Monday, 28 November 2022
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If you’ve decided to purchase a new vehicle that will focus on thrills more than practicality, the compact luxury sports sedan category is good place to start — featuring strong competition from vehicles such as the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3-series, Audi A4, Genesis G70 and Cadillac CT4.

Another strong competitor in the segment, which I recently had the chance to explore the roads with, is the 2021 Lexus IS 300, a sharp-looking ride that returns in 2021 with some styling updates as well as improvements to the suspension.

Read on for a full assessment of how Lexus’ offering holds up and competes against a very tough bevy of competitors.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2021 Lexus IS 300
  • Price as tested $49,915; base price starts around $40K
  • Best feature Beautiful design, strong safety features
  • Rating 4 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle? Compact luxury sport sedan buyers looking for a vehicle that will turn heads and is fun to drive.  
Posted On Sunday, 14 November 2021 00:15 Written by
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For drivers seeking a luxury vehicle with a sporty personality, things can get pretty pricey. That’s why the entry-level options — compact sedans from the world’s leading luxury automakers — are often attractive for people looking to venture into this class of vehicles. 

Mercedes-Benz first launched its A-Class model back in the 2019 model year, and it’s been regularly ranked among top luxury sedans ever since. The 2021 model adds some new features, such as standard blind spot monitoring, and continues its tradition of providing a high-end design and strong performance.

Put all that together, and it’s an excellent way for folks working to enter the luxury class without breaking the bank on the larger and more high-end models.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2021 AMG A35. What's all the hype about? Read on to find out.

LOOKS

Let’s start on the interior, where the 2021 AMG A35 sedan offers a uniquely classy and aesthetically pleasing upscale design. Even the metallic air vents and steering wheel accents offer distinct Benz styling, and the AMG branding is present on the dash.

Interior highlights include ambient lighting, power front seats with lumbar support and memory, split-folding rear seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated front seats, keyless start and dual zone automatic climate control.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2021 AMG A35 sedan 
  • Price as tested $56,020 (starts around $46K)  
  • Best feature Pure driving experience    
  • Rating 4.5 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle? Sedan buyers who want a small and powerful performance-focused luxury ride 
Posted On Sunday, 17 October 2021 17:27 Written by
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Luxury automakers have embraced the plug-in hybrid at various levels, but one of the automakers going in full steam in this category is Volvo, which already offers a plethora of plug-in hybrids to the public and is eagerly moving toward an all-Electric Vehicle future.

One of the plug-in hybrids that is currently available from Volvo is the S90 Recharge, a large sedan that is pricey, yet fills the needs of any demanding luxury car customer. It embraces the future while maintaining the cushy and comfortable environment these buyers expect. I recently spent some time in an S90 Recharge, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

There are different ways to approach luxury design. Some automakers are more flashy, but others take a more nuanced approach.

Volvo falls in the second category. Unlike the massive, dominating grille on new Lexus models, for example, the Volvo has a classy and minimalist design on the front end of the S90. You still sense luxury, but it’s not slapping you in the face.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge
  • Price as tested $70,640 (starts at $60K)  
  • Best feature Classy design, safety leader, green credentials
  • Rating 4.5 out of five stars     
  • Who will want this vehicle? Luxury buyers seeking a classy, powerful, eco-friendly vehicle
Posted On Thursday, 14 October 2021 20:00 Written by
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Despite the seemingly unstoppable trend toward SUVs and other larger vehicles, the class of small but fun-to-drive cars still has its share of devotees.

One such contender in this niche category is the Mazda3, which comes in sedan and hatchback models.

This vehicle hasn’t had a full redesign since 2019, but the 2021 version does introduce some new engine options and make other slight refreshes.

I recently got a chance to test out the impressive 2021 Mazda3 Turbo Premium Plus hatchback model, and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up, and who might be a good fit for this vehicle.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2021 Mazda3
  • Price as tested $34,820 (starts at $21K) 
  • Best feature Powerful engine options, made for driving enthusiasts, near-luxury interior
  • Rating 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle? Car buyers looking for something small with power and pizzazz
Posted On Wednesday, 29 September 2021 23:11 Written by
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While smaller car options are slowly disappearing in this country, the midsize sedan is one segment that continues to maintain a level of popularity. And those who have remained in the battle are stepping up with new weapons in the battle for relevance in this segment.

For example, let’s talk about the 2021 Hyundai Sonata, one of the top competitors in the segment who is looking to grow its presence while battling heavy hitters like the Mazda6, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

After a redesign in 2020, the 2021 Sonata brings one major upgrade — the brand new N Line trim level offering more power, unique styling and better handling — along with other more subtle updates across the lineup.

I recently spent some time in a 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited model, and I’m back with a full report on how well it competes.

LOOKS

The exterior design on 2021 Sonata features a bold, muscular design that is distinct — including a wide and oversized grille, sharp headlight design, attractive wheels, and an attractive ellipse-shaped window design. It’s not a stretch to call this vehicle one of the best looking sedans available. The Sonata features 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting, and heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators.

In terms of practicality, you get a ton of trunk space. Travelers will be happy to hear that they can fit several large luggages comfortably in the massive boot area.

Moving inside the Sonata, you’ll find a surprisingly upscale design for the price range. My Limited model featured extremely comfortable leather seating, and tons of head and leg room all around. Nothing feels cheap. It almost feels like luxury-lite, and better than the interior setups you get from most sedan rivals.

The vehicle also features a panoramic sunroof, plus heated and ventilated front seats.

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HOW’S THE RIDE?

Several powertrain options are offered on the 2021 Hyundai Sonata.

My test vehicle featured the 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine, which offers 180 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.

There is also a non-turbo 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, with 191 horses and 181 lb.-ft.

Last but not least is the addition of a more powerful engine option on the N-Line trim level. The N Line features a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine boasting an impressive 290 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft., strong numbers for the segment. Opting for the N Line means you’ll get all the comforts of the standard Sonata, with a bold edge in terms of power, handling and design — including dual exhaust pipes, and sport front seats with red stitching.

There is also a hybrid version of the Sonata for those focused on fuel economy. All versions of the Sonata are Front-wheel drive (with no AWD options) — AWD is something you can get on most rivals, so this is an area where it’s lacking.

The Sonata features an automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and its Drive Mode Select lets you choose between Custom, Sport, Normal and Smart modes.

While the numbers on the Sonata power plants are not overly impressive outside of the N Line, the Sonata Limited that I tested was still quite impressive in terms of overall drive quality, especially in Sport mode.

Zero to 60 times are not fantastic in the 1.6 turbo engine, approaching 8 seconds, but the N-Line numbers are closer to 5 seconds.

In my experience driving the vehicle, the Sonata’s handling, braking and responsiveness to driver input was more than adequate, making it a worthy competitor to its main rivals. Include the N Line option in the discussion, and the Sonata has much of its competition beat.

There is a unique shifting system that saves space in the center (with push buttons for  P-R-N-D instead of a shifter). And the Sonata offers a quiet and smooth ride with limited noise intrusion.

Also, it’s worth noting that the Sonata’s electronic parking brake won’t release and allow the vehicle to move until you fasten your seat belt.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY 

From the moment you step into the 2021 Sonata, you’ll be impressed with the technology setup. The vehicle features a well-designed and easy-to-use center screen and infotainment system.

The 10.25-inch touchscreen can show three different informational segments at once — such as Navigation, radio and weather. The Navigation system was very accurate in my experience, getting me where I needed to be expeditiously.

My test vehicle also featured a booming sound system — specifically a Bose Premium Audio 12-speaker setup including a 9-inch subwoofer. From deep bass to the highest notes, everything was crystal clear and sounded great at all volume levels.

Also available is wireless phone charging, conveniently located up front.

Voice commands in the Sonata (for radio, phone and navigation) worked well for me, working on my first attempts nearly every time, and the simple commands are easy to master. 

Other tech features in the Sonata included a 12.3-inch color LCD cluster with custom settings on the dashboard, offering lots of great info about the car.  It features AM, FM and HD radio;  USB and auxiliary input jacks; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration; and a 90-day trial of satellite radio. 

BlueLink Connected Services are also complimentary for 3 years — with features including Automatic Collision Notification and SOS Emergency Assistance, teen driving monitors such as Curfew Alert and Speed Alert, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, and maintenance reminders. 

The Sonata comes with excellent safety ratings, nearly perfect in fact, especially important for families looking for a safe vehicle. It features Smart Cruise control, with stop/start capability, and has a ton of standard tech features.

Among the safety features on the 2021 Sonata are:
— Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist
— Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist
— Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, with Pedestrian Detection
— Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear
— Surround View Monitor with Front and Rear Parking Sensors
— Safe Exit Warning

Smart Park is an advanced feature that is standard on the Limited trim, and allows the Sonata to pull itself into a parking spot, and pull out of the parking spot, in some circumstances. It’s not a feature you’ll need every time you go out, but it’s one of those touches that makes the Sonata stand out, and a sign of what the future holds.


MPG

The official fuel mileage numbers on the 2021 Hyundai Sonata come in at 27 city/37 highway/30 combined. I averaged around 27 mpg … right on target, as most of my driving was in the city.

While fuel efficient, these numbers were slightly less impressive than some of the competition, but the differences were minor and not enough to be a deciding factor against the Sonata. 

The hybrid variation of the Sonata gets 45 city/51 highway/47 average … which are very impressive numbers. If you are in the market for a hybrid, the Sonata hybrid should definitely be on your list of vehicles to test.
 

PRICE

The 2021 Sonata is available in multiple trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and the new N Line performance option. There is also the Sonata hybrid option.

My test vehicle, a Sonata Limited model, was one of the more high-end offerings and was priced at $35,000, but the Sonata base price starts around $24K if you want to skip some of the bells and whistles and save. The N Line starts around $33K.

Most of the key competitors in this midsize sedan segment start around this same price, so it’s really a matter of looking at what features are included with the Sonata vs. the competition at various trim levels. Head-to-head, the Sonata comes out quite well in these comparisons, making it a strong value in the segment.

To sweeten the deal and give you peace of mind regarding repair costs, Hyundai continues to have some the best warranties in the business, including:

— 5-year, 60K new vehicle warranty
— 10-year, 100K powertrain warranty
— 3-year, 36K complimentary maintenance
— 5-year, unlimited mile roadside assistance

BOTTOM LINE

With a state-of-the-art technology setup, strong safety features, and a spacious and upscale interior, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata finds itself firmly in the discussion of best midsize sedans available today.

The addition of the N Line offering can only help the Sonata grow its following, by attracting buyers who are looking for a more powerful and sporty sedan.

 

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found
on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.



Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2021 Hyundai Sonata    
  • Price as tested $35,000 (starts around $24K)   
  • Best feature Strong safety and tech offerings, roomy and upscale interior
  • Rating 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle? Sedan shoppers who want a tech-savvy, modern and upscale vehicle at a reasonable price 
Posted On Monday, 06 September 2021 22:08 Written by
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