2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Episode 3343
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Volkswagen Golf, the most popular VW of all time. While we knew it as the Rabbit back in 1974, like the rest of the world, we grew up to love these compact two and four-door hatchbacks for their combination tidy looks, oodles of interior space, and no-nonsense driving enjoyment. And what better way to celebrate then with an all-new Golf. So, happy anniversary to us!

We didn’t expect a big physical change for the 2015 Volkswagen Golf. So, we weren’t disappointed to find that the 7th generation only improves on Golf’s basic formula that, while slightly larger, is still “so right” even after four decades.

While all powertrains are more efficient, even the base TSI Golf with a 1.8-liter turbo I4 feels peppy and very refined. Ratings are 170-horsepower and 200 lb-ft. of torque. And the top-line GTI comes in at 210-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque with a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo.

A late arriving Performance Package holds peak torque longer and boost horsepower to 220. The Performance Package also includes a torque sensing, electronically controlled limited-slip differential, a first for a front drive car. It can transfer up to 100% of torque to either front wheel to help eliminate both torque steer and understeer.

A 5-speed manual is standard in the TSI, with an optional 6-speed automatic. TDIs and GTIs can be fitted with a 6-speed manual or DSG gearbox. 

There’s even a very well done new eGolf. It’s super quiet even for an EV, and has some of the best feeling EV brakes. Range is EV typical at 70-90 miles. 

But, during our early San Francisco drive time, we focused on the hot-hatch GTI, as it is the first model to the market, and along with a Golf Sportwagon due next year, is a key to growing Golf sales in America.

Yes fans, that means the GTI is going more mainstream. Both two and four-door hatchback bodies strike us as less visually distinctive than the previous GTI. Even the rear spoiler is subtle. Stance is noticeably improved, however, as the Golf’s new front-wheel-drive MQB chassis is stretched in every dimension.

Having been on sale in Europe for over a year, U.S. buyers had to wait for Golf production to start over here down Mexico way.

But drivers should not notice that transatlantic transformation, as the new GTI has all of its spirit plus a new level of sophistication. There’s a slightly heavier German feel; very solid, almost like driving a small bank vault around. It’s a more agile yet nailed down car than the Jetta.

Even without the Performance Package, all GTI’s sport VW’s updated XDS traction system that monitors suspension load to help contain understeer. Standard too is selectable drive mode with Normal, Sport, and Individual settings.

Even in Normal, the GTI corners great and feels nice and compact, and while steering feel is not all there, it’s better than the Audi A3 that uses the same chassis. 

The GTI’s interior was already a step above most of its competition, and it still outshines them with improved material quality and simplicity. GTI highlights include color stitching, paddle shifters for the DSG, and a sweet flat-bottom steering wheel.

All trim levels have touch screen audio and connectivity, with similar controls to the rest of the VW lineup, only the screen is now larger. A backup camera is oddly not standard, while Forward Collision Alert and Park Distance Control are also options. GTI convenience upgrades include Fender Premium audio, automatic climate, and pushbutton start.

The new Golf adds to its already plentiful rear seat space, while low load floor cargo room now rivals many mid-size cars with station wagon-like versatility.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for a GTI with an automatic are 22-City, 33-Highway, and 28-Combined; an overall gain of one. That makes for a good Energy Impact Score of 11.8-barrels of annual oil use with 5.3-tons of CO2 emitted. 

More features for less money is always a good recipe for success, as a base GTI 2-door hatchback begins at $25,215. The story is even better for the TSI with a sticker drop to $18,815, both partially due to a new entry level S-trim.

Except for the new electronic diff, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf projects little wow factor. Rather, it adheres to a “more of the same but better” approach. Still, we are wowed that VW can build such an affordable small car that is rock solid and totally entertaining to drive. And that makes the 40th anniversary of the Golf a milestone we’ll not forget.

Specifications

  • Engine: 1.8-liter/ 2.0-liter
  • Horsepower: 170/ 210
  • Torque: 200 lb-ft./ 258 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 22 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 11.8 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.3 tons/yr

Long Term Updates

Mileage: 6,082

Well, that was fast…after a short 3 months, and enjoyable 6082 miles, our Volkswagen GTI is rolling off the MotorWeek lot. Our SE 4-door hatch was well equipped, with back up camera, leather seats, and a quick revving 210 horse 2.0-liter with slick shifting 6 speed DSG transmission.

Final fuel economy was 28.7 miles per gallon. That beats the gov’s Combined Rating of 28, but keep in mind it does require premium.

A small price to pay, though, for the sheer fun that the GTI brought to everyone on the staff. Plus with generous cargo space, it’s just a great all-around car.

Now, if we don’t sound too torn up over losing the GTI so quickly, it’s because another one is taking its place!

This 4-door, base GTI drops the backup cam and leather seats, but gains a third petal. That’s right, a proper 6 speed manual trans is how we roll now. Fuel economy jumps one, but we think the fun factor will go up much more over the next 90 days.

Mileage: 1,000

Does the weather cooling down have you feeling down? Not us! We’re pumped up from taking delivery of this 2015 Volkswagen GTI for our Long Term test fleet!

The 7th gen GTI already won us over during our initial test, and we just had to have more!

The 2.0 liter turbo inline four only puts out 210 horsepower; but with the GTI’s lightweight design and spot-on setup, that’s plenty. Through just over 1,000 “break-in” miles, we’re seeing an average of 30.9 miles-per-gallon, already above the government combined rating of 28.

Our GTI came well equipped in 4-door mid-level SE trim; with added features like Fender premium audio, a power sunroof, leather seating, and backup camera, among others. The optional Lighting package brings Bi-Xenon headlights and LED runners, while the Driver Assistance Package adds front and rear proximity alerts, and Forward Collision Warning.

All that, plus 52.7 cu. ft of cargo room makes it a great staff support vehicle.

Easy to drive; even easier to live with- that was our first take away from the all-new GTI. So we’ll see if some extended seat time keeps that feeling alive.     

Mileage: 2,340

With just 2,340 miles added to the odometer, we’re still in the honeymoon phase with our 2015 Volkswagen GTI.

So naturally, we’re still in love with just how fun and easy it is to drive. Even a quick trip to lunch can be entertaining. More often than not, our staffers keep it in “Sport” mode, which tightens steering nicely.

But like any relationship, we’re discovering a few flaws as well. Nothing that’s a deal breaker, just minor annoyances. Some with longer legs are getting bruised knees from the steering column protruding too far into the driver knee area. And the requirement for premium fuel has fooled a few of us, who’ve put in regular grade, and noticed some engine sputtering and delayed throttle response as a result.

Fuel economy gets no complaints from us at all, as we’re averaging just over 35 miles per gallon after some long highway commutes and work-related road trips. We don’t expect the numbers to stay this high from the 210 horsepower turbo I4 and 6 speed DSG transmission, though, especially as fall turns into winter.

Mileage: 6,000

“Row, row, row your gears…” That’s what’s been going through our heads driving our long term Volkswagen GTI.

The 210 horsepower turbo 4 and 6 speed manual combo still charms us. As we’ve finally thawed out from our winter freeze, the GTI has too. And it’s no worse for wear, as we’ve had no mechanical issues. 

After 6,000 miles, fuel economy has settled to 28.1 miles per gallon of Premium, right on its Combined government rating. 

For $26,000, you’d be hard pressed to find a car that delivers this much fun, functionality, finesse and funk. The GTI does it all, without being pretentious. And that’s the way we like to roll.   

Mileage: 4,000

A six speed manual is where it’s really at, right?! And we’ve found our first 4000 miles in the 2015 Volkswagen GTI S to be a perfect cure for the winter blues.

Call it “Easy Rider”, as this base model 4-door hatchback provides an effortless driving experience from the 210 horsepower turbo 4 and slick shifting manual combo. Great bolstered seats and a solid chassis up the fun factor on otherwise boring commutes.

During a 1,300 mile round trip down to Savannah, the GTI was a compliant highway cruiser.

Things can get uncomfortable on bumpy streets, however, as it is a tightly sprung little car.   

But being small has its benefits. Namely, for fuel economy. We’re seeing 28.3 Combined miles per gallon of Premium; just above the government rating.

2024 Subaru Outback 1

2024 Subaru Outback

The Outback Continues To Deliver

Episode 4324
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

In a world that’s SUV crazy, it’s easy to forget that the Subaru Outback has been delivering capable and comfortable all-weather and all-road capabilities to adventure-loving Americans for years. In fact, it’s now well into its 6th generation. So, it’s time for us to check in with the latest Outback and find out what’s new.

Almost 50-years ago, long before all-wheel-drive became an option for just about every car on the road, Subaru released the first four-wheel-drive passenger car in the U.S. Immediately, they knew they had a good thing going with that wagon, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the marketing folks got on board and helped launch the Subaru Outback Sport Utility Wagon.

While the 2024 Outback is approaching the end of its 6th generation, its not slowing down when it comes to delivering tons of value to adventure-minded families.

The Outback is the sole remaining wagon available here in the U.S. from a mainstream brand, though even Subaru doesn’t use the “W” word anymore.

2024 Subaru Outback Front
2024 Subaru Outback Profile
2024 Subaru Outback Rear
2024 Subaru Outback Dead Front
2024 Subaru Outback Dead Rear
2024 Subaru Outback Wheel
2024 Subaru Outback Front2024 Subaru Outback Profile2024 Subaru Outback Rear2024 Subaru Outback Dead Front2024 Subaru Outback Dead Rear2024 Subaru Outback Wheel

Now strictly referred to as a mid-size SUV, when it comes to selling any vehicle, attractiveness is always a bonus, and the Outback’s unique blend of rugged and refined has set the tone for many followers over the years. The exterior was recently updated, and while it looks big and more like a true SUV than ever, it’s only about 5-inches longer than the 1990’s original.

Some trims do get additional standard content for ’24, but our top Touring XT showcases everything Subaru has to offer, with an 11.6-inch Starlink infotainment screen that controls more features than ever, includes navigation, and pumps tunes out with Harmon Kardon sound. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology remains an Outback standard.

Cargo capacity is a great 32.6 cubic-ft., 75.6 with rear seatbacks folded, and despite the high ground clearance, the floor is lower than SUV typical, which makes for easier loading.

Outback seat comfort has improved greatly over the years, and despite the increased reliance on the touchscreen, everything about the cabin is simple to operate and logically placed.

The XT part of our Touring XT means there’s extra power under the hood with a 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo engine which rates 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque. It’s a big upgrade over the standard 182-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter.

Both engines are unchanged and work with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT; all-wheel-drive is of course another Outback standard.

2024 Subaru Outback Dashboard
2024 Subaru Outback Center Display
2024 Subaru Outback Front Seat
2024 Subaru Outback Rear Seat
2024 Subaru Outback Trunk
2024 Subaru Outback Engine
2024 Subaru Outback Dashboard2024 Subaru Outback Center Display2024 Subaru Outback Front Seat2024 Subaru Outback Rear Seat2024 Subaru Outback Trunk2024 Subaru Outback Engine

At Mason-Dixon Dragway, our XT had plenty of grip off the line, hitting 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. That’s a couple of tenths quicker than our last time out with this turbo-4. We’ll chalk that up to better weather this time around.

Like many Subarus, it doesn’t feel overly fast but it’s snappy off the line, and perfectly adequate from there.

Power delivery stayed very consistent down the track; the CVT definitely keeps engine revs maxed out the whole time, but noise is far from annoying. Our best ¼-mile time was 14.6-seconds at 97 miles-per-hour.

The Outback boasts 8.7-inches of ground clearance, which is more than many mid-size SUVs; and while it felt plenty competent through our slalom course, there was noticeable body roll and understeer to deal with. Yet steering was light and predictable, plus Active Torque Vectoring and Vehicle Dynamics Control are hard at work to keep you stable and safe no matter what.

In panic braking, there were only moderate amounts of nosedive, and mild ABS pulsing. Stops averaged a fine 115-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a great 27.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular; a feat most SUVs can only dream of.

That’s an average Energy Impact Score; with use of 11.9-barrels of oil yearly, with 5.9-tons of CO2 emissions.

Base Outbacks have plenty of standard content, and remain a real bargain, starting at just $30,240, top trims, including Wilderness, take you into the low 40s.

Decades of loyal Outback owners have helped Subaru grow the 2024 Subaru Outback into what it is today; a highly capable and comfortable, thoughtfully designed, adventure-ready family truckster that’s as adept at backwoods exploring as it is soldiering through the daily grind. Your family activities may not take you far off the beaten path, but life itself is an adventure, and the Subaru Outback is outfitted for your adventure better than ever.

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo
  • Horsepower: 260
  • 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 115 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 27.9 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: CVT
  • Torque: 277 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.6-seconds at 97 mph
  • EPA: 22 City | 29 Highway | 25 Combined
2024 Hyundai Kona Driving

2024 Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Claims More Territory On The Big Island Of SUVs

Episode 4322
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

We’ve now reached the point in time where instead of integrating electric drivetrains into existing internal combustion vehicles, carmakers are engineering new platforms for electric propulsion first and then adapting them to ICE drivelines. And that’s exactly what Hyundai has done with this new Kona. So, let’s see what this approach means for this small, already appealing, SUV.

In the music industry, an artist’s second album is always the hardest. After all, they’ve had their entire lifetime to write the first one, but only a few short months to try to recreate that magic a second time around. All that to say, after being a bit of an unexpected runaway hit, the Hyundai Kona now turns to a second generation, and Hyundai is looking to avoid the sophomore slump with a bigger and better 2024 Kona.

Everything about its new interior is great and really up to date.  There’s plenty of tech on display with side-by-side screens for driver info and infotainment. The 12-inch central touchscreen is standard on all Konas; the 12-inch gauge display is optional in SEL, standard in Limited and N Line, which also get Bose premium audio and a sunroof. Here in our N Line tester, the only thing that feels remotely entry-level is perhaps the front seats that some of our drivers found hard to get comfortable in.

2024 Hyundai Kona 3/4 Front
2024 Hyundai Kona Dead Front
2024 Hyundai Kona Profile
2024 Hyundai Kona 3/4 Rear
2024 Hyundai Kona Rear Detail
2024 Hyundai Kona 3/4 Front2024 Hyundai Kona Dead Front2024 Hyundai Kona Profile2024 Hyundai Kona 3/4 Rear2024 Hyundai Kona Rear Detail

As we mentioned at the top, the Kona was designed to be an EV first and then adapted for gasoline powertrains, so it really does have an EV vibe to it, even sharing things from Hyundai’s IONIQ EV lineup like the shifter. It also makes for more usable space inside, especially for rear seat passengers. Plus, there’s 25.5 cubic-ft. of cargo space behind, maxing out at 63.7 cubic-ft. with rear seatbacks folded.

The looks are much improved outside; same overall shape as before, but Hyundai has gone edgier, again reflecting their clean IONIQ EVs.  It’s also more than 5-inches longer, with a 2.3-inch wheelbase stretch, and it sits an inch wider too. Sporty N Line gets unique front and rear fascias, along with body-color cladding, big rear spoiler, dual exhaust tips, 19-inch alloy wheels, and unique badging.

The N Line also comes with the top internal combustion engine; Hyundai’s familiar 1.6-liter I4 turbo with 190-horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque, working with an 8-speed automatic. A carryover 147-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 and CVT combo is the standard, and more than adequate for most folks. All-wheel drive is available with all ICE Kona’s, at any trim level. As for EVs, the also new front-drive full battery Kona Electric is already on sale in some states, with multiple power offerings and a top range of 261 miles. We’ll test it soon. 

Our current ICE Kona N Line was sporting the HTRAC all-wheel-drive setup, which we put to good use at Mason Dixon Dragway.

And, there was indeed great grip off the line, which made for drama free launches; power from the tiny turbo was a little slow to arrive, but once we got rolling it really started to pour on, taking us to 60 in 7.6-seconds. Despite that small hard-working engine, overall, powertrain operation was surprisingly quiet and smooth; perhaps a little too smooth when it comes to the transmission, as shifts were sluggish with noticeable drop off in power. Our best ¼-mile time was 15.8-seconds at 90 miles-per-hour.

2024 Hyundai Kona Dash and Steering Wheel
2024 Hyundai Kona Column Shifter
2024 Hyundai Kona Charging Pad
2024 Hyundai Kona Seat Detail
2024 Hyundai Kona Rear Seat
2024 Hyundai Kona Dash and Steering Wheel2024 Hyundai Kona Column Shifter2024 Hyundai Kona Charging Pad2024 Hyundai Kona Seat Detail2024 Hyundai Kona Rear Seat

The wider track and longer wheelbase definitely provided more stability in our handling course; suspension and steering were both quite firm, offering lots of feedback and quick response. While N Line is more of a trim package than a full N performance version, all-wheel drive Konas do come with a multi-link rear suspension setup, an upgrade over the standard torsion beam. We did find some understeer near the car’s limits, but we were carrying quite a bit of speed by that point, and easily able to maintain momentum. Despite a soft brake pedal with very little feedback, things were working just fine at the brake’s business end with consistent and fade-free stops of 111-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.  

Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the turbo engine and all-wheel drive are 24-City, 29-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a great 28.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular. But, that’s still an average Energy Impact Score; 11.4-barrels of oil annually, with 5.6-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts at $25,435 for SE trim; range topping Limited begins at $32,985, with this sporty looking N Line just below at $31,985.

If you’re not loyal to one particular brand, sifting through all the available small crossovers can be a daunting task.  But, if you’re looking for something that’s roomy, tech-savvy, and more fun to drive than it should be, we’d suggest looking at the 2024 Hyundai Kona. By designing an EV chassis that’s capable of powering its way through this transitional powertrain period we’re in with a gasoline engine, Hyundai has made sure that the Kona is no one-hit wonder.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 1.6-liter turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 190
  • 0-60 mph: 7.6-seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 111 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.5 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Torque: 195 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.8-seconds at 90 mph
  • EPA: 24 City | 29 Highway | 26 Combined