Thursday, February 16, 2017

Upgraded Corolla remains midsize sedan superstar

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website  www.sacbee.com/news/business/article4005306.html

Sacramento, California – Now hear this: The monster-selling Toyota Corolla gets a major reworking for the 2017 model year.

What better way to celebrate 50 years on the market?  Since its 1966 debut, more than 43 million Corollas have been sold.

The 2017 restyling, additions and tweaks only enhance what has made the Corolla so popular for so many years: An affordable, generously equipped, safe sedan priced within range of most personal and household budgets.

What’s not to like?

My tester was the sporty-looking Corolla XSE with an easy-on-the-eyes bottom line of $23,545 on the sticker.

That price gets you standard goodies that include a power tilt/slide moonroof, a rear spoiler, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, disc brakes on front and rear, a multimedia package with Siri eyes-free command capability, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and much more.

My tester also had a continuously variable transmission and a sport drive mode.

The most obvious change for 2017 is the new, race car-worthy front grille spiced up with LED headlamps.  It might be over-the-top for some.  Not for me.

Power comes from a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and intelligence.  At 132 horsepower, it’s not going to snap your neck, but the power plant is responsive and more than adequate for most road situations.

And the four-cylinder engine dishes up an additional bonus: exceptional fuel mileage ratings of 28 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

The 2017 Corolla’s safety package is extensive and includes an intelligent pre-collision system, enhanced braking features and a lane-departure alert.  That’s the short list.  Combined, they make it difficult for even the most careless driver to screw it up.

The Corolla has been around for so long that I believe its mass appeal sometimes gets swallowed up in the blizzard of auto offerings that are new and shiny.  That’s the auto-selling game of course, but buyers seem to understand that few, if any, practical sedans have as much to offer as the Corolla.

How else to explain the long-standing, superior sales numbers? And yes, the Corolla remains the most popular midsize sedan sold in the United States.

This latest Corolla does nothing to take away from that storied history.  It actually adds to it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

New Genesis G90 features full-on luxury, pep

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website  www.sacbee.com/news/business/article4005306.html

Sacramento, California – The all-new 2017 Genesis G90 luxury sedan prompts bulging eyeballs and jaw-dropping wonder.

But before you get your face back in order, you have to know what you’re talking about.

Here’s the quick course: The full-size G90 is produced by Hyundai’s luxury division, Genesis, and the four-door model replaces what we called the Hyundai Equus.

Got that?  OK, here’s the shock and awe part: The sticker on my rear-driver 3.3T Premium G90 had a bottom line of $69,050.

That was without a single add-on.  Even in the ever-changing auto industry, it’s hard to get my head around a $70,000 car with Hyundai DNA.

But that’s quickly banished by other awesome things such as over-the-top luxury, superior technology features and pin-me-to-the-seat performance.

This is a full-on luxury sedan that absolutely ranks with anything put out by BMW, Acura, Lexus or Mercedes-Benz.  In fact, given all the G90 has, it’s probably a bargain for the listed price.

Let’s start with looks.  It’s what I’d call a substantial vehicle, as in seemingly capable of consuming small sedans and crossovers.  Riding on 19-inch alloy wheels, my ride matched the look – bank vault quiet and rock-solid in all conditions.

The 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V-6 has an advertised 365 horsepower, and it dishes up what I call “walk away power.”  By that, I mean that the engine does not scream, and the chassis does not buck.  The car simply walks away from surrounding autos with the slightest nudge on the accelerator.

Give it more than a nudge, and it fairly runs away from the pack, like the other cars are frozen in time.  It’s a feeling of power that can go to your head.

You might be brought back down to the earth with the realization that the power plant wants to drink premium fuel, and it guzzles it at a rate of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Moving inside, five people can ride in supreme comfort.  From the driver’s seat, the all-around view is excellent, and numerous comfort/convenience/entertainment perks are within easy reach.

The G90's standard goodies are not what you see in most cars, even luxury models.  That includes the TWENTY-TWO-way power driver’s seat, the SEVENTEEN-speaker audio system and the 12.3-inch, high-definition navigation system.

The placement of leather and wood trim in the cabin is elegant, the high-tech safety systems are remarkable and the warranties (as usual for a Hyundai creation) are excellent.

If you’re one of those motorists fortunate enough to have a fat bank account, but still rank value for your dollar at the top of your shopping list, the Genesis G90 is probably the sedan of your dreams.

Friday, February 3, 2017

All-new VW Alltrack reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the all-new 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack in the latest, February 2017, edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News, published out of Folsom, California, by John Sweeney and Evonne Sotelo.

The “Hot Laps” reviews, along with my "Oil Drips" observations on anything with wheels, appear monthly in the publication.

To subscribe to the Cruisin’ News, visit www.cruisinnews.com, call (916) 933-0949 or send an e-mail request to cruisinnews@mac.com. Mailed requests for information should be sent to Cruisin’ News, P.O. Box 1096, Folsom, CA 95763-1096.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Upgrades boost appeal of luxurious Acura MDX

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website  www.sacbee.com/news/business/article4005306.html

Sacramento, California – The 2017 Acura MDX rolls into the current model year as a seriously reworked sport-utility vehicle.  It’s something to feel good as the young year moves into February.

The new look is a big step up, and the fabulous, lengthy list of standard features is sure to turn the head of many a prospective buyer.

The sweetly sculpted “diamond pentagon” grille looks like something you would see on a horsepower-laden sports car, and your eyes are immediately drawn to it. The jewel eye LED headlights also add flash to the restyled front end.

The MDX looks low and aerodynamic in profile – even riding on 20-inch alloy wheels – and the sport-ute certainly cut through the air in a quiet, sure-footed way. 

My tester was the AWD Advance version, with power coming from a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a max horsepower rating of 290.  Accelerations were sufficiently strong and smoothly handled through a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

I disabled the idle/stop feature, however, because it was just too clunky getting back to business after a full stop.  I also found the visual “BRAKE” warning displayed in the dash to be overly sensitive.

Otherwise, the MDX was easy to handle, with just the right amount of firmness in the steering wheel and a surprising agility in tight spots.

A blizzard of electronic safety and technology features watched and guarded my every move.  I’d recommend a thorough reading of the owner’s manual, because the perks are numerous and sometimes difficult to master.

The tester had some traditional features for which I was grateful during a recent cold snap.  The remote engine start was particularly helpful, allowing me to step into a warm cabin and get right to driving with hard frost melted off the front and rear glass.

Fuel mileage was OK for this segment, at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

This MDX is a genuine luxury liner, with the tester starting at $56,400.  Given all the standard bells and whistles on my ride, I’d say the price was on point.

The current-generation MDX earned a top-level, five-star safety rating from the federal government.

With all the improvements and technology stuffed into this MDX, I would think that buyers would want to hang onto it for 10 years, minimum.  So, if you’ve been wanting to reward yourself with a state-of-the-art luxury SUV, the MDX should be at the top of your test drive list.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mazda6 has tools to compete in crowded niche

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website  www.sacbee.com/news/business/article4005306.html

Sacramento, California – The Mazda6 is a midsize sedan that offers pretty much the full range of customer-pleasing perks: style, reliability, safety, technology, comfort and affordability.

Thing is, it competes in a crowded niche with names such as Accord, Malibu and Camry.

You see the problem here.  It’s tough to stand out in a field loaded with mega-popular cars.

Nevertheless, the 2017 Mazda6 sedan does a good job of showing off what it has.  My recent tester, a 2017 Mazda6 i Grand Touring edition was a case in point.

My ride looked sophisticated and sporty wearing "Machine Gray Metallic" paint and riding on 19-inch alloy wheels.  Inside, leather seating surfaces provided a comfortable setting to enjoy a thoughtfully laid out dash and center stack of controls.

The tested Mazda6 is the loaded end of the lineup, but the starting price of $30,695 seemed like a bargain, given the generous package of standard equipment.  A GT Premium Package of options pushed the bottom line to $34,530 on the tester.

The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine was responsive enough with 184 horsepower. In freeway commutes, the Mazda6 responded with brisk sprints when asked.  It was a nimble dodger in tight city traffic.

Fuel mileage with the four-cylinder power plant was exceptional at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.  In truth, I think I was getting a little better than that on the freeways, where the Mazda6 cruised with quiet, seemingly effortless grace.

The current-generation Mazda6 gets a top-level five stars in federal government safety ratings…no surprise looking at the long list of standard safety features.

The “lane keep assist” feature, however, was an annoyance for me, sending out needless warnings on winding roads and freeway exit ramps.  I guess you can’t have too much caution in these cases, but still, it tried my patience.

All in all, this is a B-plus car all the way, and I’m sure some devotees would grade it out with a top-of-the-line A.  Welcome to the world of car opinions, where strenuous debate is never-ending.

Again, however, the Mazda6 is lumped into the debate with some of the best-selling midsize models in California and nationwide.  I’m sure purchases often boil down to brand loyalty, and I really can’t argue with that.

But at a minimum, I’d recommend that midsize sedan shoppers at least take a test drive in the 2017 Mazda6.  You might just end up switching brands.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is a rugged, refined ride

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website  www.sacbee.com/news/business/article4005306.html

Sacramento, CaliforniaToyota added the TRD Pro to its Tacoma pickup lineup for 2017, billing it as a truck for folks who like to work hard and play hard.

Message received.

At first glance – my tester was the mouthful of 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4X4 Double Cab – the truck just looks like a rugged performer, complete with 16-inch black alloy wheels and all-terrain tires that looked capable of motoring up Mount Everest.

The tested truck worked just fine on the local roadways, and my humble journey off the paved surfaces didn’t really come close to getting the absolute bottom line on this Tacoma’s off-road capabilities, which is a shame.

Visually, the Tacoma TRD Pro appears ready to smash through miles of dirt and streams.

The specialized equipment includes heavy-duty shocks, LED fog lights, a TRD front skid plate and TRD exhaust.

Naturally, the package included a serious 4WD system, an electronically controlled transfer case, an automatic limited-slip differential, crawl control, hill-start assist and much, much more.

Toyota says the TRD Pro’s body is composed of high-strength steel riding on a double wishbone coil-spring front suspension and a leaf spring rear suspension, bolstered by outboard-mounted gas shocks.

Ample power was supplied by a 3.5-liter V-6 dishing up a max 278 horsepower.  The engine was surprisingly responsive, but it served up power in impressive, smooth steps.  No lurching here, a most pleasant development.

Engine noise was fairly muted, but I actually could hear those heavy-duty tires on the freeway.  No complaint from me.  I know what the truck is capable of, and the sound was a happy reminder of the TRD Pro’s solid-footed stability.

Fuel mileage, alas, is a not-so-hot 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

For all its rugged exterior looks, the interior cabin was refined and comfortable for driver and passengers.  Controls were thoughtfully positioned an easy to operate.  Leather trim dominates the interior, creating a warm feeling in a cabin likewise loaded with today’s necessary communications/technology bells and whistles.

The starting price on the tester was a somewhat hefty $42,760, pumped up to $45,042 on the bottom line with the addition of some extras.

If you have the cash, this is an A-grade pickup offering from Toyota.  How you divide work and play time in it is up to you.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Lincoln MKZ delivers luxury, and lots more

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at www.sacbee.com/news/business/article4005306.html

This review first appeared in the December 2016 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California Luxury sedan buyers aren’t necessarily a picky lot … All they want is everything.

Over the past generation, that means a lot of folks have been turning to Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Infiniti models.  Fair enough.  But if you’re looking for a made-in-America luxury liner built to spoil you, the extensively redesigned 2017 Lincoln MKZ is worth some of your attention.

You want it all your way, and then some?  Fear not.

High-power performance is definitely in the cards with a twin-turbo, 3-liter V-6, with 400 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque.  This power plant gets the four-door car going in a hurry, and the power curve flows smoothly and effortlessly when matched to an all-wheel drive system.

Prefer something a little more fuelish and sedate?  The MKZ has that covered too with a hybrid version equipped with a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine, plus an electric assist.  That will get you an estimated 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.

The starting price range among the MKZ offerings is generally in the $35,000 to $45,000 ballpark, and you’ll be happy to know that Lincoln does not hold back on the perks for that kind of money.  My recent week in the 2017 MKZ included pretty much wall-to-wall leather, a 10-way power driver’s seat, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, an incredibly diverse driver’s seat comfort/lumbar system, a power trunklid and heated/cooled front seats.

The tester’s option package added heated rear seats/steering wheel, LED adaptive headlamps and a primo, blast-me-out-of-my-seat Revel Ultima audio system.

My ride looked sharp with a classic Lincoln grille, eye-grabbing 19-inch wheels and dual chrome exhaust tips.

The MKZ is a midsize sedan, but frankly, it handled with the four-footed firmness of a full-size model.  It was rock-steady on sharp corners, and very little noise reached the interior cabin, even when I asked the max from the car.

The warning systems seemed a bit touchy, in my view.  I was startled several times by audio/video warnings that indicated I was too close to vehicles on either side of the car.  For my money, I wasn’t even close.

Lincoln talked up a revised, more-functional interior, and I noticed.  Various controls were easier to find, and use.  More complex adjustments – like the myriad seat configurations – were easier to figure out in this 2017 model.

During my time behind the wheel of the MKZ, I mentally ticked off comparisons of various features it shares with other luxury sedan models from manufacturers abroad.  I came to the conclusion that the MKZ stacks up just fine against all those other foreign competitors.

What about prestige, you ask?  Well, this is a Lincoln, which as far as American nameplates go, is pretty high up there.  Maybe shoulder to shoulder with Cadillac, depending on your passions.

So, yes, this nicely done 2017 MKZ is an American contender, offering a lot to a consumer segment that wants it all.