Tag Archives: leather

2018 GMC Terrain AWD Denali

Terrain redesign lightens the load; Denali model adds luxury …2018 GMC Terrain AWD Denali

GMC redesigns its Terrain crossover for 2018 to make it lighter and a bit smaller, fighting all industry trends to add weight and length. Mostly, it’s a success.

Terrain is virtually the same vehicle as Chevrolet’s Equinox with a bit boxier styling, but much improved from the previous model. Mine was a dark gray metallic with all-wheel-drive and was GMC’s top trim, the Denali. Continue reading 2018 GMC Terrain AWD Denali

2017 Lexus LX 570

Pilot wannabes will like button-happy Lexus LX 570 …2017 Lexus LX 570

If you’ve always dreamed of being an airline pilot, but never got the training, you should try landing the new Lexus LX 570.

Lexus has created a cockpit fit for a pilot wanna-be with buttons galore. About the only thing missing is an altimeter.

Here’s a quick count of what you’ll get for nearly $100 grand. The center stack has 15 buttons plus four temperature control buttons, and two knobs for the radio. The console features 11 buttons, two toggles, and two knobs, plus a small park brake lever.

Need more? Oh there’s more. The power adjusted tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub has 10 buttons, plus a 4-way directional pad and there’s a cruise control stalk behind the wheel. There are another 8 buttons on the dash’s face, plus the start button. Ironically the foot-wide screen atop the dash is not a touchscreen, but controlled by Lexus’s awkward and touchy mouse pad on the console.

If ever there were an argument for an autonomous car, this would be the starting point.2017 Lexus LX 570

Once you’ve mastered the maze of buttons, toggles and screen controls you’ll find the LX570 is the luxury version of Toyota’s Land Cruiser, a big beast of an SUV with serious off-roading capability. It has a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and is a full 199.4 inches long. The Lexus weighs in at a stout 6,000 lbs., but will tow 7,000. Continue reading 2017 Lexus LX 570

2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 hybrid = good mpg, sporty handling2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Funny, but I enjoyed driving the new Toyota RAV4 hybrid more than its gas-powered model that I had earlier this year.

This one seemed sportier, and that’s a contradiction to all things hybrid. Power seems a bit better, and is with a combined 194 horsepower for the hybrid vs. 176 for the gas-powered model. But handling seemed much more precise and sporty too.

RAV4 is a small ute/crossover and easy to park and steer. The wheel feels moderately light and the hybrid turns into corners well and is responsive. Wheel play is minor.

And while compared to the standard model it has more ponies to power it with the electric hybrid system working well via an electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT), it’s not exactly quick. There’s still the electric whine when you let off the brake and a slow chug up to 15-20 mph. The harder you press the accelerator the crossover will respond though and get up to highway speeds fairly effortlessly. The down side is an engine that feels and sounds as if it’s working pretty hard.

2016 Toyota RAV4 HybridLike so many vehicles, there are drive mode selection buttons, here on the bottom of the center stack somewhat hidden behind the console-mounted gear shift knob. You can go Eco to save fuel or Sport for a bit more juice to the wheels. The bump up in power is minor, but every little bit helps sometimes. Continue reading 2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD Hybrid

2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo

Kia Optima, a better mid-size sedan …  kia2

When I last tested a Kia Optima I thought it among the best mid-size sedans I’d driven, plus it got 39.5 miles per gallon. Wow! But that was a hybrid model.

Well, the refreshed 2016 Optima is even more impressive. My one major hesitation with the previous model, a passenger’s seat that sat low in the car and was not adjustable, has been fixed. And the tested LX Turbo model got 37 mpg with its 1.6-liter I4 turbo. Sweet! Continue reading 2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo

2013 Dodge Charger R/T Daytona

Muscular Charger R/T Daytona offers kick-ass HEMI powerCharger1

Gone are the days of the crude old muscle cars that were horsepower heavy hogs good only for drag racing in a straight line.

Welcome the new muscle car generation, summed up nicely by Dodge’s Charger, now a distinctly muscular looking four-door sedan, but with a hefty HEMI V8 tucked under its creased and nearly bulging hood. Charger seats four adults comfortably, has a big trunk and all the bells and whistles you’d expect on a luxury car.

Oh, it still is rear-wheel drive, and it’ll still accelerate like a moped with a rocket strapped to its back. Yet its interior is a mix of racy and comfy. This is a muscle car for the high-tech family that has a bit of an attitude, and a love of speed, and tradition.

Charger comes in seven trims, from the base SE at $25,995 all the way up to the SRT8 Superbee and SRT RWD, both in the mid-$40 grand range. My test car was the R/T, or Road and Track model ($29,995 base), bathed in a bright Daytona blue paint job and featuring black Daytona labeling on the rear quarter panel, and a black rear spoiler. Yes, it looked fast! Continue reading 2013 Dodge Charger R/T Daytona

2013 Lexus ES350

ES350 handsome blend of luxury, elegance

You’d have to be crazy or lacking in the ability to physically feel anything to not enjoy riding in the new Lexus ES350.lexus2

This is a fine front-drive mid-size luxury sedan, with a restyled grille and lines that give it a somewhat more interesting look. At least you notice it now.

But then that may not be what an ES350 owner wants because the car’s interior is about blending in, as in sliding into a quiet comfortable living room of an interior that melts away your tensions and worries. Even though this is the Lexus entry-level luxury sedan, the silver test car’s gray perforated leather seats, glossy dark brown bird’s-eye maple trim (part of a $1,370 luxury package) and black leather look dash speak of elegance.

Setting off the wood trim is a satin pewter-look trim that puts the exclamation point on subtle style and the gloss black console trim reminds you that soon you’ll be home playing your baby grand. Continue reading 2013 Lexus ES350