Back when I was kid in the 1960s and ‘70s a large luxury sedan meant a Buick, Lincoln, or certainly a Cadillac.
Today, nearly every car maker has a large luxury model, some on the sporty side, but more favoring the luxury end, emphasizing smoothness and quietness. As us Boomers age, both sound pretty good. But we’ve been smitten with SUVs and crossovers, so the big sedan market has languished, shrunk like cotton elephant bell jeans that went through the wash too many times.
Into this market Kia re-introduces its Cadenza, a large luxury sedan that falls between its even larger K900 and its popular mid-size Optima. Competitors include the likes of Chevy’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, Ford’s Taurus and Dodge’s Charger, one that definitely falls more in the sport sedan category.
I praised the first gen Cadenza for nearly everything but its ride. Consumers met it with a yawn. The revamped 2017 model should receive cheers from Boomers who like soft leather seats, a supple ride, excellent power and all the electronics we’ve grown to expect in a car, especially one starting north of $40 grand.
Before that figure scares you off, consider the base Premium model (see what they did there with naming?) starts at a reasonable $32,890 and the Technology model at $39,890. Both include delivery and both have all the same mechanicals as the tested top-level Limited, which lists at $45,290 with only a pittance of options even available beyond that. Read more
Vettes are cool even if their current buyers are skewing gray and retired.
Still, you gotta have a little coin to own a new Vette, especially the Z06 model, one of the racier versions. A new one will cost you $79,500, so that’s why Autoart’s 1/18 scale version seems so reasonable at $160. Plus this one won’t run up your insurance payment of deplete your monthly fuel allowance!
Autoart now has several color choices in the newest Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, in Z06 trim. Our test model was a brilliant medium metallic blue. Some might call it electric blue.
We all know the story. Chevy launched Corvette, a two-seat sports car in 1953. It was underpowered and not a big hit initially. But as its power grew, and its refinement with it, the Vette became a go-to car for club racers across North America and then serious racers who put what are now high-horse beasts, through their paces at the 24 Hours of LeMans in France.
Now in its seventh generation, the C7 is as refined, yet racy as any street-legal sports car out there, and a darn sight less pricey than many. The C7 debuted as a 2014 model and rumors persist that the next version will be mid-engine powered, but the C7 already abandoned Corvette’s roll-away headlights. Read more
Like Energizer’s bunny, Toyota’s Corolla just keeps on running through the generations and has succeeded like no other car model. It’s now 50-year run has resulted in more than 40 million Corollas being sold, most of any model.
That’s more than the VW Beetle, the other long-term, low-cost people’s car. Corolla really owns that title now. Everyone has either owned one, or had a kid that owned one, or an aunt, uncle, step-child or, well, a family member that has owned one.
Full disclosure, our family bought a new Corolla in 1983 when we had a 2-year-old and a second child on the way. It was reliable (we wisely decided against a Chrysler K car and Renault Alliance), economical, came with a stick-shift to help us save fuel and had a big enough trunk to hold a highchair and loads of diapers for trips to the grandparents.
Today’s new Corolla furthers that high value statement while remaining highly reliable and actually a bit more stylish than in years past. Toyota has put some effort into styling the last few years and so the 2017 Corolla is more than just an econobox. It looks good and drives well while remaining affordable and economical to run.
Let’s start with price. That’s what most of us think of as relating to value.
A base Corolla L starts at $19,365 and the tested top-level XSE lists at $22,680, plus $865 delivery. A few other brands have similarly priced models that drive a bit sportier, but Corolla comes with most everything a buyer would want, plus is laden with the latest safety equipment. Read more
Because what engine comes with the vehicle is never enough
I’ve been doing some research about installing a turbo on my 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Sure it has enough grunt, lots more than our 2011 anyway, but how about a little more. But then I found the ultimate in a power upgrade, a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat engine! There’s a company I came across, Dakota Customs based in Rapid City, South Dakota where you can buy your very own Hellcat-powered Wrangler. What a hoot this would be. It’s still the same Hellcat that comes in the Dodge Charger and Challenger, 707 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque. Man that for sure would get that big stump I have in my yard out. Read more
One of the cars I learned to drive on was our family’s 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S – no power steering and a big throbbing V8 under its long hood. The car was a beast, but beautiful dressed in its Aztec Gold paint scheme.
For that matter, the Cutlass was one of the best-looking muscle cars of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, pacing the Indianapolis 500 three times between 1970 and ’74. (Remember the Hurst Shifter girl? You know you do!)
So when Auto World announced it would reproduce the 1968 442 W-30 model it made a lot of sense. Thank goodness they did their 1/18 scale die-cast model in a beautiful deep gold, known officially at the time as Cinnamon Bronze, with white 442 accent stripe and white interior. Sharp!
For 1968 the 442 was its own model, but it had begun back in 1964 as a $285 option package on both the F-85 and Cutlass models. Originally it was listed as the 4-4-2 package because it referred to adding a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission and dual exhausts. Clever!
It was a response to crafty Pontiac pumping the performance of its LeMans model, a cousin to the intermediate-sized Olds F-85. Pontiac dubbed it the GTO, and the rest is history. Read more
OMG, the detail here is incredible, breathtaking. Put this in a case, atop a desk, in any room and it’ll be the center of all conversations. Put one of CMC’s 1930s Mercedes race cars on it and, well, folks will be speechless.
CMC is known for nailing the details in all of its vintage racers, European cars and now, trucks. This Mercedes-Benz LKW L0 2750 is phenomenal, and particularly attractive because it ties in to a number of Mercedes racers CMC already has produced. This is the Mercedes transport that carried its dominant Silver Arrows racers, the W25, W125, W154 and W165, to and from European racetracks in the 1930s.
Like the rest of CMC’s lineup, the truck is 1/18 scale and features 2,365 parts, of which CMC says 1,991 are metal. I believe it as there are even metal rivets holding wooden planks in the truck bed in place. Not surprisingly, this hand-made transport carries a lofty price of $764, so it’s not for everyone. But we all wish we could own one.
Suffice it to say this 2.75-ton truck was around for a lot of Mercedes‘ early racing history, which is why CMC recreated it. These were specially built rigid steel-framed trucks to carry the racers and had a low floor with sides and tail that flipped down for easier loading, and viewing. Thin metal ramps were attached to the tail to aid loading. Read more
If you’ve always dreamed of being an airline pilot, but never got the training, you should try landing the new Lexus LX 570.
Lexus has created a cockpit fit for a pilot wanna-be with buttons galore. About the only thing missing is an altimeter.
Here’s a quick count of what you’ll get for nearly $100 grand. The center stack has 15 buttons plus four temperature control buttons, and two knobs for the radio. The console features 11 buttons, two toggles, and two knobs, plus a small park brake lever.
Need more? Oh there’s more. The power adjusted tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub has 10 buttons, plus a 4-way directional pad and there’s a cruise control stalk behind the wheel. There are another 8 buttons on the dash’s face, plus the start button. Ironically the foot-wide screen atop the dash is not a touchscreen, but controlled by Lexus’s awkward and touchy mouse pad on the console.
Once you’ve mastered the maze of buttons, toggles and screen controls you’ll find the LX570 is the luxury version of Toyota’s Land Cruiser, a big beast of an SUV with serious off-roading capability. It has a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and is a full 199.4 inches long. The Lexus weighs in at a stout 6,000 lbs., but will tow 7,000. Read more
Fate of The Fast & Furious will rock
By Paul Daniel
For those of you who are not up on the latest slang FOMO means “Fear of Missing Out” and you will not want to miss the eighth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise. I was tardy to the party for this series.
It was my car gal Meg who rented the movies to watch at home and give me the 411 on the upcoming movies. We’re both hooked now. She gave me this Ford Escort RS 1800 1/32 scale slot car as a Christmas gift because it was in one of the movies. I wish I could do all the cool stuff that’s done on the big screen with it. But then again, the movie version crashed and was toast.
My daughter Meg and I went to see the new Star Wars movie, which also rocked, and during the previews they showed the trailer for the new movie. OMG! A huge wrecking ball that swings in and takes out about a dozen cars on the street, and a sub surfacing through the ice with vehicles driving just in front of it. Words don’t describe it well enough. See the clip and then start the countdown to the premier on April 14th, 2017.
One of my favorite race cars, and that of many other youngsters in the 1970s was the PJ Colt that Al Unser drove to back-to-back Indianapolis 500 wins in 1970 and ’71.
It was colorful and with its lightning bolts on the nose and tail the car looked fast and, well, cool!
Replicarz knows that and created beautiful versions of both the 1970 and ’71 cars in 1/43 scale a couple years back. Now it turns its considerable attention to the more detailed 1/18 scale model of the original 1970 racer. This takes the detailing on the Colt to a much finer level and creates a stunning desktop display car.
Al Unser teamed up with former racer Parnelli Jones’ race team for 1970, driving its Ford V8-powered PJ Colt chassis to win the national driving title and the Indy 500 that year. Sponsorship, and the beautiful car livery, came courtesy of sponsor Johnny Lightning, a toy die-cast car maker (Topper Toys) competing with the likes of Matchbox and Mattel’s Hot Wheels brands.
Unser won 10 races in 1970, none bigger than Indy. This was the first of Unser’s record four Indy 500 wins and put him on a path to racing fame, along with brother Bobby. Al was the fastest qualifier in 1970 and led 190 of the race’s 200 laps. You can’t get much more dominant than that. Read more
My truck, your car, even up
At first glance it would be a no-brainer who the winner would be, right? The car. Unless of course you are Volvo with what they call the fastest truck in the world, put against their World Touring Car Championship Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 in both a drag race and a single-lap dash on a road course. Read more
There are many truly wonderful mid-size, luxury, sport sedans, both heavy on the sport and heavy on the luxury. Few blend the two as well as the new Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription.
The S90 may be the best driving car I’ve tested this past year.
There’s irony though, because the Volvo, like an increasing number of luxury sport sedans is loaded down with a gaggle of electronic goodies aimed at nearly driving the car for you. It’s no secret that autonomous cars are just around the corner and the Volvo proves that.
Each year our vehicles have more safety and driving aids and the S90 has plenty.
But first let’s consider how much fun the Volvo is to drive.
The S90 rides on a 115.8-inch wheelbase and features a double wishbone suspension front and rear. The result is a smooth yet athletic ride that makes the car feel one with the road, but not so glued to it that every crease and bump disturbs its occupants. The Volvo had one of the best rides I’ve experienced this year.
Even more amazing is the power. A hot little 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 is under its long lean hood. Oh, and it’s also supercharged. That pumps the power to 316 horses with a torque rating of 295 ft.-lbs. The car leaps to life in Comfort driving mode and yet (wait for it) there is a Dynamic mode that turns the S90 decidedly racy. The lower gears are held longer, and there are plenty of those with an 8-speed Geartronic automatic standard on all models. Read more
I’m always thankful to get an early crack at a new vehicle to market, and that’s what I had with an early release 2017 Nissan Rogue SL hybrid.
Nissan has revamped the popular Rogue for 2017 with a new gloss black V-Motion grille, wider headlights and restyled taillights to freshen its look. Inside there’s a D-shaped steering wheel and now a hybrid model to put Nissan solidly in the hybrid market.
Rogue along with Altima are Nissan’s top-selling vehicles and Rogue has been a fine gas-powered model for years with its 2.5-liter I4 creating 170 horses and earning a reasonable 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg highway.
The hybrid model, which had not even had its price set when I drove it, features a 141-horse 2.0-liter I4 coupled with a 30 kW electric motor to create 176 horsepower. Nissan says its hybrid system will turn off the gasoline engine and run in electric mode even while on the highway if you keep accelerator pressure constant. With a slight increase of pressure the gas engine kicks back in.
An Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) is linked to the hybrid system aiming to further increase gas mileage. Preliminary EPA numbers put the hybrid Rogue at 31 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, right in line with a primary competitor, the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which I drove earlier this year.
Still, here’s the main difference I found. The RAV4 feels peppy and eager to go, especially in its Sport mode, while the Rogue felt lackluster upon acceleration, even using its Sport mode. Never mind both have and Eco mode, as that further weakens acceleration to the point of stirring road rage from drivers behind you at you leave a stoplight. Read more
Sure you love your car but do others?
It’s called the Customer Love Index (CLI) and was created by Strategic Vision. It measures the amount of love that buyers feel toward their new vehicle. To calculate CLI, Strategic Vision looks at five measurements to calculate CLI: Total Quality Impact, Total Value Index, Vehicle Emotional Delivery, Overall Feelings and Advocacy. It compiles data Over 120 different aspects of the ownership experience are compiled and on a scale that ranges from 1 (I Hate It) to 7 (I Love It) with 4 (Satisfactory) at the middle of the scale. Here are the 2016 winners. Read more
What could be more patriotic than a Jeep? And the brand, now part of Fiat-Chrysler, is celebrating 75 years of Jeepdom, although the test model wasn’t specially adorned.
This was a dark metallic gray Grand Cherokee Limited with 4-wheel-drive, starting at a relatively sane $39,895 and ending up at a luxurious $47,930 after adding one hefty $4,200 option package and three others that were more fiscally conservative.
Jeep lovers love the fact that many models can be taken for serious off-roading. While Wranglers are the primary off-roaders, Jeep is happy to tell you that Grand Cherokees can be too.
This is all handled by a neat dial on the console so it’s easy to dial up the traction your Jeep currently needs. In automatic it was fine on damp Wisconsin roads.
There’s plenty of power too. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and a healthy 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The Grand Cherokee will move and a Sport button will amp up the power by holding lower gears longer while also firming the steering effort considerably. Entering a highway the Sport setting is the way to go.
As with many cars now, the Jeep has an automatic stop/start feature that turns the engine off at stoplights and other times where it otherwise might idle. This saves a bit of gas, but this one is particularly rough. However, you can turn the feature off for smoother operation. Speaking of which, the 8-speed automatic tranny standard on the Grand Cherokee is exactly that, smooth. Read more
Carpeting and paint codes
As a kid my first promo model was a pink ’63 VW Bug. I had my eye on this at the local hobby shop for the longest time lusting over it although I doubt at age five I knew what lust was. Dad said is was mine if I would give up dragging around my blanket, yup just like Linus from Peanuts. Tough but I did it for my first promo model and the rest is history. I bet I’m not alone either touching up promo models or redoing them the exact paint code. Dad brought home lots of them when he went to work for American Motors in 1963. I didn’t have to give anything up when those started rolling in the door and I had boxes of them. Most promo model cars will come in the colors that their big brothers were painted in like this rare red 1970 AMX that I have in my collection. Sure AMC made a red AMX in 1970 but this color is more of an approximate, not exact color match. I must have painted and detailed lots of them but none to the detail I have seen on the auction sites. Read more