Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Comparison: 2014 Ford Focus Electric vs 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Before we had to return the Focus, it seemed prudent to take a moment to see just how much electric vehicles have progressed in the last three years. When we first acquired the Focus in 2014, it was a competitive, albeit with a few shortcomings, vehicle among the rather small class of available EVs. During that time, we have gotten to see the EV landscape evolve significantly as the cars have gotten a lot more capable and the availability of charging infrastructure has improved dramatically, both in terms of more available Level 2 and both the speed and availability of Level 3 DC fast charging. Comparing our outgoing Focus Electric with our newly acquired Bolt EV allows us the opportunity to really examine just how significant those changes are and what that means for the future of EVs as we see more manufacturers make commitments to joining the EV marketplace.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Long Term Test: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier

So last week, we hinted that big news was in store regarding the Chevy Bolt EV we tested. Despite my many reservations, I decided to attempt a little experiment and set aside my subjective criteria and focus on just the objective criteria in what we needed for a new car. That meant considering the range, the interior space, the performance, the technology, and, most importantly, the price. Given that I still have a deposit on a Model 3 and we are only looking at electric cars, the realistic options narrowed themselves down pretty quickly. Aside from the Model 3 and the Bolt EV, we considered the 2017 Ford Focus Electric, the 2017 VW e-Golf, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, and the 2018 Nissan Leaf 2.0. Each of these had to meet the minimum criteria of being all-electric battery EVs with at least 100 miles of real world range. From there, it became a matter of determining how to weigh the other criteria to come to a decision.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Test Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier

Walking into this test drive, I really wanted to dislike this car. Having seen the Bolt a few times on the streets, it just never quite looked right to me with the stubby nose and tall hatchback proportions. As a day-one reservation holder of the Tesla Model 3, I did not expect the Bolt to change my mind based on its looks, but as the only other 200+ mile range EV on the market, I thought I owed it to myself to give the competition a go before plunking down any serious money on a car I have not even seen in person. Considering that Hyundai's roll-out of the Ioniq has been a disaster, the VW e-Golf was a no-show despite being announced nearly a year ago, and the Nissan Leaf 2.0 was not likely to make it to market in time for the end of our lease of the Focus Electric, it seemed only logical to take the Bolt for a spin.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Test Drive: 2018 Audi S5 Sportback Prestige

I have a real soft spot for Audi's performance sedans, especially the, S4/RS4 and S7/RS7 so imagine my joy when I found out that Audi is bringing the A5 and S5 Sportback, essentially an 80% sized version of the S7, to the US market. Originally slated to be displayed at last year's LA Auto Show, I was disappointed when it was a no show, but as soon as they started to hit the dealer lots, I took the opportunity to go and check one out, especially as we are looking for a suitable 4-door, 5-seat replacement to our long-term Jaguar F-Type.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Test Ride: 2017 Tempo Carmel e-bike

E-bikes were something I had been relatively skeptical of since I first saw a clunky example while visiting China many years ago. As a road cyclist, the idea of using electrical power to supplement the power put through the pedals seemed like cheating, especially for those long weekend rides. But in recent years, as the technology improved and the the designs became less cumbersome and more sleek, I started to wonder if I was perhaps being a little too narrow-minded in my assessment of e-bikes. After all, not everyone is as fortunate as me to live in a relatively flat area and be in reasonable good health. Why shouldn't everyone have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of cycling in some way and why wouldn't an e-bike be a good choice for a commute?

Fortunately for me, the opportunity presented itself this year to attend the E-Bike Expo being held at the Long Beach Convention Center, which gave me an opportunity to learn not just about e-bikes, but also to take advantage of the chance to spend some quality time with a very nice e-bike from Tempo, a CA based e-bike manufacturer. In fact, they were kind enough to lend me one of their Carmel model bikes to use for an extended trial, which allowed me to truly experience what living with an e-bike is like. I must admit, life with an e-bike is something that I could get accustomed to.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Long Term Test: 2016 Honda Accord Touring V6 post #2

It has been quite some time since we introduced our 2016 Honda Accord Touring. We have now had the car for about a year, and in that time have learned about some of the car's quirks. In terms of the way the car drives, there is not much to talk about. The car is still comfortable to drive, the V6 continues to accelerate and operate smoothly, and I still continue to get piss poor gas mileage thanks to my horrific daily commute. All of the quirks I have encountered over the year we have had this car have to do with the technology. As with pretty much anything, the more new technology you cram into a car, the more likely it is you are going to run into problems with it.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Road Trip: Hudson River Valley

We awoke to a gray and rainy morning in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, Manhattan's skyline hidden by the threatening clouds in the distance. I was up early and got myself ready for what would likely be a pretty long day. I knew that coffee was in order at some point, but first, I needed to head to Silvercar to grab the Audi A4 that would be our ride for the weekend. Pulling up the Lyft app, I called a car and before long, found myself scanning into a freshly gassed up silver A4 sedan. Pulling out into NYC traffic, I silently mouthed a prayer as I headed back to the hotel to gather seek a place to park the car. To my chagrin, all of the available spaces were taken so I found myself wandering through the neighborhood in search of coffee or parking, whichever would come first.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Test Drive: 2017 Audi A4 Premium

Audi's reputation has been dragged through the mud of late due to the whole "diesel-gate" scandal. Even so, Audi's have always been nicely designed and well-appointed cars and the latest A4 is no exception. With a trip to New York that necessitated renting a car from the city, I opted to take advantage of one of the benefits of my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and booked a car through Silvercar for the weekend. Having only spent a little time with the last iteration of the A4, I was looking forward to having the opportunity to get a little quality time with this latest version.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Test Drive: 2017 Mazda6 Touring

On the second leg of my recent business trip, I arrived late in the day and found myself waiting in line at the rental car counter as several passengers who seem to have never rented a car before inquired about every possible question for every possible scenario known to man. Nearly twenty minutes later, I finally sidle up to the counter and am handed the keys to a surprising selection, the Mazda6. Even though it took my 20 minutes before I was handed the keys, I was in the car and on the road in a matter of minutes. This is why I hate renting in places that do not have Emerald Aisle or its equivalent with other rental companies. Being able to pick my own car and drive away within minutes of exiting the plane is something you don't truly appreciate until you can't do it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Test Drive: 2017 Hyundai Sonata SE

Let me start by saying that I cannot understand why rental car companies think Nissan products are acceptable as "upgrades" to reservations. I say that because for this trip, when I arrived at the Avis rental car counter, they cheerily told me that I had received a free upgrade to a Nissan Altima, to which I promptly replied, "Do you have anything else?" What I got was a relatively new Hyundai Sonata, which I promptly accepted. Yes, I have a personal aversion to Nissan products after having a number of not great (read downright awful) experiences with them, but more importantly, I find the quality of Nissan's interiors and the mechanical drone of their CVT transmissions among the most mind-numbingly retched experiences ever conceived by a modern automaker. You know it is bad when I am happy to accept the barely beyond entry level option from a different automaker just to avoid having to suffer in a Nissan. But enough about my disdain for them, and on to the Hyundai Sonata that I spent several hundred miles with.