2018 Hyundai Kona SEL

Hyundai’s new Kona a cute value-minded crossover … 2018 Hyundai Kona

Kona’s cute, it’s inexpensive, it drives great, and like all vehicles that folks want to buy these days, it’s a crossover.

Frankly, it had me at cute, but the rest is like frosting on a gluten-free homemade cupcake. Continue reading 2018 Hyundai Kona SEL

2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Sorento trims galore will fit all SUV lovers’ budgets … 2019 Kia Sorento

It had been a couple years and three model years since I’d driven Kia’s Sorento, its large SUV that aims to be a family hauler and has migrated, in top-end trim, to being a luxury vehicle.

Luckily all the good stuff remains, including a standard third row seat, and a few new goodies have been added. But at its core, Sorento is a stout entry in this market and comes in enough flavors (trim levels) to satisfy any SUV cravings a driver may have. Continue reading 2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Cars your rarely see on the road

Another unusual car made in Wisconsin

The Excalibur Automobile Corporation was born by the idea Milwaukee native, and world-famous designer, Brook Stevens  who sketched a concept on a place mat while at a restaurant in 1964. He was asked by his then employee Studebaker to create buzz for their exhibit at the New York Auto Show. I love Studebaker, in many ways like AMC, in that they had to swing for the fence to get noticed by automotive buyers. It was at the auto show that Studebaker announced they were getting out of the auto business.

But that wasn’t the end of the Excalibur. The car received so much attention the Excalibur Automotive Corporation was formed to produce the cars. The engine and drive train came from General Motors while the bodies and interiors were hand-crafted in West Allis, suburb just west of Milwaukee. The car was pretty quick utilizing a Chevy 327 engine. With the same engine used in the Corvette and the standard 3.31:1 rear axle, acceleration from 0–60 mph took less than six seconds.

And it looks even better stretched

Which is why I stopped to take a picture of it. In an era where everything from Chrysler 300’s to Hummers are stretched into limos, this one would still attract a crowd. In fact, it has more value in the collector car market than the original car. You can find Excaliburs from the mid 1960’s all the way through the late 1980’s and very affordable ranging in prices from $37,000 for a Series 3, to a 1989 Roadster Convertible for $65,000.  Not bad considering there were just around 3,500 copies made.

The limo, much less, around 13, according to their website. These are the ones made in West Allis, not ones stretched by other companies. My best source for pricing came from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) where they listed the 1989 model with a low retail of $94,000, average of $177,700 and high of $280,300. You will find lots of the stretched versions around $50,000 or less. How much for this one? Good guess. Looks like it was just parked and forgotten with a group of unremarkable vehicles. Would make for an interesting restoration project and a fun ride. The body’s not in bad shape but will need some work as will the interior.

An electrifying sports coupe

My buddy and I had just finished lunch at a McDonalds in Lomira, WI and spotted two cool black cars parked next to each other near the back of the lot. One, a 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo, the other, this bad boy. I had to hop out and take a closer look, one because it was so cool looking, and two, I had no idea what it was. A Beemer? Nope. A Fisker Karma.

In case you have forgotten, and I did, here’s a little refresher.  Fisker produced the Karma and it was one of the world’s first production luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The Karma debuted in Detroit at the 2008 North American International Auto Show when Tesla was just getting going with its Model S. Deliveries began in 2011 but Production was suspended in November 2012 when its battery supplier, A123 Systems, declared bankruptcy. Just over 2,400 cars were built at its manufacturing plant in Delaware which used to be owned by General Motors.

In February 2014, Fisker Automotive’s Karma vehicle design, tooling and a manufacturing facility in Delaware were purchased by Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group who really wanted the battery side of the business. Founder Henrik Fisker, hung on to the Fisker trademarks and the Fisker brand and launched a separate company, Fisker Inc, in 2016. Wanxiang later renamed its new company Karma Automotive.

This car is over the top cool and even though a couple thousand were built, they are not expensive at all to buy now. Getting them serviced, well that’s another story. A quick search of the used car sites like TrueCar.com had several listings starting at just $32,950, all the way up to $52,500 and with low miles. Not sure I would ever purchase one but they are sure cool to look at.

 

 

 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

Corolla Hatch a practical sharp looker … 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Back in the day I owned a Toyota Corolla, but then again, nearly everyone did at the time. The Corolla was to the 1980s what the Chevy Nova was to the 1970s, namely an inexpensive reliable car.

While much has changed in the ensuing 35 or so years, the Corolla remains its steady self, still offering high value to another generation of first-time car buyers. However, while a modest sedan still leads the Corolla lineup, a new hatchback has just been launched as a 2019 model, replacing the Corolla iM, a former Scion hatchback. Continue reading 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

2018 Lexus RX350L

RX350L crossover Long on luxury …  2018 Lexus RX350L

Lexus may have invented the crossover craze with its original RX model that proved to be just what the doctor ordered for suburban America.

Well, that has not changed all these years later as the RX continues to impress and sell like cream puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair. For example, a few years ago Lexus introduced its awesome hybrid version that gets tremendous gas mileage. It sells well. Continue reading 2018 Lexus RX350L

2018 Range Rover HSE

Luxurious Rover HSE priced accordingly … 2018 Range Rover HSE 

There is a certain absurdity, a collective curiosity when a vehicle costs more than $100,000.

People look at you in one of two ways, either unbelieving or questioning your sanity to buy and drive such a vehicle. Continue reading 2018 Range Rover HSE

2019 Subaru Ascent Touring

Subaru’s new Ascent  nails 7-passenger crossover market … 2019 Subaru Ascent

Subaru took a couple years off from the minivan/larger crossover market in an effort to get it right. The strategy worked, its new 2019 Ascent nails it.

Rarely does a vehicle deliver fully what it promises and at a reasonable price. Ascent offers room for seven or eight passengers, a comfortable and useful interior, good power and handling, plus Subaru’s noted all-wheel-drive. Pricing starts at $32,970. Yes, you read that right. Continue reading 2019 Subaru Ascent Touring

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

Mazda MX-5 Miata stays atop its game … 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

Not much changes from year to year with Mazda’s MX-5, commonly known as a Miata, although there’s nothing common about this cute roadster.

First, if you know what a Miata looked like when introduced 28 years ago, you’ve got a good idea of how sharp the new one looks. This little runabout was restyled a couple years ago, actually shrinking a bit, and getting more muscular rounded fenders and slim LED headlights. But really, you know immediately that this is a Miata, er, MX-5. Continue reading 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

2018 Infiniti QX80 4WD

Infiniti QX80, when only BIG will do … 2018 Infiniti QX80

Big counts for something sometimes and if you need to haul seven people, a big SUV is likely what you need, or a minivan.

My son’s family was visiting so the Infiniti QX80 was a good bet for hauling us around southeast Wisconsin when grandparents, kids and grandkids needed to get to the zoo, etc. Continue reading 2018 Infiniti QX80 4WD

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