Tag Archives: sport-utility

2017 Jaguar F-Pace 20d Prestige

First Jaguar sport-ute off to fast start …2017 Jaguar F-Pace

            Jaguar has its first sport-utility truck, the F-Pace and it’s already its best-selling vehicle. That tells you a lot.

First, it tells you that tradition and heritage take a back seat to the overwhelming popularity of sport-utes and crossovers. Second, it tells you Jaguar buyers were ready for a Jag truck. And third, it tells you that the F-Pace must be pretty good at satisfying that itch.

Jaguar smartly delivers three engine choices in its new ute. The same 3.0-liter supercharged V6 as in last week’s Jaguar XE sedan will likely be the main choice of buyers. It cranks a healthy 340 horsepower with 332 lb.-ft. of torque, but drinks premium fuel and gets just 18 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway.

The dark metallic gray test truck went the other way, packing an Ingenium 2.0-liter I4 turbo diesel under the F-Pace’s muscular hood that even includes a mild hood bulge. The diesel features 180 horsepower and a grunt-rich 318 lb.-ft. of torque.2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Fuel mileage is impressive. The diesel is rated 26 mpg city and 33 highway. I got 27.7 mpg in driving that was heavier on city driving this time. There also is a stop-start feature here to save fuel, but it can be turned off, which makes sense from a smoothness of operation standpoint once the truck’s engine is warmed. Continue reading 2017 Jaguar F-Pace 20d Prestige

2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium AWD

Cadillac XT5 long on style, short on details …2017 Cadillac XT5

Cadillac has mastered the styling, now it needs to work on the details.

The new Cadillac XT5 crossover continues Cadillac’s sharp chiseled styling with tall taillights and noteworthy nose and headlight stylings. Its interior is luxurious and attractive in a way most German makes have yet to figure out because of their love for black leather.

But the XT5’s seats are way too snug in the hip and the ride too firm for our crumbling Wisconsin roads that are cracked by time, winter and a lack of willingness to pay for improving them. Additionally its CUE audio screen is improved, but still not the easiest to master while driving.

2017 Cadillac XT5The XT5, which replaces the SRX and rides on what should be a smoothing 112.5-inch wheelbase delivers a firm ride that turns too sharp and bumpy on cracked streets and highways.

Yet like other Cadillac’s and GM products, the XT5 delivers ample power with a new 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 with variable valve timing. It’s rated at 310 horsepower and 271 ft.-lbs. of torque, so it’ll scoot when required to. That happens best when in Sport mode which holds gears longer in the 8-speed automatic. In normal mode acceleration is moderate. Continue reading 2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium AWD

2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo’s new XC60 sporty, powerful2017 Volvo XC60

Hey, this newfound idea of putting some sport into small sport-utility vehicles, or crossovers, is getting to be a trend.

Now Volvo joins the sportster market with its 2017 XC60, a compact ute crossover that handles like a sports sedan and kicks some booty with 302 horsepower. And get this, that boost of power hits quickly, no long lag as so many turbo I4s exhibit, even when they’re trying to be sporty.

First, the XC60 is crisply styled so it looks elegant, with tall Volvo taillights to distinguish its looks. But the combo supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 gets your attention in a hurry. Linked up with an 8-speed automatic, it gives the Volvo instant power when you want it. I admit it was a happy surprise.

But equally surprising was how well the XC60 handled. I know this has 20-inch tires, but I fully expected some squish in the steering wheel feel and typical lazy crossover handling.

No siree! The Volvo delivers good feedback via the power-assisted rack and pinion steering and with a  precise feel and handling. Put the XC60 into a turn at speed and there’s no ute-like lean. Cornering is like a sport sedan and feels much the same on winding roads.2017 Volvo XC60

Continue reading 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription

Audi Q7 3.0T Quattro

Audi’s Q7 ute lives up to its hype …2017 Audi Q7

I’d read some early reviews of the Audi Q7 full-size sport-utility and thought them suspiciously glowing, like a parent telling how great their kid’s violin concert had been.

Well, count me among the converted.

Big sport-utes are generally luxurious land barges that’ll pull a load and haul a load of people. Audi’s new 2017 Q7 will do all that, but in addition to power it delivers ride and handling.

The back story is that Audi didn’t make a 2016 model, skipping that model year because it intended this model to be an early 2017 release. It was planning a big upgrade, as in the use of a lot more aluminum in the body and overall structure, cutting 474 lbs. from the 2015 model. Audi also upgraded to a 5-link suspension front and rear and managed to lower the truck’s center of gravity by 1.7 inches. No small feat.

audi Q7bAll of that adds up to a more manageable ute, one that rides and handles much better than its predecessor.

Power still comes from a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that creates a solid 333 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s sufficient to pull 7,700 lbs. of trailer too.

The V6 is linked to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and delivers enough power to the Quattro 4-wheel-drive system that in the Dynamic drive mode the Q7 actually feels quick. There are four other Drive Select modes, Winter, Automatic, Comfort and Individual. Each can impact the steering effort, acceleration and ride, but Dynamic is the most fun. Continue reading Audi Q7 3.0T Quattro

2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4×4

Ford Explorer less trucky, more luxuryexplorer2

            Long gone is the truck-based Ford Explorer that fueled the SUV craze that begot today’s crossover craze. The 2016 Explorer while tall and muscular is car-based and luxurious, which explains both its popularity and in the tested unit’s Platinum trim, its price.

A base Explorer starts at $31,595 in two-wheel-drive mode, or $33,595 for a four-wheeler, but the Platinum comes equipped like a rock star tour bus and lists at $52,600. Add in a $945 delivery fee, second row bucket seats and the test ute’s spiffy bronze fire metallic paint scheme and this one hit $54,635. Continue reading 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4×4

2016 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

Restyled Honda Pilot roomier, improved overallhonda1

The Honda Pilot has been a reliable big box of a sport-utility vehicle for years, nothing fancy, but usual Honda quality and solid build.

For 2016 the Pilot is restyled and rounded to give it a smoother more refined look, one that might be confused with Buick’s Enclave. In fact, several folks asked me during my drive if this was a new Buick. Honda’s sales results will tell them if such confusion helps or hurts, but overall the look is an improvement.

That’s what you see on the surface, what’s inside and what’s changed makes the new Pilot more attractive both visually and functionally for large families needing space for their brood.

Overall the Pilot is 3.5 inches longer and rides on a 111-inch wheelbase that’s nearly two inches longer than the previous model. Pilot also has dropped 300 lbs.

honda2The result is a roomier interior with a third-row seat that isn’t as cramped, plus a vehicle with improved ride quality and handling ability. You wouldn’t call Pilot nimble, but the weight loss is noticeable and the steering has been tuned to feel more responsive giving the Pilot better road feel. Not much play in this wheel anymore.

Ride generally is fine, but still can be stiff over sharp road bumps of which we have plenty in southeast Wisconsin. I enjoyed my highway drives across town and the interior is extremely quiet. Continue reading 2016 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

2015 Chevrolet Trax LT AWD

Trax AWD offers high value for young SUV buyerstrax

            As Millennials and Gen-Xers battle for jobs and income in a challenging work environment it seems natural that small cars and small sport-utility vehicle sales would blossom.

Affordability and a high degree of usability would seem to be just what the new car/ute buyer would crave. So it’s no surprise that a host of small utes are being launched this year, with Chevrolet decidedly in the hunt.

Chevy already had the Aveo and Sonic small cars, but for 2015 launches the Chevy Trax a small ute riding on a 100.6-inch wheelbase and extending a modest 168.4 inches. That’s just about four inches longer than the recently tested Nissan Juke and Trax has a 1-inch advantage in wheelbase.

Yet unlike Juke, the Trax makes a compelling argument for small utes or crossovers. It’s fun to drive with nimble handling and a pleasant ride. While obviously trim, with a modest rear overhang, it’s reasonably attractive in a fit-in-with-the-neighbors sort of way. Folks won’t laugh at you.

trax1And if they ride with you and know what you paid for a Trax, they may even envy you.

Here’s why! Consider this the facts on Trax.

Trax, which is sold as the Holden Trax in Australia and built by General Motors in South Korea, is useful, equipped well at a low price, is available with all-wheel-drive and delivers excellent fuel economy. Continue reading 2015 Chevrolet Trax LT AWD

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T

Santa Fe Sport blends car, sport-ute nearly flawlesslysanta-fe-sport-01

There are few crossovers that come close to being the perfect blend of car and sport-utility, yet are comfortable and affordable too – but Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport is pretty darned close.

Hyundai remodeled its popular Santa Fe crossover lineup a couple years back and essentially split it into two models, the larger and heavier Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Sport, which is smaller and sportier. The latter, my friends, is the way to go.

My frost pearl white Sport looks and feels luxurious and is loaded with a ton of goodies, thanks to the Ultimate Package. But at its core it’s a high performing mid-size crossover for the family of four, or five. It handles well, rides well and has enough power to make it borderline fun.

The test unit was the Sport AWD 2.0T, the upper end Santa Fe Sport with a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 and all-wheel-drive. It lists at $33,000, plus an $875 delivery fee. This one added the appropriately named Ultimate Package for $4,350, pushing it to $38,350. That’s getting up there, but as you might suspect, there is a base model starting at $25,845 including delivery. It touts a 190-horse 2.4-liter I4 and comes with front-wheel drive.

You can move up to an AWD model for $27,575, or get a front-drive version with the turbo for $31,250. Plenty of choices.

Value is high in the test unit. Here’s what you get. Continue reading 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T

2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid AWD

Infiniti QX60 heavy on luxury, comfort, but will haul 7 passengersIMG_0912 - Copy - Copy

Like its sister crossover, the Nissan Pathfinder, the upscale Infiniti QX60 is a roomy family hauler that’s easy on the derriere, quiet and comfortable and can, if needed, haul seven passengers due to its third row seat.

A couple years ago the Pathfinder switched from being a rough and tumble sport-utility truck to a crossover based on the Nissan Altima sedan platform. It, like the Infiniti, still offers all-wheel drive, but the upshot is the ride is much improved and the likelihood of you ever taking it into the brush always has been pretty slim.

The tested diamond slate (metallic dark gray) QX60 was a hybrid too, and came with AWD, so at least we know it’ll handle Wisconsin’s snow and slush just fine. The hybrid part means it costs a bit more, but should save you a few MPG overall. More on that later.

The QX comes in four models, the base QX, the QX50, QX60 and QX70, all of which designates the luxury level and accessories that come standard. The test vehicle started at $46,500, but was immersed in options so climbed to a lofty $60,780, including $995 delivery. That total is roughly double last week’s Dodge Journey crossover, also with AWD.

IMG_0914 - Copy - CopyNo denying this is a more luxurious crossover in look and feel. It features chrome around the windows and a snazzy little S accent shape on the back side window to give the QX a styling flair in profile. The nose comes to a slight beak like point up front too. I like its look, at least as well as any large crossover. Continue reading 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid AWD

2014 Audi Q5 TDI quattro

Audi Q5 blends luxury, utility with clean turbo diesel

Audi Q5/Standaufnahme Luxury sport-utility vehicles all pretty much look alike, and all are loaded with luxury and high-tech features, so it’s in the blending of all these features where excellence outs itself.

Even in high-end utes it has been uncommon for me to be fully comfortable with the size, the looks, the performance and the fuel consumption. Audi’s Q5 changed all that.

This was not your standard Q5 either. This was the TDI quattro model with 8-speed Tiptronic automatic that allows you to paddle shift your way through the gears, if you so choose. TDI stands for Turbo Direct Injection and the Glacier White Metallic ($500 extra) test ute wasn’t shy about its diesel power, slapping a bold TDI decal on the doors and the words, “Clean Diesel” under that.

First, Audi has done more for diesel in the last 10 years than any automaker, both in development and in publicity. Audi developed a turbo diesel for its prototype racers, even winning the noted 24 Hours of LeMans endurance race with a turbo-diesel powered racer.

So power and efficiency are built into the Q5’s 3.0-liter TDI V6. How much? This boasts 240 horsepower while delivering an EPA estimated 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Those look like reasonable estimates as I got 27.5 mpg in a week’s drive, about 60% being city miles. Continue reading 2014 Audi Q5 TDI quattro