Category Archives: Car Reviews

2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec

Acura creates racy crossover with RDX … 2019 Acura RDX

Whatever you think of crossovers, I’m here to tell you that some are sporty, some are fun to drive, and a few combine that with luxury befitting a fine sedan.

Acura’s RDX AWD A-Spec, newly restyled for 2019, is one of the above. It’s a rip-roaring good time that handles like a sport sedan and rides like a luxury car, when in its Comfort drive mode. Continue reading 2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec

2019 Volvo XC40 AWD R-Design

Volvo XC40 a fun, sporty crossover … 2019 Volvo XC40 AWD R=Design

Volvo, the Chinese-owned luxury car maker that builds its cars in Sweden and Belgium, has been on a roll now for a couple years. Its lineup of crossovers, like its wagons of the past, are well designed, utilitarian, but with enough luxury to easily take on its luxury ute competitors from Europe and North America.

Now comes the Volvo XC40, its first small crossover. I drove a bright metallic white ($595 extra) model with black roof to accent the handsome crossover. The combo adds a little more flair and a sporty look, aided by this being the T5 R-Design model. Continue reading 2019 Volvo XC40 AWD R-Design

Cool School, Cool Tool

Most fun I ever had at school

2019 dodge challenger, challenger widebody, challenger hellcatThat’s because the topic was one of my favs, cars, and in this instance I would learn how to drive one on racetrack. The car was the 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody and the racetrack, GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. It was hosted by an organization that I belong to, Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and sponsored by Dodge and Jeep who also provided the 2019 vehicles myself and the other automotive journalists would drive. They included several Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebodys, a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Dodge Durango SRT and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. My ride for the day would be this cool blue Challenger. “The MAMA Track School was started as an effort to ensure MAMA members are properly skilled and comfortable when driving on a racetrack, especially since we host two popular track events each year,” said MAMA President Jill Ciminillo.

More zoom, less dollars

With the debut of the R/T Scat Pack Widebody, not only do buyers get the Hellcat Widebody’s aggressive looks, it also costs them about 40% less. Sure you could sell buying this car to your wife because it can carry a couple of kids in the back but don’t tell her that this is probably the best Challenger suited for the track. Shhhh!

2019 dodge hellcat widebody, dodge hellcat, challenger widebody, hellcat, 392 v8, hemi

The Scat Pack is an option you would add to the R/T-level trim, and it’ll set you back around 42 grand but that includes the destination fee and a gas-guzzler tax of $1,000 on manual-transmission equipped models. You can avoid the tax by getting the automatic transmission but in the end it becomes a wash. The optional automatic transmission avoids the gas-guzzler tax, but its extra cost dodge challenger, 2019 challenger widebody, widebody hellcatnegates any advantage there. The Widebody package adds another $6,000, throw in leather interior, technology packages and other fun stuff will continue to bump the price well into the high $50,000 challenger hellcat, dodge hellcat super beerange. However, take notes, it’s  nearly $20,000 less than a fully loaded Hellcat and provides about as much fun even though the Hellcat has 232 more horsepower.

On the track

R/T Scat Pack plus Widebody equals FUN! Under the hood is the 6.4-liter Hemi V8, putting out 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. Add the 305mm Pirelli P Zero rubber that comes as part dodge challenger, 2019 challenger widebody, widebody hellcatof the Widebody package and it’s good for zero-to-60-mph in roughly four seconds when equipped with the eight-speed automatic in the car I drove.

Scat Pack models get a specially tuned version of the three-mode adaptive suspension system that uses stiffer front springs, special shocks, larger sway bars at both the front and back, and big six-piston Brembo front brakes and makes this a fun drive. I experienced this first-hand on the two-mile track with driving instructor Elvis Komskis  from CGI Motorsports.  Our track training session covered everything from braking techniques, vehicle weight management, vision instructions and appropriate driving position. First Elvis drives showing me the course, then I drive.  Then we head back and he shows me way to improve in the sessions that followed.

While I can drive Road America blind folded, at least in the beginning, I drove at GingerMan Raceway like I had one on. But I eventually got the hang of it and managed not to harm Elvis in the process.  The layout simulates the full spectrum of driving situations: high-speed straights and short sprints, long sweeping corners and tight apexes, heavy and light braking, and elevation change. It’s a fun course!

The Scat Pack Widebody is a fun car combining the Challenger’s retro styling and the road of a Hemi. It makes for a great track car and gives up very little in terms of everyday drivability to get there. OK, now go sell your wife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION
For those that admire the Challenger’s retro style and Hemi roar but have pined for a sharper instrument, look no further. While it’s still more GT than sports car, the Scat Pack Widebody proves that this big coupe can hold its own when given the right tools to work with. And, .

2018 Mazda6 Signature

2018 Mazda6 SignatureMazda6 Signature adds turbo power to the mix …

Mazda has long had one of the better looking midsize sedans, its Mazda6. But if there was anything to slow its sales it may have been its somewhat modest horsepower.

Mazda’s efficient 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G I4 isn’t a weakling, it pumps out 184 horsepower, but there are competitors in this super competitive market segment with engines delivering 200+ horsepower. Continue reading 2018 Mazda6 Signature

2018 Hyundai Kona SEL

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

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

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

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

Corolla Hatch a practical sharp looker … 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

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

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

2018 Lexus RX350L

RX350L crossover Long on luxury …  2018 Lexus RX350L

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

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