JANUARY 2016
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Motoring

MAZDA6 A MUST BUY FOR SEDAN LOVERS

Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE, motoringtampabay@gmail.com

4RUNNER TRAIL PREMIUM 4X4 Like the CX-5, the Japanese carmaker has slightly overhauled the Mazda6 with LED headlights replacing bi-xenon, new LED signature grille and bumper, and fog lamp surround design. The center console, dashboard and armrest have been upgraded while the Mazda Connect navigation/infotainment is 7 inches from previous 5.8. And for the first time, a Mazda gets an electronic parking brake.

Otherwise the third-generation midsize sedan develops 184 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 185 pounds-feet of torque @ 3250 rpm. Transmission choices are a 6-speed auto or 6-speed manual. Mazda has kept the interior quite simple, especially rounded analog gauges for speedometer, tachometer and driver information center. The grip on the racing-inspired tilt/telescopic, three-spoke steering column is solid. Trunk capacity? A substantial 14.8 cubic feet of space. Standard amenities include power moon roof, eight-way power driver and four-way front passenger seats, push-button start, paddle shifters and dual auto climate control.

This catchy ride makes for an exciting trip to the neighborhood store or just to cruise down the highway. Its pleasing appearance and rewarding roadworthiness transform the 6 into a must buy!

MAZDA6 (GT)


REFRESHED HONDA ACCORD IS COMPOSED, SUPPLE

After a major makeover in 2013, the Honda Accord is back, once again refreshed though the power train remains unchanged.

Once again, the 3.5-liter V-6 engine cranks out 278 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 252 pounds-feet of torque @ 4900 rpm. Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system operates in three or four cylinder modes to save fuel. Standard is a seamless 6-speed automatic transmission.

The former steel hood has been replaced with lighter aluminum materials. The freshly styled front and rear fascias also result in lavish use of LEDs. Also new is a rear deck spoiler. Step inside the cabin to find fresh wood grain, carbon weave and glossy piano black accents. A 7-inch audio touchscreen features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HondaLink Assist and HD radio. Directly in front of the driver are large analog instruments for the tachometer, centered speedometer with a driver information center, and readings for fuel and coolant temp. A center console with two cup holders in front and an open storage bin under the dashboard is not just practical but also looks elegant and rich. The rear seat now splits 60/40. The 15.8 cubic feet trunk capacity makes long-distance travel quite relaxing.

Competition in the family sedan segment has always been intense. Priced affordably, the graceful and composed sedan is a wise choice for any potential buyer. This Accord shows off a degree of style and energetic performance found lacking in its competitors.

ACCORD (TOURING)


MITSUBISHI LANCER ADDS THRILL TO THE DRIVE!

That the Lancer is an exciting and energetic car to drive is an understatement. No wonder Mitsubishi has kept the 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine, which develops 168 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 167 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. Unlike in other competitor cars, the precise and easy-to-engage Continuous Variable Transmission works.

The front-wheel-drive sedan in the GT attracts attention, thanks to a heavily chrome-accented front grille flanked by halogen headlights and the mammoth rear wing spoiler. Also offered are a standard 7-inch touchscreen audio system, HD radio, rearview camera, upgraded seats and gloss black interior decoration panel.

Behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel, there are attention-grabbing chrome accents on HVAC (heating, ventilation, and a/c). The instrument cluster of rounded speedometer and tachometer gauges, surrounded by a driver information center, is easy to read. Cargo space is a decent 12.3 cubic feet. Auto a/c, terrific-feeling leather shifter, six-way adjustable driver and four-way manual passenger seats, 60/40 fold rear seat and paddle shifters are standard.

If you are looking for a sporty, nimble and stylish sedan with a good-sized cabin, we recommend testing out the Lancer at the local dealership. You won’t walk away disappointed.

LANCER GT


MAZDA CX-5: WHAT’S NEW FOR 2016?

Hardly in its third year and the 2016 Mazda CX-5 has been revamped. The exterior gets a bold-looking five-point grille surrounded by trapezoidal eagle-eyed halogen headlights, and fresh fog lamp surround. Tweaked is the MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension. Noticeably lowered are noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. Interior changes include a new electronic brake, upgraded center console, dash and armrest design, and a larger 7-inch screen (up from previous 5.8) for navigation, audio controls.

Under the hood, the compact crossover still retains the 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine putting out 184 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 185 pounds-feet of torque @ 3250 rpm while mated to a 6-speed auto gear box. And whether you choose the front-wheel or all-wheel drive, it is equipped with the direct-injection Skyactiv, which uses a torque boost via a high compression ratio to increase fuel economy.

The top-level Grand Touring gets standard dual-zone auto climate control, leather seats, power sun roof, push-button start, heated front seats, metallic-finish trim, eight-way driver’s seat and a Bose sound system. Head and legroom is adequate for adults and, best of all, is the 40/20/40 split rear seat, which folds flat via a lever release in the trunk. This opens up 64.8 cubic feet of space in the cargo hold or you can still eke out 34.1 cubic feet with occupied seats.

In only two years, the CX-5 has carved a slot in the competitive compact crossover segment. The 2016 overhaul makes the ride, which delivers substantial cargo/passenger room, sportiness and commendable fuel mileage, even more attractive.

MAZDA CX-5 GT (AWD)


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