Auto News & Reviews

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  • 09 Jul 2020 5:38 PM | Christopher Lawrence (Administrator)

    If money were no object, what would you buy? This is AutoAcademics' review of the all-new 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63. M.S.R.P. - $149,160.

    Check out the video review at the link below:

    https://youtu.be/cQtdONCk6zk

  • 09 Jul 2020 5:35 PM | Christopher Lawrence (Administrator)

    Check out the all new 2021 Toyota Venza, a midsize two-row crossover utility vehicle (CUV) category that brings a fun driving experience with smooth acceleration and predictable handling and a refined design. It’s sedan-like comfort with CUV versatility.

    Read the complete article by Grady McGill at the link below:

    https://citylifestyle.com/atlanta-ga/articles/life-and-culture/-toyota-brings-back-the-venza

  • 05 Jul 2020 12:15 PM | Christopher Lawrence (Administrator)

    Cadillac is really becoming a contender and competitor again. Its line of cars will challenge the usual SUV suspects and sedans and puts the brand up to the front of the line for those considering a new car. A case in point is the XT4, a delightful subcompact crossover with lots of technology, safety features and style.

    Read the full article by Grady McGill at the link below:

    https://citylifestyle.com/atlanta-ga/articles/life-and-culture/riding-shotgun-cadillac-xt4-4wd

  • 26 Feb 2020 4:37 PM | Derik Page (Administrator)

    The Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association has named seven vehicles as some of the best in the 2020 Atlanta International Auto Show. The top picks range from sports cars, to trucks, to value purchases and the latest in technology.

           “We had to make some tough choices among all of the vehicles on display this year,” said GAAMA President Daryl Killian. “But we agreed the winners demonstrate some of the best new car options for the motoring public,” he added.

    The winners are:

    Best Truck: 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 HD

    Best Performance Vehicle:2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

    Best Crossover/SUV: 2020 Ford Explorer

    Best Green Car: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E

    Best Luxury: 2021 Genesis GV80

    Best Bang for the Buck: 2020 Hyundai Venue

    Judges Choice: 2021 GMC Yukon Denali

            The GAAMA Awards are respected by the mobility industry who reacted with appreciation.

              "It is an honor to receive the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association’s Best Bang for the Buck Award for the first-ever 2020 Hyundai Venue during the 2020 Atlanta International Auto Show, said Scott Margason, director, Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “Packing a powerful punch on practicality, personality and affordability, Venue offers the versatility of all-purpose driving, catering to a wide spectrum of lifestyles in different terrains that set it apart from other SUVs on the market.

    “On behalf of our Genesis colleagues worldwide who’ve worked so tirelessly to create our fabulous new Genesis GV80 SUV, we’re humbled yet very excited by this acknowledgement of their great work,” said Mark Del Rosso, President and CEO, Genesis Motor North America. “The members of GAAMA sure know a good thing when they see it.”

    Rhonda Belluso accepting the award on behalf of Ford said “The Mach E is a first step as we move toward electrification and we are honored that you think so much of it.”  She also noted the Explorer has been redesigned and now is available in regular, sport and Hybrid drivetrains to meet the needs of a wide range of drivers.

    GAAMA is a professional association of journalists across multiple disciplines that cover the automotive and mobility industry in the southeast.


  • 26 Jan 2020 9:37 PM | Danny Harrison

    MSRP: $29,590 ($36,000 as tested)

    4cyl, 181hp, 151pf, rwd

    The Mazda Miata is one of the last true roadsters still in production. Sure, it’s a subjective argument, but it’s one I’m willing to make after having the 2019 MX-5 for a week’s review.

    Let’s start with the name, though, before we talk about the more substanitive performance matters. You’ll notice on the 2019 MX-5 vehicle itself, there is no mention of Miata. It’s not even on the driver’s manual. You only see the MX-5 badging along with Mazda’s logo and wordmark. However, in commercials and in other communications, Mazda markets this vehicle as the MX-5 Miata.

    Clearly, the maker wants this new car to benefit from the association with 30 years of fun on highways and speedways, yet the conspicuous lack of the “Miata” badging suggests a change is on the way. When you drive the 2019, there’s no denying it’s still a Miata, only better than its predecessors. So let’s jump into why this is the case.

    The 2019 MX-5 is a redesigned Miata offering a better balanced engine and weight distribution (53/47 front/rear), more aggressive styling, updated technology and more raw power. To the latter point, previous Miatas have offered 155 horsepower, whereas the new one has 181. Some automotive journalists have argued Mazda needs even more horsepower than this, but I disagree.

    When you consider that the 2019 Miata only weighs 2,339 pounds, those 181 horses can push this rear-wheel-drive roadster really hard around turns, over hilltops and wherever else you want it to go. What’s more is that, in a smaller, more agile car like this, you’re really feeling the road, the turns, the dips and the apexes. You also feel the straight-ahead acceleration.

    We had the manual, six-speed version, which benefitted from the Miata’s new clutch with the dual-mass flywheel. The result is a short-throw shifter that helps you keep power to the wheels all the way up to the 7,500 RPM redline.

    According to several sources, this Miata and its predecessors can reach 60 on the straight and narrow in under six seconds. That’s really quick for a naturally-aspirated four cylinder.

    While larger, more powerful vehicles top the speed limit without you feeling it, the Miata feels more like riding a comfortable, race-ready go-kart. You’re much lower to the ground, you have a keen sense of your corners, and you really feel the speed. To put it simply, you can have a lot more fun and get a lot fewer speeding tickets.

    There was a lot about the 2019 Miata that we really liked.

    Under the Hood

    It took me a few days to pop the hood, but when I did, I was surprised to see how roomy the engine space is. You’ve got a lot going on under the there, but everything is so nicely arranged that you quickly find all of your fluid checkpoints, and your key components look to be easily accessible for replacing or upgrading. Our Club version had the optional red metal oil cap with MX-5 badging.

    A lot of new vehicles have smooth plastic covers over large portions of their engines, but not this Miata. As soon as you prop the hood, you’re seeing everything laid out in front of you. If you’re into cars, and Miata owners likely are, you want to see the engine. You don’t want the it-must-be-magic look.

    This is, of course, one of Mazda’s Skyactive engines, which they’ve been developing since 2011. The goal is to produce cleaner, more effecient engines while increasing power as well. Strangely, I was getting about 34 miles per gallon, and I wasn’t following the Miata’s shifting prompts, which are supposed to lead you to even better fuel economy.

    The Body

    Miatas for the last few years have been restyled to look more aggressive all around, and they push the envelope a bit further with the 2019. The copy we reviewed had spoilers and air dams and nice, sharp lines all over. One friend suggested the windshield frame is too chunky, but I never noticed until he said something. And really, it only looks “chunky” from the front.

    One really nice touch, which is a nod to the roadsters and cruisers of yesteryear, is that the door tops just inside the glass are color-keyed to look identical to the exterior. This looks really good with the windows down.

    The Roof

    Miatas are convertibles by default, and you can tell they take top operation seriously. This Miata’s manual latch system was so light and simple to use, I was able to unlock, lower and relock it with one hand and only a couple of simple clicks. Raising it is just as simple and super fast.

    The Interior

    The 2019 Miata’s interior is just about perfect. You have a lot of electronic gadetry in there, but it is not smeared everywhere like you see in a lot of cars. Mazda designed this model with the more retro look and feel of having simple, easy-to-find gauges and control knobs, which help you keep your eyes on the road and not scanning through scores of buttons you don’t regularly need.

    Even the touchscreen display plays the simple-times card. When you’re dialing through the radio channels, you can use the touchscreen controls or the ones on the steering wheel, or even better you can engage the dial at the fore of the center console armrest, and it simulates rolling through the stations like we used to do in the 1980s and before. They’ve done well to marry technology to the old-school feel of a roadster.

    One feature that screams luxury is cup and bottle holders. Sadly, there’s not much room in the Miata for many of these, but the ones they do offer are super clever. There are two standard holders, and normally they are situated on the aft part of the center console armrest. Reaching around to them is tricky, but if you’re driving solo, you can pop one out and reposition it to where the passenger’s left knee would be.

    On storage, Mazda excels again here in the 2019 Miata. It doesn’t have a traditional glove box in the dash, but they do offer a small cubby under the climate control knobs to stow your phone. Under the center console armrest is a small storage space for change, a wallet or whatever other sundries you need close to hand. Somewhat larger storage boxes are located on the back wall between the seats and behind the seats themselves. I’m thinking I’d keep baseball caps in the storage behind the seats, and when the top’s down, I’d keep any small valuables in that lockable center box.

    The trunk is small, but I was able to get a surprising amount of groceries in it.

    The sound system is pretty good. A clever thing they do in some trims, including the one we reviewed, is to put stereo speakers in the driver and passenger headrest. Even with the top down, you’re experiencing a full range of great sound without being overpowered.

    The Track

    The optional Brembo brakes, which also come with BBS wheels, make this Miata ready for race mode. We don’t tend to take review cars to the track, but this would be a fun one.

    Mazda has a clever YouTube video that claims the Miata is the fastest quarter-mile convertible in the world. It’s true, but there’s a catch. The video shows that the competiors, which include several six-figure vehicles and the Miata, all had to first close their convertible tops under simulated rainfall before they could accelerate down the track. The Miata’s manual latch system gives the car a huge advantage, and it completed the challenge ahead of the pack with several seconds to spare.

    The Downside

    There’s no such thing as a perfect car, at least not in this life, but it is fun watching the automobile industry try to make one.

    The only complaint I have with this MX-5 has to do with the difficulty I had getting in and out of it. This is not entirely Mazda’s fault, as I am above average in height and weight.

    A friend of mine who works on Mazdas responded to my dilemma with, “The best way to put on a Miata is to drop in and roll out.”

    Another friend likened the experience of exiting a Miata to popping open a can of biscuits.

    Again, there is no perfect car. What Mazda has done with this 2019 MX-5 is to keep the weight down while giving it better balance and a lot more power. They weren’t about to make it a bigger roadster just to accommodate easier entrances and exits for larger, less-nimble people.

    So this really isn’t a complaint so much as an observation. I’ve heard from people as tall as six-four, who say they squeezed in and were comfortable enough once situated behind the wheel. One man said his legs were uncomfortably close to the dash and steering wheel. My height problem is due to a longer-than-average torso, so my legs were comfortable, but my head was in the roof. In fact, on several occasions I dropped the top just long enough to get in more comfortably, and then I closed it again.

    Again, this isn’t a complaint. You’ll just want to be sure you fit in the thing before buying it.

    The Overall Impression

    Despite the snugness of this driving experience, the 2019 MX-5 is a superb, true roadster that remains relatively affordable while delivering on pretty much everything a sports car enthusiast wants to see, feel and hear. Thirty years into the Miata program, I think Mazda has nailed their landing with this newest iteration.

    And this brings us back to the question: Will Mazda really drop the Miata moniker in the near future. Second question: How will they top the 2019 MX-5?


  • 13 Dec 2019 10:45 PM | Danny Harrison

    I’ve been a little bit spoiled lately, with Toyota/Lexus bringing me a new Tundra to drive for a week and then swapping it with an NX 300 for another week. As much as I love my 2007 Town & Country daily driver, it’s fun to step out every now and again to see what’s new on the automotive scene.

    I’ll follow up soon with an NX 300 review, but first I want to tell you about the Tundra. In this case, it was the 2020 Toyota Tundra Limited CrewMax 4x4, still with the 5.7-liter, naturally aspirated V8 producing 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque.

    Consumer Reports calls the previous (2019) Tundra the second-best in class, second to the turbo-charged Ford F-150 V6, but again, the Tundras we’re testing are naturally aspirated V8s. I would rather they compared apples to apples here, but never mind, we at Georgia Dad after further review have overturned their call, and now both the 2019 and 2020 Tundras are the winners.

    Incidentally, we reviewed the 2020 with only about 2,000 miles on it. We’re probably talking springtime before Consumer Reports tells us what they think about this newer model.

    I’ll go ahead and tell you what I think now, and I’m going to start with the outrageous body color sported by the copy we reviewed. They call it Cavalry Blue, but I’d call it more of a toddler blue, which lives on the spectrum somewhere between baby blue and little boy blue. Look this color up. It’s an attention getter, and it seemed particularly popular with the women who saw our copy, but not so much with the men.

    I’d have expected the 86GT I reviewed this summer to be available in a blue like this, but not a full-size man truck, and especially not one like our copy that was appointed with so many luxury features. To finish that look, Toyota should have wrapped it in Hawaiian print patterns.

    I did like the way the blue looked at night, I must admit. In lower lights, it takes on deeper tones and looks pretty sharp.

    Once you step inside (and you’ll definitely want help from running boards), the cabin of the Tundra welcomes you with super-comfortable seating (ours was leather and heated) and plenty of places to put whatever and however many beverages you brought along. Two bottle holders in each door are accompanied by three more drink holders in the gigantic front-row center console.

    Gone are the days, it seems, when you could open the driver’s door for your wife (girlfriend, “special friend”, whatever), and they could slide through to the middle or right side of the truck. If you’re a console guy, these new Tundras have great ones, but as a husband and father, I’d rather have an extra seat there in the middle.

    Looking at the dash, we’re giving this Tundra mixed reviews. On the one hand, we like the eight-inch touchscreen display, and we’re happy to report that the Tundra is now Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. On the other hand, we don’t like the backlit silver buttons, because they catch a glare at twilight and sunset and become difficult to read. As this truck is pitched to middle-aged and older money, Toyota should consider a design tweak there.

    Other things we liked: nice sunroof, rolldown rear window, hydraulic-assist tailgate, dual-zone climate control, and the super-clear LED headlights and fog lights.

    One of my favorite features of any car, and a sort of standard comparison I make amongst everything I review, is the cruise control. Toyota/Lexus has a good Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system, but it works better on some vehicles than others. It works well on the Camry and ES 350, but it is a bit clumsy on the Tundra. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison, but it’s something I noticed. I do like that the Tundra still has the old stick control for cruise, whereas many of the newer Toyota/Lexus models have incorporated cruise buttons into the steering wheel.

    Something that may put people off buying the Tundra is the size. You may think this to be a big, lumbering giant, but in reality it is quite nimble in the parking lot as well as on the highway. It’s no Corolla, mind you, but for a full-size pickup truck, it is easier to maneuver than you may imagine.

    One dark morning, I was driving head-to-head toward a school bus with a distracted driver. The bus veered at the last moment into my lane, and I had to go up a railroad embankment. In my minivan, that may have been a dangerous problem, but not so in this Tundra. It handled the situation like a champ, and just for fun I repeated the maneuver.

    The 2020 Tundra starts around $33K. The copy we tested had around $52K on the sticker.

    Something else we liked was the huge gas tank with its 38-gallon capacity. We didn’t like the fuel economy (13-18 mpg), but at least you’re talking a range of around 550-600 miles on average with that gas tank. The base model offers the 26-gallon tank, but that’s still a good 400-mile range or so. Mind you, filling up the 38-gallon tank in the Atlanta area these days will set you back about $90

    Overall, we loved the Tundra. Everything about it, except for the front seat console, screams “real truck”, and even though the interior is more akin to the Lexus line for all of its luxury, the Tundra is, as we say around here, a “hoss”.

    From GeorgiaDad.com

  • 11 Nov 2019 11:38 AM | Brian Medford (Administrator)

    It has been 18 years since you could buy a brand-new Jeep branded pickup truck, the Jeep Comanche. Jeep teased a concept Wrangler-based truck back in 2003 under the Scrambler name, and again in 2005 under the Gladiator name. But now the wait is over and the 2020 Jeep Gladiator is here to satisfy your Jeep truck needs...

    NAPA Knows New Cars: 2020 Jeep Gladiator

  • 03 Sep 2019 7:17 AM | Christopher Lawrence (Administrator)

    A car rarely is about just getting you from point A to point B. Rather, a car is a calling card of sorts, a conveyance of your station in life, whether it screams “midlife crisis” or “I’ve got three kids and two dogs.” It’s a way to impress clients or congratulate yourself on a job well done. It can be practical or playful. To help you find the perfect vehicle for you and your lifestyle, Simply Buckhead Magazine took eight cars out on the roads of Buckhead to see how they performed.

    https://simplybuckhead.com/car-talk/

  • 25 Aug 2019 11:06 PM | Danny Harrison

    Have you ever wondered, “What’s the point of tiny ‘boy-racer’ sports cars?” How much fun can a four-banger possibly be, right?

    I thought all of that until I spent a few days in the 2019 Toyota 86 GT, and now I get it. Not that I would get one myself, but now I get what the fuss is about.

    Toyota said they were going to pick up my loaner RAV4 and drop off an 86 GT for a week, and I thought, “Hey, that will be a fun car to drive.” But to be honest, I didn’t really know the 86 GT. So, then I looked it up and saw it only had four cylinders. Probably not so fast, I thought. Then I saw it was a two-door, rear-wheel-drive fastback that produced 205 horsepower. Alrighty, then. I was intrigued. More than 200 horses from a four-cylinder, naturally aspirated engine? Bring it on.

    They brought it on, and my first impression was that it is probably one of the best-looking cars on the road, and I don’t normally think this of smaller cars. Because it sits so low, it’s nice that they carried the aggressive styling from the menacing nose all the way across the top of the vehicle to the track-ready tail. When you walk up to this car, you can’t help but wonder if it can deliver on the visual hype, but trust me, this is more than just a pretty boy-racer.

    I love the color of the copy they brought, too. It’s called “asphalt”, and I appreciate the honest labeling. It really does look like a fresh coat of asphalt, and the name of this hue is especially fitting, because this car and asphalt are meant to happen.

    My second impression was that it would be painful to get in and out of this car on any long-term basis. If you are under six feet tall, and if you wear size 40s or smaller (I don’t know women’s sizes), you’ll probably think this car has perfect roof height and racing seat width. For the rest of us, it takes about two minutes to get used to the squeeze, and that’s after planning carefully how to contort in order to drop into the seat. But let me assure you, it is worth the trouble.

    Once behind the wheel, this 86 GT was a combination of best-go-kart-ever and best-video-arcade-game-ever. The gauges are refreshingly simple. You’re practically sitting on the floor. When you put it in gear (we tested the six-speed manual), it responds immediately. When you enter a turn, you don’t have to slow down at all, because the tires and suspension are ready for it. In short, it is the coolest, must fun little car I’ve ever driven.

    I get why people want these, and I get why men like me in our mid-40s all-of-a-sudden want to go on a diet. Ladies, we’re not necessarily trying to impress you. We’re trying to fit more comfortably into these racing seats.

    Shifting gears on the 86 GT is dreamy unless you’re trying to drive really slow through a parking lot. This is not a cruiser, not a grocery-getter, not a Home Depot helper. It’s not a cross-country star, either, but I’ll get to that in a minute. What’s fun is to push this car near redline before shifting, and then do it again until you’re up to speed. At that point, you just kick it straight over to fifth or sixth gear. You may think it normal to keep it in third for 35 or fourth for 45, but you’d be wrong. This little animal whines and vibrates like it has been leashed and doesn’t like it.

    During my week with the 86, I never put it on a real track, but I did put it in track mode, and I did push it hard around corners. Seriously, there are several tight roadway turns in my town, and I took them quite often at full speeds, avoiding the brakes, while the car never barked tires, and it responded like it was no big deal. The racing seats become a comfort at that point, because you stay steady in place.

    This is a fun car to drive. Most of the time.

    This is not a fun car to drive on a two-hour business trip, at least not the manual version. I had to travel to Athens, Georgia for meetings, and on the way up I made the mistake of connecting to Hwy. 78 from Interstate 85. That route was excruciating, because I was stuck at one speed driving straight for such long periods of time. That racing seat I had become used to hugging me now felt annoying. It was also annoying to have so many people pull up and offer to race me. That doesn’t happen so often when I’m driving my Town & County or Suburban. Probably kids en route to the UGA campus, I guessed.

    I find it funny that some reviewers ding the 86 for not having enough technology on board. That’s not why you’re buying an 86. I love that the clock is an old-school digital readout in the dash. I love that the climate controls are chunky dials. I even love that there is no standard satellite radio in these cars, because you just don’t need it these days. I love that they didn’t just migrate the Corolla technology package into the 86. No, it seems to me that the 86 keeps the spirit of its Scion FR-S predecessor and brings a little more of that indy cool factor to the Toyota lineup.

    You do still get the touchscreen interface offering satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity and the rest, though I will say the Pioneer system we tested was way too slow in switching between these functions. I hope it was just our unit and not the norm, but from what I’ve read elsewhere, it may be the norm for the 2019 models. (Fix it, Toyota.)

    There is a lower trim than the GT, simply called the 86, and then there’s the 86 TRD (Toyota Racing Development) on the top side. The TRD version is roughly the same as the GT, but it comes with the higher performing Brembo brakes, Sachs shocks and Michelin Pilot Sport 4s. The TRDs only come in black with a special edition red-orange-yellow stripe, and the company says they’re only making 1,418 of them. A basic 86 starts around $27K, the GT around $29K and the TRD just north of $32K.

    If you’re not planning to put this car on a closed-course track, don’t bother buying it unless you set aside a budget for speeding tickets and taxi fares once your license is suspended. You’re much better off in something like the new Corolla Hatchback, which is almost as much fun on country roads, much more comfortable on highways and city streets, and much easier on the budget (starts around $20K).

    I agree with the cast of the old British “Top Gear” television series, who insist cars are either meant for the road or for the track but not both. The 86 is built for the latter.


  • 24 Aug 2019 11:27 PM | Danny Harrison

    I don’t always agree with Consumer Reports, but they were right to give their top minivan score to the 2019 Toyota Sienna, and after they test the 2020 model, which we have recently done, I’m guessing it will come out on top, too.

    Earlier this year, we reviewed the 2019 Sienna, and we loved its relatively plush third row, its quieter-than-normal cabin, a ton of standard safety features, the precise Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and a powerful almost-300 horsepower engine. The 2020 still has all of that.

    The 2020 copy we reviewed was the new Nightshade Edition. So imagine (or look at the pictures) a “Super White” Sienna trimmed with a black mesh sport grille, black door handles, black outside mirror caps, black wheels and a black spoiler. Add a black Toyota emblem and badging, and you’ve got a cool-looking ride. You can also get the Nightshade Edition on Celestial Silver Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic and Salsa Red Pearl Siennas.

    While we’re talking about variants, we drove the SE, which normally comes as a front-wheel drive, but our was the smooth-riding all-wheel drive. You’ll pay about $1,500 more for that upgrade. A basic SE starts around $37,500. The Sienna also comes in the $34,000 LE and the $37,500 XLE trim levels. As equipped, our copy was stickered at just a tick over $45,000.

    Our family of seven took the Sienna to John Tanner Park about an hour west of Atlanta, which was a 90-minute trip for us, and we experienced first-hand a benefit of having mid-row windows that lower. One of our children gets motion sickness, and sometimes a dose of fresh air cures it. Having four windows that lower, which is not normal for even most late-model minivans, is super handy.

    On that trip, we also enjoyed how spacious the Sienna is. We had coolers and picnic supplies and changes of clothes and so much more, and the generous 39 cubic feet of aft cargo space (behind the third row) was plenty.

    We regretted that we couldn’t take this all-wheel drive onto the sand or snow to try it out those capabilities, but its nice to know that the AWD system is working for you all of the time, even on regular roads under normal driving conditions. Unless I am mistaken, the Sienna is the only minivan offering AWD.

    This new Sienna seemed quieter than normal, and after a little research we learned it has a new acoustic windshield that contributes to that result.

    One last observation is that they smoothed out the hood even more with the 2020, which is a good move. If you read our reviews of the previous Siennas, you’ll know we didn’t like the ridges over the front wheel wells, which make these minivans look from the front like angry lizards. All is forgiven now.


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