2014 BMW 2 Series
While large BMW’s undoubtedly have a lot to offer, it’s always been the small ones that we’ve like best. Well one of our favorites, the 1 Series coupe is no more. But take heart, that doesn’t mean it’s gone. It’s just wearing a new name, and with it, a whole new attitude!
By now you should be up to speed on BMW’s naming strategy of even number series for coupes and odds for sedans. Well, the latest to fall in line is the 2014 BMW 2 Series, of which this M235i is the current top rung.
But don’t let the “M” name fool you, it’s not a full on M car, but an M “Performance” model. Sort of a tweener if you will, between garden-variety Bimmers and full on M monsters. Basically, more performance, without any compromise in comfort. It makes for a fun factor that’s hard to top in value.
While the 2 replaces the 1 Series Coupe in the lineup, it’s more than a name change. The 2 has gotten bigger, though thankfully not by too much. Every dimension is increased; with overall length up most; 2.8-inches to 174.5. To further distinguish itself, styling is a bit more dramatic; though still fairly conservative; with just enough Teutonic cool to attract more ironic hipsters and young professionals.
Power in our M235i is from a familiar 3.0-liter BMW turbo I6. We’ve lost count of how many BMW’s we’ve driven with this engine and we still love it. It has gotten some M Performance specific tweaks here that raise horsepower to 320 and torque to 330 lb-ft. The base 228i comes with a still competent 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4.
An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, as in our test car, is standard; and we found nothing to complain about as shifts are quick in auto mode and response very good when in manual mode. You can still opt for a 6-speed manual, as well.
But, enough sitting still. It’s off to our test track, where the M235i promptly moved off the line with what feels like the perfect amount of power, launching to 60 in an entertaining 5.2-seconds. There’s very little drop off in power as the trans quickly works its way through the gears and to the end of the ¼-mile in 14.0-seconds at 102 miles-per-hour.
A mostly aluminum structure for a typical BMW 50/50 weight balance allows you to push through the corners with minimal loss of speed, and great grip, as well. Suspension design is a double-pivot spring strut arrangement up front and a 5-link in the rear. Adaptive M suspension and electronically controlled shock absorbers are standard on the M235i, with an optional mechanical limited slip rear differential.
Steering feels great both at the wheel and through the chassis. The M235i has the most steering feedback of any BMW we’ve driven in a long time. Brakes, however, not so much. Feedback here is middle of the road with a softish pedal. Still, stops were quick; 115 feet from 60 with excellent stability.
Inside we found a very familiar BMW layout with high quality materials and well done controls throughout the driver-focused space. Yes, that comment even includes iDrive. Front sport seats provide good comfort and support with moderate bolstering. Rear seats however, much less so with merely a suggestion of legroom. Trunk space is actually fairly good for a sporting coupe at 13.8 cubic-ft.; aided by folding seatbacks for more cartage room when needed.
A Driving Experience Control is standard with settings for Comfort, Sport, Sport +, and Eco Pro. Playing with the different modes alters the driving experience noticeably, but Sport or Sport + is where it’s at for us.
But, if this is your first BMW, you might find the ride in those settings quite stiff. Comfort mode helps somewhat, or you can just do your best to avoid broken pavement. No matter which mode you’re in, the exhaust note is great, growling without being obnoxious.
For a small car, it has an overall very solid, almost heavy feel. Not in a bad way; it just feels more substantial and competent than light and toss able.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our automatic come in at 22-City, 32-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a fine 25.2 miles-per-gallon in a mildly executed loop of driving. The Energy Impact Score is 13.2-barrels of oil used and 5.8-tons of CO2 emitted annually.
At the risk of going all fanboy, we’ll say that the M235i is just about a perfect package. But perfection never comes cheap with a base price of $44,025. The base, and still very competent, 228i is much more accessible at $33,025.
The 2014 BMW M235i is truly one excellent car. No other premium subcompact coupe comes close. It drives like passionate BMW fans think every BMW should. So, if you’re in the position to leave the family behind, it’s an incredibly fun ride. Proof that sometimes numbers can work in your favor.
- Engine: 3.0-liter
- Horsepower: 320
- Torque: 330 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 14.0 seconds @ 102 mph
- EPA: 22 mpg city/ 32 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.8 tons/yr
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
Crossed Up Corolla Gets More Efficient
Toyota offers a hybrid powertrain in just about everything they make, so it did seem odd that last year, when they debuted an all-new SUV version of their long-time best-selling Corolla, a hybrid was nowhere to be found. Well, it didn’t take long for Toyota to correct that situation, delivering this Corolla Cross Hybrid for 2023.
With prices for everything seemingly going up daily, we can all use a little more cost efficiency in our lives. That’s a mission that Toyota has been undertaking for some time now and continues to do it with this 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The Alabama-built Corolla Cross arrived just last year as Toyota’s attempt to bring their best-selling nameplate into the SUV era, and give them an additional entry into the most popular automotive segment going right now, small crossovers.
There are some RAV4 styling cues here, but the Corolla Cross is mostly its own deal, and the Hybrid is more than just a fuel efficient option, it has added performance too. So, it’s offered only in Toyota’s S line of trims S, SE, and XSE, where the standard Corolla Cross is available in base L, LE, and XLE.
There are some differences outside, most notably unique front and rear fasicas; the front with a much more aggressive look, with larger grille and blacked-out trim.
Black trim and logos in back too, along with a redesigned bumper; plus, you can optionally go 2-tone by adding black paint to the roof.
Great packaging has it feeling roomier inside than most small 5-seat utes, straddling the line between subcompact and compact. And seats are way more comfortable than your typical urban-minded utility.
In fact, the entire interior feels quite upscale, and the layout will be very familiar to those stepping up from an actual Corolla.
Those who put off buying a Corolla Cross until now will be rewarded with upgraded infotainment, as all Hybrid’s will come with Toyota’s latest 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system standard.
The Hybrid’s small battery is located under the rear seat, so there’s minimal loss of rom, with a good 21.5 cubic-ft. of cargo space available; expanding to 61.8 with rear seatbacks folded.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fuel-sipping ways are courtesy of the 5th generation of Toyota’s Hybrid System which outputs a combined 196-horsepower through its trio of electric motors and naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine. One of those motors operating strictly the rear axle for standard all-wheel-drive.
At our test track, there was a nice little chirp of the tires off the line, but that’s where the excitement ended.
So while a 7.5-second trip to 60 may not raise your blood pressure, it’s a full 3-seconds quicker than the standard Corolla Cross we tested last year. We’ll take that!
CVT automatic means engine revs and engine noise both hang relatively high throughout the whole ¼-mile, which took us 15.6-seconds to complete, finishing at a reasonable 90 miles-per-hour.
The Hybrid also gets a “sport-tuned” suspension, and indeed it felt light and nimble through our cone course, very neutral too, with no noticeable understeer or oversteer. Steering was light but still provided good feedback. With some grippier tires, this would certainly give the best handlers in the segment a run for their money.
But the real reward comes in Government Fuel Economy Ratings which are 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined. We averaged a great 43.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular; that’s a 40% increase over the 30.9 miles-per-gallon we averaged in the standard Corolla Cross last year.
But, that does come at a cost, though it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with separate trim families, but pricing starts at $29,320 for the Hybrid, about 3-grand over a base all-wheel-drive non-hybrid. Top XSE comes in at $32,400.
As influential as Toyota is in spreading the hybrid doctrine, it was indeed odd that the Corolla Cross arrived last year without a hybrid option. Smartly, it didn’t take them long to right that wrong, as it was always part of the plan, and the Corolla Cross has benefitted from it greatly. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is not just more efficient, it’s more capable, and a much better small utility all around.
- Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
- Horsepower: 196
- 0-60 mph: 7.5-seconds
- MW Fuel Economy: 43.3 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: e-CVT
- Torque: 139 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined