A few months ago, Toyota flew us out to Santa Monica for the unveiling of the 2014 Toyota Corolla. It was the world reveal, but the cars were only for display, we couldn’t drive them yet. Until now..
Toyota hosted a media event last week in San Diego, where us journalists finally got some time behind the wheel of the all-new 2014 Corolla. And talk about the perfect setting, sunny San Diego, where the weather is perfect and the scenery is to die for.
They put me up at the Hotel Solamar, which is located in the Gaslamp Quarter. It’s a chic and svelte hotel located right smack in the middle of everything, with plenty of bars and restaurants around, not to mention a plethora of stores to do some shopping in. Toyota kicked things off with a fantastic dinner reception, where I got to meet fellow journalists who were also there for the Corolla event. Knowing that we had a full day of activities tomorrow, I decided to hit the sack early.
Waking up at 7am and getting downstairs to meet the shuttle who would be driving us to our initial location was exciting. Not only would I be getting my first glimpse of the newly redesigned 2014 Corolla, but I’d also be taking it out for a drive! After a short breakfast meeting with people from Toyota, we all headed outside and buddied up for a drive. My driving partner was also from New Jersey, what a coincidence!
The first car we got was a 2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco model. A base model; but super fuel efficient with their eco technology. From far away I thought the car was okay looking. As I walked closer to the car though, my excitement grew. They really did a nice job of redesigning the exterior, and the interior was an upgrade as well. The drive was really smooth. Gear changes were very subtle thanks to their new CVT transmission, and lane changes were very nimble. The transmission has a low gear which induces engine breaking for those steep downhill, and an S gear for those tight twisties you may encounter.
Since the Corolla is a fuel sipper, I wasn’t expecting massive power, but it did well when we merged the car onto the freeway and when we needed the extra push to get ahead of a car to change lanes. The interior is laid out for easy access to everything. The radio with its touchscreen is easily accessible, the climate control buttons were easy to use, and the clock is easily readable above the touchscreen with its piano black finish. The new Corolla was looking good.
Our first stop with the Corolla was at Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla. Seriously, this was where things were getting elevated, despite having to wait for almost two hour for the winds to pick up.
I’ve never tried paragliding before, so it was only natural that I felt a ting of fright when they told us we’d be jumping off a 300 feet cliff. Seriously?! Turns out though, your feet were already off the ground before you even reached the end of the cliff. Now, for those people looking for an adrenaline rush, sorry no dice. In reality, paragliding is actually very relaxing and peaceful, you’re just gliding around. As I was floating around, I was amazed at the scenery and the feeling of being weightless.
We were actually lucky enough to land back on top of the cliff instead of down at the beach where we would have had to hike up 660 steps with equipment on our backs. Speaking of equipment, the trunk of the Corolla was definitely suitable to carry paragliding equipment for two people. The Corolla is a champion of efficiency and does it well.
After our paragliding adventure, we drove to the famed Hotel Coronado, which was absolutely beautiful, and we had lunch on the beach. After lunch, we pick out up our next ride. This time, we got to drive the 2014 Corolla S. This car had everything the LE had, but with more power and a sports mode which made the car even more fun to drive and zip around in. Sport mode maked the car a little twitchy at times, but it still handled well. Everything was tightened up, and the throttle response was snappier. Gear shifts were also more noticeable when they went through their 7 gears. (CVTi-S)
We drove the Corolla S to our next destination, which was a heliport for a helicopter tour around San Deigo. Everything was serene and peaceful. Some of the houses out there were outrageous, and we passed by many landmarks. The water was clear, and we saw a bunch of sea life swimming around. After the tour, we drove our Corolla S back to our starting point earlier in the day and bid it a farewell.
On this adventure, I learned the Corolla wasn’t just a fuel efficient car. It was a car that had style and flare. It does what’s asked of it without a complaint and it does it well. On the roads, I see plenty of older Corollas still driving around. With the new generation Corolla, they’ll continue their legacy of reliability and longevity, but this time they’re adding a new look along with some other goodies. With a starting price of $16,800 and a full-loaded model coming in at around $22K, I can see why people love these cars.
The Corolla gives you quite a bit of bang for your buck!
Review: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is The Most Luxurious SUV You’ve Ever Seen
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.
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.
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?
2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Gets A New Dual-Snorkel Hood
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!
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.
Stay tuned, as we’ll have more details on the 2019 Hellcat this summer..