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.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on February 28, 2017
Our 2014 BMW i3 is long gone, but we recently brought in a 2017 range-extender (REX) model for short-term evaluation. The big news for this year is a redesigned battery pack with cells that yield more capacity (33 kWh) than the pack in our long-term car (22 kWh). This gives the 2017 i3 REX an EPA-estimated 97 miles of all-electric range and 180 miles with combined electric and gas power, compared to 72 and 150 miles, respectively, in our old long-termer.
That's already a nice improvement, but I found that by being a little lucky and not flat-footing the accelerator, the EPA's estimates can be surpassed.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on February 27, 2017
With all the storms we've had this winter, I've been itching to head up to Yosemite National Park and check out the waterfalls. A weekend in late January looked promising, and at the time I also had our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X signed out. I figured it'd be interesting to see how Tesla's three-row crossover would handle a day trip with my family of five.
Well, it was certainly interesting, though part of that was due to under-preparation and overconfidence on my part.
by Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing on February 27, 2017
We decided to test a 2016 Kia Optima for one primary reason. Its 2011 redesign was such a dramatic success that we were curious whether the follow-up could continue the momentum. This time around, the exterior was essentially untouched, but the chassis, suspension and interior were new, as was a new turbocharged engine option.
In order to test the most new equipment, we skipped over the EX, SX and SXL trims and chose the LX to get the new 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. With our engine of choice, the LX 1.6T gets a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, keyless entry, heated side mirrors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. We added the $2,600 Technology package, which added navigation, parking sonar, blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control and more. The total MSRP of our 2016 Kia Optima LX 1.6T was $27,545.
Midsize sedans get plenty of work when they're in our fleet and the Optima was no different. Here are some highlights from its year of service.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on February 24, 2017
A couple of readers called me out in one of my last posts about trying out the EV life with the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. They argued that my meager attempt at lunch-break recharging didn't constitute real EV living; to do it right, I'd need to try some overnight home charging. Since I don't have a Level 2 charger at home, I'd be stuck with the trickle-charge economics of a 120-volt outlet.
A Volt-owning friend does this, plugging his car into a 120-volt outlet via extension cord at around 7 p.m. He's got a full charge (about 53 miles) when he leaves for work at 5:30 the next morning.
I liked the road-trip part, though. Like Magrath, I'm a sucker for a good one. So once the Model X gave way to #kingbanana, I was eager to finish what Travis started. When you get a chance to see your country, take it.
Where Did We Drive It? A number of editors have been eyeballing our new 2017 Honda Ridgeline since the day it arrived, and there's been a lot of water-cooler talk about schemes involving camping and other outdoor activities. But January was very wet. With one exception, none of that talk has produced much real action. I expect we'll see some of those plans come to fruition in the warmer and drier months to come.
Even so, the Ridgeline has managed to accumulate nearly 3,500 miles in its first six weeks in our possession. Some of those miles came during routine commuting, of course. But it has also seen its share of day trips, at least one local canyon run in the mountains, a bit of muddy off-roading and an extended thousand-mile road trip to the north-central California coast.
Where Did We Drive It? Our 2016 Toyota Prius had a relatively quiet January, puttering around the Los Angeles area and adding 682 miles to its odometer in the process. The Prius hasn't been an ideal candidate for some of the lengthy road trips we've taken recently, but be on the lookout as we take it outside the confines of the gnarly L.A. metro area in the near future.
Where Did We Drive It? As has often been the case with our 2016 Tesla Model X, we used most of its electrons in January to get us from our SoCal homes to the Edmunds office and back. In fact, my co-worker Ed Hellwig almost ran out of electrons while commuting to the office one day, which you can read more about in his comment below. I'm sure that was fun for him.
We took delivery of our beautiful Titanium Flash Mica 2016 Mazda CX-9 in December, as Dan Edmunds noted in the CX-9's Long-Term Introduction. Dan also added some break-in miles over the holidays with a trip up to Oregon, during which he voluntarily tested the fold-flat "sleeping configuration" of the rear seats. But that's a story for another time.
Where Did We Drive It? A ski trip over the holidays and a month's worth of commuting duties put our long-term 2017 Chrysler Pacifica over the 10,000-mile mark this month. The Pacifica has been in our fleet for about six months now and we've had the chance to take it near and far, with lots of positive feedback about its versatility and initial quality. This far into the test, though, we are still falling short of the EPA's highway fuel economy estimates and the Pacifica has developed a few squeaks and rattles.