2017 New York Auto Show: 6 Speedy Picks for Under $60,000

Several family-oriented and fun-to-drive vehicles debuted at the 2017 New York Auto Show. Check out six of our favorites priced at less than $60,000.

While New Yorkers typically favor just about any form of transportation aside from a personal vehicle, that doesn’t prevent the city’s annual auto show from serving as one of the major American expositions of its kind. After all, Manhattan’s surrounding area is populated by one of the largest consumer audiences in the world, making the New York Auto Show an important venue for car companies showcasing their latest and greatest models.

This year’s lengthy list of debuts was no different, and included serious automotive firepower in the forms of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the Lexus LS 500 F Sport, and the Mercedes-AMG GLC63. But those all cost big bucks, and if you’re on a family budget, you’re seeking a cheaper thrill.

We’ve just returned from several days of press conferences in the Big Apple, and when it comes to fun family vehicles priced below $60,000, these six new models, listed in alphabetical order, are of the most interest.

Continue reading “2017 New York Auto Show: 6 Speedy Picks for Under $60,000”

The Best Cars and SUVs of 2017

The Daily News Autos Awards are out, and these are the best cars and SUVs of 2017

For the second year in a row, the New York Daily News has announced its annual Daily News Autos (DNA) Awards. What’s that got to do with Speedy Daddy, you might ask? Good question.

As the editor of the newspaper’s Autos section (and a contributor to other publications), I am proud to have instituted this awards program in 2016, and I am thrilled that the Daily News elected to repeat the DNA Awards for 2017. While several of my own selections did not make the final cut this year, those vehicles that earned the most votes from the 8-person jury, and by extension won the award, are absolutely worthy of your consideration.

What follows is a selection of those vehicles, the ones that are worthy of a Speedy Daddy recommendation. I’ve listed them here in alphabetical order, along with some of the reasons cited by our jury for selecting them for the win.

Continue reading “The Best Cars and SUVs of 2017”

2017 Geneva Auto Show: 6 Speedy Picks for Under $60,000

Looking for a fun car or SUV in which to shuttle your family? Check out these six performance-oriented models that are coming to America.

Normally, the annual Geneva Motor Show showcases vehicles that won’t come to the U.S., along with ridiculously priced supercars that might get your adrenalin pumping but that you’ll never see on public roads let alone in your own driveway.

Naturally, this trend continued in 2017, but automakers also rolled out six new America-bound, performance-oriented models with at least four doors, a back seat big enough for kids, and a price tag under $60,000.

Intrigued? Check out what’s headed for the States starting in a matter of weeks, listed in alphabetical order.

Continue reading “2017 Geneva Auto Show: 6 Speedy Picks for Under $60,000”

Autonomy is Right Around the Corner, Yet Car Companies are Doubling Down on Driving Fun

Cars that drive themselves are coming to a roadway near you. So why are automakers so focused on fun?

Can a Toyota Camry legitimately be described as fun to drive? Toyota thinks so, and expects this to come to pass when the redesigned 2018 Camry arrives later this year.

The next-generation Camry is built on Toyota’s new global vehicle architecture, designed from the ground up to improve driving dynamism. Chairman Akio Toyoda, himself a fan of taking the long way home, has decreed that Toyotas and Lexuses must be more than just high-quality, dependable, and efficient vehicles. They must spark emotion, they must be enjoyable to drive, and they must be aspirational rather than an appliance.

Toyota is not alone. Multiple automakers are flexing their engineering muscles in order to appeal to people for whom the journey is just as much fun as the destination. Clearly, if you are a driving enthusiast, now is a great, if disconcerting, time to be alive.

Continue reading “Autonomy is Right Around the Corner, Yet Car Companies are Doubling Down on Driving Fun”

What is Teen Driver Technology from General Motors?

For 2017, GM expands availability of its impressive new safe teen driving technology.

As a car-crazy kid raised during the 1970s on a steady diet of “The Rockford Files” and “Starsky and Hutch,” I could not wait to turn 16 and get my driver’s license.

Shortly thereafter, while trying to impress a girl with my fishtailing expertise on a snowy residential street, I planted my mother’s 1980 Buick Regal into a telephone pole. The girl sat in the middle of the velour bench seat between my buddy and me, and none of us were wearing seat belts.

Miraculously, none of us got hurt. My pride? That’s another story.

Today, as a father to four kids ranging in age from 6 to 19, I’ve shared this story (and many others) with my older daughters in the hopes that they won’t repeat my mistakes. And I’m thrilled that new vehicles are now equipped with technologies like Teen Driver from General Motors, even though I would have hated them when I was a new and reckless driver.

Continue reading “What is Teen Driver Technology from General Motors?”

Five to Drive: Fun and Safe Crossover SUVs

You don’t need to spend extra for a luxury brand to buy an entertaining and safe crossover SUV.

Everybody wants a crossover SUV, except for driving enthusiasts because weight + taller center of gravity = sad face emoji.

If you like to drive, but daily life demands more space for passengers and cargo in a safe, all-wheel-drive vehicle, don’t worry. There are several crossover SUVs that meet the criteria without sucking all of the joy out of your commute.

Personally, my favorite is the 2017 Ford Edge Sport, equipped with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, available 21-inch wheels and performance tires, and a driving thrill unmatched by anything at its price. Unfortunately, it does not qualify as a “Top Safety Pick” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), coming up short in the small overlap frontal-impact test.

The five vehicles that follow, however, do earn this crash protection designation. So if that’s your most important consideration, as it should be for any vehicle in which you’re planning to carry your family, check out one of these fun and safe crossover SUVs. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Continue reading “Five to Drive: Fun and Safe Crossover SUVs”

2017 Infiniti QX50 Review: Better Than You’d Guess, Ancient Nonetheless

Infiniti’s geriatric quasi-crossover is a pleasant reminder of the good old days.

A redesigned Infiniti QX50 is coming, and it will go grille-to-grille with compact luxury crossover SUVs like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. It can’t arrive fast enough to replace this, the old QX50, which originally debuted a decade ago as the 2008 EX35.

Things have changed since that first EX arrived. It got a bigger engine. It got a new name. It got a wheelbase stretch. It got a suspension lift. It even got updated safety and infotainment technologies. But there is no question that the 2017 Infiniti QX50 is ripe for replacement.

Normally, decade-old designs disappoint. In this case, because the QX50 is to the old G37 sports sedan what the Honda Crosstour was to the Accord family sedan, driving one is like jumping into the Wayback Machine for a thrilling ride down Memory Lane.

In fact, the 2017 Infiniti QX50 is enjoyable enough to drive that it almost makes up for its significant shortcomings.

Continue reading “2017 Infiniti QX50 Review: Better Than You’d Guess, Ancient Nonetheless”

Are Third-Row Seats Safe for Children?

Consider rear-impact collisions before putting your kids, or anyone you love, in the third-row seat.

If you’ve overlooked the 2017 Kia Sorento in your quest for a new family-sized crossover SUV, you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice.

It is a terrific vehicle, sized between the traditional compact and midsize SUV segments, stylish, comfortable, and enjoyable to drive. It meets a wide range of budget requirements, and when loaded with every option, could easily pass for a luxury SUV except for the Kia badge on the center of the steering wheel.

Plus, it gets the highest possible crash-protection ratings from the federal government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and for 2017 Kia further stepped up the Sorento’s game by installing an automatic emergency braking system on every trim level as standard or optional equipment.

This is an SUV I can easily recommend to families. But I have a concern, and that relates to the Sorento’s third-row seat design.

Continue reading “Are Third-Row Seats Safe for Children?”

Redesigned 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Speeds to the Border of GTI Territory

Turbocharged engine, independent rear suspension, hundreds of Nurburgring development laps hold promise

Volkswagen is the undisputed king of Pocket Rocket Mountain, and it has been for decades. If you’ve driven a Golf GTI or Golf R, especially lately, you understand why. Still, that doesn’t prevent competing automakers from trying to decode VW’s recipe and improve upon the result (at best), or mimic it (at worst).

With the debut of the redesigned 2018 Elantra GT, it’s Hyundai’s turn at bat. This time around, the company fortifies the new Elantra GT Sport model with a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine making 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, a choice between a 6-speed manual and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and hundreds of laps of Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife to fine-tune the ride and handling.

Does this new Elantra GT Sport have what it takes? A drive will determine that. For now, all we’ve got is details.

Continue reading “Redesigned 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Speeds to the Border of GTI Territory”

Dodge Brings More Power to More People with the 2018 Durango SRT

Meet the three-row SUV packing a 475-horsepower “Hemi” V8.

Seeking speed? Meet the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT, which takes just 4.4 seconds to reach 60 mph and covers the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds flat. Don’t take my word for it. The National Hot Rod Association certified those numbers for Dodge.

Equipped with a 475-horsepower, 6.4-liter “Hemi” V8 engine, the Durango SRT supplies seating for six, up to 84.5 cubic-feet of cargo space, and delivers impressive muscle at a relative bargain compared to luxury-branded high-performance SUVs.

This is more than just a straight-line acceleration tool. Dodge fortifies the Durango SRT with an 8-speed automatic with downshift rev matching, a performance all-wheel-drive system, a launch control system, an adaptive damping suspension, and seven SRT-tuned driving modes including one labeled “Track.” Brembo brake calipers clamp oversized ventilated discs (slotted up front to better dissipate heat), and a performance exhaust bellows from 4-inch outlets tucked under the rear bumper.

Dodge even provides Durango SRT owners with a free one-day session at the fabled Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. You just need to get yourself to Phoenix.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? There’s just one problem.

Continue reading “Dodge Brings More Power to More People with the 2018 Durango SRT”