Hey, this newfound idea of putting some sport into small sport-utility vehicles, or crossovers, is getting to be a trend.
Now Volvo joins the sportster market with its 2017 XC60, a compact ute crossover that handles like a sports sedan and kicks some booty with 302 horsepower. And get this, that boost of power hits quickly, no long lag as so many turbo I4s exhibit, even when they’re trying to be sporty.
First, the XC60 is crisply styled so it looks elegant, with tall Volvo taillights to distinguish its looks. But the combo supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 gets your attention in a hurry. Linked up with an 8-speed automatic, it gives the Volvo instant power when you want it. I admit it was a happy surprise.
But equally surprising was how well the XC60 handled. I know this has 20-inch tires, but I fully expected some squish in the steering wheel feel and typical lazy crossover handling.
No siree! The Volvo delivers good feedback via the power-assisted rack and pinion steering and with a precise feel and handling. Put the XC60 into a turn at speed and there’s no ute-like lean. Cornering is like a sport sedan and feels much the same on winding roads.
NEO’s smaller scale ’49 Caddy nearly as nice as big 1/18
As with its previous 1:18 scale version, this Club Coupe is a car with presence, class and substance, just a tad smaller. The real one also was a sales standout for Cadillac as the brand fought to re-establish itself after World War II.
This black resin beauty continues the detail NEO brought to its earlier model, but in the smaller scale so popular with plastic car model builders. Both Cadillacs are distributed by American-Excellence, which supplied our review model.
Cadillac launched the Series 62 in 1940 as an entry-level Caddy, but production ended in 1942 as auto factories turned their efforts to war machines. The third generation Series 62 designed by GM’s noted Harley Earl went into production as a 1949 model, riding on a 126-inch wheelbase, measuring 214 inches long and touting GM’s new overhead-valve V8. Read more
A.J. Foyt epitomizes the Indianapolis 500. He’s a legend and his cars embody that legendary status too, even those that didn’t carry him to one of his record four Indy wins in 35 tries.
Replicarz continues to expand its impressive 1/18 scale Indy 500 collection with Foyt’s pole-winning Coyote from 1974, back when all the racers looked a bit different as each driver, mechanic and car builder experimented with wings for downforce and radiator positioning for proper engine cooling.
Foyt’s Coyotes of the 1970s all had similar features, but for varied from year to year, the only constant being their glowing orange paint schemes and the Gilmore Racing sponsorship along with A.J.’s traditional No. 14.
Foyt won the Indy pole in 1974 with a speed of 191 mph and had the speed to win on race day. He led 70 laps, second only to winner Johnny Rutherford, and controlled much of the first half of the race. He had just repassed Rutherford about 139 laps into the race when his Coyote started to smoke. Read more
Ferraris are fine, but Lamborghinis have been pressing the styling envelope more during the past 20 years or so. The new Huracan, Spanish for hurricane, continues the Italian car maker’s design dominance.
Long, low and sleek with little slits of headlights and taillights and an engine just behind the supercar’s two bucket seats give the Huracan both an elegant and bullet-like appearance.
The Huracan replaces Lamborghini’s popular and swoopy Gallardo model, the Huracan hitting the streets in late 2014. Read more
The Lexus RX series has been ruling the luxury mid-size crossover roost for nearly two decades and there’s no reason to think the new RX will sully that record run.
Lexus and its mainstream counterpart Toyota wised up and started restyling its vehicles and giving them some personality the last couple years. The outcome is an RX with dramatic chiseled looks, wrap-around lights and a grille that couldn’t get any more in-your-face aggressive. The taillights protrude so much you can use them as armrests if you’re standing outside the vehicle in a parking lot. Plus the C-pillar is blacked out to create a sportier profile.
A base RX 350 with front drive and an 8-speed automatic features a powerful 3.5-liter V6 that creates 295 horsepower, up from the previous model’s 270 horses. The tested swantky dark metallic blue (Nightfall Mica) was an RX 450 h F Sport that combines a slightly detuned 3.5-liter V6 with an electric hybrid system to create 308 hp. Both models drink regular 87 octane unleaded, so no special need when you cruise into a service station. Read more
Trucks are the big haulers we see every day, on the highway, behind the grocery, in the office parks. Usually they have a big ol’ trailer behind them full of goods that make the world go round.
So it’s only natural that they have fans, just like cars, racers and motorcycles.
Now NEO has the answer for truck collectors, beautifully detailed 1:64 scale tractor trailers of historically significant models. Our samples were a light blue 1960 Mack H-673ST and a 1963 International Harvester (IH) Fleetstar F-2000-D in red with a white beltline.
These trucks were workhorses, the Mack’s chassis weighing 13,025 lbs. and featuring a 10-speed transmission to put its 205-horsepower turbo diesel to work. That may not sound like much, but the Thermodyne engine boasted a torque rating of 560 lb.-ft.
This was the cool cab-over design too that used a manually engaged hydraulic lift to tilt the cab forward to facilitate maintenance. Mack made 550 of this model from 1958-’62. They included a sleeping compartment behind the cab. Read more
Hyundai developed its Santa Fe into two vehicles a couple of years ago, the Sport which has a midsize 106-inch wheelbase and the straight-up Santa Fe that’ll seat seven with its longer 110.2-inch wheelbase and more interior room.
The 2017 Santa Fe looks even better than its predecessor and now adds more features to make it even more attractive and a strong competitor with the likes of Honda’s popular Pilot. But it has the misfortune of also going up against the brand new Mazda CX-9 reviewed last week and the new segment leader.
That’s not to say the tested big Santa Fe is a slouch in any way.
Its power is first-rate with a 3.3-liter V6 that creates 290 horsepower with 252 lb.-ft. of torque. The Hyundai also offers drive select mode to emphasize power or economy. In Normal mode the Santa Fe has good power that is well used by its six-speed automatic. There is some lag to the acceleration, but the crossover gets up to highway speeds easily.
Naturally Eco saves gas, but Sport delivers the most oomph when it comes to acceleration. In Sport mode the Santa Fe feels much livelier than most large crossovers. Read more
The luxury crossovers, the Mercedes, Lexus, BMWs may have a hard time convincing some of their buyers that Mazda’s new CX-9 isn’t a better value.
At $45,215 the Signature AWD model I tested is within an eyelash of offering the same goodies those luxury brands tout, while also offering more style. Oh, and that price, while not cheap, is far less than you’d pay for most luxury makes.
Meanwhile, the restyled Mazda CX-9 exceeds the overall driving experience of such mainline competitors as the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer.
Here’s the deal, the Mazda uses its Skyactiv technology to create an efficient crossover, while also using enough sound deadening to make this the quietest large crossover I’ve driven. Add to that a big luxury style grille, pronounced nose and tapered roofline and even in profile the CX-9 looks like it’s moving. The look is distinctive, not cookie-cutter.
The inside is as nice as any luxury vehicle, both in looks, feel and finish. In fact, this Signature model, the top-level CX-9 features real rosewood trim around the console and on door control pads along with brushed aluminum (not plastic) trim. Classy!
Without performance, all of that would mostly be for naught, but Mazda always puts performance atop its delivery list. Read more
The biggest roar of engines you will ever hear!
And one of the few places you will hear them is where I was this week, AirVenture 2016 in Oshkosh, WI. I’m sure I’m not alone where I say that I get excited hearing a car like a new Corvette jump on the throttle as it comes out of a turn. Well take that feeling and multiply it by, let’s say 10! And if you think a Hellcat Charger at 700 hp is a lot, multiply that by about four and you have the horsepower of many of the engines in the warbirds up here, even more for the jets. In case you’re not familiar with the event it is the largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts in the world, held every year in Oshkosh, and hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). The event, which began on July 24th and runs through July 31st, spans the entire spectrum of aviation. It attracts 10,000 airplanes and more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts from all over the world. If you haven’t I would highly encourage you to come to this event just once. It is a hoot. Read more
Chevrolet’s 1967 Chevelle SS is a straightforward muscle car with equally straight, lean lines that reflect fine mid-‘60s styling.
AutoWorld has re-created a variety of Chevelles through the years, including a convertible version of the ’67 in 1/18 scale. Now comes the 1/24 scale model that easily fits into plastic modelers’ collections. Plus it takes up a little less shelf space than the larger scale.
Most car guys know Chevelles and GTOs of this era as well as they know their favorite baseball player’s career stats. First-gen Chevelles debuted in 1964 and by 1967 the mid-size Chevy was among the most popular cars in the bowtie brigade’s lineup. About 63,000 were built in 1967, and the SS was top-of-the-heap. Today an SS can go in the neighborhood of $40,000 to $60 grand at better vintage auto auctions. Read more
Kia has upgraded and enlarged its Sportage small sport-ute to keep it competitive with the likes of Subaru’s Forester, Honda’s CR-V, Ford’s Escape and Toyota’s RAV4.
This is an extremely competitive market with many good products, but Kia maintains its strong styling edge and then lengthens Sportage’s wheelbase from 103.9 inches to 105.1 to give it an even better ride than before. It’s right up there with the top small utes now for comfort.
I tested a beautiful “Burnished Copper” Sportage SX AWD, the top-level model. The color reminds me of my family’s handsome 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S that was decked out in “Aztec Gold.” Great to see some gold tones return to automotive color lineups.
Ride and power are Sportage’s strengths. While the longer wheelbase and re-tuned suspension give it a well-controlled ride with no harsh moments, the power is impressive. The SX model features a high-revving turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 with an impressive 241 horsepower and 260 ft.-lbs. of torque. Same engine is used in Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport. Read more
We were pinned in by a jerk
It happened one winter when we were in Downtown Milwaukee at an event. Parking is not easy there especially if you add in a recent snowfall. We were driving an ’87 Jeep Wagoneer (XJ) that I had bought from my dad similar to this one. We snuggle into a spot on the street and go have fun. When we came back we saw another car had parked us in. The car was actually not in a spot and at the end of the block near the intersection. My wife tried first with no luck. It was my turn. I put our Jeep in 4wd and pushed the car out ahead of us and it just happened to roll into the intersection. Ooops.
Jeep people don’t mess a round
In a parking lot you wait your turn to move into a spot where a car is leaving. But then every once in a while some jerk decides they’re going to take that spot. We’ve all had that happen. Not sure any of you came to this creative solution.
Reminders are needed, from time to time, of the pure joy of driving, and Volkswagen’s Jetta is just the thing to pleasantly jog one’s memory.
The conservatively styled Jetta’s exterior has been slightly smoothed and refined for 2016, but its mechanical workings needed no tweaks. The Jetta feels much like the small nimble BMW’s of years past, before they became power hungry heavier brutes as they grew ever larger.
Jetta is a near perfect blend of compact family sedan and sports sedan and lucky for most of us, continues at a modest price compared to that of today’s SUV-laden market. But even at a slightly higher price tag the Jetta would be a bargain, if, and it’s a big if, today’s drivers knew what they were missing by driving crossovers and SUVs.
In short, Jetta is quick with lively handling made all the more fun by VW’s fine 6-speed manual transmission. Call it sporty, call it a blast, but also call it practical because as a compact sedan it will easily seat four average sized adults and carry their luggage too with its generously sized trunk.
Another bonus, Jetta also delivers excellent fuel economy. I got 28.6 miles per gallon in about 60% city driving. The EPA rates the car at 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Read more