Tag Archives: AWD

2013 Infiniti FX37 AWD

FX37, a love-hate relationship

Infiniti’s racy FX37 sport-ute is a classic case for a love-hate relationship.Infin Fx

If you enjoy performance, and don’t really expect such from a sport-ute, you’ve got to love how the FX37 responds. It feels like a tall Porsche, with oodles of power from its new 3.7-liter V6. In fact, Infiniti rates it a 325 horses and even that seems as if it might be a tad low.

The 3.7 replaces the former 3.5-liter V6, which wasn’t too shabby itself. And the bright metallic blue test ute was the all-wheel-drive model, so right out of the blocks it had power and road grip on its side. Toss in a healthy helping of fine handling and the FX37 delivers premium performance at a modestly premium price.

The base FX37 with rear-wheel drive starts at $44,950, while the tested AWD model lists at $45,750. And at that you get a silky 7-speed automatic with Adaptive Shift Control that allows you to shift manually.

Where the hate comes in, and hate may be a bit harsh, is subject to one’s design leanings primarily. That, and depending on whether you expect a cushy ride, or one reflecting the sporty nature of this beast, you may feel luxury dictates the former. Continue reading 2013 Infiniti FX37 AWD

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2013 Lexus LS 600h L

Hybrid Lexus LS delivers high-end luxury with a price to match

Where to begin?

Let’s just put the price tag out there to clear the air. My silver Lexus LS 600h L listed for $119,910 and settled at $135,029 after adding copious high-end options.lexus1

As way of background, the LS is THE Lexus flagship, its full-size sedan and an absolute dreamboat of a car to drive and ride in. Its ride is air-suspension smooth, its interior a mansion library’s leathery quiet, its V8 powerful yet quiet, its adaptive 8-speed automatic transmission as creamery smooth through the gears as any car I’ve ever driven.

Oh, and this handsome sedan is a big boy too. That L means it has a longer wheelbase than the standard LS. That translates into a roomy interior, but just for four adults as the back seat’s middle section houses a Starship Enterprise sized console of buttons and knobs that could confuse even Captain Kirk. Where’s Spock when you need him?

But beyond the car’s exquisite drive and ride abilities the star here is the price tag. That’s all ANYONE wants to talk about once they get their sticker shock. Or maybe we should call it sticker Envy!

Their question was always the same, or similar – What do you get for $135 grand, AND is it worth that much? Continue reading 2013 Lexus LS 600h L

2013 Cadillac ATS AWD 2.0T

Looks, handling, turbo give small Cadillac a boost

Those of us who have been around for a few decades may be forgiven for our skepticism when we hear Cadillac is creating an entry-level sport sedan. Visions of Cimarron dance in our brains.cady ats

Ah, but those who observe the car market closely know that Cadillac has been swinging for the fences of late while also having gotten its groove on in the styling department. The result for 2013 is a sweet compact sports sedan, the ATS.

First, it looks great with vertical lights front and rear. The front lenses fold over the front fender pointing up toward the cockpit, while the rear ones remind of many a Cadillac of years past. These look elegant, AND sporty, while the body is taunt and well chiseled with a lean athletic stance.

Folks who didn’t care for some of the overwrought designs and fluffery of the past should appreciate ATS’s understated good looks.

This is a true entry-level luxury sports sedan, the base 2.5L with rear-wheel drive lists at $33,095 and packs a 2.5-liter 202-horse four-cylinder rated at 22 mpg city and 33 highway. Continue reading 2013 Cadillac ATS AWD 2.0T

2013 Nissan Pathfinder SL AWD

No longer truck-based, Pathfinder a softer, more civilized crossover

            Back in the day, which wasn’t long ago, Nissan’s Pathfinder was a sport-utility truck that was truck tough and set for off-roading and hauling gear.path1

Today, like many of us as we age, it has gotten a little softer and is tailored now more for comfort. Oh, it can haul and is available with all-wheel-drive, but you are not going to take this off road. In fact, with its remodel for 2013 it is pure crossover, leaning toward minivan. That’s because it’s no longer truck-based, instead riding on the Nissan Altima sedan’s platform.

The silver test vehicle, a pre-production model, was the almost upper end SL model, so begins at $36,070 and with just a trailer towing package at $400 and the $780 delivery charge ended up at $37,250. You can spend less if you opt for the entry-level S model with front-wheel drive. It begins at $28,650 and bumping up to an AWD model moves you to $30,250. There’s a mid-level SV with cloth seats and then the SL, plus a Platinum edition 4×4 model at $41,150.

If mall cruising and hauling a family is your main purpose, the Tennessee-made Pathfinder is accommodating. Its interior is spacious, like a minivan, with oodles of head and legroom in the first two rows of seats, plus a third row is standard and folds easily into the rear floor to boost cargo room. Continue reading 2013 Nissan Pathfinder SL AWD

2013 Honda CR-V

Upon further review … solid, but bulbous and not as refined as expected

Every once in a while I get to test a vehicle twice in a single year. It’s rare, but this week I had the 2013 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L with navigation, just one model year newer than the CR-V I had tested early last spring.honda-cr-v-exterior-side

It confirmed my thoughts and observations, which cheers me that I didn’t miss the mark earlier. The good news, for the driver, is that this one was a pleasant Mountain Air (turquoise blue) color vs. the blah gray of the earlier model.

But, and I apologize if you feel you’ve heard some of this before, the CR-V remains a solid compact sport-utility vehicle with 5 more horses than the previous generation and a more rounded look. In fact, several friends and observers called the Honda’s rear-end ugly and too bulbous. It’s not attractive, but then few utes really are much more than boxes on wheels. Continue reading 2013 Honda CR-V

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

A Volvo wagon (crossover) with style, luxury? YES!

Volvo has been a master of wagons for decades, its sturdy boxy 240s setting the standard for boring (yet safe) upscale suburban transport.Volvo XC60 exterior

So it’s no surprise when its tall wagons, the XC crossover vehicles push that bar higher and give the Lexus RX 350 a run for its money. It may surprise you though, that the XC models do so with a good deal of style and luxury. Adios boxy!

The tested XC60’s shoulders are broad and well sculpted and the taillights tall and balanced above sensuously curved rear haunches. This is more Venus in ivory than corrugated box, and a welcome styling change. Continue reading 2013 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Platinum

Luxury, your initials are XTS

Luxury always has its price and for Cadillac, that price is $60,385 for its new XTS sedan.2013 Cadillac XTS

Don’t gasp, that’s nowhere near where the price for luxury starts, nor where many other midsize luxury sedans end up. This one added but a $920 delivery charge to end up at $61,305, yet it’s still loaded with enough electronic goodies to give Bill Gates a headache.

First, the XTS is Cadillac’s new top-level sedan, replacing, in a way, the bigger DTS and more similarly sized STS. This one rides on a 111.7-inch wheelbase, is 202 inches long and weighs in at 4,215 lbs. By comparison a Lexus GS350 sedan tested earlier this year is roughly the same size, weighs about 250 lbs. less and costs just $1,500 less. So XTS is right in the gated neighborhood it wants to occupy.

This graphite gray metallic test car was the uppermost AWD Platinum model, so it has the advantage of all-wheel drive. A “base” front-drive XTS starts at $44,075 and a Luxury version that adds AWD begins at $50,915. So less expensive models are available. Continue reading 2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Platinum