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.
It’s been a number of years since I last drove a Mazda6 – well when I say the 6, I really mean the awesome MazdaSpeed6. For the 2010 model year Mazda re-designed the 6, making it bigger in every dimension and I have to say it’s better looking too. Unfortunately, after spending a week with the Mazda6, it left this writer indifferent. The mid-sized sedan segment of the automotive landscape is the toughest area to do battle, so a car has to not only look good, but it has to excel in order to get noticed. I was really looking forward to driving the Mazda6 GT, but perhaps because it was in non-descript Silver, I never really felt myself looking forward to driving it or excited about having it sitting in the driveway.
The TSX is the entry-level car in Acura’s stable in the U.S (in Canada the CSX is the entry-level Acura). Based on the smaller European Honda Accord, the TSX promises to be sporty, as well as good value for money in the sub-luxury department. Considering the TSX is up against the likes of the BMW 3-series and the Audi A4, it’s competing in a very cut-throat part of the food chain. As is customary of Acura, the TSX is thousands of dollars cheaper than the car/vehicle it’s up against in the marketplace. Acura have a knack of pricing themselves just between two levels of near-luxury or luxury vehicles and the TSX is no different. Sometimes the Acura is a bargain, and sometimes it’s over-reaching. Which one is the TSX? I’ve been waiting a while to drive the TSX and it was worth the wait…sort of. One downside was that I waited so long the all-new 2009 TSX came out shortly after I test drove this one – oh well.
The all-new Chrysler Sebring was launched last year and is one of many new vehicles coming from Chrysler over the next few of years. To say it was long over-due for a make-over would be an understatement. I drove the 2006 model in California back in April of 2006 and came away impressed with a vehicle that was well past its sell-by date even then. Considering it hadn’t changed much over its relatively long life-cycle – long in terms of the Japanese and Korean brands, but just a newbie in the Ford/GM design cycle – it held up well, but was definitely showing its age. Back in June of 2006, Chrysler announced the arrival of the all-new Sebring for the spring of 2007. Surprisingly, the public response of the news on PaddockTalk was far greater than we had imagined and the hits on the site were quite outstanding. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one looking forward to this vehicle’s facelift.
The Mitsubishi Galant was re-designed for the 2007 model year and since I liked the 2006 model so much, I thought I’d take another look at this new car. In the summer of 2006 I drove the top-of-the-line GTS model. For 2007 and beyond, the top-end Ralliart name returns to the Galant fold. Much like the GTS – the Ralliart comes only one way – fully loaded with no options, including satellite navigation. That’s one thing that I really like about Mitsubishi – the model ranges are very simple and the prices reasonable for the many extras that are included within the various models.
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.
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?