Ever since I laid eyes on the Optima, I’ve loved its style and couldn’t wait to drive it. Well time flies and it took longer than expected to finally get behind the wheel. Half-way through its model cycle, the Optima gets a refresh for the 2015 model year (its subtle, but better looking inside and out), so it was important to grab the keys to a 2014 before the change, in order to compare them next year.
Last year I drove the Ford Fusion SEL and was considerably impressed by it – so much so, that I recommended it to my brother-in-law when he was looking at buying a new vehicle. He loved it so much he bought one. I’ve driven a number of hybrids over the years, but never the Fusion. I liked the regular 4-cylinder version, so I grabbed the keys to the hybrid to see if it was any better. One thing it for sure, they are quite different.
It’s been said that it costs the same amount of money to create and build an ugly car as it does to produce a beautiful one and certainly Hyundai designers have taken it to heart (unfortunately somebody forgot to memo Citroen). In a world of bland econoboxes that can barely register a pulse, let alone raise it to excitement levels, Hyundai are doing their bit to clean up the automotive landscape. Probably the hottest car company around right now is Hyundai, with last year’s launch of the amazing Genesis Coupe (my favourite sports car of 2010) and the Genesis sedan, then along came the Sonata and Tucson, followed by the 2012 Equus & Elantra … and there’s the soon to be released Azera – can they do no wrong?
It’s been a number of years since I last drove a Suzuki vehicle – too long in fact. I’ve always been a fan of Suzuki vehicles because they are always well built and well equipped – and they typically cost a lot less than other Japanese vehicles. Many moons ago (1987) when I was a driving instructor I leased one, and my students absolutely loved it.
It’s been a number of years since I last drove a Fusion. For the 2010 model year, Ford have re-designed it from the ground up, so it was definitely time to put the new one through its paces. I liked the first version, but didn’t exactly love it. This new one is certainly a real looker and turned heads everywhere we went. Like a woman – looks can be deceiving… so how does it stack up when under close scrutiny? Keep reading to find out….
The Hyundai Sonata is a serious competitor to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Like the Camry, Accord and Ford Fusion, the Sonata is built in the U.S.A. – Hyundai is serious about building cars for the North American market and eager to meet our unique likes and dislikes as compared to the rest of the world. In 2006 AJAC (Automotive Journalists Association of Canada) awarded the Sonata the “Best New Family Car Under $35,000.” Numerous awards from MotorWeek, Consumers Digest and Popular Mechanics followed soon thereafter.
The Ford Fusion is a serious competitor to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Inside, it’s plush, sporty and extremely comfortable, and on the outside I think it’s a very good-looking car. In black, it looks very classy and rich. Like the competition, it comes in 4 cylinder and V-6 configurations with an automatic transmission. A manual transmission is only available with the 4-banger. I had a Ford Contour back in the ‘90’s which had a V-6/manual transmission combination and it was a blast to drive – unfortunately we don’t often get that combo in North America for the Fusion – pity.
Mitsubishi cars and trucks are probably the most under-rated vehicles in North America. They’ve been with us since the 70’s either as a Mitsubishi, or some form of re-badged Chrysler product. I owned a couple of Dodge (Mitsubishi) Colts back in the early ‘90’s and they were great cars – unbreakable and extremely reliable. They needed only 3 things to keep them going: gas, oil and a key. They were reasonably priced, great on gas, and never once went back to the dealership for anything other than an oil change.
It’s been a number of years since I last drove a Volkswagen. I’ve always liked them but never really had the urge to put my hands in my pocket and pay for one. I always found another car to lust after with my own money. I know several people that actually own one or more, and they are very passionate about their love of the brand/car. They usually don’t settle for one – there’s usually another one to replace the last and it happens perpetually. For the sake of journalism, I had to find out what the big deal was/is with Volkswagen. Why this cult-like mentality?
After driving SUV’s over the past several weeks, it was great to finally get into a sporty car. This week’s Road Test is the Mazda6 Sport Hatchback, the 5-door version of the popular sedan. I haven’t seen too many Sports around, but I’ve seen plenty of the sedans. I think the hatchback version is much better looking than the 4 door sedan, and hatchbacks make more sense to me – why get a car with a trunk when you can get all the benefits of a hatch?