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By NITISH S. RELE – [email protected]

2019 Cadillac CTS-V This super sedan is all about power, oodles of it, and luxury that only a Cadillac can offer. For 2019, the CTS-V stays mostly as is with a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine blasting off 640 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 630 pounds-feet of torque at 3600 rpm. The rear-wheel-drive car, which can take off from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds with top speed of 200 mph, is coupled to an 8-speed auto gearbox with magnesium paddle shifters. Magnetic Ride Control adjusts the four-wheel independent suspension as per road conditions, resulting in a smooth but firm ride. It also keeps body roll to a minimum. You can select tour, sport, track and snow/ice drive modes.

As expected of any Cadillac, the CTS-V boasts an upscale and luxurious interior with exceptional fit and finish, gloss levels and materials. An 8-inch touchscreen in the center stack includes capactive controls, haptic feedback, gestures and voice recognition (yes, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available). Then there’s the 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster and you have an infotainment system that should be the envy of the competition. The driver and passengers are coddled by supple leather bucket seats with suede inserts. To accommodate drivers of all heights, Cadillac has equipped the CTS-V with a power tilt/telescopic three-spoke steering wheel. Standard goodies include head-up display, sport alloy pedals, 20-way power and heated/cooled front seats, dual auto a/c, wireless charging, hands-on CUE (Cadillac User Experience) and a suede headliner.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, blind spot monitor, lane departure warning/alert, rear/curb view camera, remote start, active front head restraints, forward warning and front/rear park assist and obstacle detection, stability and traction control, extreme limited slip differential, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

The striking and nimble super sedan is quick off the mark, responding to any driving conditions with confidence and poise. The CTS-V is a ride you would enjoy owning as long as you have $86,995 (base price) and ample change in your bank account!



2018 VW Golf GTIMany may recall that the VW Golf won the 2015 North American Car of the Year. Indeed, along with its counterpart GTI, which we recently test drove, the Golf has set fresh benchmarks in innovation, design, value and available driver assistance features (examples: adaptive cruise control, front assist, blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert).

The GTI is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder engine generating 220 horsepower (up by 10 hp) @ 4700 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque @ 1500 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox though a 6-speed manual also is available. You are assured that the lively and stylish Golf will get up to speed with urgency, and slow down as quickly and with self-assurance.

The seventh-generation hatchback shows off a steeply sloped hood that meets up with a narrow but bright-red horizontal grille strip, flanked by halogen headlights. Cabin passenger volume is respectable at 93.5 cubic feet of space. Trunk space is 22.8 cubic feet and fold down the rear seat to get 52.7 cubic feet. Occupants will find the new 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system user friendly. Other standard goodies are single-zone manual a/c, 6-way power front seats, front center console with cup holders, armrest and storage, cruise control, 60/40 rear seat, and a flat-bottomed/leather-wrapped tilt/telescopic steering wheel, shifter and brake handle.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and hydraulic brake assist, stability control, hill hold control, rearview camera, three-point safety belts for all, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system come at no extra cost.

Base-priced at $27,515, the Golf S is a lot of compact car for the money. The peppy and supple ride eked out an impressive average of 36.2 mpg in city/highway driving. Besides, the potential buyer is promised sufficient power and abundant space. More honors are in order for this remarkably competent hatch!



MUSTANG (GT PREMIUM)53 years and still going strong. That’s the Mustang for you. But Ford engineers won’t rest on their laurels despite the iconic car’s history, fine-tuning the 2018 version even more … for the better, of course.

Under the hood of the classic American muscle car sits a 5.0-liter V-8 engine cranking out 460 horsepower (up 25 from its predecessor) @ 7000 rpm and 420 pounds-feet of torque (increase of 20) @ 4600 rpm. The upgraded 6-speed manual delivers flawless shifts or you can settle for a 10-speed auto gear box. Guiding the sprightly rear-wheel-drive car is an electric power-assist steering while suspension is handled up front by a double-ball joint MacPherson strut and an integral-link with coil springs in the rear.

Ensconced on the unitized welded steel body are horizontal LED headlights and signal lamps flanking a familiar pony emblem in the lowered mesh grille. The hood has been narrowed for a sleeker front fascia. Revised LED tail lamps, new bumper and standard quad tip dual exhaust take up the rear. Of course, our favorite is the cool-looking three-LED bar rear sequential blinking signal. Step inside the cabin and you have several drives modes to select: normal, my mode, S +, track, snow/wet and drag strip! The 12-inch LED digital instrument cluster, with rounded speedometer and tachometer gauges along with driver information center, is easy to read. Other niceties include dual-zone auto a/c, leather seats, 60/40 rear seat, three-spoke tilt/telescopic steering column, SYNC3 with 8-inch touch screen, push-button start and ambient lights.

Safety is assured via dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, four-wheel antilock brakes, hill start assist, remote start, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

More than five decades later, there is just no stopping this pony, which continues to meet the needs and demands of a loyal following. Except for a crunched rear seat and a somewhat snug trunk, the Mustang is sprightly and exciting to drive, with a practical feel to the cabin. And at an unbeatable price.


Tires: 255/40R19

Wheelbase: 107.1 inches 

Length: 188.5 inches 

Weight: 3,743 pounds 

Fuel capacity: 16 gallons 

City: 15 mpg

Highway: 25 mpg

Base price: $39,095


2019 GMC TerrainIntroduced eight years ago, the GMC Terrain has stood the test of time despite fierce competition in the compact SUV segment. Available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the hands-on and robust Terrain is a fine blend of performance and style.

Sharing power trains with the Chevrolet Equinox, the base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder boasting 252 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 260 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. And that is ample for this 3,801-pound vehicle to tackle peak-hour traffic or cruise the highway. Power routed through the seamless 9-speed auto gear box delivers ample performance. Tow capacity is a noteworthy 3,500 pounds.

C-shaped LED headlights border a massive satin-chrome grille hosting the centered GMC emblem. Of course, it’s in the passenger/cargo department that the Terrain Denali (a truly luxury trim) shines. Ours came in light platinum/taupe perforated leather seats with 8-way power for driver and 6-way for front passenger. The second-row seat no longer slides fore and aft but instead folds flat to open up for stowing longer items. Cubicles and bins are well placed throughout but if you fancy a mobile office of sorts, the front center console can swallow a laptop. Other standard comforts include dual-zone auto a/c, aluminum sill plates, 8-inch touch screen for nav, audio and phone controls, 4.2-inch driver information center, and 110-volt power outlet, four data/charging and two charge-only USB ports.

Standard safety features are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag with rollover protection, rearview camera, stability and traction control, rear cross traffic alert and park assist, lane change with side blind zone alert, remote keyless entry and start, hill descent control, three-point safety belts for all, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system.

You will be hard-pressed to find a small SUV with a sundry of tempting options and upgrades. Enjoy and explore the ‘Terrain’ in this easy-to-drive, practical and versatile vehicle with an attractive cabin.



2019 HYUNDAI SANTA FEJust so there is no confusion, the Santa Fe Sport model is out. From 2019 onward, all you have is a two-row, five-passenger Santa Fe offered in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. And it will be a while before the three-row Santa Fe XL hits the market.

Available in five trims, the popular and much-touted midsize crossover from Hyundai will come in two power trims: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 184 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 178 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm; or the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder cranking out 235 hp @ 6000 rpm and 260 pounds-feet of torque @ 3500 rpm. However, the turbo engine can be found only in the top two trims: Limited and Ultimate. The previous lackluster 6-speed auto gearbox has been replaced with a more competent and fuel-efficient 8-speed. Suspension has been improved though the SUV retains a front MacPherson strut and a rear multilink system.

The 2019 Santa Fe is not just longer than 3 inches from its predecessor, but also wider and higher too. It gets 67 percent advanced high-strength steel and 45 percent more structural adhesive. Sound-absorbing materials have been boosted too for a quieter ride. The completely redesigned SUV shows off a signature cascading Hyundai grille with chrome elements. Stacked headlights, functional air curtain, bulged fender flares and a rugged lower fascia are other apparent changes on the exterior.

The Santa Fe comes standard with Hyundai SmartSense, which includes blind-spot, forward-collision avoidance, safe exit and lane keep assists; smart cruise control; and of course 10 air bags. Also offered are comfort, smart and sport drive modes, 8-way power driver seat, 8-inch LCD touch screen for nav, phone and audio, Bluetooth phone capabilities, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, heads-up display, cooled/heated front seats, 60/40 rear seat, panoramic sun roof, 6-speaker sound system, surround-view monitor, tilt/telescopic steering column, manual or dual auto a/c, and many more amenities depending on the trim you pick.

Base-priced at $25,500 and peaking at $35,450, the overhauled 2019 Santa Fe is a heck of a deal. Both the power trains result in a responsive ride, which boasts bold styling and an inviting cabin. And Hyundai’s five-year, 60,000-mile basic, and 10-year, 100,000-mile power train warranties should convince you to sign on the dotted line.



2018  Audi A4It’s sporty, stylish and luxurious. To top it all, the 2018 A4 also comes with a standard quattro all-wheel drive. One cannot ask for a better ride in the small luxury sedan segment than this Audi.

The A4 comes with a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine developing 252 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 273 pounds-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. It can scoot from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 5.7 seconds with top speed electronically limited at 130 mph. The sedan is mated to an outstanding 7-speed S tiptronic dual-clutch auto transmission. A five-link front and rear independent steel spring suspension ensures stability and handling, especially around sharp turns and tight corners. And an electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering system conveys a razor-sharp, on-center feel to the driver.

That the A4 is an aggressively styled sedan is apparent by one glance at its single-frame front grille, enclosed by distinctly-horizontal xenon headlights. The well-crafted and intelligently-designed cabin is awash in niceties such as tri-zone auto a/c, three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, 8-way power heated front seats, aluminum inlays on instrument cluster and a/c gauges, start/stop system, 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat, power sun roof, ambient LED lights and a 5-inch driver information center.

In the event of a possible collision, Audi pre sense basic detects an emergency maneuver and prepares the vehicle and its occupants. Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, stability and traction control, front three-point safety belts, front/rear limited-slip differential, four-wheel antilock brakes, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

Undoubtedly, the small luxury sedan is a fun ride. Plus, it’s got the looks, exterior and interior, that should appeal to any potential luxury performance sedan buyer. We expect this Audi to continue to give the competition (Mercedes and BMW, are you listening?) sleepless nights!

A4 (2.0T)

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