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1967 Alpine A210 Le Mans #46

Spark’s latest Le Mans racer a long-tailed French blend …

Separating Alpine from Renault is difficult as their histories are so entwined, as is that of Gordini, although fewer may recognize that name.

But in the 1960s all three came together as Gordini-tuned Renault engines powered Alpine racers designed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Renault’s racing arm footing the bill.

The result, several years in, was the dramatic and swoopy looking Alpine A210 racer that Spark Models beautifully recreates now in 1:43 scale.

The History

Alpine was formed in 1955 by Jean Rédélé to make sports cars and racers and did well enough that Shell Oil came to the firm in 1962 wanting 1.0-liter Gordini-tuned engines for a Le Mans effort. By 1963 the M63 racer had won its class at the Nurburgring 1000km race, although none of its three cars finished the 1963 Le Mans marathon.

However, by the 1966 Le Mans, which was won for the first time by Ford’s GT40, Alpine had the A210 with a stout 1.3-liter Gordini-tuned Renault and took first through third place in the energy-efficiency index while clocking speeds of nearly 170 mph.

The next year Alpine was back with a multi-car team and its No. 46 car driven by French racers Henri Grandsire and Jose Rosinski finished ninth overall and first in class for 1.3-liter cars. The duo completed 321 laps compared with the winning Ford GT40 driven by Americans Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt’s 388 laps. Since the team was aiming for an overall win there was no winning the efficiency index.

Grandsire and Rosinski were gentleman racers, but successful. Grandsire, who later became an actor, had won the same Le Mans class the previous year, while Rosinski, later to become a journalist and race team manager, also had previously won his class at Le Mans in 1962.

By 1973 Renault would buy Alpine and Gordini soon after, although the Alpine name disappeared into the Renault lineup by 1995. Yet it was re-introduced in 2017 with the Alpine A110 model. Meanwhile the Renault Formula 1 racing team was also rebranded in 2021 as Alpine, which it remains today.

The Model

               First, there’s the cool aero body with its long and finned tail, plus that stellar medium bright metallic blue paint scheme that quickly delivers the notion this is a French racer. The No. 46 car also features an orange stripe across the roof’s leading edge to help identify the car at speed from its sister cars.

               Racers were so much simpler in the mid-1960s and this streamlined beauty reflects that with just a small black oval grille up front framed between two round running lights to help with night vision during the 24-hour race. Regular headlights are under clear lenses and the hood is one that was hinged in front, so there are two silver hinges that appear both functional and decorative. A small brown leather-look strap is at the passenger’s side of the hood’s rear to no doubt further secure the racer’s hood when the car was speeding about.

               On the nose is the Alpine name in silver lettering.

               There also are small air scoops on the front fenders just before the doors and then rear fender bulges that appear to be bolted on over the wheel well tops, giving the racer muscular hips. Outside door hinges are molded into the front quarter panel and doors too.

               Both the windshield and rear window are huge, the back one blending smoothly into that sassy tail. The Alpine’s windshield is trimmed in silver and a delicate silver photo-etched metal twin-armed wiper that’s true to the original sweeps the window. Side windows represent the sliding glass that the real racer featured, an aid to cooling the cockpit. The driver’s side window is posed slightly opened, while the far side’s windows are closed.

               In back are amber taillights and a large single tailpipe exiting just to the right of center.

               Tires are treaded and the front wheel cover is a smooth silver disk while the larger rears are gold featuring an 8-pointed star pattern with visible lug nuts in the center ring.

               Markings are minimal beyond the large numbers, all black atop white circles, one on the hood, tail, and both doors. There is a red dot on each door in front of the number, and Alpine Renault is spelled out on the rear quarter panel, just aft of the door with “1300” printed just below, signifying the racer’s 1300cc engine.

               Three other logo decals are spread along the top of each front fender, a cat head with checkered flag, a Shell logo, and a black and white one I simply can’t make out, even with a magnifier.

               The black interior is difficult to make out, but close study reveals a three-spoke race steering wheel, the spokes in silver, a shift lever on the floor, and a silver shoulder harness on the race seat. Looks like a red fire extinguisher above and behind a passenger’s seat too. Funny that Alpine included the second seat in a racer, but maybe there was a rule requiring it in 1967. Whatever!

               Most Spark 1:43 die-cast models run in the $80 range, but often you can find them on sale online at sites such as Replicarz.com, one of the most reliable online retailers. I’ve used them for years to bolster my collection. Spark also makes several other versions of the Alpine A210, so look around and find which one most pleases your eye.

Plus, let me say that I love 1:43 scale models as they are such a great size for detail while remaining small enough to easily stack their cases. Spark and most other brands, come in stackable acrylic cases that are perfect for viewing, so no further display case is required. Save that cash to spend on more models!

               This Alpine is a sexy addition to any Le Mans collection, even if it wasn’t an overall winner!

Vital Stats: 1967 Alpine A210 Le Mans #46

Maker: Spark
Scale: 1/43
Stock No.: S5687
MSRP: $79.99

Link: Replicarz.com

#Le Mans

#Alpine

#Spark

#Diecast

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe

Electric hybrid adds cost, but boosts fuel efficiency, smooths power …

When Jeep launched the Grand Cherokee 30 years ago it was among the first luxury sport-utility vehicles on the market that still was affordable (not a Rover) and capable of off-roading.

Jeep continues to make its Grand Cherokee as off-road worthy as anything, including its more rugged looking Wrangler, but the price now peaks at Range Rover levels.

Yet kudos to Jeep for adding hybrid power to its latest Grand Cherokee even though that’s what nudges the price up. This plug-in hybrid, the 4xe, is exactly what makes sense as the go-between from gas to electric power.

Here’s the deal.

On this mid-size SUV Jeep couples a hybrid system with a small 2.0-liter turbo I4 so that an overnight charge on a normal home 120V power line nets 25 to 27 miles of electrical juice. That means that an average user who drives to and from work, or to run necessary daily errands, can run on electricity most of the time. By the way, the power is awesome smooth in the Jeep and when was the last time someone called a Jeep smooth?

In a 230-mile week of driving I evenly split my electric vs. gas powered driving, recharging with the driver’s side front quarter panel plug-in, each evening.

That meant each morning I had a 100% charge and most days I didn’t need more than that. Two trips to the other side of town during the week meant half of each trip was on the juice, while the other half was gas-powered. The results? My combined average was 37.1 mpg, while gas alone (sadly Premium is recommended) averaged just 18.2 mpg, showing the difference hybrid electric power can make. The vehicle also senses when 4WD is not needed and turns it off when not needed.

Cool too that Jeep allows the driver to select (via dash buttons) hybrid power, electric only, or save-E, which mostly runs the Grand Cherokee on gas, saving the electric charge for when you most need it, say in town, or when slopping around field or forest.

See Mark’s video: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe review by Mark Savage – YouTube

Yes, there are still plenty of off-roading choices here, five to be exact. A console toggle allows the driver to select Rock, Sand/Mud, Snow, Auto, or Sport drive modes. Sport seems silly to me on an SUV and here it firms up the steering something fierce, not pleasant at all.

The others will engage the proper 4-wheeling system for the circumstances and if you’re rock-crawling becomes a habit there’s a button to unhook the front sway bar to create more wheel articulation. Note too, the Grand Cherokee has a maximum ground clearance of 10.9 inches, which is a lot. Plus, another toggle on the console allows the driver to hike up the haunches and lift the Jeep to its maximum height, or lower it for easy exits. This Jeep also will ford two feet of water safely.

There’s ample power here as the turbo I4 and hybrid electric motor provide a combined 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque so there’s a tow rating of 6,000 pounds. All is smooth and silky when electric is the power source, but when the Jeep switches to the gas engine, which is seamless, well, the little turbo groans considerably as it seems to be trying to bench press the vehicle’s full 5,500 lbs. Acceleration can be noisy with the tiny turbo.

Folks wanting constant smooth power application probably should opt for one of the gas-only powered Grand Cherokees that feature a V6 or V8. You’ll also save money up front, but more on that in a sec.

A blue tow hook, 4xe logo and jeep logo add color to the tail.

Handling is typical of a mid-size SUV, easy steering with modest feedback and a little body lean in tight turns. It’s all quite controllable and easy to maintain within a lane. Of course there’s all the usual safety equipment such as lane departure, blind-spot warning and parking sensors.

Ride is mostly good too, especially on the highway, but as with most trucks/utes gets jiggly on bumpy city streets as pot holes and expansion joints create some rock and roll, but then it’s a Jeep, right?

That’s not to say it isn’t luxurious. The Diamond Black Crystal Pearl ($395 extra) test SUV looked upscale, the ride is mostly well controlled, and the interior leathery.

Check out the blue tow hooks, hood stripe and blue-outlined Jeep logo here.

I like the little blue styling cues on the exterior, to subtly insinuate this is a hybrid. Apparently bright green and blue do that these days on hybrids and electrics. This one slapped blue trim on all the Jeep logos, the front and rear tow hooks, the rear hatch’s Trailhawk logo and a blue Trailhawk adhesive stripe on the hood, which also featured a flat black hood sticker.

Inside, the Grand Cherokee looks fresh and modern, a big step up from its predecessor.

More blue trim inside with the seat piping and stitching on the console.

Enough black leather here to frighten any herd of cattle, but with a tasteful blue (again) stitching to spruce it up. Seat edges were leather but the main seat surfaces a suede material. Classy.

Shiny black fake wood trim accents the dash and doors and is trimmed in satin chrome. The look is keen, but the reflection off that and the gloss black console surface can be blinding on sunny days now that we’ve passed the equinox and the sun rides at lower angles.

Seats are powered plus heated and cooled in front, with the outer rear seats also heated. I found the butt pockets rather snug in the front seats, but the rears (seats that is) were better. The steering wheel also is heated. One odd problem I found when trying to buckle up each trip, and that’s the seatbelt is hard to pull between the seat and door, a bit of a tight squeeze.

No problem with the digital equipment here though, a big center info screen and digital driver instrument panel. Some numbers on the driver display were a bit small, but the info screen was great and easy to use, plus includes adjacent volume and tuning knobs for the radio, a fine Alpine sound system in the Trailhawk. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard too.

A few things you won’t find on the Trailhawk were surprising though. There’s no sunroof, no wireless phone charger and no running boards. At this top-end pricing I’d expect all three. In the Jeep’s defense, there are oodles of plug-ins available for charging.

There was no passenger-side info screen in the test vehicle, but that’s ok, it’s an option as on Jeep’s Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

The digital instrument panel gives you a lot of info, but numbers are small.

Tire noise is considerable with the beefy R18 All-Terrain tires, which would be good for off-roading, but hum like an annoying tone-deaf 5-year-old who loves Disney tunes, even at low speeds.

In back is a power hatch hiding a load of cargo space, so a family of five can vacation, camp, haul, etc. while taking along all the sundries needed for comfort. Second-row seats split and fold flat and the SUV’s plug-in charger can be stowed neatly in a bag under the cargo floor.

Did I mention this is pricey?

Yes, and that was a bit of a shock (sorry) for this hybrid electric model. A base 2023 model (now at dealers) lists at $60,260, while a Trailhawk version starts at $65,455. Move up to an Overland and it’s $69,225, a Summit goes for $72,990, and the premium of premiums, the Summit Reserve starts at $77,470. All prices including delivery. For the record, a $7,500 tax credit may apply to the hybrid models, but check it before you buy.

There’s a lot of space under that power hatch, but only two rows of seats.

The tested 2022 model listed at $64,280 and only added the special color to hit $64,675. By the way, white is the only paint color that doesn’t cost extra on the Grand Cherokee, although other colors are mostly $395, so not a huge add-on.

While I’m all in on plug-in hybrids until our electric infrastructure grows considerably, I should point out that Jeep really charges for the privilege. For instance, a base V6 powered Grand Cherokee, the Laredo, lists at $40,120, but of course has fewer standard features and no 4WD.

Move up to the equivalent Trailhawk gas-only model and the sticker is $56,030. Between are Altitude and Limited models in the mid-$40,000 range.

So choose wisely, especially if your budget already is being stretched. The good news for all 4xe plug-in hybrids, you’ll pay less to power them weekly, and they run as smooth as a luxury sedan, just taller and with way bigger tires!

FAST STATS: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe

Hits: Off-road capability, five drive modes, plug-in hybrid boosted gas mileage, and good looks. Roomy luxury interior, power hatch, heated/cooled front seats, heated outer rear seats, heated steering wheel, Alpine stereo, good safety equipment. Sway bar disconnect for off-roading and good ground clearance with toggle to raise truck.

Misses: Pricey, tire noise, groany underpowered gas engine, no sunroof, no running boards, no wireless charger, reflective trim, ride can get jiggly, tight seat butt pockets and front seat belts hard to pull through between door and seat.

Made in: Detroit, Mich.

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, plug-in hybrid, 375 hp/470 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,521 lbs.

Wheelbase: 116.7 in.

Length: 193.5 in.

Cargo: 37.7-70.8 cu.ft.

Tow: 6,000 lbs.

MPG: 23/combo gas/electric

Fuel: Premium recommended

Electric range: 25 mph

MPG: 18.2 gas/37.1 combined (tested)

Base Price: $64,280 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $62,667

Major Options:

Diamond black crystal pearl paint, $395

Test vehicle: $64,675

Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Jeep

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

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

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

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

.

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

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.

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

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