Watch: Tony Justice’s ‘Stars, Stripes and White Lines’ video released

Produced and shot by Big Rig Videos videographer Chris Fiffie, the video in part utilizes footage captured during a convoy of military veteran truck drivers that followed the 2016 Guilty by Association Truck Show in Joplin, Mo., at 4 State Trucks.
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Mack updates Pinnacle, Granite interiors with driver-focused features

ALLENTOWN, PA. Building on the launch this week of its Anthem highway tractor, Mack Trucks introduced new interiors for its Pinnacle axle-forward and Granite models designed to support customers in attracting and retaining drivers as well as improving productivity and profitability.

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Hurricane Irma Update

First, I’d like to thank all the family and friends who have reached out to me and my family during this time. Your words of encouragement and prayers are very much appreciated. Many readers know that were are based out of Tampa and while the storm track for Irma was looking good for us earlier […]

The post Hurricane Irma Update appeared first on Corvette: Sales, News & Lifestyle.

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2018 Kia Rio First Drive: Small and Proud of It

Yes, it’s only $14,000, but the term “entry-level” takes on a new meaning for the fourth-generation Kia Rio. Kia views the Rio as a stepping-stone, hoping that buyers will like its little car so much that they’ll trade up as their needs and families grow. The 2018 Rio makes a compelling argument for this theory.

Once again available as a four-door sedan or hatchback, the new Rio is longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor. Unlike the Ford Fiesta sedan, which looks like it’s an awkward teen trying on its older brother’s duds, the Rio has some proportional fashion sense. Hints of Optima grace the lines of the sheetmetal, and the signature Kia grille up front flows nicely across the prow and seamlessly into the headlights. On the sedan, the taillights echo the K900 for a look that’s more serious and mature than the previous model. The hatch goes for some sculpting action in the rear, though it’s not as dramatic as, say, the extroverted haunches of the Honda Fit. Overall, the Rio is a small car that’s comfortable in its own skin.

The 1.6-liter four-cylinder carries over from the last generation, down 8 horsepower and 4 lb-ft of torque from last year for a total of 130 hp and 119 lb-ft. But what the Rio lost in power it has gained in fuel efficiency; both hatch and sedan versions boast figures of 28/37/32 mpg city/highway/combined with the six-speed automatic, and the six-speed manual nabs 1 additional mpg in the city. Kudos to Kia for keeping a manual in the mix; it’s too bad it’s not available on higher trim levels. Revised motor mounts make the engine practically silent at idle—so quiet, in fact, that I was convinced it had a start/stop feature (it doesn’t).

The six-speed automatic transmission is well-matched to the engine, making the most of the available power at any given time. It’s quick to kick down a gear on even the slightest inclines, and a prod of the throttle will even spur a second downshift, though the result is mostly angry buzzing and not forward thrust. If you’re really looking to row your own gears, go for the base LX model, which offers up a standard six-speed manual transmission. Going that route, however, means you’ll have to roll down your own windows and the top-level EX’s rear discs are swapped out for drums. Those brakes on the EX have an eager early bite, which remain progressive the entire length of travel. Also standard on the EX is a camera-based autonomous emergency braking system capable of slowing the car all the way to a full stop if necessary.

Out on the road, it’s clear Kia’s engineers set out to create a driving experience that belies the Rio’s low price. The ride provided by the front MacPherson struts and twist-beam axle out back is firm and supple, with no hint of sogginess. It might not match the verve of the aptly named Fit, but it provides a much more involved driving experience than either the Nissan Versa or Toyota Yaris. Nicely damped transitions give it a secure feeling on the rain-soaked roads outside Baltimore.

That’s especially impressive, given the diminutive 185-65/15 tire setup that’s standard across all trim levels, with the EX featuring alloy wheels. Larger 17-inch wheels are offered in Europe, but they’re not currently planned for the U.S. Given the quality of some of the streets here, that might not be such a bad thing.

As far as entertainment goes, LX and S models feature MP3 and satellite capability playing through four speakers all controlled through a 5.0-inch display. The EX kicks it up to a 7.0-inch touchscreen featuring Kia’s UVO3 Infotainment system, which adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a pair of tweeters in the dash. There’s also an upgraded 3.5-inch display tucked into the instrument panel, which will remind your rambunctious kids that it’s time to come home. Thanks, programmable curfew alert.

It’s important to note, however, that the UVO3 system won’t include built-in navigation, instead utilizing the maps integrated with your smartphone. It’s a great setup as long as you’re within cell service. But once my test drive takes me outside the city limits of Baltimore, I’m surrounded by the boonies pretty quickly. Here, cell towers are few and far between, revealing a limitation of Apple CarPlay. With no data available, I watch the map dissolve into a sea of grid lines, rendering navigation useless. If you frequently venture into less-populated areas, you might want to bring along a map or use Android Auto, which allows offline map downloads.

At least the interior is a nice place to spend time even if you’re lost out there in the wilderness. Controls are logically laid out, and the EX provides a bold punch of color with a swanky red accent leather package as an available option. It manages to be tasteful than gauche, and it’s the only splash of spice of an otherwise straightforward palette. Even the exterior colors paint a decidedly muted picture—if you’re looking for something more extroverted, Honda will sell you a Fit in Orange Fury, or you can spec out a Chevy Sonic in Kinetic Blue. The most adventurous color in the Rio lineup is a nice shade of green.

As the entry-level car in Kia’s lineup, the Rio carries an appropriately entry-level price: $13,990 for a base LX sedan. Springing for the hatch will set you back $14,290, and the automatic transmission adds $1,000 to either body style. Expect to pay around 18 grand for a fully loaded EX model, though Kia says the majority of buyers will opt for the mid-grade S, which comes with remote keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, power windows, and more.

With the 2018 Rio, Kia digs under the sheetmetal to sharpen and strengthen its small car reflexes while making the overall ride quieter, tighter, and more refined. So is the Rio now all grown up? Not really. Instead, the Rio embraces its entry-level status—with the promise that something bigger and better awaits at the Kia dealership when the time comes.

The post 2018 Kia Rio First Drive: Small and Proud of It appeared first on Motor Trend.

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2017 Mazda CX-5 Interior Review: Premiumish

Even without fancy Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 stands out in the crowded compact crossover segment. But unless you gaze longingly at your car for hours every day, you’ll spend more time inside the cabin. That’s what makes a car’s interior so important, and after spending some time in a loaded 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring in the city and on the open road, we have a few thoughts.

Wait! Before continuing, feel free to catch up on our extensive 2017 Mazda CX-5 coverage right here:

2017 Honda CR-V vs. 2017 Mazda CX-5 Comparison: Head vs. Heart 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD First Test 2017 Mazda CX-5 First Drive Review

Breaking It Up

Lately, Mazda has been positioning itself as offering semipremium cars at nonpremium prices. And in the past, Motor Trend has appreciated some smart design touches on the 2017 CX-5’s interior. One of those details is the way the center stack is broken up twice by panels of leatherlike material. The first separates the dash-topping 7.0-inch infotainment screen from the air vents, and there’s another break between those vents and other controls, including A/C adjustments and the heated seats. The overall effect is a center stack that looks especially clean and, yes, premiumish.

Going Down

Especially for taller drivers, that center-stack layout can become a problem if you want your HVAC controls in a location that’s easy to find and operate at a glance. Instead, the 2017 CX-5’s HVAC controls are at the very bottom of the center stack and mounted on a plane that feels almost vertical, making it a tad more difficult to use. In addition to tilting back the controls to make it easier to use, maybe a future CX-5 could swap the locations of the higher-placed heated seat and heated steering wheel buttons with those of the lower HVAC controls.

Clink-Clink-Clink

Whether it’s those HVAC controls, the central controller knob, or the little volume knob, I’m a huge fan of the way Mazda’s rotating knobs feel. Really—if you’re heading to a dealership, spend a few seconds rotating those controls. They feel good to use and are partially finished with a rougher texture that helps you keep your grip as you’re turning up the temperature or volume.

Mazda: Pull an Audi

About that volume control, it’s located just above the cupholders on the center console instead of on the dash as you might have in your own car. My long-term Motor Trend car is a 2017 Audi A4 with a similar volume control I’ve come to like. The knob is easy to find if you’re avoiding the volume buttons on the steering wheel, and I hope Mazda will make future volume knobs also function as track forward/back controllers like the A4 I drive. Without it, the CX-5 offers a front passenger no easy way to change the music to the next track if the infotainment system is displaying the navigation/map screens.

Make It Bigger and Driver-Focused

The 2017 CX-5’s infotainment screen is mounted exactly where it should be, at the very top of the dash. This detail has become important to me because I don’t want to have to look too far down while I’m driving to see whatever info is on the screen.

The CX-5’s interior has come a long way since the first-generation model was introduced years ago, but if Mazda is going to advertise its cars as a premium-brand alternative for a much better price, perhaps future CX-5s can offer a screen larger than 7.0 inches. (Hyundai, Kia, and Ford offer larger screens on their competitive SUVs.) Also, like with the Kia Sportage I spent about a year driving and unlike in the current Honda CR-V, I’d love to see a refreshed CX-5’s screen angled a little toward the driver.

Kneed Luxury

One touch we really appreciated on our 2017 CX-5 Grand Touring tester was the stitched trim panels on the sides of the center console. Although they could have been softer, the detail is still one that, for the most part, is only seen on higher-priced vehicles.

Interior Color Options

Most 2017 CX-5 trims offer a choice of two interior colors (the base Sport model gets black cloth seats), and that includes the highest Grand Touring trim. In fact, instead of the Touring model’s leatherette with suede inserts in black or beige, the Grand Select and Grand Touring trims get black or Parchment leather, the latter of which looks like a light beige in person. I’d be afraid of getting those light seats dirty over time, but I appreciate that the leather color is differentiated from lower trims. Still, if a premium interior color is a consideration for you, check out the Subaru Forester Touring’s brown leather option.

Take a (Back) Seat

The 2017 CX-5’s rear-seat legroom is decent but no subjective match for the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4—crossovers that both offer more cargo space. What neither of those popular crossovers offer is the CX-5’s why-doesn’t-everyone-do-this? rear-seat package. Starting with the Touring trim, the CX-5 features two 2.1-amp quick-charging USBs located in the central armrest. The location is more logical than some cars with USB outlets on the back of the front seats’ center console.

One feature Mazda has retained on the CX-5 from the last-gen model is the ability to fold down the seats via levers in the cargo area (the controls are pictured below). It’s a helpful feature, as is the fact that those side doors open 6 degrees wider than before (to a full 80-degree opening).

The Cluster

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 has an updated instrument cluster, but its design isn’t as modern as those in the Honda CR-V or loaded Kia Sportages and Hyundai Tucsons. Even so, the genuine head-up display helps—our Grand Touring tester had the Premium package, which includes that upscale tech as well as a six-way power passenger seat.

So?

The 2017 Mazda CX-5’s interior makes a good case for itself. The clean center stack is a plus, though you’ll have to determine whether you think those low HVAC controls will become a minor irritation over time. I don’t personally consider the CX-5’s interior as a whole to be on the level of similarly sized premium-brand crossovers, but there are definitely some smart touches inside that enhance the sitting-in-traffic experience. Now if Mazda can just add a larger infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the CX-5 will really take a leap forward.

The post 2017 Mazda CX-5 Interior Review: Premiumish appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Free Review:

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