Long-Term Road Tests News & Updates

On this page you'll find the latest updates to our Long-Term Road Tests. The topics covered in these ongoing vehicle reviews range from things like fuel efficiency and comfort to highlights of specific features like GPS and audio technology. Check back frequently as our auto reviews are updated on a regular basis.

Daily Long-Term Vehicle Updates

2014 Mazda 3: Suspension Noise

October 24, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

This is what I get for trying to enjoy the weather and driving with my windows down.

Driving down the absurdly unkempt Wilshire Blvd here in Los Angeles, our 2014 Mazda 3 sounded like it was being followed by a dryer with a fork in it.

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2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Rearview Display Delay

October 24, 2014

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited

Donna mentioned in a recent post about the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's slow-shifting transmission. But that's not its only slow shift.

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2015 Kia K900: Fitting Child Safety Seats Won't Be a Problem

October 24, 2014

2015 Kia K900

Perhaps you've heard that LeBron James is going to be the 2015 Kia K900's new spokesperson for the "Fit for a King" campaign. No doubt, LeBron will be used to demonstrate the K900's extensive room and feature content. Less likely, however, will be a demonstration of how well LeBron manages to fit his two small children in the backseat.

I'm here to help you out, LeBron.

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2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: LED Lighting

October 24, 2014

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo

The steady influx of LED lighting into the automotive industry is a good thing. The crisp light it provides with substantially less electricity, its lower operating temperature and the compact/multi-contour dimensions are all an engineer/designer's dream come true. We had fun with our 2011 Ford Mustang GT's LED ambient and instrument panel "MyColor," lighting, purposely setting the most unattractive combinations of gauge/surround color for the next driver to find.

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2014 Nissan Rogue: Non-Gated Shifter

October 24, 2014

2014 Nissan Rogue

For whatever reason, maybe because it uses a CVT, our 2014 Nissan Rogue lacks a gated shifter. Because of this, and because I give it little attention, I often find myself in Low when I intend to be in Drive.

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2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: San Diego Road Trip

October 24, 2014

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

This road trip had been more or less in the works for over a year. Jag to San Diego. The model of Jaguar wasn't important, but the destination was. As a child, my family would go to a resort now called Paradise Point for Easter. It was my grandfather's favorite place to go with his children and grandchildren. And while he never put much of an importance on cars, he always had a soft spot in his heart for Jaguars.

After he passed away, I planned to take a trip to his favorite spot in his favorite car. With a long weekend coming up and new meats on our 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, I requested the car and booked a room. San Diego, here we come.

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2014 Mini Cooper: EPA Orders Fuel Economy Downgrade

October 23, 2014

2014 Mini Cooper

Small cars like the 2014 Mini Cooper are appealing for a variety of reasons, not least of which is their potential for good fuel economy. But earlier this week the EPA forced BMW/Mini to downgrade the MPG figures on all 2014 Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S window stickers as shown above.

Our 1.5-liter turbo automatic appears on the second line. It lost 1 mpg in each of the three rating categories. All three other Cooper variants suffered the same 1-mpg loss in the all-important Combined category, but things look worse for them because they took a hit of 2 to 4 mpg in the marquee Highway test.

The EPA says this came about after it "performed a fuel economy audit on the BMW Mini Cooper and obtained values that differed from those BMW submitted to EPA for certification." In short, EPA ran a spot check on its own dyno and got a different result.

BMW was then asked to repeat its internal tests with EPA oversight. Meanwhile, the EPA ran another set of tests in parallel on its own dyno in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The end result boils down to this statement: "The EPA is requiring BMW to re-label four of its Mini Cooper models with lower fuel economy values."

But that's not quite the whole story...

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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: A Good But Not Great Cruise Control System

October 23, 2014

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

I use cruise control more than most. Don't ask me why, but anytime I have clear road ahead of me I usually set my speed and hope that no one gets in my way for a while.

After using the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's setup countless times I've grown to appreciate it for the most part, but it has its drawbacks.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Subtle Mood Lighting

October 23, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

Mood lighting is becoming increasingly ubiquitous throughout the car world. From little blue lights that shine down in Acuras to the infinite palette sampled by the 2015 Ford Mustang's gauges, lighting has become an easy way to add some distinction and/or a classy touch to a car's cabin.

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2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: Cargo Features

October 23, 2014

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo

I picked up my daughter from school the other day, and as is always the case, we loaded her roller-bag, lunch box, and water bottle into the trunk. Often, we struggle with a place to put her water bottle so that it doesn't roll to the deep, dark recesses of the trunk, but lo and behold, our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo made our search a short one.

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2015 Kia K900: Rocking Out With the Lexicon Sound System

October 23, 2014

2015 Kia K900

On big luxury sedans, you typically have to pay extra to get a premium sound system. For instance, you have to pay $6,400 to get the optional Burmester system in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, or $6,300 to get the fancy Bang & Olufsen system in the Audi A8. But Kia seems to think that a flagship luxury sedan should have a flagship sound system right from the start. As such, every 2015 Kia K900 comes standard with a 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system.

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2015 Audi A3: Introduction

October 23, 2014

2015 Audi A3

After giving the Mercedes-Benz CLA a try for a year, we figured the new A3 would be an interesting follow-up. With a base price of just over $30K, the A3 costs roughly the same and offers similar equipment and space. But does it offer something the Mercedes doesn't?

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2014 Toyota Highlander: 10,000-Mile Service

October 23, 2014

2014 Toyota Highlander

As the maintenance minder in our 2014 Toyota Highlander finally changed from "maintenance required soon" to "take me to a dealership now or suffer the consequences," we made an appointment at our local dealership to placate the SUV's incessant startup message.

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2014 Nissan Rogue: Subwoofer Packaging

October 23, 2014

2014 Nissan Rogue

Packaging is a strength of our long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue. The little SUV uses its space efficiently with a highly configurable cargo area. It also packages its Bose subwoofer in a clever location.

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2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Unnecessary Wood Trim

October 22, 2014

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited

"Why's this wood panel here?" Megan asked. It was the first thing she noticed when she sat in the passenger seat of our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. "It isn't even real wood. Is it supposed to match the brown door panel or something?" Megan is a good friend of mine and she's ridden in many of our long-term cars, so I trust her to give me her honest opinion. This time, she pointed out something I hadn't really noticed before and I wasn't exactly sure how to respond.

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2015 Porsche Macan: Abnormal Seat Height

October 22, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan

If you're used to climbing into different sorts of cars, there's a muscle memory that develops. You expect a certain ratio of step-in height to seat height. SUV's, even smaller crossovers, have an elevated step-in height and then an elevated seat height as well. Cars have a lower step-in height and then fall into the seat. Essentially it's up and up, versus down and down.

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2014 Mini Cooper: Vastly Improved Cargo Area

October 22, 2014

2014 Mini Cooper

Sure, the 2014 Mini Cooper is a small car. It's right there in the name and everything.

It's very unlikely the Mini Cooper will ever be named the Official Car of Costco. This is nothing like a Tardis. It's small on the inside, too.

But it's not nearly as small as you'd think, and nowhere near as small as last year's model. Last week I was able to do a fair amount of errand-running and item-toting in ours thanks to a laundry list of improvements over the previous model.

For the record, that's one of those large 34-pound bags of dog food on the right and a medium-sized 17.5-pound bag on the left. No sweat.

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2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: Hard Seats

October 22, 2014

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

I'm going to have to agree with Executive Editor Ed Hellwig with his post back in July, the seats in the 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe aren't as comfortable as they should be.  

The stuffing, in the seatback in particular, is quite hard and after a couple of hours in the car you definitely notice that, well, you're noticing the seats. On the other hand, the lateral support is excellent, the bolstering holds you in place through corners nicely.

So would the hard seats be a deal-breaker?

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2014 Toyota Highlander: Weekend MVP

October 22, 2014

2014 Toyota Highlander

I'm not sure which door I opened most during the past three days while driving our 2014 Toyota Highlander, the driver's door or the rear hatch.

Kelly Hellwig, News Editor @ 11,462 miles

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Notes for Seniors

October 22, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

I went to dinner with a friend of mine who is in her 70s. She's a very fashionable French lady and is interested in getting a new car. She currently drives a Nissan Murano that she used for her business, but she doesn't need something that large anymore. She would like something smaller and easier to park.

I thought she would like the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 so I picked her up in our long-termer. I find getting in and out of our Mercedes very easy for me as a short person. She is about my height but found it too low and a little difficult, especially compared to her Murano.

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2014 Nissan Rogue: Three Child Seats A Possibility

October 21, 2014

2014 Nissan Rogue

I noticed this week that our 2014 Nissan Rogue is designed to  accommodate three child seats across its second row. Though it lacks three sets of LATCH attachment points in the second row, there is a third top tether mounted to the roof just inside the hatch. Using the middle seat belt it is possible to install three child seats across the second row and have the safety of three top tethers.

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2015 Kia K900: Take a Seat and Relax

October 21, 2014

2015 Kia K900

A few weeks ago, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers, told assembled reporters to "r-e-l-a-x" regarding the team's suboptimal early games. Ah, but how to relax? How about taking a drive in a 2015 Kia K900?

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2014 Mini Cooper: Why a Loaded Base Cooper Now Makes Sense

October 21, 2014

2014 Mini Cooper

More than a few folks welcomed our 2014 Mini Cooper to the long-term fleet with raised eyebrows and incredulity. "Why would you spend $33,095 on a base Mini Cooper?" they wondered.

I'm here to lay it out for you.

First, the brand-new base 1.5-liter turbo three is no slouch. This is not the slug you may have encountered before. The new mill makes 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, and our automatic-equipped version recently scooted to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds.

That's about 2 seconds quicker than last-year's 1.6-liter base car with an automatic. Suddenly the more-powerful Cooper S is no longer the knee-jerk upgrade it once was. That's even true if you live at altitude, because the 2014 base engine now has a blower just like its stronger sibling.

And the 1.5-liter turbo is less thirsty, too. Our automatic is rated at 33 32 mpg Combined (29 28 City/40 39 Highway), which is 2 mpg better on the highway than the thriftiest base manual-equipped version of last year's car. It's also 2 mpg better than a 2014 Cooper S automatic in a combined sense and 4 mpg thriftier on the highway.

If we were comparing manual to manual the 2014 base Cooper's advantage over the 2014 Cooper S would be 5 mpg city and combined and a full 6 mpg on the highway. It's hard to ignore 34 33 mpg Combined (30 29 City/42 40 Highway) versus 29 28 Combined (25 24 City/38 34 Highway) when you're talking about an entry-level engine that can now dish out plenty of merging and passing power.

For us, there really wasn't much of a choice. We simply had to try out the new base Cooper engine. But it's true we could have one for as little as $20,745.

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2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: Large Gear Indicator

October 21, 2014

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

Now that, right there in the center of the instrument panel of the 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, is what you call a real gear indicator. It's surprising how many cars with automatic transmissions have tiny little gear readouts.

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