Tag Archives: FWD

2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD LT 2.0T

New Chevy Equinox shrinks, but that’s a good thing …2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Chevrolet updated the Equinox for 2018 by doing something carmakers rarely do these days, shrinking it.

Equinox is nearly 5 inches shorter than its predecessor, but it feels lighter and livelier to drive, another rare accomplishment. Usually carmakers add inches and weight to increase their appeal to a wider expanse of the buying public.

So for compact sport-utility and crossover buyers looking for something less trucky and more nimble like a car, Equinox becomes a solid choice along with Mazda’s CX-5.

In its base trim, the L model, Equinox is both inexpensive and mildly powered. It starts in front-drive mode at $25,525 including delivery fee, and its I4 is a 1.5-liter turbo that creates 170 horsepower. In the Equinox L the tranny is a six-speed automatic and that combo leads to an EPA rating of 26 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. Laudable!2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Ah, but the majority of buyers are likely to move up to the LT model, which is what I tested in its pumpkin spiced Orange Burst Metallic paint scheme. The OBM color gets your attention, and that of friends and co-workers, all for just $395 extra.

The LT is the first Equinox with Chevy’s new 2.0-liter I4 turbo that cranks 252 horsepower and is rated at 260 for torque. This creates a much speedier and more satisfying drive as the turbo spools up quickly to get the crossover up or down a highway entry ramp before a big 16-wheeler is breathing down your tailpipe.

The tested LT with just front-drive seemed light and lively on the weeklong drive. It cornered well and steering effort was light. Parking was simple. Continue reading 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD LT 2.0T

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2017 Ford Escape Titanium FWD

Ford refines its Escape crossover . . .2017 Ford Escape

For 2017 Ford has restyled its popular Escape inside and out, plus developed two new engines for the entry-level sport-utility, er crossover.

There’s no mistaking the Escape for something else as its profile remains much the same, but there’s a new hexagonal grille, LED trim headlights and revised tail-end styling. Overall the look is a bit more upscale, which is ironic because Escape remains very much a low-end to mainstream crossover for a family of four.

It’s roomy and comfortable and the new 1.5-liter I4 EcoBoost engine in the tested top-tier Titanium model is stellar. Pricing and gas mileage also are in Escape’s plus column.2017 Ford Escape

Let’s start with acceleration, which is excellent with the new turbo I4 that delivers 179 horsepower and a similar 177 torque rating. Escape is quick from a standing start and the fine 6-speed automatic shifts easily and smoothly.

The turbo is standard on the Titanium model, but the base S model starts with a 168-horse 2.5-liter I4 and an incredibly peppy 2.0-liter turbo I4 is available for $1,295 extra. It boasts 245 horses and a 275 torque rating. For most of us, the smaller turbo will do. Continue reading 2017 Ford Escape Titanium FWD

2016 Acura RDX AWD Advance

Acura RDX couples luxury, power with AWD rdx

Smooth, quiet and useful, with a strong interior luxury quotient. That’s the new Acura RDX AWD Advance, the top-of-the-line model that should be making European makes nervous.

Why?

Well, it’s awfully nice and for substantially less cash than equally equipped German makes, such BMW, Mercedes and Audi. There’s still some panache to such nameplates, but folks looking for luxury and value will find both in the Acura.

This is an incredibly quiet and comfortable crossover vehicle that will carry five passengers. It’s handsome but certainly not a head turner. But the dark metallic blue of the test vehicle made this RDX stand out in a sea of gray/silver crossovers populating suburbia.

rdx2There’s much to like here, and little to loathe, or even think twice about.

Power is good from the 3.5-liter iVTEC V6 that creates 279 horsepower with a torque rating of 252 ft.-lbs. Plus there’s a sport mode that increases throttle response if you’re needing quick acceleration. Certainly the RDX will quickly get you to highway speeds for easy merges. However, and this was only a moderate concern, sometime there is a lag in acceleration once you are at speed and get on the gas quickly to pass, or when powering out of a turn. This is not uncommon in many of today’s vehicles, no matter their price. Continue reading 2016 Acura RDX AWD Advance

2015 Lexus NX 300h FWD

Lexus NX 300h (hybrid) long on edgy styling, short on power

Credit Lexus with designing a sporty, exciting looking hybrid SUV/crossover.lexus NX4

With swept-back styling the NX looks fast and agile from its sporty LED headlights to its sculpted angular sides. It stands out from most of the luxury SUV crowd, and its hybrid-ness, only adds to the appeal, if you’re looking for high-tech efficiency to match the looks.

The tested pre-production “silver lining metallic” model was the top-end NX 300h, the h signifying it’s a hybrid. Sadly, it was only the front-drive model, not all-wheel-drive, which would have helped give it grip on a couple slippery, snowy mornings.

I love the angular looks, but I couldn’t warm to the overall hybrid experience.

lexus NX2Oh, it’s easy to love the economy. I put on 255 miles and just used 8.5 gallons to average 29.9 mpg in a week that was heavier on highway miles than usual, about 70%. Hybrids perform most impressively in city driving, the NX being rated at 35 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway by the EPA.

But here’s the deal. I get tired of hearing the high-pitched whine of the hybrid recharging its batteries every time I let off the gas pedal or got on the regenerative brakes. Partially you notice that whine much more here because the NX is a luxury ute with good sound deadening for road noise, but that clears the way to hear the whirr of the electric motor and braking. Continue reading 2015 Lexus NX 300h FWD