2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited 1.6T AWD

2016 Hyundai Tucson 1.6t Limited AWD

The newly redesigned 2016 Hyundai Tucson is taking the automotive world by storm.  I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Limited 1.6t AWD model, and how fun it was. This is a vehicle that has a luxury sport look, good power, many comfort features, convenient size, good gas mileage and most importantly, an affordable price.  This is Hyundai’s entry level SUV, but don’t mistake that for anything basic.  It’s a perfect vehicle for those who would like a little extra room than a sedan but not feel like they are driving a huge truck.

The 2016 model is the third generation of Tucson dating back to 2004.  Named after Tucson, Arizona this model has been growing in popularity throughout the years thanks to its reliability, comfort, safety, warranty and price.  I would dare say this is one of the best warranties in the industry, with a 10 year 100,000 powertrain warranty.  Living in a big, heavily populated city with many road obstacles like Chicago, I would say that is an amazing plus to offer on a vehicle that seems made for the city.    

Hyundai has done a ton of marketing on this new model and of course they should.  To me, it goes a long way in making Hyundai’s a household name since there is now so much competition in the small SUV class.  My first impression of the Tucson was awe…this is a stellar vehicle.  It really stood out from the rest of the vehicles in my neighborhood.  Being a newly redesigned model for 2016, it’s a huge night and day difference from previous years. As only the 3rd generation in 12 years, we should see this model stick around for a while, which I think is great because it seems that many manufacturers tend to change the models every other year.  The vehicle just has a luxury look all over it.  Its sleek projector headlights, wrap around fog lights, and LED day time running lights really give the Tucson a bright appearance.  The big grill seems to be a trend around the industry and really adds an aggressive edge. 

The LED rear taillights are a big plus.  Great safety feature for those following you by making sure they are bright enough for day and nighttime. The bumper is not huge, but flows well with the rest of the vehicle and includes two good size reflectors on the corners.  As I walked around the Tucson, I felt the size was larger than I was expecting, but still a perfect size for a small SUV.  The 19” alloy wheels and dual chrome exhaust finished the exterior nicely. 

Having previously reviewed other Hyundai models, I wasn’t expecting too many interior differences.  This model was the fully loaded Limited edition, so it was equipped with all the bells and whistles you would want.  I am a big fan of all the features Hyundai offers in most of their vehicles, and this one continues in offering everything you need - dual climate control, push start, massive panoramic roof, heated and cool front seats, convenient settings for drivers, dual stitching on the dash with slight padding and steering wheel that offers all your basic needs while driving.  Despite being an entry level model, there is no entry level feel whatsoever.  Everything just flows from my perspective sitting in the driver seat.  A 5” touch screen is standard but the limited offers an incredible 8” touch screen.  As an added bonus to your passengers, the rear seats are also heated.

The main thing I wanted to concentrate on for this review was the size of the vehicle.  I have tested out small SUV’s in the past and have noticed that it gets a little cramped, especially since both my wife and I are pretty tall we have two kids to think about.  Typically, once the toddler and infant car seats are installed, there is not much leg room left for us in the front.  Thankfully, this was not the case with the Tucson.  I was really comfortable and even had to move the seat forward a bit because there was so much room.  At no time did we feel jammed in there or uncomfortable.  The massive panoramic roof added to the feeling of a roomy interior, and it’s practically a requirement for any of our future personal vehicles now that my wife and kids have experienced it.  The trunk area is decent but here is where you see the size difference from other models.  It’s perfect for a couple and one child or furry friend.  Plenty of room in that case but when you add a second child, I see a loss of room; there is just a lot of stuff to think about with each added kid.  Both seats fold down 60/40 or completely down giving you a little more than 61 cubic feet of cargo room. 

Living in downtown Chicago, I usually get way below the suggested mpg in the city, but in this case it actually did pretty well.  I honestly didn’t think it would being a 1.6L turbo model.  I averaged 18mpg and Hyundai advertises 24mpg, but take in consideration that my average speed was barely 15mph.  On the highway it did close to what it advertised of 28mpg.  The vehicle drove great and had plenty of power to get up and go.   I was pleased that it was equipped with blind side sensors and lane departure warning.  This is something you mostly see on a higher model.  What really surprised me is that it was equipped with brake assist.  I found this out by cruising through a parking garage exit and when the gate didn’t fully open, the Tucson immediately stopped for me.  Great safety feature especially in a busy congested city.  Add in the standard back up camera, and the Tucson has you covered on all sides.  The suspension absorbed the great roads Chicago has to offer, potholes and all.  When driving on the highway, road noise was at a minimum and the 7 speed dual clutch automatic transmission was really smooth.  You couldn’t tell you were shifting unless you were in a heavy acceleration. 

Click on image to check out the full photo album.  

Click on image to check out the full photo album.  

Overall I really enjoyed this model.  Perfect for a couple or small family.  Easy to maneuver around the city and with the standard back up camera, easy to fit in small parking spots.  The interior was really roomy, and the ride was smooth and comfortable.  Vehicle starts out at $22,700, the one we tested lists at $32,510.  Toyota Rav4, Nissan Rogue, Honda CRV & Ford Escape all fall in the same class.  Already the 2016 Hyundai Tucson has won the J.D Power Highest Initial Quality for a Small SUV.  Please visit your local Hyundai Dealership and test drive one today.   You won’t be disappointed!  Would like to thank Hyundai USA for the opportunity to review this vehicle. 

2015 Lexus IS350 F Sport

What can I say about the new 2015 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport that you haven’t already read?  That it’s awesome, sporty looking, and best in its class?  Why yes.  For the longest time, the BMW 3 series and Audi A4 have been neck and neck in leading this class, but there is a new kid on the block.  The IS 350 F-Sport was revealed last year, and has taken the market by storm.  Aside from, in my opinion, being one of the best looking sport sedans out there, it can also hold its own on the track.  Lexus didn’t just give it a sporty facelift, but also beefed up the goods under the hood, upgraded the suspension, and equipped it with rubbers that will grip the road. 

The IS is Lexus’s entry level sedan.  Having seen a handful on the streets, I was excited to have the opportunity to see what all the hype was about.  First off, just look at it.  It has such an aggressive luxury look to it for being a sedan.  Being the F-sport model, it had some upgrades from the standard IS 350.  When the review vehicle was delivered, all I could do was stare at the Atomic Silver color, the massive front grill, and bright LED day time running lights.  The front bumper was aggressive, complemented by 18” gunmetal alloy wheels, dual exhaust, and the F-Sport badging.  The side skirts tapered up toward the real wheel for nice continuity.    

The interior maintained the sporty luxury feel, beginning with a great light leather color.  The driver’s seat really wrapped around to hug me, and the beefy steering wheel felt good in my hands.  The center console followed the rest of the Lexus lineup by being simple and elegant, with the monitor in the center of the dash.  The F-Sport badging continued inside, accented by silver foot pedals and carbon fiber trim on the doors and dash. It also featured a backup camera with rear cross traffic and blind spot sensors for added safety.   I loved the look of this car!

This car was a total head turner and so much fun to drive.  Just turning the vehicle on was exciting, with the roar of the 3.5 liter V6 pushing 300hp saying hello.  The dash had gauges to show the driving mode, which I could switch from Eco, Normal and Sport +.  The F-Sport package added performance upgrades such as adaptive variable suspension, sports mode and variable gear ratio.  This car had really good acceleration and superb handling.  The gas mileage depended on what mode I drove in.  It was fine in Eco and Normal modes, but I found myself driving in Sport + mode using the pedal shifters the majority of the time.  I think the focus was more on sport than luxury, so I did feel the road a bit, but I wasn’t complaining.   This was a rear wheel drive model, but I was able to use the snow button option to gain more traction when needed.  Lexus does offer an AWD version, which I would highly recommend if you live anywhere that would get a lot of snow.  It’s a small price increase, but I think definitely worth it. 

This is a great vehicle for a single person or a couple.  It’s on the smaller side, so space is limited once you start adding passengers.   I was able to install both my toddler and infant seat, but we lost almost all room in the front and we felt pretty scrunched up to the dash.  If you have one baby it might be ok, but two is pretty difficult.  The trunk has a good amount of room to make up for the small interior space.

Overall I really enjoyed the IS 350 F-Sport.  It has great acceleration, handling, comfort and all your basic needs.  It’s little small but definitely doable.  The base model starts at $36K, and one we tested lists at $49K.  I’d like to thank Lexus for the opportunity to review the vehicle.  Please visit your nearest Lexus dealership for more information. 

Click on image to be redirected to photo album 

Click on image to be redirected to photo album 

2016 Scion iA & iM


(L) Scion iM TRD Edition in Silver Metallic  (R) Scion iA Barcelona Red Metallic

Earlier in the year, Scion revealed that they would be introducing two new models to the Scion line up.  For a few lucky automotive journalists, we were given a sneak peek of the new offerings, the 2016 Scion iA sedan & iM hatchback. We were treated to the opportunity to get up close and personal with the vehicles, and exclusive access to Scion representatives to get all of the exciting details. 

I traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the event, which afforded me the chance to speak one on one with one of the designers of the new models.  As he was describing all that was included, I was both impressed and shocked that they could offer so much for less than $20,000.  I couldn’t wait to get into them and see how they felt on the road.

2016 Scion iA 

2016 Scion iA 

Most of the journalists wanted to drive the iM first, since it’s a bit sportier looking than the iA, but I was enticed by the iA.  Starting at $15,700, the iA has a sleek, modern look, with a hint of sport thrown in.  It doesn’t have a huge wow factor, but it definitely still turns heads.  It features a traditional hexagon front grill with sleek headlights that wrap around the bumper.  The body lines are very clean and lead to the rear with turn signal integrated power side mirrors, 16” alloy wheels and modern taillights along the way. 

The modern feel of the car continues through to the interior.  I was surprised by how many features I could immediately point out on a vehicle of this price point.  I was somewhat expecting a basic interior with cheaper feeling buttons and trim.  I was definitely wrong on all points.  First off, I really liked the two-tone seats, which were surprisingly comfortable for someone who is 6 feet tall.  The steering wheel was your standard wheel, but it had all of the controls you’ll need while driving right at your fingertips, including volume, cruise control and Bluetooth.  It was great to see a vehicle at this price point put safety first by placing all basic controls front and center, preventing distraction caused by reaching for these buttons.  So far it felt like a great vehicle for a first time driver or someone looking to purchase a well-equipped vehicle without breaking the bank.  It even had push button start! 

Moving on from the steering wheel, you can’t miss the 7 inch touch screen display monitor located right on top of the center of the dash.  The control panel is equipped with a rear view camera, a crystal clear 6 speaker audio system, and has the option to add a navigation system.  The location of the screen is a bit awkward to reach while driving, but Scion thought of that and added a manual control on the center console to adjust all options.  Let me tell you, you would never think entry level by looking at this dash.  The premium chrome accents and soft touch trim really take it to the next level. 

Below the climate controls are the 12 volt charger and aux/usb connections, along with a little space to store your cell phone or other small items.  This is a nice feature considering there is no center console storage, however the glove compartment is large enough to store whatever you like.  The rear seats are pretty spacious, but make sure to raise the headrests before sitting down.  They look great, but stick out quite a bit, which causes some discomfort if not raised.  Both seats fold down to extend the trunk space, but the opening through the main cab is pretty small. 

The iA is equipped with a 1.5L DOHC 16-valve 4 cylinder engine pushing out 106hp and 103 lb-ft of torque.  It’s not a vehicle that will give you big acceleration, but certainly enough to get you going and out the way of the speedsters.  A key feature of this vehicle is fuel efficiency, which results in 31mpg city and 41mpg highway.  One of the main things that everyone should know is this model is that it is equipped with a low-speed pre-collision safety system and brake override.  Yes, you hear me correctly, and to make it even better, it’s standard equipment for a vehicle starting at $15,700.  This is pretty much unheard of; I don’t even see vehicles that are twice the price of the iA with these features.  My jaw just dropped when I was told about it and it really proves Scion’s commitment to providing a safe and reliable vehicle at an affordable price. 

While driving the iA, I was able to achieve 38mpg fuel efficiency during a 40 minute test drive on back roads and some highway.  There was minimal road noise, though I could hear the motor during times of heavy acceleration.  The Macpherson front strut suspension & rear torsion beam really absorbed the rough roads, which made for a nice, smooth ride.  The manual transmission was smooth shifting after mastering the learning curve.  For all those steep hills, this models comes standard with hill assist.  I also drove the automatic, which was equipped with a sport mode to give extra torque at low speeds, and also provided a smooth ride.  (The 6 speed automatic is available for a slight price increase of $16,800.)

Overall all I really enjoyed this vehicle.  Scion really set the bar high for its competitors with the iA.  This vehicle has so many standard features that would typically only be seen on vehicles priced $20K or more.  The iA will be competing with the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and Volkswagen Golf.  I personally think it will blow them away.  For the price, you can’t beat the standard features and options, and it would be tough to argue that a better car for first time drivers is out there.

2016 Scion iM equipped with TRD package  

2016 Scion iM equipped with TRD package  

The iM is a totally different vehicle, starting with the super sporty, 5 door hatchback body.   The iM base model starts at $18,460, and will be as well-equipped as the iA.  There will also be a 7 speed automatic CVTi-S model offered, starting at $19,200. 

I really enjoy the look of the hatchback.  It has a cool aero kit and just has a sporty feel all over.  The projector headlights really mesh well with the hexagon lower grill and honeycomb mesh pattern, which carries over from big brother FR-S.  Along with the projector headlights, you get daytime LED running lights and power side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, and LED taillights. The car sits low with black 17” alloy wheels on low profile tires.   

Having already spent time with the iA, I was anticipating a similar premium interior.  The difference, however, was night and day.  The iM dash has a very sleek look, with piano gloss black interior panels.   You can certainly see the higher quality interior with the layered dash board design.  It comes equipped with a 7” touch screen, a 6 speaker Pioneer sounds system, and back up camera.  Navigation is an option, like on the iA.  The climate control is all electric with dual zone automatic A/C controls.  The leather wrapped steering wheel feels amazing and has all of the basic controls right at your fingertips.  The instrument cluster has a 4.2” color TFT multi information display between the main instrument gauges.  This is new for Scion, and one thing I really liked since I always find myself looking down to see how fast I’m driving.  The seat felt strong and fit my body like a glove. 

The rear seats are pretty spacious and unlike the iA, there is no need to adjust the headrests; just jump right in and buckle up.  I am 6ft tall and I was able to sit back there comfortably while the front passenger had plenty of room.  Both back seats fold down 60/40 giving you a massive amount of storage.  Having that hatch is certainly advantageous for hauling large items and eliminating worries about height clearance.  You can fit a good amount with the seats down.

One of the things I noticed was that not only does the interior have a cool look with the double white stitching and suede center console, but it has 8 cup holders.  Yes eight and you can even fit those tall bottle water with no problems!!  This is a great idea since I always find myself placing the big bottles on the seat and seeing them roll around during the drive.

The iM has a bigger 1.8L DOHC 4 cylinder engine with 137hp and 126 lb-ft of torque.  As I suspected, it was really fun to drive.  With the low profile tires and wider rims, it really grips the road and handles well.  I test drove the manual transmission, and noticed that the shift point was really long.  The iM has a good amount of power during acceleration.  It won’t win a street race, but it opens the door for any power adders you’d like to add.  The cabin noise was minimal, which was a welcome surprise.  I was able to average around 29mpg on a mix of roads, which is close to the advertised 27mpg city and 36mpg highway.

A unique option for the iM that is not available on the iA is the TRD package.  This package includes lowering springs, front & rear sway bars, oil filter cap, and air filter.  Scion is working on developing factory add on aero kits consisting of rear spoiler and rear defuser.  The prices have not been released but, you can check with your dealership for any updated news. 

A number of Scion dealers are offering a new program called Pure Process Plus.  It’s a pretty awesome program that allows you to build your vehicle, apply for credit, and secure the price online.  Scion will continue to work with Toyota Financial Services for all financing needs.  This is a great program and is hassle free.  Just customize your vehicle and it will direct you to the nearest dealer. 


Scion has really made a big jump and set the bar high in the compact car market by offering premium options without having to pay a premium price.  I really believe once these vehicles hit the dealership floors that they will sell like hotcakes.  Both models offer a choice of 6 exterior colors and come with a 3 year, 36,000 mile limited warranty and 5 year, 60,000 power train warranty.  Scion also has a complementary maintenance plan, covering normal factory scheduled maintenance for 2 years or 25,000 miles (whichever comes first), along with 2 years of 24 hour roadside assistance.  Just a few more reasons why I think either the iA or the iM would made an ideal car for a first time driver.

Make sure to locate your nearest Scion dealership to inquire more about these vehicles.  I’d like to thank Scion/Toyota USA for inviting The Chavez Report to attend the Scion iA & iM presentation.

2016 Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition Turbo

When Hyundai discontinued the Tiburon, it created a noticeable gap in the Sport Compact market.  The desire to fill that gap and be competitive led Hyundai to reach out to their premium youth lab for a new design.  The order?  A vehicle that would turn heads and be fun to drive without charging an arm and a leg.  The youth lab delivered, and the result was the very unique Hyundai Veloster. 

You’ve probably all noticed them.  The small sporty cars in funky colors randomly scattered about.  My wife and I would always take a second look and think about what it would feel like to drive one.  The Veloster debuted in 2007 as an HND-3 concept, which determined the direction they wanted to go for production.  Hyundai was focused on keeping the price in the high teens to mid-20’s range, depending on options and style.  After some trial and error, everything came together, and a few years later the Veloster was available in the North America market.    

One thing that makes this vehicle very unique is Hyundai’s “stealth” 3 door design.  Yes, 3 doors on a coupe, not including the hatch.  The passenger side has a door that is blended so seamlessly behind the front door that you would have never known it was there.  If you really look closely you can see the shape of the door and may notice that the rear quarter window is slightly larger than on the driver’s side, but it’s definitely not obvious.  At first glance, I had no idea, and had to take a couple of walks around the car to really get a feel for the differences.

In general, the sport compact market doesn’t really equate to lots of power, but there is enough to have fun in the city.  The Veloster is equipped with a 1.6L 4 cylinder engine with 138hp and 123 lb-ft - just enough power for a first time driver to be able to get behind the wheel and have something that looks fast, but is still controllable.  In order for anyone to be able to drive, there is a choice of transmission - a manual 6 speed or an automatic with paddle shifters.  In 2012 Hyundai released a turbo model with a 1.6L T-GDi engine, pushing out 201hp and 196 lb-ft.  Minor add-ons were made mainly cosmetic, badging and a push button start.

Picture from Hyundai Media

Picture from Hyundai Media

The Veloster quickly became a favorite for modification, with many customized models revealed at the 2011 SEMA convention.  Rhys Millen drove a modified version with over 500hp in the 2011 Summer X-Games Championship Series.  This was an added endorsement that Hyundai had built a great car that many could afford and modify should they choose.  The vehicle has grown in popularity throughout the years and I see more and more on the road each year. 

I had opportunity to spend some time with this vehicle, and it’s become one of my favorites.  Upon delivery of the vehicle the first thing that popped out to me was the matte Deep Water Blue paint color and the 18” black Rays alloy wheels.  The paint job and wheels really made a huge first impression for appearance.  The big front grill, LED headlamps, side skirts, splitters and a rear bumper with diffuser really gave it an aggressive look, not to mention the sleek hatch back with dual center exhaust.  The carbon fiber accent pieces around the vehicle really solidified the sportier look and feel of the Veloster.    

In getting into the vehicle I immediately noticed the two tone leather seats, with a black leather base and blue leather accent pieces along the edges, and the word turbo stitched in on the side lumber area. The interior is mostly black with blue stitching along the various panels, although there were some pieces on the lower center console and door panels that were painted the same beautiful blue as the exterior.  I did notice from previous models that the center cluster is different in that it’s more open and easier to read the gauges.  I am 6 feet tall and had plenty of room in the front, which I was not expecting given the smaller size of the Veloster.

The top of dash has a carbon fiber look, an enhancement which I thought was a great touch to offset the Turbo model from the rest.  I found it easy to navigate through all the buttons and setting the vehicle to your comfort level.  I previously mentioned the “stealth” 3rd door.  I was surprised to when I opened to see just how much room there is in the back seat.  It makes it much easier to get back there then dealing with folding the front seats up.   I sat back there with plenty of room to move around without crowding the driver.   I did hit my head a few times, but that is nothing out of the ordinary for a coupe when you’re 6 feet tall.  The blue stitching from the front of the cabin continues to the back seat and there are cup holders are built into the center of the seat, making the Veloster a true 4 seater. 

After seeing how much room there was in the back from a passenger perspective, I performed the ultimate test: install both an infant and a toddler seat and still have room in the front.  WOW!  There was plenty of room to fit them in.  I installed the infant seat facing the rear right at the 3rd door opening and the toddler seat facing forward behind the driver and it worked out perfect.  The only thing that bothered anyone was that the rear quarter window did not go down, and that was our toddler.  Regardless, he still had a blast and he called it his blue car. 


The storage area in the rear was pretty big, much bigger than you would expect by looking from the outside.  It was deep and could handle lots of groceries and luggage.  Without the car seats, the rear seats fold down to give even more room. 

As a city dweller, I believe that this car really is a practical one to purchase.  Not only do you have a cool, sporty looking car, but it’s big enough to haul your stuff while staying small enough to have no trouble finding a parking spot.  The 1.6L 4 cylinder DOHC 16 valve engine with 201hp Turbo made it fun to drive in the city.  The 6 speed manual shifted very smoothly, and I think adding a shorter shifter would make it even better.  The exhaust produced a growly sound that made you smile, and it gave great gas mileage.  I was averaging 29mpg in town, which is not bad considering my average city speed is 15 mph.

On the highway I averaged 38mpg, which is about what I expected with a 1.6L 4 cylinder motor.  It had good pick up speed considering having barely over 200hp.  Personally I would love to have more power, especially given this is a limited edition model.  However, it’s in no way a deal breaker, and can certainly be upgraded at a later date.  It was comfortable driving a long distance with barely any road/wind noise, and I didn’t have any complaints other than wished I would have had a sunroof.  I am pretty sure future models will have it. 

Click on Image to be re-directed to Hyundai Official Website.  

Click on Image to be re-directed to Hyundai Official Website.  

Overall I can definitely see myself owning a vehicle like this.  Especially once I saw the look on my wife’s face when she got to drive it…she was definitely hooked!  It wouldn’t be our main vehicle for longer trips, but a nice secondary car to quickly get around the city with or without the kids.  It’s a great head turner, as the sporty look from the exterior paint, revised body kit, bigger wheels and interior really deserves attention.  The starting price is $22,000 and my guess is the model I tested will run around $27,000.  For that price it competes with the Kia Forte, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus.  I would like to thank Hyundai USA and Drive Shop USA for the opportunity to review this vehicle.  I look forward to seeing this vehicle on the road late summer/early fall 2015. 

Click on image to see rest of photo album

Click on image to see rest of photo album

2015 Toyota Yaris

If I could sum up the 2015 Toyota Yaris in three words, I would say it is fun, compact, and economical.  A totally redesigned car that turns heads and starts at $14,845 deserves a closer look.

For 2015, Toyota gave the Yaris more distinctive front and rear styling, which I found to be much more aggressive looking than in prior years. The interior has also been spiffed up with upgraded materials, including seats that are very comfortable on long road trips.  In addition, every trim level gets a touchscreen infotainment interface and the option of a navigation system, which is almost unheard of for the price. Top all of that off with 30 mpg city/36 mpg highway, and you have excellent value that also keeps you from visiting the gas station on a daily basis.

The 1.5 liter engine with 106hp gives enough power to cruise the streets with ease.  I found the passing power to come on late, but it gets you there. The rear seats fold down to give a surprising amount of space for groceries or other things you are hauling around, which I really enjoyed.  It will seat four intimately, yet it is still comfortable. 

In conclusion, I find the 2015 Yaris to be a great value, excellent car to park in those crowded city streets, and a great gas saver. The stiffer frame and aggressive styling are the icing on the top and just make this a great car to own.  Go to your nearest Toyota dealer and check one out today!

Click on image to visit Official Website. 

Click on image to visit Official Website. 

Reviewed & Written by Fred Torres.