Letter From Europe; Kia Telluride Lovefest; Subaru Crosstrek, Cadillac CT5 And Fleeting Comments
European Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
Writing about Kia’s Telluride is an impossible task. It has had every award from all over the World. As someone whose association goes back to the Car of the Year award in the 1960s I am fully aware that the car and truck of the year awards have been bastardized. Every magazine, some with a circulation of three which includes the Mother in Law and the dog, dished out awards in the hope of getting some advertising revenue. Well, in the case of the Telluride this simply isn’t true.
It really is that good.
It is one size too big for my personal requirements, but that is beside the point. After all it is a three-row midsized SUV seating up to eight, although I assume some of them would be children.
I have tested two of the Telluride's leading opponents - the Chevrolet Traverse and the Subaru Ascent and while both are fine the Kia has the edge. Some people feel that the 291 hp V6 could have a bit more power, especially when carrying 8 people and no doubt ski gear but for everyday use it is just fine.
The ride is fine as is the silence. Someone at Kia clearly went round trying to find solution to small, hitherto irritating problems...thank you. The one I love is the way the seat temperature control is literally a touch away, hot one way, cool the other. For most people FWD is adequate, if you are a Northstar ski resort person or live in Buffalo AWD is available. All Tellurides offer forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and much needed blind spot warning.
Do be careful though if you are planning to negotiate narrow street or equally narrow mountain roads because the Telluride is one big SUV. As for the color-stealth grey - I found it a bit spooky but it really is a matter of taste.
I wonder who was the bright spark who came up with the Telluride name, clearly they had to clear it with this rather wonderful ski resort. Other resorts tend to be associated with auto companies, Vail has GMC, Squaw has Toyota, Heavenly has Ford etc.. I know that dealers often offer day passes to those who went for a test drive. Makes a lot of sense.
All in all an exceptional product at an astonishing price of around 35 thousand dollars. It is an awful cliche but how they can offer this much product for such a competitive price is beyond me. SUVs used to be rough and ready but these days they have rapidly overtaken saloon cars while getting the interiors better and better.
Subaru’s current Crosstrek Sport is a considerable improvement on the original Crosstrek. All journalists found the original fine, robust and all that but there was universal agreement that the Cross needed more oomph. Well, now we have it in the 2.5 liter engine already used by the Forester and the Outback.
The fuel economy was not affected, a run to Sonoma resulted in 35 miles per gallon. In fairness, the road is one lane, 50 mph so circumstances were at an optimum. To reach our destination called for navigating some unmade roads near the vineyard so thanks to the elevated platform that didn’t present any problems either.
What is interesting is that Subaru highlight as a feature StarTex water-repellent upholstery which is another way of saying that the Subbie is for all seasons. As I’ve said so many times before over the years you cannot fail to notice the number of Subarus at Safeway in Tahoe City. Same have 6 or 7 on their California indicating years and years of active service. Dings here and there but then people buying Subarus never considered looks as a major consideration. Just as well, these SUVs are not built to win beauty contests but to survive the elements which they do rather well.
Prices are highly competitive at around 22 thousand dollars although with all the bells and whistles it can get to near 35 thou at which point it is beginning to look expensive for what is essentially a worker, a non-nonsense go anywhere small SUV. Also at that point you are in Telluride territory and that does offer more comfort and more room for similar money.
At the end of the day I only have one complaint-actually not me but the neighbors wondering whether the color of the test car was done as an April fool joke or did someone mix the wrong paint. I am sure it can be easily rectified!
Before I move on to the Cadillac CT5 let me digress to talk about the EV revolution.
Now that Tesla’s value on the New York stock exchange is more than Toyota, Ford, GM and VW put together we all know that to some extent this is total silliness, call it a mania if you like. But what is undeniable is that Tesla will sell 500 thousand cars this year which of course is a fraction of Toyota’s annual output. But, whichever way you look at it Tesla is now synonymous with EV cars leaving Nissan’s Leaf and others miles behind. A bit like Apple. Lots of companies make mobile phones but again again-Apple means cell phones .
Cadillac used to mean American luxury automobiles and to some extent they still do. But when Caddy was king there were very few rivals. Chrysler had one but it is long gone. Ford’s Lincoln was another. These days of course the expensive car parking outside the hedge fund offices are full of Mercs and Bimmer.
Still, I have good news for folks who would like to buy American, spend 40 thousand dollars and impress the neighbors all at the same time. Yes, the basic CT5 is available for about 38-40 thousand dollars and the people next door will never know that it is somewhat underpowered. It says Cadillac on the front and that is all that matters. The two liter version is sort of all right, the quick, posh version will go for something like 55 big ones.
The Caddy looks great has comfortable seats and an absolutely first class connectivity system. I found the steering a bit unpredictable but that was nothing compared to the tiny wing mirrors and the puny, almost embarrassing minuscule sign when other cars were passing which could not even be seen in the Californian sun. All Cadillac have to do is take a look at a new Volvo and their solution . One big red stripe in a proper sized mirror which is unmissable.
My test CT5 was nearer to 60 thousand than to 50 but courtesy of the V6 engine was quick with the modulated engine sound which was a joy to listen to. The heated steering wheel was also a nice touch. So there are a number of solutions. If you would first and foremost like to impress the neighbors with the Caddy outside your home stick with the basic version. If you would like to drive quickly with total disregard to the fuel consumption wait for the V8 which is probably a close relative of the brand new and highly desirable Corvette. Check with your dealer, I am sure it will be huge fun.
Stay Well, Stay Safe talk to you next month. A.