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Review: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid



2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid – A first look at VW's step away from Diesel

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid – A first look at VW’s step away from Diesel

Where the TDI offerings in the Jetta, Passat and others are an excellent choice for those who do a lot of highway driving, the new hybrid option showcased in the 2013 Jetta Hybrid is perfect for the commuter who still wants that beautiful German feel on the road.

Normally, when we think Volkswagen efficiency, we think diesel. Few vehicles are better than the TDI offerings from VW and sister company Audi. They’re among the most beautiful meldings of German road engineering with high efficiency. Given the chance to try the new VW Jetta Hybrid, we weren’t sure what to expect. But once in the car, we found that it’s all German drive all the time.

It’s fitting that Volkswagen begins its serious hybrid offerings in this car, since the Jetta is the company’s best-selling small sedan. Whatever rendition of the Jetta you choose – diesel, gasoline, or this hybrid – you’ll find it to be a great drive. This sixth-generation of the car sees some improvements to appeal to today’s more demanding and connected driver.

Inside The 2013 Jetta Hybrid
The interior of the Jetta is roomy, though more cramped than the new Ford C-Max it competes with. It is better than the rest, however, being much more comfortable than the smaller hybrids (and sedans) in this class such as the Honda Civic and the Toyota Prius.

The Jetta seats five, four of which will be comfortable with the center rear seat being the usual in this group of cars: barely fit for the kids, let alone adults. Still, there is plenty of room and the trunk sports ample space.

The interior fittings are good and nicely done, though not anything we’d call “luxurious.” For the people who purchase this type of car, though, it’s mostly about the seats and the stereo anyway. The buckets are what you’d expect from VW: comfortable, but not cushy. In the higher-end accoutrement, they become much more comfortable thanks to the added lumbar and other controls.

The infotainment center in the console is one of the highlights of the Jetta Hybrid’s interior. It not only allows control of the display – including the addition of driving efficiency data – but is also relatively well-connected with smart phones, even in its base option. At the high end, the Fender Audio system is hard to beat and is one of the best-sounding systems on the market.

Under The Jetta’s Hood
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid has a small 1.4-liter, four-cylinder TSI gasoline engine at its base with an added 27 horsepower electric motor for the hybrid addition. The 1.4L is the latest in VW’s EA211 small engine series, replacing the outgoing EA111 generation. It’s fully aluminum in construction, uses variable intake timing, and has a shorter stroke and wider bore to improve efficiency with higher torque outputs. If it were powering the car all by itself, this would be great, but adding on the electric motor in parallel to the engine.

The motor has its own electronic clutch which allows it to be disconnected from the drive train when it’s not in use or will just be a drag (such as at high speeds when the gasoline engine does all the work). This clutch also allows the opposite, for the engine to be disconnected to act only as a generator for battery power or to be shut off completely. This also allows the motor to act as a regenerative brake to restore power to the batteries during slowing or stopping without adding in engine drag.

The battery pack sits above the rear axle, adding weight in the rear to balance the forward weight of the engine. This 60-cell, 220 Volt pack is rated at 1.1 kilowatt hours giving the car about two miles of all-electric range at city speeds (sub 35 mph).

Driving The VW Jetta Hybrid
While our time in the Jetta was short, it was breathtaking. True to the Volkswagen name, this hybrid is a joy to drive. It does 0-60 mph in about 8.6 seconds which may not be sports-car fast, but it’s faster than just about everything in this segment.

The balanced weight and legendary VW chassis (remember: these people also make Porsche) mean that the Jetta handles beautifully in every driving situation. Even better than that, the VW Jetta Hybrid gets 45 mpg all the time – city, highway, combined. Except when punching it to prove its speed capabilities, we easily achieved that throughout our short drive both on city streets, in traffic, and on the highway.

The only real downer to the VW Jetta Hybrid is its relatively boring style. It sits in a segment that isn’t generally well-known for great looks, though, and is better-looking than many offerings. If you’re in need of high efficiency in a small family commuter car and don’t want to sacrifice the fun of driving to get it, the Jetta Hybrid is a great option.

Aaron Turpen is a freelance automotive journalist and writer living in Wyoming, USA. You can find him at and


Review: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T



2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

In general, the midsize sedan world is about as sexy as a Billy Bass with Alexa’s voice. Where supercars with curvy looks get all the credit for automotive sexiness, though, midsize sedans actually do the work of being realistic. The good news is that being pragmatic and going for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata doesn’t mean you have to settle for frumpiness, as this is a really sleek-looking sedan.

For the 2018 model year, Hyundai didn’t do much to change the already well-done Sonata. A few tweaks to the interior design, some added suave to the exterior, and a lot of extra safety features make up most of the changes for this model year. The 2018 Sonata is otherwise the top-shelf sedan it’s been for some time.

From the outside, curb appeal is eyebrow-lifting with the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. The signature Hyundai diamond-shaped grille is flanked by a curved, beautifully sculpted hood and long, narrow LED headlights. Tapered fenders and a sporty lower intake and aero baffle are set off by large intake/fog lamp bezels. The bodywork on the Sonata features a strong upper beltline groove and edge, a well-defined and curved running board cut below, and an aggressively sporty roofline and fastback rear end. Noticeably on this new Sonata, the deck lid has an integrated spoiler replacing the add-on aero from before.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

The rear wheels of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata are pushed to the corners’ edge while the front wheels feature some overhang ahead that promises smooth handling. Ground clearance is a sporty straight line that matches the beltline above.

This is a great look for the 2018 Sonata and it’s really set apart in the crowded midsize market. Once inside the Sonata, we found, the exterior’s beauty continues with intelligent and well-done interior design.

A new three-spoke steering wheel is fitted to the Sonata to emphasize a driver-centric feel for the cabin. The dashboard and center console have been reworked to make them less bulky and more modern. Seating is very comfortable with a lot of creature comforts available to add to that. The rear bench can seat three across and has excellent outboard positions with plenty of head and legroom despite the sloped roofline and smaller appearance of the rear doors.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

Many of the additions to the 2018 Hyundai Sonata are in the technologies found behind the beautiful design work. Updated suspension and handling mean better ride quality and more engagement at the wheel. Technologies now standard in the Sonata include advanced options like blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change assist.

The Sonata has a host of trim level options (seven in all). Three four-cylinder engines can be chosen from, each with either a six-, seven-, or eight-speed automatic transmission on offer. That’s a lot to choose from, sure, but it means that the Sonata can be tailored to meet needs without sacrificing looks and comfort.

The base model is the SE, followed by the SEL, the Sport, and the Limited. These four models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 184 horsepower to a six-speed automatic transmission. A much more interesting turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder (245 hp) and an eight-speed automatic transmission are found on the Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T trims. Finally, the Eco trim has its own 1.6-liter turbocharged four that outputs 178 horses into a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited - Interior

Prices vary based on which trim level you choose, of course, but the base model’s price tag is lower than all but one of its competitors in the segment, and the Sonata comes with more standard equipment than almost all of the others. The Eco model is only $600 more than that, upgrading just the powertrain to improve fuel economy.

We drove the Limited 2.0T trim and would highly recommend the turbocharged two liter for its peppy drive quality, fast responses to the throttle, and smooth-shifting transmission. This combination brings a whole ‘nother level of sexiness to the 2018 Sonata and is well worth the extra money spent.

It is possible to have everything in one package and the 2018 Hyundai Sonata certainly does a good job of offering just about the whole shebang in one car.

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The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is The Most Luxurious SUV You’ve Ever Seen



Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV

After years of anticipation, Rolls-Royce finally took the wraps off its ultra-luxury SUV today in London, revealing to the world the Rolls-Royce Cullinan in all of its glory.

Now as you might imagine, the notion of a Rolls-Royce SUV caused quite a stir among purists, who believed that the world’s leading super-luxury brand should stick with cars. But according to Rolls-Royce, their customers were asking for a car that would allow them to “go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be.”

With the super-luxury lifestyle evolving, so did Rolls-Royce, leading to the development of a vehicle that offers uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture. Cullinan is that car.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan, named for a diamond that’s part of the British crown jewels, follows in the footsteps of the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, offering up an ultra-luxe SUV that can satisfy the adventurous urges of their clients.

Under the hood, there’s a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that delivers 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque to an all-new, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system. This engine has been reworked to make the Cullinan comfortable even while it’s off-roading.

A “Magic Carpet Ride” air suspension system keeps things civilized in the cabin when you’re off the beaten path, because you wouldn’t want a passenger to spill their glass of champagne.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV interior

Naturally, being a Rolls-Royce, the interior is bespoke and fit for a king, with only the finest leathers and appointments. But perhaps the most interesting feature is the pair of jump seats that come out of the trunk, presumably so you can sit while falconing in the desert.

The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is expected to go on sale late this year, with a starting price of around $325,000. Of course, one you start adding bespoke features and customization options, that price could go north of half a million in a hurry.

What do you think of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan?

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2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Gets A New Dual-Snorkel Hood



2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat teaser

While the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon turned out to only be a one-year affair, the less powerful Hellcat model isn’t going anywhere just yet, with Dodge releasing a couple of teaser photos showing off the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat’s new dual-snorkel hood, which “pays homage to the distinctive Mopar design themes from some of its most famous muscle cars.”

The Challenger Hellcat has always had a mean look about it, but the new fully functional hood harkens back to the 1960s and ’70s, with a modern interpretation that looks even more sinister and provides maximum air intake to the supercharged powerplant. If you’re driving along and see this reflection in your rear-view mirror, you’re going to want to get out of the way!

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat teaser

Dodge’s press release was sparse on details, but the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat is rumored to have an optional Drag Pack, which would increase horsepower from 707 to 725HP. The Drag Pack is also rumored to get some other goodies from the SRT Demon, including Nitto tires, a torque reserve function, and a TransBrake, which should really pay off at the drag strip.

The teaser photos above show fender flares, too, but it’s unclear if the Hellcat Widebody will continue on as a separate model, or if the widebody option will become standard. I’m hoping it’s the latter, as long as it doesn’t result in a huge increase in price.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Stay tuned, as we’ll have more details on the 2019 Hellcat this summer..

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