Lincoln MKC Attracts New Buyers | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2015 22:17


With the MKC, Lincoln continues its move toward targeting younger, more diverse customers. The vehicle also positions Lincoln to resonate with drivers in desirable markets on the East and West coasts.

By Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

Once a major player in the American luxury car market, Ford’s Lincoln division has seen its sales slide over the years. Revered for its large sedans, such as the iconic early-1960’s presidential limousines, the brand has steadily lost its customer base over time — perhaps by sheer attrition.

Lincoln has recently mounted an aggressive recovery program, and the MKC small crossover SUV is a prime player there. Based on Ford’s new Edge platform, but vastly different in design and features, the MKC surely is inspired by Lexus’ popular RX models.

The MKC is handsome, with a contemporary high shoulder line, sleek flow from winged grill to LED taillamps, and an interior that looks and feels truly premium. The transmission operates by pushing a vertical line of buttons on the dash center console, a nod to old times but also recognition that transmissions are all electronic now. The missing lever frees up space in the floor console, too.

111915a2The interior materials and fit-and-finish look and feel top-notch, although a trim piece for the sun visor fell off on my watch. The leather look and feel would suit a high-end chair in your living room. The illuminated lower dash edge creates a soft, welcoming ambiance when you drive at night. The detailing on the instrument panel is precise, with delicate details.

The MKC offers two engines that might surprise you, in a nearly two-ton vehicle — 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinders. Both are Ford’s EcoBoost engines, designed to provide the efficiency of a smaller engine with the power of a larger one. The standard 2.0-liter puts out 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque while the 2.3-liter bumps that to 285 and 305 respectively. My 2015 tester, with the 2.3-liter, posted EPA numbers of 18 City, 26 Highway, and 21 overall. I got 17.6 mpg in my test week—somewhat disappointing. EPA Green scores are 5 and 5 — right down the middle, but also disappointing. However, driving performance was just fine, with the car pulling along happily.

You can order the 2.0 liter models with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD); the 2.3 comes only with AWD. This is a fine safety feature, but doesn’t mean you should take the MKC out for any serious off-roading. It all works automatically, so you don’t have to think or worry about it.

Choose from the Premiere, Select or Reserve levels. These names represent rising rosters of equipment. If you really want the top-level Lincoln experience, though, opt for Black Label. My test MKC, with Black Label, came dressed in a lovely but shockingly expensive Chroma Flame Metallic PRM paint job ($1,750). It also had other options, including $1,140 for the 2.3-liter engine. By the time all was said and done, the sticker read $57,500. The cheapest way to MKC ownership is a 2.0-liter Premiere level car with front-wheel drive, at $34,890.

Black Label is worth examining at It sounds like a sincere attempt to offer a premium ownership experience, from special interior themes (Oasis, Center State, Indulgence, Modern Heritage, Thoroughbred and The Muse) to special offers at premium restaurants, a premium four-year warranty plan, a special one-to-one relationship with a dealer representative, and, of course, a larger price tag. Whether Black Label is marketing hype or a real differentiator will have to be discovered over time.

MKCs, as you’d expect, contain high-tech safety equipment that’s becoming common in the higher-level cars today, available in the Technology Package ($2,295). These include Forward Sensing, to warn you when you’re closing in quickly on another car or object. Adaptive cruise control uses this technology to keep you a consistent distance from the car ahead while you’re driving. A lane-keeping system holds you within the lines in case your attention wanders (please don’t text and drive). Blind spot monitoring helps prevent accidents.

The user interface technology inside is Ford/Lincoln’s tried and getting truer Sync. Configure the instrument panel the way you like, and connect your remote devices with Bluetooth. You’ll see information on the center screen for audio, climate, navigation and phone all at once (or with a full screen view for each), and much more.

Lincoln is proud of the MKC’s special wraparound liftgate, and it is pretty — and opens when you slide your foot under the rear bumper, emitting a “doodly doodly” warning sound. Flip down the rear seats for plenty of hauling capacity. However, rear seat legroom is at a premium, and that’s surprising in a car with so much riding on it (so to speak).

Lincoln is remaking itself, and the MKC should appeal to a different buyer. It’s a step in the right direction. Rebuilding a brand is challenging, but I think Lincoln is serious about doing it right.


Mitsubishi Raises Outlander’s Game | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 05 November 2015 18:58

By Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times110515a

The competition is brutal in the midsize crossover segment, and when you’re not the major player, you have to up your game. Well, that’s just what Mitsubishi has done with their Outlander.

The new corporate face is dubbed Dynamic Shield. Mitsubishi claims the style comes from the old, beloved Montero’s bumper side protection. Expect this more exuberant face to migrate to the other Mitsubishi vehicles, as well. For now, it spreads itself over what was a bland offering in 2014 when it arrived.

The new exterior updates also include the lower door panels, taillamps, wheels, mirrors and tailgate garnish. The interior gets a new steering wheel and seats, and simply feels better to be in than the old one. It’s a world of matte-black vinyl with piano-black control panels surrounded by silvery trim.

The real story is the more than 100 engineering changes you can’t see. These include giving the chassis and body more rigidity, a redesigned suspension and updated power steering. To keep things quiet, there’s additional sound insulation, including a new windshield, door seals, and engine compartment baffling. Even the six-speed automatic transmission gets a rework; my tester featured prominent paddle shifters for manual gear selection.

All of these changes make the new Outlander a much nicer car from end to end and top to bottom. You can order yours with either a 166-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 224-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. Torque ratings are 162 and 215 lb.-ft. respectively. My GT-S tester, in jaunty Rally Red, was a top-level model with the larger engine. With the V6, the Outlander hits 3,593 pounds, and the larger engine had plenty of grunt for the freeway commutes and in-town errands to which I subjected it. The base model, with the four-cylinder, weighs in at 275 pounds less, so there’s less mass to move, but I can’t report personally on how it felt from behind the wheel with the smaller powerplant.

The four-cylinder, besides costing less, saves gas. The V6’s numbers are 20 City, 27 Highway, 23 Combined, while the four earns 25, 31 and 27 — a significant improvement. I averaged around 20 miles per gallon. The Green numbers for the V6 are a noteworthy 7 for Smog and an average 5 for Greenhouse Gas.

The seats may be newly designed, but they are somewhat narrow and the lower cushion is short. This helps to accommodate smaller people, and I fit OK, but I’m not sure how a larger person might feel.

110515a2The driving experience, with Mitsubishi’s careful upgrades, has more of a premium feel than the 2014 version I tested, but you can also sense a rugged, mechanical platform underneath — a bit more like the old Montero, which was thoroughly a truck. While the surfaces inside are more premium to the eye, there’s still some ruggedness left, and this could actually be a selling point, since modern crossovers are little more than tall, spacious cars, built on unibody platforms.

My tester had all-wheel drive, known as S-AWC in Mitsubishi speak. You can push a button to choose from Normal, Eco, Snow and Lock, depending on the terrain and weather conditions you’re experiencing. To encourage ecological behavior, a leaf display gives you feedback on your driving. Looking at the steering wheel itself, I could also see a tiny reflection of my face in the top diamond of the chrome Mitsubishi logo on the center logo.

Complaints? For some reason, this car insisted on running the A/C cold, regardless of where I set it. The way it zeroed out the fuel economy gauge with each visit to the gas station kept me from measuring my accumulated miles per gallon.

There’s a third row of seats in the Outlander, but it’s tight back there. I struggled with getting the second row to fold — it wanted to slide instead — but once I figured it out, I ended up with a long, flat load floor.

Thoroughly modern, the latest Outlander features all of the electronic automotive safety technology of our time, including Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and the company’s own Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) safety cell body construction. There’s also Active Stability Control with Traction Control Logic, seven airbags, and the list goes on.

Pricing starts at just $23,845 for the Outlander ES with the four-cylinder engine, two-wheel drive, and continuously variable automatic. My top-level GT S-AWC tester, with the $3,350 Touring Package (includes navigation system and the aforementioned safety electronics) came to $35,195. Prices include shipping.

As a small player in the American market now, Mitsubishi really needs a hit, and the Outlander, with all its improvements, is now definitely competitive. That was the idea behind the big changes. Reassuringly, it’s a finalist in the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards, too.


Pilot Lifts Honda to New Heights | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 October 2015 15:09


Virtually every aspect of the 2016 Honda Pilot has been thoroughly redesigned.

By Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

All new for 2016, the Honda Pilot is the top dog in Honda’s three-vehicle team of crossover SUVs. It sheds the two-box chunkiness of the previous generation and wears the latest Honda look. Honda has taken about 300 pounds out, although it still weighs in at over two tons.

Since 2003, Honda has sold more than 1.4 million Pilots, so it’s important to get it right.

Choose from a range, beginning at the entry LX model up through the EX (and EX-L featuring leather inside), and to the desirable Touring model. For 2016, there’s a new Elite premium level, which is the one Honda lent me for a week.

Honda has added flowing lines, chrome trim, and extra design filigree to all of its cars, especially at the front and rear ends. The façade on this Pilot looks right at home in a Honda family picture.

102215a2Inside is where the differences really show up in the new Pilot. The attention to detail and willingness to spend a little extra pays off in a car that feels dangerously close to competing with Honda’s own upscale Acura division.

The knobless audio system sits high on the center console in the middle of a contemporary matte-black panel with a silvery outline. And the transmission is a slick strip of buttons — no lever — and there’s a classy roll-top center console bin that’s big enough to swallow up a purse or full-size iPad.

Honda’s dual screen design is nicely integrated. You can enjoy interacting with a colorful and amusing console. One sour note: the flat electronic instrument panel washes out in certain sunlight conditions.

At night, cleverly hidden lamps illuminate the door handles and armrests, creating a suave ambiance. During the day, the enormous panoramic sunroof brightens the interior to the feeling of a back yard sunroom.

There is lots and lots of room inside the new Pilot, and it’s a bit easier now to climb into the third-row seats. And for cargo, there’s 16 cubic feet available even with all three rows of seats up. Fold the third row and you get 46 cubic feet; fold the second row and it grows to 82.1 cubic feet.

The standard configuration, with a second-row bench seat, carries 8 passengers. The luxurious Elite offers second-row captain’s chairs, which let third-row occupants enter between the seats but cut the passenger limit to 7. There’s an entertainment center for the rear passengers for long trips, and Honda has equipped the Pilot with up to five USB ports, so you can use and charge your iPad or game system while on the go.

Every Pilot gets a new Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V6 engine. It generates 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Depending on the model, you get either a six- or a nine-speed automatic transmission. The benefit of the nine-speed is a wider range of gear ratios including overdrive in 6th through 9th gears for freeway efficiency.

You can get all-wheel drive with the Pilot, as my Obsidian Blue Pearl tester had. It’s meant for greater safety on the road rather than for any adventurous outings. The Intelligent Variable Torque Management system distributes torque not only front to rear but side to side, like Nissan’s SH-AWD system.

There’s also a button on the center console for Intelligent Traction Management. Pick from Snow, Mud and Sand, or Normal settings in all-wheel-drive cars, just Normal or Snow in front-wheel-drive units. These settings change the accelerator drive-by-wire settings, the transmission shift program, and the Vehicle Stability Assist and torque distribution systems.

The V6 will also turn off three cylinders for greater fuel efficiency when on an easy, level surface. The bottom line is ratings of 19 City, 26 Highway, and 22 Combined for the all-wheel-drive models, and one mile per gallon better for two-wheel-drive models. I averaged 19.2 mpg. EPA Green Vehicle scores are a mid-pack 5 for both Smog and Greenhouse Gas.

The Honda Sensing technology suite brings together safety features like a multiple-view rear camera with blind-spot monitoring and Honda’s wonderful Lane Watch system, which gives you a view of what’s on your right side in the center display screen whenever you activate your right turn signal. There’s also Collision Mitigation Braking to help you avoid running into the car ahead, Lane Departure Warning to keep you between the lines, and Adaptive Cruise Control to let you follow a car at a preset distance (it accelerates and brakes for you).

New this year is Road Departure Mitigation and a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor.

Pricing varies tremendously depending on model and equipment. My top-of-the-line Elite came to $48,180, but you can pick up the two-wheel-drive LX model for $30,875.

The new Pilot is all dressed up and ready for action.


Hyundai Sings Sonata’s Praises | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 08 October 2015 14:27


Visual enhancements to the Hyundai Sonata Limited model include a more aggressively styled front bumper from the Sport model with a 3-bar grille and a new 17-inch alloy wheel design.

By Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

There was a time, years ago, when Hyundais were boring and derivative. Today, though, they’re not only distinctive, but are competitive for fuel efficiency, too.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata large sedan offers two ways to make your drive less thirsty. Let’s talk about the Eco and Hybrid models.

The Eco model uses the easiest method to reduce consumption. In place of the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder base engine or the 2.0-liter turbo from the regular Sonatas, the Eco drops in a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. It’s the opposite of the old big-engine, small-car method that was used to create the 1960’s muscle cars, like the Pontiac GTO. You might call this a “brain car,” because using a smaller engine, with a still generous 178 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, helps to meet a very different goal from that of folks in the ’60s.

The Eco model earns EPA numbers of 28 City, 38 Highway, and 32 Combined. I got 29.9 mpg during the weeklong test of my Symphony Silver sample. That’s better than most cars I’ve tested, including some much smaller ones. EPA Green numbers are 5 for Smog and a nice 8 for Greenhouse Gas.

You can do even better with the Hybrid Sonata. Like other hybrid cars, such as the poster-child Toyota Prius, it teams up a gasoline engine with an electric motor to really cut down on the carbon output. My Pewter Gray Metallic tester earned EPA numbers of 39 City, 43 Highway, and 41 Combined. I averaged 36.0 mpg. Green numbers are surprisingly ordinary for Smog — a 5 — but a fine 9 on the Greenhouse Gas score.

Compare both of these to the already good numbers the 2.4-liter base engine earns: 25 City, 37 Highway, and 29 Combined.

No matter which Sonata you drive, you’ll enjoy a sleek, spacious, quiet car. The Hybrid is silent when you’re cruising in pure electric mode. You can do that, if you’re careful with the right pedal, at up to freeway speeds, depending on driving conditions.

The newest Sonata goes for handsome rather than bold, which was the hallmark of the previous generation. That car helped kick-start the idea that the Sonata is something more than a bargain midsize offering. The lines that used to dip and curl are now straightened, and the grille is more angular. But from end to end, inside and out, it’s improved.

100815a2The obvious quality of construction and materials in the interior is pleasing, too. The simple two-circle instrument panel leaves room for information in the center and a wide, flat center panel features a line of control buttons. This overall reduction of “swirl” from the previous generation seems a little plain at first, but it’s easy on the eye, and has greater dignity. The artificial wood in the Eco wasn’t very convincing, and there was one assembly flaw in the lower door panel that caught my wife’s ankle.

My Hybrid tester had the SoundHound app on the audio system. Press it and it can tell you the name and artist for a song that’s playing. When I tested it, it got the right song title, but wrong artist! I guess it can’t tell Van Morrison from Bob Dylan.

The Hybrid also featured a simple display in the center of the instrument panel to monitor where the energy was coming from and going. It’s easy to stay on top of your consumption while keeping your eyes straight ahead. Part of driving a hybrid efficiently is paying attention to this electricity/gasoline flow.

As usual, there’s a gauge in the Hybrid Sonata to monitor when you’re charging the battery or using it to power the car. The industry trend is towards using a needle gauge, so you can see the shift from one to the other, much like you’d use a tachometer in racing. It’s located in the tach position, and is part of responsible motoring.

The Hybrid also offers a panel that breaks down your driving by “Driving Style.” It compiles percentages for Economical, Normal and Aggressive. My scores were 11, 70 and 19 percent respectively. I assume that the pejorative “Aggressive” was applied to times when I had to step on it to go uphill or accelerate onto the freeway.

You also can set the Drive Mode to Normal, Eco or Sport, which adjusts the shift points of the transmission and the responsiveness of the accelerator, among other things. I drove mostly in Normal, which may be why I got a mostly Normal rating for my driving style.

The Eco, with the worthwhile $4,100 Tech Package, came to $28,310, including shipping. The Hybrid, with the $4,500 Ultimate Package, hit $35,765. The base Sonata sedan starts at just $21,750. You do pay more to get that extra efficiency.


Kia Sedona Dismisses Minivan Stigma | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 15:34

092415aBy Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

Minivans have been around since the mid 1980s. Although their popularity is somewhat eclipsed today by the ubiquitous crossover SUV, you can still choose from an assortment of people carriers with power dual sliding side doors and room to carry a big family with ease.

The Kia Sedona is a new generation for 2015, and enjoys the style and ambiance you’d expect from the Hyundai/Kia head of design, former Audi design chief Peter Schreyer. Loaded up with features, the Sedona price tag can hit luxury car levels.

The interior is full of thoughtful convenience and style touches. There’s a rolltop cover over the cupholders, and the leather and “wood” steering wheel feels like something out of a Mercedes-Benz. The interaction with the electronic touch screen is one of the best in the industry. Hooking up Bluetooth for your smart phone takes seconds.

I used the Sedona successfully when I took out five colleagues for lunch (the company picked up the tab). My Titanium Brown tester featured the comfortable “First Class” lounge seating in the middle row, so it had a maximum capacity of seven (with a middle bench, it’s 8). I got folks into the third row without complaints.

Those “First Class” middle seats had fold-up leg supports, like a Barcalounger! Because they feature Slide-n-Stow, you can slide them way back to stretch out and enjoy those leg holders or move them far forward to increase cargo capacity.

This crew was a bunch of software user experience designers, so they had a sharp eye on the design details; overall, the Sedona passed muster. One designer thought that the long row of nine identical buttons across the center console for climate and audio was not as user friendly as it should be.

Carrying people is easy, and so is hauling cargo. The second-row seats fold flat, and the rear seat folds into the floor, so you can easily haul mass quantities of things like furniture, monthly Costco restockings, kids moving to the college dorm, etc.

The Sedona comes in five levels to suit your budget and style: L, LX, EX, SX and SX Limited. These sound like Honda nomenclature, and convey a decently equipped entry point, some extra features and, finally, with the SX Limited, like my test car, the ultimate in electronic safety and entertainment enhancements. There’s also some very attractive two-tone ultrasoft Nappa leather seating and trim.

All Sedonas employ Kia’s 3.3-liter V6, which puts out 276 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. The car weighs about 4,700 pounds, depending on equipment level, so you need all of those ponies to make it work, and it does. All Sedonas employ a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

092415a2With substantial insulation throughout the car, you hear essentially nothing but the fine audio system when you cruise down the interstate. It actually does remind me of the Audi experience.

Checking, the V6 earns EPA ratings of 17 City, 22 Highway, and 19 Combined. I averaged 18.2 mpg during my test week — a reasonable figure for a large, heavy car, but not an efficient way for one person to commute. The range is 401 miles, so you can get from San Francisco to Los Angeles without stopping for gas, if you drive efficiently. The EPA Green ratings are 6 for Smog and 4 for Greenhouse Gas.

Over the 23 years of auto testing, I’ve seen the arrival of dozens (hundreds?) of electronic marvels, from the pleasantness of fine audio systems with Bluetooth connectivity to blind spot monitoring for safety and the Smart Power Liftgate, for convenience. For the Sedona’s liftgate, if you have the key fob, it’ll lift automatically after 3 seconds — and you can adjust how high you want it to go.

There is so much more technology in cars like the Sedona today. With its extra-rigid Iso-Structure design and numerous braking and monitoring features, it earns a top 5-Star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Now that’s the kind of car you want to carry your family in.

Pricing starts at a reasonable $26,400 for the Sedona L, and moves up to $39,900 for the SX Limited. You can add several packages to further enhance the car. My SX Limited, with the $2,800 Tech Package, is well over $40,000, making it an investment you think about before signing the papers.

The minivan market, once dominated by Chrysler, the pioneer, is now led by Honda and Toyota. However, with handsome, well-equipped contenders like the updated Kia Sedona, the battle is heating up for those families whose primary goal is moving people, and who aren’t bothered by the stigma associated with minivans. After a week in the Sedona, you wonder why anyone feels that way anymore.


Acura MDX Emphasizes Safety for Seven | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 September 2015 14:38

091015aBy Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

Acura’s MDX midsize crossover is the most successful three-row SUV of all time, and it looks like that’s not about to change.

Styling for 2016 is a more expressive rendering of the Acura brand’s busy design. Outside, the pointed nose remains, but all traces of the edgy beak of years past are gone. Inside, materials are tasteful and nicely assembled, but Acura’s designers seem to think that more is better, and perhaps they overindulged in too many lines going in too many directions. That being said, the overall ambiance is invigorating and feels like it’ll never break or wear out.

Acura has banished the transmission lever from the center console, since the mechanism is all electronic shift-by-wire anyway. To avoid any confusion and attendant lawsuits, the drive and park buttons are straightforward pushes, while Reverse is a pull back.

Under that lives a new nine-speed automatic, which despite its extra cogs, weighs 66 pounds less than the old six-speed. In the name of fuel efficiency, 6th through 9th gears are all overdrive!

The high-tech transmission connects to a hearty 290-horsepower direct-injection V6 with 267 lb.-ft. of torque, great for moving the 4,268-lb. vehicle down the road. EPA numbers give the popular Acura 19 City, 26 Highway, and 22 Combined. I averaged 21.5 mpg — pretty much on the money. EPA Green scores are both 5s out of 10.

My Lunar Silver Metallic test car was great for cruising up to see the grandkids. It’s mellow and smooth on the highway. You can use paddle shifters on the steering wheel to select your own gears, but why bother? My older granddaughter, Naomi (7) was thrilled to operate the middle seats and jump into the third row. It seemed roomy for someone her size, but it might feel confining for adults.

There is just one Acura MDX model, but it comes with various worthwhile packages. All models have an upgraded version of Acura’s SH-AWD — the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. It distributes torque not only front to rear, but side to side, too. You can monitor this on one of the numerous selectable instrument panel displays. If you are expecting bad weather, all-wheel drive is a great way to protect you and your loved ones.

My tester came loaded with a vast assortment of electronic goodies to keep the car on the road, in the correct lane, and warn you of impending collisions. There are too many electronic marvels to do more than list them. Known collectively as AcuraWatch, they include Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Blind Spot Information, Multi-View Rear Camera and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor. Whew.

Think of the MDX as a computer on wheels, where cameras and radar talk to sensors and actuators that can tell the brakes and engine to slow down or pull you back into a lane. You can tell when cars are approaching from the side as you’re backing out of your partially obscured driveway.

The Road Departure Mitigation system actually reads the lines on the road and controls the steering, and sometimes the brakes, to keep you aligned. It issues audible and tactile warnings, too, so you really have no excuse for ever having an accident!

091015a2The new third-generation 2016 Acura MDX includes many new features, such as a sleek frameless rearview mirror, Siri Voice Recognition, and even TPMS fill assist, which sounds an audible tone when you’re filling the tires that says, “when.”

My test car was the absolute top of the line, with the Tech, Advance and Entertainment packages. The latter provided a very wide 16.2-inch video system with wireless headphones for second and third-row passengers to enjoy movies and games.

The Tech Package brings with it much of the previously described high-tech safety goodies, along with a killer 12-speaker premium audio system and navigation. You get niceties like rain-sensing wipers and three-zone automatic climate control, too.

The Advance Package adds Collision Mitigating Braking, which will slow down the car instantly if it detects that you’re moving too quickly towards the car ahead. It uses the car’s Adaptive Cruise Control, which senses the car ahead and keeps you a safe and consistent distance behind.

With so many benefits coming from the three packages, it seems like the least equipped Acura MDX would be pretty plain, but a lot comes standard. Pricing for the MDX starts at $43,785, including shipping. My tester, with everything, came to an even $58,000.

Built in Lincoln, Alabama, with an American engine and transmission, the MDX is designed for the U.S., and boasts 65 percent local content. It’s the luxury station wagon of today, and sales numbers show that it’s what many folks with good livings want to drive.


Mitsubishi i-MiEV Gives Power to the People | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 03 September 2015 11:54


The 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV features a comprehensive vehicle warranty that includes a fully transferable 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty for the lithium-ion main drive battery pack and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty.

By Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is the least expensive all-electric car you can buy in the U.S. Enticing lease programs on other electric cars have made that less of a value proposition these days, but the little battery-powered car has its own charms.

I recently spent a gasoline-free week with a 2016 i-MiEV, and it wasn’t much different from the 2012 model I tested years ago. It’s shaped like an egg, with no hood to speak of, a tall, rounded roofline, and a little hatchback in the rear. You could call it cute; it stands out on the road both from its looks and its rarity.

Driving any all-electric vehicle efficiently depends on your behavior. In a gasoline car, the speedometer and gas gauge are for information — you don’t worry about them. With an electric, especially with an estimated EPA range of just 62 miles, you watch your range gauge like a hawk. And you monitor your driving by keeping an eye on the meter that shows if you’re generating power from coasting and braking, or if you’re discharging the battery by accelerating. How hard you push each pedal makes a big difference.

Using the air conditioning impacts range, too, so I kept the windows open and the dial to “Off” much of the time. Switching the AC on took around 8 miles out of the range estimate, and I wanted to keep some reserve.

With an 18-mile commute in each direction, I had plenty of range with the i-MiEV, and for the first time ever, I work at a company with six charging stations right out front, so I charged up at work instead of at home. That’s good, not only for convenience, but because the at-work chargers are Level 2, meaning they are 240 volts and take about 7 hours for a full charge. I only needed a partial charge, so I was done by lunchtime, and moved aside to let someone else use the ChargePoint charger.

The i-MiEV has a second charging jack for the Level 3 CHAdeMO quick charger, which I didn’t use, but it can fill the battery to about 80 percent in just half an hour, if necessary. There are two different quick-charge plug configurations, though, so beware. Charging at home on standard household current (Level 1) takes a long time, so if you owned or leased one of these cars, you’d definitely want to install the 240-volt Level 2 charger in your garage.

090315a2The i-MiEV suffers somewhat in comparison to both electrified “regular” cars, like the Honda Fit and Ford Focus, and cars designed only as electrics, such as the Nissan Leaf. Its interior panels are all hard plastic, its aesthetic somewhat Spartan. The sunvisors are squishy and the steering wheel doesn’t adjust. There’s no keyless entry. A few controls are located in oddball spots, almost like afterthoughts, and the turn signals make a toy-car squeak.

But a funny thing happened to me when I drove my Aqua Marine Blue Metallic test car. It felt solid on the road, and although there was only 66 horsepower, there was a robust 145 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, and the little 2,579-pound bug zips up to freeway speeds in a jiffy. Credit this to the way electric motors deliver 100 percent of their torque at any speed. A one-speed transmission gets the job done, as in other electrics.

The silence and remarkably balanced handling are a pleasure to commute with, and the standard 100-watt, six-speaker audio system isn’t bad. Visibility is great from the big windows, and the windows drop towards the front of the car, so you can see the road well.

Unfortunately, this little electric car’s range isn’t enough to do much more than commute and run errands around town — and I did lots of that happily. However, even for a visit to San Jose — a normally no-brainer drive — I left the i-MiEV at home and took our gas-powered family car. Certainly a 160-mile round trip to visit the grandkids would be out of the question.

Curiously, the i-MiEV has a feature in the dash screen that shows you where the closest gas stations were — with prices (which turned out to be inaccurate). Of course, I never needed that information.

Priced at just $22,995, the i-MiEV undercuts the other electrics (except for the very expensive Tesla) by around $10,000. Figure in the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit, and the i-MiEV becomes a real bargain. I used around $2.00 worth of electricity a day to drive 36 miles. That would have been around $8.00 in a normal, 18-mpg gasoline car.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is not only different from ordinary cars — it looks and feels different from other electric cars, too. It’s a unique and very ecologically minded alternative.


Honda CR-V Sits in the Sweet Spot | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 27 August 2015 14:30

082715aBy Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

The Honda CR-V is an extremely popular compact crossover vehicle that represents where the car market is heading. Introduced in 1997, it’s now in the middle of its fourth generation, and going strong. Buyers have been migrating from midsized sedans to crossovers (car-based sport utility vehicles) for years now so the CR-V is sitting in the sweet spot of the marketplace.

I had thought that the CR-V had grown a lot, but it just looks that way. It’s certainly heavier, up by more than 400 pounds now for the top-level Touring model over the basic 1997. Styling has evolved over the years, so there are more chrome garnishes and grille flourishes today than when the car debuted.

Sales numbers are way up. The first year, when the CR-V concept was new, the new model still netted 66,752 sales. That figure passed 100,000 in the second year. The sales total exceeded 200,000 the first time in 2007, just before the Great Recession decimated the car market. The 2014 numbers? 335,019. That’s success.

Honda has done a lot with four-cylinder engines, and this latest CR-V uses its 2.4-liter engine with Earth Dreams Technology in all four trim levels. It generates 185 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission — no more manual option. The first generation had a 2.0-liter four that put out just 126 horsepower (121 lb.-ft. of torque), so performance, despite a bit of a weight gain, is much stronger, and thanks to the Earth Dreams Technology, cleaner, too.

The EPA numbers are 26 City, 33 Highway, and 28 Combined, although I averaged just 23.7 mpg. EPA Green numbers are an average 5 for Smog but a nice 7 for Greenhouse Gas.

You can order up four-wheel drive in the CR-V, and my tester did have it, since it was the most loaded configuration available. It works unobtrusively, providing extra traction when the road surface isn’t ideal.

While these “compact” crossovers aren’t really that small, they aren’t as big as the current crop of nearly full-size midsized sedans, and you sit up higher. Visibility is good all around. Cargo room is generous, with a rear hatch and folding rear seats, and Honda keeps improving the interior design, with more interesting layouts and nicer materials throughout.

The LX is the entry point, with steps up to the EX, EX-L (leather) and, at the top, the Touring model, like my Copper Sunset Pearl test car. The car’s unusual color provoked an enthusiastic compliment from a woman in my local Safeway parking lot.

082715a2The Touring model includes leather seats that are firm but have a layer of softer padding just under the surface, like a premium mattress. The dash continues Honda’s twin-screen design, so you can make adjustments to your audio program while perusing a map. The steering wheel controls use Honda’s intuitive thumb-operated circles for audio and cruise control.

The instrument panel offers Honda’s color-coded efficiency messaging. As you drive along gently, twin “parentheses” of light display in green. Step on the gas, and that color fades to blue, as a subtle reminder to drive carefully. Like other car companies, Honda manufactures speedometers with high top numbers — in this case, 140 mph, so the needle rarely passes the halfway point of the gauge.

The CR-V got a major mid-cycle update for the 2015 model year, including the enhanced Earth Dreams engine and transmission. There are also some improvements to the chassis and braking system. There’s also more sound insulation, for a quieter cabin. The interior gains a center console armrest, there are rear console air ducts, and the sunvisors finally slide to cover more of the side window. New convenience features include a power tailgate, 10-way power and heated driver’s seat, and LED daytime running lights.

For safety, you can order up the optional Honda Sensing suite, which includes Forward Collision Warning, the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, and Honda LaneWatch. These all use various computers within the car to monitor position and react in milliseconds to keep you out of trouble.

Honda LaneWatch is an interesting technology. When you activate the right turn signal, a camera on the right outside mirror uses the center dash display to show you what’s in the lane on your right. As long as you’re paying attention, it should help prevent right-turn collisions.

Pricing starts at $24,150 for an LX. My Touring tester, so complete that options weren’t necessary, came to $33,600, including destination and handling charges.

The CR-V has had many years of success, and is positioned to become Honda’s most popular car in the U.S., overtaking the perennial favorite, the midsize Honda Accord sedan. Honda continues to improve and update it regularly, making the 2015 the best one yet.


Elantra GT Gives Hyundai a Hand Up | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 21:03


Everything about the 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT is aerodynamic — from the aggressive profile and low overall height, to the sleek side mirrors.

By Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

The car market is packed with compact sedans that deliver more than basic transportation. The Elantra, which, rated on interior capacity, actually sneaks into the midsize category, is one of the best. However, for more action and function, try the Elantra GT.

Based on a different Hyundai model than the other Elantras, this five-door gives you a handy hatch and rear seats that fold flat. This is a blessing, not only for us bass players but for CostCo shoppers and active travelers too.

You might not think of a five-door hatchback as the kind of sporty ride that the name “GT” implies, but this 2,904-pound car steps up with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that pushes out 173 horsepower and 154 lb.-ft. of torque versus the more modest engines in the sedan. Match it up with a six-speed transmission — manual or automatic — your choice.

The GT gets a tauter suspension than ordinary Elantras, and the Style Package ($1,975) tightens it up a bit more. You also get meatier tires on 17-inch rims (not the standard 16s). My 2016 Elantra GT tester, in Black Noir Pearl, came with the automatic transmission, and had the Style package, which enhanced the car a lot. Not testing the car with and without the package, it’s hard to compare directly, but my Elantra GT provided entertaining handling on the two-lane back roads but smooth, quiet performance in the commute lane, too.

Hyundai’s fuel economy meter resets with each fill up, so it’s hard to get an ongoing fuel economy number, but I did average 27 mpg, spot on with the EPA’s Combined figure (33 Highway, 24 City). That made it one of the most efficient cars I’ve driven over the last several months, without being a tiny fuel-sipper. In one run of nearly all freeway driving, I achieved 31.7 mpg, so the EPA’s numbers are pretty darned accurate. EPA Green Vehicle scores are a midrange 5 for Smog and 6 for Greenhouse Gas.

Part of Hyundai’s recent success is their Liquid Sculpture design, which is not only on all their vehicles, but is already in version 2 on a few of them, for example, the 2015 Sonata sedan. The 2016 Elantra GT wears a version-2 nose on its version-1 body, so the lines are curvier until you hit the more linear, intense face. They pulled it off now, but the next-generation Elantra is a year or two away.

082015a2The inside of the Elantra GT has a carved, energetic feeling (credit Liquid Sculpture 1), and the materials are first-rate. The matte-black finish with silver accents evokes a pleasing, substantial ambiance. A pass-through center console, a la Volvo, offers multiple storage locations but doesn’t feel massive. The ellipses on the front doors convey motion as they cut into the wide panel between the front and rear doors.

The GT gives you standard Driver Selectable Steering Mode, a feature normally found in much more upmarket vehicles. Using a console button, you can select Normal (a safe bet), Sport (for backroad blasts) or Comfort (think long, straight freeway runs).

The Elantra GT offers standard heated seats, leather in my tester, thanks to the Tech Package ($3,950). Those seats are also ventilated — a rare item in a car that’s priced way under $40,000. The package also provides an all-new navigation system, praised in the Sonata and Genesis further up the family tree. The seven-inch display is intuitive and easy to grasp without consulting the owner’s manual, and offers a split screen, so you can monitor a map and your audio selection at a glance.

Hyundais are designed to be very easy to interact with, and they offer lots of electronic extras. This car came with standard blind spot monitoring, for example, one of the best safety features of the last decade. The rearview camera, amusingly, peeks out from behind the rear logo, which rises only when needed.

Pricing begins at a mere $18,880 for a manual transmission car without packages. My tester, with the Style and Tech packages, totaled out at $26,675. It competes directly with cars like the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf, and, even with a few years on the design, does it with flair.

The base car is intriguing for its price, efficiency and practicality, but the Style and Tech packages really transform the GT into a vehicle that deserves its name. It makes a big difference when you apply some leather to the steering wheel, shifter and seats and add automatic climate control, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, automatic headlamps, and much more. It turns a good car into a great one. With the buying public once again embracing of five-door hatchbacks (even BMW sells them), the Elantra GT may be the ideal car for today!


Stylish Lexus RC F Turns Heads | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 13 August 2015 08:24

081315aBy Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

Lexus has built a reputation for luxury and quality, but how about performance? With the F models, they’re attempting to do just that. F stands for Fuji — the mountain and the esteemed Fuji Speedway in Japan.

The first F model was on the compact IS platform — Lexus’ BMW 3 Series competitor. The latest F is a muscling up of the all-new RC sports coupe. Sharing a platform with the IS model and some pieces with the larger GS sedan, the RC flaunts the molten, scooped, aggressive look of the brand’s LFA supercar, and shares little but the badge with the sedate and elegant LS sedan.

The regular RC comes with a fine 306-horsepower V6, but the RC F gets a 467-horsepower V8 with 389 lb.-ft. of torque pushing the 3,958-pound rocket along. That engine got numerous clever enhancements, adding 51 horsepower to the previous V8. It’s Lexus’ most powerful V8 ever.

The RC is a head-turner, but the F package really singes your eyeballs. The front features a black mesh grille. Look closely and see the “F” pattern cleverly worked into the texture. The wheels are 19-inchers, but my Ultrasonic Blue Mica tester had the optional hand-polished 20-spoke rims. The rich, lustrous paint uses a five-coat, four-bake process (and costs an extra $595).

Lexus wants the driver and passengers to enjoy some of the V8’s sonorous song. So, they use Active Sound Control to pipe in selected frequencies from the intake and exhaust notes. If you want to enjoy this, however, you need to set the driving mode to SPORT S+ using the knob on the console.

There are four settings. For ordinary driving in town, NORMAL is fine, but SPORT and SPORT S+ give you progressively greater road feel and control. SPORT S engages G-sensor AI-Shift Control, which automatically grabs the optimal gear ratio in the eight-speed Sports Direct Shift transmission. SPORT S+, ideal for the racetrack, adds automatic downshift during hard braking and holds lower gears longer through a corner. The M setting (for manual) provides eight clutchless “gears” to choose from.

A Torsen limited-slip differential is part of the package, too. It keeps all that power of the potent V8 going to the best wheel for stability. To use downforce to plant the car firmly on the road or track, a rear spoiler automatically pops up at 50 miles per hour.

Despite its mightiness, the V8 received an EPA rating of 16 City, 25 Highway, and 19 Combined. I averaged 18.1 mpg, which isn’t that different from what a lot of rather ordinary cars have delivered in recent tests.

081315a2While earlier Lexus models have employed a joystick controller for the display screen (rather than a touch screen), the RC F has a touchpad with haptic feedback. It vibrates when you touch it, so you know it’s working without looking down at it. It takes a little getting used to, and was positioned a little far back for a natural drop of the right arm, but it worked fine.

As a powerful beast, the RC F is quite civilized, really. You sit down low, and the genuine carbon fiber trim and 200-mph speedometer is a step up from the IS 350. The interior fittings also borrow from the LFA supercar, and while the body is a writhing, molten fantasy of curves, angles and vents, the sweeping cockpit is more restful to the eye.

V8 engines delight in their ability to roar off the line at relatively low rpm and to settle down to a deep hum as they glide along the freeway. A long run on remote roads or a racetrack would bring out more of the RC F’s potential than the daily grind of commuting and grocery getting. This car is meant for a more interesting life than most of us are living. And perhaps that’s why cars like the RC F exist.

At $74,560, it’s not a Ferrari for the common man, but it certainly is more affordable than that Italian exotic. And Lexus doesn’t need to sell a boatload to generate a halo effect over its entire product line, either.


Acura RDX Challenges a Red Hot Market | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 06 August 2015 14:38

080615aBy Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

The compact crossover segment is going like gangbusters, so it’s natural that Honda would want to give buyers lots of choices. Honda is the parent company of Acura, the upscale brand that’s been around since the last 1980s offering of a step up.

One of America’s favorite compact crossovers is the Honda CR-V, and the RDX has these good bones, although much of what you see and feel is different. Acura gives its customers more lines, angles and swashes on its skin and interior surfaces than pretty much anyone else (although Nissan/Infiniti are right in there, too).

Take the doors in my Basque Red Pearl RDX test vehicle, for example. When I looked to my right from the driver’s seat, my gaze took in a dizzying array of lines moving in different, sometimes contradictory directions, from the armrest to the storage bin to the grab handle and more. The interior of the significantly less expensive Honda CR-V I tested weeks later was gentler on the eyes.

The car that really got Americans excited about SUVs was the 1990 Ford Explorer. It was a huge success in the marketplace — a livable midsize truck that could serve well as a family station wagon. In fact, the family wagon as we know it began a swift decline around the same time. “Why not sit higher and have more cargo room?” thought millions of buyers.

The arrival of the crossover — meaning a tall wagon body using a unibody car platform instead of a truck chassis, was the second major revolution in this market, and even the latest Explorer is now on this platform.

The Honda CR-V was a pioneer in the compact crossover market, so the RDX, as a fancier sibling, is right there. A funny thing, though… What does “compact” mean today? Let’s compare some numbers.

The original four-door Explorer was on a 111.9-inch wheelbase versus 105.7 for the RDX, but look at these other stats. Length: The Ford was 184.3 inches long — the RDX? 184.4! How about width? The Explorer stretched 70.2 inches side to side. The RDX? 73.7 inches! How about weight? Well, the first Explorer was 4,012 pounds. Compare that to the fully loaded RDX I tested at 3,946 lbs.

So, the RDX is no little car. Luckily, it has a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out a strong 279 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque (Up 6 and 1 respectively from the 2015 model). The 1990 Explorer’s engine was larger — 4.0 liters — but managed only 155 horsepower. The fuel economy wasn’t near as good either. Ford: 15 City, 20 Highway, 16 Combined. Acura: 20 City, 29 Highway, 22 Combined (I averaged 20.7 mpg). The Acura’s green numbers are 5 for both Smog and Greenhouse Gas.

Both cars were available with some kind of four-wheel-drive system, although many people, even in 1990, knew they weren’t leaving the pavement and skipped it. The RDX I tested had it. It adds $1,200 to the price, 165 pounds to the weight and subtracts 1 mpg from the fuel economy, but would be welcome in inclement weather.

080615a2The RDX offers lots of things undreamed of way back in 1990. You can add three packages onto the base RDX (which is hardly stripped). My tester, with the Advance Package (“the works”) brought together the Tech Package and AcuraWatch Plus package, plus its own virtues. The Tech Package gives you a voice-recognition navigation system, a rear-view camera with multiple angles, real-time traffic alerts, a 10-speaker surround-sound system, blind-spot information system, and so much more.

AcuraWatch Plus brings in electronic safety features like Lane Keeping Assist (stay between the lines), Collision Mitigation Braking (yup, throws on the skids for you in an emergency), and Adaptive Cruise Control (preset the distance from the car in front, with automatic braking and acceleration to stay that way).

The Advance Package itself adds remote engine start (not sure why you need it), parking sensors (more useful), ventilated front seats (supplementing the heated ones), auto-dimming outside mirrors, fog lamps and rain-sensing wipers.

Once you load this not-so-compact five-passenger crossover with practically every conceivable comfort, convenience and safety feature, you get my test car, and you’ll pay $44,340 retail. Starting prices are $36,190. For more comparison, a mid-range, four-wheel-drive 1990 Explorer, as tested by Car and Driver magazine 26 years ago, sticker-priced at $22,115. With inflation, $22,115 in 1990 dollars comes to… $41,180 today. So, it means the size and the price are amazingly similar, but the performance, fuel economy, safety and entertainment features are much better today.

The Acura RDX competes with lots of other vehicles in a red-hot segment, and with its upgrades and content, should be successful. Now, when Acura introduces its version of Honda’s new HRV mini-crossover, call me.


Lexus IS 350 Stands Out from the Crowd | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 31 July 2015 10:52

073015aBy Steve Schaefer • San Leandro Times

The IS is Lexus’ answer to the BMW 3 Series, along with other contenders in the compact luxury sports sedan field. It flaunts dramatic styling, with the official Lexus spindle grille up front. This is as dramatic and imposing as the 1958 Edsel’s vertical slit must have seemed, and it’s more stunning than beautiful. It juts out defiantly, and the rest of the car is hardly a shrinking violet either.

The side panels are sliced and worked like the clay models they used to use for auto designs — there’s even a line tracing along the lower body sides and right up into the sharply terminated taillamps. Someone was having a good time in the Lexus styling studios and their directive was surely, “No boring cars, please!”

All IS models have V6 engines. The IS 250, which I drove at the beginning of this year, comes with a solid 204-horsepower 2.5-liter mill. The IS 350, like my Ultra White test car, drops in the 306-horsepower 3.5-liter version, so it moves the same sized (but 132-pounds-heavier) car from zero to 60 mph more than two seconds faster (5.6 seconds).

The IS 250 and 350 come as rear-wheel-drive cars — like the 3 Series — and also offer all-wheel drive (AWD), which they call “all-weather drive.” This nomenclature helps you understand that it’s all for extra safety and not about going off road to your favorite campsite. The AWD system normally divides power equally between the front and rear, but can go as much as 30-70 when needed for better traction in bad weather.

When you select the brawnier IS 350 over the IS 250, you pay at the pump for it, but not as much as you might think. My IS 250 tester gave me 21.8 miles per gallon while the IS 350 delivered 18.8 mpg. That 3 mpg difference adds up over the years, but you’ll be having more fun for the entire length of the lease.

The IS 350 gets EPA Green Scores of 5 and 5 — decent for a relatively high performance car.

You can add the F Sport package for $3,740 to dress up your IS. Naturally, there’s all the leather covered stuff and electronic wizardry for entertainment and safety. The eight-inch display screen in my tester is controlled by the Remote Touch Interface (RTI) joystick on the console.

073015a2There’s a mind-boggling set of choices for entertainment and other options, especially if you order the Navigation system ($2,995), which comes with Mark Levinson super audio, with its 835 watts of power through 15 speakers.

2015 IS 350s have some nice little upgrades after the redone 2014s stretched the wheelbase three inches and delivered the bolder styling. One is the Siri Eyes Free, which leverages your phone’s brain to let you perform some functions hands-free as you’re driving. Other updates this year include gridlines in the rear-view backup monitor, and Lexus Enform Remote, which ties the already sophisticated electronics to a phone app (iPhone or Android), so you can do things like unlock the doors or start the climate control from your phone.

The IS comes with an alphabet soup of safety acronyms, such as ABS (anti-lock braking system), EBD (electronic brake distribution), TRAC (traction control), and VSC (vehicle stability control). It’s also equipped with electronic power steering, which lightens the car by removing the hydraulic steering pump from the engine, improves mileage a little too, and lets you choose how much or little power assist you’d like.

Then, there’s VGRS — Variable Gear Ratio Steering. Along with the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), VGRS lets you set up the IS 350 just the way you want it. We live in a world of mass production but endless customization. AVS gives you the choice, from a console-mounted dial, of selecting Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport +. You find the road and then select the appropriate setting.

On the way to a five-star (top) U.S. Government safety rating, other safety acronyms come into the picture, too, such as BSM (blind spot monitoring), LDA (lane departure alert), and much more. All of the electronic marvels of an IS 350 cannot be contained in one review.

My IS 350 test car, with the F Sport Package, Navigation/Audio upgrade, and a few other goodies, came to $48,725. My IS 250 tester from before, which looked much the same, totaled $40,870. You decide if the eight grand difference is worth it for the 2.1 seconds of speed and F Sport features.

The IS 350 is comfortable to ride in, fun to approach in the parking lot, and loads of fun to drive. It is not a BMW, but you could easily cross-shop it, and possibly choose it over the 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class, or other compact sport sedans.

CAPTION 1: The Lexus IS features a host of upgrades for 2015, including new LED fog lights and numerous cabin enhancements.

CAPTION 2: The combination of a longer wheelbase and a special front seat design increases rear seat legroom by 1.6 inches in the 2015 Lexus IS 350.



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