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2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

It's about time we get some new cars that we can tinker with, tune and show off

Charles Trieu
Mar 6, 2014
Photographer: Manufacturers

At the end of the conversation, it looks like American sport compact enthusiasts will have a decent crop of new cars worth modifying in 2014. The all-wheel-drive 2015 Subaru WRX and WRX STI lead the pack with new power, new looks and a decidedly improved chassis, but we were also introduced recently to a refreshed front drive 2014 Honda Civic and the 2014 Honda CR-Z HPD sport hybrid (available now with a supercharger option). We also threw in this list the 2014 Toyota Corolla and 2014 Acura RLX to cover the ends of the price spectrum (even though what we really want from those brands are the new Supra and NSX, respectively).

2015 Subaru WRX

Since the Subaru WRX's beginnings the guys at the automaker have never missed a beat with the rally-inspired platform. Every generation has been widely accepted by tuners all around the world. Later this year the '15 Subaru WRX will be released for all you would-be new car shoppers. With all-wheel drive, a turbocharger, four doors, and aggressive handling, who wouldn't want one?

2015 subaru WRX 01 Photo 2/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Aside from the updated good looks, the new Subaru WRX packs a powerful 268 hp underhood. Yes, that's right, 268 hp, making it the most powerful WRX to date. To testdrive the new turbo beast we needed long sweeping roads, and Subaru took us to the best spot on the West Coast for that: Napa.

2015 Subaru WRX STI First Drive

Now being offered in two flavors, the 2015 Subaru WRX comes in a six-speed manual and a Sport Lineartronic automatic with paddle shifters. Before you pass up the automatic let us tell you that it features the Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive), allowing you to switch from Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp. This doesn't actually give the transmission more gears, but it has an electronic eight-speed operation. Unfortunately as soon as we got into the automatic we were pulled over by the good old po-po. It seems that the California Highway Patrol got tired of seeing so many WRX cars fly up the coast that they decided to pull me over and make an example out of me. After that I took it pretty easy to our destination where we swapped cars for a six-speed manual.

2015 subaru WRX front fascia 04 Photo 3/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Holy crap, they weren't kidding when they said the chassis was reinforced more than the previous version. The car is flat, flat, flat in the turns. I've been in 'caged race cars that didn't feel this solid. Subaru used aluminum lower control arms, which is common on a lot of sports cars but Subaru also decided to use pillow-ball bushings in some spots underneath the car too. That's something you don't' see everyday on factory cars. Climbing the hills and cutting down in the canyons was so much fun that I didn't want to share the WRX with my copilot. Turbo cars are fun and even more fun when they are connected to a AWD drivetrain. We had the center dash mounted boost gauge peaked out at 18.8 psi!

2015 subaru WRX driver side profile 09 Photo 4/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

If you're considering getting one, don't think about it, just do it. There isn't much else available when you consider AWD turbo cars—and when no one does AWD turbos like Subaru. Just like the previous generations, the WRX 2.0L engine will see tons of aftermarket support to make it into any monster you want. Obtaining custom aero and chassis parts are never a problem and will have everything you could want in the next one to two years. But if you're not into heavily modifying cars, I'd still say buy one. It's the perfect all-around daily driver. Four-doors, AWD, turbocharged, and the new amenities of make it the perfect car for any age in any terrain. You really don't need to modify it to enjoy it either. Just sit back and enjoy the heads-up display, paddle shifters, navigation, 60/40 folding rear seats, 400W nine-speaker sound system, and, of course, that turbo.

2015 Subaru WRX

Power: 268 hp/258 lb-ft

MPG: 21/28/24 (six-speed manual), 19/25/21 (Sport Lineartronic automatic)

Engine: 2.0L, 16-valve, flat four-cylinder engine, 10.6:1 compression, Direct Injection; twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler, 86x86mm bore stroke

2015 subaru WRX engine bay 08 Photo 8/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Drivetrain: AWD, Active Torque Vectoring with SI-Drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)

Chassis: aluminum lower control arms, pillow-ball mount bushings

Weight: 3,267 pounds

2015 subaru WRX rear fascia 05 Photo 9/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Wheels/Tires: 17x8 with 235/45-17 tires

Brakes: four-wheel disc brakes, two-piston front caliper, single piston rear caliper, 12.4-inch front rotors with 11.3-inch rear rotors

Exterior: aluminum hood with top scoop, foglights, LED exterior lights, shark fin antenna, trunk lip spoiler

2015 subaru WRX driver side front view 07 Photo 10/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Interior: electronic seats, cloth or leather seat option, red stitching accent, carbon-fiber accent, push-start button

Electronics: 4.3-inch GPS screen, 3.5-inch LCD center screen, heads-up display, six-speaker or Harman/Kardon 440W nine-speaker option

2014 Honda Civic Coupe

Most of you probably don't even realize it but car models come in generations. A generation of a car is the years that a certain model platform is produced. Within those generations you will most likely see lots of minor revisions year-to-year and then one major revision in the middle. These revisions are called refreshes in the industry. Some might call them zenki, kouki, and even chuki, but we just say a car has a refresh. The usual refresh for cars comes in the form of changing the lights and bumpers.

2014 honda civic coupe 14 Photo 14/28   |   2014 Honda Civic Coupe 14

The 2014 Honda Civic coupe is, however, an exception. From first glance you'll notice the headlights and bumper are different from 2013. If you look further you'll notice the entire frontend is also different. Even the fenders have been changed, giving the Civic an aggressive sportier arch. On the rear, the lights have been updated as well as the rear bumper with an updated diffuser look. Turning up the sportiness didn't stop at the exterior; Honda added a push-button start option and a 7-inch touchscreen display.

Engine exhaust changes yield a +3 increase in horsepower while chassis improvements make the 2014 Honda Civic coupe more rigid and solid. For the automatic lovers a new Continuously Variable Timing (CVT) transmission will bring up mpg to 33.

If you're considering getting a new Civic, remember this is the country's best-selling compact car for a reason. Whether you choose the manual or automatic transmission, you will enjoy it. We testdrove both, and the automatic felt great. We'd suggest getting one in one of the new colors: Modern Steel Metallic or Orange Fire Pearl.

2014 honda civic coupe rear fascia 15 Photo 15/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

2014 Honda Civic Coupe

Power: 143 hp/129 lb-ft (LX, EX, EX-L), 205 hp/174 lb-ft (Si)

MPG: 30/39/33 (CVT automatic)

Engine: 1.8L (LX, EX, EX-L), 2.4L (Si), 16-valve, i-VTECH, four-cylinder engine

Drivetrain: FWD, CVT automatic or manual

Chassis: revised spring rates, dampers, and stiffer rear antisway bar

Weight: 2,754-2,916 pounds

2014 honda civic coupe driver side profile 16 Photo 16/28   |   2014 Honda Civic Coupe Driver Side Profile 16

Wheels/Tires: 16-inch wheels standard, optional 18-inch

Brakes: 11.1-inch front rotors, 10.2-inch rear rotors

Exterior: foglight, elongated side mirrors, new taillights, new headlights, grille, hood, fenders, and bumpers

Electronics: 7-inch audio display, GPS, Smart Entry, push-button start, LaneWatch

2014 Honda CR-Z HPD

While we were at the Honda camp testdriving the new '14 Civic coupe we got to check out and drive a custom 2014 Honda CR-Z that they had built with all of the new HPD accessories, including a new supercharger. Yes, you read that right. Honda . . . supercharger. We all know Honda rarely does forced induction so we were pretty excited to test this out. There's only been a few turbo cars from Honda before, mainly in Japan with the exception of the Acura RDX, but this is the first time we've seen a supercharged car at the dealership.

2014 honda CR Z HPD driver side front view 17 Photo 17/28   |   2014 Honda CR Z HPD Driver Side Front View 17

Being the first manual transmission hybrid car, Honda took their little peppy CR-Z to another level by offering the optional Honda Performance Development (HPD) supercharger upgrade. This no longer feels like a hybrid; it wasn't sluggish or slow by any means. We wouldn't say that it's a rocket and you break out a rollcage but if you enjoy driving the normal CR-Z, or you're considering one, we highly suggest getting the HPD supercharger.

Other HPD accessories for the 2014 Honda CR-Z include a sport tuned suspension, exhaust and diffuser kit, 18-inch alloy wheels, four-piston aluminum front calipers with larger slotted rotors, limited-slip differential, high-performance clutch, front lip, rear spoiler, and a decal/emblem kit. That lip kit is a must even if you don't do the supercharger!

2014 honda CR Z HPD rear fascia 20 Photo 18/28   |   2014 Honda CR Z HPD Rear Fascia 20

2014 Honda CR-Z HPD with Supercharger

Power: 187 hp/171 lb-ft

MPG: n/a

Engine: 1.5L supercharged inline four-cylinder hybrid, HPD exhaust

2014 honda CR Z HPD HPD supercharger 19 Photo 19/28   |   2014 Honda CR Z HPD HPD Supercharger 19

Drivetrain: FWD, HPD helical LSD

Chassis: HPD sport suspension kit

Weight: estimated 2,700 pounds

Wheels/Tires: HPD 18-inch wheels

Brakes: HPD four-piston front calipers and 11.8-inch slotted rotors

Exterior: HPD lip spoiler kit

2014 honda CR Z HPD HPD big brake kit 18 Photo 20/28   |   2014 Honda CR Z HPD HPD Big Brake Kit 18

2014 Toyota Corolla

This year offers the next generation of the Toyota Corolla. And which generation is this? I can't even keep track. I feel like this car has been made since the inception of the company. Even though the Corolla hasn't been popular with the aftermarket tuning crowd since it was made in FWD configuration, it's still probably the most common car, or should be, for the general population.

A Wiki search on Corolla revealed that this is the 11th generation of the car. For 47 years the car has been sold in 154 countries. There's only about 200 countries in the world too! In 1997 the Corolla surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle for the number-one car sold in the world. Just last year the 40 millionth Corolla was built. With that being said it's no wonder why the Corolla is always recommended to people looking for a car to buy and drive rather than turn into some race monster.

2014 toyota corolla 21 Photo 21/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

The 2014 Toyota Corolla comes in four versions: L, LE, S, and LE Eco (from inexpensive to most expensive). Comparing these newer models to last year's, these are cheaper and offer a higher, newer quality. Cars are like technology; they increase at a rapid rate. You don't want to compare a computer from four years ago to one of today's standards, and it's a similar situation with cars. So for Toyota to be able to reduce the price yet add more features is pretty cool.

The 2014 Toyota Corolla S is the sporty version that we'd suggest. It has the foglights, a different gauge cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 16-inch wheels, and rear spoiler. The S and the L version are the only ones that are available in a six-speed manual too. The LE and LE Eco come with an automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVTi-S). Now if we were into automatic transmissions we wouldn't mind the CVTi-S—but we need that shifting fun, even in a Corolla.

Widening the track and extending the wheelbase the '14 Corolla has even more interior room than any previous year. Other new features include a 6.1-inch touchscreen monitor, backup monitor, Smart key, push-button start, LED headlights, and SofTex seats. This is a sound car with just as many bells and whistles as any modern car. Get in, turn on your apps via Bluetooth, and enjoy the ride.

2014 toyota corolla passenger rear view 22 Photo 22/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

2014 Toyota Corolla

Power: 132 hp/128 lb-ft (L, LE, S), 140 hp/126 lb-ft (LE Eco)

MPG: 29/37/32 (L, LE, S), 30/40/34 (LE Eco)

Engine: 1.8L, four-cylinder VVT-I

Drivetrain: FWD, six-speed manual or CVTi-S automatic

Weight: 2,820-2,875 pounds

Wheels/Tires: 16-inch wheels with 17-inch option

2014 toyota corolla interior 23 Photo 23/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Brakes: 10.8-inch front disc, 9-inch rear drum (L, LE)/10.2-inch rear disc (S)

Exterior: LED headlights, foglights, and trunk spoiler

Interior: SofTex seats, 60/40 folding rear seats, heated seats

Electronics: Smart Key, push-button start, EntuneTM audio, backup camera

2014 Acura RLX and RLX Sport Hybrid

What is the Acura RLX? We know manufacturers' nomenclature of cars can get really confusing when they start using letters and numbers. Here's a quick history lesson so you know what the RLX is and where it stands in the Acura lineup.

Back in 1986 Acura launched its first car, the Legend. The Legend was Honda's halo car at the time and really became a legend. A decade later in 1996, the third-generation Legend was re-branded as the Acura RL for North America (still Honda Legend in Japan). This year, the RL is being superseded by the RLX. There's a new halo car for Acura, and at 377 hp it's Honda's most powerful production engine.

2014 acura RLX front fascia 24 Photo 24/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

So why add the X to RL? No, it's not to emphasize the AWD system. The RL had the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) for years. We can only assume the X was added to RL to emphasize the new Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS). Yes, this is something like the 4WS (4-Wheel Steer) we remember on the old third-generation '88-91 Honda Preludes—only the new P-AWS is a million times better than ever before. Imagine decades more of technology advancement. The Acura RLX is the company's flagship car targeting other luxury cars like the Lexus GS, BMW 5-Series, Infiniti M, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But when you drive the RLX, things like P-AWS give you that realization that Acura still has that racing heritage in their DNA. Handling was tight and surprisingly great from a luxury car.

If you can afford it, and you want a luxury hybrid, the Acura RLX comes in a Sport Hybrid version. Before you start on that hybrid-hater nonsense, don't think of it as a hybrid car that is luxurious. Think of it as a luxury car that has the added hybrid feature to gain better fuel economy. With just about every fullsize luxury car guzzling gasoline, why not have a perfect blend of hybrid mpg and luxury? Driving the RLX Sport Hybrid you would never know it was hybrid unless someone told you. With 377 hp in a 3.5-liter, this is Honda's largest and most potent engine. This is not your typical hybrid. It feels more like a V-8. We can't wait to see someone VIP this thing. Just look at those headlights.

2014 acura RLX rear fascia 25 Photo 25/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

2014 Acura RLX

Power: 268 hp/258 lb-ft

MPG: 21/28/24 (six-speed manual), 19/25/21 (Sport Lineartronic automatic)

Engine: 2.0L, 16-valve, flat four-cylinder engine, 10.6:1 compression, Direct Injection; twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler, 86x86mm bore stroke

2014 acura RLX driver side profile 26 Photo 26/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Drivetrain: AWD, Active Torque Vectoring with SI-Drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)

Chassis: aluminum lower control arms, pillow-ball mount bushings

Weight: 3,267 pounds

Wheels/Tires: 17x8 with 235/45-17 tires

2014 acura RLX taillight 27 Photo 27/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed

Brakes: four-wheel disc brakes, two-piston front caliper, single-piston rear caliper, 12.4-inch front rotors with 11.3-inch rear rotors.

Exterior: aluminum hood with top scoop, foglights, LED exterior lights, shark fin antenna, trunk lip spoiler

Interior: electronic seats, cloth or leather seat option, red stitching accent, carbon-fiber accent, push-start button

Electronics: 4.3-inch GPS sc

2014 acura RLX passenger side front view 28 Photo 28/28   |   2014 Car Releases - The New Breed
By Charles Trieu
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