By James Hurst
The automotive industry is facing some exciting trends and challenges in this new year. The rapid pace of change in the technology world is having a direct impact on how cars are made and driven. From “heads-up” assistive-driving technologies, infotainment, and Wi-Fi connectivity to driverless cars, big changes are on the horizon that will soon be reaching local dealerships.
Technologies such as driverless cars are getting closer to the mass-production stage for most, if not all, automakers. From the Uber concept to rent-a-car companies like Zipcar, ride-sharing services have opened up many new choices for the consumer. Cities like Houston face legal issues never previously imagined as the automotive world changes before our eyes. For 2017, here are a few cars that are changing our concept of what automobiles can do today.
Audi A5 Cabriolet
While the 2016 Audi A5 Coupe and Cabriolet have carried over to the 2017 model year, the really exciting news is the entirely new family of A5 models that will debut for the 2018 model year. That being said, the 2017 Audi A5 lineup is one of Audi’s sexiest, best-conceived and -designed luxury coupes. The elegant A5 Cabriolet is a striking automobile, both inside and out. Audi provides a high level of fit, luxury, and trim choices ranging from stainless steel and wood to carbon fiber. The A5 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder producing 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The Cabriolet is offered with an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard quattro all-wheel drive.
The well-designed Cabriolet convertible top can be lowered in seconds to experience the open road at its best. Audi offers a lengthy list of safety features, including active pop-up bars in case of a rollover. The A5 Cabriolet is a beautiful car that offers 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. You won’t be disappointed.
Lincoln introduces the all-new Continental for 2017. This large luxury sedan has been designed to compete with other large sedans such as Mercedes Benz, Audi, and Cadillac. It is offered in the base trim with front-wheel drive known as the Premier, followed by the Select, and finally the Reserve. The Continental offers a choice of three V-6 engines ranging from the 300 horsepower to the potent 400-horsepower 3.0-liter twin turbo mated to a 6-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. Lincoln Continental has done their homework and produced a car dominated by a large grille that leads your eyes back through flowing lines and sculpted proportions. The 117.9-inch wheelbase makes the Continental a large luxury sedan.
Range Rover Evoque Convertible
The 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible is a 4-passenger, 4-wheel drive, 2-door convertible. It belongs to a rather small niche of automobiles known as the convertible crossover. Its unique styling makes for a very attractive automobile. The Evoque is powered by a 240-horsepower 4-cylinder engine mated to a 9-speed transmission. Due to the added weight of the ragtop, the Evoque Convertible weighs over 4,500 pounds, which has an adverse effect on acceleration. Nevertheless, the convertible option offers an exciting perspective and fun in this unique 4-wheel drive. Land Rover reports the Evoque will get 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Cadillac XT5 Crossover
For 2017, Cadillac has replaced the SRX with the new XT5. According to U.S. News & World Report, the XT5 is ranked 13 out of 20 in the luxury midsize SUV category. This newer Cadillac can be described as a quality crossover SUV with seating for five, good cargo capacity, and all-wheel drive. There are a variety of driver-assistance options as well. The XT5 is offered in a base trim starting at $39,395, followed by various trim packages known as Luxury, Premium Luxury, and ultimately the Platinum package for $62,895. The XT5 is powered by a V-6 engine generating 310 horsepower and mated to an 8-speed transmission. Engine stop-start is a standard feature, along with cylinder deactivation when the V6’s full power is not required. All together, this offers an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
For 2017, Mini introduces the bigger Countryman. The latest version is based on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the BMW X1. At 169.8 inches long, 71.7 inches wide, and 61.3 inches tall, the Countryman is the largest model in the Mini lineup. The new Countryman will launch in the Cooper and Cooper S models along with a front-wheel drive or ALL4 all-wheel drive system. There is an available plug-in-hybrid which will debut in June 2017. Power for the Countryman comes from the 134-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder in the Cooper or the 189 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the Cooper S. Both are mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes an oversize sunroof, keyless entry, backup camera, LED daytime running lights and a variety of other amenities to enhance your driving experience. Look for the 2017 Countryman in dealerships this month.
The Clubman is the largest car currently sold by BMW’s Mini brand. This mid-size automobile has seating for five, plenty of cargo space, elegant materials, and precision engineering. The Clubman is offered in three trim levels, beginning with the base model (from $24,100), the S model (from $27,650), and finally the John Cooper Works “performance” trim for $35,100. It is now available in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations. Clubman models now offer two engine choices, beginning with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder rated at 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque for the base Clubman model.
The Clubman S and Clubman ALL4 are offered with a 2.0 liter turbo-four with 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Both power trains come standard with a 6-speed transmission, while an 8-speed automatic is an option.
According to Car and Driver magazine, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is a 10Best Winner. It has also been named Motor Trend’s 2017 Car of the Year. This battery-electric hatchback delivers more than 200 miles of driving range per charge. The Bolt EV has a floor-mounted battery which powers a 200-horsepower electric motor delivering 266 pound-feet of torque and 60 m.p.h. in 6.5 seconds. The Bolt EV’s basic model is the LT, and the upgrade is known as the Premier. The latter’s trim level includes forward-collision alert, low-speed front automatic braking, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, and Intellibeam. This very attractive sculpted automobile has a base price of $37,495 (before federal tax credits of up to $7,500).
The Subaru Impreza has been redesigned from the ground up for 2017. It is offered as either a sedan or a versatile 5-door hatchback. The global platform is now safer and more rigid through the use of high-strength steel. The Impreza is offered in three trim levels beginning with the 2.0i Premium, the 2.0i Sport, and the 2.0i Limited. All Imprezas come with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, offering more stability, fuel efficiency, and a quicker response to hazardous road conditions. The 2.0-liter Flat-4-Boxer engine delivers 153 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque mated to either a five-speed transmission or a continuously variable transmission. Mileage figures are estimated at 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Base price for the 2017 Subaru Impreza is $18,395.
The updated 2017 Nissan Rogue is described as a five-seven passenger compact crossover SUV, depending on the model selected. For 2017, the Rogue features a revised front fascia, chrome accents, and edgy headlights. It is available in three trim levels known as S, SV, and SL. The Rogue is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a continuously variable transmission that sends power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is an available option, as is the Rogue’s first-ever hybrid engine. The 2017 Rogue Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter inline-four with 141 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque and an electric motor rated at 40 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. The Rogue continues to improve with a host of advanced safety features, lots of cargo space, and various options. Mileage is estimated to be 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The base price is at $23,820.