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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Autos archive for Jan. 1, 2015

SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015

MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2015

Keep conversation casual

It’s always been common for drivers to have conversations with passengers, but nowadays, phone conversations are also prevalent. Beyond that, many drivers can’t resist the lure of convenient text message communication. The latter is forbidden by law in just about every jurisdiction nationwide. But sadly,…

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Bluff and broad-shouldered, the rear-wheel-drive (with available AWD) 300 tempers its American vision of luxury with European road-manners.  (Chrysler)

Chrysler 300S: Luxury, Motor City-style

I’m downtown, having a beer at a local haunt and watching the Final Four’s last hurrah. Outside on the sidewalk at halftime, a friend asks what I’ve driven lately that surprised me. Not what I’d liked best, but the one that exceeded my expectations. It’s...

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MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2015

Recurring controversy

Over the years of this column’s publication, some driving topics give rise to recurring controversy. Although common sense and written law should dictate driver behavior, certain situations continue to be a source of uncertainty, frustration, and even rage. Differing opinions and indifference to established rules…

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Toyota credits 142 new spot-welds for boosting structural rigidity, and the strengthened unibody enables more-precise suspension tuning. The difference is it makes is real; handling improves, with less body rolls in turns and other high-speed transitions, and the Sienna’s long wheelbase helps give it a big-car ride (Toyota)

Toyota Sienna: People-hauling made better

This side of a big, yellow school bus, the minivan is the most efficient and comfortable way to transport people and their possessions. Nevertheless, its stock has fallen sharply of late, victimized by the popularity of the sedan-based crossover. Doesn’t seem to matter to Toyota,...

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Elder driver follow-up

Two weeks ago, I presented some situations involving the elder group of drivers. That included accidents related to diminishing awareness/reflexes/vision or health problems, aging drivers’ reluctance to give up the driving privilege, and even some apt remedies for these dilemmas. As is typical, readers followed…

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For 2015, a stout new turbo-diesel joins the Jetta lineup; a new grille and redesigned front fascia give the compact sedan a wider and more substantial feel; engines are more efficient; piano-black trim and new soft-touch surfaces animate the subdued cockpit (Volkswagen)

VW Jetta: Promise fulfilled

Volkswagen dropped the sixth-generation Jetta in 2011 and has refined its DNA each year since. Its cabin has grown richer. Engines are more refined and efficient. Ride and handling have evolved. This year, a mid-cycle refresh extends the streak: A stout new turbo-diesel joins the…

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MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2015

Often forgotten prodedures

When we begin driving, we usually try hard to remember and employ all the new driving rules and tips coming our way. Back then, novice drivers are studying to get a learner’s permit, trying to impress driving instructors, or doing everything “by the book” to…

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Though it’s not the most powerful car in the family sedan segment, the Mazda 6 might be the most athletic. Steering is precise and communicative, the chassis stiff and responsive and braking action firm and linear. (Mazda)

Mazda6: Heads up!

Out in the supermarket parking lot, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish this year’s Mazda6 from last’s. Changes to its grille, headlights and taillights are so subtle casual observers won’t notice. It’s a different story inside, though, as Mazda fits the 6 with a new dash...

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MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2015

Does age matter?

As it relates to driving, we have an established minimum age. Should there be a mandatory maximum? It’s evident that young drivers contribute greatly to traffic accident and fatality statistics. In fact, motor vehicle accidents remain the number one cause of death for individuals up…

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The new engine this year is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four that makes 240 horsepower (23 mpg combined/20 city/27 highway). It joins a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four rated at 185 hp (25/22/29), and a 290-hp 3.3-liter V-6 (21/18/26) .

Seven-passenger models are powered by the V-6; five-seaters get one of the fours. Tow capacity ranges from 2,000-6,000 pounds.  (Kia)

Kia Sorento: Filling the gaps

Like a quarterback back seeing gaps in the opponent’s defense, Kia has a knack for finding unexpected openings. Last year, it debuted the K900, a luxury sedan that aims to replicate the full-on luxury experience for thousands less than the (mostly German) competition. This year,…

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MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2015

A city divided

Ever since the section of Sprague Avenue near downtown was altered from four lanes to two, comments I’ve heard regarding it have been mostly negative. Per my informal survey, anecdotal evidence also suggests a similar attitude toward the proposed lane reduction north of Indiana on…

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Besides the touchscreen, this console-mounted rotary controller — backed by assorted hard buttons — simplifies access. The system also is voice-activated.

Mazda CX-5: Exuberant efficiency

Let’s just go ahead and declare this Mazda month. In recent weeks, I’ve looked at Mazda’s MX-5 Miata and its CX-9 midsize crossover. Today, we’re looking at the CX-5 compact crossover, and in two weeks we’ll cover the Mazda6 sedan. Blame scheduling woes. I’m supplied...

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Safety tips to live by

At times I’ve hinted that to be safer in our motor vehicles, we’d all wear DOT approved helmets. That’s because nearly nine out of ten auto deaths result from an occupant’s head striking something within the car or truck. But since that is not a…

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Restoring a charge from a near-depleted state using a 120v outlet is a 24-hour process. A 240v outlet cuts the required time to five hours. The Soul is also fitted with a CHAdeMo DC fast-charging port (480v) and can be charged to 80 percent in 33 minutes using a 50-Kw fast-charger. 

Soul EV: Kia's fresh new face

Kia’s Soul is an obvious candidate for electrification. So obvious Kia designed its funky hatchback with that conversion in mind. The Soul’s raffish vibe is well-suited for the iconoclasts who are the EV tribe. Moreover, its blocky, upright stance seems custom-made to accommodate a boxy…

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A final winter's tale

Spring has sprung early this year, making streets soaked with magnesium chloride a mute point for now. Still, judging by reader response to the last two columns on the topic, many citizens share concern over the melter’s use and overuse — some individuals even wishing…

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SATURDAY, FEB. 28, 2015

The Miata manages the 0-60 mph sprint in the mid-6-second range, well off the pace set by conventional performance cars. The fun starts when a corner looms. Unlike more powerful peers, the Miata is not so powerful one needs the reflexes or the skill set of a professional driver to probe its limits. (Mazda)

MX-5 Miata: A fond farewell

In my music critic days, I covered a “farewell concert” or two. Until now, though, I’ve not had occasion to review a car’s farewell tour. As you read this, Mazda is preparing the world for the arrival of the all-new, fourth-generation 2016 MX-5 Miata. Before...

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MONDAY, FEB. 23, 2015

The modern car

I’ll readily admit that I sometimes long for the simplicity of “yesteryear” when it comes to automobiles. They did make use of basic electricity, but computers and associated electronic sensors were absent. Everything was quite rudimentary when compared to today’s vehicles — do-it-yourselfers even had…

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SATURDAY, FEB. 21, 2015


Honda Fit: The substantial subcompact  

In the past few years, Americans have discovered the little wagons and hatchbacks that rule the roost in Europe and Asia. Honda, for one, aims to grab its share of the market. For 2015, Honda debuts the third-generation of its Fit, a hatchback that packs...

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TUESDAY, FEB. 17, 2015

At least I'm not alone

Two weeks ago, when I wrote of the flagrant dispensing of liquid ice melter onto our roadways, I wondered if others shared my concern. I admitted then that the corrosive deicer has a valid place in the arsenal for winter road maintenance, along with plows…

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SATURDAY, FEB. 14, 2015

The CX-9 ($31,865, including transportation) carries up to seven in a modern and comfortable cabin. Flexible seating arrangements allow easy mix-and-matching of passengers and gear. And, even though most CX-9s are destined for urban duty, the rig is strong enough to cross tall mountains and pass slow traffic. (Mazda)

CX-9: Mazda’s entertaining people-hauler

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 does everything expected of a three-row crossover, and then some. The CX-9 ($31,865, including transportation) carries up to seven in a modern and comfortable cabin. Flexible seating arrangements allow easy mix-and-matching of passengers and gear. And, even though most CX-9s are…

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MONDAY, FEB. 9, 2015

In search of answers

Readers send many questions my way. Some have been answered before and others offer new opportunities for discussion; some questions have definitive answers while others just create more questions. This week, C.K. offered some samples, writing, “I grew up in the Midwest and moved out…

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SATURDAY, FEB. 7, 2015

Other 2015 model-year updates include refreshed exterior styling (LED running lights, updated front and rear fascias), a new front console, rear climate vents and, on upper trims, a 7-inch touchscreen that doubles as a display for the LaneWatch blind-spot monitoring system. 

Honda CR-V receives powertrain implant

Add Honda to the growing list of manufacturers using mid-cycle updates to beef up their competitive positions. Having most recently remade its best-selling CR-V crossover in 2012, Honda ups the ante this year with a surprise powertrain transplant. This year, all CR-Vs receive the same…

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MONDAY, FEB. 2, 2015

A personal rant

Many of my column topics directly reflect reader thoughts and concerns. Those reader ideas often mirror my own, and have widespread applicability and agreement. A phenomenon that I have not heard from readers about, but riles me, hopefully has at least a few proponents. That…

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SATURDAY, JAN. 31, 2015

The NX, with Its oversized spindle grille, assertive LED lamps and assorted folds, angles and creases, drives Lexus into new design territory. Cabin design is somewhat less rambunctious, but it, too, reflects Lexus's aim to attract young male buyers.  (Lexus)

Lexus NX 200t: Sign of the times 

With the all-new NX 200t, Lexus becomes the latest premium maker to succumb to the allure of the small. The NX 200t, a luxury compact crossover, slots into a booming new segment populated by entries from Audi, Acura, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. About the same size…

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