2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

Episode 3408 , Episode 3421
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Over the years, predictions of Alfa Romeo’s immanent return to the US have been many. But actual cars for driving have been few. Well, that all changes now with this car, the Alfa Romeo 4C. And it’s fitting that the brand chose this back-to-basics fun-machine to re-launch a dealer network here in the states. After all, this car is all about the driving. 

Yes, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is not a car for everyone. But, if you’re the type that enjoys the straightforward, back-to-basics thrill ride of a sports car; then consider yourself lucky… your new ride just arrived. 

Making things as light as possible is always a great sports car strategy, and this mid-engine monocoquester weighs in at only 2,465-pounds. Yes, that’s not as light as the European model, but trust us you won’t notice the additional 100-pounds or so added to meet U.S. crash standards. 

Unfortunately, that minimalism takes its toll on the interior. There’s very little storage space or comfort to be found; and crawling in is not graceful for anyone on the high side of 6-feet or on the wrong side of 50. Foot well area is actually plentiful though, except for some slight intrusion on the left side; and the seats have a decent amount of travel. It’s the passenger that actually gets squeezed a bit more.

Seats feel like leather covered racing buckets with some extreme bolstering, and there’s just enough padding in them to drain the fuel tank. 

Burning up that fuel is a fun-size 1.7-liter I4 engine. Don’t let the small volume fool you. This little turbo cranks up 237-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque with almost 22 psi of boost. Do you remember when 100-horsepower per liter was a big deal? It looks like those days are long gone.   

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 24-City, 34-Highway, and 28-Combined…which keeps the Energy Impact Score fairly good at 11.8-barrels of yearly oil use with CO2 emissions of 5.2-tons.

All 4Cs have a paddle shifted twin-clutch automatic transmission for gearing duties. In typical exotic car fashion, it’s not super smooth when tooling in auto mode and it seems in a hurry to get you into higher gears if you let it. But, get more aggressive and drive the car like it was meant to be driven and it responds beautifully.  

Equally satisfying is the handling experience with is just pure joy, the way only mid-engine cars with close to 50/50 weight distribution can be. In a break from just about every car on the road, steering is fully manual with no power assist. While that will certainly have its detractors, if you’re buying this car to actually drive it, you won’t mind it at all. 

That certainly brings nostalgia to mind, but that’s just the beginning. There’s an upright 60’s driving position that has you looking directly down on the road. The engine is located right behind your head, with a new kind of direct injection; one that injects performance feel directly into your head. But as cool as it sounds, it can also get a little old after prolonged exposure. 

There’s a good, thick, flat bottom wheel for the hands; and there’s a real sensation of the road rushing up at you, even when cruising around town. You don’t have to be travelling at arrest worthy speeds to get a full sensory overload rush from this car. 

Tires feel every groove in the pavement, and since there’s a direct link to your hands, so do you. You also get a sense that this car will bite you if you’re not judicious with throttle application. You really have to go back to 60s or 70s exotics to get a comparable driving experience. 

Acceleration is much more in the modern era. There’s plenty of grip for launching; and a quick trip to 60 is possible in just over 4.0-seconds. Shifts occur in a nanosecond and hit hard, accompanied by a sound symphony of mechanical chaos directly behind you. ¼-mile times are in the 13.0-second range at 106 miles-per-hour. The brakes are full-on “beast mode”; laser straight, nice stiff pedal, and stops of just 99-feet from 60. 

Equally adept at bringing a halt to things are the 4C’s beautiful, pure Italian lines. It looks like a baby Ferrari especially in this vibrant red. Spectacular from just about every angle, with the same basic mid-engine proportion layout that worked so well for the prancing horse for decades.  

The 4C Launch Edition is all that’s available for the time being, and it’ll cost you $69,695; but once they’re gone a base 4C will start at $55,195.

That makes the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C a small-scale exotic for a fraction of the price; truly a unique experience. It’s not a race car, and it’s not a poseur mobile. It’s a car designed with one thing in mind, driving!

Specifications

  • Engine: 1.7 liter
  • Horsepower: 237
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 13.0 seconds @ 106 mph
  • EPA: 24 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 11.8 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.2 tons/yr
2024 Mercedes AMG GLA35

2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35

Baby AMG SUV Brings The Performance

Episode 4336
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Back in 2015, buying an AMG-tuned utility vehicle was not unheard of, but finding one as affordable as the then-new AMG GLA 45 was an entirely new phenomenon. Since then, they’ve only enhanced their AMG profile, so let’s check in with the latest Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and see if we can keep up.

A quick look at the Mercedes-Benz lineup reveals they currently have more than a dozen SUVs for sale, most of which can get some level of high-performance AMG treatment. This 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is the least expensive one you can buy, but it certainly doesn’t feel, look, or behave like a budget ride.

Styling updates are mostly limited to a new front fascia, though both head and taillights get freshened up, and there are some new wheel designs, plus a unique AMG crest on the hood for the first time. The base Mercedes-Benz GLA also gets updated, just with a much milder theme for those that are looking more for the luxurious experience instead of the AMG’s sporty theme.

Inside, drivers can take in all the carbon fiber accents, as well as put their hands on a new AMG Performance steering wheel. Mercedes has gotten rid of the touchpad controller on the center console and put a much more practical phone charger in its place, as well as added an additional USB-C port with faster charging speed. The touchscreen shares its housing with the 10-inch digital instrument cluster.

The GLA 35’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 has been retuned by AMG for 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. It’s the same setup found in the CLA 35 four-door Coupe we recently tested. The base GLA 250 makes do with 221 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbo-4. The GLA 35 comes strictly with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AMG-tuned 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

At our test track, with AMG Race Start engaged, we hooked and booked to 60 in just 4.9-seconds despite a slight hesitation in full power delivery off the line. It launched hard even without Race Start, and the engine strongly pulled all the way down the track. Shifts were plenty quick, yet still very smooth, as while we could barely feel when they were happening, the bassy bark from the exhaust gave us a much-appreciated audible cue. Our best quarter-mile run was a 13.5 at 102 miles-per-hour.

As for handling, it was easy-peasy for this AMG. We were able to carry quite a bit of speed through our cone course with very minimal body roll and a planted feel that had us pushing harder and harder until we got it to step out on us just a little.

You can get into a base front-wheel-drive GLA for as little as $43,000, but this AMG 35 will cost you at least $57,600.

When we hear things like “the best or nothing at all,” we tend to dismiss it as Mercedes marketing speak, but that was actually a quote going all the way back to Gottlieb Daimler in the late 1800s prior to his firm joining up with Karl Benz’s. And, for the most part, it’s still the philosophy behind Mercedes-Benz today. And you can certainly feel it behind the wheel of the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4
  • Horsepower: 302
  • 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 112 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 27.6 MPG (Premium)
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.5 seconds at 102 mph
  • EPA: 22 City | 28 Highway | 24 Combined
2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

It’s A New Tacoma That’s A Lot Like The Old One

Episode 4335
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Many small trucks have come and gone over the years. But one that has stayed the course is the Toyota Tacoma. Dominating segment sales for nearly two decades, an all-new fourth-generation Tacoma has arrived for 2024 with some of the biggest changes in its history. So, let’s see what this new taco truck has to offer.

In the truck world, the all-new mid-size 2024 Toyota Tacoma is a really big deal. Completely redesigned, it’s now built on Tundra’s full-size high-strength steel frame. There’s also an available coil spring multi-link rear suspension, all turbocharged engine lineup, new XtraCab two-seater that does away with the Access Cab’s rear doors, improved comfort, and of course, new tech.

Now, we agree with many of you on how ridiculous the truck and SUV market has become with all the off-road packages, so for this test we ordered up an SR5, just one step up from base. It came equipped with Toyota’s 2.4-liter I4 turbo, which outputs 278 horsepower and a stout 317 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the eight-speed automatic. You can still get a six-speed manual, though the engine is slightly detuned to 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. And just to muddy things up further, the base SR gets an even more de-tuned version with 228 horsepower and 243 lb-ft.

2024 Toyota Tacoma 3/4 Front
2024 Toyota Tacoma Dead Front
2024 Toyota Tacoma Headlight
2024 Toyota Tacoma Air Dam
2024 Toyota Tacoma Profile
2024 Toyota Tacoma SR5 Badge
2024 Toyota Tacoma 3/4 Rear
2024 Toyota Tacoma Dead Rear
2024 Toyota Tacoma Taillight
2024 Toyota Tacoma Rear Window
2024 Toyota Tacoma Bed
2024 Toyota Tacoma Wheel
2024 Toyota Tacoma Badge
2024 Toyota Tacoma 3/4 Front2024 Toyota Tacoma Dead Front2024 Toyota Tacoma Headlight2024 Toyota Tacoma Air Dam2024 Toyota Tacoma Profile2024 Toyota Tacoma SR5 Badge2024 Toyota Tacoma 3/4 Rear2024 Toyota Tacoma Dead Rear2024 Toyota Tacoma Taillight2024 Toyota Tacoma Rear Window2024 Toyota Tacoma Bed2024 Toyota Tacoma Wheel2024 Toyota Tacoma Badge

If you need more power than all of that, reinforcements are on the way with Toyota’s i-FORCE MAX hybrid with an electric motor integrated into the transmission for a combined output of 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, 200 more than the old V6.

Most Tacomas will be four-door DoubleCabs which get either a 5- or 6-foot bed; two-door XtraCabs come with just the six-footer. Bed walls are slightly taller than before, and a power tailgate is now available. Max towing is 6,500-lbs.

At our Mason Dixon test track, our automatic SR5 didn’t feel overly powerful, but with a slight chirp of the tires, it was off to 60 mph in a quick 6.2-seconds. Shifts were very smooth, and though working hard, this turbo-four is much quieter than the V6.

Shifts were very smooth, and though working hard, this turbo-four is much quieter than the V6.

It felt plenty stable as speeds increased, but with the standard leaf spring suspension, that “big truck” feel was evident in our slalom course as well. There was quite a bit of body roll, and the very soft feel of a lifted truck, that had us backing off early and the truck just slowly lumbering its way through the exercise. There was good steering feel, and the truck did whatever we asked, it just wasn’t in a hurry to do it. If you’re looking for a sportier car-like experience, you might want to look elsewhere in the segment, as the Tacoma feels more like a Tundra than a Rav4, which of course is what many truck buyers want.

In panic braking runs, the ABS was working overtime and there was a lot of nosedive. But, with short stops from 60 of just 108 feet, we were not surprised or alarmed.

2024 Toyota Tacoma Dashboard
2024 Toyota Tacoma Center Display
2024 Toyota Tacoma Climate Controls
2024 Toyota Tacoma Shifter
2024 Toyota Tacoma Digital Instrument Cluster
2024 Toyota Tacoma Steering Wheel
2024 Toyota Tacoma Steering Wheel Detail
2024 Toyota Tacoma Center Console
2024 Toyota Tacoma Front Seat
2024 Toyota Tacoma Front Seat Detail
2024 Toyota Tacoma JBL Speaker
2024 Toyota Tacoma Rear Seat
2024 Toyota Tacoma Dashboard2024 Toyota Tacoma Center Display2024 Toyota Tacoma Climate Controls2024 Toyota Tacoma Shifter2024 Toyota Tacoma Digital Instrument Cluster2024 Toyota Tacoma Steering Wheel2024 Toyota Tacoma Steering Wheel Detail2024 Toyota Tacoma Center Console2024 Toyota Tacoma Front Seat2024 Toyota Tacoma Front Seat Detail2024 Toyota Tacoma JBL Speaker2024 Toyota Tacoma Rear Seat

Even with fresh styling, it remains easily recognizable as a Tacoma. Just a little more chiseled in some places, smoother in others. Ground clearance is up a tiny bit, with a max of 9.5 inches allowing for 33-inch tires. The biggest visual changes are inside, where the Tacoma has finally joined the 21st Century. Standard infotainment touchscreen is 8 inches, paired with a 7-inch gauge cluster. Higher trims get a 14-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital gauge display. Seats feel great up front, although it doesn’t feel any roomier than before. Rear seat legroom is still tight for adults, but there is more storage underneath the seats.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an SR5 4X4 automatic are 20-City, 23-Highway, and 21-Combined; we averaged 21.3 mpg of Regular. For a slightly worse than average Energy Impact Score; 14.2-barrels of annual oil consumption, with 6.9-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with SR at $32,995 and our SR5 coming in at $37,695; from there it works through several TRD levels to arrive at top Limited at $53,595. Four-wheel drive is standard on Limited and most TRD trims, available in all other trims except for the TRD PreRunner, which is rear-wheel drive only.

Pickup trucks of all sizes continue to be incredibly popular here in the U.S., and we’ve certainly seen a resurgence of compact and midsize trucks recently. Tacoma fans will be happy to know that their midsize 2024 Tacoma hasn’t gone soft. It’s more rugged than ever. Designed here, with American buyers in mind, the new Tacoma is the modernized version of their beloved pickup that Toyota fans have been waiting for. So, Happy Taco trucking!

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.4-liter I4 turbo
  • Horsepower: 228
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 108 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 21.3 mpg (Regular)
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Torque: 243 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: Track Under Maintenance
  • EPA: 20 City | 23 Highway | 21 Combined