2016 Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5

Episode 3445
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

For as long as we’ve been testing cars, we’ve yet to come across one that brings as much pure driving joy for the dollar spent as the Mazda Miata roadster. And even though it’s now officially the MX-5, and more and more sophistication has crept into the design over three generations, the all-new 4th gen, 2016 MX-5 keeps the good times rollin’.

It’s hard not to have a good time behind the wheel of the 2016 Mazda MX-5. As while this 4th iteration roadster may no longer look as far back, or be as basic, the pure sports car spirit of the original 1990 Miata is fully intact. 

Like most recent Mazda’s, a significant effort is made to take the weight out, despite adding in more creature comforts. Weight is down 150-lbs. to 2,332.

And as before, there’s just enough go from the engine to make things fun, though now it’s the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter I4 at 155-horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and it feels just as good as we remember. A 6-speed auto is available as well, but please only if you must. 

At our test track, the MX-5 hops off the line better than ever. And while it’s easy to pine for more power, we’re actually quite happy with the engine’s output. It took 6.8–seconds to reach 60 on a slick track, and 15.4 to complete the ¼ at 89 miles-per-hour. 

When it comes to cone work, the first thing you notice is the new electric power steering. Turn in is still razor sharp and precise, there’s just a very light feel to it now, maybe too light. The car itself however, feels far more solid overall. Still, it’s just as entertaining as ever tossing it around with playful amounts of oversteer.   

The suspension remains double-wishbone front and multilink rear, but this time around, Club trim includes the sport suspension with Bilstein dampers and a shock tower brace; as well as a limited slip rear. 

Averaging 60 MPH stopping distance of just 111–feet means the braking is done with the same no-nonsense efficiency as the rest of the car. 

The leaner, meaner MX-5 has a much more modern look of course. It also sits lower, and is a hair wider.

The face is still friendly, but the rest of the car is a little edgier, almost BMW-like, with its Euro-esque sculpted rear. Both head and tail lights are full LEDs with LED DRLs of course.

Club trim adds a sharper-looking front air dam and black side mirrors; while the Brembo/BBS package really spices things up with painted calipers, side sill extensions, rear bumper skirt, and of course 17-inch forged BBS wheels. 

True to tradition, a manual soft top is standard, folding and latching easily right from the driver’s seat. No word yet on whether an optional hardtop will return. 

Inside, available features abound, fully displayed here in Club trim, like a dash top 7-inch screen. Touch controls are limited to when you’re sitting still. This Commander Controller is use when moving. Push button start is standard. But the remainder of the interior, from round air vents to big analog gauges is as clean and simple as ever.

Most importantly, the shifter falls readily to hand as always, and we quickly felt right at home. More comfortable seats with extra adjustments are always welcome, and they still hold you tight as well.

As for complaints, we understand the need of the Commander Controller, but its console placement is too far back for easy use, and we could use a little more girth to the steering wheel. 

Mazda says that the MX-5’s trunk is smaller, but we actually found it more useful than before. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the manual are 27-City, 34-Highway, and 30-Combined. Even better are the numbers for the automatic at 27-City, 36-Highway, and 30-Combined. And they both share a great Energy Impact Score of 11.0-barrels of oil used and 4.9-tons of CO2 emissions per year. 

Prices have increased, now starting at $25,735 for Sport trim; this Club, at $29,420, and top shelf Grand Touring at $30,885. Still, no one else offers this much roadster fun for the dollar. 

So, back to where we started. Even with all the improvements, Mazda has not compromised that great Miata persona. The 2016 Mazda MX-5 does indeed deliver a lot more than just sports car basics, but those basics are still what this little roadster gets exactly right.

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.0 liter I4
  • Horsepower: 155
  • Torque: 148 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 15.4 seconds @ 89 mph
  • EPA: 27 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 11.0 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 4.9 tons/yr
2024 Lexus GX550

2024 Lexus GX550

It’s A Land Cruiser With A Lexus Badge

Episode 4344
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When most people think of Lexus SUVs, they tend to think of the RX, and for good reason. The RX was a key player in popularizing the luxury SUV market as we know it today. But, the Lexus SUV world is much bigger than that, of course, including something for adventurous, rugged, off-road types.

We’re not about to claim that there’s some kind of body-on-frame SUV resurgence happening, but it’s clear that car-like crossovers haven’t fully taken over the SUV world just yet; and more than any other brand, Toyota seems on a mission to make SUVs truly great again. Even when it comes to their Lexus brand with this new 2024 Lexus GX550.

When the first gen GX arrived for 2003, it seemed to go out of its way to disguise its substantial off-road capabilities behind some very soft-roader sheet-metal, but those that knew… knew that underneath, the GX was based on the rugged J120 Land Cruiser. Fast forward to this third-gen GX, and it looks like Lexus is fully embracing that Land Cruiser kinship going boxier and bolder than ever before. Square lines, chunky fenders, wide track, short overhangs, highly vertical windshield; all hallmarks of serious off-roaders.

The GX is also the first Lexus to benefit from their Overtrail Project which encourages Lexus owners to get out of their comfort zones and experience what their luxo-ute is actually capable of. So, Overtrail models are outfitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, a locking rear diff, and an Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can independently unlock both front and rear stabilizer bars for more wheel articulation.

2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Front
2024 Lexus GX550 3
2024 Lexus GX550 Profile
2024 Lexus GX550 5
2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Rear
2024 Lexus GX550 Wheel
2024 Lexus GX550 Badge
2024 Lexus GX550 Grille
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Just like the recently released Toyota J250 Land Cruiser, the GX is built on Toyota’s Tundra truck frame, but instead of a four-cylinder turbo-hybrid, it’s launching with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 with 349-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s 48-horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous GX’s V8. Max tow rating shoots up from 6,500 to 9,096-lbs. The GX works exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel-drive and a two-speed transfer case standard. Lexus says a hybrid option will be available later, but no word on if it’s the Land Cruiser’s 2.4-liter I4 hybrid or the V6 hybrid that’s currently available in the Tundra pickup.

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to appreciate the high seating position and great visibility of the GX; as rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too. There’s a big control center in front of the dash with a high-mounted 14-inch touchscreen, and dedicated knobs for temperature and volume just below. A third row of seating is available in most trims, providing space for six or seven passengers. But if you go Overtrail, Lexus assumes you’re not the big family type and would rather have the space for packing adventure gear, so it’s the only trim that is five-passenger only.

As rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too.

While the double-wishbone front and rear multi-link suspension of this Overtrail is clearly off-road inspired, it held up well enough in our Mason Dixon Dragway handling course. Slow and steady definitely won the race here, as the GX felt big and heavy, with notable weight shifting on transitions through the cones, and light steering. Stability systems were eager to kick in well before things could get out of sorts.

Buyers can add Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension for smoothing things out on the highways without sacrificing off-road capabilities. It launched quite aggressively off the line in acceleration runs; again, sturdy and truck-like, with all four wheels biting into the pavement and propelling us forward harder than we were expecting, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

2024 Lexus GX550 Dashboard
2024 Lexus GX550 Steering Wheel
2024 Lexus GX550 Infotainment
2024 Lexus GX550 Shifter
2024 Lexus GX550 Front Seat
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2024 Lexus GX550 Seats Down Trunk
2024 Lexus GX550 Trunk
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Lots of grip and no drama, as this turbo-six puts plenty of power down instantly. It sounds good too; powerful, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was more of a V8 rumble than V6 trumpet. Quarter-mile completed in 14.9-seconds at 94 mph.

Braking runs were a little inconsistent, with the off-road tires seemingly gripping and pulling us in different directions. But stops averaged a great 114-feet from 60 mph, so we’ll accept the slightly unsettled feel.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined; we averaged a respectable 20.1 mpg of Premium. But it garners a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.5-barrels of yearly oil use, with 8.3-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with Premium grade at $64,250, ranging to Luxury at $77,250, with Overtrail in between at $69,250. All trims can be plus sized for additional features.

The 2024 Lexus GX550 is clearly not just another luxury saturated soft-roader. It’s a real deal Land Cruiser with a Lexus moniker, and this Overtrail is the most off-road capable Lexus ever. That not only makes it appealing to traditional Lexus buyers, but to a whole “range” of new conquests as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 349
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft
  • EPA: 15 City | 21 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 94 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 114 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Premium)
  • Max Tow Rating: 9,096-lbs