Auto Trends Magazine Car reviews, industry news, & advice. Fri, 16 Nov 2018 10:01:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Like a Rock: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Fri, 16 Nov 2018 01:00:46 +0000 Introducing the fourth-generation Chevy Silverado. Fresh on the heels of celebrating 100 years of truck building, Chevrolet has a new Silverado pickup truck to launch its second century. The fourth-generation Silverado is new from the ground up, although its changes seem more evolutionary than revolutionary. This means Chevrolet did not break new ground by choosing […]

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Introducing the fourth-generation Chevy Silverado.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is all-new from the ground up.

Fresh on the heels of celebrating 100 years of truck building, Chevrolet has a new Silverado pickup truck to launch its second century. The fourth-generation Silverado is new from the ground up, although its changes seem more evolutionary than revolutionary.

This means Chevrolet did not break new ground by choosing an aluminum-intensive body as currently offered in the Ford F-150. Instead, steel usage continues to dominate and that’s a good thing too as aluminum prices have fluctuated wildly this year.

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado offers a familiar silhouette, though the front fascia features the most comprehensive rework to the exterior. The interior doesn’t break new ground, but the updated technologies include the latest-generation Chevrolet infotainment systems and connectivity.

In short, the 2019 Silverado offers a familiar connection to the previous model, while staking out fresh terrain in several important areas that matter most to truck buyers.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
The Silverado is available in Regular, Double and Crew cabs.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado Overview

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is offered in Regular, Double and Crew cab body styles with standard two (rear)- and available four-wheel drive. Yes, Regular Cab sales are measured in the single digits, so it is laudable that Chevrolet continues to offer this style even as one competitor (Toyota Tundra) no longer does. This means you can still get a two-door Silverado with an eight-foot bed — a model prized by some commercial or fleet operators.

For 2019, Chevrolet offers the Silverado in Work Truck (WT), Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ and High Country trims. The Regular cab models have the 8-foot box, the Double Cab comes with a 6-foot, 6-inch box, while the Crew cab offers either a 5-foot, 8-inch or a 6-foot, 6-inch box.

You can get a 2019 Silverado for as little as $29,795. But that price gets you a regular cab work truck with a V6 engine and rear-wheel drive. Our auto trends analysis of the market reveals that most buyers opt for a four-door model with a higher trim point and a selection of packages. Thus, it is easy to understand when manufacturers claim transaction averages are well above $40,000.

For our (and your) amusement, we played with the Silverado configurator to figure out just how expensive a new Silverado might cost. The top-end High Country was our choice with its Iridescent Pearl Tricoat ($995) finish, High Country Premium Package ($4,685), Performance Upgrade Package ($2,150), Technology Package ($1,625), and a nifty trifold hard tonneau cover as found on our test model ($1,100).

The net price was $71,145, but that came in before the usual discounting. Regardless, it is possible to take home a Silverado with an out-the-door-price exceeding $65,000.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
Handsome debossing graces this LTZ model’s tailgate.

Highlights of the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Typically, Auto Trends reviews a model by focusing on the exterior, interior, safety and technology, and performance attributes before concluding with a model overview.

But the Silverado is such an important vehicle to Chevrolet (it outsells every other model by at least two-fold) that we’re taking a different approach here. Specifically, a look at seven of the highlights that define Chevy’s full-size pickup truck.

1. Slightly larger, but lighter.

We’ve seen full-size pickup trucks grow through the years. The fourth-generation Silverado is no exception.

Not only did some models gain nearly four inches between the wheels and all are now slightly larger, but the new Silverado also lost as much as 450 pounds. Credit must be given to advanced manufacturing techniques and the greater use of mixed materials. The body remains steel-intensive (as is the fully boxed frame), but torsional rigidity is up by 10 percent too, which aids in control.

2. The engine choices expand by two.

Chevrolet could have left well enough alone with its engine line up, but then it would have trailed its top competition, namely Ford and Ram. So this year Chevy added two new engines while refreshing its existing choices.

The 4.3-liter V6 returns as do the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8s. This trio has served Chevrolet well for many years and are now third-generation versions. Among the three, the 5.3-liter engine is now available in two variants — including with active fuel management (AFM), whereby four cylinders are shut down under certain circumstances.

You’ll also find a version of this engine equipped with direct fuel management (DFM) and automatic on/off. This particular version utilizes 17 cylinder activation combinations for performance and efficiency optimization. The same technology is now standard on the big 6.2-liter engine.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
You’ll find more engine choices with than before with the new Silverado.

But the biggest news may have everything to do with the Silverado’s expanded engine choices, which now include a four-cylinder gas and an inline-six diesel engine.

Before you get your knickers in a wad, neither new engine is ordinary. Indeed, both utilize forced induction, specifically turbochargers. The four-cylinder gas engine is a big surprise as it is the first time a full-size truck has utilized just four cylinders. It isn’t the standard engine either — you need to opt for it. In any case, it makes 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than what some V8s made a generation ago and easily matches most of today’s naturally aspirated V6 engines.

The other new engine choice is something we long expected — a 3.0-liter inline-six turbo diesel, which matches the displacement of similar Ram and Ford truck engines. We don’t know a whole lot about this engine yet — it is a late arrival, but it will be available in the 2019 model year. We think it will match the 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque reached in other Chevrolet models, including the midsize Colorado truck.

3. You’ll find multiple transmission offerings.

Why have just one transmission offering when you can have three? Well, the three choices with the 2019 Silverado correspond roughly with your preferred engine of choice.

The standard V6 engine comes with a six-speed automatic. The 5.3-liter V8 has a standard six- or available eight-speed automatic, depending on which engine choice you make: AFM or DFM. The eight-speed also works with the turbo four.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Choose either the big 6.2-liter V8 gas engine or the power-intensive 3.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-six and your engine works with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

My test model was the 2019 Crew Cab LTZ with the big V8 and accompanying transmission. I’ve tested Silverados before as equipped and the current iteration remains faithful to the performance capabilities you expect. In other words, you’ll find full-on power at the ready and the towing capabilities to go with it. These are two important criteria for any burly pickup truck. The Silverado most definitely excels in these areas…but that’s really no surprise.

4. Several new design elements are apparent.

I’ve already mentioned the changes to the Silverado are more evolutionary than they are revolutionary. But the most apparent change is right up front with the fascia. It is as bold as ever with its squared edges, lots of chrome, and full LED lighting (headlights, fog lights, and tail lamps) from the RST trim on up. It has a look that is at once brawny as it is elegant.

The rest of the body has a blocky look along with upright pillars and edges. You’ll find other trim differences between models. For example, the work truck has blacked-out touches along with a “Chevrolet” graphic across the grille and on the tailgate. The “Chevrolet” debossing on my test model’s tailgate was a nice touch.

Inside, the cabin ranges from basic fare to upscale. The work truck has vinyl seats, while cloth seats are found in most trims. Move up the trim range and you’ll find leather-trimmed seats available. Otherwise, the cabin is more functional than it is lavish, but that’s still a good thing. Most of the controls are familiarly placed, easy to decipher and not a chore to use. The squared off look dominating the exterior translates well to the interior.

Some of my favorite features included the clean center stack with the big open area at the base. It is large enough to hold a cell phone and a small purse. I also like that a cutout is located on top of the armrest/storage compartment and is large enough to hold your cell phone. The dual glove box design is a welcome feature too.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
Lots of storage compartments are found inside the Silverado.

5. Tech features we like.

I’ve long liked the direction Chevrolet has taken with its technology, especially with the infotainment system. The first three trims have a 7-inch screen; the remaining five trims have an 8-inch screen. All models have both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility and that’s not something every competitor can claim.

The Silverado’s app-like interface is easy to use. When you connect your phone, either the Android or Apple “app” brightens, making it a standout among other apps. All models provide 4G LTE hotspot connectivity with one month free. This is especially useful for anyone who uses their truck as a mobile office.

Importantly, Chevrolet expanded its safety features this year. A Safety Package is available on the LT trim on up (standard with the High Country) and includes front and rear park assist, lane change alert, side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert.

A Safety Package II is reserved for the LTZ and High Country trims. It builds on the standard package by adding automatic headlamps, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, low-speed automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, following distance indicator and a safety alert driver’s seat.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
The 2019 Silverado has comfortable and available front bucket seats.

6. It has the big numbers we want.

I’m a frequent visitor to local outdoors destinations, including the boat ramps of Jordan Lake. The area is serene and beautiful and serves as the ideal photo shoot backdrop.

Through the years, I’ve paid close attention to the vehicles dropping boats into the water. A recently spotted Toyota Sienna van was an unusual visitor, but it managed its skiff with ease.

Most of the vehicles are neither minivan nor SUV. You’ll find a large number of pickup trucks on hand and chiefly of the full-size variety — light- and heavy-duty versions both. Typically, they’re pulling far larger boats weighing several tons.

“Numbers” matter when it comes to trucks. And not just horsepower, torque, displacement, transmission gears or axle ratios. What’s critically important for people who haul and haul BIG are such numbers as payload capacity and trailering capabilities.

When it comes to the payload (a number that includes vehicle fluids, passenger poundage and bed weight), the Silverado ranges from 1,745 to 2,543 pounds. When it comes to towing, the Silverado reaches a maximum 12,200 pounds. These numbers enable vehicle shoppers to do a lot without upgrading to a heavy-duty (and more expensive) model.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
The LTZ and High Country trims have an automatic tailgate.

7. The Silverado can be a boss when it wants to.

So what’s the buzz about the Silverado’s two Trail Boss models? They’re the models off-road purists will likely gravitate to.

The Custom Trail Boss includes off-road equipment installed at the factory. You’ll find a locking rear differential, skid plates, Rancho shocks and 18-inch wheels set within Goodyear Duratec off-road tires. Moreover, this trim has a 2-inch suspension lift installed as well as the Z71 Off-Road Package (electronic hill descent control, a two-speed transfer case, and a heavy-duty air cleaner).

If that’s not enough for you, then the LT Trail Boss may be the preferred option. It combines all the off-road benefits of the Custom Trail Boss and adds LT features, including chrome accents, LED lighting, an 8-inch touchscreen, and available leather seats.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
An optional tonneau cover opens in the front and rear.

Parting Thoughts: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet launched its “Like a Rock” truck ad campaign in 1991 and stayed with it until 2004. In those ads, Bob Seger’s voice crooned in the background as a voiceover explained the ruggedness and longevity of Chevy trucks.

The campaign is long gone, but the sentiment remains. GM’s trucks (Chevrolet and GMC combined) remain the best sellers with light- and heavy-duty full-size models joined by midsize offerings, including the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Ford may have the best-selling model name, but when it comes to overall units, the General is on top.

Pickup trucks were once mostly work vehicles, but we’ve seen them become so much more. In many households, they are the family vehicle of choice and are much desired for all that they do. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado continues that tradition with a fresh look, an expanded powertrain lineup, and updated technologies just in time for a new century of Chevy trucks.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
Side step bumpers provide ease of access to the bed.

 2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Model Line Specifications

    • Silverado WT 2WD sticker price from $29,795 (plus $1,495 destination charge)
    • Seats three to six
    • Engine No. 1: 4.3-liter V6 gas
    • 285 horsepower @ 5,300 RPM
    • 305 foot-pounds of torque @ 3,900 RPM
    • 6-speed automatic transmission
    • Engine No. 2: 2.7-liter turbo I4 gas
    • 310 horsepower @ 5,600 RPM
    • 348 foot-pounds of torque @ 1,500 RPM
    • 8-speed automatic transmission
    • Engine No. 3: 5.3-liter V8 gas
    • 355 horsepower @ 5,600 RPM
    • 383 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,100 RPM
    • 6 or 8-speed automatic transmission
    • Engine No. 4: 6.2-liter V8 gas
    • 420 horsepower @ 5,600 RPM
    • 460 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,100 RPM
    • 10-speed automatic transmission
    • Engine No. 5: 3.0-liter turbo I6 diesel (late availability)
    • TBD horsepower @ TBD RPM
    • TBD foot-pounds of torque @ TBD RPM
    • 10-speed automatic transmission
    • Wheelbase (inches): 126.5 (regular); 147.4/5 (double); 147.4/5 or 157.0/1 (crew);
    • Length (inches): 210 or 229.7 (length); 231.8 (double); 231.7 or 241.2 (crew)
    • Width: 81.2 inches
    • Height: 75.6 to 78.5 inches
    • Passenger volume: NR
    • Storage volume: 5-foot, 8-inch or 6-foot, 6-inch or 8-foot box
    • Towing capacity: 9,900 to 12,200 pounds
    • EPA: 16/23 mpg city/highway (5.3L V8 2WD)
    • Fuel Type: Regular or Premium (6.2L) gasoline; diesel for 3.0L
    • Fuel tank: 28.3 (regular); 24.0 (double, crew) gallons
    • Curb weight: 4,474 to 5,008 pounds
    • IIHS safety rating: N/A
    • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
    • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
    • Corrosion warranty: 6 years/100,000 miles
    • Vehicle assembly: Fort Wayne, Indiana and Silao, Guanajuato MEXICO

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
Up or down the rear seats go in this crew cab model.

See AlsoHappy Centennial: 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

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New and Improved: 2019 Acura RDX Mon, 12 Nov 2018 10:25:29 +0000 Acura releases the third-generation RDX. Acura doesn’t have the model depth and breadth of Audi, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes-Benz, but Honda’s luxury line does quite well with the six models it does offer. Further, while some of its competitors are losing market share, Acura is still gaining. Some of the credit should be laid in […]

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Acura releases the third-generation RDX.

2019 Acura RDX
The Acura RDX is one of two crossovers from Honda’s luxury brand.

Acura doesn’t have the model depth and breadth of Audi, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes-Benz, but Honda’s luxury line does quite well with the six models it does offer. Further, while some of its competitors are losing market share, Acura is still gaining.

Some of the credit should be laid in front of the RDX, a compact utility vehicle that’s all new for 2019. No, the model name isn’t new, but the generation is. Indeed, the 2019 model kicks off the third generation of Acura’s compact crossover utility vehicle.

2019 Acura RDX Overview

Acura classifieds the 2019 RDX as a compact luxury SUV and it is. This model competes against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, Cadillac XT5, Lexus NX, and the Volvo XC40, among others. In other words, this Acura is the entry-level utility vehicle for the marque.

As is typical for Acura, the 2019 RDX is offered in one trim, with a starting price of $38,295. From there, you’ll opt for various upgrades and packages, including Super Handling All-Wheel Drive ($2,000). You also have a choice of a Technology Package ($3,200, 19-inch pewter gray metallic machine-finished wheels, perforated Milano leather-trimmed sport seats, GPS-linked climate control, rear doors smart entry key, a 12-speaker audio system, navigation, blind spot information system, rear cross traffic monitor and front and rear parking sensors).

My test model included the A-Spec Package ($3,000, special bumpers, LED fog lights, a black diamond grille, and a gloss black rear spoiler. It comes with heated and ventilated front seats, an ultra suede interior, aluminum trim, accent lighting, sport pedals, and a 16-speaker audio system.)

Or, you can choose the Advance Package ($4,900) which builds on the Technology Package. This package adds LED fog lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, a remote-operated tailgate, head-up display, heated and ventilated 16-way power front seats, heated outboard rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. The A-Spec and Advance packages are an either/or proposition.

2019 Acura RDX

Exterior Highlights

The all-new RDX sits lower and wider this year and is slightly longer overall. Its big diamond-shaped grille is an eye pleaser and a strong improvement over the previous layout. Its silhouette suggests a vehicle always in motion and that’s not something easy to pull off in a crossover.

Front to back, the Acura RDX has pleasing sheet metal with strong shoulders, a gently rising beltline, big wheels and a falling roofline evident. Creases, body indentations and carefully placed trim (on some models) enhances this model’s sporty look. It marks a strong improvement over the previous model and makes the RDX a better performer in a highly competitive segment.

Standard features include LED lights, 19-inch painted aluminum-alloy wheels, a panoramic moonroof, and dual exhaust tips. Upgrades include LED fog lights, 20-inch wheels, a rear camera washer, large-diameter exhaust finishers, and special exterior garnishment.

2019 Acura RDX

Interior Highlights

With room for five, the RDX envelops its passengers in an elegant and modern interior. The front seats are quite comfortable and offer ample support. The rear bench seat is ideal for two, but manageable for three in a pinch. If your family is growing, youngsters will find ample space available. Growing teens might complain about the legroom, however. Kudos to Acura for supplying a generous 31.1 cubic feet of storage space, which expands to a whopping 79.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

Lots of high-end materials and excellent fit and finish mark the cabin. The center stack is clean and orderly, but take note of the transmission shifter in the stack — it is an assembly of switches and buttons that take some getting used to.

2019 Acura RDX

Indeed, to go in reverse you must pull the marked switch toward you. If you want to go forward, press the D/S button. To park the vehicle, press the P switch. Yes, more than once I pushed or pulled the wrong button or switch, but without an incident. There were also a few times when I pressed the D/S button instead of the start/stop button in an attempt to activate the ignition. Personally, I don’t like this arrangement — it is fancier and more confusing than it needs to be.

Standard features include keyless entry with push-button start, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, dual-zone climate control, imitation leather seats, and heated and power-controlled front seats. The options list includes full leather seats, a heated steering wheel, heated outboard rear seats, and brushed aluminum or real wood trim.

Technology and Safety

Acura has a strong reputation for technology and the RDX does not disappoint. We already drilled down on the package details, which reveal that Acura matches or exceeds what the competition offers.

2019 Acura RDXThe standard audio package includes nine speakers, but you’ll also find 12- and 16-speaker options. All three audio systems include satellite radio, HD Radio, cloud-based services, and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

If you’re looking for Android Auto compatibility, Acura says that it will be released later, pending Google compliance. Check with your dealer about having it added to your vehicle after purchase.

AcuraWatch represents a suite of driver-assist technologies, including front and rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic monitoring, a blind spot information system and a multi-angle rearview camera. The latter provides an even wider view of what’s happening behind the vehicle, a feature we like.

The list of available features includes a head-up display and a surround view camera.

Performance Matters

Last year, the Acura RDX was powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Beginning in 2019, the RDX has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

As before, Acura offers just one powertrain combination. Buyers still have a choice of standard front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive, the latter called “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.”

The new engine’s footprint is obviously much smaller than the second-generation model’s engine, but the power output is similar. Where the previous engine made 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, the new engine delivers 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Further, peak torque is reached across a wide band ranging from 1,600 to 4,500 RPM.

Acura utilizes direct injection, a low-inertia turbo, an electronic wastegate and valvetrain technology to deliver an engine that excels in power density and performance. Further, turbo lag is kept to a minimum and is nearly imperceptible under most driving conditions.

You’d be forgiven if you thought the RDX had the previous engine as the amount of power at the ready is robust. The 2019 RDX’s engine is willing and capable — under hard acceleration, the turbo quickly spools to deliver copious amounts of power. The drive mode selector knob (located above the transmission shifter in the center stack) is worth examining closer. Besides normal and snow modes, you’ll find sport and sport+ modes, the latter bringing this crossover’s performance prowess to its zenith.

The “super handling” part of the all-wheel-drive system immediately becomes apparent, especially on twisty roads where up to 70 percent of the power shifts to the rear wheels (or 100 percent to one rear wheel for added stability).

2019 Acura RDX

Along with weighted steering and engaged handling, the RDX drives like a car under most circumstances. Even those twisty roads revealed just how well planted this crossover is despite its high profile. Body lean simply is not a significant issue.

I’ll also give a shout out to the new transmission. It fires off gears without complaint and never makes is presence known in a bad way. You can control the transmission through the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters if you prefer.

Parting Thoughts: 2019 Acura RDX

Acura’s RDX is better than ever and keeps this model strongly relevant in its segment. Its sporty look, especially in A-Spec guise, robust powertrain and available torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system are among its strongest attributes. We like the interior, although the transmission shifter layout earns it a demerit.

A quiet and elegant cabin, lots of tech choices and ample storage capacity are other strong points. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this crossover pulls up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

I doubt few people will choose an RDX without at least one of the package offerings. My A-Spec tester cost $45,000, which is in line with other well-equipped models in the compact luxury SUV segment.

2019 Acura RDX

2019 Acura RDX Specifications

  • Base price from $38,295 (including $995 destination)
  • With A-Spec Package and All-Wheel Drive: $46,495
  • Seats 5 passengers
  • Turbocharged 2.0-liter 16-valve inline-four gasoline engine
  • 272 horsepower @ 6,500 RPM
  • 280 foot-pounds of torque @ 1,600 to 4,500 RPM
  • 3.39.inches bore by 3.41 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 9:8-to-1
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
  • Length: 186.8 inches
  • Width: 74.8 inches
  • Height: 65.7 inches
  • Passenger volume: 104.0
  • Storage volume: 31.1/79.8 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
  • EPA: 22/28 mpg city/highway (FWD) 21/27 (AWD)
  • Premium grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 17.1 gallons
  • Curb weight: 3,783 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+ (2018)
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 6 years/70,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles
  • Seat belts: 15 years/150,000 miles
  • Vehicle assembly: East Liberty, Ohio

2019 Acura RDX

See AlsoThe Premium Compact 2016 Acura ILX

2019 Acura RDX photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

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A Cut Above: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Thu, 08 Nov 2018 20:00:35 +0000 Taking a ride with Mazda’s largest crossover utility vehicle. Mazda threw a monkey wrench into the midsize three-row utility vehicle segment when it updated the current-generation CX-9 in 2016. This model is a cut above most competitors and is best compared with the likes of the Buick Enclave, itself a near-luxury crossover. Where the first-generation […]

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Taking a ride with Mazda’s largest crossover utility vehicle.

2019 Mazda CX-9
Mazda offers its CX-9 in four trim levels.

Mazda threw a monkey wrench into the midsize three-row utility vehicle segment when it updated the current-generation CX-9 in 2016. This model is a cut above most competitors and is best compared with the likes of the Buick Enclave, itself a near-luxury crossover.

Where the first-generation CX-9 supplied a laudable model for the segment, the latest version is simply better than the one it replaced.

2019 Mazda CX-9 Overview

What makes the 2019 Mazda CX-9 so special is its styling and use of high-quality materials, especially as you move up the model range. Mazda offers the CX-9 in four trims: Sport ($32,280), Touring ($35,330), Grand Touring ($40,840), and Signature ($45,365). Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available (standard on the Signature). All models come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

For 2019, Mazda makes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility available. Also, the CX-9 features a new surround-view parking camera system. Finally, the suspension system has been retuned, supplying this SUV with a smoother ride.

2019 Mazda CX-9
The Mazda CX-9 with the available all-wheel drive is ideal where wintery conditions prevail.

Exterior Highlights

Mazda’s KODO or “soul in motion” design is used across the brand’s model line. KODO signifies powerful, yet elegant flowing lines, carefully placed creases, smart cutouts and an overall look that punches above the normal.

The look is especially handsome on Mazda’s cars, including the MX-5 Miata and the Mazda6 sedan. But it also transfers well to crossovers, including one the size of the CX-9’s proportions.

My favorite features are the bold, upright grille along with the rising beltline and falling roofline. The latter two combine to impart a sporty look not common to SUVs. Also, the headlights connect to the top of the grille and flow dramatically outward. At the rear, a swoopy chrome bar connects the sleek wraparound tail lamps. In all, the Mazda’s visage isn’t easily mistaken for another model.

Standard features include LED lights, power side mirrors, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and dual exhaust tips. As you move up the trim levels, Mazda rolls out automatic headlights, LED fog lights, heated side mirrors, a power moonroof, aluminum roof rails, 20-inch wheels, and brightwork trim.

2019 Mazda CX-9
The CX-9’s interior is especially elegant with the Signature trim.

Interior Highlights

There are mainstream and there are luxury models. When it comes to interiors, the two are generally worlds apart. But the Mazda CX-9 is a bridge builder between the two camps, benefitting from a design that’s stylish, clean and elegant.

What’s especially intriguing is how all this is achieved with the top-trim level models. Here, you’ll find the finest leathers, genuine wood and sculpted aluminum. The model name may be mainstream, but the materials match what you’d find in an Audi, Lexus or Cadillac model.

Standard seating is for seven, with a split seatback in the middle row. The first row seats are comfortable and supportive as are the middle seats. The third row, like that in many such crossovers, is best left for youngsters as legroom is limited. Other passengers will simply fold the rear seat to gain additional storage space.

I especially liked the CX-9’s dashboard which sits low, flows elegantly and has an uncluttered center stack. The display panel sits on top of the stack and is similar to Audi’s with its black background and white lettering.

Standard features include full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, cloth seats, and three-zone automatic climate control. Upgraded features include keyless entry with push-button start, power front seats, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and leather-trimmed seats.

Technology and Safety

Tech. We love it and want more of it. Fortunately, the CX-9 does not disappoint.

The standard Mazda Connect infotainment package includes a 7-inch screen, six speakers, two USB ports, an auxiliary input jack, and HD Radio. You’ll also find for the first time Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration starting at the Touring level. Other upgrades include a navigation system, an 8-inch screen, satellite radio, and a 12-speaker audio system.

2019 Mazda CX-9
Three rows of seating market this Mazda model.

The dial-based infotainment interface is another feature Mazda “borrows” from high-end German models. The learning curve may challenge some people, but it is intuitive and easy to use.

Among safety features, the 2019 CX-9 has blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low-speed automatic braking. Available features include high beam control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and radar cruise control. At the top of the list, you’ll find a traffic sign recognition system, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree view monitor.

Performance Matters

Some manufacturers offer multiple powertrain choices with their crossovers, but in the 2019 Mazda CX-9, you are limited to just one. And that would be a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

The Mazda’s engine has an output of 227 horsepower (250 when sipping premium fuel) and 310 pound-feet of torque. While the first number is important, the second one is especially significant when passing or pulling. It essentially flips the Buick Enclave’s numbers (310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque) achieved by a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 engine.

Perhaps the Mazda engine’s shortcoming is in towing. Where many competing engines tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, the Mazda turbo stops at 3,500 pounds.

Under normal throttle, the CX-9 moves steadily with the turbo spooling up at the right time to deliver an extra burst of power. Under hard acceleration, the turbo lag is reasonably short, decisive and satisfying.

I’m nearly always a proponent of shoppers choosing all-wheel drive when shopping for a three-row crossover. For one, you gain an extra measure of control as power is distributed to the rear wheels as needed. This is important when driving with a full load of people on a twisty road with all your gear onboard. It is also most useful whenever roads are slippery, especially under winter conditions.

What especially appealed to me is that the CX-9 drives like a smaller vehicle. Its steering is crisp and it maneuvers with ease. You’re not navigating a boat-like vehicle here, rather an SUV tuned to behave like a car and ride like one too.

Parting Thoughts: 2019 Mazda CX-9

The 2019 Mazda CX-9 should meet the needs of a growing family and do so within their budget. The Grand Touring model delivers many of the amenities customers want in this segment. With available all-wheel drive, this model’s MSRP nears $43,000, with your out-the-door price coming in perhaps around $40,000.

If you do choose the top-trim Signature model, your price included all-wheel drive. My test model included the available Rear Seat Entertainment System ($1,995, dual 8-inch LCD monitors, two headphones, SD card slot, and HDMI ports). It also had the Front and Rear Bumper Trim Package ($575) and illuminated doorsill trim plates ($500). All these features brought this model’s final price to a fully-optioned $49,780.

Besides the Buick Enclave, consumers might cross-shop the Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, Volkswagen Atlas, GMC Acadia, Toyota Highlander, Dodge Durango, and the Honda Pilot.

2019 Mazda CX-9
Beyond the base model, a power liftgate is included.

2019 Mazda CX-9 Specifications

  • Base price from $33,275 (including $995 destination)
  • Fully optioned: $49,780
  • Seats 7 passengers
  • Turbocharged 2.5-liter 16-valve inline-four gasoline engine
  • 227 (regular) or 250 (premium) horsepower @ 5,000 RPM
  • 310 foot-pounds of torque @ 2,000 RPM
  • 3.50 inches bore by 3.94 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 10.5-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 115.3 inches
  • Length: 199.4 inches
  • Width: 77.5 inches
  • Height: 69 inches
  • Passenger volume: 135.1
  • Storage volume: 14.4/38.2/71.2 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
  • EPA: 22/28 mpg city/highway (FWD) 20/26 (AWD)
  • Regular or premium grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 19.0 (FWD) or 19.5 (AWD) gallons
  • Curb weight: 4,217 pounds (FWD); 4,383 (AWD)
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick (2018)
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Hiroshima, Japan

See AlsoTurbo Wonder: 2018 Mazda6

2019 Mazda CX-9 photos copyright Mazda USA.

The post A Cut Above: 2019 Mazda CX-9 appeared first on Auto Trends Magazine.

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These Car Models May Soon Get the Axe Wed, 07 Nov 2018 16:40:56 +0000 Sharply declining sales may spell the end for several car models. The U.S. automotive market, indeed the entire global market has seen a shift away from cars to utility vehicles. Cars, while valued for their practicality and reasonable cost are yielding the market to utility vehicles, which offer an excellent combination of passenger space and […]

The post These Car Models May Soon Get the Axe appeared first on Auto Trends Magazine.


Sharply declining sales may spell the end for several car models.

The U.S. automotive market, indeed the entire global market has seen a shift away from cars to utility vehicles. Cars, while valued for their practicality and reasonable cost are yielding the market to utility vehicles, which offer an excellent combination of passenger space and cargo capacity. They’re also more profitable to automakers.

As such, manufacturers will soon lay the ax to several car models as the market shift continues. Soon, you may walk into a new car dealership and find no more than one or two car models available as utility vehicles, pickup trucks and an assortment of crossover-like conveyances take over.

Here’s our list of threatened models based on year-to-date sales figures through October 2018:

Chevrolet: Sonic and Impala

The bow-tie brand’s weakest models are its subcompact Sonic (hatchback and sedan) and its full-size Impala sedan. The two models were introduced or updated in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Chevrolet Silverado
Like its top competitor’s Chevrolet’s best-selling vehicle is not a car.

Sonic sales are down 25.7 percent and will struggle to top 22,000 units this year. The Impala numbers aren’t as bad with Chevrolet selling 43,953 units, down 13.38 percent. We think the midsize Malibu sedan (-23.88%) will hang on for a while longer, mostly because it is rather new. The compact Cruze (-26.52%) numbers are way down too, but there is life left. Besides, it shares its platform with the plug-in Volt (-13.72%).

As for the Corvette (-21.23%) and Camaro (-25.87%), both models will soldier on with a mid-engined Corvette waiting in the wings. We can’t see Chevrolet killing the Camaro all over again, although sales now trail both the Mustang and Challenger.

Dodge and Chrysler: A Vulnerable Trio

Dodge and Chrysler are FCA’s two domestic car brands and both are hanging on. Dodge dropped the compact Dart sedan and Chrysler the midsize 200 sedans in recent years. What’s left is a trio of sporty models: The Dodge Challenger (+0.07%), Dodge Charger (-11.98%), and the Chrysler 300 (-12.83%).

Dodge Charger Hellcat
A succession of Hellcat models has kept the Charger and Challenger alive. But for how long?

The Chrysler is the most vulnerable of the three and will likely be replaced by a utility vehicle. We think Dodge will hang on to the Challenger and Charger for a few more years, making updates to keep these dated models fresh. But the tide is changing and we could see the Charger killed off first with the Challenger following a few years later. The Jeep and Ram brands are the big profit centers for FCA, thus every other brand is vulnerable.

Ford: Only the Mustang Remains

Ford has not been coy about its car models. Every single model except for the Mustang (-0.93%) is threatened. Already, the subcompact Fiesta (+1.05%) and compact Focus (-18.46%) are gone or will soon be gone from the U.S. market.

The midsize Fusion (-21.77%) and the full-size Taurus (-2.49%) will be the next to go, although one or more names may be affixed to a future crossover model. Yes, we’ve heard rumors of a four-door Mustang appearing, but all that noise is simply speculation.

2018 Ford Mustang GT
The Mustang “brand” is a blue oval success story.

Honda: Staying the Course

Sales of the compact Civic (-10.32%) and midsize Accord (-14.16%) may be down, but they’re not out. Indeed, Honda may very well sell as many as 250,000 Accords and 300,000 Civics this year. Even if sales continue to slide, both models are safe.

As for the subcompact Fit (-14.59%), sales aren’t likely to top 40,000 units this year. That said, Honda may keep the Fit around and not offer an update for some time. This automaker also seems committed to its Clarity and Insight electrified vehicles, though sales remain modest.

Nissan: Maxima on a Short Leash

Like Honda and Toyota, Nissan will keep its compact Sentra (-0.34%) and midsize Altima (-16.64%) sedans. The Altima is new for 2019 and will offer available all-wheel drive for the first time. Although the Sentra was last updated in 2013, we think a new model will eventually roll out.

Nissan Maxima models
The Maxima is one of Nissan’s strongest names, but it may not have long-term staying power.

What might not survive is the Maxima sedan (-36.18%), although it shares its underpinnings with the Altima. Like other flagship models, the Maxima may no longer have a place in the Nissan product line.

Also threatened is the subcompact Versa (-29.87%), the sporty 370Z (-24.44%) and the high-performance GT-R (-2.49%). The last two will likely sell just 3,000 and 500 copies, respectively. Those aren’t sustainable numbers no matter how you slice it.

Toyota: Several Models Might Get 86’d

Imagine Toyota without the compact Corolla (-11.35%) and its midsize Camry (-6.94%) if you would. That’s hard to fathom, right? Well, both models sell slightly better than their Honda counterparts, so they’ll be around for some time. Indeed, a new Camry arrived in 2018, followed by an all-new Corolla hatchback in 2019 (we’re expecting a new Corolla sedan in 2020).

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
Toyota’s Corolla is hanging around and includes this sporty hatchback model.

The threatened Toyota models include the subcompact Yaris (-37.05%) and the hybrid Toyota Prius c. We doubt the Toyota 86 (-41.71%) will survive for much longer, although the nearly identical Subaru BRZ may soldier on. As for the full-size Avalon (+6.38%), it is also all new and gaining market share in a shrinking segment. We consider the Avalon the safest model in its segment by far.

Volkswagen: A Passe Passat?

Volkswagen has been undergoing intense changes these past few years following its diesel scandal. New or updated crossovers are taking a bigger slice of the sales pie and are driving sales. But models such as the subcompact Golf (-38.08%), compact Jetta (-32.77%), and the midsize Passat (-33.78%) are falling out of favor.

We think the Golf and Jetta will hang on, but the Tennessee-built Passat may give up its assembly line space to one or more new (and electrified) models planned. That transition may take a few years to complete, however.

Hyundai and Kia: Opportunity Lurks

Hyundai and Kia are joined at the hip, although the two Korean automakers largely operate as separate concerns. Hyundai supplies the vehicle platforms, then leaves each brand (plus Genesis) to decide how they will go.

In recent years, we’ve seen Hyundai do away with the Equus, Genesis, and Genesis coupe, along with the Azera sedan. Some of those models were replaced by Genesis brand vehicles when Hyundai rolled out its luxury brand.

Hyundai has also expanded its crossover offerings while bringing the electrified Ioniq (+37.69) to the market. We’re not sure the subcompact Accent (-51.12%) will survive, given that a new model rolled out in 2018. The compact Elantra (+4.06%) is performing well, but the midsize Sonata (-24.83%) has certainly seen better days. The sporty Veloster returned after a one-year hiatus and like the Elantra, it seems safe. Still, we think Hyundai will keep its car line in place as other automakers cut back.

2018 Kia Rio
Kia Rio sales are down despite a new model on hand.

As for the Kia, nearly the same can be said about it as we have said about Hyundai. Further, Kia continues to update even its slow sellers, such as the full-size Cadenza (-11.07%) and the luxury K900 (-26.14%).

A new subcompact Rio (+44.67) is performing well, although the compact Forte (-18.68%) and the midsize Optima (-5.74%) are not. Still, looking at Kia’s track record, we doubt any model will go away in the near future. In all, we think Hyundai and Kia may see opportunity in segments soon to be vacated by its competitors.

Looking Ahead

The shift to crossovers is, indeed, playing a large part in driving each brand’s portfolio. Two other factors, electrification, and autonomous vehicles, will play increasingly significant roles as we move forward.

The question not asked is this one: will manufacturers permanently adjust their portfolios? They may say yes, but market conditions can and do always change.

Witness Ford’s insistence a few years back that the Ranger pickup truck wouldn’t return. Beginning in 2019 we’ll see a new Ranger. And as for the Fiesta and Focus, both models will serve other markets and could at some point return to the U.S. if demand warrants it.

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How to Save Money on Car Insurance Fri, 02 Nov 2018 09:00:05 +0000 Your car insurance costs may be on the rise with several factors possibly contributing to that increase. For example, a new driver, a different car or a change in coverage can send your rates soaring. Just the same, you can save money on auto insurance by implementing the following money-wise strategies immediately. 1. Review Your […]

The post How to Save Money on Car Insurance appeared first on Auto Trends Magazine.


Your car insurance costs may be on the rise with several factors possibly contributing to that increase. For example, a new driver, a different car or a change in coverage can send your rates soaring. Just the same, you can save money on auto insurance by implementing the following money-wise strategies immediately.

2019 Lexus ES

1. Review Your Credit Reports

Every consumer shopping for car or homeowners insurance is assigned an insurance score. That three-digit score is based on certain credit report characteristics and is used to measure risk, not creditworthiness. Just as you can retrieve your credit score, you can obtain your insurance score.

Because both your insurance score and your credit score are based on your credit reports, you should review all three of your consumer credit reports to determine if there are problems listed that may contribute to a lower score. For instance, late credit card payments, high outstanding balances on certain loans and a checkered credit history can impact both scores.

Free copies of your credit reports are available through Review your reports for accuracy and work on building a better credit history. Gradually, your insurance score will rise thereby lowering your auto insurance rate.

2. Review Your Insurance Coverage

How much insurance do you have? How much insurance coverage do you need? If you have not reviewed your auto insurance policy in some time, do so before it is set to renew.

You can save money on car insurance by assuming greater risk. Instead of a $200 deductible for comprehensive coverage, consider $500. Collision coverage is ideal for most cars that are less than 10 years old, while dropping collision coverage for high mileage older vehicles can save you money.

New drivers on your policy will cause your insurance rates to spike. Encourage your teens to maintain good grades as insurers offer discounts for students that have at least a “B” average.

2019 Volvo XC40

3. Qualify For Discounts

Insurers regularly offer discounts to consumers in a bid to attract and retain their business. You may qualify for discounts in several areas, immediately reducing your auto insurance premium by at least 10 percent.

Consumers who use the same insurer for their cars and home will receive a discount for bundled insurance. Contact your insurance agent to inquire about available discounts including safe driver, anti-theft device and for completing a defensive driving course. Affinity discounts are available if you belong to certain associations or organizations, such as a credit union.

4. Improve Your Driving Record

Points on your driving record can send your car insurance rates soaring. Employing safe driving habits can gradually lower your rates with your record typically cleared of all of its infractions within three years.

You can speed up the point reduction by completing a department of motor vehicles approved safe driving course. Visit your state’s DMV site to learn what courses are available. Typically, if you successfully complete a state-recognized driver safety course, the DMV will shave as many as three or four points off your driving record, lowering your car insurance premium.

2018 BMW 740e

5. Consider Your Future Car Purchases Wisely

Your heart says, “sports car” but your head says “family sedan.”

Although there is nothing wrong with following your heart, your head may insist that you save money. This is where your choice in vehicle matters and will affect your insurance rates.

But before you buy any car, make a call to your insurance agent to receive an insurance quote. You can also find out which vehicles will cost you less by visiting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website to retrieve the crash test ratings for today’s new cars.

The IIHS is funded by the major insurance companies and your rates are based in part on how well a car holds up in a crash. Choose a model with a “top safety pick+” rating and your insurance agent will offer a correspondingly lower rate quote than a vehicle that isn’t rated as high.

Other Underwriting Factors

Each auto insurance company has its own insurance rating system, but there are general guidelines these companies follow that make it possible to compare coverage. Other factors that can affect your insurance rates include where you live, your gender and age, your marital status and the number of miles you drive annually.

See Also8 Car Rental Tips for the Holiday Season

Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

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