Car Spot: 1997 Dodge Viper GTS

Built when Dodge was in total fun mode …

Bob Lutz is one of my all-time favorite car guys. He brought so much to the automotive world in fun cars like this week’s spot, the Dodge Viper.

Looking to create a modern-day Cobra, the first prototype was tested in January 1989 and went on sale in January 1992 as the RT/10 Roadster. This car was all business when it came to performance. The heart of the beast was a V10 based on Chrysler’s LA V8 and designed with the help of Lamborghini, which was then owned by Chrysler Corp. The engine weighed just 712 lbs. and was rated at 400 hp. The SR I version could accelerate from 0–62 mph in 4.2 seconds, 100 mph in 9.2 seconds, and ran the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds, hitting 113.8 mph. It’s maximum speed was nearly 165 mph. Viper had large tires that allowed the car to average close to one lateral g in corners. However, with no driver aids like traction control the car proved tricky to drive at high speeds, particularly for the unskilled driver. All this fun only set a very enthusiastic owner back $52,000.

The first Vipers were bare-bones performance cars. They had no exterior-mounted door handles or key cylinders and no air conditioning. The roof was made from canvas, and the windows were made from vinyl using zippers to open and close, much like a Jeep Wrangler.

Viper did have some creature comforts, like manually-adjustable leather-trimmed sport bucket seats with lumbar support, an AM/FM stereo, a cassette player with clock and a high-fidelity sound system, and interior carpeting. Aluminum alloy wheels, and a lightweight fiberglass roof was optional on later models. An adjustable performance suspension was also an option for most Vipers.

The car was an immediate hit giving the Dodge brand some much-needed juice among enthusiasts and the automotive press. Its popularity overshadowed the recent failure of Lee Iacocca’s pet car, the TC, which had cost five times as much to develop.

RELATED SPOT: Read about Lido’s Italian Folly.

In 1996 Dodge introduced the Viper GTS, a new coupé version of the Viper RT/10. Dubbed the “double bubble”, the roof featured slightly raised sections that looked like bubbles to accommodate the usage of helmets and taking major design cues from the Shelby Daytona designed by Peter Brock. More than 90% of the GTS was new compared with the RT/10. It came with the same 8.0 L; 487.6 cu in V10, but power was upped to 450 hp/490 lb.-ft. of torque. This was also the first Viper to be equipped with airbags and also included air conditioning, power windows, and power door locks standard. That year it also was chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500.

All this fun came to an end when the Fiat Chrysler group announced the Viper would end production in 2017 due to flagging sales. Also contributing to the axing was that the car was unable to comply with federal safety regulations, requiring side curtain airbags.

What are these worth now? Somewhere around $100K like this one that I saw at a dealership in Southcentral Wisconsin. This Viper looked to be ignored for quite some time as yup, those spots you see all over it are bird shit. What a way to treat an automotive icon, especially if you expect to get top dollar for it.

It’s so sad as next year there will be no V8s available in Dodge cars and trucks thanks to our government which has managed to suck all the fun out of performance vehicles by insisting on electric cars. I’m not happy at all with EVs.

RELATED POST: See why this rush to electric vehicles to so ill-conceived.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history about it. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD

EV6 a great-looking, performing Electric car …

Superlatives sometimes ring hollow, and years of writing car reviews has proven to me it’s a lot harder to go gaga over a new vehicle and not sound like I’m on the car company payroll than it is to whine and moan about a vehicle that falls flat.

But here goes anyway.

Kia’s EV6 GT-Line AWD gets nearly everything right to entice buyers who may be leaning toward an EV, as in electric vehicle. The EV6 looks fabulous with its slim lights and sleek nose, handsome sporty profile and muscular haunches that could, at a younger age, stir frisky thoughts.

While many electrics look like overstuffed perogi, the EV6 looks trim and sporty, even more so than its cousin, the nearly as fantabulous Hyundai Ioniq 5 tested last week, or the lovely Genesis GV60 tested earlier this summer, all electrics

Thankfully Kia starts with bold futuristic styling, but on the more practical side, the interior is well thought out and beautifully executed, fast charging is possible, the drive is spirited and range is the best of the electrics I’ve tested this fall.

Kia’s EV6 GT-Line AWD could be the best electric car I’ve driven yet as it scores on the main points, looks, power, drivability, range and charging efficiency. I’ve already drooled over the looks, but power?

Yes, like all EVs the acceleration from its torquey twin electric motors (one front, one rear) is impressive. The AWD model boasts 320 horsepower and a torque rating of 446 delivered via three drive modes that allow a driver to go with Eco to save juice, Normal for peppy takeoffs, and Sport for kicking the booty of most non-Porsches. Remember too, it’s AWD, so traction is good in the wet and winter slop.

EV6 drops its battery packs between the front and rear wheels just below the vehicle’s floor so the center of gravity is low and well spread out. Cornering is sporty although steering feedback could be more precise. Sport mode helps that some yet there is some push in high-speed turns due to that battery weight. After a few days behind the wheel that becomes less noticeable.

Ride is firmer than in the longer-wheelbase Ioniq 5, so can become a bit thumpy on really rough roads. But control is good so in normal or highway drives it’s pleasant enough, certainly better than any SUV or large crossover.

Inside, this brilliant Runway Red (bright metallic red) Kia delivers a clean yet stylish dash and seating. A highlight is the twin 12.3-inch screens that are linked as one, so visually pristine. Functionality is good too, swipe the screen for a full menu of options.

Seats are a black suede-like material trimmed in white vegan leather. In fact, the seat material is made of recycled plastic, but one would never know it to see it as the material feels like suede. The black door panels include white armrests and satin chrome door releases, again fresh and modern. That satin chrome is used elsewhere for trim too, including the flat-bottomed steering wheel’s hub and lower section.

The dash is enlivened by a gray textured trim that insinuates modernity and then there’s the huge flat console that sticks up from between the seats like an aircraft carrier deck, yet not connecting to the dash. Under it is a large cubby perfect for a purse and there are plastic side hooks there to snag small plastic grocery bags. Smart interior design.

Atop the black gloss console is a rotating satin chrome gear shift dial (I’d prefer a lever, but I’m getting old), plus at the front edge buttons for the standard heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel. Excellent, no screen tapping and sliding to search for these basic functions!

A wireless charger is embedded atop the console too, along with dual cup holders and a small covered storage box. Extra plugs are on the floor up near the firewall and each seat back includes a plug for rear-seat gamery.

Rear outer seats are heated and all seats are comfy with good hip and lower back support. The driver’s seat is powered, naturally.

Overhead EV6 features a small sunroof that powers open and includes a shade, plus the GT-Line adds a Meridian surround sound system with 14 speakers. Nice.

A minor interior complaint, the steering wheel (for me) partially blocks the speedometer located on the far left of the digital instrument screen. However, the GT-Line comes with a heads-up display, which cures that. It may remain a problem in the lower Light and Wind trims.

In back is a power hatch and oodles of cargo space, although a touch less than the Ioniq 5 had when the rear seats are lowered.

What about the electrics, the charging and battery range?

Oh that!

It’s excellent too in that the 77.4 kWh lithium ion battery pack accepts fast charging at 800 volts, so a 10% to 80% charge can happen in about 18 minutes. That’s great when traveling, plus the range is rated at 274 miles, but my full charge registered 278. Kia seems to underestimate ranges so you’re pleasantly surprised by the real deal.

This IS the real deal because I just have a 120Vt outlet in my garage and still got about a 20% charge overnight. For practical purposes that meant I could run errands around town, about 30 miles, then plug in before dinner and was back to a full charge in the morning. The Ioniq 5 would not do that, despite being able, like the Kia, to do a quick charge from a high-volt charger. Not clear on why the Ioniq was so resistant to a 120V charge.

Currently (get it?), Kia also supplies buyers with a card for 1000 kWh of free charging over three years at Electrify America outlets across the country. That’s said to be worth about $3,000, so free juice for a road trip, if you can find an Electrify America charging station en route. There’s but one in our area, in West Allis.

Naturally EV6 is chock full of safety equipment such as smart cruise control, forward collision avoidance, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic, lane-keeping, parking sensors and such. Most of these not only warn you, but help maneuver the car to avoid accidents. Oh, and there’s a 360-degree camera.

Cost remains a concern, at least for the top-shelf GT-Line. List price is $57,115 with delivery. Just the suede seats were added here for $295 to bring the total to $57,410. Note that 2023 models run about $1,000 more.

If economy is more your style, for 2023 the entry-level EV6 is the Wind trim, starting at $49,795 for front-wheel-drive and $53,695 for AWD. The lower cost Light trim was dropped for 2023. The rear-drive Wind trim features a single electric motor creating 225 horsepower, but with a range is 310 miles, so roughly that of a Tesla Model Y.

Wind also adds gloss-black lower front fascia, the power hatch, vegan leather seat trim, cooled front seats and the Meridian sound system. Another plus, for campers, there is a vehicle-to-load (V2L) external power port so a person can charge another electric device, or run a lamp or computer at a remote camping site, etc.

GT-Line basically loads everything aboard. Its second motor delivers that extra 362 hp, plus there are automatic pop-out door handles, body colored wheel arches, the sunroof, flat-bottomed wheel, suede and vegan leather seat trim, rear parking sensors, Highway Driving Assist 2 (a partially autonomous driving system with automatic lane changing), HUD, 360-degree camera, an enhanced version of the forward-collision avoidance system, and deluxe scuff plates.

Other stuff you might care to know:

  • EV6 offers Smartwatch connectivity so you can start it and more from your watch.
  • A heat pump uses waste heat from the coolant system to keep the battery warm in cold weather, like in Wisconsin. That avoids the cold sucking down your battery power in winter. Kia claims at 20 degrees the battery is at 80% of what it would be in mid-70 degree summer weather. Bingo!
  • Paddle shifters on the steering wheel provide four levels of regenerative braking to let you drive with one pedal, the accelerator. I liked the most severe level in that it slows the vehicle quickly and regenerates battery power best. After a day of driving, you find you’re rarely using your brake pedal, except in an emergency.
  • The AWD model weighs about 250 pounds more than the RWD models.
  • Yes, there’s a tiny frunk in front, so you can hide valuables, etc.
  • The digital screens are glare resistant, a major positive.
  • Last amazing fact, the 114.2-inch wheelbase is the same as for Kia’s Telluride mid-size SUV, which explains why there’s so much room and why ride quality is as good as it is.

This is the top performing electric of the year, and there’s not much year left. Plus, while some electrics aren’t sold in Wisconsin, the EV6 is.

Note too that some electrics are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and some states also offer incentives. Wisconsin does not. However, Wisconsin adds a surcharge of $75 for hybrids and $100 for EVs to make up for lost gas tax revenue from electrics.

FAST STATS: 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD

Hits: Refined futuristic styling inside and out, excellent acceleration + 3 drive modes, easy handling, and AWD. Clean stylish dash, big dual screens, heated/cooled supportive front seats, heated outside rear seats, flat-bottom wheel, HUD, opening sunroof, solid safety systems, Meridian stereo w/14 speakers, wireless phone charger, power hatch. Fast charging and sufficient overnight charge on 120 outlet, nearly 280-mile range.

Misses: Heavy feel in turns, firm ride, rotating shift dial, steering wheel partially blocks speedometer portion of screen, GT-Line is costly.

Made in: Hwasung, So. Korea (builds starting in 2025 in new Georgia plant)

Power: 2 168kW electric motors w/77.4 kWh battery, 320 hp/446 torque

Transmission: 1-speed reduction gear

Weight: 4,500 lbs. (est.)

Wheelbase: 114.2 in.

Length: 184.8 in.

Cargo: 27.7-53.5 cu.ft.

Tow: 2,300 lbs.

MPGe: 116/94

Range: 274 mi/278 observed

Base Price: $57,115 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $56,637

Major Options:

GT-Line suede seats, $295

Test vehicle: $57,410

Sources: Kia, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Kia

#EV

2005 Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster

Eyeballing a rare molto bello Italian supercar …

Why should Paul have all the fun? Hey, I spot cars too, like this 2005 Lambo Murcielago Roadster I spied at the Chicago Mecum Auction in October.

This Italian hot rod was parked out back of the exhibition and auction hall where various employees could keep an eye on it in case car nuts like me were wandering about wanting to crawl inside. It was locked, naturally.

It’s so rare to see a Lambo in the Midwest, unless you’re in Chicago where the big money lives. But what makes this so special is the convertible top. The Murcielago had been out several years when it was redesigned to go topless.

Here’s how Motortrend magazine described it back in the day. The Lamborghini has “a body that magnetizes eyeballs like Heidi Klum in a Saran Wrap leotard.”

The sticker on this baby, when new, was $320,000 and for that you got a throbbing 6.2-liter V12, AWD supercar with scissor doors. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to flip these up for a photo, something about “Don’t Touch.”

Power is 575 horses, which may not seem so crazy powerful now that electric cars are touting that, and more, with twin electric motors in some makes. But the Lambo would scoot, doing 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and top speed was 205 mph.

Yet Lambo advised against driving more than 100 mph with the convertible top in place, as it might lift off and fly into Never Never Land! This thing is all metal tubes and cloth and the fit never was great, one supposes Lambo designers thinking most drivers would be removing the top before racing about.

A few other interesting points with the Murcielago? Well, the engine hatch is hinged at the rear to expose the V12, a design first used on the iconic Lamborghini Miura in even earlier days. The front brakes have 8-piston calipers as you’ll likely need to stop this in a hurry, and this windshield angle is incredibly low, driving home the car’s devilish wedge shape.

Just 4,099 Murcielagos were built, the last in late 2010. Just 899 were convertibles, er, excuse me, roadsters.

If only I hadn’t left the checkbook at home!

#Lamborghini

Car Spot: 69 Dodge Charger Resto Mod

A ’60s era muscle car gets a second chance …

So which side of the convo are you on?

Should a car be restored to factory specs or brought back to life as a restomod? I can go either way. This week’s car spot, a 1969 Dodge Charger, is a Resto Mod. I found this at the same car show in Oconto, Wis., where I spotted the earlier Corvair Greenbriar.

Charger was introduced by Dodge in 1966 positioned as an upscale, upsized pony car. It had an uncanny resemblance to American Motors’ Marlin, which debuted one year earlier, just not the extreme fastback.  The Marlin however was positioned as a personal car, an emerging market niche at the time.

This is a second-gen Charger which I think looks way cooler. Redesigned for 1968, and Dodge thought they’d only sell 35,000 units but the public loved the redesign and 96,100 Chargers were produced. The second-gen is based on the Chrysler B platform and saw various cosmetic changes to the exterior and interior including an undivided grill, rounded taillights, and hidden headlights.

RELATED SPOT: See this Charger’s great uncle

Available engines were a 225 cu in, 1bbl I6, although why somebody would order that on this car is beyond me; a 318 cu in, 2bbl LA V8; a 383 cu in, 2bbl B V8; a 383 cu in, 4bbl B V8; a 426 cu in, 2×4bbl Hemi V8; and a 440 cu in, 4bbl RB V8.

So what’s something like this worth? I found a bunch of them for anywhere from $90-100K, more than an original restored one with a 383, but that’s way less than the higher horsepower ones, like the 440s. They go for around a buck 50.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another one of my car spots along with some history behind the find. Have a great weekend.

#Dodge Charger

#69 Dodge Charger

#Dodge Charger R/T

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited AWD

First Hyundai electric is charged with looks, performance ….

Rarely does someone follow me into a parking lot to ask about the vehicle I’m test driving, but electric cars are different.

Still new in the public’s consciousness, some are simply so visually striking that they raise even more questions than range, charge time, and cost.

“What IS that car?” asked the smiling woman leaning out of her mid-size SUV’s window.

The high-tech looker in question was Hyundai’s new Ioniq5, what looks to be the love child of a Back To The Future DeLorean and a Volkswagen Golf. This techy two-tone metallic matte gray and silver car is both sleek and boxy with a smooth angular nose and boxy fancy taillights, something Hyundai calls parametric pixel LED lighting. Say that five times fast!

One nationally noted auto writer called this Minecraft design. It’s apt.

This is Hyundai’s first mainstream electric model and it’s a winner in looks, form and function. For the record, its kissin’ cousin, the Kia EV6, will be tested next week and its high-class cousin, the Genesis GV60 was tested this summer.

Watch the Genesis GV60 video: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=yfp-t&ei=UTF-8&p=you+tube+savageonwheels+genesis#id=3&vid=35dd5871182584b96eb2712233f0c19e&action=click

The Ioniq5 in this color scheme, called Shooting Star, costs $1,000 extra and is a mix of family hatchback, crossover and sports sedan. How so?

It features a power hatch, AWD, plus it’ll kick bootie when accelerating from a stoplight.

Power comes from two 165 kW electric motors, one each to drive the front and rear axles so there’s plenty of AWD grip, plus a heaping helping of power, a hefty 320 horsepower and 446 prodigious pound-feet of torque to be exact. It’ll rock, although not quite so much as the 429- to 483-horse Genesis GV60. But then it costs considerably more.

Sleek nose, not the blunt looks of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volvo C40, or VW iD.4.

Highway entry ramps are Ionic 5’s playground, although truth be told, most EVs are neck stretchers. Car and Driver magazine says this Hyundai will do 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Some sources claim even less. Power is a devil in tails.

Three drive modes help too and are engaged smartly via a button on the steering wheel hub. Convenient! Eco will help extend battery range, as will turning off the climate controls. Normal is plenty quick and Sport turns the Iconiq 5 into a hushed racer.

Drivability beyond neck flexing?

This tail with its sort of pixel-like taillights seems to get a lot of attention.

The Hyundai feels pretty heavy, but at 4,663 pounds actually weighs less than a new gas-powered Ford Mustang. Still, that heavy after-a-meal feeling is due to Ioniq 5’s low center of gravity that makes the car feel electromagnetically stuck to the road. It’s not, but that’s probably coming.

There is push in turns due to that weight, but the Ioniq5 is stable and easy to control and tame a lane. Ride is fabulous because the mid-size car actually has a stretched 118.1-inch wheelbase, a full 4 inches longer than its big SUV cousin, the Palisade. Longer is better as it smooths the ride to luxury levels.

Plus there’s that AWD for winter traction.

Watch Mark’s review video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XZZLnY6Ges&feature=youtu.be

If you’re just beginning to wrap your head around electron-pumping power plants you likely have two or three current (sorry) questions, like range, charging time, and price?

First know this, it all depends.

I had the Ioniq 5 just before chilly fall weather set it. Cold or heat can adversely affect lithium-ion battery range.

The EPA says to expect 258 miles of range, but when I used the sole Electrify America chargers in Milwaukee (West Allis really) a 100% charge left me with 278 miles, better than expected.

I needed a 48% charge at that point to hit a full 100% and it took me 48 minutes, so a minute a percent. However, only a 150kW charger (350kW is best) was available and functioning. If I had been able to use the 350kW charger it likely would have taken 10-12 minutes to top off my charge. For my 48 minutes of battery charge I paid $15, so probably about half what I would have spent for most of a week’s worth of gas as I hadn’t driven my usual 200+ miles yet.

Consider this too, the Hyundai system is designed to optimize ultra-fast charging. So a 350kW/800V charge is preferred and Hyundai says moving the needle from 10% to 80% on such a charger will take just 18 minutes. That’s competitive with the fastest charging competitors.

However, I have just a standard 120V outlet in my garage and the Ioniq 5 barely added 3-4% on that in an overnight charge. Spending upward of $1,000 on installing a 240V line and charging station would enhance that, as one evening I plugged in the car at 60% and its screen said it would be 40 hours to a full charge. Not cool!

Some electrics take to the 120V and 240V charges better. For instance, I charged a Volvo C40 overnight just a few weeks earlier in my garage and got about 20% charge. So, if an electric gets say 2.5 miles per kWh, then that would get net about 50 miles, plenty for a day’s city driving and it allows a driver to mostly top-off the charge each night.

Folks were wild about the Ioniq 5’s wheel design!

That said, the Ioniq 5 got about 3 miles per kWh on average and as high as 4.5 at times.

Enough on range and charging, what’s an Ioniq 5 cost?

It depends, ranging from $41,245 to about $57,000. The base SE Standard Range with two-wheel-drive, one 225-horse electric motor and boasting an even more generous 303-mile range is at the low end, while the tested top-flight Limited with AWD starts at $55,725, including delivery. The test car cost $56,920.

Remember, some electrics will be eligible for federal tax credits up to $7,500, but that gets tricky and needs clarification from the government and dealer before you commit to a purchase. More on that in future stories as the credit fog lifts.

Some government rebates/credits depend on where the vehicle is made. This early-build Ioniq 5 was assembled in South Korea, but Hyundai may begin building them in the States sooner than later.

Yes, there’s a flat-bottom wheel and cool dark red piping on the seats.

Just a bit more as you may be curious about the Ioniq 5’s interior.

It’s clean, modern and techy without being Tesla-ish. There’s a real steering wheel, for instance, and dual 12.3-inch screens surrounded in an iPad-like white trim, very clean. Most functions go through the info screen, including heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel along with all radio activity.

Wide, modern, clean, and low is the dash and gauge design.

The interior is two-tone gray, dark over light, with perforated plant-based leather-like seats with dark red piping as an accent. Seating is powered and nicely contoured with a power footrest for the driver so he/she can recline and relax while the car charges. Just sayin’!

Rear seats also partially recline in this roomy interior. That’s aided by the front seat backs being 30% thinner than most, creating more rear seat knee room. Truck space is generous.

Matte silver trim enlivens the dash and door handles and window controls and optically the door pull/armrests blend into the door panel. Clever!

The dual-screen is cleanly trimmed in white, much like an iPad.

Below the big digital screen are buttons for the radio, map, navigation, and such, yet no Home button. That’s found by pressing one of the other buttons and then tapping the Home icon on the screen. One screen tells you your estimated charge and mileage that remains.

Hyundai delivers a panoramic sunroof and power shade, but the roof is solid so won’t open, same as a Tesla. There’s a fine Bose sound system and wireless phone charger too and SmartSense, the Hyundai safety system with forward collision avoidance, lane keeping assist, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, etc. It covers the whole gamut including smart cruise control.

The panoramic sunroof really brightens the light-colored interior.

There’s push-button start and the shifting is controlled via a stalk to the wheel’s right. You rotate its end for Drive or Reverse, sort of like Volkswagen’s ID.4 system, but this is in a more intuitive location.

This Limited model also comes with a fancy HUD but I couldn’t figure out how to adjust its height, so as a short driver had to stretch a bit to see it at times. There is a white line atop the HUD display and occasionally when I turned a corner it looked like something was darting across the street, but it was just that line.

The Limited also includes a sliding console (universal island) that can move 5.5 inches for or aft, nice feature to make a driver comfy as to where the cup holders or tall armrest is located. Between those two is a big opening where a woman (or man) could lay a purse. That panoramic roof, a 360-degree camera, the Bose sound system and Remote Smart Parking also come standard on Limited.

The power hatch makes loading the cargo area easy.

There’s so much to mention with Ioniq 5 that I’m sure to have left a bit out. But one thing Hyundai likes to tout is the ability to plug accessories, such as a light/radio/TV/laptop, when camping. If the car has at least 15% charge you can run these extras to make an outdoor experience more indoorsy. Hmmm!

Bottom line, Ioniq 5 was Car and Driver’s electric vehicle of the year for 2022 and I agree, from styling to functionality it is tops, so far. Now we’re all just waiting for the nation’s infrastructure to catch up.

FAST STATS: 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited AWD

Hits: Techy styling inside and out, excellent acceleration + 3 drive modes, easy handling, comfy ride, and AWD. Clean stylish dash, big dual screens, heated/cooled and supportive front seats w/reclining feature, HUD, panoramic sunroof w/shade, solid safety systems, Bose stereo, wireless phone charger.

Misses: Range limited to 256 miles, heavy feel in turns, sunroof doesn’t open, charger plug-in is next to passenger’s side taillight, still costly.

Can’t get enough of this snazzy taillight design.

Made in: Ulsan, So. Korea (builds starting in 2025 in a new plant in Georgia)

Power: 2 165kW electric motors w/74 kWh battery, 320 hp/446 torque

Transmission: 1-speed reduction gear

Weight: 4,663 lbs.

Wheelbase: 118.1 in.

Length: 182.5 in.

Cargo: 27.2-59.3 cu.ft.

MPGe: 110/87

Range: 256 mi/278 observed

Base Price: $55,725 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $55,725

Major Options:

Shooting Star (2-tone silver) paint, $1,000

Carpeted floor mats, $195

Test vehicle: $56,920

Sources: Hyundai, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Hyundai

#Hyundai Ioniq 5

Car Spot: A Camaro with some extra zip

Better than factory and more fun …

The Chevy Camaro was second on the scene in the pony car era debuting on Sept. 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year a bit after the Ford Mustang. Four distinct generations of the Camaro have been developed before production ended for the first time in 2002. Chevy brought it back as a concept car that evolved into the current fifth-generation Camaro starting in 2009. What I love about it is that it’s pretty much a blank canvas when it comes to performance mods. This week’s car spot is. a great example, a 2022 Callaway Camaro SC750 I saw near our daughter’s apartment in Monona, WI.

The Callaway Camaro begins life as a ZL1.

Started by former race car driver Reeves Callaway in 1977, Callaway Cars, the company has evolved into a revered specialist manufacturer. It all started when Callaway installed a turbo compression and other components into a BMW 320i. Car & Driver magazine tested the modified BMW and the next thing he knew that PR gave him his start.

For those that can’t handle this power, Callaway makes one with a little bit less, the 630.

Callaway started by making turbo kits for cars made by Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen. In 1986 he added the Corvette. In 2017, Callaway took the already powerful ZL1 and raised the power from 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque to 750 horsepower and 739 lb.-ft. of torque, removed the standard blower and replaced it with a Gen III Magnuson TVS 2300 with a triple row intercooler. Callaway also added a high-flow intake system and high-performance exhaust which gave it extra horsepower. 

Bet is sounds amazing. Something EVs will never have.

What made the big difference was Callaway’s GenThree Supercharger system matched to the proprietary TripleCooled intercooler setup. It produces more horsepower and torque than any other mass-produced muscle car. With a top speed of 198 mph and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, it’s no wonder the SC750 is one of the fastest Camaros on the market today doing 0-60 in just 3.3 seconds. That beats the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye by .3 seconds.

So what will all this fun cost an adrenalin junkie? I’m one!

At a reasonable $81,830 that includes the engine upgrades, all kinds of suspension upgrades and either a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic. By comparison a Redeye is slightly less at $76,430, but that price is going to go way up with the end of the line coming soon for Dodge’s V8 engines.

It’s sad really. Remember back in the late ’60s and early ’70s? It was the golden age for pony cars. The Ford Mustang started it all, the Camero, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda, and AMC Javelin all followed.

Next year Dodge and Chevy are scheduled to end production of the Challenger and Camero. Why? Because of this push for EVs. I am not a fan!

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another spot along with some history. Have a great weekend.

#Chevrolet

#Camaro

#Chevrolet Camaro

#Callaway Camaro

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone CrewMax

Tip-top Tundra a giant luxury pickup with a touch of hybrid help …

By definition Toyota can’t top its latest Tundra, dubbed the Capstone CrewMax, and it certainly would be difficult.

First, Tundra Capstone simply can’t get any bigger like all full-size pickups. If it does it’ll likely require a commercial license and its own song about being part of a convoy.

This is basically a match for Ford’s market-leading F-150 hybrid as the Capstone also is a hybrid and touts nearly the same dimensions, meaning a 145.7-inch wheelbase and 233.6 inches in length. The Ford is just a smidgen shorter.

By comparison the Ford is lighter and more efficient, but the Tundra packs more power from its new iForce Max powertrain that adds a hybrid electric system featuring nickel-metal hydride batteries (most now use lithium-ion) to both boost power and improve gas mileage.

The hybrid system links seamlessly with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 to create an impressive 437 horsepower and a massive 583 pound-feet of torque. It’ll chirp the rear drive wheels if you so desire and hitting highway speeds is no problemo. That makes towing easy too as the four-wheel-drive Capstone is rated to pull 11,450 pounds.

As impressive as the Tundra figure sounds the hybrid F-150 will tow 12,700 pounds with its 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes 325 horsepower. Numbers can be deceiving.

Odd too that it took Toyota this long to add a hybrid system to Tundra as it pioneered hybrids in its Prius more than 20 years ago. But maybe no one saw the need until now. Ford also just added the hybrid model for 2021.

Both trucks feature a 10-speed automatic transmission and shifts are smooth as is acceleration here. While gas-only Tundras are rated at 18 and 24 mpg, this hybrid has an EPA rating of 19 mpg city and 22 highway, so slightly better around town. I made a roundtrip to Chicago area and the Tundra’s trip computer touted 21 mpg. After that and some city driving it dropped to 20.4 and my $80+ fill-up figures indicated 19.8 mpg. Note too that this has a 32.2-gallon tank, so $125 might fill it if nearly empty.

Pull a trailer and take out a second mortgage.

Watch Mark’s video: 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone CrewMax Hybrid by Mark Savage – YouTube

Still, you’d be hard-pressed to not be comfy in the Capstone or enjoy the drive.

Handling is easy and you’d rarely need the lane-keeping electronics to keep the big beast betwixt the highway’s lines. Cruising a highway is relatively quiet and a pleasure, plus you feel like you’re tall enough to challenge even the dump trucks that barrel past you on the right at 20 over the speed limit. Don’t!

Ride though becomes choppy and bouncy as in most pickups once you head onto side streets and country roads with crumbling asphalt edges and tar strip seams. While Toyota upgraded the rear suspension here to coil springs from a live rear axle there were still abrupt jolts that jostled passengers and surprised my derriere.

There’s even an adaptive variable air suspension with load-leveling here, costing $1,045 extra. That might help with the trailering, but not normal drives on bumpy Midwest roads. Oh, and I set the drive mode to Comfort for most of the drive to help soften things up, to little avail.

Normal, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Custom are the other modes and basically tighten up the steering and change shift points in the sportier settings. Sport modes in a pickup? Seems a bit much in a luxury liner like this, but one needs to justify the pricing I suppose.

Tundra’s interior certainly helps on that front, looking and feeling as upscale as anything you’d find in a Lexus. It’s quiet too, except when you’re mashing the gas pedal.

A lot of leather and luxury inside the Capstone edition.

The test truck featured a black over white leather dash and black and white leather seats, giving the Capstone an ambiance worthy of its name. Plus Toyota trims the doors, dash and wide console with dark stained walnut and trims the door armrests with brushed aluminum. Air vents are a near matching silver plastic and the door pulls also are brushed aluminum. The console shifter is surrounded by gloss black plastic.

All the interior comfort and electronics you’d expect from a top trim level are here, an expansive 14-inch info screen, attractive color digital instrument screen, a 360-degree camera that’s absolutely needed for proper parking within a parking lot’s lines.

That’s a big info screen, but there are bigger ones yet. Nice wood trim look here too!

Seats are not only semi-aniline leather but powered with a lower driver’s cushion featuring a power extension to help make tall drivers’ legs happy. Front and rear seats also are both heated and cooled and the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated. Seating is roomy enough for five adults with oodles of head and legroom.

The big info screen is simple to use and there are a ton of toggles and buttons (a bit overwhelming) below it for climate controls and those heated/cooled seats, Trailering aids are there too, including one that allows a driver to program in his or her trailer so the truck remembers its height for easier hook-ups.

Airy cockpit with a panoramic sunroof, roomy rear seat!

Overhead is a panoramic sunroof and sun shade. The rear side windows feature their own manual sunshades and there’s an SOS button overhead along with a button to power down the truck’s center rear window panel, nice if hauling something long that needs to extend into the cab.

That bed, if you care to dirty it, features a black liner, along with over-cab and side bed-mounted lights. Adjustable tie-downs are available too and when you fold down the easy-lower tailgate a step magically extends from beneath the driver’s side rear fender to aid in bed mounting. Even more magical, it retracts automatically once the tailgate has been raised again.

Cleverly a step folds out as the tailgate is lowered, making it easy to climb aboard.

Speaking of magical whiz-bangs, the running boards are powered to fold down once a door is opened and power back up once all doors are closed. Jeep’s Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer and Lincoln’s Navigator have similar systems. My concern is that if per chance this power system fails there’s a huge step-up into the vehicle in which a step-ladder might be called for.

Less whiz-bangy is the 4-wheel-drive system, engaged via a sliding lever on the console. Just 2WD, and 4WD high and low here. There’s no automatic 4WD mode that will engage whenever the truck could benefit from it. This is manually engaged while most 4WD trucks now have an automatic AWD mode.

On the brighter side, Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5 is standard on Tundra meaning all the usual safety equipment is here including smart cruise control, blind-spot warning, parking and lane warnings, along with automatic braking, and a lot more.

Manual rear window sunshades are standard on Capstone.

One final functional aside. Toyota continues to use a gas cap on the fuel filler. While not unusual, Ford and others now offer capless fillers and it’s surprising that Toyota hasn’t simplified their system for consumers yet.

This test Tundra’s exterior was a beautiful sparkling pearl white, called Wind Chill Pearl, certainly fitting for Wisconsin, and a color similar to one popular on Lexus sedans. The pearl color costs $425 extra and oozes luxury.

That was just one of three options here, the main one being the air suspension, so the Tundra’s price didn’t climb much from its $75,225 start, including delivery. That’s right the Capstone is a high-end luxury truck so settled at $76,760. A lease or a 6-year purchase might be called for at that price, but it’s not out of line with the F-150 hybrid. My Ford test truck last year hit nearly $71,000 and while nice, the Capstone’s interior is superior.

No mistaking what this truck’s name is.

The Tundra hybrid comes in five trims, the base Limited (remember when this was the top level?) with 2-wheel drive lists at $54,695 and features a 5.5-foot bed, like the Capstone edition. Moving up to the 4WD Limited with a 6.5-foot bed boosts entry to $58,025. You can also find Platinum and 1794 editions and the TRD Pro, which caters to the off-roading crowd with thick wallets.

Your call Mr. Gates. If you can afford a luxury pickup, the Capstone is, well, atop the Toyota offerings and competitive with the market leader.

FAST STATS: 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone CrewMax (Hybrid)

Snazzy headlight styling on Tundra.

Hits: Massive truck with big interior, slightly better gas mileage with hybrid, excellent power with quiet luxury interior. Huge info screen and fine digital instrument panel, heated wheel and heat/cool front and rear seats, 360-degree camera, power running boards and automatic fold down tailgate step. Excellent towing power and acceleration, decent handling and good safety systems.

Misses: Bouncy truck ride, a lot of buttons in the cockpit, still has gas cap and if the power running boards ever fail you’ll need a stepladder to climb in.

Made in: San Antonio, Texas

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6/hybrid, 437 hp/583 torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Weight: 5,710 lbs.

Wheelbase: 145.7 in.

Length: 233.6 in.

Cargo bed: 5 ½-foot

Tow: 11,450 lbs.

MPG: 19/22

MPG: 19.8 (tested)

Base Price: $75,225 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $70,357

Major Options:

Special paint color, $425

Adaptive variable suspension, load-leveling rear air suspension, $1,045

Ball mount, $50

Test vehicle: $76,760

Sources: Toyota, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Toyota Tundra

#Tundra Capstone

#Toyota

Car Spot: 71 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible

This is one sweet ride

The cool thing about an auction is that you will probably see a special car that you’ve never heard of before. Such is the case of a 71 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible that came up for sale a couple of weeks ago at the Mecum auction in Chicago this week’s car spot. Blogging partner Mark Savage was at the event and grabbed these pictures.

Like just about every collector car, it has a story, this one with a little bit of mystery. It was owned by Helen Voorhees Brach. If you’re 30 or under, you probably won’t recognize the name, but if you’re older, you have eaten the candy that her father Emil J. Brach founded in 1904.

Images: Wikitree

Emil Brach is your classic rags-to-riches story. He took $1,000 and on the corner of North Avenue and Towne Street in Chicago opened Brach’s Palace of Sweets. He undersold the competition and parlay that into four factories with a fifth one in the works in 1923 producing 2.23 million pounds of candy in 127 varieties. Name not ringing a bell? Have you ever eaten candy corn or jelly beans? Chances are they were made by Brach’s.

The family company was sold in 1966 for $136 million, around $1.24 billion in today’s dollars. Helen’s husband, Frank, died in 1970 leaving Helen’s share of the Brach inheritance equated to nearly $149 million in today’s dollars. Helen spent her time socializing with friends, and loved the color pink, all her Caddys and Roll-Royces were pink. In 1973 the story gets interesting when she met a young guy through her show horse connections, Richard Bailey, He had a history of scamming the high-income show horse set and did the same with Brach.

On February 17, 1977, Brach headed to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, and never returned. There have been investigations and books written about her disappearance. Bailey was not convicted of Brach’s murder but sentenced to thirty years for defrauding her. In May 1984 she was officially declared dead. In 2019, the case was still considered open and unsolved, with no one ever facing state murder charges for her death. A Who Done It for sure.

OK, back to the car. A super-clean 71 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible with just 16,000 miles with an automatic transmission, off-white leather interior with coordinating Magenta piping, and finished in the specialty color known as Brach Candy Purple. Some lucky bidder took this car home, along with a hell of a story for $99,000.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history of the vehicle. Have a great weekend.

2022 Jaguar F-Type P450 Convertible

Curvy F-Type’s V8 growls, but for a price, eh guv …

I’m not here to tell you how to spend your hard-earned bonuses or stock options but if you yearn for power, prestige, and eye-popping styling the folks at Jaguar have a V8 powered suggestion.

Its aging F-Type is a triple threat on the above and one look will tell you the eye doctor would prefer you put on blinders. The tested Caldera Red F-Type P450 Convertible displays sinuous lines and haunches that either remind you of its namesake or make you blush.

The P450 is new for 2022 as Jag, a longtime Brit-built performance prestige brand, decided to turn its tail on conventional wisdom and drop its turbocharged 4- and 6-cylinder engines.

Nope, just good ol’ throaty V8 power here to push the rear-drive sports car up to, and well beyond highway speeds. Car and Driver magazine says this model will clip off 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds with a top speed of 177 mph. Pretty darned quick, eh guv?

And if you prefer more burble and pop when you tromp the accelerator or back off for a tight corner, there’s a button on the console to acoustically boost the exhaust note, or when off, slightly calm it. The neighbors agree that’s the setting they prefer.

The 5.0-liter supercharged V8 with aluminum block and heads will create 444 horsepower and a 428 torque rating when fed premium petrol, accounting for its impressive acceleration via a fine 8-speed automatic. But, and you knew one was coming, you COULD get 575 horsepower and raise a royal ruckus by moving up to the top-level F-Type R model.

That requires selling a bit more stock though. The tested F-Type P450 lists at $74,150 while an AWD P450 Dynamic tips the scales at $84,275. The R? Well, in either coupe or convertible (both available in all trims) it begins just short of $110,000.

Being a short-wheelbase, rear-drive two-seater the F-Type handles well, with keen cornering and a sporty flair, but without full-on sports car steering feedback. The electric power steering assist seems to ease steering effort, yet it’s still fun to toss into tight turns and chop off the apexes along a winding country road. A Dynamic drive mode also firms steering effort and suspension feel.

Its racy 20-inch Pirelli P Zero performance tires add grip on warm days, but six of the seven test days I dealt with cool, wet, and windy conditions, even enjoying our first trace of snow one day. That’s not great for traction, so all-weather tires would help if driving in the northern climes after mid-October.

Watch Mark’s video: 2022 Jaguar F Type P450 Convertible review by Mark Savage – YouTube

The big tires and the sport suspension that Jaguar uses here with control arms up front and a multi-link in back deliver an overly firm ride, which is not bad on the freeway, where I spent much of my time. But around town, the expansion joints and pot holes shake the Jag a bit.

Braking is fine though and painting the calipers red only adds $550 to the bottom line.

Exterior styling speaks for itself and the interior is attractive, but feels cramped due to an extremely wide center console. Plus the F-Type, first introduced in 2013, hasn’t changed all that much in here beyond adding some additional electronics.

This tester wore black leather all around with red stitching in the seats, along the dash and in the door panels. Looks sharp and feels fine too, but that console pressed pretty tight to a driver’s right leg and could become a bother over a long haul.

Trim is a smoked chrome that somewhat resembles carbon fiber and the steering wheel hub, door control inserts and air vents are a satin chrome.

An overly tall instrument gauge binnacle feels like it limits the driver’s front view, at least for short drivers. Meanwhile the info screen mid-dash is wide enough, but narrow top to bottom, so seems smaller than it is. Functionality was ok for the touchscreen, but a few items, like the map, weren’t intuitive initially.

Seats are extremely supportive with aggressive side bolsters and were upgraded Windsor leather performance models, so added $1,650 to the cost. Making them 12-way power numbers that also were heated and cooled tacked on $1,800 more.

Not a fan of how one must press in the large temperature control knobs, which are great for temp control, but then must be adjusted for the heated and cooled seats with a further click or three. Additionally, the fan noise for heating and cooling the seats was overwrought, sort of like turning on a small food processor just behind your seat.

The info screen is wide, but narrow.

I should note too that this model already had added a $2,000 luxury package that upgraded leather once and included premium overhead lighting and illuminated the kick plates. The overhead lights above the mirrors needed just the slightest touch to turn on, much needed at night in a black cockpit.

Standard safety equipment is well represented, but does not include a blind-spot assist or rear traffic monitor. That costs $550 extra but seems it should be standard like the parking sensors, lane-keep assist, and emergency braking. Smart cruise control also wasn’t standard, which I found out abruptly on the freeway as I closed in quickly on slow moving trucks even though cruise was engaged.

The test car went with a tan cloth top. I think I’d prefer black.

Pluses included a wireless charger and power tilt/telescope steering wheel, although it was not a flat-bottom wheel which would have increased knee room and helped lighten up the closeness of the interior. Also the wheel isn’t heated, an oversight in our climate.

The tan cloth ($650 extra) power top functions well and is easily engaged via a console button. Note that there is a fair amount of noise that still infiltrates the top, whereas a hard-top convertible, such as with Mazda’s MX-5 (Miata), would normally be quieter. Road noise from the tires also was considerable, so a highway drive is not conducive to easy conversation with a significant other or friend.

A few drawbacks to consider. Naturally there’s little cargo room, this being a convertible and all. Just 7 cubic feet of trunk space and not all flat space either, so a couple small overnight backs or briefcases would fit, but certainly not golf clubs.

Sun visors are absolutely miniscule too and oddly the push-button entry and fob add $500, which seems petty when a car lists at $75 grand.

Gas mileage is respectable for a V8-powered sports car, the EPA rating it at 17 mpg city and 24 highway. But I managed 25.4 mpg in about 80% highway driving, and yes, this drinks premium. But premium gas prices are not a concern once you’ve liquidated your holdings.

A look at the stylish door trim as it blends to the dash.

With all the add-ons the test car revved up to $84,350, which puts this in a price class with such hot rods at Chevy’s new rear-engine Corvette and Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayenne sportsters. All of those have a lower entry fee. Heck, the Corvette could be loaded and pack more power for the Jag’s out-the-door price.

Penny or pound pinchers should note that at least two or three great options exist. The Toyota GR Supra and Nissan Z Performance that I’ve tested would suffice and save a buyer tens of thousands of dollars as they start in the low $40,000 range. You give up some power and prestige, but blimey, you save serious coin.

Quad pipes gives the V8 a throaty sound.

For even less Mazda’s Miata with a power hardtop convertible is a fun drive, just not as bleeping powerful.

Such choices mostly depend on whether you’re a king or a commoner.

FAST STATS: 2022 Jaguar F-Type P450 Convertible

Hits: Stylish 2-seat convertible w/power top, excellent power, balanced handling, good brakes, nice throaty V8 sound. Good supportive seats, heated/cooled seats, wireless charger, big temp dials, power tilt/telescope wheel, solid safety systems.

Misses: Over firm ride, tight cockpit due to wide console, considerable road noise, no heated steering wheel and no flat-bottom wheel, no smart cruise control, narrow info screen, heated/cooled seat fans quite noisy, little cargo room, miniscule sun visors, blind-spot warning system costs extra, and prefers premium fuel.

The leaping Jag logo jumps along the F-Type’s sides.

Made in: Castle Bromwich, U.K.

Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8, 444 hp/428 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 3,953 lbs.

Wheelbase: 103.2 in.

Length: 176 in.

Cargo: 7.0 cu.ft.

A snazzy Jag head graces the grille!

MPG: 17/24

MPG: 25.4 (tested)

Base Price: $74,150 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $69,895

Major Options:

Interior luxury package (leather upgrade, premium cabin lighting, illuminated kick plates), $2,000

Blind-spot assist/rear traffic monitor, $550

12-way power heat/cool seats, $1,800

Ebony Windsor leather performance seats, $1,650

Black exterior pack, $1,100

Meridian surround sound system w/770 watts, $900

Beige power top, $650

Red brake calipers, $550

Keyless entry, $500

Auto-dimming heated power door mirrors, $400

Air quality sensor, $100

Test vehicle: $84,350

Sources: Jaguar, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Jaguar

#Jaguar F-Type

1979 Dodge Warlock II D100 Utiline

Auto World’s latest Warlock not as spooky as its name …

Today it is hard to imagine any vehicle being named Warlock without an entire marketing department being fired and the automaker’s PR staff committed to a mental institution in the aftermath.

But Dodge played loosey-goosey with names and color descriptions throughout the 1970s. Remember Dodge’s purple being labeled Plum Crazy? So when Dodge decided to make factory-custom pickups beginning in late 1976 the Warlock name was chosen.

Auto World bravely jumped into the die-cast pickup market itself a couple years back and the 1977 Warlock was a hit, so now comes a 1:18 scale Warlock II, a 1979 model of the fancified D100 Utiline.

The History

Styling was tweaked for ’79 with a new nose and hood. And inside it was loaded with goodies not standard at the time, like air conditioning, cruise control, a radio and a clock. The Utiline bed with real oak sideboards was an option, as were the wide tires and custom wheels. This model has all of the above.

Originally Warlock was a limited release, sort of a test by Dodge to see if the factory-custom truck idea would fly. That original had gold wheels, gold pin-striping, bucket seats, wide Goodyear tires and oak sideboards and bed flooring.

By 1977 Dodge had moved the Warlock into full production and began offering it in more than just black. As in the earlier AW model, there was dark green now. Other colors were blue, red, and of course, black. All Warlock interiors were black, to keep costs down and builds as simple as possible.

For 1979 the standard engine was a 145-horsepower, two-barrel 318 cu.in. V8. Also available was a four-barrel 360 cu.in. V8 that that made 160 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. Warlock II was available in 2- or 4-wheel drive and sold through the end of the 1979 model year.

One could argue Dodge started fueling America’s love with fancy pickups, which the Ram continues today.

The Model

               What’s new and different on the 1979 model vs. the earlier 1977? All the changes are up front.

Here’s that new grille and single headlight look for 1979, plus a detailed V8.

By 1979 Dodge had moved to large single headlights and a more streamlined hood with its two panels slightly raised, and of course outlined on the Warlock II with gold pin striping and filigree, which also decorates the front fenders and cab, plus the cab’s roof and the big bulging rear fenders. Even the tailgate features the gold trim along with a gold and black Warlock II nameplate in the tailgate’s center.

Face it, Dodge had figured out how to customize its pickups at the factory and this model reflects that with the sparkling Canyon Red paint scheme that looks deep with a touch of cinnamon tossed it for a bronze tint to this metallic finish.

Yes, the tailgate lowers on the snazzy Auto World Warlock II.

               Warlock’s grille is a massive chrome number, beautifully recreated, plus chrome front and rear bumpers, large side mirrors, wipers, door handles and side steps on this Stepside model. The racy custom Mag wheels also are chromed and there’s a silver gas cap by the step on the driver’s side. A short chrome antenna protrudes from the top of the passenger’s side front fender.

               Just like the earlier 1977 model, this ’79 touts a blue block Mopar V8 under the huge hood that is supported by solid hinges so is easily posed open. There’s a black air filter cover along with big black hose running to the radiator. A white coolant container also is visible along with a white top just over the radiator and a power steering unit protrudes from the firewall.

As with the previous model the bed features textured wood-look plastic panels with red metal seams in the floor and the same wood-look railing on each side of the bed to mimic that of the original truck. This is a little lighter shade (a tinge of yellow) than I’d like, but still features a wood-grained texture. In back that tailgate also can be lowered.

Sharp looking cab here with reflective face gauges for added realism.

Inside, the cab is mostly black, but the door panels include more of that gold pin striping at the top to add some glam while also boxing out the lower portions of the doors to add color in what otherwise would be a dark interior. Just a bench seat as there was no Crew Cab at the time, and the dash looks great with a detailed instrument panel that includes reflective gauge faces to add realism. In addition, the steering wheel features three silver spokes while there are no seatbelts on those black seats.

Rubber tires are treaded and branded as Goodyears and freely roll, plus the front wheels are steerable for posing purposes. As with other AW models, the undercarriage is nicely detailed too, including a spare tire under the bed, a full exhaust system, differential, and detailed front suspension.

I really liked the 1977 Warlock, but this color is so striking and the single headlight grille seems a bit more handsome too. Hey, plus it’s a Warlock!

Vital Stats: 1979 Dodge Warlock II

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AW298
MSRP: $119.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

#Dodge

#Dodge Warlock

#Auto World

Car Spot: 67 Chevy El Camino

Following Ford into a hot market …

Ford has caught Chevy napping more than once in automotive history. Every car person knows about the Mustang, but did you know about the El Camino, the subject of this week’s car spot.

It was legendary designer Harley J. Earl, who had suggested Chevy make a coupé pick-up in 1952, but Ford beat them to it with its Ranchero. Chevy introduced the El Camino in 1959 and it was based on the 119-inch wheelbase two-door Chevrolet Brookwood station wagon.

Chevy knew it had to play catchup to Ford and went in a different direction when it came to styling making it look like Chevrolet’s high-end Bel Air on the outside with two-tone paint, and a Chevrolet Biscayne interior. It was an immediate hit outselling its Ford counterpart in the first year. Its starting price was $2,500.

After just two years Chevy took a break from production because sales had dipped and it was retooling the El Camino to fit the Chevrolet Chevelle platform. Chevrolet came back with another hit and won the overall battle with Ford for five additional generations being made from 1964.

El Caminos from 1968 to 1973 are considered the best-looking models and are cult classics among many car enthusiasts. The El Camino’s production had to be shifted to Mexico in 1985 due to low sales, and Chevrolet wanting to reduce production costs. Chevy pulled the plug in 1987 when pickups, like its S-10, became more popular. Chevy actually toyed with the idea of bringing it back in 1995 with a concept El Camino built on the full-size Caprice station wagon platform but plans to produce it got scrapped. Bet that would have looked cool.

What caught my eye on this ’67 was the badging on the front saying it had a 396 V8. I’m thinking this is an SS and the markings weren’t put back on the car after its restoration. But although the 396 engine was available to buy, there was no official 1967 El Camino Super Sport option or badging. A true El Camino SS didn’t appear until 1968.

So, what’s it worth? Values range from around $15,000 to $40,000, averaging at about $25,000. But if it’s an SS model, or one really close like this one, prices can shoot up to well above $50,000.

Note the yellow Chevy SSR passing on the left. I did a car spot on a red one I saw not far from there.

There’s also a story about where I found this spot. It was spied a couple months ago at a really cool service station on Pine Island, Fla., which was hit by hurricane Ian just recently. I’ve found some other spots there as well, a Dodge Magnum and Cadillac Allante. Like others in that area, his shop was hit and is in the long process of rebuilding. This car had Massachusetts plates, so I hope it made it back home before Ian hit.

Thanks for stopping by. Check back next Friday when I’ll have another car spot along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate

Fastback C40 puts a charge in electric SUV’s look …

Volvo’s swoopy-tailed C40 Recharge, a small SUV, is the epitome of form over function when it comes to styling.

Basically the C40 is identical mechanically with its XC40 Recharge, but instead of the traditional squared off crossover/SUV tail of the XC, the single C touts fastback styling resembling a coupe, thus the C designation. BMW pioneered this look a few years back, but to be honest, Volvo makes a better go of it visually.

This rear window slopes severely and there are two black vents of sorts above the window to give this a performance ambiance. Giant 20-inch wheels with fancy wide five-spoke wheels gives the C40 a Hot Wheels look that is aimed at turning the heads of younger buyers, which is also a strong demographic for electrics.

Cool taillights accent the slopped tail of the C40.

For visuals I gotta mention the cool jagged Z-shaped taillights too. They set the C40 apart like a red pocket square in a blah black suit jacket.

Before I go further, I must explain that any Volvo with Recharge in the name has a plug, so full electric, or plug-in hybrid.

Thus the C40 packs twin electric motors at each end to provide AWD traction and laudable power generated from a bevy of 78 kWh-lithium ion battery packs. Those also give C40 a low center of gravity, a consistent electric vehicle trait.

Power is absolutely phenomenal with a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds, says Car and Driver. For the record, that’s coming from 402 horsepower with a neck-straining 486 pound-feet of torque. Press the acclerator and, wham, you’re off to the races.

 But I digress, what will turn heads is the looks of this AWD SUV/coupe (Scoupe?) and that form defeats a key function, outward visibility and judging where the bobtail ends when parallel parking.

That sloping rear window coupled with big headrests in the back seat allow for a miniscule rear view. That can hamper backing up, or avoiding a lane change as a fast-approaching car passing on either side while cruising the highway. I also found that backing into a curbside parking space was a bit of a challenge. Sure, there’s a 360-degree camera and alarms sound when the tail gets near another vehicle as you back into a spot.

But that alarm seemed premature, so when I got out of the car I found I had a good 4 feet of space left behind the stubby tail. I guess a driver will learn and adapt, but beeping alarms can dissuade from further backing when it’s actually clear. Just sayin!

Sometimes a vehicle’s tail can be more interesting than its nose.

Yet as I said in my earlier review of the XC40 Recharge, this is one fine-driving vehicle.

Read the XC40 (near twin) review: 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate | Savage On Wheels

The C40 Recharge handles with a sporty flair, like its square-back sibling. Steering is quick and precise, but with a heavier feel than the gas-only XC40, although there is a way to adjust the steering feel here, if you need. Ride, as in the earlier test drive is fairly well controlled, but still can get bumpy (sort of a rocking motion) on crumbling area roads so that there are mild, but annoying, jolts to the interior. A longer wheelbase is needed to smooth that.

Still, buying an electric SUV with sleeker looks is probably a more important consideration than ride, especially since this is livable.

Is it just me or does this nose look a lot like Ford’s Mustang Mach-E?

I whined about range in my earlier review and that remains a concern. Tops is about 230 miles of charge. The info screen said I had 220 miles of range at a 97% charge after a 14-hour charge on my garage’s 120-volt line. That was fine as I found each night the standard electric outlet was getting me roughly an additional 20% charge, or about 40 to 50 miles.

If you let your batteries get to near 0 charge, it’ll take several days of constant charging to get back to 100%, or visit an Electrify America fast-charging station as those are free to Volvo owners at the moment. Volvo says a fast charge will boost C40 from 0 to 80% in about 40 minutes. Or, if you buy, you may want to upgrade to a 240-volt line in your garage for quicker charging.

A few other electrics still have better range, including the Volkswagen ID.4 at 260 miles, the Hyundai Kona at 258 and Tesla Model Y rated at 244 miles. So, consider your own driving habits. An acquaintance tells me he stopped twice between Minnesota and the Milwaukee area to charge his C40. I hear Tomah is a good stopping spot.

While many electrics feature a front-fender or grille-mounted charging plug, Volvo puts its outlet on the rear driver’s side quarter panel, where one often finds a fuel-filler door. And there’s a 1 cubic foot frunk that will hold the charging cable.

One other practical note about electrics, most offer one-pedal driving. Naturally there’s a brake pedal (which was a little too close to the accelerator here), but just using the accelerator is the way to go, just takes a few days to perfect the feel.

These sporty wheels remind of a Hot Wheels toy car.

One-pedal works because the electric motors brake the car quite quickly once you let off the go-pedal. In fact, it can feel rather sudden, so you quickly learn to feather off accelerator pressure to slowly coast to a stop. The upside is that any coasting or braking helps recharge the batteries (regenerative braking), so in stop-and-go city driving you use less power as you’re constantly regenerating power. There’s a gauge that’s part of the four basic info screen menus that will update you on your current charge status.

My test C40 was a pleasant Fjord Blue Metallic ($695 extra), a reflective blue-gray that gets looks and cheery comments. Inside, it was black and blue with the dash and trim being black, and the door and carpeted floor mats being a blue gray that matched the exterior.

This is not real leather, but what some are calling vegan leather. It’s plant based.

C40 is Volvo’s first standard interior not using leather, although it’s optional. Plant-based and recycled plastic bottles are used to create the seats and felt-like door trim, which looks good but feels a bit like a fake material. Trim around the 9-inch touchscreen is gloss black with chrome trim and the door release handles are a brushed chrome along with the steering wheel’s 3-spoke hub. Sadly this is not a power tilt/telescope wheel, but one supposes that saves a few electrons by keeping it manual.

Volvo’s console is a gloss black and the seats a grayish black with the outer edges feeling like fake leather and the inner cushions feeling more like velour. Stitching on the seat’s trim is white to add contrast.

A big vertical screen dominates mid-dash.

The dash is fine with digital readouts in front of the driver, including charge level, and the large info screen, but beyond the main screen it gets a bit confusing, although I’ve finally learned how to access the radio stations I want, so I suspect it’s about time for Volvo to change its Android-based system. Oh, and you can ask Google to give you info via its voice-recognition system. The nav map is spectacular.

Note too that the car starts as soon as you are inside with the fob and sit in the driver’s seat. It knows you’re there due to the seat pressure and all electronics start immediately so you can quickly put the C40 in gear. Park is a push button. When leaving you simply open the door and depart. The car’s radio continues until you lift off the seat to leave and then it shuts down.

Here’s the driver’s view of the instrument panel and tall info screen.

One oddball thing, the Volvo requires you lift the exterior door handle twice to open it. Or so I thought. I’ve since been informed that the doors unlock when you are in the vicinity with the fob in your pocket. Apparently, I was grabbing the door handle too quickly, thus the confusion. I’d just as soon that the fob not think for me.

Pluses include a wireless phone charger at the console’s front edge, a heated steering wheel, and heated and cooled front seats along with heated rear seats. The front seat controls are embedded in the touchscreen and Volvo’s seats are mildly contoured and comfy with power buttons on the sides and a two-memory system on the door to remember the driver’s seat settings.

There’s also a quality Harmon Kardon stereo that can enliven this extremely quiet interior. While overhead is a massive panoramic sunroof that was fine, mostly as it was never too hot or sunny while I tested the SUV. In southern or southwester climes the roof can get hot though as there is no sunshade to cover the roof, although it is tinted.

This is the battery info screen, showing range and current charge usage, 3 kWh.

Volvo also provides a full complement of safety devices including smart cruise control, blind-spot warning and lane departure, plus automatic braking and sign recognition.

A power hatch opens to generous storage space, plus the rear seats split 1/3-2/3 to further boost that space. There’s even a little extra storage beneath the cargo floor.

Pricing starts at $56,395, including delivery, for the base Core model for 2023 as 2022 models are spoken for. The mid-level Plus lists at $57,945 and the tested Ultimate at $61,195 with delivery for a 2023.

Door panel inserts are attractive but feel like a felt trunk liner.

Reportedly this is the first and only Volvo you can only order online, but one would imagine your Volvo dealer could help you do that if you were to visit a dealership. That’s where the car will be delivered.

Electrics are coming fast and furious now and Volvo promises to offer only electrics by 2030. It appears to be well on its way to delivering on that promise.

FAST STATS: 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate

Hits: Good styling in profile and back (especially taillights), excellent acceleration, precise handling and full-time AWD. Big sunroof, heated wheel and comfy heated/cooled front seats, big touchscreen, quality stereo, a stylish luxury interior, wireless phone charger, plus a full bevy of safety equipment.

Misses: No shade on sunroof and very limited rearview through back window. Touchscreen (beyond main screen) distracting to use while driving, no power tilt/telescope steering wheel and double action door releases. Bumpy ride on rough roads and the electric charge range is just 230 miles.

I just can’t get enough of these dramatic taillights!

Made in: Ghent, Belgium

Engine: Twin electric motors w 78 kWh-lithium ion battery, 402 hp/486 torque

Transmission: Shift-by-wire single-speed automatic

Weight: 4,710 lbs.

Wheelbase: 106.4 in.

Length: 174.8 in.

Cargo: 14.5 cu.ft.

Tow: 2,000 lbs.

MPGe: 94/80

Base Price: $60,845 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Fjord blue metallic paint, $695

Test vehicle: $60,540

Sources: Volvo, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Volvo

#Volvo C40 Recharge

#Volvo electrics

Ford launches 2023 Escape, including hybrids, new ST-Line

ST-Line adds flare, hybrids stretch mileage, plus more electronics …

Available early 2023, the hybrid Escape (left) and new ST-Line Elite Escape.

Ford launched its refreshed Escape small SUV this morning touting new styling inside and out plus a sporty new ST-Line model and regular hybrid along with plug-in hybrid models.

Naturally there are a bunch of new electronics too, with improvements including;  

  • Cloud connectivity and a 13.2-inch screen
  • Enhanced suite of Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology that includes a:
    • 360-degree camera
    • Alexa Built-In
    • Intersection Assist 2.0 to help drivers avoid collisions with pedestrians while turning
    • Blind Spot Assist, which can nudge the steering wheel as a caution against an unsafe action if a driver has missed system warnings 

Additionally, the Escape comes with a wide variety of powerplants including its EcoBoost, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains for efficiency, reduced operating costs and less emissions. Plus it continues to offer its efficient gas-powered EcoBoost system that uses a turbocharger to boost gas mileage and efficiency.

The 2023 Escape hybrid in Vapor Blue. This is a pre-production model.

Ford says it has targeted each model to have at least 400 miles of range no matter its power source and the full-hybrid is aimed at getting 550 miles of range.

Watch Mark’s review of the current plug-in hybrid Escape: https://savageonwheels.com/2022/06/08/2021-ford-escape-titanium-phev-fwd/

Outside there’s some refreshment of styling, but the bigger news is the snazzy ST-Line that features a more upscale interior look, a black mesh grille (super popular these days), a unique rear skid plate for off-roading, a large single-wing rear spoiler and available “coast to coast” LED light bar running from headlamp to headlamp

The tail ends of the hybrid Escape (left) and the new ST-Line Elite in Rapid Red.

Inside the ST-Line is an optional 13.2-inch screen with cloud-connected SYNC4 Technology and new advanced driver-assistance systems. Continuing popular features on the Escape include a sliding second row seat with more second-row legroom, says Ford, than a Toyota Sequoia. Can’t wait to test drive that with the family!

For the record, the ST-Line comes in three models, including the base with a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine making about 180 horsepower with front-wheel or optional all-wheel drive. The ST also can be had with a hybrid system with FWD. There’s also the ST-Line Select and ST-Line Elite, both offering an optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine aimed at creating 250 hp and standard AWD and an available hybrid option.

 The ST-Line features an ebony interior with red stitching on the door panels, seat trim, center arm rest, floor mats and steering wheel. Also, a flat-bottom steering wheel (Yippee!). Outside the ST-Line touts 18-inch Rock Metallic painted aluminum wheels as standard. The ST-Line Select model offers optional 19-inch Machine-Faced Ebony Painted aluminum wheels that are standard on the ST-Line Elite model.

 In addition to the ST-Line, the Escape lineup includes Base, Escape Active, Platinum and Plug-in Hybrid models. Escape Base and Active models offer a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine with FWD or optional AWD. The Platinum model offers a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine with AWD and a hybrid powertrain option with FWD or AWD.

The restyled Ford Escape hybrid in Vapor Blue, available in early 2023.

 Pricing ranges from $28,995 to $39,995, including delivery. The lower level models are FWD while the ST-Line Select and Elite are AWD. Those are priced at $35,535 and $39,955, respectively. The plug-in hybrid also is $39,995.

All 2023 Escapes come standard with new LED reflector headlamps with signature lighting, and a rear seat that can slide nearly six inches to create either more legroom or cargo space.

 The plug-in hybrid model uses Ford’s advanced fourth-generation hybrid system, which includes a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission. The FWD plug-in hybrid is projected to produce a combined 210 hp and it aims to deliver 37 miles in electric-only mode. This model features a Level 1 / Level 2 AC charging port. Using a 110-volt Level 1 charge, the estimated time to fully charge the battery is 10 to 11 hours. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charge, charge time drops to roughly 3.5 hours.

The Escape Plug-In Hybrid model also features four EV modes.

The new Escape is assembled at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky, and Ford notes that Escape was the world’s first hybrid SUV, launching in 2005.

#Ford

#Ford Escape hybrid

.

1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton

Auto World’s 1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton

I’m no authority on pre-war classic cars, but most car crazies like me recognize the Cadillac V16 or Sixteen as it was often called.

This was Cadillac’s most powerful and expensive car to date when introduced at the New York Auto Show in January of 1930. Talk about bad timing, the Depression had just begun.

Yet the wealthy and famous still had cash and more than 2,000 V-16 models were ordered in the first six months of production with 2,500 selling that first year. That was an amazing number and even more so in that just 4,076 of the cars were ever made during an 11-year run from 1930 to 1940 when GM stopped production as it ramped up for World War II military production.

Auto World expands its 1:18 scale classic car lineup with a new dark green 1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton and it’s an eye-pleaser.

The History

Just 300 of the 1932 models were made as sales began to rapidly fade. Cadillac made only 50 V-16 models a couple of years in the late 1930s.

Originally the bodies were made mostly by Fleetwood Metal Body, but by 1932 Fischer Body had taken over that function for the Harley J. Earl-designed Cadillacs. Earl would later become GM’s design chief and was known for his use of concept cars to introduce radical designs including tail fins. He also was involved in design of the original Corvette.

All orders were custom for the V16 and research says 70 styling codes were used during the car’s production life. The Sport Phaeton was one of those and its styling was sportier as it employed a longer hood and lower roofline, here with a tan top over the green body. Fenders also were more curved and the headlamp shells were streamlined too.

The Phaeton also used a second windshield just in front of the rear seats to distinguish it, this version being the fold-down style known as a dual-cowl design.

For the record, V16s were made in 2- and 4-door convertibles, 2-door coupes and 4-door sedans, town cars and even limousines. Power came from a narrow 45-degree V16 creating what now seems a paltry 165 horsepower, but reportedly the cars could hit at least 116 mph, incredibly fast at the time. Power was smooth from the V16 and said to run so quietly they were hard to hear.

These were massive cars, unsurprisingly, riding on 149 to 154-inch wheelbases, so a couple feet longer than today’s giant pickups and SUVs. Lead sleds too. They weighed between 5,300 and 6,600 pounds.

One 1930 Town Brougham model was listed at $9,200 new. That would be about $149,000 in today’s dollars, probably a bit much for the Depression era and before any silicon chip boom.

The Model

               A beautiful car beautifully reproduced with real rubber tires and a sharp-looking tan plastic roof that looks like canvas and easily snaps off to pose as a convertible.

Big folding hood, long V16 engine under the cowl.

               The body shape and functionality are excellent as always, with both front doors opening and the dual sided hood folding up independently. Under the hood the massive V16 fills the engine bay and features silver headers and exhaust pipes, plus V-shaped chrome bracing to stiffen the car’s front end. There’s also a fan behind the radiator, the front of which is chromed with a handsome V16 logo on its face.

Sharp heron hood ornament on the ’32 Caddy.

Atop the radiator is a chrome Cadillac heron hood ornament to class up the Caddy. That heron was swapped for a goddess style ornament the following year.

               Up front is a banded chrome bumper with two running lights atop that, then the streamlined sealed beam chrome headlights and horns atop the gently rounded front fenders. Turn signal lamps, also chromed rest atop each fender.

A large trunk rests on the luggage rack in back, while two silver exhausts exit below.

               Out back are dual slim but wide chrome exhausts, the chrome banded bumper and chrome trunk holder along with chrome taillights and a chrome trunk handle. A green trunk rests atop the chrome stand.

               A silver trim line runs from the nose around the top of the tail and then around to the other side’s nose and there are chrome door handles and windshield trim, on both shields. I like that the side vent windows move so you can pose them in or out and these too are trimmed in silver paint.

A long engine block and headers are visible beneath the hood.

               Need more flash? Well, there are tall white sidewall tires tucked into the fenders on each side, plus a chrome ring holding them each in place while chrome mirrors are molded into their tops.

               Along each side are black running boards trimmed in silver paint.

               Tires are wide white-sidewalls, treated but not branded and they wrap around spiffy chrome wire wheels with a red V16 logo at the center of each hub. Likewise, the spares showcase the same wire wheels.

Like the V16 logo on the steering wheel hub, while the dash is simply presented.

               AW creates black textured seats to reflect a leathery look in both passenger compartments while the front door trim features the same look, plus chrome door releases.

               The dash is simple with seven round gauges printed on its black face, plus a series of buttons arranged vertically mid-dash. Pedals are far beneath the dash and a tall chrome shift lever rises to next of the gloss black steering wheel, which also features that red Caddy V16 logo.

Adjustable wing windows add a nice touch of detail.

               The undercarriage is complete too with black chassis, suspension parts and differential, plus dual silver exhaust systems.

               Cars were both simpler mechanically, yet more ornate in the 1930s, Depression or not. This 1:18 model is a sterling representation of that chrome-laden era and the elegance of its luxury cars.        

Vital Stats: 1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AW314
MSRP: $119.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

#Cadillac

#Auto World

Car Spot: AMC Pacer

Another swing for the fence car from America’s smallest automaker.

When you’re up against big car companies with big budgets and big lineups you have to do things differently as was the case for American Motors in the 70s. They were all about different in that time period first with the Gremlin in 1970 and then with the Pacer in 1975. This week’s car spot focuses on a 78 Pacer Wagon Mark spotted at the Mecum auction in Chicago this past weekend.

Introduced as America’s First Wide Small Car, it was also ahead of its time with its cab-forward design while all the other cars were the traditional three-box designs. Developed to offer the interior room and feel of a big car but in a much smaller, aerodynamic, and distinctive exterior package. That it was. The automotive press loved it and so did I owning a 75, Autumn Red Metalic with a white interior. It had a massive amount of glass which led to one of its nicknames, the fishbowl. And I added even more glass with an aftermarket sunroof, which leaked, and my friends called mine the Astrodome.

RELATED Post: Read about the Racer Pacer.

One of the complaints consumers had was the lack of space in the back seat when adults rode along so a wagon version was added in 1977. It also gave the Pacer a more traditional design and more cargo space. Popular Mechanics described the newly added 1977 Station Wagon body style as a “styling coup”, and said: “Who needs the coupe!”

The car was introduced with a choice of two inline sixes that were fuel efficient but because of the Pacer’s weight, 3,425 pounds for the coupe, 74 more for the wagon, its 304 V8 was added to the lineup boosting horsepower but decreased mpg. It was during this time period that the Pacer became positioned as a luxury car. This 78 is a great example. A D/L level Pacer that was loaded with leather seats, power steering, brakes, locks, and windows, a Sony CD player, tinted windows, the 304 V8, custom wheels, and woodgrain. Not really wood:). It sold for $8,250, about average for a Pacer like this in good condition. However in 2020 at Mecum’s auction in Indianapolis a 77 sold for a crazy amount of money, $25,300! There is/was a Pacer wagon I found on Hemmings where the guy was asking for 30k that had been converted to electric. Yikes, can you imagine the weight of that one?

RELATED Post: My promo model Pacer.

Larger hood to fit in AMC’s 304 V8

By 1980 the public had grown tired of the Pacer’s unique styling and poor gas millage and AMC ended production. 280,000 Pacers were built in Kenosha and more at VAM in Mexico. This swing for the fence might have been the beginning of the end for AMC. Developing the Pacer cost the company a ton of money as did the new Matador coupe and neither car saved the company. Renault bought a controlling interest in AMC in 79 and that was it for building its own passenger cars. Was the Pacer ugly? Maybe but one thing is for sure like the other Dick Teague-inspired designs is that they were unique and had character unlike many of the other cars coming out of Detroit at the time. Yup, I’m an AMC homeboy and proud of it!

AMC’s unique door handles used on all vehicles and the rear liftgate on Jeep CJ’s and Wranglers.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.

2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Camry Hybrid may just be the perfect family sedan …

This may surprise you, but it’s exceedingly rare that I long for a test car that has been returned, but this week even I was surprised at my disappointment when of all things a 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid left the Savage abode.

You might suspect I’d have saved my tears for a Nissan Z, a Genesis GV60, or a new Corvette. Those too can tug at the tear ducts.

Several people even poo-pooed my fortunes for having to test the “dullest” car in America, but I quickly corrected them. Maybe they were thinking of the Prius.

There are reasons why Toyota’s Camry has been the top-selling sedan in the US market for roughly 20 years. It’s becoming the Ford F-150 of sedans via its longevity atop the market.

Camry is a champ and rocks on so many fronts I’ll try to be brief in my summary, but there’s a lot to unpack.

Start with looks, something I bet you’d never suspect I’d say. But a couple years back Toyota chose wisely and drank from the better styling cup. Ever since the once blah Camry has turned edgier with a sleek, beautiful nose that makes its Lexus luxury brand look downright gaudy. The headlights are slim and wonderfully blended with the grille and hood. The profile is slim and elegant, and the tail, well, just fine.

Bathe the handsome, sophisticated Camry in Supersonic Red (just $425 extra) and the sedan becomes Lady Gaga in a sequined gown.

Love engine choices? For internal combustion (gas) engine lovers there are two choices, including a powerful V6, but for families on a budget and with even a smidgen of social consciousness the Camry Hybrid is a rock star.

Camry’s 2.5-liter I4 combined with Toyota’s proven (20+ years) hybrid system nets a 44 mpg rating city and 47 mpg highway from the EPA, yet still delivers 208 horsepower. And get this, in about 80% highway driving I got a stellar 48.2 mpg. For more than 450 miles of driving I spent $25. Your weekly commute gas budget just giggled.

“Parental unit, can we stop for frozen custard on the way home from soccer practice?”

“Yes, my children.”

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – YouTube

But if this were an econobox that was cramped and had no digital doodads or safety gear … Well, it’s not.

Camry is a mid-size sedan but rides on a 111.2-inch wheelbase to give it an excellent ride, coupled with good, easy, well-controlled handling. Comfort reigns, but is never grandma’s plastic-covered living room dowdy.

The power from the hybrid system that gets its electric charge from regenerative braking is quickly delivered, but acceleration is smooth, mild, but steady. An electronically adjusted CVT (continuously variable transmission) is partially responsible for that and for the excellent MPG.

There’s a Sport mode on the console to kick up the acceleration some, and is handy for highway entry. Still, this will not resemble a sport sedan’s quickness. Normal and Eco mode also are available. Normal is what you’ll stick with 90% of the time.

Finally, a good-sized touchscreen with buttons all around and is easy to use.

Interior comfort is guaranteed too with the XLE being Camry’s luxury-leaning trim level that provides 8-way power leather seats with the front ones being heated. Seats are mildly contoured so pleasant on a long drive and there is plenty of room in back for three adults. XLE also upgrades the standard 8-inch info screen to 9 inches.

But it’s the design of the touchscreen that impresses beyond its size. Instead of a silly knob on the console or a mix of onscreen and dash buttons, there are 8 key buttons around the screen (4 to a side) clearly labeled Home, Menu, Audio, Map, Seek, Track, Phone and Apps. Smartly there also are volume and tuning knobs.

All this makes the info screen and JBL sound system (standard on XLE) a breeze to engage while driving. Take that you tech-for-tech’s-sake luxury brands.

Camry delivers a good-looking interior with everything logically located.

Another plus, Camry’s interior is sharp looking in addition to being functional.

This bright red car’s leather was a cream color and the seats perforated for better airflow from its heated and cooled seats. Heat is standard while the cooling is part of a $1,430 package that includes a 10-inch color HUD, panoramic view monitor, front/rear parking assist with automatic braking.

Elegant streamlined designed, even in the door panels.

The dash and door tops are black to create a two-tone interior, pretty common these days among the sharper vehicles. Trim is a graphite gray around the air vents and other dash trim, plus the armrest trim by the power window controls and the console’s top. There is a bit of gloss black trim on the stack, but not enough to create reflection woes.

Overhead is a sunroof ($860 extra) and for a modest $150 the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated, a Wisconsin necessity.

Standard features include a wireless phone charger under the center stack, smart cruise control and a bevy of other safety equipment, all part of Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5. That includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, a lane departure system with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist and road sign assist.

Toyota also allows a driver to override the lane departure system, so if you’re in a congested and construction-heavy city or highway driving situation you can punch a button and not have the system beeping or trying to keep you centered in your lane. Bravo. Having this choice often is a safety concern these days.

Assuming you have five adults on board, which again IS possible here without amputations or forcing anyone into a socially embarrassing position, there’s oodles of trunk space for luggage. At 15.1 cubic feet the deep trunk will hold luggage for the entire crew, even several sets of golf clubs.

The only thing I missed, the only negative here, is large map pockets in the doors. These were tiny and tight to get at, so of limited use.

Pricing is amazing, a bargain throughout the lineup and should push more dollar-conscious buyers toward a sedan and away from mid-size crossovers and gas gulping SUVs.

The base Camry Hybrid, the LE, starts at $29,105 including delivery. There are five trim levels with the XLE being mid-level luxury at $34,065 including delivery. The sportier XSE is just about $500 more. The SE and SE Nightshade (featuring blacks and dark blues) also are available in the hybrid model.

Adding 11 options pushed the test car to $40,232, still an average new car price, so certainly one could be had mid-$30k range. No AWD feature is available, same as its main competitor, Honda’s Accord.

Gas-powered Camrys are available in that same price range, topping out with the TRD model featuring the 308-horse V6.

Stylish lights and nose help keep Camry atop the sedan market.

But for families on a budget, yet not wanting to look like it, the Camry Hybrid in any form is a bargain to buy, and operate, but with a luxury look, feel and all the digital goodies one actually needs.

Camry remains king of the sedans.

FAST STATS: 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Hits: Sharp styling, great mpg, excellent ride, good handling, decent power in comfy family sedan. Good rear seat and trunk room, sunroof, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled front seats, super info screen and buttons, wireless charger, smart cruise control and on/off lane departure, plus 3 drive modes, JBL sound system, comfy power seats. Bargain pricing!

Misses: Small door map pockets

Made in: Georgetown, Ky.

Engine: 2.5-liter I4 hybrid, 208 hp/163 torque

Transmission: ECVT automatic

Weight: 3,565 lbs.

Wheelbase: 111.2 in.

Length: 192.1 in.

Cargo: 15.1 cu.ft.

MPG: 44/47

MPG: 48.2 (tested)

Base Price: $34,065 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $31,358

Major Options:

Driver assist pkg. (10-inch color HUD, panoramic view monitor, front/rear parking assist w/auto braking, multi-stage cooled front seats), $1,430

Heated steering wheel, $150

Adaptive headlights, $615

Nav pkg. (premium audio, 9-inch touchscreen w/nav, 9 JBL speaker w/subwoofer & amplifier, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay compatible, satellite radio for 3 months), $1,760

Power sunroof, $860

Supersonic Red paint, $425

Trunk LED bulb, $25

Mud guards, $129

Illuminated door sills, $345

Door edge guards, $129

Carpet floor mats/cargo mat, $299

Test vehicle: $40,232

Sources: Toyota, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Toyota

#Toyota Camry hybrid

2023 Nissan Z Performance

Z (it’s only Z now) nails modern, yet retro, looks and power …

Not many car lines go all the way to Z.

But Nissan has been going all the way since 1969 when it launched the Datsun 240Z its long-hooded sports car for the rest of us. I thought of it as a mini-Corvette at the time and, well, I still do.

In fact, Nissan’s relaunched 2023 version, now just called Z, has a nose that reflects both past and present Corvettes with its sleek pointy snout. Yet the new model has been smoothed and the hatch roofline slimmed to give the care a sleeker look. The Z also has been powered up with a 400-horse twin-turbo V6 and given a spiffy new digital-laden interior to bring it in line with today’s usual electronic wizardry.

My pre-production test car (dealers are to get theirs soon) was a stunning Seiran Blue Metallic with black roof, that two-tone paint scheme adding $1,295 to the sticker. But if ever I’d pay extra for paint, this may do it. Folks looked, some gave a thumbs up, others came out of their houses to see it up close at the curb. No doubt Nissan nailed the modern, yet retro, styling.

No pretense of this being a family car or carrying more than two as there are just two seats here and a long cargo area under a glassy hatch, but still just minor cargo space. Again, there will just be two of you with a suitcase each and Z accommodates that. Golfers may have to make other arrangements and forgo a hand cart.

Styling aside, and that’s hard to even say, the tested Z Performance was a well-controlled rocket with those 400 rear-wheel-driving horses pushing this up and down highway entry ramps like it was heading out of the pits at Road America. Heck, it just might!

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2023 Z Car – YouTube

Unlike almost any other sports car the Z comes standard with a 6-speed manual, otherwise known as a standard transmission or stick shift. Younger drivers may not be aware, but this is the way many vehicles used to arrive, an automatic tranny costing extra. Ironically, today’s automatics (a 9-speed is optional) now get better fuel economy than the manuals, but that’s another issue.

The stick is fun and easy to slide between the gears, although the throws are longer than I had anticipated. Mazda’s Miata still has the shortest throws I’ve encountered, but this works nicely and the clutch is moderately weighted so not a leg cramper in stop-and-go traffic. My one initial concern was how hard I had to push the shifter down to slide it far right for reverse. I got used to it.

Also need to mention that there’s a SynchroRev Match system here to blip the engine and match its revs to the gear you’ve selected. So as you downshift into a corner that sweet burp of the engine lets your passenger know you’re a legit road racer. Thanks techies!

Nissan’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine is stout and smooth. It feels strong as you slip through the gears and can easily lead to tire squawks. This had low-pro performance 19-inch tires that gripped the road like crazy until we had an early fall monsoon. Shifting early to maintain traction was needed in the wet. All-season tires would help, but then you lose performance and, well, Performance is this model’s last name.

Handling as insinuated above was sports car fun, meaning responsive. Wheel feel is moderate and this steering wheel is wrapped in leather, as is the shift knob. The Nissan Z is well-balanced with neutral handling. I’ve heard some say it’s too easy to swing its tail, but until it rained I was having no issues.

Ride is firm as you’d expect in a car of just 100-inch wheelbase. Plus the Performance model adds a sportier tuned suspension, so if like me you prefer a bit softer ride (I’m 60+) then the standard Z may be a more comforting choice, plus it will save you some dough.

Z’s brakes also deserve a mention here. The Performance trim gets enhanced brakes with red calipers with Nissan labeling. Front and rear discs are vented 14 and 13.8 inchers, so stopping distance and quickness is awesome. I suspect the standard brakes aren’t too shabby either.

Inside Nissan designers have created a very comfy, livable interior that would allow for long highway jaunts.

The digital dash is clean and the 9-inch touchscreen (8-inch is standard) is big enough but not overpowering, plus simple to use. I had no issues and the Bose sound system is solid too.

Interior styling and the comfy seats likely will dazzle most riders though.

First, this one featured blue leather seats and blue dash and door trim under a soft black dash top. Door inserts are suede trimmed in leather and the seats feature a suede center section that’s perforated.

Console and dash are basically a matte black so no nasty sun reflections here, something other car makers could learn from. That console is trimmed in blue leather to add visual pop too.

Retro gauges, but more useful ones would be a help!

Atop the dash for a retro look are three gauges that might matter if you were racing as they tell Boost, Turbo Speedm and Volts. I’d challenge most folks to know what voltage their car should be showing on a gauge (about 14 here) and as long as I can feel the turbo boost I’m not sure I need a number placed on it. So while I appreciate the retro look, I’d say substitute more useful info such as a fuel gauge or clock.

Nissan’s performance seats are beautifully sculpted and fitted to encircle the driver and passenger so they don’t slide about, or even move, when the car is rocketing around tight rural highway twisties, or during a track day. Shorter folks may find these a bit too confining, but I loved the seats, which are partially powered. That’s right, there are two power buttons on the inside edge (toward the console) of the seat. These control fore and aft movement and the seat back’s angle. Takes a bit to get used to the location, but I did within a week.

The power seat controls are on the inside seat edge.

On the left side are manual controls to adjust the seat bottom’s angle and a height adjustment for the rear of the seat bottom. I’d like it to go just a tad higher, but I’m just 5-5. Nissan heats the seats too.

The Z’s steering wheel is a manual tilt/telescope model, but round and not heated. I’d prefer a flat-bottom wheel in any sports car and especially to create more knee room when one is shifting a manual and also when exiting. I found too that unless I could open the door to its maximum sweep I had trouble getting my right foot clear of its edge when getting out.

A couple other issues to consider inside. First, the cup holders are so far back on the console they are difficult to use, although easier for long-legged drivers who may position the seat all the way back. The storage box there also is way behind the elbow, but then again, this is a two-seater and space is limited, especially with a manual shift lever on the console.

There also is no wireless phone charger in the tray under the center stack, just a nice spot to lay your phone. And while I know this is a sports car with a throaty growl, road noise, especially on cement, can make listening to the radio a bit of a chore.

That hatch opens wide, but the cargo bay is mighty shallow.

I did like the three climate control dials, all of which can be set to automatic for fan speed, temperature and the directional. Nice!

Safety features are solid here too with smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitor.

Fuel economy is nothing special, but you’re buying this for power, not efficiency. The EPA rates Nissan’s Z at 18 mpg city and 24 highway for the manual version and I got 22.8 mpg in a mix of city and highway. And yes, this drinks premium fuel.

Note that the automatic is rated better at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Big disc brakes with red calipers confirm this is a sports car!

Pricing?

The base level Nissan Z is an absolute bargain for power, looks and handling, starting at $41,015, including delivery. So think of it as 400 hp for $40k. There are two more levels though, and these push the envelope a bit, exceeding $50k.

The tested Performance model starts at $51,015 with delivery and ended up at $53,210 adding just the snazzy paint job, illuminated kick plates ($500), and floor mats ($400). The top level Proto Spec lists at $54,015.

Z epitomizes modern fastback style sports car and is an automotive icon. At its base price it’s extremely attractive. Move up to the higher versions and you’re in the Audi TT and BMW Z4 range. So at that level you may just want to consider a Kia Stinger or Ford Mustang and get a rear seat to boot!

FAST STATS: 2023 Nissan Z Performance

Hits: Stylish 2-seater, excellent power, balanced neutral handling, good brakes, slick stick shift. Excellent seat comfort, heated seats, automatic climate control dials, good info screen size and function and good level of safety devices.

Misses: Firm ride, considerable road noise at highway speeds, tough exit when door isn’t 100% opened, awkward cup holder placement, no heated steering wheel, no flat-bottom wheel, long shift throws, no wireless charger, little cargo room and premium fuel preferred.

Snazzy door handle styling on the Z!

Made in: Japan

Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, 400 hp/350 torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Weight: 3,507 lbs.

Wheelbase: 100.4 in.

Length: 172.4 in.

Cargo: 7.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 18/24

MPG: 22.8 (tested)

Base Price: $51,015 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Illuminated kick plates, $500

Two-tone paint, $1,295

Floor mats, $400

Test vehicle: $53,210

Sources: Nissan, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Nissan Z

#Z car

#Nissan

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible

Say Yes to Auto World’s latest, a ’57 Chevy from “Dr. No” …

Evil usually is depicted in black, and Dr. No was no exception. The James Bond villain’s car which was intended to carry Bond to his certain death was a black 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, although with a spiffy red and silver interior.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen, Bond prevailed!

Hard as it is to imagine, 60 years have passed since “Dr. No”, the first Bond thriller, hit the movie theaters and Sean Connery would forever be James Bond. Now Auto World marks the anniversary with a handsome 1:18 scale model replicating the first cool car that Bond wheeled in the lengthy cinematic series.

This swanky black ’57 Chevy with its entertainingly decorated box featuring a “Dr. No” movie poster comes just a few months after AW turned out a much perkier Barbie version of the Bel Air convertible. That one was baby blue with pink interior and a twin that was just the opposite, pink with blue interior.

This one may fit less shockingly into your 1950s car collection of which more than a few are likely AW releases from the past as the firm specializes in 1950s-1970s muscle cars along with other vintage automotive icons. The same quality and attention to detail is here and this version, like the Barbie edition, is being marketed under AW’s Silver Screen Machines category.

Here’s what you get.

The Model

               There is plenty of functionality with opening doors, hood and steerable front wheels, while the trunk is sealed. Like other AW models, the undercarriage is nicely detailed (including dual exhausts), so posing it on a mirrored base would make sense.

               As you’d expect with a 1957 car there’s enough chrome to make a medieval knight envious. That starts with the massive front and rear bumpers, plus the head and taillight surrounds, rocker panel trim, the side accent line trim and fins, plus door handles, wiper arms and windshield frame. Even the two hood sights are chromed, as are the vent window frames.

               Hub caps are chrome with chrome center wheel nuts featuring red centers and tiny Chevy bowtie logos. Then there are those giant protruding bumper guards on the front that look like, well, you know. These are black-tipped (that’s tip my friends), as they were on the original ’57 Chevys.

               Both the hood and trunk feature copper-colored chevrons (a long-time Chevy emblem) and the Bel-Air script on the fins’ side trim also is copper. While the top of the fins are chromed, naturally.

The front fenders display three copper bars as trim and just in front of the doors are the patented Chevy crossed-flags logos with the term, Fuel Injection, printed beneath.

               Pop open the hood and there’s the red Chevy engine block with silver air filter and fuel injection system, a black battery and radiator with black horn on the front left. Big hood hinges allow the car’s hood to be easily posed in the raised position.

               The red and silver seats in the interior look nice too, not glossy, but more like a matte vinyl, which matches some 1950s Chevy seating. These include two red buttons on the silver background of each seat back. Likewise the tonneau cover is a matching matte red with silver snap heads neatly arranged around the edges.

               Chevy’s dash top is red with red-ringed instrument panel gauges and a chromed trim across its face and surrounding the radio and its dials. The dash and red steering wheel definitely look like plastic. Too bad they aren’t the same matte finish as the seats. Naturally the wheel’s center horn ring is chrome.          

               The model’s door handles and window cranks are chrome and Bel Air appears in script on the passenger’s side dash facing. Sun visors are a matte silver to match the color of the seat centers.

               Tires are wide white sidewalls and treaded, but not branded. A generic black license plate rides on the trunk face. It reads CC over J 7715. Not sure what that means, but it may be what the movie’s car featured back in 1962. Hard to remember that much detail that far back, even for us Boomers.

               This model is a double win for Bond fans and ’57 Chevy aficionados!

Vital Stats: 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible, “Dr. No” version

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AWSS134
MSRP: $149.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

#57 Chevy

#James Bond

#Dr. No

#Auto World

Car Spot: Chevy Corvair Greenbrier

One of America’s 1st minivans?

Chevy had big plans for the Corvair when it debuted in 1960. The lineup included everything needed to sell a lot of vehicles. Besides the cars which came as a sedan, coupe, convertible, and wagon, there were also several trucks like the Greenbrier, which were added in 1961, the subject of this week’s car spot, er truck spot.

I spotted this example at a recent air and car show event I was at in Oconto, WI

Like the passenger cars, Chevy followed in VW’s footsteps, ie the Transporter, placing the driver controls ahead of the front axle providing impressive cargo and passenger carrying space within a compact car footprint. The Greenbrier wasn’t alone in the marketplace competing against Ford’s Falcon based forward-control Econoline and Dodge’s similarly Valiant-affiliated A100 van which arrived in 1964.

Related Story: Read about a priceless Corvair

The Greenbrier found its niche as a camper-van. The low floor gave 1.5 inches more inside height than the 10-inch-taller Econoline, and the side doors were taller and wider. Field & Stream magazine loved it, and in a review wrote: “My test vehicle remained rigid and rattle-free over the worst roads.”

That’s a lot for what was a big, open box stuffed with all manner of aftermarket plywood furnishings including a kitchen sink. What the media wasn’t high on was the vehicle’s 80-hp engine, but in 1964 it received a bore and stroke increase that boosted displacement from 145 cubic inches to 164.

This is where the engine breathed.

Base output increased 15 hp to 95, with the still naturally aspirated but higher compression Turbo-Air engine producing 110 hp, nearly double the output of VW’s by then upgraded 1500 engine (52 hp), and comfortably ahead of the Econoline’s 105. Car and Driver‘s Barry Brown went so far as to build himself a sleeper performance van: “I am satisfied as I have never been with any other automobile — it is a business tool, family car, and sports car all at the same time.” Wow, that’s saying a lot.

While total Corvair sales totaled almost two million the van didn’t prove as popular as the cars and sold around 50,000 units. It was a hit out of the gate selling 15,806 it’s first year and just 1,528 its last year, 1965. Like the passenger versions it’s very affordable. I found many listed in great shape for around 10 grand.

Love the decal on the window, Nader Vader.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots with a little bit of history and have a great weekend.

2023 BMW 840i xDrive Gran Coupe

Swoopy Gran Coupe a luxury rocket for the 5% crowd …

There are cars Bill Gates and Warren Buffett can afford and then there are cars that any CEO or hedge fund trader might slip lovingly into their 3-car garage.

That’s the 1% vs. 5% rule in the car world, and it’s the difference between owning a Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari or Rolls and, say, a BMW, Mercedes or Lexus.

Luxury, as with other car segments, has its nuances. So while you and moi may see this week’s nearly $100 grand BMW 840i xDrive Gran Coupe (the rich and hoity call it a coo-pay), as a high-end luxury fastback sedan, the one-percenters would consider it an entry-level daily driver.

If only!

Let’s begin with looks. The 2023 BMW 840i Gran Coupe is a dart of a car, a sleek fastback that oozes sex appeal. Look at those curves, the sweep of the roof, the smoothness of its lines, the lean nose-heavy silhouette. This one was bathed in a chameleon-like Sepia Metallic paint job that looked everything from light purple to gray with gold highlights. Fantastic, but then so is the $5,500 price for the jeweled appearance.

Yet if you, or your monied significant other, were in “need” of a slinky luxury sedan you’ll find few others that drive this well or look this tempting. That’s especially true as the sedan and coupe markets continue to shrink as trucks and their progeny overrun the auto market. A few contenders might be the Audi S7, Mercedes AMG GT, Lexus LC, and Porsche Panamera.

BMW is noted for its handling and the 840i with xDrive, its AWD system, is another gem, slicing through corners at speed and slipping into parking spots at a crawl. Steering wheel feedback is reactive and precise, plus there are four drive modes to firm ride and handling while altering shift points.

The fine twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder (a standard BMW powerplant) is stout and sturdy. It’s also plenty fast for highway jaunts, pumping 335 horsepower and doing 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It’s capable of a top speed of 155 mph. You need faster?

OK then, go for the 850i with its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that packs 523 hp or jump up to the Alpina B8 model with 612 horses. Of course you’ll pay more for both. Just cash in some stock options or make another clever online trade.

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2023 BMW 840i Gran Coupe – YouTube

But this 840i is fast, fun and comfy as is, its 8-speed automatic shifting so smoothly it’s like a ghost transmission. While the grip from its 20-inch performance tires and that AWD make the BMW 8 Series a fine all-season car. Braking is primo too with monster four-wheel vented M-series discs. There’s also Cornering Brake Control to appropriately brake each wheel in turns to enhance cornering precision.

Naturally ride is firm, but mostly comfy even in the firmed up Sport mode. No spine tingling here.

Now, while the base Gran Coupe starts at $86,000 including delivery and this xDrive model lists at $88,895, there are plenty of add-ons to improve its already luxurious interior.

That starts with a $2,000 ivory white Merino leather seating package. For the uninformed (maybe you didn’t hand pick the leather your vehicle features) Merino leather is all natural, no funky dyes or dirt-fighting oils added and it’s as soft as a baby’s behind. The price you pay for patina is that Merino wears and soils more readily than treated leathers.

Still, a purplish car with white leather interior is pretty swank.

The dash is well laid out and appointed, now featuring a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen mounted high in the dash’s center. There’s still a rotary knob on the console to adjust it too, but most functions are easily found via the easier touchscreen functions.

Enhancing that are 8 pre-set radio buttons below the screen for easily storing your favorite channels.

A head-up display (HUD) is standard too and BMW’s digital dash simple to see and read. The test car added a fancy crystal shifter knob, a $650 option, and the start button is on the console, next to the shifter.

The baby-soft leather seats are powered, naturally, and feature buttons to adjust the lumbar four ways and a lever beneath the seat allows the lower cushion to be extended, an aid for long-legged drivers and passengers. Front seat heat is standard as is a heated steering wheel and the arm rests, a nice touch. Oddly rear seat heat costs another $650, but should be standard at this price.

The dash top is black leather with the lower portion white to match the seats while an aluminum trim enlivens the door styling and wraps into the air vent surrounds at the dash’s far corners. There’s also aluminum trim on the console surrounding the shifter and the textured surface there and on the door that covers a cubby beneath the center stack.

Yes, there’s a wireless charger there too, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is a Harmon Kardon premium stereo. BMW’s Gran Coupe also includess 4-zone climate controls.

Overhead are two sunroofs, with the rear roof’s controls being on the rear seat armrests, as are power side window shades and a rear window sun shade.

A power trunk release pops the trunk and opens to a spacious cargo area. This is rated at 15.5 cubic feet, which is bigger than most sedan trunks. Think golf club caddy!

Negatives? Not many beyond price.

The powerful turbo engine prefers premium fuel and I feel all sporty cars should come with a flat-bottom steering wheel to visually signal their racy leanings. There also is the unpredictable gesture control function for the radio that sometimes works, sometimes not.

Fuel mileage is decent for this size car and the power delivered. I got 22.2 mpg while the car is rated 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for the AWD model.

Visually BMW says there’s a lighted grille here, although as a driver you’d never know. Plus this one added M Shadowline lighting for $650, and bi-color double spoke wheels for $1,300. A minor add-on is the $100 Driving Assistance package that adds active blind spot detection, park distance control and assistant, plus a 3-D surround view camera. Worth the $100 as all the other safety equipment you’d expect is standard.

They say the grille is lighted, but it’s hard to tell in the daylight.

With options, the test 840i xDrive Gran coupe comes in at $99,745. Going with one of several standard colors can save you $4,000 to $5,500 though.

A two-door coupe (a less roomy rear seat, plus just two doors) is also available and a convertible model in both the 840i and 850i models. A base coupe is $84,000, and convertible $95,000

For comparison, an 850i Gran Coupe starts at $101,000, and the 850i convertible at $110,000. Moving up to that ego-pleasing superfast Alpina jumps the price to $141,000.

OK, what’ll it be Mr. Gates, one of each?

Fancy wheels, big brake rotors!

FAST STATS: 2023 BMW 840i xDrive Gran Coupe

Hits: Sleek fastback looks, interesting color and snazzy interior. Strong power, excellent handling and grip thanks to AWD. Heated seats and wheel, wireless charger, big easy-to-use screen, 4 drive modes, 8 pre-set radio buttons, comfy seats, dual sunroofs, and excellent trunk space.

Misses: Prefers premium fuel, no flat-bottom wheel, unpredictable gesture control for radio. 

Made in: Dingolfing, Germany

Sporty styling for the door panels and trim!

Engine: 3.0-liter twin turbo I6, 335 hp/368 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,180 lbs.

Wheelbase: 119 in.

Length: 200.3 in.

Cargo: 15.5 cu.ft.

MPG: 20/27

MPG: 22.2 (tested)

Base Price: $88,895 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $83,240

Options:

Sepia Metallic paint, $5,500

Ivory white full Merino leather, $2,000

Driving assistance pkg. (parking assistant plus, active blind spot detection, active partk distance control, surround view w/3D), $100

M Sport professional pkg. (M Shadowline lights), $650

Comfort seating pkg. (heated front/rear seats), $650

20-inch M double-spoke bi-color wheels, $1,300

Glass controls (shifter), $650

Test vehicle: $99,745

Sources: BMW, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

Car Spot: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

One of the fastest SUVs on the planet

OK, I’ll admit, I’m partial to this week’s car spot because I’m a Jeep guy and love going fast. A 6.4-liter V-8 pumps out 475 horsepower while a roudy exhaust note tells you that it’s an SRT. So what Jeep did was take a standard Grand Cherokee, plop in a bigger engine, give it more aggressive bodywork, a sport-tuned suspension, and upgraded brakes.

This bad boy was parked right next to one of its older brothers.

Car and Driver ripped one to 60 mph in only 4.4 seconds, just 0.2 second slower than a Dodge Challenger T/A 392. While its smaller relative was quicker in other acceleration tests, the Jeep matched the coupe’s hearty exhaust note and responsive throttle around town.

The SRT can haul more than just ass, 7,700 pounds of fun can be pulled behind. While the SRT excels in straight-line speed, it also corners surprisingly well given its size. Its powerful Brembo brakes also helped it stop from 70 mph in 168 feet, which equaled it’s more powerful brother, the Trackhawk which I drove up at Road America and it’s a total blast but came with a 100K price tag.

RELATED Video: Hop in and go for a ride with me in the Wrangler 392 Unlimited.

This Jeeps market remains strong. MSRP for the 2021 was $72,000. While Jeep did manufacture the WK edition a short time into the new model year, I don’t believe the SRT option was available. They are holding their value too. Expect to pay north of $50,000 for one in good condition. Get while the getting is good because with all this nonsense about V-8’s being bad for the environment, vehicles like this are going the the way of the dodo bird. So sad. Too bad too that the SRT brand is no more.

Note the spoiler on the back window. This guy is serious.

This Jeep checks all the boxes for me. It’s a Jeep, looks cool, has a big V8, makes a lot of noise, and can go off-roading! What more is there?

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history behind it. Have a great weekend.

2022 Subaru WRX Premium

WRX better in a rally than on a road, but it rocks …

After we had been driving for two blocks my wife, a devout Subaru owner, asked rather emphatically, “WHO would ever buy this car?”

The car in question was a flashy metallic Solar Orange Subaru WRX Premium, the rally racer style compact sedan with a ride so rough that nine out of 10 dentists recommend it to patients with loose fillings.

It doesn’t help that we live in a 1950s subdivision with asphalt streets featuring cracks and crevices widened and sunk by 60+ years of Wisconsin winters. Even still, on better roads it only takes a manhole cover’s slight indentation or the dreaded expansion joints on cement streets to jolt the family jewels or crack that dozen eggs freshly purchased at the farmer’s market.

All this in spite of, or possibly because, Subaru engineers firmed up the chassis and suspension on this fifth-generation WRX to improve cornering and (supposedly) ride. To that end they mounted the rear anti-roll bar directly to the chassis, upgraded shock dampers and stiffened the torsional rigidity of the chassis by 28%.

That’s all excellent news for rally racers who take their WRX to rutted dirt-road racing contests every weekend, but for city driving, not so much.

There’s at least one other practical point that may not make this a top choice for the average family’s next sedan. That’s noise.

Again, for the boy or girl racer who thrives on the throb and rumble of a boosted boxer 4-cylinder, the Subie’s new 2.4-liter twin-scroll turbo engine is a positive. It creates 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque that feels like a rocket booster is strapped to this compact sedan based on Subaru’s Impreza platform.

For the rest of us the guttural growl, especially while the car is stationary or at modest city speeds, is deafening when the windows are lowered, and radio sound swamping with windows up. Once cruising at highway speeds the blat calms enough to allow radio listening, but still it’s best to crank that baby up.

That said, I told my wife that the WRX is aimed at young folks (mostly) who desire speed, speed and speed, yet at an affordable price.

In that case, the Premium model is a winner, starting at just $32,600, including delivery. For that you get a handsome neck-stretching sedan that easily carries four adults, has a decent-sized trunk for suitcases, boogie boards (fold down the split back seats), and AWD for any off-roading you feel appropriate.

Ride we know is an issue, but handling is fantastic with dual-pinion electric power steering that provides great road feel and more vital, a quicker response. That’s what you need for racing, or just driving fun, preferably on a smooth road.

This version also features a 6-speed manual transmission that adds to its friskiness. Throws are fairly long though, so think about paying $427 extra for an STi short-throw shifter. If you’re lazy, or getting older like me, you may want to opt for the 8-speed automatic that adds about $2,500 to the Premium model’s bottom line, but varies by trim level.

Speaking of which, there are four WRX trims, the base WRX that starts at $30,100 or $31,950 with the automatic, the tested Premium for $32,600 or $34,650 automatic, the Limited at $36,990 or $39,240 automatic, and the new GT, which is AWD and packs a drive mode selector, the automatic tranny, and Recaro seats. It lists at $42,890.

Recaro seats are snug to hold driver and passenger tight.

Recaro seats are wonderful for racing and look great too, so maybe going GT is worth it. But the seats in the Premium model are pretty stout already.

The interior here was black cloth with red stitching for a sporty look. But the seats were so well formed with sterling hip and back support that I wish we had the same in our family’s Outback. These are manually adjusted, but don’t look down your nose at that. Naturally it saves weight by foregoing electrics, but a pump handle easily dials in the optimal seat height and the rest is just fore and aft and seat back angle adjusted via levers. Simple!

Front seats also are heated and the interior is roomy enough for four adults, while the trunk will hold their bags.

The info screen is mammoth!

Subaru goes with a matte black dash while the trim across the dash, around the screen and shift knob, is a satin chrome. Both restrict glare and reflection. Fake carbon fiber trim on the doors looks realistic and I wouldn’t mind seeing that spread across the dash to sexy this up a bit.

Mid-dash from virtually top to bottom is Subaru’s 11.6-inch Starlink tablet-like info touchscreen. It certainly looks impressive, but I have two concerns. First, it’s tough to adjust the radio while driving and second that large screen can reflect big time when the sun gets at it. Sad that Subaru has done so well on all the other dash and interior trim to limit glare, and then there’s this.

Another view of the screen and shifter!

Otherwise I like the interior, with its aluminum alloy clad pedals, plus a racy D-shaped steering wheel. That allows for more knee room when entering and exiting, plus looks sporty. Some pricier makes that tout performance still don’t use this racier-styled wheel. Weird!

A slew of safety devices are available, but most only come standard with the automatic transmission-equipped models. That includes smart cruise, forward collision warning and emergency braking, lane centering and such. Blind-spot is standard starting on Limited models.

So beyond the AWD and great handling the main safety feature is excellent sight lines and visibility. Like all Subarus, there is an open sightline between the A-pillar and side mirrors. The majority of car makes don’t offer this design feature, creating a large blind spot.

Angular styling for the lights add character!

A couple other items notable by their absence, a wireless phone charger (in a car aimed at young people) and no sunroof. Ditto! The leather wrapping on the steering wheel, if it is leather, seems too slick to me. For a performance car I’d expect a wheel with more grip.

Finally, a few notes about the exterior, beyond the eye-catching metallic orange paint job.

First, there are black plastic front and rear diffusers and wheel well trim. The plastic has a bit of a pattern to its surface, so not just glossy or matte black plastic. There also is black cladding along the rocker panels that could be considered ground effects and on the trunk lid a subtle body-colored spoiler.

Many previous WRX models have gone with garishly tall wings on the trunk lid. This tiny lip-like spoiler looks much more presentable to adults. However, there is an optional $540 spoiler that is larger if your ego requires that.

That’s one wide air scoop in the WRX’s hood.

But there IS already a 25-inch wide air scoop on the hood that screams 1970s muscle car. For most of us, that would probably suffice.

All this leads us to the mundane mention of fuel economy. Performance always has its price, but it’s not too steep here. The EPA rates the WRX at 19 mpg city and 26 highway. I got 24.2 mpg in about an even mix. Be forewarned that this Subie prefers premium fuel though.

With just a couple minor options the test car hit $32,894. That’s not much in today’s market for anything with AWD, a hood scoop and thunderous thrust.

Party on!

FAST STATS: 2022 Subaru WRX Premium

Hits: Powerful punch in a compact rally car, excellent handling and traction with standard AWD. Super comfy supportive seats, heated seats, low-profile spoiler, D-shaped steering wheel, hood scoop, big info screen, fake carbon fiber trim.

Misses: Rough, Rough ride, noisy interior, no wireless charging, no sunroof, long-throw shifter, limited standard safety equipment, steering wheel too slick, and big touchscreen both reflects and is not easy to adjust the radio while driving. Prefers premium fuel.

Made in: Japan

Four exhausts create a little ruckus upon acceleration!

Engine: 2.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder boxer, 271 hp /258 torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Weight: 3,320 lbs.

Wheelbase: 105.2 in.

Length: 183.8 in.

Cargo: 12.5 cu.ft.

MPG: 19/26

MPG: 24.2 (tested)

Base Price: $32,600 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $30,712

Major Options:

Floor liners, $132

Side rail plates, $162

Test vehicle: $32,894

Sources: Subaru, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2023 Genesis GV60 Performance

Electric crossover delivers power, luxury and looks …

Each new electric vehicle that hums sweetly into my driveway seems closer to what consumers ultimately will want and demand, some even exceed those desires in clever ways.

The smartly future-forward styled Genesis GV60 Performance, a top-end luxury electric crossover, is a prime exceeder. Two examples being the first-ever facial recognition system on a consumer vehicle, and further setting the pace for gadgetry supremacy is its rotating crystal sphere shifter. More on both in a sec.

But, and not to be a Debbie Downer here, range and price remain the biggest hurdles all electrics must overcome and here the GV60 gets close, but with its lower-cost Advanced model that features more range.

The tested Uyuni White ($575 extra) Performance version features just a 235-mile range, while its Advanced model touts a more substantial 280-mile range. Simple science, performance and power suck up range.

Let’s get at the specifics for the GV60, which I consider one of the best looking EVs to date. Its cousins, the Hyundai Ioniq5 and Kia EV6, are the others, each with a distinct style.

With the Performance moniker you expect rocket-like thrust, ego-stroking horsepower and miniscule 0 to 60 mph times. The GV60 Performance delivers.

Its twin 215-horsepower electric motors, one for the front wheels, one for the back, deliver 429 hp. (Not sure why it’s not 430!) But that is Not enough my friend. No, there’s a Boost button on the steering wheel to compete with Tesla’s Insane setting. The booster rocket button delivers another 54 hp for a total of 483 and a torque rating of 516.

Boost lasts for 10 seconds and trust me (see video) will push the AWD GV60 to 100+ mph in the short distance of an average highway entry ramp. Boost is a literal blast that can make even the most jaded auto writer laugh out loud.

Car and Driver reports a 3.7-second 0 to 60 time and a top speed of 151 mph, in case you’re late for a board meeting.

Watch Mark’s review video: Mark Savage review of the All Electric GV 60 Genesis – YouTube

Watch another on GV60 tech: Genesis GV60 EV tech – YouTube

While there are three drive modes, Eco, Comfort, and Sport, the Boost button overrides and will allow you to thumb your nose at the exotic or muscle car/truck at the stoplight next to you. Eco, by the way, does considerably help extend battery range as it puts more charge back in the pack under coasting and braking action.

Comfort softens the ride and is perfect for city driving as steering is easy and the long wheelbase and electronically controlled suspension here soften pot holes and create a lovely luxury ride. Sport naturally firms up the suspension and steering effort.

Those batteries add heft (GV weighs nearly 4,800 pounds) and lower the vehicle’s center of gravity to make it handle like a sport sedan and eliminate body roll in turns. Whether cruising the highway or rocking along our lunaresque city streets the GV60 feels calm and comforting.

Standard AWD provides strong traction and the 21-inch Michelin tires offer solid footing, including after a rain. Yet I must note that I did spin the tires a couple times after hitting the Boost button.

Getting into the GV60 is easy with a fob in your pocket, or you can use the Genesis smart key app, OR you can use its facial recognition system. Say what?

Yep, the driver’s side B-pillar has a facial recognition system built in. Once programmed you just stand by the car’s side and peer into the spot you can see on the pillar and it will unlock the car in a Jetson-like few seconds. So far, the crossover does not fold up into a briefcase.

Once inside the high-tech hijinks continue once you press the Start button. The fancy crystal sphere on the console that glows a light red will rotate the crystal side down and up pops the dimpled shifter knob to rotate to the appropriate gear setting. Press the button at its center and the GV60 returns to Park. That also happens if you simply turn off the vehicle. .

The crystal sphere rotates into a shifter ball!

The look inside is as clean and futuristic as most of us want, while still offering some familiar buttons.

That starts with the dash’s dual 1-piece screen that houses 12.3 inches of driver digital instrument panel and 12.3 inches of infotainment screen. Easy to see, certainly. Plus easy to use after just a day of driving. Below that is the climate control unit with toggles for temperature selection and buttons for directing the airflow from the wide air ducts just above and along the dash.

A wide dual screen makes viewing gauges and info easy and simple.

The usual cruise and computer control buttons are on the steering wheel hub and there’s a wireless charger in the console, just vertically insert the phone in front of the armrest. Simple, and if you forget the phone a friendly semi-human sounding voice will remind you it’s charging as you open the door to exit.

Seats are wonderful. The test unit featured a navy blue leather interior and dash with yellow stitching to create a sophisticated, yet youthful, look. Both front seats also are powered and the driver gets a four-way power lumbar adjustment along with power side bolsters for more lateral support. Long-legged drivers will appreciate that the lower cushion also will extend to support those daddy long legs.

This Navy Blue leather interior with yellow piping looks ritzy.

The front seats are heated and cooled and the rear seats heated. Genesis also adds a heated steering wheel, a must in our northern clime.

GV60 comes standard with nearly everything else you’d ever want, and some of which you might not care about. There’s a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, giant sunroof and power shade (but the roof, like in a Tesla, does not open), a Head-Up Display, and a fine Bang and Olufsen stereo. One misplaced roller button control, the volume for that stereo is at the center of the console between a couple other buttons. Generally these are on the steering wheel hub, an easier spot to find it while driving.

Need big power for 10 seconds, press this Boost button!

Safety features? Oh my, everything but mind controls for other drivers.

Standard are forward collision avoidance and assist, lane keeping assist and lane follow assist, blind-spot collision avoidance assist (including cameras that show your right- and left-side blind spots when the turn signals are engaged), a surround view monitor, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance and assist, smart cruise, Stop & Go, driver attention warning, high-beam assist, parking distance warning, parking collision avoidance and remote smart parking, if you trust your car to just pushing a button to park. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but you get it, as in you get everything currently known to mankind.

The electric plug-in charging is like all other electrics in that using your garage charger at the standard 120 volts is nearly useless. I plugged in overnight and got a 3% boost. You’ll want to install a 240-volt charger if you purchase an electric vehicle, including this one.

The hatch opens wide to swallow luggage or lumber, just fold down the rear seats.

The good news is that at a fast 800-volt charger the GV60 will go from 10 to 80% power in 18 minutes, says Genesis. It reports a 400-volt charger will take 73 minutes to do the same and with a 240 at your home it’ll go from 10% to fully charged in 7 hours.

Genesis also wants to encourage you to travel in the GV60, so it provides 3 years of free charging at Electrify America chargers spread across the country. Over time, and thanks to the federal infrastructure bill approved by Congress, there will be more chargers in place making longer distance travel easier to plan.

My minor complaint on charging is that the GV60’s plug is on the passenger’s side rear quarter panel. I’d prefer it on the driver’s side so it’s nearer a wall plug in a garage.

For the record, the test GV60 was made in South Korea, but future models are to be built at Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama, plant.

Pricing is the last bugaboo that electric must overcome and the GV60 gets it half right, sort of. Realizing this is a luxury vehicle with a quiet high-end interior loaded with features and a comfy ride befitting its luxury nature, the tested Performance model lists at $68,985, including delivery. Only the paint job was extra, for a suggested price of $69,560, and demand is high enough you’ll probably have to pay at least that.

Going with the Advanced model that includes a few less features and less power at “just” 314 horsepower yet still an amazing 416 pound-feet of torque, saves you $10 grand. It lists at $59,985, still not pocket change, but for a luxury make it’s in the ballpark.

Note that the Kia and Hyundai electrics mentioned earlier and riding on the same platform start at considerably less. Note too that none of these makes currently meet the new U.S. qualifications for a $7,500 tax break, although future models made in the U.S. may. Be sure to know before you buy.

FAST STATS: 2023 Genesis GV60 Performance

Hits: Future forward styling inside and out, good power + Boost button, easy handling, luxury ride and AWD. Clean stylish dash, big dual 1-piece screen, crystal sphere shifter, face recognition entry, heated/cooled and supportive front seats w/power side bolsters, heated rear seats, HUD, multiple drive mode, sunroof w/shade, solid safety systems, B&O stereo, power tilt/telescope and heated wheel. Wireless phone charger w/left behind alert.

Misses: Range limited to 235 miles, sunroof doesn’t open, plug-in is on passenger’s side rear quarter panel, radio volume roller is on console instead of steering wheel hub, costly.

Genesis headlight styling is clean and elegant!

Made in: So. Korea (future builds in Alabama)

Power: 2 160kW electric motors w/77/4 kWh battery, 429-483 hp/516 max. torque

Transmission: 1-speed reduction gear

Weight: 4,769 lbs.

Wheelbase: 114.2 in.

Length: 177.8 in.

Cargo: 29-54.7 cu.ft.

MPGe: 97/82

Base Price: $68,985 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $68,985

Major Option: Uyuni White paint, $575

Test vehicle: $69,560

Sources: Genesis, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#hybrid

#Genesis GV60

#Genesis hybrid

Lamborghini Diablo SE30

Autoart’s 1:18 scale Diablo worthy of its special edition status …

Lamborghini may be younger than Ferrari, but its slippery looking cars are equally beautiful, daring, and powerful.

So when Lambo’s 30th anniversary rolled around in 1993 it wasn’t shy about introducing a limited edition Diablo SE30, as in Special Edition 30th Anniversary. Like the regular Diablo (Devil) it was a beast meant for racing and just 150 were to be made.

Lucky for us collectors that Autoart has recently released its 1:18 scale version of the SE30 in a variety of colors. Originally the special Diablos were metallic lavender, a spectacular color, but not for everyone’s taste. The review car is a sizzling metallic blue known as Blu Sirena. (Sounds like a sad tennis player!)

The Diablo looks like a flying blue wedge with a dynamic spoiler on its tail.

The History

All the Diablo SE30s were built in 1994 and early 1995 featuring Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V12 that made a whopping (for the era) 525 horsepower and top speed of 207 mph. Reports at the time put its acceleration from 0 to 60 mph at 4 seconds even, impressive but now that’s something even souped up SUVs and pickups can do.

Race versions got Lambo’s JOTA engine upgrades but all SE30 models were built as lightweights since it was hoped they would be raced in GT championships around the world. No power seats or air conditioning or radio in these models and the side windows, which were synthetic glass (lighter weight), also weren’t powered. This exotic was all about speed.

Seats were carbon fiber shells and featured a special material that helped hold the driver and passenger in place while the Spartan dash featured white dial faces and below were perforated aluminum pedals.

Outside, the aluminum body had small bits of carbon fiber for side air intakes and a big rear spoiler that curved down toward the body to improve handling while the center portion was adjustable to aid downforce.

Special to the SE30 was a black and gold engine, the headers being gold. Intake manifolds were magnesium and the engine included new cylinder heads, again to cut weight and boost performance.

The Model

               This isn’t Autoart’s first car corral. It continues to deliver pristine and perfectly styled models with fabulous paint jobs. The Diablo continues that cycle of successes.

               Everything opens up here, the frunk, the engine cover, the scissor doors and the roll-away headlights even roll up with a small lever beneath the car’s nose.

The roll-away headlights operate with a lever beneath the nose.

               Those lights look convincing, but for display purposes the Lambo looks much sexier with the lights hidden away. And while it’s cool the frunk lid opens up front there’s not much to see inside, a flocked floor and a couple stickers on the firewall. Still, high marks here for authenticity.

               There are a variety of other lights and amber turn signal lamps up front along with a Lamborghini logo on the nose and a chin spoiler below.

               A single giant black windshield wiper rests at the bottom of the Lambo’s massive sloping windshield and the proper hood air intakes are well shaped with tiny black screens inset while the same can be said for the stylish side scalloped scoops that end before the rear wheels.

               This special edition used a Miura-like louvered engine cover that perfectly blends into the car’s long tail and somewhat reflects the rear spoiler’s shape.

Sharp engine detail with a Lambo logo and gold header covers.

               Flip up the engine cover, which is well supported by two black struts and there’s the big V12 with its gold header covers with Lamborghini embossed atop each. Plus, there’s another Lambo bull logo in gold on the black engine cover, and of course black hoses and a silver radiator with labeling.

               This Lamborghini’s tail is unique too with a split design, the big round taillights on the upper portion along with black screening between them and silver Lambo and 30th Anniversary logos. Then there’s the split and a large rear bumper/body extension with reflectors and backup lights, plus quad aluminum-tipped exhausts. You can almost hear the exhausts rumble!

Wide PZero tires and OZ-Racing wheels add flare.

               Tires are thick and wide aggressively treaded numbers with PZero labeling, but no Pirelli lettering. While the wheels are matte silver five-hole designs with OZ-Racing labels as these were new designs for the special edition. Behind the wheels are giant drilled disc brake rotors too. Oh, and the front wheels are steerable.

               Inside, the two-seat cockpit is black with realistic looking blue four-point belts with photo-etched metal clasps on the bucket seats. Other highlights include the white-faced gauges, a flat-bottom steering wheel and nicely detailed center stack and shifter on the console with a chrome-trimmed shift gate cover. There’s even a red button on that stack which would engage a fire extinguisher in the real car.

Cool blue cloth shoulder harnesses with photo-etch metal clasps add detail.

               One final touch, a 30th Anniversary logo just inside the cockpit’s driver’s side rear window, and of course large side mirrors with real mirrored faces.

               Need more? I don’t think so, unless it was one of the 150 made sitting in your driveway. But instead of spending millions, not to mention insurance payments that even Progressive’s Flo couldn’t touch, this 1:18 beauty can be yours for $250, and in four colors, this sparkling blue, plus black metallic, metallic purple or metallic yellow. Then there are the racier JOTA versions for the same price and in the metallic purple, metallic silver or white pearl.

               There’s not a bad looker in this bull ring, but this blue version or the purple one seem the standouts!

Vital Stats: Lamborghini Diablo SE30

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 79156

MSRP: $250

Link: Autoartmodels.com

#Lamborghini

#Autoart

#Diablo

2022 Tesla Model S Long Range

All the hype is real from a performance standpoint, but …

Finally, I have driven the future, a Tesla.

No, this wasn’t my usual one-week test drive of a manufacturer’s new vehicle. Tesla didn’t provide me the bright Pearl White Model S Long Range, a private owner did.

Tesla, you see, is the Apple of automakers where its own early-adopter cultish clan that by scarcity, word of mouth, and superiority of intellect choose its future customers. Ferrari understands.

But marketing aside, the trendy Tesla was at my disposal for a couple days in stinking hot Las Vegas, where I estimate a good 10% of cars are now Teslas. Makes sense as Teslas are made just over the border in Freemont, California. Plus gas prices have forever been crazy high on the West Coast, and pollution is a big concern there too. So going electric holds much appeal.

It really should, from a performance standpoint at least, to many of us.

If muscle cars or exotics with neck-stretching acceleration are your obsession, well, electrics should be your new best friend. All are fast because electrics deliver instant torque via direct drive electric motors and single-speed fixed gear transmissions. No lag, no waiting for a turbo to kick in. Like your electric razor or hair dryer, the electrons flow instantly. Boom, there it is!

I have driven other electrics, so that part wasn’t new. It was the whole Tesla experience that was different. And, let’s get this out of the way now. Whether you like Elon Musk or not, Tesla is the top-selling electric car maker.

So how’s a Tesla drive? What are its advantages? And …what are the Model S’s drawbacks?

Let’s take a look, and be forewarned this is not exactly like most of my test drives as it was such a short duration.

First, the S is a sport luxury sedan in all the ways you picture one in your mind’s eye.

It’s sleek, including door handles that fold into the body panels’ sides and pop out when it’s time to open a door. Oh, and it’s really a hatchback as the back window and trunk open as one. That surprised me, but I love it.

Power and handling are pure sports sedan. How so?

Well, the dual AC electric motors, one powering the front wheels, one the rear, create (and I’m not making this up) 825 horsepower along with 960 pound-feet of torque. Is that a lot? You bet. Consider that a new rear-engine Chevy Corvette makes 495 horsepower with 470 pound-feet of torque and will do 0-60 in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 184 mph, says Car and Driver. That’s a two-seat sports car, but still.

No engine here! There’s a frunk in front, great for storing charging cables, etc.

The Tesla Model S gets all that power from a 100 kWh lithium ion battery pack, which due to its substantial weight also gives the Tesla a low center of gravity that makes it handle like, well, a sports luxury sedan. The car feels well planted, handles turns with a precision you’d expect and its AWD means that even if you were running it in soggy weather or on slipper streets it’ll perform with gusto and confidence.

Ride, due to that weight (the car weighs more than 4,500 pounds) and a long wheelbase is excellent too. Smooth and silky it’s what I’d call a Buick or Lexus ride, but with a more performance-oriented stiffness to make the car feel connected to the road. I must say though that Las Vegas roads are generally so smooth that it’s not like testing a car in the frost-heave capital, Wisconsin.

Safety is copiously covered. All the usual blind-spot, lane-keeping and parking sensors are here, and ready to beep.

Yours truly at the wheel, er, yoke! I miss that steering wheel top!

Luxury? Well, this Model S starts at roughly $96,000 and most are selling for more like $105,000 and there’s a waiting list that can stretch many months.

So you’d expect luxury, and Tesla delivers. The body on the test car was spotless and seams were straight and equal. So reports of poor build quality didn’t show here.

Inside, the black leather seating was excellent too and the seats well-formed. They also were heated up front, but cooled would make sense for 110-degree Vegas. My advice, don’t wear shorts if you’re driving one in Vegas, Phoenix, the Southwest, etc.

A lot of leather here, plus a giant screen and a yoke for steering.

Of course what everyone talks about in Tesla’s interior is its aircraft-style yoke that replaces the age-old steering wheel, oh, and a gargantuan info screen. It’s overwhelming.

First that yoke. It takes some getting used to, but is easy to master especially for highway driving. Where I noticed it feeling particularly odd was during parking maneuvers or turning a tight corner where one would naturally grab the top of a steering wheel to turn it sharply. Not possible here, so spin that power steering yoke with your hand on one side of the yoke, or a finger under one of the spokes. That maneuver reminds of early 1960s cars with over-boosted power steering that could be spun with a finger.

A close-up of the yoke and digital driver’s screen.

Ironically the steering wheel was heated, totally unneeded in much of the South and Southwest.

Touchscreen? OK, it’s way too much and of course controls virtually every function known to mankind short of rocket launching, but since this is Tesla, that’s likely to come.

The navigation system makes you feel like you’re looking at an entire city map, so a driver will always want to pinch it to visually zoom in on where they were driving.

Can a touchscreen be too big? Yes it can!

Also, you can open garage doors, call up radio stations ad nauseam, use voice command to find apps, ask it for directions, order lunch, etc. Naturally there’s a screen for setting up or observing battery charging (done through the driver’s side taillight). Ironically there is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay here though.

And get this, you engage the single-speed fixed gear automatic transmission via the screen too. Slide your finger UP along its left edge and the car moves forward. Slide your finger down the screen’s left edge and the car moves backward. Weird, but I suppose one would get used to it. One also supposes this will soon be the norm for electrics.

The soft leather rear seats are roomy and comfortable, with a console for controls.

Of course there’s a 360-degree camera that looks amazing on the screen and the Tesla stereo is a high-quality number that makes you feel you’re in a concert hall. Heck, it’s so quiet in here that it feels like symphony hall.

Overhead is a giant tinted panoramic sunroof, which looks super, but really needs a sun shade. Why? Well, even though tinted and supposedly deflecting the sun’s rays, the roof gets incredibly hot … at least in Vegas. How hot? You do NOT want to touch it. It’s painful to touch.

Other interior bugaboos include an extremely wide console that feels somewhat intrusive and sounds hollow if you tap it, plus shoulder belts that cannot be adjusted for driver height. That seemed particularly odd as nearly all cars, crossovers and SUVs now allow the shoulder harness to be moved up or down a few inches. This one was too high for me, so crossed the left edge of my neck. Not comfy.

It’s possible you didn’t know the Model S was a hatchback, but it is.

In back the hatch’s cargo area is generous and easily accessed. It’s rated at 25 cubic feet and don’t forget there’s a 3.1 cu.ft. frunk (front trunk). Might wanna keep your charging cable there though.

Speaking of electricity, a Tesla supercharger will give the vehicle a 200-miles boost in 15 minutes of charging. But most folks will overnight charge at home and that can take most of the night. For efficiency you’ll want a 240-volt garage charger. That ran $500 in Vegas and installation was another $600 or so, varying by electrician.

But a nearly full charge (Tesla recommends 90% to preserve battery life) will get a Model S roughly 400 miles of range, plenty for a week’s commute to most downtowns and one of Tesla’s key selling points as it leads the industry in charge range.

Fancy wheels, big brake rotors too, and low-pro tires.

Extras are rare. A full self-driving feature (and we’ve all heard the sad tales) costs $10,000 extra, while stylish Arachnid wheels add $4,500. They look cool, but cut your driving range by 9%, according to reports.

Folks needing more power can move up to the Model S Plaid for $131,900. It has three electric motors making a mere 1,006 hp. That may be a bit of overkill even for folks with self-confidence issues. Probably not!

FAST STATS: 2022 Tesla Model S Long Range

Hits: Sleek looks, excellent electric power, precise handling, smooth ride, plus full-time AWD. Big sunroof, 360-degree camera, heated wheel and front seats, big touchscreen, quality stereo, a stylish quiet and comfy interior, plus a full bevy of safety equipment. Roomy cargo area inside rear hatch.

Misses: Touchscreen overwhelmingly large, no shade on sunroof that becomes extremely hot to the touch, extremely wide console, shoulder belts height is not adjustable, no cooled seats, odd steering yoke and odd touch and slide transmission engagement on screen.

Made in: Fremont, Calif.

Engine: Dual AC electric motors w/100 kWh lithium ion battery, 825 hp/960 torque

Transmission: Single-speed fixed gear automatic

Weight: 4,561 lbs.

Wheelbase: 116.5 in.

Length: 196.0 in.

Cargo: 25.0/3.1 cu.ft. (trunk/frunk)

MPGe: 124/115

Base Price: $96,190 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Option: Garage charger, $500

Test vehicle: $96,690

Sources: Tesla, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Tesla

#Model S

#electric cars

#EV

Car Spot: The Chevy Vega

A car that rusted right off the assembly line

It was a car that was doomed almost from the very beginning. Code named the XP-887, the Chevy Vega was meant to stop shoppers from buying the many cars being imported from Japan that got great gas mileage but when GM’s corporate engineering staff finally delivered its first prototype to Chevrolet, it lasted just eight miles at GM’s Milford proving ground before the front end fell off.

Vega Pro-Street driven by one of my coworkers at the golf course I work at during the summer months.

When John DeLorean was named Chevrolet’s general manager in 1969 with the project already late in developement, he convinced his staff that no matter how much they disliked the XP-887, it would be judged as a Chevrolet, and it was in the division’s best interests for it to succeed. They tried naming it the Gemini, which tied into the US space program at the time but GM president Ed Cole insisted on calling the car Vega, even though the name tested poorly.

RELATED: See John DeLorean’s most famous creation

Introduced in 1970, the car couldn’t make its targeted base price of $2,091 which was $311 more than the Volkswagen Beetle and $172 more than Ford’s new Pinto, while AMC’s Gremlin’s base price was $1,999. It was also 200 pounds over its one-ton target weight.

Despite all this, the automotive press loved it. It was Motor Trend magazine’s 1971 Car of the Year. After that, it was all downhill.

In 1972 Chevy recalled half a million Vegas because rear axle shafts could separate from the housing, causing the wheels to literally fall off. But that wasnit it, faulty brackets on the single-barrel carb jammed the throttle open. The optional two-barrel engine could backfire violently enough to split the muffler, blowing hot exhaust on the fuel tank and causing it to expand, rupture, and ignite. Yikes.

An undiscovered defect in the new rust-proofing system left the underside of the front fenders unprotected. In typical GM fashion to save money it had rejected plastic fender liners leaving Vegas prone to rapid corrosion not only in the fenders, but rocker panels, lower doors and front suspension parts as well.

The train wreck continued with its engine. If it got too hot the cylinders would distort, wearing the coating on the walls and forcing coolant past the head gaskets and if a Vega owner didn’t keep the coolant topped off, the Vega could, and often would, destroy its own engine. Chevrolet did its best duck and cover by extending the engine warranty and retrofitting an overflow bottle and low-coolant warning light, but not before many owners got replacement engines to go with their replacement fenders.

Oh and one last goofy GM idea, how the cars were transported. General Motors and Southern Pacific designed “Vert-A-Pac” rail cars to hold 30 Vegas each, compared with conventional tri-level autoracks which held 18. The Vega was fitted with four removable cast-steel sockets on the underside and had plastic spacers—removed at unloading—to protect engine and transmission mounts. The rail car ramp/doors were opened and closed via forklift. Vibration and low-speed crash tests ensured the cars would not shift or suffer damage in transit.

Despite all this fun and games, Chevy managed to sell just over 2 million Vegas before the plug was pulled in 1977. Compared to 3.1 million Pintos, which had its own set of problems, and 671,475 AMC Gremlins. Still this car has a loyal following like the owner of this Vega who had stuffed a 427 V8 in it and owns two more. The most valuable Vega is the Cosworth. Chevy only built 2,061 cars in 1975 and 1,447 the following year. Perhaps that was because of its $6,000 price tag. Today, it’s easy to find a low-mileage Cosworth Vega. According to Hagerty, one in Excellent Condition sells for around $15,000 so if the Cosworth Vega was a Vega for the price of two when it was new, now it’s about the price of ten.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots and have a great weekend.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line

VW’s handsome compact crossover an efficient high-value drive …

Volkswagen was once the automotive love child of my Boomer generation, but time changes things and VW has become one of the back markers in the U.S. auto market, although not worldwide.

Lately it has turned much of its attention to electric vehicles, the ID.4 crossover/SUV tested last December is a prime example. These are well thought out and executed vehicles, yet VW has not abandoned gas-only powered models just yet, in fact it revamped its popular compact crossover, the Tiguan for 2022.

What Tiguan has going for it is efficiency, handsome looks and handling that puts many other crossovers and small SUVs to shame. That, is a key feature that remains from the second gen 2018 Tiguan that I reviewed, and thank goodness.

Some crossovers still make do with lazy steering, but that’s not in VW’s DNA. This tester being the top-level SEL R-Line model with standard AWD (4 Motion VW calls it) was a blast to drive and I ran it around a variety of winding roads where it excelled.

Tires have grown from 18 to 20-inchers, these being Pirellis and they eagerly grip the road and combined with the AWD the light and nimble Tiguan feels downright sporty and stuck to the pavement.

Plenty of power here too with the returning 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 generating 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. There is a slight hesitation when the aluminum-clad accelerator pedal is tromped, but after that little hiccup Tiguan jumps to highway speeds with ease.

Ride is mostly well controlled with an independent suspension at all corners, but it can get a bit choppy on particularly uneven Midwest secondary roads and city streets. Thankfully the cockpit is well insulated so not much road noise is transmitted to the interior, making it feel more refined than a few competitors.

VW also delivers a variety of drive modes to make Tiguan more useful in snow and muck. There are Snow, Off-Road Automatic and Off-Road Custom settings along with the more standard Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom modes all engaged via a dial and button combo on the console. The key to more fun motion is Sport because it pumps up the engine performance and shifts from the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic to give Tiguan a more aggressive launch.

The Off-Road modes can help when winter arrives or if pulling a light boat trailer or camper into a state park camp site or along a dirt road. Tiguan will pull up to 1,500 pounds.

New this year are outward tweaks including LED headlights and taillights along with a more refined nose that makes Tiguan appear tailored and svelte as opposed to the popular Thor-inspired musclebound look many crossovers and SUVs favor.

Inside VW added digital gauges in this refresh and the dash and screens are well laid out and easy to use, even while driving. Not all crossovers can make that claim.

The 10-inch touchscreen for info and radio is just the right size and two inches larger than in lower trim levels. Sadly the infotainment screen takes quite a while to engage when the vehicle is first started.

Below that screen are touchpad type climate controls where a driver slides a finger along the controls to raise or lower temperatures or fan speeds. I’m not a huge fan, but it worked fine, although not sure how great it would work in winter when a driver is wearing gloves.

Miraculously VW also sees fit to equip the SEL R-Line with heated and cooled front seats, a win for budget-minded crossover buyers in the northern climes where both can be needed within a week’s changeable weather.

A flat-bottom wheel is welcome in the new Tiguan.

Other interior pluses include a flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel, a wireless charger under the center stack and a big sunroof with shade.

Seats? Well, that’s a derriere downside as these are quite hard, front and rear so that after about an hour’s drive your bum will start to ache, unless your tushie is more padded than mine. A younger, and fit, passenger agreed that these were among the hardest seats she had ridden in.

The driver’s seat is powered though, including a power lumbar to help provide lower back comfort and the second row seats are quite roomy, allowing for taller passengers to easily fit. Likewise the storage room behind row two seats is generous and there’s a power hatch in back for easy access. Rear seats fold down nearly flat and while there were manual release levers in the cargo area I could not get them to unlatch the rear seat backs.

Despite that flat-bottom wheel I also found tight knee space under the steering column so exiting the Tiguan required some care to not bang a knee. This is primarily a problem for shorter drivers as they, like me, will have the seat a little further forward for comfortable pedal pushing.

Outside the test crossover was a beautiful Atlantic Blue Metallic, a dark sparkling blue, while the interior was gray perforated leather for the seats, while lower trim levels offer cloth or a fake leather seats. The dash was black on top but the lower 2/3 was gray to match the seating. Same with the doors and trim, but a black and gray stripped insert that sort of looked like wood is used as door and dash trim.

This SEL model also packs a fine 480-watt Fender audio system.

VW includes a good selection of safety equipment including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, lane assist (mild corrections) and smart cruise control among others.

Gas mileage is good for a compact crossover with an EPA rating of 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. I beat that with mostly highway driving that netted 30.8 mpg.

Pricing is a happy surprise too as the base front-drive Tiguan S with the smaller info screen and cloth interior lists at $27,785, including delivery.

There’s also an SE at $31,415, this trim adding the power hatch, dual-zone climate controls, fake leather seats, wireless charging, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping and smart cruise control, making it a preferred choice while still economical.

The SE R-Line Black model jumps up to $34,245 but adds the panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, 15-color ambient lighting and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Adding AWD to any model except the tested SEL costs $1,500.

The tested SEL R-Line lists at $37,790 with delivery and this one added no options. The highest trim level includes a heated steering wheel, 360-degree camera, road sign recognition system, automatic high beams and a self-parking system, plus the items mentioned earlier.

Note too that the front-drive models come standard with a third row seat, but experience shows this is quite tight so only useful for small children and for short duration rides. No third row is available in the AWD models such as the tester.

Tiguan is certainly a high-value compact crossover that competes well with the market leaders such as Toyota’s RAV-4 and Honda’s CR-V. For ride and handling the other good choices are Mazda’s CX-5 and Subaru’s Forester, although they offer a bit less cargo room. The new Mazda CX-50, which is 5 inches longer than the CX-5, should be considered if increased interior space is vital.

FAST STATS: 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line

Hits: Handsome styling, nimble handling, good power and AWD. Large easy to use screen, digital climate controls, heated/cooled front seats, various drive modes, big sunroof w/shade, wireless charger, power hatch.

Misses: Hard seats,tight knee space to steering column for short drivers, info screen slow to start, some acceleration hesitation and choppy ride on uneven roads.

Made in: Puebla, Mexico

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 184 horsepower/221 torque

Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic w/Sport

Weight: 3,856 lbs.

Length: 186.1 in.

Wheelbase: 109.9 in.

Cargo: 37.6-73.4 cu.ft.

Tow: 1,500 lbs.

MPG: 21/28

MPG:  30.8 (tested)

Base Price: $37,790 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $37,122

Major Options: None

Test vehicle: $37,790

Sources: Volkswagen, kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

Car Spot: Early 60’s VW Beetle

A car that generates instant smiles

When you think of all the cars ever made, there are just a handful that would be considered iconic. The Jeep CJ’s, Corvettes, and the VW Beetle. Introduced as “The People’s Car” in 1938, millions of Type 1 were produced all over the world. I’m not a Bug expert but this one looks like a 1960 or 61 and was in fantastic shape. The paint and chrome looked like it had just come out of the factory in Germany or one of the several other countries the car was built.

RELATED: Read about one of the biggest Bug fleets

There were minor changes as the Beetle evolved. 1960 models received a front anti-roll bar along with a hydraulic steering damper. In 1961 a new engine and transmission. Engine displacement stayed the same at 1,192 cc but the power was bumped up to 34 bhp at 3600 rpm. The single-barrel Solex carburetor got an electric automatic choke while the transmission was now fully synchronized. The traditional semaphore turn signals were replaced by conventional flashing directional indicators worldwide.

RELATED: Read about how I became the temporary caretaker of a Bug convertible

Values for this year have been trending up recently. A quick glance at this one I’d put in at least in Excellent Condition and according to Hagerty, it would be valued at $39,400 while one in Concours condition is selling for $65,000. A collector car lacking in horsepower but way over delivers in fun!

Check back next Friday for another one of my Car Spots along with a little bit of history. Have a great weekend.

2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label

Navigator a big luxury liner with massaging seats, power & more ….

Lincoln’s long luxurious Navigator feels a lot like cruising a highway in your family room, if your family room is loaded with tech and massaging chairs.

If like mine, yours is not so equipped then for a wee bit more than I paid for my home 30 years ago, a Lincoln Navigator Black Label may be just what you need, especially if you regularly transport seven people.

Navigator is a high-end luxury land yacht along the lines of Jeep’s new Grand Wagoneer with a price to match and an equally quiet and plush interior. My, oh my, cattle must go into apoplexy when either passes their pasture.

The Lincoln touts a perforated Venetian leather interior, black here, with “Brandy” stitching on the seats, dash and steering wheel. I’d call the color brown and the piping around the seats’ edges matches. Navigator’s seats are wonderfully shaped, but if you need to adjust Any aspect, there’s a button for that. Plus both row one and two feature a massaging function that is quite nice.

First, a bevy of buttons on the door allow all seat features to be adjusted, including raising and lowering the headrest. There’s power lumbar, side bolsters, lower cushions and all just require a tap or two on the massive 12-inch info screen to adjust. Once that’s accomplished and saved for the driver and up to two others, you might as well click on the first of two long flat buttons on the door above those seat controls to set your masseuse in motion. Ahhh!)

There are five massaging patterns and four are equally impressive, including Circular, Relax, Recovery and Rolling. The Pulse function is just OK. All feature three strength levels so you can really ratchet them up to whatever level you need for comfort or to stay away on a long drive. I recommend Relax and Rolling as they work up and down your back and across your bottom in a pleasant motion.

Running boards are powered, so neatly fold up and down, allowing easy boarding.

Now if such luxury would happen to relax you too much, to the point of the driver dozing on a long highway jaunt, well ActiveGlide to the rescue. This is Lincoln’s new semi-autonomous driving mode that is activated like smart (or otherwise) cruise control. Once on, it will center the SUV in its highway lane and you can put your hands on your lap. Now most of these systems insist the driver keep a hand touching the wheel. Not this one, mostly.

I drove roughly 10 miles at times on a weekend outing to Green Bay without touching the wheel. ActiveGlide works on about 120,000 miles of well-marked highways, think mostly interstates. The catch is that occasionally, when highway side markings disappear or are obscured, the system clicks off and asks you to restore your hands to the wheel. You must stay alert.

The system also monitors your eyes as it drives via a camera behind the power tilt/telescope steering wheel. If you happen to enjoy talking to a front seat companion and turn your head for very long, or heaven forbid you do doze, the system will beep to alert you to again pay attention to the road.

Other than the occasional cutting out, the system worked well. Although it also beeped from time to time to tell me to put my hands on the wheel when they weren’t BOTH at the 10 and 2 positions.

Watch the video: Mark Savage reviews the behemoth class 2022 Lincoln Navigator – YouTube

There’s more tech to talk about, but let’s get to the ride and drive particulars.

Navigator is roughly the size of a Chevrolet Tahoe or GMC Yukon, and a bit shorter than the Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer.

Ride is similar to those in that this being a body-on-frame truck the ride is trucky. Oh, it’s pretty smooth mostly, but over uneven roads there’s bounce that you wouldn’t get in a car or crossover. Occasionally our washboard roads created a little rock and roll motion, not disturbing, but riders noticed.

Power is good from the refined twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 that makes an impressive 440 horsepower and delivers 510 pound-feet of torque. An Excite drive mode makes the truck jump away from a stop, but remember that’ll suck more precious gasoline. But enjoy a Bezos blastoff if you can afford it.

Other drive modes adjusted via the console knob include Normal, Normal 4×4, Slippery, Deep Conditions (snow and mud), and Conserve, the opposite of Excite.

The power is applied via a silky 10-speed automatic, and Navigator is happy to drink regular fuel. In fact, I was impressed to get 18.9 mpg in about 85% highway driving. It registered just 12 mpg or so in city trips. The EPA says to expect 16 mpg city and 22 highway.

Handling? Shoot, this is a big SUV, so steering is on the lazy side and there’s some body lean in turns. But the turn-in is decent for parking lot action, making Navigator easy to slip into a grocery lot parking stall.

Back to the quiet luxury interior, what really sets Navigator apart from much of the competition, save the new Grand Wagoneer.

Standard are three-level heated and cooled seats and real wood trim that is impressive looking and features a snazzy modern-looking pattern of squares that interconnect. The pattern is on both the dash and console top.

Again, that info screen is enormous and easy to use, being a touchscreen. No fumbling around here. Climate controls include temp toggles on the console and then there’s the push-button transmission buttons at the center stack’s lower edge. Easy to just punch these, so less confusing than the recently tested GMC Terrain where half the buttons were push and the others pull. I’d still prefer a shift knob or rotary dial, but at least this one makes sense and you’ll get used to it.

Overhead is a giant twin-pane sunroof and shade, plus rear seat passengers get buttons to open or shut the shade at their pleasure. Kids love this. Second row folks also get a giant console between the captain’s chairs for other controls, including the massage features. There are no side window sun shades though.

Climbing aboard is easy with automatic power deployed running boards and then big boarding handles at each entrance, naturally leather-wrapped and brandy stitched. The second row seats will fold flat and also have a power button on the door frame to release them and allow them to slide forward. The exiting passenger, or entering one can then push or pull the seats forward for easier access. However, these seats are heavy, so require some muscle to push back into place and latch.

Oodles of room when rows 2 and 3 are folded flat. Need to carry lumber?

Third row and second row seats can be powered down from inside the power hatch on the driver’s side, but only the third row can be powered back up. The third row seats also split 2/3 and 1/3, a benefit when traveling and carrying five people and luggage.

When both rows are folded down the Navigator offers a massive 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space. It also tows up to 8,300 pounds of trailer and boat, etc.

All the usual safety equipment is here and the Chrome Caviar (really?) Dark Gray Metallic test vehicle added two packages, one for $625 adds the massaging second row captain’s chairs and the other at $1,750 adds the metallic gray paint, suede-like headliner, the fancier Venetian leather seats and Active Glide.

Fancy wood trim and spiffy jewel like speaker covers here too!

There’s no getting around the price here, which starts at $104,775, including delivery, for this Black Label (Mabel, wasn’t that a beer?) edition. With options this hit $107,050. My house cost less and has three sinks and two toilets! Maybe in a future model!

Anyway, for the penny-pinching luxury large SUV buyers, a rear-drive Standard edition lists at $78,330, with AWD adding $3,000. A mid-level Reserve model is $94,155 for the AWD model.

What’s the monthly loan payment? If you have to ask, you can’t afford to navigate the deal. If you can, this is a top-shelf 3-row luxury liner any family could enjoy!

FAST STATS: 2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label

Hits: Plush, huge 3-row SUV with good smooth power, mostly comfy ride and AWD. Plus, massaging seats rows 1 and 2, power retractable running boards, 12-inch info screen, giant sunroof, heat/cooled seats, power third row seats, power-down second row, wireless charger, power fold/slide second row, and quiet interior. Good safety gear.

Misses: Ride can be a bit bouncy, ActiveGlide semi-autonomous driving system cuts out occasionally and asks for hands on the wheel intermittently, second row seats quite heavy and difficult to push back into place after lowering.

Made in: Louisville, Ky.

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, 440 hp/510 torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Weight: 5,884 lbs.

Wheelbase: 122.5 in.

Length: 210.0 in.

Cargo: 20.9-103.3 cu.ft.

Tow: 8,300 lbs.

MPG: 16/22

MPG: 18.9 (tested)

Base Price: $104,775 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $101,767

Major Options:

Equipment group 800A (black Venetian perforated leather seats w/Brandy stitching, suede-like headliner, carpet/suede floor mats, Co-Pilot 2.0, ActiveGlide, Chrome Caviar Gray paint), $1,750

Second row captain’s chairs w/massage, $625

Test vehicle: $107,050

Sources: Lincoln, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2022 GMC Terrain 4AT AWD

GMC’s restyled Terrain a worthy SUV to fit a family budget …

I’d be lying if I said my expectations were high when the bright Cayenne Red GMC Terrain AT4 was deposited in the family driveway.

This is a compact entry-level SUV from GM’s truck brand that starts just under $30 grand, a value leader, and the word among auto writers is that it’s down on power. Soooo …

Yet one person’s lack of power is another’s value statement. Nothing wrong with that.

I’m even a bit upset with myself because three years ago I’d tested Terrain’s kissin’ cousin, the Chevy Equinox, and liked it just fine, although the Chevy had a more powerful engine.

Consider this though.

Terrain comes in four trims, starting with the rear-drive SLE at that impressive $29,095 starting price (AWD adds $1,600), but the SLT is next up the line and probably the best value as it adds heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel and power rear hatch, all for $33,045.

The tested AT4 is new for 2022 and is intended for buyers interested in light off-roading capability and appearances. Dressed in the spiffy bright metallic red paint job ($695 extra) and with black accents, grille and lower-body cladding the Terrain looked like a serious off-roader. In fact, I got more comments and passersby looks in this than some luxury sport sedans I’ve driven. That may say more about the market for SUVs than just styling though.

The AT4 adds Goodyear Sport Terrain tires, traction selection with an off-road mode, hill-descent control, a steel skid plate under the nose and embroidered AT4 headrests. List price is just $35,145 and AWD is standard.

Luxury lovers can upgrade to the Denali trim, always the peak of GMC’s trims, and still pay just $37,700. But Denali adds a color HUD, premium suspension, luxury leather interior and trim, cooled front seats and heated back seats, plus wireless charging along with Pro Safety Plus, which adds more safety gear.

So, for families in search of an SUV that fits a normal budget, Terrain certainly should be on the shopping list.

Watch Mark’s video review: Mark Savage reviews the 2022 GMC Terrain AT4 – YouTube

Yet here’s what sold me right away, the ride.

GMC has figured out that American roads are abysmal and instead of stiffening the ride for performance, softened and tuned it for comfort. Bravo! So, bounding over crater-like pot holes, frost-heaved pavement, half-filled blacktop cracks and way too expansive expansion joints, Terrain remains calm and collected. Passengers barely notice the carnage beneath the Goodyear R17 tires. By the way, replacing these over time will be a lot cheaper than getting new 20-inchers, or larger.

That ride is worth the price of admission, but the steering is light too, as is the vehicle. It’s easy to park, and while steering feel is somewhat vague, Terrain is simple to keep in its lane. In tight turns there’s a little body roll, or lean, but hey, I’m not buying a Lamborghini for the family. I want them to be comfy.

Power is mild, but not horrible, because the 9-speed automatic works well with this small 1.5-liter turbo I4. Shifts are smooth and the 170 horsepower is used well, plus the torque at 203 pound-feet, helps Terrain pull away from stoplights reasonably well.

And … the AT4 comes with AWD, so in rain, snow or other slop you’ll have improved traction. Plus this trim offers three terrain settings with 2WD being the default that will save on fuel and is what you’ll need until that rain or snow hits. Then you press down and turn a knob on the console for AWD, and if you’ve ventured off road there’s a setting for that too. Simple and effective unless you plan to do serious rock crawling.

That front steel skid plate also will protect the undercarriage if there happen to be a few rocks and sticks on your path.

Outside, the body has been given more definition and its looks muscled up. The black trim helps set that off and the lights, front and rear, are sharply styled, reflecting a more upscale look.

Inside, Terrain is simple, yet attractive and roomy. Seats feature a perforated dark gray leather top with cloth sides. Contrasting stitching is a golden brown that also is featured on the dash and leather steering wheel.

There also are small bits of imitation carbon fiber for door trim and a teeny bit on the passenger’s side dash. The plastic console is a matte gray as is the steering wheel hub, both welcome because they do not reflect the sun, ever.

Seats though are the standout here, being well formed to give good hip and lower back support, yet just the right firmness so a long drive won’t burn up your bottom. Rear seats are roomy, as are the fronts, so four adults easily fit and five will too, if the person sandwiched in back isn’t an NFL tackle.

Rear seats split and fold flat and there’s some storage beneath the cargo floor for carrying stuff. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the hatch is powered.

Optional equipment here was mostly value priced and likely wanted and/or needed by most buyers.

For instance, the Pro Safety Plus package that is standard on Denali runs just $645 here and includes lane-change alert, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, smart cruise control and a safety alert seat. That’s pretty nice as it slightly vibrates the driver’s tooshie if there’s something in your blind spot or in your path as you back up.

The dual-pane sunroof and power shade are a bit much at $1,495, but certainly brightens the interior.

A $1,180 infotainment package adds a premium Bose stereo with seven speakers, navigation system with voice recognition, an 8-inch color info screen and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay hookups.

A tech package also adds HD surround vision, front and rear park assist and a HUD for $850.

The test Terrain was to have heated front seats, but that chip is in short supply, so it wasn’t included, but could be added by a dealer once the chip is available. For now, GMC gives a $50 credit, but the buttons are built in to the console already.

Sharp-looking headlights here!

All told, with options, this Terrain hit $39,960, well below the average new vehicle price.

There are a few things I’d change inside though, starting with widening the inner portion of the console by about a half inch so a cell phone could lay flat, plus add wireless charging. A bit wider would be even better as folks with taller cell phones could then lay theirs flat too.

Then there’s the biggest faux pas, the automatic shift buttons on the lower center stack. They are odd and confusing as they are laid out horizontally, AND are a mix of push and pull toggles. Weirdest design I’ve seen, but you must push Park and Neutral, while you must pull a toggle to engage Reverse and Drive. Not cool!

Gas consumption was cool though, or at least darn good for an AWD compact SUV. I got 26.4 mpg in about 60% city driving. The EPA rates the Terrain at 25 mpg city and 28 mpg highway on regular fuel. The RWD model gets up to 30 mpg.

Terrain should be on any value-oriented family’s shopping list, especially if you need or want an SUV that’s roomy and delivers a superior ride.

Others to consider include Mazda’s CX-5 and new CX-50, along with the VW Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Ford’s Escape, and Subaru’s Outback, to name a few.

Even the taillights are handsomely styled on GMC’s entry-level SUV.

FAST STATS: 2022 GMC Terrain AT4 AWD

Hits: Muscular looks, great ride, decent acceleration, AWD, and three terrain settings. Dual-pane sunroof, power hatch, Bose stereo, comfy seats, roomy interior, skid plate, and good standard safety features.

Misses: No wireless charger or heated front seats, console cubie too narrow for Android phone to lay flat, confusing horizontal push/pull shift toggles.

Made in: Mexico

Engine: 1.5-liter turbo I4, 170 hp/203 torque

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

Weight: 3,659 lbs.

Wheelbase: 107.3 in.

Length: 182.3 in.

Cargo: 63.3 cu.ft.

MPG: 25/28

MPG: 26.4 (tested)

Base Price: $35,145 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $33.631

Major Options:

Infotainment pkg. II (Bose premium audio w/7 speakers & amp, 8-inch HD color touchscreen w/Nav & voice recognition, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), $1,180

GMC Pro Safety Plus pkg. (lane change alert w/side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, safety alert seat, adaptive cruise control), $645

Skyscape sunroof w/power shade, $1,495

Tech pkg. (HD surround vision, front and rear park assist, HUD), $850

Cayenne Red paint, $645

Heated front seat credit, -$50

Test vehicle: $39, 960

Sources: GMC, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

Car Spot: Pontiac Fiero

A fun two-seater that died way before its time

The more of these car spots I do and looking at the history of each vehicle I’m finding a common theme with those built by General Motors, great idea and crappy execution. This 1988 Fiero GT I recently spotted is another example.

The Fiero was conceived as a small, two-seat sports car with an all-new suspension and a V6 engine. Keep in mind that at GM the Corvette was sacred and reluctant to invest into a second two-seater so the Fiero was pitched as a fuel-efficient four-cylinder commuter car that just happened to have two seats, rather than a muscle car. Think oil crisis. This car was fast-tracked by engineers and they brought back a running prototype in less than six months.

But that was the easy part. Think big, over-bloated, don’t pee in my sandbox corporate GM. It was given a 400 million budget, small by GM standards, but how that money got spent was where the roadblocks began. Engineers were split into two categories, the car guys who would create blueprints for the car, and manufacturing guys who would work out the fabrication and assembly issues. Blueprints traveled back and forth between the two engineering branches, resulting in a waste of time and money. The project manager had to literally sit the two teams of engineers down next to one another, allowing for no excuses as to why nothing was getting done. Here’s an idea. How about building a car like American Motors did creating a platform team where everybody is all on the same team. Chrysler started doing that when they bought AMC in 1987 and it works great.