Steve’s Top Picks
As one of Kia’s best-selling models the Forte compact sedan and hatchback play a key role for the Korean brand. It’s situated in the highly competitive segment that includes the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but that’s OK because this all-new 2019 model has evolved into a much more sophisticated car delivering a decidedly upscale experience.
This is one of the most impressive new cars I’ve driven in some time. It’s tastefully styled, brimming with features and a joy to drive. Just about everything about it belies its low sticker price. It plays with the compacts but it’s actually a midsize and its new powertrain delivers vastly improved efficiency. Engine output is the same as before, but with an over 20% increase in mpgs and a larger gas tank, the Forte’s driving range has added over 100 miles, to 476 in total. Rated at 30mpg city/40mpg highway, the Forte is neck-and-neck with the all-new Corolla as the segment’s mileage leader.
But this isn’t a story about a car that’s put fuel efficiency above all else. This range-topping EX trim, priced from just under $23,000, is a car you’ll be proud to own and enjoy driving.
How important is the RDX to Acura? Not only is it their best-selling vehicle but this 2019 redesign is being heralded as the beginning of a new era for Honda’s luxury division. Remember the Super-Handling All Wheel Drive system that was skipped in favor of a lighter, simpler setup for the 2013 redesign? It’s back. And the original’s turbocharged engine? That’s back, too.
MSRP as-tested: $50,495
This all-new Santa Fe showcases Hyundai’s bolder and bigger design language and really reignites the brand’s mojo which has been slipping in recent years. This 2019 model is the most complete, family-oriented SUV in its segment. It’s that good. Now, if you’re on a tight budget there’s the front-drive Santa Fe SE for under $25,000. But 6 trim levels up is this range-topping Ultimate 2.0T AWD for $39,970 before any available incentives. And that includes everything the Santa Fe offers as standard. It’s incredibly well-stocked, drives with a reassuring polish and pays special attention to cabin aesthetics and ergonomics. It recaptures the MO from Hyundai’s maturation process; providing a generous, modern package at a price that undercuts the competition.
At 235 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, the 2.0-liter turbo’s output doesn’t wow on paper but it never feels inadequate, producing strong low-end acceleration, mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission that doesn’t interfere with the fluid driving experience. I also like having this Smart drive mode in addition to the Comfort and Sport settings that automatically selects the proper steering effort, engine and transmission control logic based on the driver’s habits. It works really well and helps save a little gas and that’s a good thing, because at 21mpg the Santa Fe trails the more powerful Ford Edge by 2mpg in mixed driving and 4mpg on the highway.
The interior dimensions of the Santa Fe have grown to give 2nd row passengers more space. And, there’s more cargo room behind these seats. All told it’s a great place to spend time with this beautiful panoramic sunroof, 2 USB ports, slide and recline heated seats, and window sunshades.
This is an SUV that eagerly wants to be your friend by doing all of the chores, allowing you to enjoy every trip.
Ram 1500 Limited 2019 Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes The pickup truck segment is no longer just about flaunting muscle and capability; far from it. For top-end models like this you’d better be bringing smarts and a heaping dose…