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The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide
CRUZE THE ROAD IN HATCH-SIZE COMFORT

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Some years ago, we had test driven the compact Cruze sedan and it had left a lasting impression on us. If you recall, it is the same car that then replaced the Cobalt. Now, Chevrolet has produced an all-new Cruze hatchback, which we must point out is a surprisingly splendid, lively and fun-to-drive car offering superb handling and steering feel.
Our hatchback came in the

FORD HAS AN EDGE OVER ITS COMPETITION

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
The midsize crossover segment is packed with tough competitors. Take the solid Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano, Chevy Equinox, to name a few. Standing its ground among the worthy contenders is the Ford Edge, which is one alluring five-passenger ride.
For 2017, three engine choices are offered, including a 3.5-liter V-6 and 2.7-liter V-6. Ours was the turbo 2.0-liter

THIS ROGUE DESERVES A PLACE IN YOUR GARAGE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Meet the 2017 Rogue Sport, all-new vehicle slightly smaller than the hot-seller Rogue: just 2.3 inch shorter in wheelbase, 12.1 inches fewer in length and 5.6 inch lower in height. Nissan claims that this entry-compact crossover will provide the “perfect size and utility and youthful and active lifestyles, featuring responsive handling and maneuverability.” After driving

AVALON HYBRID A SPLENDID GAS SIPPER

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
For 2017, the Avalon hybrid continues as is except for a now-standard Toyota Safety Sense, which includes a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, lane departure assist and dynamic cruise control. Otherwise, the fine front-wheel-drive car ekes out 40 city/39 highway stretching the miles to over 600 on a full tank. It all comes at a somewhat hefty price – $42,550.

MAZDA OVERHAULS COMPACT CX-5 CROSSOVER

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Barely in its fourth year and the CX-5 has been revamped twice. Seating five in comfort and style, the sporty ride sticks to its reliable power train: 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine putting out 187 horsepower (up by 3) @ 6000 rpm and 185 pounds-feet of torque @ 3250 rpm while coupled to a 6-speed auto transmission. Whether you choose the front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the

LEXUS GS200t LOADED WITH CREATURE COMFORTS

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
This entry-level luxury sedan was inducted just last year into the Lexus GS stable. Though weighing 3,805 pounds, the GS200t is a splendid peppy ride that can take off 0 to 60 mph in just 7 seconds with top speed of 143 mph.
A 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline-4 cylinder gas engine pumps out 241 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque @ 4400 rpm. The

KIA SOUL GETS AN ALL-NEW TURBO ENGINE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
As if 161 horsepower was not enough, the Kia Soul now gets a bump to 201 hp @ 6000 rpm, thanks to an all-new 1.6-liter gas-direct 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. Also receiving a boost is torque of 45 to 195 @ 4500 rpm. And out goes the previous 6-speed auto to be replaced by a seamless 7-speed gearbox. Regardless of these and other changes, nowhere on the road would you miss the

INFINITI Q50 SPORT SEDAN IS A WISE CHOICE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It may not be on the radar of a potential shopper like a BMW or Audi but this luxury sport car from Infiniti deserves attention. Oodles of it. Carrying over from last year mostly with little change, the Q50 is equipped with a 3.0-liter V-6 twin-turbocharged engine blasting off 400 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 350 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. Available as a rear-wheel or all-wheel

HYUNDAI IONIQ HATCHBACK HYBRID DEBUTS

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
The wonderful city and state/regional parks of Durham, N.C., served as the backdrop for our test drive of the all-new compact Hyundai vehicle, Ioniq, to compete with the ever-popular Toyota Prius. In Blue, SEL and Limited trims, the front-wheel-drive hatchback will be available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric vehicle.
HYBRID: A 1.6-liter

ACURA MDX NOW COMES IN HYBRID TRIM

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It is a no-brainer if you ask us. The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid, i.e. Unlike the regular MDX, which ekes just 19 city/26 highway, this one rates at 26/27. And best of all, it is priced at just around $58,000 like its gasoline twin.
A 3.0-liter (down from 3.5 in regular trim) SOHC V-6 engine pumps out a total of 321 horsepower (up by 31) and 289 pounds-feet of torque

HONDA CR-V GETS AN ALL-NEW DESERVING TURBO ENGINE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
The Honda CR-V (Comfortable Runabout Vehicle) underwent a major transformation about five years ago. And once again, the compact SUV is back with another redesign on a massive scale. And it is all for the better.
Offered as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the fifth-generation 2017 CR-V is available in a new 1.5-liter direct-injection, turbo 4-cylinder engine that develops

2017 LEXUS RC-F DELIVERS A SOLID PUNCH

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It can go 0 to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. Top speed is at 170 mph. And a quarter mile takes only 12.5 seconds. That iss the powerful 2017 Lexus RC-F luxury sport coupe for you with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine blasting off 467 horsepower @ 7100 rpm and 389 pounds-feet of torque @ 5600 rpm. And, of course, the forceful F Sport-tuned suspension provides for some spirited driving. The

THOUGH EXPENSIVE, HIGHLANDER HYBRID IS USEFUL

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
After debuting nearly a decade ago, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid undergoes its first change, mainly gaining a more potent gasoline engine. The 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 engine, coupled to three electric motors, now puts out a total of 306 horsepower (up by 26) @ 5800 rpm and 215 pounds-feet (down by 2) of torque @ 4800 rpm. The crossover SUV is fitted with a 288-volt nickel-metal hydride

ENJOY STYLE AND VIGOR IN 2017 HONDA ACCORD

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
What Toyota doeth, so doeth Honda! Or vice versa. In this case, we have written about the Camry undergoing a major revamp next year. The same will happen to its closest rival, the Accord. We hear that the 2018 model will be sleek and bold. Till then, the current sedan should drive just fine for potential buyers.
The 3.5-liter V-6 engine blasts off 278 horsepower @ 6200 rpm

ALL-NEW KIA NIRO HYBRID GOES THE EXTRA DISTANCE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Heading over to Atlanta this summer? Then we suggest checking out the all-new 2017 Kia Niro hybrid. The five-passenger compact crossover can go nearly 500 miles on a tank (11.9 gallons), thanks to its gas/electric technology. A 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine is mated to an electric motor, which is powered by a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. That is adequate enough

LEXUS RX350 IS A STYLISH, HANDS-ON SUV

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
After a major re-do last year, the Lexus RX350 carries on as is for 2017. Under the hood of the five-passenger luxury SUV sits a 3.5-liter V-6 engine putting out 295 horsepower @ 6300 rpm and 268 pounds-feet of torque @ 4700 rpm. An 8-speed auto gearbox shifts seamlessly while ensuring fuel savings (we peaked at 33 mpg in solely highway driving!). Drive modes include eco,

NIMBLE ACURA ILX OFFERS GENEROUS CABIN

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2017 Acura ILX.
DOWN THE ROAD: After a facelift last year, this entry-level sedan for Acura assures you a safe and adequate ride with superb handling and overall balance.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: Power is routed via a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which develops 201 horsepower @

LEXUS ES300h SEDAN IS A WISE PICK

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
The midsize luxury sedan comes in two trims: the ES350 or its hybrid version, the ES300h, which was our test drive for the week. After a major re-do some years back, Lexus has maintained its status quo except for making rain-sensing wipers and Lexus Safety System (pre-collision, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam and high-speed dynamic radar cruise

MAZDA3 MAKES FOR AN EXHILARATING EVERYDAY JAUNT

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Though the Mazda3 received a major transformation three years ago, the carmaker has incorporated some fresh life in 2017. The power train is still fitted with the direct-injection Skyactiv technology, which uses a torque boost via a high compression ratio for stretching fuel economy. A 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine puts out 184 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 185 pounds-feet of torque

KIA CADENZA OFFERS LUXURY, PERFORMANCE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Three years after the most powerful and technologically advanced Kia made its debut, the Korean carmaker has totally redesigned the flagship sedan. Though it shrinks in width and height, the wheelbase and length in the Cadenza are slightly up. There is extensive use of not just high-strength steel but also aluminum in the chassis to result in a lighter vehicle. A substantial change

DEPENDENT CAMRY SEATS FIVE IN COMFORT

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
All Toyota Camry admirers, here is your dilemma: go for the current model or wait with bated breath for the 2018 sedan, which is said to be a trendsetter, of sorts, as we are told. Though the power trains maintain their status quo, 2018 Camry is built on an all-new platform, gets a 2-inch wheelbase boost, 8-speed gearbox instead of the present 6, and a striking cabin from what

ALL-NEW VOLVO S90 IS AN EXCITING RIDE!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Goodbye S80 and hello to a more powerful and capable S90, which scoots 0 to 60 in just 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. This all-new midsize luxury sedan from Volvo is a fun ride to pitch through corners on even the most challenging roads. Reassuring brakes, solid steering feel and inspired handling ensure your safety in this all-wheel-drive ride.
Sharing its

INSPIRING HATCHBACK JOINS 2017 CIVIC ROSTER

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
You already have the sedan and the coupe. Now add the impressively designed hatchback to the 2017 Honda Civic lineup. Obviously, it shares the powertrain with the other brethren: a 1.5-liter DOHC direct-injected and turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine putting out 180 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 162 pounds-feet of torque @ 5500 rpm. The five-door ride is coupled to a continuous

WANT TO SAVE GAS? NOTHING BEATS THE PRIUS!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Last year, Toyota revamped the hot-selling Prius. For the better, of course. The hybrid car is now slightly bigger than its predecessor and maintains the powertrain too but with slight tweaks that beat its previous fuel economy figures.
The retuned 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and an electric motor develop a total of 121 horsepower and 105 pounds-feet

TOP-DOWN MOTORING IS FUN IN FIAT SPIDER 124

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
THE RIDE: Two-door, two-passenger 2017 Fiat Spider 124 roadster.
DOWN THE ROAD: Based on the popular Mazda Miata, this all-new vehicle is probably the finest Fiat we have driven. Punch it lightly and the car takes off smooth and easy assuming occupants of a safe drive down the road. And opening/closing the manual top is a breeze.

SENTRA TURBO NISMO MAKES IMPRESSIVE DEBUT

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It is all about NISMO (Nissan Motorsport or, in other words, the in-house tuning and performance division) in the 2017 Nissan Sentra turbo model. The NISMO influence is evident in its front and rear fascias with signature red stripe, rear spoiler, front grille, LED daytime running lights and side sills, exhaust tip, tuned suspension and steering, front seats with logo, chrome

SMART FORTWO CABRIO A DREAM FOR CITY COMMUTERS

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Merely 8.8 feet in length, 5.4 width and 5.1 height. Top speed is 94 mph. And only two can ride in the two-door Cabrio. You get the picture. The 2017 Smart ForTwo is not for everyone, especially those with huge families. But the rear-wheel-drive car serves the purpose of zooming by on congested city streets or snatching a parking spot.
A 0.9-liter inline 3-turbocharged

MUSCLE-CAR FANS WILL DIG THE CHARGER R/T

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It falls just one short of the SRT Hellcat, which Dodge has loaded up with a mind-numbing 700 horsepower. Our 2016 Charger R/T Scat Pack test drive was equipped with a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine, which still packed a massive punch at 485 hp @ 6000 rpm and 475 pounds-feet of torque @ 4200 rpm. And that is more than plenty for this full-size sedan, mated to an 8-speed auto

JAGUAR F-PACE – THIS CAT IS A THRILLER OF A RIDE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
A performance crossover from Jaguar? You bet! The all-new F-Pace S, a supercharged growler, can take off from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.
Under the hood of this nippy cat resides a 3.0-liter V-6 engine blasting off 380 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 332 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. It is mated to an impeccable 8-speed automatic transmission,

2017 GENESIS G90 EXUDES EXTRAVAGANCE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
There is just no stopping the Genesis. The hot-selling luxury brand of Hyundai will release a total of six vehicles by 2021 – large G80 and G90, and the smaller G70 sedans, a coupe and two SUVs. Sold in a separate section of the Korean carmaker showrooms, the Genesis brand is successful, thanks to quality, styling, design and ease of use, according to Chris Hosford,

2017 CHEROKEE OVERLAND IS THE IDEAL DAILY RIDE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4X4 midsize SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Overland is a sort of premium Jeep trim with cushy Nappa leather seating and a forceful power train. It assures you a safe and adequate ride with superb handling and overall balance.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: Power is routed via a

NISSAN REVAMPS PATHFINDER FOR 2017

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Competitors are aplenty in the large seven-passenger SUV segment but the Pathfinder surely takes the lead, in our eyes. For 2017, Nissan has totally overhauled the fifth-gen ride with a revised 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which now blasts off 284 horsepower (up by 24) @ 6400 rpm and 259 pounds-feet of torque (increase of 19) @ 4800 rpm. The potent engine enables the rugged SUV to

VW PASSAT IS PERFECT SEDAN FOR FAMILY

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay.com
The small-size engine of 1.8 liters in this midsize sedan should not fool anyone. A 4-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled power train in the 2016 VW Passat puts out 170 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 184 pounds-feet of torque @ 1500 rpm. It is coupled to a standard but responsive 6-speed auto transmission.
The Passat appears more aggressive than before with a revised exterior

TAKE ICONIC JEEP WRANGLER OFF-ROAD OR ON ROAD!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
“Jeep since 1941” reads the prominent inlay on the passenger-grab handle of the 2017 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock 4X4. Need we say more about this classic, off-road and durable SUV – the only four-door 4X4 convertible on the market?
For starters, under the hood of this ladder-type frame Jeep resides a 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar engine cranking out

LOAD UP YOUR CARGO, PASSENGERS IN A REBORN GMC ACADIA

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Numerous seven-passenger SUVs compete vigorously in the market but with a total revamping inside and out, the GMC Acadia Denali has been reborn. Positioned between the smaller Terrain and the larger Yukon, the Acadia is equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine boasting 310 horsepower @ 6600 rpm and 271 pounds-feet of torque @ 5000 rpm. Power routed through the retained 6-speed auto gear box

BENZ C63 S COUPE AMG IS A SPEED DEMON

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It can take off from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. And top speed is set at 180 mph. Impressed? You ought to be. After all, the 4.0-liter bi-turbo V-8 engine in the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 S Coupe is not just a run-of-the-mill. It was specially hand built by the AMG division in Affalterbach, Germany.
 Step on the throttle of rear-wheel-drive luxury coupe and the

ENJOY ON- OR OFF-ROADING IN 2017 VOLVO XC90

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
A few months ago, Volvo had dispatched over a 2016 XC90 R-Design for us to drive. And recently, we had the one-up 2017 Inscription model parked in our driveway for a test drive. Undoubtedly, both are incredible rides we recommend wholeheartedly to the potential seven-passenger luxury SUV buyer.
The XC90 maintains the status quo power train with a T6 2.0-liter inline-4

ALL-NEW LEXUS RC200 DELIVERS QUITE A PUNCH

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Meet the RC200t, an all-new member of the RC family, which already has the 300 and 350 in its arsenal. This fine luxury coupe shares its powertrain with the IS200: a 2.0-liter twin-turbo and intercooled inline-4 cylinder engine developing 241 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque @ 4400 rpm. It is more than enough to take the rear-wheel-drive car from 0 to 60 in 7.3

NISSAN UNVEILS 2017 SENTRA TURBO, ROGUE AT MIAMI AUTO SHOW

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
First, thank you Nissan for inviting us to the 2016 Miami Auto Show for the reveal of two of its 2017 models: Sentra SR Turbo and the Rogue. Here is a summary of the two vehicles. But do look for our test-drive reviews in an upcoming issue:

SENTRA SR TURBO
Out goes the previous 1.8-liter power train to be replaced by a 1.6-liter direct-injection

HONDA RIDGELINE PICKUP RETURNS IN 2017

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
After a two-year hiatus, the Honda Ridgeline is back. And it is a more powerful and bigger midsize pickup in all respects. Wheelbase has been boosted by 3.2 inches, bed length by 4, and width by 5.5. However, weight is down by 78 pounds, which is a plus.
The single crew cab pickup shares its powertrain with the Pilot SUV: 3.5-liter V-6 engine packs 280 horsepower (up by 30

FRESH JETTA POWERTRAIN WILL ATTRACT SMALL-CAR BUYERS

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Volkswagen’s best-selling model in the United States gets an all-new powertrain for 2017. The previous 2.0-liter 4-cylinder has been replaced by a superb and effortless 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder direct-injection engine. The front-wheel-drive Jetta belts out 150 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 184 pounds-feet of torque at 1400 rpm. It is mated to a 5-speed manual or the

ACURA MDX: WHAT IS NEW FOR 2017?

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Well, except for a revamped exterior fascia and some standard luxury add-ons, the 2017 MDX does not see a whole lot of changes. That is because Acura revamped its luxury SUV a couple years ago. The 3.5-liter V-6 continues to develop 290 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 267 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. And one could not have a smoother nine-speed gearbox. Once again, the MDX is

LEXUS GS350 A SPLENDID BLEND OF PERFORMANCE, ELEGANCE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
If there is a dream luxury sedan, this is it. Of course, you can acquire a similar Audi, Mercedes or BMW, but for far more money than the Lexus GS350. For 2016, the 3.5-liter V-6 power train has been retained to crank out 305 horsepower (increase of 6 from its predecessor) @ 6400 rpm and 280 (up by 3) pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. Available as a rear-wheel or all-wheel

REFINED HONDA ACCORD COUPE IS COMPOSED, SUPPLE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Close on the heels (bumper in this case) of our 2016 Honda Accord sedan test drive, we received the 2017 coupe version. Like its counterpart, the coupe received a slight refreshing, so it will continue mostly unchanged into next year. Once again, the 3.5-liter V-6 engine cranks out 278 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 252 pounds-feet of torque @ 4900 rpm. The 6-speed auto transmission

MAZDA3 MAKES FOR AN EXCITING DAILY RIDE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
After a major facelift just two years ago, the Mazda3 maintains its status quo except for a standard rearview camera in all its trims, among minor tweaks. Based on the CX-5 SUV and the Mazda6 sedan, this best-seller for Mazda is a fun ride for the daily grind.
The power train in our third-generation Mazda3 sedan was fitted with the direct-injection Skyactiv

LEXUS RX450h GOES THE DISTANCE IN COMFORT, STYLE!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Like its other non-hybrid sibling, the RX350, it has been totally revamped inside out. And for the better, of course. Getting a substantial boost is the wheelbase by nearly 2, length by 5, width by .4 and height by 1.4 inches. The 2016 Lexus RX450h is still equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine but this one, mated to electric motor/generators, cranks out 308 total horsepower @

MAZDA CX-9 A CONVENIENT CARGO, PASSENGER HAULER

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Ten years after its debut, the Mazda flagship crossover SUV has been redesigned. Though the length is 1.9 inches shorter than its predecessor, wheelbase is up by 2.2 inches. Curb weight takes a 287-pound dip in the all-wheel-drive version and 198 down for front-wheel drive. And under the hood you get a new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine pumping out 227 horsepower @

REVAMPED 2017 KIA SPORTAGE IS ROOMY, SPORTY

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Completely revamped for 2017, the Kia Sportage is an extra 1.2 inches in wheelbase and 1.6 in length than its predecessor. The test-drive SX model was equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo engine blasting off 240 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 260 pounds-feet of torque @ 3500 rpm. The fourth-generation crossover utility vehicle, also the longest running nameplate for Kia,