Category: Road Test

Ford's Legacy of Sustainability

Epiphany: 2015 Ford Fusion Energi Road Test Review

A 2015 Ford Fusion Energi came into my driveway one Friday, and I was immediately excited.  I knew enough about it, that it was a plug in hybrid version of the Fusion, and naturally would have pretty good driving dynamics, but I had no direct experience.  To be honest, its the first true plug-in hybrid car that I’ve spent any significant time in.  The result of my time?  The realization that things are changing, and that change is quite good.  Electricity is here to stay.

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2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Short Take Review

The new 2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 solidifies the company’s latest efforts to match design and edginess to their already impressive safety record.  The exterior is very stylish and has flowing lines and good character.  The interior has high quality materials, a floating center stack, and very comfortable leather seats.  The infotainment system is extremely clunky to use and get used to, but the Harmon Kardon audio system sounds absolutely fantastic.  Imaging is very good, and aside from a lack of low bass, it’s one of the best car audio systems in the category.

Volvo’s LCD instrument cluster is among the best in the business.  You can choose from 3 themes, but the best is the performance theme with the center mounted tachometer with digital speedometer readout inside, with temperature flanking it.  The execution of the digital gauges is fantastic and seamless.  They’re easy to read, day or night, and very responsive.  Everything in the Volvo just works.  It’s usable and easy to live with in all conditions.

With 300 horsepower and 325 foot pounds of torque on tap, the Volvo XC60 T6 is downright fast.  Traction is great, and the responsive and virtually lag-free nature of the turbocharged six cylinder makes it a joy to drive.  The transmission is generally very good, though occasionally it has issues picking gears.  Luckily the broad torque band of the engine more than makes up for it.  The suspension is sporty but not overly so- it handles bumps and road imperfections rather well without feeling floaty or uncontrolled.

Every person I took in the Volvo was impressed, and so was I.  Sporty, roomy, well built, and well priced, this Volvo is definitely a great choice for a 5 passenger midsize SUV.  I’m glad people are starting to notice the brand for something other than safety:  this Volvo XC60 T6 definitely pushes the brand’s new image as an exciting AND safe car manufacturer.

Vehicle provided by Volvo Car Corporation.

2015 Infiniti Q60S exterior

2015 Infiniti Q60S Road Test Review

I’ve always been a fan of the Infiniti G series, so it wasn’t a shock that I was excited to see a 2015 Infiniti Q60S in my driveway one Friday.  With a manual transmission, naturally.  While Infiniti’s new naming conventions confuse me, did the name change dilute what already was a good sports car?  Hardly.

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2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost Short Take Review

After the MKZ, could the next new Lincoln come close?  Think of the 2015 Lincoln MKC as the compact SUV version of the MKZ.  The 2.3 ecoboost version as tested is downright fast, and there is never a lack of passing power.  The transmission shifts smoothly and authoritatively when called upon to do so.  The suspension is sporty but not overkill, and the optional all wheel drive system provides exemplary traction on all surfaces. The steering has good weight, good feedback, and feels well matched to the vehicle.

The interior is quite nice.  Leather and soft touch materials adorn the panels, and MyLincolnTouch works as intuitively as ever.  Voice commands are easy to use, as are the physical buttons on the console, as well as the touchscreen.  The instrument cluster has it’s own small color information screen that is simple and easy to use as well.  Front seat passengers are always comfortable, with heated and cooled seats.  3 adults fit in the back seat in relative comfort, but this is still small SUV, so there is limited rear legroom, as is typical for all vehicles in this class.  Cargo space is adequate, certainly up there with the best in its class as well.

Fuel mileage is very competitive and the feature set is good on this new crossover.  Ecoboost turbocharged direct injection engines are really setting Ford apart.  The response, power, and relative fuel efficiency are pretty staggering considering how inefficient small SUVs were even a few years ago.  Should you upgrade to the 2.3 liter?  Honestly, you may not need anything more than the peppy 2.0 Ecoboost that comes standard in the 2015 Lincoln MKC.

Overall, the Lincoln MKC is a lovely little SUV that further solidifies Lincoln’s new image and reputation.  In fact, I recommended one of my good friends go look at one with his wife when he asked me about it.  “A Lincoln? Really?” he said, and I assured him he wouldn’t be disappointed.  He drove off the lot with one that day.  Keep up the good work, Lincoln.

Vehicle provided by Lincoln Motor Company.


2014 Scion FRS Road Test Review

Coming down off of the Jaguar F-type review was going to be hard, but I was pleasantly surprised when a Scion FRS appeared in my driveway.  It’s MSRP of just under $27k is very reasonable, and a simple, light, rear wheel drive sports car is never a bad thing.  Was it everything I’d hoped for?

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2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S Road Test Review

When the Jaguar F-Type V8 S first came out, I wasn’t quite sure it was up to the monumental task of it’s name:  following in the steps of the legendary Jaguar E-Type, which Enzo Ferrari once called “The most beautiful car ever made.”  It also had quite a sporting pedigree, and the sonorous and powerful inline six and V12 engines were nothing short of amazing for their time.  Could any modern car possibly be worthy of succeeding that storied automobile?

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2015 Ford Expedition

2015 Ford Expedition EL Ecoboost Platinum Ecoboost Road Test Review

I had this behemoth 2015 Ford Expedition for two weeks in Miami traffic with a wedding road trip to Key Largo thrown in.  How does the Expedition handle in congested city and open highway driving?  Is the Ecoboost 3.5 V6 a worthy replacement for the tried-and-true 5.4 Liter Triton V8?  Short answer- What a great truck.

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2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0t Short Take Review

The dreaded Sport moniker.  Some manufacturers add it to an options package, some change driving dynamics, some ruin a perfectly good car.  How does this Hyundai do?  Quite well.

First of all, this Hyundai exceeded my expectations of build quality.  It’s definitely up there with its midsize competitors, if not ahead.  The infotainment system is far snappier than previous models, and the voice command works well.  The seats are extremely comfortable and well padded, and this tester had orange piping, a nice touch.  The only knock is the steering wheel, which has a material that feels artificial to the touch, but it’s a trivial qualm.  Room for 5 and a good size trunk add up to a very capable daily drivable package.

What about the Sport part?  Well, it’s a mixed bag. The firmer shocks and springs are definitely stiffer, and while not jarring, the car can get a bit upset over large bumps and road imperfections compared to the base car.  It doesn’t seem to kill the body roll much either.  The sport mode feels strange: the steering isn’t much stiffer, and the car doesn’t really feel all that different.  The 2.0t engine is very good, but is held back by the conservative boost mapping.  Even in sport mode, the engine just doesn’t give that low end grunt that turbo engines are famous for.  While I’m sure ramping the boost on harder would give some wheelspin, I’d at least like to see a more aggressive sport mode.  All-in-all, it’s a capable package, but the lack of quick boost onset left me wanting compared to some of the manual turbo Hyundais I’ve driven.

So the price.  This car is a smidge under $30k all in, and that’s with the Sport package and a 2 liter turbo engine, orange piped seats and a nice interior, and all the bells and whistles you’d ever need including keyless start.  It also has stylish 18 inch wheels, HID headlights, LED tail lights, quad exhaust, and an amazing amount of features for the price.  I really enjoyed the Sonata Sport even with my small complaints.  I have to say, value for money is definitely the Sonata’s strong suit.  With all these features, comfortable driving dynamics, and good gas mileage, I can definitely recommend the Sonata 2.0t Sport to midsize sedan buyers looking for a quality option, but those looking for razor sharp handling and aggressive response should look elsewhere.

LR4 Grille Featured Image

2015 Land Rover LR4 Road Test Review

If you’ve been a Blog of Speed reader for any length of time, you already know I love to take SUVs and trucks (and Subarus) I get off-road at the first opportunity.  This Land Rover LR4 was a bit of an exception- it looked so good I didn’t want to get it dirty.  Does that mean it’s any less amazing off road?  Probably not, but I’ll let other people talk about how this three row British SUV handles the roads less travelled.  In my all-too-short week with the LR4, I had just enough time to test highway and city comfort with a variety of passengers and cargo.  Is this luxury SUV king of the hill?

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