2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Episode 3703
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

There’s a new Mazda Miata in town, and it’s more than just a hardtop, it’s something entirely different. It’s the MX-5 RF, for retractable fastback. Now is it just a Miata that’s better in bad weather, or is it a better Miata period? Well, we feel it’s our duty to get to the top of it!  

Sports cars have been in a bit of a slump lately, though the Mazda MX-5 Miata has mostly been immune. But just to ensure the excitement meter stays pegged; for 2017, Mazda has something special for all of us, this Miata RF.  

Much different than the previous gen’s Power Retractable Hard Top, this Retractable Fastback features a somewhat complicated design that somehow works very smoothly, and stores the center section of the roof only, in the same amount of space as the soft top, leaving trunk capacity exactly the same. You could call it a Targa, but Mazda chose not to. 

It’s much better in every way than the previous hard top. And as sharp as it looks with it up, we can see a lot of style-conscious fans buying it for that reason alone.

The RF also includes some additional sound-deadening material, so engine and tire noise are more tempered, a plus if you’re planning longer trips.

The RF looks much different in profile of course, unique enough that it wasn’t instantly recognizable as a Miata to many we encountered. 

The RF weighs about 110-lbs more than the roadster, but you won’t notice it in around town driving. 

And we love that everything remains super simple inside. All is right where you expect it to be, including the shifter for the standard 6-speed manual. 

But that also means frustrating cup holders and minimal small item storage space.

No other changes inside, save for the button to set the top in motion and a new TFT screen in the gauges that will make its way into other Miatas soon. 

Plenty of headroom remains, but if our RF had any downside, it was wind noise. Too much of it made it inside, seemingly right by our ears.

Nothing deviates from the norm in the powertrain department. Under-hood lies a SKACTIV-G 2.0-liter I4 with 155-horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque. 

Maybe it was the top’s added weight, or test day’s hot temps, but our RF manual was a few tenths slower to 60 than the last cloth top we tested, at 6.3-seconds. 

Only moderate throttle modulation is necessary at launch, as there’s not enough torque to really cause problems. Both clutch and shifter work as precisely as always, allowing you to move quickly through the gears. We finished the ¼-mile in 15.0-seconds flat at 92 miles-per-hour. 

And without a doubt, no matter what is or isn’t over your head, the MX-5 remains a great place to take in the blurry sights surrounding your favorite back road. Or our choice, the curves of Northern Virginia’s Dominion Raceway.

We know that a hardtop can add some rigidity to a car’s chassis, but to be honest we didn’t sense that either, as the basic car is now so solid. 

Both the suspension and electric power steering have been recalibrated, and if anything, we noticed a little less feel through the wheel than before, though reaction is still very quick. Throttle response also felt a little deadened. 

The RF is only available in Club and Grand Touring trim, with base pricing that works out to be around 3-grand extra. So, its $32,430 for the Club RF, and $33,495 for the Grand Touring.

So, you have to really love the new look. Now, we view the MX-5 as the best bargain among sports cars, so we’d probably stick with the original and spend the money we saved on performance upgrades. 

Still, one thing is clear. Mazda took great strides to give buyers not just a hard top version of our beloved Miata, but something that is truly different. The 2017 MX-5 Miata RF is a uniquely charming take on the minimalist roadster theme; and a beauty not just for our eyes, but for all of our senses.  

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 155
  • Torque: 148 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 15.0 seconds @ 92 mph
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge 3/4 Front

2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge

Big Changes for Volvo’s Smallest SUV

Episode 4337
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Volvo’s march towards full electrification is well underway, and it doesn’t look like anything will stop it. Now, there are currently four fully-electric SUVs you can reserve on their website. However, only two have made it onto our streets here in the U.S. including their first EV, the XC40 Recharge. Which, as it turns out, continues to get better and better.

The 2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge started out as just the plain old XC40 back in 2019. It then acquired the Recharge signifier in 2021 when it became the brand’s first full battery-electric vehicle here in the U.S., not to be confused with the XC40 Recharge PHEV… Plug-In Hybrid… which unfortunately is not sold here.
Got all that? Good, let’s talk about what has changed recently to make the XC40 Recharge EV better than ever.

It may look mostly the same as when we last saw it back in 2021, but it did get some styling tweaks last year, and underneath that skin, and all the vegan and recycled materials, are some big changes for 20-24.
Foremost is a bigger battery. It comes in a new two-wheel-drive version of the XC40. Up to now, all XC40 Recharges have been all-wheel drive. With just a single 185 kilowatt motor rated at 248 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque and a larger 82 kilowatt-hour battery pack, range jumps from the previous max of 223 miles to 293.

2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Dead Front
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge 3/4 Front
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Headlight
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Volvo Badge
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Profile
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Rear Profile
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Stamped Name
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge 3/4 Rear
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Dead Rear
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Taillight
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Badge
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Dead Front2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge 3/4 Front2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Headlight2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Volvo Badge2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Profile2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Rear Profile2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Stamped Name2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge 3/4 Rear2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Dead Rear2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Taillight2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Badge

Now, we put it to the test on a cold and rainy spring day, and fell well short of that max number. But our pace of 251-miles, at the end of our driving loop, was still a significant improvement.

Twin-motor all-wheel-drive XC40s keep the same 78 kilowatt-hour battery as before, but also take advantage of that new rear motor, as well as get an upgraded front motor too. New software treats that front motor as more of a traction assist to be used only when needed.

Power built more gradually, more like a traditional ICE powertrain. We’ve been seeing that approach from other EV makers recently as well, and we’re onboard with that.

So, range is up for it too, now rated at 254 miles. Full one-pedal driving is also included. XC40s with the extended range battery have a charging upgrade too, now taking up to 200-kilowatt DC fast charging for an 80% charge in 28 minutes.

As for charging off the starting line at our test track, it certainly didn’t have the rush of acceleration that the twin-motor displays. Power built more gradually, more like a traditional ICE powertrain. We’ve been seeing that approach from other EV makers recently as well, and we’re onboard with that.

2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Dashboard
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Steering Wheel
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Central Display
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Volume Knob
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Digital Cluster
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Central Display Alt
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Shifter
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Front Seat
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge 7
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Rear Seat
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Rear Climate
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Trunk
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Harmon Kardon Speaker
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Door Interior
2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Dashboard2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Steering Wheel2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Central Display2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Volume Knob2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Digital Cluster2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Central Display Alt2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Shifter2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Front Seat2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge 72024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Rear Seat2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Rear Climate2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Trunk2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Harmon Kardon Speaker2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge Door Interior

Once full power did arrive, we hit 60 in a still quite quick 6.4 seconds; and power delivery stayed strong throughout the quarter-mile instead of tapering off like many EVs do. The full quarter-mile catapult ended in 15.2 seconds at 92 miles-per-hour.

Volvo has also tweaked the suspension to provide a smoother ride on the street, but with the same low center of gravity as before, combined with rear-wheel drive, the XC40 Recharge felt more than capable through our handling course.

Nothing really changes inside. All occupants are met with a pretty plush yet very practical design. That means great materials, good comfort front and rear, and Volvo’s Google-based infotainment system.

XC40 Recharges are available in 3 trim levels: Core, Plus, and Ultimate, with all three now available in either rear or all-wheel drive. With the Twin Motor now essentially a $1,750 option, prices range from the base Single Motor Core’s $53,745 to top Twin Motor Ultimate at $61,845.

With a comprehensive powertrain and drivetrain makeover, the 2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge accomplishes more than just offering more range and more options for buyers, it has become a more compelling EV choice than ever.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Motor Setup: single rear (185-kW)
  • Battery Size: 82-kWh
  • Horsepower: 248
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft.
  • EPA Range: 293 Miles
  • 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.2 seconds at 92 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 116 feet (avg)
  • MW Range: 252 Miles
  • Efficiency: 32 kWh/100 miles