Details for CenTex Wheels 9/10/16

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A Saturday Feature of
the Killeen Daily Herald

Go to for complete Central Texas Auto Dealer inventories




The 2016 Mazda CX-3 looks racy, handles well, and offers a
compelling alternative to the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, and
Jeep Renegade that have surged onto the market over the last
U.S. car buyers have never before bought as many SUVs
and crossover utility vehicles as they’re taking home today.
Now a growing segment of even smaller entries is offering new
options, including the CX-3. It’s the smallest crossover sold
by the sporty Japanese brand, slotting neatly below the CX-5
compact SUV. 
Through an alternate lens, you can view the new CX-3 as
the capacious hatchback that the Mazda 3 doesn’t offer.
While we love Mazda’s compact cars, they’re hardly capable
of holding four adults. The CX-3 remedies that problem, and
adds optional all-wheel drive to boot. Given continuing cheap
gas prices and the rising fuel efficiency of SUVs of all sizes, we
suspect the CX-3 will do very well. Its sales may be closer to
those of the Fiat 500X or the MINI Countryman than Honda’s
high-volume HR-V, but it’s reasonably priced and much more
capable for the usual tasks of hauling people and a whole lot
of stuff. And it’s fun to drive, which can’t be said of the Honda
or the Chevy.
The CX-3 shines on first impression. The exterior design
is one of the most impressive, cohesive renderings of the
company’s Kodo design theme yet. Only the latest MX-5 Miata
wears the sinewy curves and taut lines better. From any angle,
the CX-3 is an attractive vehicle, offering an elegant, up-market
feel with a clear intention for sporty behavior on its sleeve.
Inside, it’s more of the same. Like all of Mazda’s recent
vehicles, the interior of the CX-3 is remarkably upscale in
appearance. Sure, there are still plenty of hard plastics in the
cabin, but there are also premium elements like wrapped
dashboard pieces, highlight piping on the seats, contrast


stitching, and controls and buttons with a solid and substantial
feel. Overall, the interior look and quality look far pricier than a
base price around $20,000 might lead you to expect.
Looks are one thing, but utility vehicles are primarily about
capability, performance, and comfort. The 2016 CX-3 doesn’t
shirk this burden. We found it one of the most enjoyable cars
to drive among all the new small crossover utilities. Mazda’s
electric power steering is well-weighted, and steering geometry
tweaks like extra caster improve its straight-line stability
without compromising maneuverability. And the CX-3 is highly
maneuverable; its 34.8-foot turning circle is low for a frontdrive (or all-wheel-drive) vehicle.
Comfort isn’t affected by the sporty driving capability,
in large part. In fact, the 2016 CX-3 is surprisingly quiet and
comfortable even on poor road surfaces, soaking up most
bumps without upsetting the occupants--although wheel
choice matters. After spending several hundred miles in the
CX-3, we can confidently say it’s a very comfortable place to be,
even for extended periods. The seats are supportive but supple, 
and road noise is very low, especially with the base Sport trim’s
standard 16-inch alloy wheels and taller tires. The 18-inch
wheels and lower-profile tires on the Touring and Grand Touring
models improve steering feel a tick, but at the cost of a bit more
road noise, especially over rough surfaces, and they also bring
a bit more stiffness to the overall ride. Still, it’s not intrusive in
either case.
The CX-3 comes with a single powertrain--a 146-horsepower
2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic
transmission--and a choice of standard front-wheel drive or
optional all-wheel drive. Both engine and transmission are
products of Mazda’s SkyActive engineering, meaning that every
component of an otherwise standard powertrain is optimized


In 1996, I bought a brand-new Toyota Tercel as a
wedding present for our daughter and new son-in-law.
This car has been amazing! Over 223,000 miles with NO
mechanical problems or rust. Still drives like new. So, with
our granddaughter now turning 16, as a “birthday gift”
to the family, I put it into the shop to go over everything
so that this 20-year-old car would continue to be reliable
transportation for them, and be a good vehicle for a
new driver to learn on (four-speed manual). Amazingly,
everything was still original, but not surprisingly, it
needed some work. It needed a new radiator, a catalytic
converter, a timing belt and a bunch of rubber items, etc.
I even put in a new radio, as cassettes are not so popular
now. One thing it did NOT need was a clutch! The original
clutch showed little wear. I find that pretty unbelievable.
Of course, now that my granddaughter has been learning
how to drive it, that may have changed. I had no problem
putting in the $2,000 to keep this gem on the road! But ...
not long after this work was completed, it started using
oil -- big time: More than a quart every 500 miles. Ugh ...


for fuel economy. The cars
EPA est. MPG
29 /35
are then designed around
the engine and its large
•	 146-horsepower
exhaust-header system,
which is why the engine
•	 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
compartment is longer
•	 Six-speed automatic transmission
than in other vehicles.
•	 A single powertrain
But as with other Mazda
•	 Electric power steering
models, SkyActiv pays off
•	 The 18-inch wheels
not only in higher ratings,
but in real-world figures
that meet and often beat
the EPA numbers.
Final ratings are 31
mpg combined (29 mpg city, 35 mpg highway) for the frontwheel-drive model, and 29 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 32 mpg
highway) for the AWD version. Both of those results put the
CX-3 at or near the top of its burgeoning class. The CX-3’s light
weight plays an important role in acquiring these gas mileage
figures with a conventional gasoline four-cylinder engine and
six-speed automatic transmission.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
has provided crash-test data for the 2016 CX-3.
In terms of features, there’s a high level of standard
equipment, especially considering the price, and a satisfying
range of upgrades are available, including some higher-tech
safety items. The base six-speed manual, front-wheeldrive model starts around $20,000, as do base models of
its competitors. A fully optioned CX-3 can easily get you to
$30,000 however.

I think the engine’s shot (I suspect my granddaughter
continued driving it after the oil light came on). So, now
we’re looking at a remanufactured engine or a rebuild.
I’m guessing another $2,000. Ugh ... While this car was,
in my opinion, worth $2,000 to keep on the road, I’m not
sure about $4,000. However, since the first $2,000 is already
sunk, I think I’m committed to it. What are your thoughts?
-- Grandpa Gordon
You sound like a wonderful grandpa, Gordon, but I think it’s
time to abandon ship. It’s not that the car couldn’t continue to
run well with a rebuilt engine; it’s that it’s not a very safe car,
especially for a new, young driver.
It’s small, it’s lightweight and it won’t fare well if it’s hit by
a Chevy Tahoe, or even a Chevy Malibu. It has basic driver and
passenger air bags, but even anti-lock brakes were optional. And
if you got the four-speed manual transmission, you probably got
the El Cheapo edition without ABS.
Cars built more recently are so much safer. They have stronger
structural protection for the passenger compartment, and they
have side, knee and head air bags. They have electronic stability
control to prevent skids and rollovers. Newer cars are making
this Tercel look more and more like a safety antique every
day. And we know that, statistically, young drivers have more
accidents than the rest of us. That’s a fact.
I know you’re invested in the Tercel, in more ways than
one, Gordon. But if it were my daughter or granddaughter, I’d
want her making her early-driver mistakes in something more
substantial and better-equipped.
So you have a couple of options. One is to let her take her
chances, and just add oil regularly. You can buy about 500-600
quarts of oil for that $2,000 you’d put into a used engine -- and

that’s if you buy them one at a time. If you go for the 55-gallon
drum in your living room, you can get 2,000 quarts for $2,000! In
any case, that’s a lot of miles -- and, more importantly, you can
invest in the Tercel 500 miles at a time -- until you can get your
granddaughter an upgrade.
Or, you could always fix and drive the Tercel yourself, Gordon,
since you’re a much more experienced driver. Then you can give
her your 2015 Lexus!
But I think the best thing to do is to keep the Tercel, as is, as a
backup car, and look for something safer for your granddaughter
to drive every day. For instance, for somewhere in the $4,000$6,000 range, you could get her something like a 1998-2000 Volvo
S70. That has front and side-impact air bags, ABS, traction
control and a very good crash-test record.
It’ll cost you a fortune in repairs compared to what this Tercel
cost over its first 20 years, but hopefully your granddaughter has
already learned the lesson about what happens when you drive
with the oil light on.
Best of luck, Gordon.

Which is cheaper, buying or leasing? Should you keep
a car forever or dump it after three years, before trouble
starts? Find out in Click and Clack’s pamphlet “Should I
Buy, Lease, or Steal My Next Car?” Send $4.75 (check or
money order) to Car Talk/Next Car, 628 Virginia Drive,
Orlando, FL 32803.

Got a question about cars? Write to Car Talk in care of
this newspaper, or email by visiting the Car Talk website
at (c) 2016 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug
Berman. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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