starts at $33,575, and the FWD Platinum carries a starting price of $37,005.

AWD adds $1,400 to the bottom, line, which brought my test vehicle, which included a handful of stand-alone options, to $39,685.

What I liked about the 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum:
 The redesign really upgraded the exterior appeal, giving it a sexier look.The cabin is roomy and has an upscale, even premium, feel about it. Techno features are plentiful and easy to operate. Cargo space is excellent.

What I didn’t like abut the 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum: Not looking for a dragster here, but the 181-horsepow
er engine hooked up to a CVT doesn’t offer much in the way of performance. It somewhat makes up for that with decent fuel economy even in all-wheel-drive configuration.

Would I buy the 2021 Nisan Rogue Platinum? A definite yes here. The Rogue offers comfort and convenience with a full suite of techno features, especially in the Platinum trim. Still, you might find everything you want in one of the less-expensive SV or SL trims. Even the base S model is well-equipped and boasts a lot of safety features.

Friday, October 8, 2021

2021 KIA K5 GT


The 2021 Kia K5 GT isn’t billed as a “sports sedan,” but with a 290-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 314 pound-feet of torque it does a pretty good impersonation of one, especially when dialed into Sport mode for city environs.

The GT is the third version of the car that replaced the Optima in Kia’s lineup that I have had the pleasure of driving since last December, and I must say it just keeps getting better.

Yes, it sits at the top of the price list for the K5, but not by much. Not including the optional GT1 Package of features, my test K5 came to $31,705 including the $985 destination and delivery charge.

That is roughly about $1,600 more than the K5 GT-Line model that comes with a 1.4-liter turbo-4 instead of the 2.5-liter 4-banger in the GT. 

The optional GT1 Package is well worth the extra $4,000 if you can stretch your budget, stretching the final bottom line to $35,705.

Features in the package include a10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation (replacing the standard 8-inch screen), Bose premium sound, ventilated front seats, memory driver’s seat and power passenger seat with lumbar support, adaptable cruise control, rear parking assist, forward collision avoidance assist, and trial subscriptions to Kia’s UVO link (one-year) and Sirius-XM satellite radio (three months).

If you do much highway/city expressway driving, the adaptive cruise control (Kia calls is Smart) alone is worth the extra money.

Standard equipment included in the GT’s base MSRP ($30,490) includes the aforementioned 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, panoramic sunroof, dual zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, power trunk release, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, leather-wrapped steering wheel (with controls for cruise, audio, and Bluetooth), and LED headlights, fog lights and taillights.

Safety features include blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, leading vehicle departure alert (never get honked at at an intersection again!) and an assortment of air bags that includes full length side bags. There’s also Driver Attention Warning system to keep you alert.

In addition GT features at no extra cost include an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, 19-inch alloy sport wheels, sport-tuned suspension, quad dual exhaust, Syn-Tex covered sport seats, GT designed steering wheel with paddle shifters, heated front seats, and a wireless phone charger.

With its 2.5L engine, the GT is offered in front-wheel drive only. AWD is available only with the 1.6L engine. EPA fuel mileage numbers are 24 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway, and 27 combined using regular octane fuel. Zero-to-60 mph is in the 5-second range.

All in all, the K5 is an alluring choice for those who haven’t given up on sedans just yet.

What I liked about the 2021 Kia K5 GT: The GT model has a little more moxie than the EX reviewed here in late July and GT-Line reviewed last December. The  GT Premium Package adds to a already plentiful list of standard features. The infotainment system is user friendly (with one exception noted below). All K5s have an exterior look of more expensive sedans and generous trunk capacity.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Kia K5 GT:
As user-friendly as the infotainment system is, I still would like a knob to use to surf the radio dial. 

Would I buy the 2021 Kia K5 GT: Yes. It’s a tough call between the GT and EX and GT-Line trims. No matter the trim, the K5 is a very good buy with many features not usually found in this price range.