2015 Ford Mustang

2015 Ford Mustang

Episode 3409
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

50 years have passed since the Ford Mustang entered the corral, creating the iconic pony car segment. While a lot has changed since then, the Mustang really hasn’t changed that much at all. But as Ford launches the all-new, 2015, 6th generation Mustang, it does so with some of the biggest changes ever. So, saddle up, as the legend of Mustang continues anew.

The 2015 Ford Mustang is arriving at just the right time. Car sales are back up to pre-recession levels, and the original pony car has been facing some the toughest competition ever from the re-launched Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. In addition to that, this will be the first Mustang with true international sales intentions.

Powering this mission are three engines, each with more than 300-horsepower. The 5.0-liter V8 is back of course, now with more muscle…435–horsepower…thanks to tweaked cylinder heads and intake. The 3.7-liter V6 also returns; with its intake redesigned, due to a lower hood. It results in a loss of horsepower, now at 300 even. 

Between the two, at 310–horsepower, is a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo I4 with 320 lb-ft. of torque. It’s not the first turbo-4 under a Mustang hood, that would be the SVO of ’84 to ’86, but it is the first Ford to use a twin-scroll unit.

Transmissions hang with tradition, a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic for all engines.

Styling, always a Mustang fan hot button, is less altered than originally feared. Retro-reinvented, the Mustang 6.0 is lower, wider, and even with a familiar long hood profile, far more aggressive. Wheelbase stays at 107.1-inches and overall length is shortened by 2/10ths of an inch.   

The blunt nose and hallmark grille opening are tweaked to fit the rest of the Ford brand. There’s new HID headlights, and a fresh take on LED signature lighting. 

There’s clearly more of a fastback shape towards the backend, and the new rear fascia is “euro diffuser” in design. The glossy tail light panel features updated horses for 4 & 6 cylinders, and a GT badge for V8s. The 3-bar tail lights return, but look more 3-dimensional. Turn signals are still sequential. 

17-inch wheels are standard, GTs get 18’s; 19’s are optional on any. Brembo brakes come with GT or EcoBoost Performance Packages. 

A classic appearance continues inside too, with the dual hump dash. But, gauges, the center stack, and electronic aids are much more in the now. You’ll also find better materials, more knee space thanks to a slimmer lower dash, a passenger’s side knee airbag, and there’s even more room in the glove box. 

Toggle switches and a start button are brought into the mix, and cup holders have been shifted over providing freer access to the shifter. Even base models get keyless entry and a back-up camera. 

Selectable drive modes are new, adjusting steering effort, engine and transmission response, as well as stability control intervention for normal, snow/wet, sport, and track conditions. And of course there are track apps, accessible through the gauge panel information screen, as is Launch Control. 

The steering wheel is smaller in diameter, but gets lots of new switchgear added to it. The trunk opening is larger, and the amount of space behind it has grown a tiny bit, now at 13.5 cubic-ft.  

Nostalgia aside, we found the new-gen ‘stang is now much more about driving with the much anticipated independent rear suspension now standard on all models. You don’t really notice it in sedate daily driving, however. But, dive deep into a corner, start feeding in some power, and the car hunkers down, propelling you out like never before.

Should you encounter a bump mid-way through that corner, it becomes even more obvious; as the rear end is a whole lot less busy, happy to follow in line instead of trying to overtake you every chance it gets. Such a big change out back forced Ford to extensively rework the front suspension as well. That’s a win-win too.

As for how the Mustang feels with 4-cylinder power: it feels just fine. There’s good response, great mid-range torque, and even some respectable sound, though not at full song. 

Nothing sounds like a V8 of course and the GT is still where it’s at if you’re looking for Mustang bragging rights. Manual 0 to 60 nudges four and a half seconds. Drag racers, or the burnout challenged, will also be happy to hear that all GT’s come standard with a line lock. 

Mustang base prices are up slightly; $24,425 for the V6. That’s still less than a base Camaro or Challenger. EcoBoost I4 is just above that at $25,995, while V8 GTs start at $32,925.  

We think the 2015 Ford Mustang, while a little less nostalgic, is much farther reaching, even without its international sales intentions. It is clearly a much better sporty coupe than ever before, and not just in the margins. And that progression will ensure that the Mustang legend will not only live on, but continue to lead.


  • Engine: 5.0 liter V8 / 3.7 liter V6 / 2.3 liter
  • Horsepower: 435 / 300 / 310
  • Torque: 400 lb-ft./ --- / 320 lb-ft.
2024 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Crossed Up Corolla Gets More Efficient

Episode 4313
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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
2024 Lexus UX

2023 Lexus UX 250h

More Fun Than Premium, But That’s Just Fine With Us

Episode 4312
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Entry-level models are always tough for luxury brands to pull off well. You can’t deliver the full experience, but you have to give buyers enough of a taste so they’ll eventually trade up for more. Well one marque, Lexus, has been very successful at doing just that, and this week we look at their latest starter SUV, the UX.

This Lexus UX arrived for 2019 as the brand’s smallest SUV yet. Priced in the mid-30s, it delivered a heck of a lot of the Lexus experience for a modest amount of money. And with capable handling, easy maneuvering, and thoughtful features, it was an affordable entry-level luxury ute that was easy to love. For 2023, Lexus makes this little premium runabout even better.

For starters, the UX is strictly hybrid now as the previously standard naturally aspirated 2.0-liter is no more. And while the Hybrid used to be exclusively all-wheel-drive, Lexus has now made a front-drive version available with AWD an option.

Lexus Hybrid Drive pairs 2 electric motors to a 2.0-liter I4 for a total combined output of 181-horsepower. All-wheel-drive versions add an additional motor in back to drive the rear wheels.

Front-wheel-drive versions get an improved Government Fuel Economy Rating of 43-City, 41-Highway, and 42-Combined; all-wheel-drive versions remain 41-City, 38-Highway, and 39-Combined. We averaged 39.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular in our all-wheel-drive tester.

That’s a much better than average Energy Impact Score of 7.6-barrels of oil consumed yearly with 3.7-tons of CO2 emissions.

If there was any shortfall of the original UX, it was that it was a tad noisier, with perhaps not quite as refined a ride as what we were used to from Lexus. Well, for ’23, they have enhanced the body structure with more welds, and quieted down road noise with new tires. One thing that didn’t need changing is that its small size makes it a real joy to whip in and out of traffic…

…or the cones of our handling course at Mason Dixon Dragway, stopping just short of sport sedan territory with quick steering and excellent feedback.

Overall handling is very neutral, with minimal body roll, and it seems to know where you want to go before you move the steering wheel.

That’s courtesy of the F Sport Handling package which adds an Active Variable Suspension with performance dampers, as well as additional bracing for the steering system.

On the acceleration front, there’s a nice little jump off the line, but economy is definitely the priority, with a slow and steady trek to 60 of 8.1-seconds; though that is 2/10ths quicker than the Hybrid we tested in 20-19.

No fake CVT shifting, just consistent high-revving throughout the ¼-mile; though there are paddle shifters on the wheel to select through 10 simulated gears if you choose. Our best time was 16.2-seconds at 87 miles-per-hour.

A good firm pedal and ample feedback made panic braking above par for a luxury utility. Some nosedive, but stops of 115-feet from 60 miles-per-hour were stable and consistent.

Despite being the brand’s entry-level SUV, it doesn’t look much like a traditional utility vehicle, appearing more like a sleek overachieving hatchback, especially with F Sport Design upgrades.

Visibility is somewhat compromised by the minimal greenhouse, but that’s what we have cameras and sensors for these days.

With the F Sport Handling Package’s heavily bolstered sport seats, the front cabin experience is not quite the plush high-end Lexus we’re used to either. Still, we loved it.

Granted, rear seat room is really only adequate for pre-teens; but the total interior experience is well above typical entry-level expectations.

Thankfully, the UX joins the rest of the Lexus lineup in eliminating the frustrating Remote Touch Interface and upgrading to a touchscreen in standard 8 or optional 12.3-inch sizes.

Pricing starts at $36,490 and reaches $43,920 with F Sport Handling. All-wheel drive is now a $1,400 option with all trims.

While it’s an even better gateway into the Lexus SUV family than before, with its considerably handling performance and hatchback vibe, it does seem to be more of a global or urban effort than one designed for wide-open American highways. But that’s okay with us too. The Lexus UX is a fun little utility with great fuel economy, and just enough of the Lexus treatment to make you want to come back…and step up…for more.


As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter I4
  • Horsepower: 181
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.2-seconds at 87 mph
  • EPA: 41 City / 38 Highway / 39 Combined
  • Transmission: CVT
  • 0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 115 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 39.9 MPG (Regular)