2016 Kia Sorento Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick Award

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The three-row crossover class is really heating up, with redesigns from Honda and Kia for 2016. Kia’s new Sorento should be more appealing to families with its new safety rating: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just named it a Top Safety Pick, earning the top score of good across all areas of testing, including the tough small-overlap front crash test.

Related: 2016 Kia Sorento: First Look

The last-generation Sorento failed the small-overlap front test, which mimics when the front corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole. IIHS also said that in the previous model, the side curtain airbags didn’t deploy, causing severe injuries to the crash-test dummy.

In the 2016 Sorento, IIHS reports that the driver’s space was well maintained after the crash and the side curtain airbags did a good job of protecting the dummy’s head. “Measures taken from the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity,” the agency said in a statement.

The Sorento is available with an optional forward collision warning system; this earns it a basic rating for front crash prevention but a basic rating is not high enough for Top Safety Pick Plus status.

IIHS image

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

2014 Nissan GT-R at Roebling Road Raceway Gallery (25 Photos)

Gtr

Cars.com reviewer Aaron Bragman calls Nissan’s supercar “loud, crazy and faster than hell.” What’s it like to drive the 545-plus-horsepower GT-R? We flung it around the track at the Roebling Road Raceway just outside of Savannah, Ga. Check out the gallery below for more; Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

Related: More Photo Galleries

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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

#FirstTimeBuyers: How Much Should I Spend on My Car?

FirstTimeBuyer_budget

As a first-time buyer, how much car can you afford, and what’s a responsible price target?

Related: More #FirstTimeBuyers Advice

Budgets are important, especially when you’re buying a car. As with all things financial, of course, there’s a debate over how much of money you should spend on your next car. Roughly 40 percent of consumers try to stick within 15 percent of their budget, according to CNW Research, while about half want to stay within just 5 percent of their budget. You should check with a financial planner to determine what’s right for you; you don’t want to become “car poor” because you don’t have anything left for the month after making your car payment.

For the majority of shoppers, the budget hits home in the form of a monthly car payment. About 85 percent of new-car buyers today finance or lease their car, according to Experian Automotive. A majority of used-car shoppers do the same. So, how does that monthly payment turn into a new-car budget, and how much should it be? Start with some of our tips.

Know your expenses. Estimating how big your car payment is should depend on many factors: How much money is coming in, and how much of it is going out on rent, mortgage payments and/or student loan debt? Those are relatively entrenched costs, and they’re harder to change than, say, deciding to eat out at restaurants less often or ditching your cable TV.

Expert estimates range broadly. Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, advises that a car payment should equal no more than 15 percent of your pretax monthly pay. That means if you make $50,000 a year, your monthly car payment could be as much as $625.

But for many of us, it should be lower. The 15 percent ceiling applies only “if you don’t have any other debt other than a mortgage,” McBride cautioned. Not many first-time buyers can say that, so be smart about how much you’re putting aside.

Remember, car payments aren’t the only expense. You’ll also have gas and insurance to pay for; don’t be surprised by how tolls and parking expenses mount, or forget to have a regularly funded stash for maintenance and repairs. All of those expenses have led some experts to recommend even lower budget limits for your car purchase. Interest.com Managing Editor Mike Sante says you shouldn’t spend more than 10 percent of your pretax income on the combined cost of car payments and auto insurance, while The College Board recommends 15 percent of take-home pay should go toward all transportation expenses.

Got an idea of a monthly car payment? Good. Now, pull up Cars.com’s auto affordability calculator and fill in the monthly payment you’ve decided on. If you have a car you plan to trade in, estimate its value through Cars.com’s Black Book calculator and fill it in along with your estimated down payment. McBride recommends having at least 10 percent down if you’re financing a new car and 20 percent for a used car. Don’t assume your trade-in will suffice as a down payment.

FirstTimeBuyer_AffordCalc

Enter a combined percentage for sales tax, which you can typically find on your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Revenue or other state government website. (A local dealership should be able to tell you that rate if you call.)

Now you’re ready to think about the interest rates and terms for your car loan, assuming you’re not paying cash. For the sake of this exercise, input a five-year loan (60 months) at the prevailing interest rate, which is about 3 percent as of February 2015, according to Bankrate.com.

Focus on the car’s price, not the payment. Plug in all the numbers and you should have a pretax number for how much car you can afford. We’ll cover the negotiation process in a separate #FirstTimeBuyers story, but if you did your homework with Cars.com’s auto affordability calculator, you can now focus on making sure you find a car that fits that price. The monthly payments will work themselves out.

“The bigger picture is, how much are you paying for the car,” McBride said. “Focus on getting the best price you can for the car, limiting those other out-of-pocket cost and add-on costs. And if you do all that, the monthly payment will [follow] — you’ll have a manageable monthly payment.”

Digital Vision/Photodisc/Thinkstock; Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: Kelsey Mays

Video: 2015 Chicago Auto Show's Family Cars

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This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

Does The 2016 Honda Pilot Look Too Much Like Other Crossovers?

PilotWL

There’s no doubt that Honda did a terrific job in redesigning its family-focused three-row crossover. The new Pilot will go on sale this summer and rejoins a competitive field, including strong-sellers such as the Chevrolet Traverse and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Related: The 2016 Honda Pilot Could Be the Ultimate Family Car

We were impressed by just how significantly Honda departed from the previous generation’s boxy yet unique look. The new styling seems like it will maintain the previous Pilot’s standout visibility.

The 2016’s design diverges from its past, and it now looks like it has been assimilated into stereotypical suburbia styling. See how closely the 2016 Pilot resembles two of its future competitors.

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: David Thomas

The 2016 Honda Pilot Could Be the Ultimate Family Car

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We like to think we know the family-car shopper. Besides our diligence in checking just how well child-safety seats fit in new vehicles, we also happen to be a staff with a lot of kids of various ages at home. That’s one of the reasons the redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot, unveiled at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, is so interesting to us.

More 2015 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

To be a great family car — like the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe, winner of Cars.com’s Family Car of the Year — it needs to not only handle all the kids’ wants and needs, but also take care of the adults. After all, it’s important that Mom or Dad remain sane on even the shortest drives.

Pilotcupholders

The little ones often come first, and theoretically they should. Honda thought of them first too. “The redesigned Pilot has easy-to-reach cupholders nearly everywhere you look, with double cupholders in the rear doors and next to the third row’s outboard seats,” said Jennifer Newman, assistant managing editor and mother of two. “In the Pilot with the optional captain’s chairs, there’s also another set of cupholders in the low center console covered with a nonslip material perfect for corralling toys and books.”

2016 Honda Pilot First Look

Honda says the new Pilot will still be able to hold three car seats across the second row when equipped with the bench seat. “That, plus the fact that it’s equipped with three top tether anchors in the third row should make it very attractive to large families,” said Cars.com reviewer and mother of three Jennifer Geiger. 

Pilotkelsey2

As kids get older, carpooling means carting tweens and teens to after-school activities, sports practices and more. “I had no problem getting into the third row and had plenty of knee room and headroom back there with the second row in place,” said Managing Editor David Thomas, who stands 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Pilotbutton

The second-row seats feature two buttons that easily fold and slide them forward. One is found on the side of the seat bottom, which you hit when getting into the Pilot’s third row, and one is on the seatback that makes exiting the third row painless. “It doesn’t get much easier than that,” said Thomas, who’s a father of two. The model in the pictures here is actually Cars.com Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays, who is about 6 feet tall.

Pilotgadgets

The redesigned Pilot seems to have all the electronic gear to keep kids entertained on the road, at least on the top trim level on display at the auto show. “From a Blu-ray player with a drop-down screen to an HDMI port for a gaming console, there’s plenty to keep kids of all ages busy on those never-ending road trips,” Newman said. The Pilot also offers up to five USB ports, and four of them are powerful enough to charge iPads.

2016 Honda Pilot Video

Parents get to sit in a rather comfy driver’s seat with plenty of entertainment options for themselves, but they may find the storage spaces more valuable in day-to-day life.

Pilotcubby

The center console is quite big, and there are plenty of smaller cubbies too. “The old Pilot’s center console was puny for such a large vehicle; this model’s console is much bigger and can definitely hold a large purse,” Geiger said. “Another cabin nicety is the pop-down conversation mirror — great for a quick checkup on the munchkins.”

Pilotcargo1

This full-size crossover’s cargo capability also impressed us. “I’m a little unsure of the true cargo-floor height because the Pilot was on a raised platform at the show, but the hard-plastic cargo cover behind the third row is a nice touch, and there’s a significant amount of under-floor storage too,” Thomas said. The hard-plastic cargo cover can be moved to the bottom of the storage well, creating more cargo area for taller items and helping to corral grocery bags.

2016 Honda Pilot Photo Gallery (53 Photos)

Unfortunately, important facts like how much power the Pilot will pack and what mileage it will get haven’t been revealed, but even without that info, it checks a lot of boxes when it comes to making families happy on the road. We’re looking forward to putting our little ones into the 2016 Pilot and putting it to a real-life test when it goes on sale later this year.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: David Thomas

Recall Alert: Several 2008-2009 Nissan and Infiniti Vehicles

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 17,000 model-year 2008 Infiniti EX35 vehicles equipped with the optional power tilt/telescope steering wheel, which was included in the Premium Package, manufactured June 29, 2007, to April 25, 2008; model-year 2009 Infiniti FX35 and FX45 vehicles manufactured Oct. 31, 2007, to April 16, 2008 and model-year 2009 Nissan GT-R vehicles manufactured March 14, 2007, to April 25, 2008.

The Problem: The steering column outer tube in these vehicles may not be round, putting extra stress on the upper steering bearing. This could cause the bearing retainer to fracture; loss of steering ability could result.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the steering shaft on the EX35, FX35 and FX45 vehicles for free; dealers will replace the steering column assembly on GT-R vehicles for free.

What Owners Should Do: The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners can call Infiniti at 800-662-6200 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information; Nissan owners can contact the GT-R hotline at 866-668-1487.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

Will Apple Build its Own Car?

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Your smartphone and your car could someday come from the same company. The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 13 (subscription required) that Apple has assigned “several hundred employees” to work on an Apple-branded vehicle.g

Related: Should You Use the Apple Watch in Your Car?

The news comes less than a year after Apple unveiled its CarPlay automotive multimedia platform. One source told WSJ that the project, code-named “Titan,” will result in a car that resembles a minivan. The newspaper notes that Apple often creates prototypes of new technologies and products without ever building them, but sources indicated that the project’s scale and seniority suggest the company is serious about it.

Still, it could take years to bring such a car to market unless Apple is already far into development or has a deal with an established automaker to share parts or a platform. It often takes an automaker five years and more than $1 billion to develop and market a car from scratch; that’s including everything from factory tooling to certifying through a swath of federal safety standards. That’s before it’s even crash-tested by third parties.

Apple has the money to do it, having reported $178 billion in cash as of late 2014, according to WSJ. An Apple car wouldn’t be the first to emerge from California’s Silicon Valley. Tesla is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., about 10 miles from Apple’s Cupertino offices. It builds the Model S in Fremont, just across the San Francisco Bay. And Google, which introduced a small fleet of self-driving prototypes in 2014, is headquartered in Mountain View — just minutes from both companies.

Cars.com photo by Jenni Newman

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View Original Article
Written by: Kelsey Mays

2015 Chicago Auto Show Winners and Losers

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This year’s Chicago Auto Show delivered some significant introductions for car shoppers as well as a few wild concepts for those who just like to ooh and ahh at sheet metal and glass.

More 2015 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Cars.com editors Aaron Bragman, Joe Bruzek, Mike Hanley and David Thomas rank each of the debuts on its own merits, whether it’s meant to wow shoppers or simply look good underneath the bright lights.

2016 Acura RDX

Aaron Bragman: Loser
When you have to look at pictures of the old RDX to spot the changes on the new one, you know that the updates don’t go far enough. The interior is still boring; the multimedia system is still confusing to use, and it doesn’t at all feel luxurious when stacked up to competitors like the Audi Q3 or even the Lincoln MKC.

Joe Bruzek: Winner
In a show of mostly minor redesigns and special editions, I think the RDX goes further than many of the others in offering a new, more contemporary look compared to its predecessor. The update adds flash to the bland RDX, but I’d like to see more effort put into the interior.

Mike Hanley: Loser
I like the subtle exterior styling changes, especially the new headlights, but the newly available multimedia system is a confounding arrangement of screens and dials that I wouldn’t want to deal with when driving. It puts a big damper on this otherwise-nice update.

David Thomas: Winner
The RDX updates an already winning formula and design with some zing. Sure, it’s not a lot of zing, but if there isn’t much to fix I’m glad Acura didn’t do anything to set back the popular crossover.

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2016 Chevrolet Equinox

AB: Winner
Like so many “new” cars at the Chicago show, this is just a mild update, but with the Equinox setting new sales records year after year for the current one, not much was apparently required. Good enough to soldier on for a few more years until a thoroughly revised one appears, but I wouldn’t be surprised if fleet sales soon become more important than sales to consumers.

JB: Loser
The Equinox’s front restyling doesn’t look as substantial in person as it does in photos. Something about the Equinox in black on the show floor hides much of what’s changed in the design. Or maybe not much has changed at all.

MH: Loser
I was most disappointed to see so little had changed in the cabin; newer competitors have surpassed the Equinox’s materials. This small SUV has been selling well despite its age, but it will be hard to keep that momentum going with an update like this.

DT: Loser
Add me to the group who thought too little was changed. I am happy, though, that Chevy wasn’t lauding this as “all-new” and knew to say as much. There is nothing wrong with the “new look,” but with so little updated inside, consumers have a lot of competitive crossovers to check out before they get to the Equinox.

PilotWL

2016 Honda Pilot

AB: Winner
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a staff favorite around here (as evidenced by the awards we keep heaping on it), but seeing and sitting in this one makes me wonder if that’s about to change. It’s visually appealing (looks like a big CR-V), features a versatile interior and is quite comfortable. If it drives as well as it looks, Honda’s going to sell a ton of these things.

JB: Winner
There’s a whole lot going on visually with the new Pilot, which I think is a good thing even though I haven’t decided if I like the new styling direction. The new Pilot maintains its huge windows and good visibility, which are staples of the old one, and the SUV has more interior room, is easier to get in and out of, and has more cargo room. Sounds like a win to me.

MH: Winner
The first photos I saw of the new Pilot gave it an awkward top-heavy appearance, but the design is more appealing in person. Large side windows provide good all-around visibility, and interior quality is solid. The lack of any knobs in the middle of the dash for stereo volume and tuning is a little concerning, but at least Honda’s steering-wheel audio controls are sensible.

DT: Winner
The biggest success isn’t the clear family-focus inside, but the way Honda was able to maintain terrific visibility while totally reimagining the new Pilot’s exterior. Families will go nuts over the thoughtfulness of the interior and features like double cupholders in the rear doors and a flexible cargo area, if they’re not too busy watching one of the many electronic devices this SUV can support.

ElantraWL

2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

AB: Loser
Here’s another updated model that really doesn’t change much. A new navigation system, grille, wheel pattern, ventilated seats and that’s it. Ho-hum.

JB: Loser
The Elantra GT will be an improved car with the new multimedia system, but on the auto show floor, it barely moves the needle with a slightly different grille and new wheel design.

MH: Winner
The changes are mild, but they’re nicely done. The new grille works with the hatchback’s existing styling, and the cabin materials are among the nicer ones in this class. This car didn’t need much to stay current.

DT: Winner
Have a problem with car shoppers knowing you even offer an Elantra hatchback? Reveal it at a car show where it’ll get more attention from the press. The new grille looks good, and the electronic updates should impress shoppers in what is already a terrifically practical car.

RioWL

2016 Kia Rio

AB: Winner
I liked the last Rio just fine, and the new one looks just that much better. The freshened styling gives it an even more European air (tell me this doesn’t look like a 2008 SEAT Leon) and the interior still looks more expensive than it is. I should note that my comments really only apply to the hatchback. The sedan still looks tall, awkward and ill-proportioned, but then so do all sedans in the subcompact segment.

JB: Winner
I second Aaron’s comments about the hatchback absorbing the new updates much more fluidly than the sedan. The Rio five-door’s new look is more substantial than the old one even though not a lot has changed. The design’s trickery makes it look wider and beefier without altering a whole lot.

MH: Loser
I found the Rio at the back of the Kia stand — an odd spot for a car that had debuted just the day before. If you didn’t know that, however, its position on the show floor would seem perfectly normal because it looks about the same as its predecessor, save for a deeper lower grille.

DT: Winner
The Rio wins for the same reason I gave the nod to the Elanta GT, people need to get reintroduced to what is a competitive car in the subcompact segment. A little nip and tuck outside leads to a more significant styling change than you’d think. Although the yellow color on the five-door is a turn-off, especially with the auto show lighting.

RamWL

2015 Ram Laramie Limited

AB: Winner
When it comes to trucks it’s nearly impossible to make them too expensive or too gaudy, but bless ’em, Ram is trying. There will be the inevitable “compensating for something” jokes about the massive chrome grille and huge Ram lettering on the tailgate, but who cares? Buyers of big trucks love such ostentation, and Ram’s giving them what they want (and likely charging beaucoup bucks for it).

JB: Loser
The Ram is already a truck that wows with its impressive interior quality and a level of opulence on higher-end trims. I had a tough time differentiating the Laramie Limited’s appointments from a Laramie Longhorn, though the new grille definitely looks good.

MH: Winner
I like how Ram is adding unique grilles to differentiate truck trim levels, and the new chrome one on the Laramie Limited is the latest example. Interior design details like stitched flourishes on the seats and saddle-bag-style map pockets are thoughtful details.

DT: Loser
The Ram Rebel looks great with its sporty version of this take on a truck “face,” but the blinged-out look of the Laramie Limited doesn’t do it for me. It looks better in person than in the pictures, but it doesn’t seem to match the rest of the truck.

AvalonWL

2016 Toyota Avalon

AB: Loser
Just like the Acura RDX, you have to have pictures of the old one on hand to spot any differences with the new one, and there’s really only two: new headlights and a grille that’s been inverted. The Avalon is already a great car, one of Toyota’s truly appealing offerings, but as updates go, the changes are pretty lame.

JB: Loser
Toyota placing the new Avalon right next to the old Avalon on the show floor during media days provided the opportunity to check out both up close. That probably didn’t work in the new Avalon’s favor as it’s virtually indistinguishable from the old one. What I’m most looking forward to is sampling the new Avalon’s retuned base suspension that’s supposed to be more comfortable.

MH: Loser
The Avalon already had a large grille, but Toyota went even bigger for 2016. The thing is, it doesn’t really make the car look different, and if it weren’t for the new Avalon’s prominent spot on a platform, you wouldn’t think there was anything new about it.

DT: Loser
I don’t really have anything to add other than I’m more a fan of the current Avalon than most, so no changes to a relatively recent redesign is fine by me. It just doesn’t deserve a pedestal at an auto show.

CamaroWL

2015 Chicago Blackhawks Chevrolet Camaro

AB: Loser
As Cars.com’s Detroit Bureau Chief, there is really only one possible thing I can say about this car: LET’S GO RED WINGS!!! (I’m not very popular around here.)

JB: Winner
The latest Blackhawk Camaro is hugely toned down compared with previous years, and this year doesn’t look like a merchandise booth threw up on the car. The decals and wheel choice are cleaner, less gaudy and more cohesive. I’d actually put my name in to win this year’s car.

MH: Loser
I like aspects of this Camaro, like the hockey stick graphics and the new grille, but the question that keeps coming back is: Where do you drive something like this? Blackhawks home games may be the only acceptable answer, but the Hawks play in the winter and this is … a rear-wheel-drive convertible sports car. D’oh!

DT: Winner
Mike, you need to come out to the ‘burbs near me because if you won one the mayor of said suburb would beg you to take part in every parade for every holiday for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, I’m with Joe on the appeal of the toned-down approach. Although we all wonder how you clean that grille.

TrailsterWL

Kia Trail’ster Concept

AB: Winner
An all-wheel-drive hybrid-electric Kia Soul just sounds like a total recipe for success. Kia sells the heck out of the Soul — it’s been something of a surprise hit — and it’s a hoot. This would make it even more versatile, but I have to wonder how much this novel system eats into the already-scarce cargo room in the thing. It looks like it should stack up against the Jeep Renegade pretty well, but you know this thing won’t be cheap, if it gets produced.

JB: Winner
Electric-based or not, an all-wheel-drive off-road-themed Kia Soul sounds like something I’d like to drive. The current Soul is already an impressive small car, and I think the Subaru XV Crosstrek needs some friendly competition.

MH: Winner
The Trail’ster looks like a creation from one of the numerous aftermarket tuners that descend on Las Vegas each year for the Special Equipment Market Association show, but I like its funky, fun style. Give the Soul all-wheel drive and some of the design cues you see here and I think it’d sell great.

DT: Winner
Other automakers are investing a ton into making small, all-wheel-drive crossovers such as the Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3. Kia could save some R&D and just slap all-wheel drive under the similarly sized Soul and have a sales success.

MitsuconceptWL

Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept

AB: Winner
I love it just because it’s outrageously ugly, saddled with anime cartoon styling, has awkward proportions, bulbous fenders and impossible technology. It’s truly what concept cars used to be — showcases for what might be possible. The actual Pajero/Montero won’t look nearly this crazy, but wouldn’t it be cool if it did?

JB: Loser
Standing in front of the car, I had no idea what the hell I was looking at. It’s absolutely awkward with a body and massive rear overhang that doesn’t look like it fits over the wheelbase at all. Plus the brakes are teeny tiny inside the massive wheels. It’s odd on so many levels.

MH: Loser
It’s a little strange to see a concept that looks like a traditional SUV anymore, but that’s what Mitsubishi has in the GC-PHEV. There’s a clear connection to Mitsubishi’s former Montero in this concept’s silhouette, but the design itself — inside and out — is just a little too weird for me.

DT: Loser
Or is it a winner? Maybe I need to look at it from this angle … nope, it’s a loser. When you walk around this concept your emotions change like day and night. There must be four different design styles happening all at once in this concept that make me waver. I’m such a fan of intentionally ugly designs, though, that if it didn’t win me over immediately it probably fails.

MiataWL

Mazda MX-5 Miata Concept

AB: Winner
The Miata didn’t need any styling improvements (I think the new one is absolutely gorgeous), but if you’re going to stick aero bits onto the thing, do it right — make them subtle and inoffensive. Mission accomplished! Especially cool is the optional new carbon-fiber luggage rack — just like the Miata itself, it takes a sweet ’60s roadster concept and brings it solidly into the 21st century.

JB: Winner
Mazda claims the only thing better than the all-new MX-5 is a personalized one, and if all personalized ones look like the accessory concept shown in Chicago then I can’t call them liars. I’ll take mine just like this with the aero kit, Brembo-brand brakes and BBS wheels. Can the cargo rack hold four racing slicks?

MH: Winner
The accessories are tasteful and don’t disrupt the Miata’s unique styling. That’s a win to me.

DT: Winner
This is the anti-SEMA Miata, where all the add-ons are actually aesthetically pleasing as well as improve the performance. You can’t ask much more than that, plus we get another color of Miata to check out at an auto show.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
View Original Article
Written by: David Thomas