News: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Gets Diesel Engine, Edgy Styling

News: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Gets Diesel Engine, Edgy Styling

Diesel Move Is Big Surprise

Hyundai pulled the covers off the all-new fourth generation 2019 Santa Fe SUV this week in South Korea. Heavy with car models and light on crossover SUVs, the new Santa Fe is a big deal for the automaker; it’s the company’s second best-selling model with more than 133,000 sold in the U.S. last year.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

For 2019, Hyundai moves the Santa Fe down a new path

The midsize crossover will offer the usual naturally aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder gas engines, but the biggest news is that the U.S. will be getting a diesel option. But before getting into specifics about what is known about the drivetrains and other details, there are changes for model identification.

The outgoing generation lineup had two distinct models: the two-row Santa Fe Sport and the Santa Fe, a longer-wheelbase three-row model. The new 2019 short-wheelbase, five-seat vehicle will be called simply Santa Fe, with the longer-wheelbase version called Santa Fe XL for now. The company also confirmed that an even bigger eight-seat crossover was on the way with an all-new name.

Drivetrains

For those who want torque and the best fuel economy, there’s an optional 2.2-liter CRDi turbodiesel, which arrives in early 2019. Hyundai says the diesel will crank out “around 200 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and an estimated 320 pounds-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm.” Fuel economy numbers weren’t released, but expect the highway number to be in the 30s. Strangely, the diesel version of the Santa Fe is the only model that has what is described as an “occasional use” third-row seat.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The diesel and AWD logoa

Most buyers will likely opt for one of the gasoline engines. The base Santa Fe will offer a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making an estimated 185 horsepower. The upgrade engine will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making an estimated 232 horsepower. All engines come mated to a new in-house-designed eight-speed automatic transmission and will have the option of Hyundai’s Htrac all-wheel drive.

Other changes beneath the sheetmetal are a revised suspension, particularly in the rear, to provide a smoother and more comfortable ride. Hyundai will also offer an optional load-leveling suspension to maintain a consistent ride height, even when loaded with cargo or towing.

New From the Ground Up

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has a new look that is less crossover and more SUV than before. The styling is revolutionary next to today’s comparatively staid version. The new model incorporates the automaker’s latest design cues, including a new take on the company’s “Cascading” grille, along with LED daytime running lights at the top corners of the front end with LED headlights that are clustered below that. With more upright body panels, larger rear quarter glass, and a 2.8-inch growth spurt in overall length, the Santa Fe stands out next to more conservatively styled competitors.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe interior gets an upgrade, too

Along with additional interior space, there’s an all-new dashboard design that incorporates a 7.0-inch tablet-style infotainment system and an available digital gauge cluster. All trim levels receive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, while a navigation system and a head-up display that projects an 8.5-inch image on the windshield giving driving and navigation information is optional. Upper trim levels include a larger eight-inch screen with Hyundai’s latest AVN 5.0 navigation system and a 630-watt, 12-speaker surround-sound Infinity audio system. Thankfully, there are knobs and buttons to control climate and audio controls.

Fittingly for a family vehicle, the 2019 Santa Fe incorporates some interesting safety features. Smart Sense, which will be standard on trim levels SE and higher, will come with forward collision warning and avoidance, blind-spot warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, a 360-degree camera system, rear cross-traffic warning and collision avoidance, and automatic high beams.

Safe Exit Assist, a system that monitors vehicles approaching from the rear and prevents passengers from throwing open the doors and potentially stepping in front of a passing car, motor cycle or bicycle is folded into Smart Sense. So too is rear seat occupant alert. It uses ultrasonic sensors to detect motion of kids or pets in the back so they are not locked inside the vehicle.

On sale this (2018) summer, the 2019 Santa Fe will be joined by at least two other new Hyundai SUV models this year, including the entry-level Kona subcompact and the Nexo fuel cell. Pricing for the new Santa Fe will be available closer to the release date.

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Road Test: 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD 4X4 Premium

Road Test: 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD 4X4 Premium

Grandson’s Great Day Is Grandpa’s Embarrassment

The usual modus operandi at Clean Fleet Report is to evaluate hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel-efficient vehicles. But when Toyota offered a 4Runner for a week, I said yes because I had what seemed was a good idea at the time. In retrospect it was a good idea, things just didn’t work out in the manner I had envisioned.

2017 Toyota 4Runner

A 4Runner in its natural habitat

The plan was to take my youngest grandson, Gherit, for a day of off-roading at a large Weyerhaeuser-owned forest southwest of Olympia. I have been driving the logging roads of this massive timberland for more than 30 years. My first experience was in 1995 when I laid out a test drive route for the second annual Northwest Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) Of The Year for the Northwest Automotive Press Association that became known as “Mudfest.”

Most of the logging roads are gravel and can be driven slowly in an everyday passenger car. However, if you look hard enough, there are some narrow, rutted and rugged trails. Granted, our Toyota 4Runner TRD (Toyota Racing Development) 4X4 Premium, with its sparkling Barcelona Red Metallic paint job, was over qualified for the terrain, but the ambiance was ideal for Gherit’s first off-highway foray.

How Much Over-Qualified for the Gravel Logging Roads?

Starting from the ground up were 17-inch NittoTerra Grapler tires, a 9.6-inch ground clearance, 33-degree approach angle, 26-degree departure angle, Bilstein shocks to absorb off-road rambles, plus extra skid-plating. All 4Runner models feature a coil-spring independent front suspension with a stabilizer bar, and a solid axle out back suspended by a four-link setup with coil springs and a stabilizer bar. Our 4Runner added Toyota’s optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which increases suspension travel at low speeds to improve stability on rocky terrain.  A multi-terrain Crawl Control and hill assist are standard.

2017 Toyota 4Runner

Over the mudhole and through the woods

The four-wheel drive setup is a manually selectable two-speed transfer case with a low-range setting. A locking rear differential is standard.

In other words, this TRD 4Runner thumbs its nose at rough terrain.

My Oh My, Things Change Over the Years

I’ve driven the logging roads and trails in the Weyerhaeuser forest 30 or 40 times, but not in the last three years. When the asphalt turned into gravel, it was about three miles to the road I wanted. But dang!, about 15 yards short of the junction was a blockade gate, and no way around. O.K., things change over the years, but we had passed three or four other roads, so we’ll just go back.

Blockade gates greeted us on the first two roads after driving about a mile. The third road appeared to be the right choice. This logging road circles the perimeter of the forest with lots of off-shoot trails. Things were great for six miles, then another gate. Well, it’s turn around again (not the easiest thing to do in the 4Runner) and head for another off-road area I know about 15 miles away.

As we slowly made our way back, looking for a trail or road, Gherit suddenly said, “Hey, there’s a trail.” I back up and, sure enough, there’s a small opening among the trees that I had missed. I poked the 4Runner’s nose through the brush and could see a narrow, rugged, twisty trail that went steeply downhill into a mud hole, and then flattened out before heading upwards towards a hard right. This was just what the 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD 4X4 was made for.

Gherit, We’re Going to Have Fun!

I slipped the transfer case into 4-Low and eased down the hill and through the mud hole, thinking, “Why is there water and mud, it hasn’t rained in weeks.” Then I recalled that the forest was full of springs.

As we toddled up the hill and made the hard right turn and slowly worked our way forward, it became obvious that this wasn’t an ordinary logging trail. It was extremely narrow, hilly, rutted, and filled with very tight turns. About a mile in, we stopped in a clearing for lunch and pulled the outside mirrors in. The forest was alive with birds flitting through the tree branches and singing whenever they stopped for a rest. Gherit wore a constant smile. Mission accomplished.

2017 Toyota 4Runner

The 4Runner is designed to take on real trails

We were making small talk when I remembered one of the cardinal rules of off-roading: Always have a companion vehicle just in case something goes wrong. But I had not intended to be on a trail like this and Gherit was so enjoying himself that I decided to continue.

Another mile or so brought us around a narrow corner that looked straight at an enormous muddy water hole. The left side was slightly sloped and there was solid ground down the middle separating the ruts, but no way to go around. I could have backed up a few yards and manage to turn around, but Gherit wanted to continue forward. This is when I disregarded another cardinal rule: Get out of the vehicle and check what’s in front, in this case, how deep water-filled ruts where.

I decided I could straddle the ruts, put the left tires on the slope, and inch forward. That worked for about 10 feet, then the 4Runner slid to the right and we became high centered. No amount of placing wood under the right tires would budge the off roader. Embarrassment describes how I felt. 

Well, I’d just have to make some phone calls and find a towing company to come winch us out. Big problem, no cell service.

After locking things up, we began our walk to find a cell signal. It was nearly five miles before we came across one of the scattered homes. There were people in the yard who graciously drove us to a junction were I could begin making calls. By now it was late afternoon and the tow company I located that agreed to the task couldn’t make it until the next morning. That left us waiting for two hours on the side of a road for my wife to pick us up. And Gherit? He thought the whole day was one of the best he’s ever had.

About The 4Runner

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is a traditional body-on-frame midsize sport-utility vehicle with a solid rear axle. Five-passenger seating is standard, with an optional third row offered in rear- or four-wheel-drive configurations. The original 4Runner dates way back to 1984 as a compact SUV that was little more than a Toyota pickup truck with a fiberglass shell over the bed.

As then, today’s edition is purpose-built for off-roading and is best for drivers who spend much of their time off the beaten path. It’s outfitted for dirt-trails and rock crawling like nothing this side of a Jeep Wrangler. The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is one of the few remaining body-on-frame midsize SUVs in the U.S. with low-range four-wheel-drive available and, the only one offered with third-row seating. in the U.S.

Yes, the 4Runner is basically a truck, but that doesn’t mean the ride is unbearable or uncivilized. While it delivers a noticeably firm ride, the spring and suspension settings are not so primitive as to render it incapable of delivering acceptable levels of cornering and comfort. Due to its weight and high ride height, our 4Runner couldn’t round curves like a midsize crossover SUV, but its narrow body was a bit easier to maneuver than a full-size SUV, at least in urban surroundings.

An annoying weak spot did show up during our week with the 4Runner. The brake pedal at first felt a bit soft, and after applying more pressure, caused the brakes to grab too quickly.

The only engine available is a 4.0-liter V-6 with variable valve timing. This is a proven power plant that pumps out 270 horsepower and 278 pounds-feet of torque. It never felt quick in this big, heavy beast, but the power always delivered when merging into freeway traffic or needing to pass a slower vehicle.

In today’s automotive world, the five-speed automatic transmission may seem outdated, but it worked well and seemed well synced to the V-6. However, fuel economy stinks, and that’s where a six-speed auto (or an eight-speed like some of its competition) could help. I got just 18.3 mpg after driving 375 miles with a mix of city, highway and off-roading. The EPA rates this at 17-mpg city/20 highway/18 combined.

Exterior and Interior

Last redesigned for the 2014 model year, the 4Runner’s looks are eye-catching with a controversial front-end styling update. No matter your thoughts, there’s no denying that the SUVs looks best with a splash or two of mud and muck. It’s their natural element.

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner stays true to sport-utility tradition, which dictates a truck front end and a wagon body. Boxy and slab-sided, the 4Runner favors function over form. It sits high off the ground and rides on tires with big, rock-absorbing side walls, adding to its brawny look. The aggressively slanted headlights and available blacked-out grille mean that the front end, at least, can look mean and modern. The roll-down rear window is a classic 4Runner trait not found in many other vehicles.

2017 Toyota 4Runner

Ready to swallow what you’ve got

Inside, the 4Runner’s blocky dashboard seems like a throwback to pickups from the 1990s. The majority of the cabin’s surfaces are hard, meant to take a beating. Not necessarily cheap or brittle, mind you, but chosen with durability and easy cleaning rather than comfort or tactile pleasure in mind. Everything is well-fitted and assembled.

As you might expect, the driving position is commanding, and the driver grips a thick, oversized steering wheel. Large windows and a high seating position contribute to good outward visibility with few blind spots. Controls are sensibly-arrayed, large, easy-to-reach and easily operated even when wearing gloves. Off-road-focused controls are located in an overhead console, keeping the center stack of controls straightforward and accessible. A secondary display sits atop the center stack, and redundant steering wheel controls access audio and Bluetooth functions.

Power-adjustable front seats are well supported and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel makes it easy to find the right driving position. Several large, deep cubbies in the front row mean that the 4Runner is as versatile a hauler as it is a mud slinger or rock crawler. Five 12-volt outlets throughout the cabin and a household AC outlet in the cargo area mean that no smartphone need run empty, no matter how long the trip or crowded the car.

Showing its age is the tiny, recessed 6.1-inch touchscreen display that completely washes out under a variety of lighting conditions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available, but at least Toyota makes the system Siri-compatible, and provides accurate real-time traffic and Doppler weather radar overlay for the navigation map. The company’s App Suite is aboard, supplying popular apps such as Pandora and Yelp at no extra cost.

Rear seats are a comfortable space for two, three in a pinch. If little ones are included in the ride, installing a car seat is not easy because the LATCH system is buried and difficult to find.

Cargo space is generous, measuring 47.2 cubic feet behind the rear seat. Fold it down to enjoy an impressive 88.8 cubic feet of volume. Our 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Premium had the optional sliding rear cargo deck ($350) that can be pulled out when loading big items and makes retrieving the items at the cargo area’s rear much easier.

The Off Roader for You?

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is offered in a number of trim levels, starting with the SR5, the SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited and TRD Pro models, which offer unique interior and exterior badging. There are only minor changes for the 2018 model year.

2017 Toyota 4Runner

The dash is old school, but it works

Pricing starts at $34,610 for a SR5 rear-wheel drive, though I don’t know why someone would buy a 4Runner without four-wheel drive. The least expensive 4X4 model is a SR5 priced at $36,485. The top-of-the-line Limited model starts at $44,960. Our TRD Premium 4X4 stickered at $43,430, including destination charges and options such as sun roof ($850), the KDSS suspension system ($1,750) and paint protection film ($395).

Don’t confuse the 4Runner SUV with a crossover SUV because they are two different animals. A crossover is great for suburban shuttling. The 4Runner rides like a truck, it guzzles gasoline like a truck and it handles like a truck. But then, these qualities are a part of its undeniable charm. Authenticity is alluring, and the 4Runner isn’t trying to be anything but a traditional sport-utility vehicle built to go just about anywhere at just about any time.

If rugged outdoor four-wheeling is your cup of tea, the closest competitor that seats five is a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Like the 4Runner, the Jeep is ready for a day of exploring narrow, rutted trails or climbing over rocks right out of a dealer showroom. But whatever your choice is, remember the cardinal rules of off-roading and you want be embarrassed like I was.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: Other Real Off-Roaders

Road Test: 2017 Jeep Cherokee

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2018 Genesis G90 5.0 RWD Ultimate

Road Test: 2018 Genesis G90 5.0 RWD Ultimate

A Top Shelf Luxury Sedan at a Bargain Price

The 2018 G90 sedan has a sophisticated look, world-class luxury comfort, a powerful and silky smooth drivetrain and state-of-the-art safety and convenience features.  The G90 is as new as the Genesis brand that Hyundai recently launched and is designed to compete with other established luxury players like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-series and Lexus LS. As we noted when we tested the Turbo V6 model, while much of the car is on par with its competition, the fuel economy lags behind.

2018 Genesis G90

The new face of luxury

Hyundai has been in the luxury market for almost 10 years with the Genesis and Equus models, but hasn’t had any traction. The cars are a minor player with the marque focusing mainly on mainstream and economy vehicles.  With the establishment of the separate Genesis brand, Hyundai concentrates on the luxury market with a very competitive offering, the G90.   Genesis has some stiff competition, but with the G90 they have a very decent offering.

The Genesis G90 cuts through the clutter with a very simplified offering.  Options are few—pick rear or all-wheel-drive, the standard 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, or the upscale Ultimate version with a 420-hp 5.0-liter V8.  The interior has two color options, black or tan, and the choice of five exterior colors complete the options.

The G90 MSRPs range in from $68,350 for the 3.3T RWD to $74350 for the 5.0 Ultimate AWD.

Clean Fleet Report tested the 5.0 Ultimate RWD with a sticker price of $72,825.  Our fully equipped car had just about every feature one could think of, including 12-way adjustable reclining rear seats.  Upfront, the G90 includes a 22-way power adjustable driver’s seat and a 16-way power passenger seat.  The standard features list is as long as the G90’s 204.9-inch body. 

Drivetrain

The 2018 Genesis G90’s options are limited primarily to the drivetrain, as just about every creature comfort is standard.  Two power plants are available.  The standard engine is a 365-horsepower (hp) 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6.  When we sampled this engine, it was impressive.  The V6 produces a diesel-like 376 pounds-feet (lb.-ft.). of torque from 1300 rpm to its 6000 rpm redline. 

2018 Genesis G90

Two engines–a stout V6 and an even more powerful V8–offer silky smooth driving

Our test G90 this time was the Ultimate version with a 420-hp 5.0-liter V8 producing 383 lb.-ft. of torque.  This V8 had a refined snarl when provoked and had no problem at all moving the two-and-a-half-ton G90 smartly down the road.  We observed zero-to-60 times in the 5.2-second range.

Both engines require premium fuel and have EPA estimates of 17/24/20 mpg for the V6 and 16/24/19 mpg for the V8.  Like our experience with the V6, our observed average mileage for the V8 was 22-24 mpg, beating the EPA estimates. Range is an impressive 400+ miles thanks to the 21.9-gallon fuel tank. Unlike the luxury competition (Lexus, Mercedes, BMW), there is not a hybrid or plug-in hybrid option for either engine.

The two power plants share a Hyundai sourced new for the G90 eight-speed transmission that has extensive weight reduction compared to previous versions, higher efficiency and more compact dimensions. The G90 includes proprietary “Smart Shift and Drive Control” automatic transmission technology that analyzes driving style and adjusts shift character, engine torque response and suspension damping in real-time driving conditions. Our test car’s transmission was smooth and quick and even had steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control.

The AWD option utilizes the Hyundai H-Trac adaptive AWD system.  This system includes an electronic transfer case with active torque control and offers dual-mode Sport or Normal calibrations.  The H-Trac system is primarily rear–drive biased for sportier handling and acceleration, but it can direct up to 100 percent of available torque to the rear wheels for optimum driveline efficiency or up to 40 percent of available torque to the front axle for driving in snow or ice.

Suspension, Brakes Wheels and Steering

A hallmark of any full-size luxury sedan is a buttery smooth ride with stable, confident dynamics regardless of the road conditions and speed—the G90 does not disappoint in this area.  The G90 utilizes a multi-link suspension with generous suspension travel.  Genesis fitted its Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension (GACS) to the G90. It uses electronic dampening control that continuously adjusts the Sachs/ZF sourced dampeners to control and soak up body motions regardless of the road surface.  Our G90 was always smooth, refined and in control. 

2018 Genesis G90

Big, slick wheels cover efficient brakes

The 14.8-inch rotors with four-piston calipers in front and 13.4-inch rotors with dual pistons in the rear provide the G90s stopping power. The front brakes have dedicated cooling vents in the front bumper for heat dissipation.  The brakes are power-assisted, and we observed firm, quiet, smooth braking during our test with no fade whatsoever.

The G90 sits on staggered 245/45/R19 front and 275/40/R19 rear Continental all-season tires, mounted on beautiful turbine blade9design alloy wheels.

Steering in the 2018 Genesis G90 is a modern rack-and-pinion system with a rack-mounted variable gear ratio electric motor assist.  The road feel of this system was quick with good feedback and a small turning circle.

All of these components work in perfect harmony together with a ride that is just as good or better than any of its European or Asian rivals.  It is fair to say that the car glides down the road with no harshness in any situation.

Interior

2018 Genesis G90

All the luxury cues greet you upon entry

An interior that exudes luxury, quality and excellent ergonomics greets you when you open the door of the G90.   No gimmicks here, except maybe for a symphonic opening flourish from it’s impressive Lexicon sound system, just pure sophisticated luxury.  The interior materials are purposeful and attractive, with plenty of upscale features and finishes.  Nappa leather, wood, microfiber headliner and aluminum accents fill the cabin.  The dashboard’s center stack includes a 12.3-inch high-definition navigation monitor. A 7.0-inch electroluminescent gauge cluster gives the driver total control of the vehicle.

The 2018 Genesis G90’s interior is packed with so many features, that we could write volumes about them, but here is a synopsis:

Power tilt and telescopic heated steering wheel with paddle shifters, HUD drivers display, Sirius XM with travel-link, Lexicon 12-channel 900-watt stereo, with Quantum Logic surround sound, AM/FM/HD radio and 17 speakers, CD-DVD player, wireless smartphone charging, Bluetooth with audio streaming, proximity key with push-button start, Seven color LED ambient lighting, electronic parking brake with vehicle hold, 22-way power drivers seat, 16-way power passenger seat, 18-way rear power seats with recline, integrated memory for seats, mirrors, steering column, and HUD,  heated and ventilated front and rear seats, multi-zone temperature controls for each seat,  power privacy screens for rear passengers, 12 cup holders, Genesis smartphone services including remote start, and about a hundred other things that are detailed in the two-inch thick owner’s manual. 

2018 Genesis G90

A back seat designed for those who are driven

The only shortcoming we saw was lack of smartphone integration with Apple Carplay or Android Auto.

To sum it up, driving or riding in the G90 is a wonderful experience.

Exterior

The exterior of the 2018 Genesis G90 is simple, yet unique, and immediately gives the impression that it is a high-end vehicle.  From the full LED headlights with dynamic bending and tail lights to the 19-inch wheels, the car has a presence that turns heads, especially from owners of S-class Benzes and 7-Series BMWs.  From the rear, the vehicle vaguely looks like a Bentley, but has a more contemporary look to it.  The G90’s body achieves an ultra-low 0.27 CD with active and passive aerodynamic underbody panels that also reduce turbulence and wind noise.

The doors are triple-sealed, with power door closure and feature the Genesis logo on the door entry lights at night.  Genesis badging is very discreet with the small winged Genesis logo placed only on the front and rear, which adds to the mystique of the car.

The very rigid steel body is more than half advanced high strength steel, put together with more than 650 feet of structural adhesives, which gives the car a solid planted feel on the road.  Genesis claims that the body is lighter and stiffer than the S-Class, but at two-and-a-half tons, it is no lightweight.  There are no exotic materials used in the body, which keeps costs down. Aluminum is used only for suspension pieces.

2018 Genesis G90

A touch of Bentley–for less

Safety

The G90 has a segment-leading suite of safety and convenience features.  The G90 earned a good rating in five of the IIHS’s crash evaluations, a superior rating for front crash prevention and has received their highest honor of a Top Safety Pick.  Standard on the G90 are automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection alert, driver attention alert, blind spot detection, lane keeping assistant with haptic steering wheel alarm, adaptive cruise control with automatic start and stop, 360-degree cameras, front and rear parking sensors and rear traffic alert.  Also standard are nine airbags and a pre-active seat belt system that tightens belts when a potential crash is detected.

Finally

The 2018 Genesis G90 is a low-volume, full-sized luxury vehicle competing against some very well-established players.  It tries very hard and shows that being late to the segment is not a disadvantage, as it compares very well to its rivals. The G90’s cabin is a large, comfortable place to enjoy the road and has all of the items that define a luxury car.  The car is understated in its character and does everything very well.  For the luxury segment, it is the value leader, and for those in the market for a luxury vehicle, but not interested in paying for a name, the Genesis G90 should be at the top of their shopping list.

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

News: Lexus Reduces Hybrid SUV Prices

News: Lexus Reduces Hybrid SUV Prices

Lexus Also Announces the New RX 450hL Sticker

Lexus has decided to make its hybrid SUVs more affordable. Prices for the popular NX and RX hybrid versions are now much closer to the prices of the non-hybrid models.

Lexus RX 450hL

The Lexus RX 450hL arrives in a couple months–at less of a premium 

 

How much closer? The NX hybrid is now only $950 more than the gas-only model; it carried a $3,035 premium last year. The gap between the larger RX hybrid and non-hybrid has been slashed from $5,280 last year to only $1,025 for 2018.

How did they do it? Hybrid models used to come not only with the additional electric motor and battery pack, but also contained more standard equipment than the gas-only models. For example, the 2017 RX 450h featured navigation, a 12-speaker audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and leather-trimmed seats. Now, the distinguishing factor is just the hybrid platform itself.

This change benefits customers and the company. Lower prices make it easier for people to get into a hybrid, which should increase sales numbers. This, in turn, adds to the hybrid mix in the product, which helps Toyota meet more stringent CAFE fuel efficiency requirements. In addition, higher volumes should help Toyota reduce the cost of hybrid components and batteries.

New 2019 RX 450hL Hybrid is Coming this Spring

The new RX 450hL three-row hybrid, which arrives in April, will start at $51,615, including delivery, Lexus announced. The all-wheel-drive crossover puts out 308 combined horsepower from its 3.5-liter V6 combined with two electric motors. The price is only $3,000 more than the gasoline-only RX 350L, which is front-wheel drive.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: More Lexus News & Reviews

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Road Test: 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4

Road Test: 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4

Legendary Jeep Off-Road Capability + Comfortable On-Road Ride

The Jeep Cherokee Overland is not to be confused with the Grand Cherokee. The difference is in the word Grand, which indicates it is a midsize SUV compared to the compact 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4 that Clean Fleet Report tested recently. The Jeep Overland is a family-friendly SUV with the legendary Jeep off-road capability.

2017 Jeep Cherokee

Unmistakable Jeep with modern updates

Drivetrain

Clean Fleet Report drove the 2017 Jeep Overland 4X4 equipped with a 3.2L, V6 that produces 271 horsepower (hp) and 239 pounds-feet (lb-ft) of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel economy rating was 18 city/26 highway/21 combined. Clean Fleet Report drove the Overland 354 miles, with the majority of the time on the highway, and achieved a combined average of 25.1 mpg. However, in two, 100-mile freeway runs with the cruise control set to 65 mph, we achieved 31.2 mpg, allowing the Cherokee to join our AWD 30 MPG Club. Also available is the 2.4L, Tigershark I4 engine, producing 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, that is EPA rated at 21 city/30 highway/25 combined.

Driving Experience: On the Road

Clean Fleet Report’s 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4, with the 3.2L, was smooth cruising at highway speeds. Coming away from a stoplight, we felt a bit of stumbling after the engine start/stop kicked back in. Acceleration was more than adequate and the V6 was quiet at all times, even when accelerating hard while climbing a grade.

The Overland 4X4 utilizes Jeep’s Active Drive II system that sends power only to the front wheels during normal street driving. If that surface gets wet or icy, then the computer automatically sends power to the rear wheels to assist in traction. When venturing off pavement, the Selec-Terrain traction control system has driver-selectable settings of Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock. Add-in all-speed traction control, hill descent control, hill start assist and off-road suspension to aid in the Overland’s driving stability. The Continental ProContact TX 225/60R all-season tires were equally capable for street and off-road driving.

Clean Fleet Report’s Overland 4X4 had the Heavy Duty Protection Group option which included skid plates for front suspension, fuel tank, transmission and underbody protection. Not that we drove the Overland 4X4 so hard to need the skid plates, but it was nice knowing they were there.

Stopping was very good, confident, solid and straight through the front vented and solid rear rotor power-assist brakes. The Overland comes with an anti-lock brake system, vacuum brake assist and electronic stability control.

Driving Experience: Interior

The Overland has a good size interior where two adults and a child fit comfortably in the rear seat. Front seat legroom was generous, and legroom was more than adequate for the rear seat passengers. Storage with the 60/40 rear seat laid flat is large enough for a bicycle without removing the wheels. Otherwise, with the rear seat in the up position, the cargo area is adequate for compact SUVs. Access was easy through wide doors leading to a high driver and front passenger seating positions.

2017 Jeep Cherokee

Touches of luxury invade the Jeep

The Overland is a premium compact SUV, and the interior shows it. Nappa leather is everywhere, including all the seats, with the front ones being ventilated and power adjustable, including lumbar. The Overland’s dash is clean and straight-forward in design with tasteful matte-finish aluminum trim. The dark, Zebrano high-gloss wood trim on the heated steering wheel is very attractive and the Berber floor mats were a nice change from what is found on other SUVs.

Everything for the driver is laid-out in logical, easy-to-read locations. The 8.4-inch color touch screen is the command center for the Uconnect operating system, which includes navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio (one-year subscription included.) The nine amplified speakers and a subwoofer push out quality sounds for the Alpine audio system that includes AM/FM/CD/MP3 HD radio. Voice command, with Bluetooth, for handsfree phone and streaming audio are operated by the steering wheel controls.

The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland had convenience features such as remote start, cruise control, memory for the driver seat and exterior rearview mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering column, rear window/wiper, power windows with one-touch express up and down, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors with turn signals, automatic, dual zone climate control, remote keyless entry, push button start, 12V power outlet, rear seat fold down armrest, remote charge-only USB and AUX ports and multiple cup holders.

Driving Experience: Exterior

2017 Jeep Cherokee

Details in the Overland edition drive home the upscale nature of the model

Clean Fleet Report’s Overland was painted in a striking Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl that popped against the sharp looking 18-inch polished aluminum wheels. The streamline look starts upfront with the signature grille that still rubs a few Jeep purists the wrong way. Clean Fleet Report is not in that camp and likes the modern design with the sleek bi-xenon high intensity headlamps that blend smoothly into the fenders. There is no unnecessary cladding or chrome work.

The roof comes with rack rails, a shark fin antenna and spoiler over the power liftgate, which incorporates the LED taillights and rear window wiper. The rear has dual chrome exhaust tips. It all works very well as a contemporary SUV that will hold its design for years to come.

Safety and Convenience

The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland has been rated by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), earning 4 Stars overall. Our Overland was equipped with 10 airbags, a ParkView rear backup camera, blind spot and cross path detection, ParkSense rear park assist, tire pressure monitoring system and a full-size spare.

Pricing and Warranties

Clean Fleet Report’s 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4 had a base price of $37,695. With optional packages of Technology, Heavy Duty Protection and the dual-pane panoramic sunroof, added $4,900 for a total MSRP of $42,595. All prices exclude the $1,095 destination charge.

All 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland models come with these warranties:

  • Basic Three years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain Five-years/60,000 miles

Observations: 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4

2017 Jeep Cherokee

Lots to like here, starting with the Jeep name and heritage

Nimble around town and easy-to-drive on the open road sums up this SUV. Need to venture off road? Sure, go ahead. For all but serious rock crawling, the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4 will do just fine. Seats five adults in an absolute pinch, four is more comfortable. A contemporary design and leather everywhere. If only the fuel economy was a few miles per gallons more and the Cherokee Overland 4X4 would have pretty much everything going for it.

Jeep has several Cherokee models to choose from–Limited, Altitude, High Altitude, Sport and Overland. Each has something a bit different to offer, so visiting your local Jeep dealer and driving all the Cherokee models just might be where you will be spending a weekend day.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

Related Stories You Might Enjoy—More Jeeps & Competitive Compact SUVs

Road Test: 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude

News: Jeep Wrangler Gets Hybrid, Diesel, Plug-in Hybrid

Road Test: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Road Test: 2018 Subaru Outback

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport AWD

Road Test: 2018 Honda CR-V

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Road Test: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Third Gen’s a Charm

The Equinox compact crossover has been a big hit for Chevrolet, but the latest model is hitting new high marks for fuel economy. With nearly two million sold since its debut in 2004 as a 2005 model, the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox represents a third generation after a long life for the second (2010-2017). It’s one of five Chevrolet crossovers/SUVs.

2108 Chevrolet Equinox

You’ve seen this look before, but not in a high-mpg compact crossover

If you like the look of the Chevrolet Malibu, Cruze, and Volt, you’ll appreciate the Equinox’s new design. It’s sharply drawn, but thankfully, not overdone. The latest chiseled brand face is there, as is a multi-faceted hood and a high, straight shoulder that mimics the look of big brother Suburban and Tahoe. Though all-new, the vehicle still evokes the general feeling and proportions of the old model, which is a good idea, considering its success.

New Inside

Inside, you can see the influence of the siblings as well. There’s lots of movement along the dash and doors, with black control panels and silver accents, and chrome sparkles on the vents and handles. The center of the instrument panel provides useful information straight ahead. The speedometer, common today, goes up to an unattainable 160 mph.

2108 Chevrolet Equinox

Lots to like in the Equinox interior upgrades

The fat, leather-wrapped steering wheel is GM standard, but that’s a good thing. It flaunts lots of handy buttons for controlling audio and other features, so you can keep your eyes on the road.

There are two USB ports in the front of the center console for using and charging devices. You can plug in your phone and see it projected on the 7 or 8-inch center screen, thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Efficiency Boost

Part of the goal of the new Equinox, besides to look fresh, is to increase efficiency, which is why about 400 pounds was taken out of this model. It still comes in at between 3,274 and 3,682 pounds, but that’s significant nonetheless.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The Equinox’ interior can take you long

Crossover vehicles like the Equinox are very popular today, because they combine the higher-riding, greater-hauling, cooler-looking SUV experience with a comfortable-riding car platform. The Equinox has a firmness to the ride that feels just right, and the leather buckets are comfortable for commuting. I didn’t have a chance to take this one on a long trip, but it looks well up to the job.

Many Choices

This compact hauler comes in four trims—S, LS, LT, and Premier. And there are three engine choices, too, all of which are turbocharged. The base engine is a 1.5-liter four with 170 horsepower (hp) and 203 pounds-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. My Cajun Red Tintcoat tester was a top-level Premier, but had this base engine. You can step up to a 2.0-liter four with 252 hp and 260 lb.-ft. It may not appeal to you, but if you’re interested in a diesel, a new 1.6-liter unit is optional, with a mere 137 hp, but a hearty 240 lb.-ft. of torque. Diesel is surrounded by controversy today, after the revelations of malfeasance at VW, but it offers higher fuel efficiency and range for certain applications.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Options are many, but you’ll want to check out what you can get in the center stack

The 1.5-liter four seems up to the job in this car. It was unmemorable, but didn’t leave me feeling let down, either. The existence of the 2.0-liter option means you can get added grunt if you know you’re going to be carrying several passengers and cargo, which could affect performance significantly. The 2.0-liter engine is mated to a new nine-speed transmission, while the 1.5 gets a traditional six-speed.

My 1.5-liter-equipped tester earned EPA numbers of 24 city/30 highway/26 combined. Those are not bad stats. Green numbers are a pair of 5’s for Smog and Greenhouse Gas.

You can choose front-wheel or all-wheel drive in this crossover. The all-wheel drive system automatically disconnects from the rear axle when not needed, for greater efficiency. Having this choice means that if you live in sunny California and are not planning on skiing, you can skip AWD and save a few bucks while improving your miles-per-gallon numbers by two.

Options, There Are More Than a Few

There’s a vast set of safety features, many standard and some optional—too many to list here. See http://www.chevrolet.com/suvs/equinox-compact-suv for details.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Let’s not forget what crossovers are all about–space

Pricing starts at $24.525 for the S model. My Premier tester had the base engine, but included the Sun, Sound & Navigation package ($3,320) and charged $395 for the Cajun Red paint. The package does include a power sunroof, 19-inch wheels, MyLink Navigation and a Bose Premium seven-speaker system, so the total came to $39,040. That’s one pricey compact crossover.

The all-new Equinox is truly North American, built in Canada with a U.S-sourced engine and transmission and 40 percent Mexican parts. It’s a very important entry in the growing compact crossover segment, battling the two perennial favorites, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, as well as the popular Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, and the rest. With this introduction, Chevrolet’s fleet is looking very fresh.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy—the Competition

Road Test: 2018 Honda CR-V

Road Test: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Ford Escape

First Drive: 2017 Mazda CX-5

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.