2008 Mazda6 New Car Test Drive
For those of you who have been waiting for the new Chevrolet small car after a decade of the less-than-wonderful Cavalier, meet the Cobalt, a small car better in every way than its predecessor. This is Chevrolet's attempt to offer the kind of equipment, power, value and price that competes directly against the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus.
Chevrolet says the Cobalt is the quietest, stiffest, strongest, most refined small car it has ever built, and after a test drive, we give them high marks on almost all counts. If you're looking for inexpensive, high-value transportation with a new-car warranty, Cobalt is worth a long look.
The all-new 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt is designed to be a premium compact car, complementing the entry-level Chevrolet Aveo, which was introduced as an all-new model for 2005. Cobalt features an expressive design and a dynamic driving experience. Premium features are available like heated leather seats, XM Satellite Radio, MP3, and OnStar. A roomier cab was a key design goal when the Chevrolet Colorado was launched last year. Designed from the ground up to replace the S10 compact pickup, Colorado brings a fresh name and perspective to GM's line of trucks. That perspective includes more space for humans.
Colorado is bigger than the old S10, and that's the trend: Compact pickups are no longer compact. They're growing in size, so much so that the term 'compact pickup' may be obsolete. Colorado is an inch wider and a couple of inches longer than the S10, and its wheelbase is three inches longer. The new Dodge Dakota is even bigger. The new Toyota Tacoma is even bigger yet. Meanwhile, Nissan is coming out with a new Frontier that's dramatically larger than the old one. Left behind is the aging Ford Ranger. Ranger is five inches shorter than a comparable Colorado. The EPA still calls this segment 'compact,' but manufacturers are beginning to call it 'mid-size.' Whatever you call them, these new pickups are bigger than the trucks they replace. Yet they're still substantially smaller than full-size pickups such as the Chevy Silverado.
The reason for this increase in size is comfort. Pickup buyers want roomier cabs. Often, these trucks are often alternatives to cars, and their owners want more hip room, leg room and head room. Most are willing to sacrifice bed length for cab room. That's why regular cab trucks, which typically offered the longest beds, are all but extinct. The extended cab has replaced the regular cab as the truck for serious haulers, many of whom like being able to stash gear, tools, luggage, groceries behind the seats. Crew cabs have taken off in popularity because they offer the convenience of comfortable back seats for family and friends. Their short bed lengths are an acceptable compromise for many buyers.
With this in mind, the Chevy Colorado gave up a little bed length for a roomier cab. The cab is about four inches longer than a comparable S10 cab. Still, it has a six-foot bed with regular and extended cabs, and a five-foot bed on crew cabs. Colorado also gives up a little towing capability for a smoother ride. That's not to say it's lost the capability that makes a truck useful. A properly equipped Colorado is rated to tow 4,000 pounds, enough for transporting ATVs, dirt bikes, personal watercraft, light boats or small camping trailers. And in most configurations, the Colorado can carry more weight in the bed than could a similarly equipped S10. So it'll get the job done.
Indeed, we think the trade-offs have paid off. Colorado is much smoother and feels more refined than the old S10, which bounced around on rough roads. And it's a bit more stylish. Order the five-cylinder engine and it accelerates smartly. (That's right: five-cylinder.) The Crew Cab features a roomy back seat that's surprisingly comfortable and not bolt-upright. Yet Colorado fits into tight parking spaces, something that can't be said of full-size pickups.
Though introduced as a 2004 model, the Colorado is still new to the street and we found the 2005 models continue to turn heads. The Chevrolet Colorado is mechanically identical to the GMC Canyon, but trim and packaging differ. For 2005, Colorado offers a new exterior color (Superior Blue Metallic) and some equipment upgrades. About a hundred permutations are available, giving buyers lots of choices to fit their needs. Chevrolet has introduced a new Corvette for 2005, and this sixth generation of America's sports car is better than last year's model in every way.
We weren't expecting it to be that much better. After all, the fifth-generation Corvette (1997-2004), or C5, was (and is) a terrific sports car. Hailed at the time for its rigid and innovative chassis, it represented a huge leap ahead of the C4 (1984-96). And the C4 was a giant leap ahead of the rumbling (and rattling) C3 (1968-82). Because this new sixth-generation Corvette, or C6, builds on the basic bones of the C5, we figured the C6 would be an improvement but never imagined it would be this dramatic.
The new styling, with exposed headlamps and a slimmed-down rear end, is the first thing people notice. But what makes the C6 great is its improved handling, performance, refinement and comfort. It's substantially shorter and lighter than the previous model, the wheelbase is slightly longer, and it gets a new engine, new transmissions, new suspension, new brakes, a new interior and extensive refinements throughout. Chevrolet set out to eliminate every imperfection and complaint in the C5 and says 85 percent of the content in the C6 is new.
It all adds up to a car that's more comfortable and easier to drive, not only on the road, but also on a race track. The new 2005 Corvette quickly infuses the driver with confidence. It feels like it has more grip than the old one, and it does. It's more agile than before yet more stable, it's new brakes are excellent. And, yes, it's faster.
Corvette's new 6.0-liter V8, called the LS2, delivers more power than before for quicker acceleration performance, improved response, increased efficiency and enhanced refinement. Specifically, the LS2 produces 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Moreover, it sounds great and the acceleration performance is exhilarating and intoxicating. The coupe is awesome, and the convertible is really wonderful. Drop the top on a nice day, turn on the stereo and you'll have what psychologists call a peak experience. The Mazda 6 (or Mazda6, as the manufacturer prefers) is the mid-size sedan for the driving enthusiast. The Mazda6 looks leaner than its competitors, and the driving experience confirms the impression, with agile handling and responsive engines. The Mazda6 feels tighter in corners and holds the road better than the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord or Nissan Altima. It's lighter on its feet and stops quicker. In short, it's more of a driver's car. Four-cylinder and V6 engines are available, and each is offered with a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
The Mazda6 comes in a sporty 5-Door hatchback style, in addition to the more traditional four-door sedan. The 5-Door excels at carrying cargo, yet it doesn't look like a hatchback; in fact, it takes a sharp eye to distinguish it from the sedan.
The Mazda6 was introduced for the 2003 model year, and Mazda says it has won more than 70 awards for automotive excellence since then.
The 2006 model year brought mild styling revisions and significant product improvements, inside and out. For 2007, Mazda made anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), traction control, and side-impact and side-curtain air bags standard across the Mazda6 lineup. Now 2008 brings a new standard tire pressure monitor, a Bose stereo on Touring models, 17-inch alloy wheels on even base models, and a security alarm system for the Sport VE.
An all-new Mazda6 will be launched for the 2009 model year and will go on sale summer 2008, so look for deals on the 2008 models covered here.
All 2008 Mazdas come with a roadside assistance program, toll-free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. A comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty covers all but routine-wear items. Additionally, 2008 models receive a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.
The 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt comprises four models, the base coupe and sedan ($14,190), the LS coupe and sedan ($16,485), the LT sedan ($18,760), and the special high –performance SS coupe ($21,995).
Base and LS models come with small but smooth- and quiet-riding 15-inch wheels and Continental tires, the LT comes with 16-inch Pirelli tires and alloy wheels, and the SS comes with 18-inch high-performance Pirelli tires and alloy wheels. The base car comes with disc/drum brakes, and the others come with disc/disc brakes with ABS. The 4T45-E four-speed automatic is an option on lower models ($850), standard on the LT, and not available on the manual-only performance SS version.
For a small car, the Cobalt has an option list that is a very complete one: power sunroof ($725); the OnStar system ($695); XM Satellite Radio ($325), a rear spoiler ($275), a radio upgrade to MP3 ($150). The Sport package ($595) includes a brushed metal trim package for the dashboard, white-faced gauges, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels with Pirelli tires.
Safety features include dual-stage front air bags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, rear center shoulder belts, and the LATCH child seat retention system. All but base models come with ABS. Other safety features cost extra. Head curtain side air bags ($395) designed to provide head protection are optional. Also optional: OnStar ($695) whose operators can provide assistance after an accident and will direct emergency crews to your exact location should your airbag go off. Colorado comes with three different suspensions: The rugged Z85 is the standard suspension and is available with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, so you don't have to get the fancy off-road model to get 4WD. The Z71 off-road suspension is available with 2WD and 4WD. Appropriately, the low-riding ZQ8 sport suspension is only available with 2WD. Each comes in base or LS trim, though equipment varies with the suspension package. Regular Cab, Extended Cab, and Crew Cab versions are available, though not every cab style is offered with every suspension/trim combination.
A 2.8-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard in most models, rated 175 horsepower. A 3.5-liter five-cylinder rated 220 horsepower is optional ($1,000). A five-speed manual transmission is standard with either engine, with a four-speed automatic ($1,095) optional. Exceptions are ZQ8 LS and Z71 LS Crew Cabs, which come only with the inline-5 and automatic.
The Colorado ($15,695) Z85 base model comes with air conditioning, AM/FM stereo, a 60/40 split-bench folding seat, anti-lock brakes, and 15-inch steel wheels. Upgrading to LS trim adds color-keyed carpets, a center armrest with storage, tilt steering column (on Extended and Crew Cab models), cruise control, CD player, bright interior accents, and 15-inch aluminum wheels with P205/75R15 tires (on Regular and Extended Cabs; Crew Cabs roll on slightly wider rubber). It's available as an extended cab ($18,040). The 4WD versions are available in both regular cab ($18,255) and extended cab ($20,600).
The ZQ8 Sport model ($17,040) rides about two inches lower than a base Colorado, and features a monochromatic paint scheme, fog lamps, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Otherwise it is equipped similarly to the base suspension/base trim model. It comes only with 2WD and rolls on P235/50R17 tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels. The Sport LS ($18,570) adds bucket seats and a center console, cruise control, and other amenities from the base-suspension LS.
The Z71 off-road model ($17,330) packs an automatic-locking rear differential, P265/75R15 on/off-road tires, and a Smoke Gray grille and wheel flares to complement its high-riding, off-highway suspension. (Ground clearance at the rear differential is 7.5 inches.) Order 4WD and you get skid plates, too. Again, there's an LS version ($18,600) with trim and equipment upgrades, although bench seats remain standard.
Power windows, locks and mirrors are standard on Crew Cabs and optional ($500) on other models. Traction control is standard on 2WD LS Crew Cabs, and on all 2WD Z71s but optional on other 2WD models ($295). Curtain-style side-impact airbags designed for head protection come standard on LS Crew Cabs, but are optional on other models. New Gen 6 OnStar ($695) boasts easier hands-free operation and other refinements for 2005; it's available only with LS trim. LS Crew Cabs also offer optional heated, power-adjustable bucket seats with leather seating surfaces ($1,495).
Two commercial-fleet models are available as Regular Cab ($15,045) and Extended Cab ($17,390) versions of the base-trim, base-suspension, 2WD truck. They come with hose-it-out vinyl floor mats and base cloth seating, ideal for muddy-boot applications. Bumpers are painted, shocks are heavy-duty gas-charged units, and air conditioning is an extra-cost option. They're good trucks to buy for other people to drive. The 2005 Chevrolet Corvette comes as a coupe ($43,445) or convertible ($51,445). The Coupe features a single-piece removable roof panel that's available in body color (standard) or transparent ($750) or you can order one of each ($1,400). The Convertible gets a new power-operated soft top.
After choosing the body style, the next big decision is whether you prefer the four-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox, both no-cost options. The final big decision is which of three suspensions to get: the standard suspension, the Z51 Performance Handling Package ($1,495), or F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control ($1,695) with electronically controlled variable damping.
The Corvette comes well-equipped with leather seating surfaces, climate control with a pollen filter, a six-way power driver's seat, power everything, and cruise control. However, we recommend opting for the side-impact airbags, which are included in the two major option packages: Package 1SA ($1,405) includes a rear area cargo convenience net, luggage shade, sport bucket seats with perforated leather seating surfaces, back angle/lumbar adjustment and side bolsters; Package 1SB ($4,360) adds to that a head-up display, a Homelink transmitter w/garage door opener and three-channel programming, interior rearview mirror with compass, driver-side auto-dimming exterior rearview mirror, dual front heated seats, a premium seven-speaker AM/FM Bose system with six-disc in-dash CD, MP3 playback, power telescopic steering column with manual tilt, and a memory package with two driver presets for seat, exterior mirrors, climate control, radio and steering column. The list of free-standing options is relatively short: XM Satellite Radio ($325), DVD navigation and seven-speaker Bose audio ($1,400), OnStar telematics ($695), and polished aluminum wheels ($750).
All 2005 Corvettes come with the same LS2 engine. There's no high-performance Z06 hard top available (yet), but the lightweight new models with the LS2 are nearly as quick as the old Z06. There is, however, a 3.15 rear ratio ($395) available for the automatic for quicker acceleration performance. The 2008 Mazda6 comes in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles. (The wagon has been discontinued for 2008. So has the high-performance, all-wheel-drive Mazdaspeed6.)
Two engines are available: Mazda 6i models come with a 156-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine; 6s models are powered by a 212-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. With either engine buyers can choose Sport VE (for Value Edition), Touring, or Grand Touring trim. All are well equipped.
Additionally, there's the base-level 6i Sport, offered only as a sedan ($18,990), but still equipped with air conditioning; cruise control; six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio; tilt and telescope steering wheel; power windows, mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry; a 12-volt power outlet; automatic headlight shut off; variable intermittent windshield wipers; rear window defogger; and 215/50 all-season radials on 17-inch alloy wheels. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; a five-speed automatic ($900) is optional.
The 6i Sport VE sedan ($19,750) and hatchback ($20,750) add a body-color grille; side sill extensions; eight-way power driver's seat; in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer; and leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle. New for 2008 is a standard security system. Again, automatic is optional.
Touring and Grand Touring models are now offered only with automatic transmission. Additionally, 6i Touring sedan ($22,240) and hatchback ($23,240) upgrade to leather upholstery; heated front seats and outside mirrors; and a 200-watt, seven-speaker Bose audio.
The 6i Grand Touring sedan ($24,090) and hatchback ($24,840) add HID headlights, fog lights, electroluminescent gauges, automatic climate control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Homelink garage door opener, and a power glass sunroof with sunshade.
The V6-powered lineup begins with the 6s Sport VE sedan ($22,210) and hatchback ($23,210). Except for the engine, and two 12-volt power outlets instead of one, equipment is identical to the four-cylinder Sport VE's. Again, a five-speed manual is standard, but the optional automatic is a six-speed ($950). Touring and Grand Touring versions add the same equipment listed above for about the same differential in price, except that 6s Grand Touring models ride on 215/45 all-season radials on 18-inch alloy wheels. Prices top out with the 6s Grand Touring hatchback ($27,750).
A six-disc CD/MP3 changer is optional ($500) on the base 6i Sport sedan. Optional on VE and Touring is the sunroof ($700). Grand Touring buyers can add navigation ($2,000). Sirius Satellite Radio ($430) and a cassette player ($200) are optional on all models. A remote engine starter ($350) is available only with automatic transmission. About a dozen accessories are also available, including several cargo-organizing options ($40-50), wheel locks ($50), and an auto-dimming mirror/compass with ($275) or without ($200) Homelink.
Safety features that come standard on all models include ABS, EBD, traction control, and a full complement of air bags: advanced dual-stage front, side-impact, and side-curtain. New for 2008 is a tire-pressure monitor.