CarsDirect article: Lexus LS460 vs. Mercedes S550

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

[Please note: this article was between the 2014 S550, while the 2013 S550 is pictured.  Two very different vehicles]

Original version:
When it comes to the full-sized flagship luxury sedan, there are but a mere handful of contenders.  With the new Mercedes S550 leading the Europeans with an all-new car, Japan has the lone Lexus LS460 to offer some pesky competition in the otherwise stagnate class.  Lets see how these two historically game-changing badges duel.

The Lexus LS460 saw a thorough revision for the 2014 model year introduces the new Lexus signature Spindle Grill, lots of under-skin tightening, and some added fuel economy and power.  The new style outside sharpens the lines up quite well over the car it replaces, but the spindle out front creates polarizing opinions.  The inside also receives welcome updates, with the old silver-button waterfall dropping down from the center stack screen removed in favor of new swaths of real metal, leather, and wood swiping across the cabin.  Gone also is the old-fashioned Toyota digital clock, for a classier analog unit fitting more European tastes.  Even being a large car, the LS460 still yields a hybrid-like drag coefficient of just .26cd, and weighs a scant (for the class) 4,300lbs.

 Like Lexus’ flagship, Mercedes S550 also sees changes for 2014, but that’s where similarities drop.  Both were fully revamped in 2007, but the S-Class has taken many more steps of improvement, including a vastly updated powertrain back in 2012 (from a 382hp V8 to a smaller turbo V8 good for 429hp).  For 2014, the S550 engine remains the same smaller engine, but the entire car is redone otherwise.  The exterior greenhouse evokes the Mercedes CLS with a subtle bottom arch, while the interior takes few cues of the marques past.  An interestingly detailed two-spoke helm and a large touch-screen atop the dash is surrounded by quilted leather and is flush with the digital gauges.  Technology and amenities make it more of a high-tech spa on wheels than a luxury sedan.  So much in fact, one must see for themselves how far Mercedes goes for luxury.

The Lexus is a good car that has gotten better with age, but the Mercedes has long been known as a leader and innovator in this class, especially with a history that—unlike flagship rivals from Lexus, BMW, and Audi that sprouted around 25 years ago—spans more than twice their existence.  Even for the lofty price difference over the Lexus, you get a far more developed, powerful (with equal combined fuel economy), roomy vehicle with heritage behind it.

My take:
I’m not a fancy person.  There is no smart phone in my pocket, the phone that is in there is a Nokia that’s probably more than a decade old, I have a Garmin from 2008 that’s never been updated, and I have an iPod that doesn’t have a touch screen or wifi.  The things I will turn my nose up at are Budweiser or Coors when there’s better beers like Heinekin or Sierra Nevada out there.  Otherwise, I may be critical but am lowly enough to enjoy what I have.

These cars, then, never really grab me a whole lot.  Do they seem sumptuous and inviting?  Sure.  Interesting?  Meh.  Cars that essentially drive themselves like the Mercedes (see link in this paragraph) make me think “and they made a worse driver for it.”  That’s been something blogged here before, and will be again undoubtedly.

With this article for CarsDirect, I was unsure whether to look at the still-out 2013 or the 2014 S-Class to come out this fall, since they were non-specific.  There isn’t nearly the official information out on the ’14 as there has been on the ’13 (and cars before it dating to 2007).  This made me look at both, as well as the Lexus.

From here, the Lexus seems more interesting than the S550; more organic.  There’s effort put into the woods and leathers that, on their website, reads out as something far more tailored and soul-infused.  One of my favorite quotes from Horacio Pagani, founder of Pagani Automobilia, is “An object is able to transit emotions when there are the manual skills involved.  The genius from the head being expressed through skilled hands: passion, heart.  Only then does an object come to life; is given a soul, and is able to tell a story.”  Maybe that’s what I’m getting from the Lexus.

This is the process:

Because of the details Lexus goes into about the materials and craftsmanship, and not the engineering wizardry, I appreciate the aging car more.  The words may not be poetic, but the Lexus site says “Each of the textures of the interior was thoughtfully put into place in order to bring out an authentic expression of the material. For example, the shape of the leather trim evokes the tension of leather being stretched. Likewise, the aluminum trim design is inspired by metal being carved and polished.”  The Mercedes site just doesn’t talk about that stuff as far as I recall.

Yes, the Mercedes is newer, probably better to drive, more tech infused, more powerful, and pretty much as efficient… I don’t care.  Things like the digital gauges in the Mercedes trying to simulate chrome rings disgusts me—I play enough video games that I don’t want that in my car too.  There’s something about the Lexus that pulls me.  It seems more tangible, more real.  Sure a boost in power would be nice, and the fact the F-Sport version has a narrower track than a regular LS is very odd indeed.

The S-Class is always an amazing machine, affording so many new luxuries or improvements on safety and engineering that it’s hard to deny it as best in the flagship class.  Honestly, though, it’s hard to go wrong in this type of car, anyway.  Each is highly engineered—the drag coefficient on may of them are as smooth as a Toyota Prius (around .26cD) which is quite an achievement.  Some of these cars are also quite light—the Jaguar XJ, for instance, weighs less than a V8-powered Camaro.  To call any of these cars better than the other… better at what?  These flagships give their rich buyers choices and preferences galore to specifically fill their needs and then some.  Likewise, it just comes down to what we as enthusiasts want that makes our preference “best.”  For me, the Jag and Lexus would suit just fine.  How about yours?


CarsDirect article: Subaru Outback vs. Honda CR-V

[This is actually an older article, but nonetheless here]

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

Original version:
Before SUV’s became a craze of the 1990’s ignited by the then-new Ford Explorer, there were all-wheel drive wagons from Japan (and America’s dead Eagle brand).  Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi all competed, and the Civic Wagonvan was Honda’s entry.  But most remembered of all, was Subaru.

In its 1971 year, the all-wheel drive advantage of Subaru was already taking hold in snowy states with the Leone/GL model until the Subaru Legacy came to replace it in 1989, and the Impreza/Legacy line of 1994 introduced the Outback models for added utility.  For the 2014 model year, that heritage keeps rolling with Subaru’s AWD, Boxer engines, and frameless windows.  Last redesigned in 2009, the current Outback introduced the CVT Lineartronic transmission which holds the engine in an optimal rev range rather than moving in and out of where the power sits.  For those wanting the feeling of shifts, there’s a six “gear” manual mode with paddles, or a real three-pedal six-speed manual transmission.  Checking the box for the Outback 3.6R gives a horsepower boost from the base 2.5L Boxer four-cylinders’ 173hp and ups it to 256hp via a 3.6L Boxer-6—the only one you’ll find on the market outside a Porsche.  Opting for more power gives a five-speed automatic and a drop in fuel economy: 17/25 city/highway versus the four-cylinder 24/30 when equipped with CVT (manual is 22/29).

It’s not as though Toyota or Honda have forgone such vehicles as those AWD wagons; they just come in different packages.  We know them now as the Rav4 and CR-V.  One of the best selling CUV’s, the Honda CR-V is on its fourth generation in 2013, since first debuting for the 1996 model year.  Featuring a 2.4L inline-four, a five-speed automatic, and a choice of front- or optional all-wheel drive, the CR-V’s base price of around $23,000 puts it right under the base Outback.  Cargo capacity behind the back seat is nearly 3cuft larger than the Subaru (though folding the seats down the Subaru still has a slight advantage).

The base CR-V against a base Outback looks promising until one moves up from the LX 2WD to an EX AWD model, and likewise with the Outback 2.5i Premium, landing the Honda just slightly over the Subie’s price.  The AWD-optional doesn’t apply to the Subaru, nor does it detract fuel economy: the CR-V drops from 23/32 city highway to 22/30, versus the consistent Subaru CVT rating at a 24/30.  The Subaru also has a tighter turning radius, more proven and capable all-wheel drive system, and a higher tow rating by nearly twice the Honda.  Subaru even offers a choice in four-cylinder transmission options, or a more powerful engine.  So many choices and capabilities makes the Subaru Outback a winner here.

My take:
The CR-V versus Subaru isn’t new to me, since the Forester/CR-V was actually the first paid writing gig I had with CD.  Back then, the CR-V was the CarsDirect winner before.  As I said in the articles original version “the CR-V does pull a gas-can out of a hat and gets better road-test mileage in the real world than the Subaru.  Furthermore, the Honda has a smaller interior volume overall, yet has more cargo and rear-seat space than the Subaru.”  My end result was I didn’t like SUV’s/CUV’s, but the losing Subaru offering a manual for the regular four cylinder, or a turbo engine, either of those two would be my choice.

With this second take with a CR-V/Subaru the CarsDirect tables turned, and my own taste still determines neither really excites me.  Yet that lack of excitement isn’t even because of the CUV thing.  I like that the Outback sticks to the wagon body so well, and offers a manual, but the looks inside and out compared to what it replaced so long ago (check the 2006’s out) disgusts me no end.  The front in particular wreaks of the Chrysler Sebring, a car so bad that– regardless of a long standing name– was refreshed with name “Chrysler 200” to cover up the horrid of what the old name stood for.

What the Sebring was…                                … and the Outback is.

What the Sebring became…                   … what the Outback was.

What comes as a shock is the CR-V is so small, but is a CUV.  Parked next to a 2006 Toyota Matrix, it’s not much larger outside, but packs loads of space inside– a trick Honda’s Fit also achieves, but through other means (the “magic seat“).  At this point, for my hated of the Outback Legacy, I would take the losing Honda for the better looks and rear-seat-up cargo holding alone.  Call me superficial for now, but the Outback is just that atrocious.

Lets review the CRV vs Subies history then.  I liked the losing Forester over the winning Honda, and like the losing Honda over the winning Outback… so I prefer the losers?  No.  I prefer the Forester manual or Forester turbo over the Outback or CR-V, making the Forester the best of the three in my mind.

CarsDirect article: Nissan Murano vs Kia Sorrento

[This is actually an older article, but nonetheless here]

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

Original version:
History can be found in the names of the Nissan Murano and Kia Sorento, both dating back to 2002.  The Murano is noted for the future-of-SUV foresight, and the Sorento for creating a more attractive and useable truck-based five seater SUV than Kia’s smaller Sportage of the time, and making a better impression for the brand.

Considered one of the grandparents of the modern SUV (or rather, the Crossover Utility Vehicle), the Nissan Murano nameplates second and current generation has been around since 2009, with a snarling facial refresh and new tail-lights given in 2011.  The interior can be an airy tan, or a more sinister black.  Using Nissans long used 3.5L V6 from the VQ-family in this five-seater, the current Murano puts down 265hp to the front or all wheels through a CVT transmission.  City/Highway EPA ratings are 21/24 for front drive, and 20/23 for AWD.

The current crop of more car-like, unibody Sorentos have a more complicated life span. Out since 2009, but not in America until the 2011 model year, the Kia has been here for only three years.  The 2014 Sorento has taken steps to improve on the model: a claimed 80-percent has been updated underneath.  The body remains mostly the same, while the front and rear bumpers, and the lights have all been updated.  The engine has been improved from the old 3.5L, 264hp V6, as it’s replaced with a 290hp 3.3L direct-injected V6.  A four-cylinder model good for 191hp, but the V6 makes more sense with such a large vehicle.  Inside, new interior and electronics take some searching to see, but it aligns more with the newer Kia’s with a smoother flowing center stack.  The interior colors are a tad austere compared to the Murano (the Nissan offers more tan), but the two-tone of the Kia breaks the monotony of too much of one color.  Fuel economy is 21/24 for AWD V6 models, and 23/26 for the FWD four-cylinder.

Because of at least offering a four cylinder for a more entry-level budget and the option of a third row (mostly for quick runs with extra people), the Sorento offers a more modern package that the CUV segment has evolved into since the early 2000’s.  The Sorento offers a cheaper base price for the V6 AWD model, undercutting the basic Murano FWD entry by thousands while offering more power, marginally better fuel economy, tighter turning circle, and more space inside.  The Sorento may not have all the small luxury touches (will you really miss an illuminated glovebox?), it still wins out for practicality and value.

My take:
How many times must I say I’m not big on SUV’s/CUV’s?  I will say, however, the Sorrento does hold a certain annoying spot in how the rear quarter windows look big on the outside, but are small (blind spot!) on the inside.  Thank thick pillars for that.  The Murano would be my pick for luxury, and the Kia for value.  Not really a surprise, though.

CarsDirect article: Toyota Avalon vs. Chevrolet Impala

[This is actually an older article, but nonetheless here]

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

Original version: For 2013, both Chevrolet and Toyota brought out new generations of their full-sized models, the Impala and Avalon.  Both have near-equal performance, interior space, starting V6 prices, and even a similar green-house shape.

Completely redone for the first time since 2006, Chevrolet has transformed the 2014 Impala look and feel back to a more modern and less flat design inside and out.  While the new dashboard resounds some classic Corvette with the dual-cowl shapes, the feeling isn’t as special when considering the 2008 Malibu received such design, and may even be a reminder of a Toyota Previa van when squinting.  The exterior has a muscular front end, borrowing some Camaro cues, and a shoulder line that works up the rear fender.   Up front is an optional 3.6L direct-injected V6 good for 305hp and an EPA rated 19/29 city/highway MPG.  The base LS model comes with an EPA rated 21/31 2.5L direct-injected four-cylinder with 195hp which is surprisingly adequate and quick to respond, but it would prove less so when loaded with five passengers and the very generous 18.8 cubic-foot trunk full of their stuff.  The V6 can be had on the 2LT trim for around $30,000.

Unlike the Impala, Toyota’s Avalon sports a standard V6 throughout the range, though without the direct injection and with “only” 268 hp, and EPA rated 29/31 city/highway.  Regardless of less power, that Avalon’s weight is down by around 300lbs from the Impala, meeting or exceeding acceleration, and doing so in a more responsive way.  The reason the Avalon weighs so little is it’s smaller, mostly in the trunk region which holds a mere 16cuft.  Inside the Avalon, the measurements are close enough where neither really wins or loses in terms of space.  The dashboard goes with the quirky asymmetrical shapes the company has introduced through much of the line.  The front has hints of Scion’s FR-S sportscar.

While the Avalon has a slightly firmer ride than the Impala, and a smaller trunk, it still offers a great value as it offers the same oomph as the Impala V6 when stepping on it, while earning the same MPG ratings as the base Impala.  Avalon also offers multiple modes—eco, normal, and sport—to change how the car feels and responds for economy or enthusiastic driving.  Throw in that the Toyota can also be had in a new-to-the-model Hybrid good for 40mpg, albeit for $35,000 and a mild hit to merging performance.

My take: Alright, fine, I’m a Toyota shill.  I like the prospect of the Avalon being a better driving car than it used to be, and the better styled interior/exterior is also making me dig it.  The Impala has a large rear overhang, and the steering wheel is so dull… but hey, the Impala does strike up a good driving balance for the car it is, and it’s an even bigger step forward over its own previous self which earns some massive kudos.  Besides, Motor Trend actually found the Avalon to be too firm, and that tautness didn’t even make it handle better, per se.

I guess no matter the full-size far, nothing really floats my boat.  Being it’s been so long since I wrote this, there’s probably other points I’m missing.  Oh, and check the similarity in that roofline…

CarsDirect Article: Land Crusier vs. Range Rover

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

Original version:

With as many SUV’s, CUV’s, SAV’s and all those other weird “V’s” out there, there’s few that combine the off-road ability to drive across some of Earths toughest terrain while being trimmed like an executive jet.  Two long known name plates that fit that description are the Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover Range Rover.

Toyota Land Cruisers weren’t always luxurious, with their origins starting as a Jeep copy in World War II.  Come the 1980’s, the Land Cruiser started becoming the vehicle it is today.  As the most expensive Toyota product one can buy, the base price is $78,000—that’s Lexus LS money.  But you get nearly Lexus-grade materials and luxury, and some world-class capability.  Not so world-class is the now archaic five-speed automatic, and a 381hp 5.7L V8 shared with the Tundra and Sequoia.  While the towing capacity of 8,200lbs is commendable, the 18mpg highway stands as a letdown.

The Range Rover has long been a staple choice for the British Royal Family for country expeditions.  Range Rover’s newest model advanced the lineage with far greater use of aluminum to save weight.  The new ‘Rover also makes maneuvering in tight quarters easy with five cameras to look around the vehicle with the available Surround Camera System.  When reading the base model is a 3.0L V6 compared to the Toyota 5.7L V8, the $83,000 Range Rover may seem too much.  That V6 has a supercharger, however, and 340 Jaguar-shared horsepower because of it.  The 23mpg highway rating more than makes up for the base engine, and there’s still an optional supercharged V8 (510hp, 19mpg) for nearly $100,000 if desired.  Both engines feature an eight-speed automatic, and V6 or V8 models have a 7,700lb tow capacity.

While the Toyota Land Cruiser has the upper hand in standard power, better tow ratings and a lower entry price.  While still capable, all those Toyota pluses come at the cost of oozing of old-fashioned in a not so charming way.  The Land Rover Range Rover, on the other hand, takes this class of vehicle forward through the details and engineering the Land Cruiser is greatly missing out on.  For that, the Range Rover is a breathtaking winner suited even for royalty.

My Take:
This is yet another example of CarsDirect changing what I write, leaving out anything to do with British Royal Family.  Excusable, I suppose, but reinforces putting these differences out there for readers or potential employers to gander my own style nonetheless.  Perfect?  No.  But mine.

Back to my take, though… it’s the same, really.  The Toyota did come from 2008, but the interior is still laughable in how aged it seems.  Add in that the base Lexus LX570 SUV based off the Land Cruiser comes standard with air suspension that is all kinds of adjustable… not like the Ranger Rover, but still.  The air suspension isn’t even an option for the Toyota—and it’s only a $5,000 gap between the Toyota and Lexus!  The towing is less on the Lexus, sure, but honestly that’s not my chief concern when something costs $82,000.

There is no way I can disagree with this articles outcome.  Does the Toyota have a slightly bigger interior and standard seating for eight?  Sure.  Still rather have the Range Rover, or it’s big-brother LR4.  I was astounded at just how behind (and weak) the Land Cruiser is.

So not only is the Land Cruiser a loser to the Land Rover Range Rover, but to its own luxury cousin, ugly face be damned.  And “ugly” is relative, since the Range Rover looks too much like a Ford Explorer at times– the rear in particular.

Lexus LX570, the luxury version of the Land Cruiser.

Ford Explorer compared to Range Rover.

CarsDirect Articles: ML350 vs Lincoln MKT

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

Originally Written: The Lincoln MKT and Mercedes ML350 are two very similarly powered utility vehicles for not-so-different prices.  Don’t let the similarities fool you, though, as these are two different breeds of luxury utility.

Where the MKT shines over the ML is the seating: seven seats are standard.  The base price is also lower by $5,000 unless using the Mercedes web comparison tool, which nets another $15,000 in options.  Beyond that, the Lincoln is a competent vehicle that doesn’t have the versatility of the Mercedes.  Regardless, the 3.7L V6 makes for a solid performance with 303-horsepower and 278ftlbs of torque– 1hp/5ftlbs above the German rivals’ output.  Even with more power and having “only” a six-speed automatic, Lincoln’s big CUV still gets around 25mpg highway when front-wheel drive.  There’s the looks that need to be discussed: a winged grille and rear light bar evoke past successes.  Yet why go retro on a vehicle not attached to the great Zephyrs and Continentals of yore?  Instead the MKT comes off a bit like a mustachio’d hipster up front (marine mammal comparisons are passé), and tailed by a red unibrow for the rear lighting fixture.  The interior is showing its age compared to the Mercedes.*

The Mercedes ML350 may only seat five, but it’s also not the largest of the brands fleet of Ute’s.  Essentially matching power to the MKT, the ML can still tow 6,600lbs—that’s more than three times the MKT’s 2,000lbs limit.  Cargo capacity of the M-Class is also a huge difference to the MKT with a total of 38 cubic feet with seats up; 80cuft seats down—consistently near 20cuft more over the Lincoln. That’s certainly worth the extra $5,000 in base price, alone.  There’s even a transfer case and skid plates for those who really leave the pavement.  Remaining is still that pesky irregularity from the Mercedes pricing for an additional $15,000.  Part of that can be attributed to the Lincoln’s standard leather, while base ML350’s are simulated hide.  A simple luxury of memory seats is another such option that the Lincoln gives without blinking.

Each vehicle compromises in this comparison, with the MKT giving up towing and cargo space while the ML350 lacks a few frills at the base price.  But when considering that whether calling these two machines a CUV or an SUV, the “utility vehicle” is an ever present theme.  For that the towing, cargo, and equipment list to truly off-road gives the ML350 a clear win.

My take:  *They did throw in the comparison to it looking like a hearse, which I never stated… just one more example how they may or may not interject their own wording into mine.  This is actually the exact premise for blogging my original and the edited published examples with links to compare.

A friend of mine on Facebook wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the Lincoln losing, especially since he knows that I don’t even get to personally sit in or drive either vehicle (I’ve tried to see about such detailed reviews/comparisons, but I’m told it’s too costly and time consuming for the level of information assigned).  For his sake, I tried to bring up the standard leather and other such niceties of Lincoln, while still giving it a gracious loss only as an SUV, not as a more car-like CUV.  That shone through in the published version, at least.

That friend of mine also wasn’t thrilled at my insinuating that the MKT was a Volvo form 1998, either.  But indeed, deep in the DNA, the 1998 Volvo S80 sits under the Ford Fivehundred sedan of 2005, and the current Taurus.  From there the genes have extended to the CUV’s like Flex, Explorer, and thus the MKT.  Unfair, sure, but nonetheless fact.  This evolutionary chart/meme showing “dirt” before the ancient Volvo probably didn’t help.

In any case, I had to write about the ML350 against fellow German rival, the BMW X5, with the BMW being the winner.  At that point, I figured the CUV theme of on-road performance and seating capacity should be the defining win.  To make up to the Mercedes here, I reversed that and figured that if we look at Crossover Utility Vehicle or Sport Utility Vehicle, no matter what it’s a “Utility Vehicle,” which is where the Mercedes won out.  Obviously my conclusion in the original version was leaning a little deeper on the differentiation of an SUV and CUV, but the published version made no mention of the sort.  In fact, they made it a CUV comparison specifically, highlighting the section “Which is the better CUV” and then putting “The Lincoln includes more standard equipment at a lower price. But the Mercedes-Benz offers a better mix of performance and utility. In an all-around sense, the ML350 is the stronger choice.”   Can’t win ’em all.

CarsDirect Articles: BMW 328i vs Audi A4

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

That BMW is actually not the 328i, but I digress. Even pro car-mags make mistakes.

Original written:
For decades, the BMW 3-Series has been a dominant force in the sport-sedan market, begetting many competitors who dare to take on the benchmark.  From Audi, that competitor is the A4.  In both the BMW and Audi for 2013, there are direct-injected four-cylinder turbo engines rolling out more-than-acceptable amounts of power and still give over 30mpg.  Respective brands considered, each has a different way of achieving these tasks.  Does the 328i still reign over the A4?

Audi’s A4 engine compartment has played host to the 2-liter TFSI game for some time, which is important since this is lauded as one of the best four cylinder engines in the world.  The TFSI is known for a smooth power delivery, a cool mix of horsepower and torque (211/258 in this application), and respectable fuel economy.  The Quattro all-wheel drive that Audi helped shape rally racing with is still a major draw, too.  A4 brings three transmissions: a CVT for base front-drive models, with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic when the AWD Quattro tally is checked.  The six-speed Quattro and CVT retain the 32mpg highway, while the eight-speed Quattro drops to 29mpg.  Enthusiast speaking: the manual is the way to go here.

Unlike Audi, BMW pulls into the more classic ideals of a sports car, but throwing the practicality of a sedan.  It’s been over a decade since a four-cylinder 3-Series has come to the U.S., and the first time for a turbo.  However, BMW being who they are, the engine receives notoriety as well as the TSFI.  Compared to the Audi’s 211hp, the BMW spins out a healthy 240hp.  Though BMW’s 255ftlbs of torque is less than Audi’s 258, that amount hardly twists a finger, and the BMW comes in lower in the RPM’s.  While no CVT is in the Bimmer, it won’t be missed as “only” a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transfer power to the back.  Getting 34mpg highway, the 328i bests the Audi by 2mpg thanks in part to being lighter.

Sure Audi’s Quattro adds the benefit of grip; downside has long been an engine stuck far out in front of the car, and the A4 is no exception.  Without AWD, it’s a front-drive vehicle which, from an enthusiast perspective, is a turn-off.  Especially when one considers the rear-drive BMW gets better fuel economy with its matching (or besting) performance, while still benefiting with a larger back seat and trunk.  The bench remains marked by the BMW 3-Series.

My take: Like with the Focus ST versus Mazdaspeed3, this is a performance-vehicle sort of comparison which was appreciated.  Also like that article, I agreed with the winner but also know that Audi has a strong following, especially for people of more inclement weather regions.  One thing I found frustrating is why BMW is so against saying what their trunk capacity is… sure I didn’t use that exact measurement in the article, but it’s still an important aspect when selling a sport sedan.  Like a VW GTI, you get everyday practicality but with a hint of performance and luxury– so tell me how practical!  As for Audi’s site, I must say I hate that they make it more friendly for phones than desk-tops.  I sit in a time where I don’t want to scroll on a phone, so don’t make me have to do it on your site.