The last thing you want in a collision is a seat belt that comes detached from its moorings. Hyundai doesn’t want that either, hence its latest recall.
Hyundai issued a recall for 977,778 examples of its Sonata sedan. The recall covers the 2011-2014 Sonata, with production dates between December 11, 2009 and May 29, 2014. It also includes the 2011-2015 Sonata Hybrid, with production dates between December 2, 2010 and January 9, 2015.
The issue lies within the seat belt assembly. The anchor pretensioner, which is fastened to the vehicle’s sill, might not be fully connected to the seat belt’s linkage. If that’s the case, a collision might cause the linkage to separate from the pretensioner. When that happens, the chance of injury increases.
Thus far, Hyundai is aware of just one reported injury — a minor injury, thankfully — related to this defect.
In somewhat good news for Sonata owners, of the vehicles recalled, Hyundai estimates that only 1 percent will have the defect.
Hyundai is still investigating the issue with ZF-TRW, the seat belt supplier. Affected owners will have to head to the dealer, where techs will inspect and verify the connection between pretensioner and seat belt linkage, ensuring proper attachment as necessary. Owners should start receiving recall notifications by mail in April.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “Leave well enough alone.” When you’ve got a winning formula, it’s usually not a good idea to go fiddling with things, lest you accidentally ruin a perfectly good thing.
Clearly nobody told Mazda this. The Mazda CX-5 was only just introduced back in 2012 and has rapidly risen to the become best-selling model in Mazda’s lineup. The small SUV has undergone multiple revisions, facelifts and midyear refreshes; Mazda has been constantly tweaking the CX-5’s formula. And now, just 5 years post-launch, it is already debuting its second generation.
Has Mazda’s constant revising watered down the 2017 Mazda CX-5’s winning formula or has messing with success left the CUV better than before?
Last year, the launch of Mazda’s CX-9 was also the launch of the automaker’s “Mazda Premium” initiative. The automaker is stepping its game up, hoping to differentiate from its traditional competition by offering more premium vehicles with better interiors, materials, comfort and attention to detail. The new CX-5 is the second “Mazda Premium” model.
Compared to the 2016.5 model that I tested last year, this 2017 Grand Touring Premium model boasts more comfortable seats, a cabin with nicer leather and real stitching and even a steering wheel that has been reconfigured for better comfort. The cockpit features the same great Mazda ergonomics that I loved in prior CX-5s, but now the dashboard boasts an improved design that looks a class above the older cabin with new metallic accents and a strong horizontal theme.
What you can’t see in the pictures is the ridiculous attention to detail that Mazda has brought to noise reduction. That same obsessive nature that lead MX-5 engineers to shave wire harnesses chasing grams on the Roadster has been applied to chasing unnecessary decibels in the CX-5’s cabin. A bit of carpet here, a seam filled there, door seals improved, body gaps reduced, bits shaved — dozens and dozens of tweaks were made with the result being that the CX-5’s cabin is noticeably quieter at highway speeds.
2017 Mazda CX-5: premium plus performance
See full gallery
The crossover also features better available equipment, including a power liftgate, auto-leveling LED headlamps and a full head-up display (HUD) that puts speedometer, speed limit data pulled from the new traffic sign recognition system, navigation and more information right in the driver’s sight-line. I particularly liked that Mazda’s HUD includes indicators for the blind-spot information system, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
That blind-spot monitor includes rear cross-traffic alert when reversing at low speeds and is part of Mazda’s i-ActivSense suite of driver aid technologies — the full range of which is available on the new CX-5.
The suite also includes adaptive cruise control that works in low-speed traffic, a forward pre-collision alert with automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist.
SkyActiv G engine
The engine bay hasn’t changed much for this second generation, but the available options has been pared down. Gone is the old 2.0-liter with manual transmission base model combo; Mazda’s 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine with standard six-speed automatic transmission is now the only combination available for the North American CX-5 at launch.
The 2.5-liter’s output hasn’t changed much. It’s now rated at 187 peak horsepower — a modest gain of just three ponies — and the same 185 pound-feet of torque. Mazda claims slightly better throttle response for the new model but, while the accelerator pedal did have a snappy feel, I didn’t notice too much of a difference on the road. The 2.5-liter is as lively as it’s ever been and that’s a good thing.
The CX-5 will be available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel driven variants. A Skyactiv-D diesel engine will be joining the lineup later this year. Yes, it will be available here in America. I can’t wait to have a go.
The EPA’s estimates put the new CX-5’s economy at 24 city, 31 highway and 27 combined mpg for the front-driven models and 23 city, 30 highway and 26 combined mpg for models equipped with all-wheel drive.
The aforementioned improvements to noise reduction and various other generational changes have left the new CX-5 about 100-120-ish pounds heavier than the outgoing model — sure to raise some eyebrows among Mazda featherweight purists — but you’d be hard pressed to notice the additional mass from behind the wheel.
I did notice that the ride quality is much more supple. I personally didn’t mind the old CX-5’s firm ride, but many of its buyers did. So, Mazda has softened the ride to soak up bumps better. The CX-5 now rides smoother and, of course, transmits less road noise into the cabin.
Interestingly, the steering still feels fantastic and the handling is engaging despite the softening of the ride. This is partially due to firmer mounting points for the steering rack and suspension for better control and some rejiggering of the geometry to account for the softer suspension bits.
Mazda has also made its G-Vectoring Control to the list of its standard features. Think of it as a sort of proactive stability control aimed at improving performance. It pulls off all sorts of tricks like slightly dipping engine torque just as you start cornering to shift weight onto the front wheels and improve initial responsiveness. Its subtle enough that I never noticed it working and, along with the physical tweaks, helps keep the new, softer CX-5 feeling fun on a twisty bit of road.
Mazda Connect isn’t very premium
Let’s not sugar coat this bitter pill. The Mazda Connect infotainment system in the center of the dashboard just isn’t very good. It’s navigation is good enough to get from point A to B and its simple interface is functional, but as Mazda pushes the CX-5 upmarket into more premium competition, it’s just not going to cut it anymore.
The CX-5 is missing features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which could easily fill the digital media gaps in a low-distraction way and instantly improve the navigation experience. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a mid-cycle refresh or software update that steps up the dashboard tech.
Pricing and availability
For this second generation, the new “Mazda Premium” CX-5 aims to punch way above it’s traditional class. Mazda has benchmarked the small SUV against vehicles like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Lexus NX and comes out looking pretty good. Sure, the BMW and Audi trounce the Mazda’s pitiful tech offerings, but the cabin comfort and on-road feel isn’t too far off the mark. The Lexus, in particular, had best watch its back.
That said, I don’t think too many entry-level luxury and premium buyers will be cross-shopping Mazda with these luxury brands — the badge on the grille just doesn’t carry the same cache… yet. For now, however, relative to its more traditional competitors — your CR-Vs, RAV4s, Escapes and the like — the Mazda finds itself in a much better position than before and is a much stronger competitor.
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 glides into dealerships in late March starting at $24,045 before a $940 destination charge. As tested, our fully loaded CX-5 Grand Touring with i-Activ AWD ($30,695), Premium package upgrades ($1,830) and soul red crystal paint ($595) should top the range at $34,060.
Sitting around a fire pit in Moab, Utah, a fellow journalist described the adventure he’d had that day in the 2017 GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickup truck. It involved missing a turn, getting stuck in a mud bog and coming into the designated lunch spot on the dirt instead of the pavement.
My first thought: Some guys have all the luck.
GMC had flown me to Moab to sample the 2017 Sierra in the luxury-oriented Denali trim. Even though my day was much more predictable than my colleague’s, I still enjoyed my time in the big truck.
Although the truck comes standard with a gas-powered 6.0-liter V8, I drove the new 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel V8. Paired with an Allison six-speed automatic transmission, the new powertrain has more power and torque than the outgoing model, all while producing 35 percent fewer emissions. The diesel has 445 horsepower on tap with a whopping 910 pound-feet of tough-as-nails diesel torque.
The first thing I noticed was the near lack of diesel chatter in the cabin. Every once in awhile I heard the engine’s low rumbling, but by and large it is quiet and refined.
GMC’s drive route took me from Moab to the mountain resort town of Telluride, Colorado. The truck handled the twisty mountain roads like a champ. The hydraulic power steering returns easily to center and offers all the feedback you could want in a truck. The independent front suspension helps the Sierra HD feel smooth on the pavement, and its automatic locking rear differential helps out in any off-road situations.
2017 GMC Sierra HD: Big, beefy and bustin’…
See full gallery
Acceleration on the Sierra feels quick and powerful. I never felt like I had to urge the truck to accelerate and passing proved easy, even on steep mountain passes.
On the whole, this truck is a very easy, very comfortable ride. Leather abounds in the Denali model and heated and cooled seats keep your rear end at optimal temperature. The pedals are adjustable so even the most diminutive of truck enthusiasts should have no problem finding the right seating configuration. The front seats have access to two USB ports, two 12V ports and two 110-volt outlets. Unfortunately the rear passengers in this crew cab truck have to make due with just one USB port.
This truck is made for towing
The Denali model is only available in a crew cab with the standard 6.5-foot box for the 2500 model or the 8-foot box on the 3500. Your choice of model depends on your towing needs. The 3500 pulls 20,000 pounds on a ball hitch, 7,000 pounds more than the 2500 can handle.
During this drive event, I sampled a 2500 with an open trailer full of ATVs and a side-by-side. The Sierra towed the toys like it wasn’t no thang, and I had to constantly remind myself of the 12 extra feet or so behind me. The Sierra has plenty of available cameras to help you see what’s going on in the rear, including a view that automatically displays when you signal a turn. If you cut a turn too shallow you can see exactly how close your rear wheel is to the curb or monitor your position in the lane with just the push of a button.
Going up a steep grade with a trailer is one thing, coming down is quite another. To preserve its brakes, the Sierra HD’s Tow/Haul mode keeps the transmission in a low gear, slowing the truck and trailer significantly. The truck’s standard exhaust braking, engaged with a button on the console, creates back pressure to keep the engine speed slow. Between the Tow/Haul mode and the exhaust braking, I didn’t have to touch the brakes at all going down hill.
The Sierra HD has all the tech we’ve come to expect from a GM product. Its Wi-Fi hotspot, powered by a 4G LTE data connection, found a signal where my ATT phone could not. The Intellilink system is very easy to use, with large tiles, a quick responding 8-inch touchscreen and an intuitive interface. As a bonus, Intellilink also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. New for this year is the Teen Driver technology. It lets parents, or snoopy spouses, monitor the driving of their loved one, reporting on such behaviors as maximum speed and any emergency braking incidents. The Denali also gets standard wireless charging and a standard remote locking tailgate.
There are a few driver’s aids on the Sierra, though some of the competition does better. Lane departure warning, forward collision alert, and front and rear park assist are all standard. Also included is the safety alert seat, which buzzes the driver’s seat bottom to warn of any lane wandering or parking hazards.
Absent, however is any kind of adaptive cruise control. Not that I would want to let the truck have that kind of control when towing, but it’s always nice to have when unladen and in traffic. The Ford Super Duty has it, and GMC would be well-advised to add adaptive cruise control for 2018.
Special edition Sierra
I also got a chance to sample the limited-edition All Terrain X series. It’s essentially an appearance package for the Sierra HD 2500 aimed at off-road folks, although there are a few meaty changes that push the All Terrain X toward the dirt. It gets the Z71 off-road suspension package from GMC’s brand cousin Chevrolet as well as skid plates and some aggressive tires. There is a sport bar mounted in the bed, to which you can add LED lights, available as an accessory, but it’s so far back you’ll mostly be lighting up your roof instead of the road ahead. Take my advice and mount your lights in the front grill. You’ll thank me as soon as you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no ambient light.
However, the rear differential still locks on its own when it senses a low-traction situation, so the driver doesn’t have any control over it. The chin spoiler in the front hinders the approach angle and without a lift, there isn’t much travel. It’s an off-road truck made for slow-going through mud and sand, not for flat-out whoop running or changes in terrain.
If you need a truck with plenty of towing capability that can also double as a daily driver, the 2017 GMC Sierra HD should be on your short list. Both the Sierra HD Denali 2500 and 3500 start at just under $55,400, but you’ll have to add $9,255 for the optional 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 engine. It’s pricey for sure, but that’s a bit less than the starting price for a similarly equipped Ram 2500 or 3500.
2017 GMC Sierra HD: Big, beefy and bustin’…
See full gallery