The 2021 Hyundai Kona would like your attention, please. Now.
It’s a small crossover SUV with economy-car roots, but the 2021 Kona has fancy hardware, from all-wheel drive to a dual-clutch transmission to an all-electric companion—and it’s all wrapped in a shape that demands you notice it.
Sold in SE, SEL, Ultimate, and Limited versions—and in that separate Kona Electric model—the 2021 Kona earns a TCC Rating of 6.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
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The Kona is a lot to look at. All the clever crossover-SUV styling tricks show up here, from floating-roof cues to highlighter highlights to stacked headlights. It’s distinctive, but that doesn’t equal coherent. It’s better and more soothing inside, where the Day-Glo colors get subdued by a more routine layout of controls and a now-usual touchscreen interface.
Selecting the right Kona for performance takes some hoop-jumping. Base cars get a middling 147-horsepower inline-4 and a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic; we’d take the latter with the optional and way more perky 175-hp turbo-4 instead of the shifty 7-speed dual-clutch that’s supplied. (Truth? The Kona Electric has the best powertrain of them all.) Powertrain confusion aside, the Kona drives better with available all-wheel drive, which comes with an independent rear suspension that makes the most of its short wheelbase. It’s perky, entertaining on back roads, and easy to needle through city streets.
Four or five people can fit in the Kona, but the second-row seat’s snug for large adults even if only two come along for the ride. Flip down the back seat and the Kona can hold 45.8 cubic feet of cargo—about 30 boxes of books to curse at when you move, as we vividly recall.
Every Kona comes with automatic emergency braking, and the IIHS and the NHTSA give the crossover sterling crash-test scores. Base cars have a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; our sweet spot is the $23,340 Kona SEL, which gets keyless start, 17-inch wheels, heated front seats, satellite radio, and blind-spot monitors. The Kona’s killer app? A 5-year/60,000-mile warranty and for 2021, three years or 36,000 miles of free maintenance.
The first drives for the 2021 Toyota GR Yaris have just taken place in Japan and after months of waiting, we can finally see the potent hot hatch being put through its paces on a tight and technical circuit.
The reviews you’ll find below are from Japanese publications as they seem to have been the first to test out the production-ready GR Yaris. Consequently, we have no idea what the reviewers are saying but if you switch in YouTube’s auto-generated subtitles, you can get a rough idea of what’s being said.
Not only do these videos feature the all-singing, all-dancing GR Yaris but they also show the GR Yaris RS, which has all the looks of the hot hatch but significantly less power.
The driver-focused GR Yaris features a 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 257 hp and 266 lb-ft (360 Nm) of torque but in Japan, it is rated at 268 hp and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm). This engine is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive. It can also be optioned out with two available Torsen limited-slip differentials through the Circuit Pack.
Driven to its limits on the track, it certainly looks fast and a joy to drive. In some corners, the tail end kicks out while during other turns it seems to have a bit of understeer, although that could be down to the driver and not the car itself.
Compared to the real GR Yaris, the RS variant has a naturally-aspirated 1.5-liter engine with 118 hp and 109 lb-ft (148 Nm). This engine is mated to a Direct Shift-CVT sending power to the front wheels. From a visual standpoint, however, the RS looks virtually identical to the proper GR Yaris.
The output is staggering. The 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 with the Allison 10-speed automatic transmission makes 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque at just 1,600 rpm. Unladen, the HD diesel hauls something other than cargo. It’s surprisingly quick in a straight line, moving much more like a light duty than a heavy duty. When equipped with dual rear wheels, optional turbodiesel, and rear-wheel drive, it can tow 35,500 pounds (an increase of 52 percent from the outgoing model). With the gas engine, dual rear wheels, and rear-wheel drive, the Silverado 3500 can carry up to 7,442 pounds in the bed and cab. There’s a giant 28-inch fan to cool the massive diesel engine, and the fan will run for up to 15 minutes even if you kill the engine while it’s still hot.
If you’re going to tinker with that engine, you might need a ladder to access what’s under the vented hood.
The gas model is no slouch, either, though it trails the competition by a small margin. The 6.6-liter V-8 gas engine with 6-speed automatic transmission makes 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.
The cabin is sealed from road and engine noise while cruising, while the independent front suspension and stiffer body smooths out road imperfections, making it a softer, gentler, easier ride. Leaf springs in the rear are more stable when hauling, and bouncy when unladen. Overall, we give it a 5 for being able to haul the heavy load but it handles like the very large truck it is, even if the cabin is quiet.
The differences behind the wheels of the 2500 HD models largely comes down to the transmissions. Towing about 12,000 pounds uphill in the Cascade Mountain range with the gas engine at an altitude of about 7,500 feet, the 6-speed has to hold gears longer and work harder to get the max 464 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. While coasting on the way down that same grade in tow haul mode, engine braking kept it at about 4,500 rpm until it leveled out.
Pulling a load from a stop is no problem, thanks in part to the higher compression ratio and the increased displacement from 6.0-liters in the outgoing gas model. One hard brake event downhill before a 90-degree turn provided plenty of confidence to do it again.
Even when hauling heavy loads in the gas and diesel models, the tail did not wag the dog and the steering stayed centered on straight roads. Turning from a divided highway to a single lane country lane required a wide berth to prevent the trailer from clipping a corner, but it was relatively easy because the steering stayed true to the intended angle. We even did a turnaround in a horseshoe-shaped parking lot ringed with cars without a problem. And that was our first time hauling such a load.
McLaren’s range of models consists of the Sports Series, Super Series, and Ultimate Series (as well as the out-of-place GT). With this in mind, one could be excused for thinking the 600LT, which sits in that ‘entry-level’ Sports Series, would be a bit of a softy. And they would be wrong.
Ever since being unveiled, the McLaren 600LT has won over car enthusiasts and journalists alike. The guys over at The Straight Pipes recently had the opportunity to put it through its paces and for those that won’t ever get the chance to drive it, this review gives us a good idea of what it is like to be behind its wheel.
Speaking of the cabin, it is a very special place to sit. Immediately making it stand out from most of its competition are race-inspired carbon fiber seats, lifted directly out of the track-focused McLaren Senna. Also found inside are a bunch of Alcantara accents and a plethora of matte carbon fiber.
Then there is the exterior. Various aerodynamic upgrades have been made over the 570S; for example, there are revised front and rear fascias dominated by carbon fiber, unique side skirts, distinctive wheels and a large fixed rear wing. Then there is the pièce de résistance: the top-mounted exhausts which spit flames.
Like most McLarens of this era, the 600LT features a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 rated at 592 hp, a healthy jump over the 562 hp of the 570S. The 600LT also weighs 211 lbs (96 kg) less, allowing it to hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in just 2.8 seconds, 124 mph (200 km/h) in 8.2 seconds and max out at 204 mph (328 km/h).
The 2021 GMC Sierra Heavy Duty pickup hog mollies are back this year—how could you miss them? Mechanically related to the Chevrolet Silverado HD twins, the GMC versions are comparatively a little more rock ‘n’ roll. New this year are versions of the pickup that take it further off-road (X31) and take it further into superlative naming schemes (Denali Black Diamond). It’s still offered in 2500 and 3500 versions, with single- or dual-rear-wheel configurations, with one of two V-8 engines. Regular-, double-, and crew-cab configurations are available, the last of which is more popular with retail shoppers.
It’s a 7.0 on our rating scale with two important asterisks—heavy-duty pickups aren’t rated for fuel economy or safety. If scored, it would almost certainly sink that number; the truck lacks standard active safety features found on many other new cars and its fuel-economy figures are roughly “LOL.” (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The GMC Sierra HD unabashedly punches a huge hole in the wind. After last year’s update, the heavy-duty pickup added girth and grandeur, most notably in its huge, upright grille that can be lacquered with acres of chrome.
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The body sides are equally impressive for their length and mass. GMC does little to hide the truck’s mass—it’s fine.
A 6.6-liter gas V-8 is standard and makes 401 horsepower. It’s paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission and can lug more than three tons in the bed if needed. A 6.6-liter turbodiesel is a pricey upgrade but comes with eye-popping stats: 445 hp, 910 lb-ft, up to 35,500 pounds of towing. It’s teamed to a smooth 10-speed automatic and better for it.
Crew cabs are more common and are very comfortable places to be for up to five adults. GMC offers short- or long-bed setups (except regular-cab pickups, which only offer a long bed) and its deep and wide bed holds plenty. A trick tailgate is fitted on most trucks and it’s helpful—provided you don’t bang it into a trailer hitch.
Like last year, the Sierra HD is offered in base, SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali trim levels that start at about $42,000 and run past $80,000. Like other heavy-duty competitors, no two GMC Sierra HDs need to be the same, although most shoppers have considered the crème de la crème: Sierra HD Denali with the optional turbodiesel engine. They’re nice places to be, and they’re also bigger than some apartments.
The new 2021 Hyundai Veloster N was only just unveiled for the U.S. market but the car is already on sale in South Korea.
While the 2021 Veloster N doesn’t look any different than the outgoing model, it is now available with a wet eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, in addition to the six-speed manual. Not only will the eight-speed auto help to broaden the appeal of the car but it will likely prove to be the most popular of the two gearbox options.
To make the dual-clutch transmission just as entertaining to drive as the manual, Hyundai’s N division has added some cool driver-focused features.
First is an ‘N Grin Shift’ (NGS) mode that increases torque by 7 per cent from 260 lb-ft (352 Nm) to 278 lb-ft (377 Nm) by allowing turbocharger overboost and maximizing transmission response for 20 seconds. Additionally, there is an N Power Shift (NPS) mode that engages when the car accelerates at more than 90 per cent throttle and operates upshifts at the perfect time.
As Asian Petrolhead discovers in his review, the eight-speed works beautifully. It provides quick shifts and it includes a manual mode that won’t automatically upshift, even if you are banging against the rev limiter.
Paired to the new dual-clutch is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 275 hp. Hyundai says the Veloster N with the DCT will hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in just 5.6 seconds and as this review confirms, the car’s exhaust loves to crackle and pop just as much as the six-speed Veloster N.