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 Solterra 3/4 Front

2024 Subaru Solterra

The Solterra Gets Subaru Into The EV Game

Episode 4339
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You could say that Subaru is one of the more conservative brands out there. So, it’s no surprise it took them a little longer than most to venture into pure EV territory. But now that they’ve staked a claim with this Solterra, it’s time for us to see if Subaru buyers should plug in.

The Subaru Solterra is indeed the brand’s first full battery-electric vehicle; and while it took partnering with Toyota to make it happen, as we’ve seen with the BRZ and GR86 sport coupes, that partnership can lead to some great things.

So, we’ll start there; the Solterra’s counterpart is the Toyota bZ4X, and they do share most powertrain elements, specs, and features; but Subaru has done a few things to establish some unique vibes for their brand. That starts with the drivetrain, as all-wheel drive is standard here as in most Subarus, and in similar tradition, power won’t overwhelm you, it’s more safe and familiar feeling than overpowering as some EVs can be. Called StarDrive, this Subaru’s dual-motor setup rates 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. Subaru loves to tout that their drivers are second only to Jeep owners when it comes to venturing off pavement, so capability is a must.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front
2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem
2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel
2024 Subaru Solterra Profile
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail
2024 Subaru Solterra Badge
2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel2024 Subaru Solterra Profile2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail2024 Subaru Solterra Badge2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port

We did find Solterra as competent as every other Subaru. Their X-Mode has been programmed to work seamlessly with the electric motors, and its 8.3 inches of ground clearance is higher than the bZ4X; plus, you can use Grip Control to moderate speeds and maximize traction.

While most new EVs seem to be hovering around 300 miles of range, max here in the Solterra from its 72.8-kWh battery pack is 227 miles, 222 here in Touring trim. Our results were much less than that, on pace for just 172 miles in our driving loop. But that may be a fluke since we managed 210+ in our bZ4X test.

Only 100-kW max for DC fast charging. But even though it has only been on the market for a year, they’ve already cut down charging times for ‘24 models. An upgraded battery conditioning system, needs 35 minutes for an 80% charge. Subaru always seems to come out on the right side of being cool while remaining authentic, and the Solterra’s styling works, as does its beefier roof rack for ’24 which now holds up to 700 lbs. for tents and the like. Touring trim comes with some great looking 20-inch alloy wheels and there’s lots of body protection, but they did go a little overboard with all of the EV badges everywhere.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected.

In addition to being a good-looking small SUV, it’s a highly functional one too with plenty of room for 5, durable materials, and a bridge-type center console with lots of storage space underneath, though there is no traditional glove box. Subaru also claims it was designed to be dog-friendly, so that’s a plus too. It does have the roomy feel of an Outback, and rear cargo capacity is pretty close, too, at 29.0 cubic-feet.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected. It really shined in the handling course at our Mason-Dixon test track; the EV low center of gravity giving it a very planted feel through the cones. There was minimal body roll and great all-wheel-drive grip; though when it came to us getting a grip on the steering wheel. Well, it’s an oddly shaped steering wheel that took some getting used to. It’s another thing that separates it from the bZ4X, though it seems a little bit like just being different for the sake of being different.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard
2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster
2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display
2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk
2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk

On the other hand, while not insanely fast like some EVs, there was good punch off the line; enough to get us to 60 in 6.2 seconds. And rather than rolling back the power, the Solterra kept it consistent the whole way down the track. We finished the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93 mph. There wasn’t much feel coming through the brake pedal, but panic braking stops were fade-free with an average amount of nose dive; our stops from 60 averaged 120 feet.

Using 33-kWh of electricity per 100-miles, the Solterra earns a good efficiency rating. Pricing starts at $46,340 for the base Premium, and tops out with Touring at $53,340, with Limited in between.

Being the rugged and lovable outdoor types, Subaru owners have proven to be willing to sacrifice certain things for the good of the environment they spend so much time enjoying. Whether that will translate to them going all-in on the 2024 Solterra remains to be seen. It’s no surprise Subaru has finally gone all-electric, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise they’ve entered the EV game conservatively. Something tells us Subaru owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Motor Setup: Dual Motor
  • Battery Size: 72.8-kWh
  • Horsepower: 215
  • Torque: 249 lb-ft
  • EPA Range: 222 miles
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.8 seconds at 93 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 120 feet (avg)
  • MW Test Loop: 172 miles
2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Front

2024 Toyota 4Runner

Aimed to Please for Another 15 Years

Episode 4338
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You know, a lot has changed over the four decades that the Toyota 4Runner has been backwoods exploring and pavement prowling. Most notably, the rise of car-based crossover utilities and the word “softroader” somehow becoming a thing. Well, the 4Runner is still all truck and definitely not soft, but you don’t have to be an off-road pro to enjoy it!

You may find it odd that we’re talking about the fifth-gen 2024 Toyota 4Runner, as we’ve already given you an early look at the upcoming sixth-gen model. And yes, we too have been eagerly awaiting a new 4Runner for some time, considering this outgoing model has stuck around for the last 15 years. But there’s still a lot to love here, so consider this test as one last ride in a fan-favorite utility that’s sure to do well in the second-hand market for years to come.

2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Front
2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Front
2024 Toyota 4Runner Grill
2024 Toyota 4Runner Hood
2024 Toyota 4Runner Profile
2024 Toyota 4Runner Wheels
2024 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Badge
2024 Toyota 4Runner Roof Rack
2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Rear
2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Rear
2024 Toyota 4Runner 1
2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Rolled Down
2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Front2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Front2024 Toyota 4Runner Grill2024 Toyota 4Runner Hood2024 Toyota 4Runner Profile2024 Toyota 4Runner Wheels2024 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Badge2024 Toyota 4Runner Roof Rack2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Rear2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Rear2024 Toyota 4Runner 12024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Rolled Down

Our 2024 4Runner is equipped with the TRD Pro treatment, a premiere trim for off-roaders or those who want to look the part. No judgement here, as the TRD Pro grade does look tough with its more rugged attire. That’s especially noticeable upfront with the exposed skid plating and trim-specific grille donning the bold “TOYOTA” lettering. The side profile starts up top with a sizeable roof basket, working down low to the matte black 17-inch alloys wrapped by Nitto Terra Grappler tires. Ironically, “Terra” is also the name of this new paint color, a hit or miss with our crew, but certainly a standout from the typical white or black. By the way, the all-new 2025 4Runner doesn’t stray too far away, with fan-favorite features, like the power sliding rear glass, sticking around.

We found our current 4Runner TRD Pro didn’t shy away from trail work. Behind the wheels are TRD-tuned Fox shocks and springs, keeping that Nitto rubber planted to the earth. Deeper under its skin is the TRD Pro’s standard four-wheel drive system: Tried, true and very capable.

Deeper under its skin is the TRD Pro’s standard four-wheel drive system: Tried, true and very capable.

This 4Runner’s 15-year winning streak does become more apparent inside, though it’s tough and utilitarian design isn’t completely spartan. For example, the 8-inch touchscreen, while not the largest, does get the job done and features smartphone integration. The SoftTex-trimmed seats are comfortable and easy to clean should the outside come inside.

This is the swan song for 4Runner’s famed 4.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V6. The new 4Runner is all turbo 4’s with a performance hybrid. Our test V6 puts down an able 270 HP and 278 lb-ft to the standard rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive layout. The only transmission is a five-speed automatic.

2024 Toyota 4Runner Engine
2024 Toyota 4Runner Dashboard
2024 Toyota 4Runner Instrument Cluster
2024 Toyota 4Runner Central Display
2024 Toyota 4Runner Shifter
2024 Toyota 4Runner 4WD
2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Switch
2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat
2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat Detail
2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Seat
2024 Toyota 4Runner Trunk
2024 Toyota 4Runner Engine2024 Toyota 4Runner Dashboard2024 Toyota 4Runner Instrument Cluster2024 Toyota 4Runner Central Display2024 Toyota 4Runner Shifter2024 Toyota 4Runner 4WD2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Switch2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat Detail2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Seat2024 Toyota 4Runner Trunk

This legendary V6 combination took its own sweet time at our Mason Dixon testing site, clocking a still acceptable 0-60 time of 7.7 seconds. These all-terrain tires meant less grip off the line, with a decent amount of squeal; but that grip is found in droves in the wilderness. Keeping the throttle pinned meant quarter-mile passes ended in 15.9 seconds at 88 mph.

Things were also mixed in our braking runs too, stopping from 60 in a fine 113 feet. But, the pedal felt soft until about a third of the way towards the firewall, then firmed up nicely. So, we expected and found lots of body roll through our cone course. The light steering isn’t quite in its element here, but does make for an easy drive under normal conditions.

Pricing for the outgoing, and still widely available 2024 Toyota 4Runner starts at $42,100. That’s for an entry-level SR5. A TRD Pro starts at $56,565.

We can’t wait to get some serious on and off-road time in the new sixth-gen 4Runner. But with so many fifth-gens out on the road and in the wild, we know we’ll be seeing plenty of them for quite a while longer. The 2024 Toyota 4Runner remains a formidable force in the SUV market, and should bring buyers plenty of joy for many miles to come.

Specifications

  • Engine: 4.0-liter NA V6
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 270
  • Torque: 278 lb-ft
  • EPA: 16 City | 19 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.9 seconds at 88 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 113 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 16.2 MPG (Regular)