Thursday, October 19, 2017

Massive Ford F-250 a civilized pickup on the road

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 – I know what you’re thinking: What’s he doing reviewing another Ford pickup truck, given last week’s posted review of the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor?

Here’s the simple answer: The recently tested 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty SRW 4X4 Crew Cab pickup is as different from the Raptor as an elephant is from a cheetah.

The Raptor was the irresistible force.  This F-250 is the darn near immovable object.

Sure, I’ve tested big vehicles before, but the massive F-250 seemed to block out the sun.  Before I stepped into the cockpit, I was already working out alternative driving routes to avoid the possibility of crushing other cars.

The most-said sentence I heard from passersby in my week in the F-250: “Now THAT’S a truck!”

Yes it is, and yet, I quickly adjusted to the Super Duty F-250’s dimensions and its on-road manners.

I was put at ease by the F-250’s remarkably agile handling characteristics.  The steering is just firm and responsive enough to let you know exactly where you stand.  I could keep the big truck with a two-inch imaginary wall on either side of the vehicle, with very little effort on my part.

Adding to my confidence were exceptional acceleration notes from the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel engine rated at a max 440 horsepower.  It moved the truck briskly in the low revs.  At no time did I feel that I had to goose the gas to get more speed off the line.  When stopping power was needed, the four-wheel, vented disc brakes dug in and took over in a comforting eye-blink.

Super-impressive.  No wonder the Ford Super Duty trucks have pulled down a ton of awards, including Truck of the Year honors from Motor Trend magazine.

Unlike the previously reviewed Raptor, this F-250 pickup was made for the muscular, long-day duties at the job site or on the sprawling acreage of a major ranch.  The massive bed of the tester was big enough to qualify for its own ZIP code.

But my ride was much more than a working stiff.  It was loaded with luxury perks both standard and optional.  The short list included a navigation system, a rapid-heat supplemental heater, an engine block heater, a remote-start system, heated/cooled front seats with 10-way power and 20-inch chrome-and-aluminum wheels.

Truck of your dreams, you say?  Maybe, but be prepared to pay.  The bottom line on my tester’s sticker read $66,945.

If you have that kind of dough to lay down, you’re getting yourself a seriously loaded laborer … and a pretty nice ride when you’re rolling strictly for leisure.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ford's F-150 Raptor pickup is the picture of menace

A menu of 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 September 2017 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California I’ve driven plenty of pickup trucks over the years, but nothing like the Ford F-150 Raptor, the picture of menace, power and intimidation.

This isn’t so much a truck as it is a statement.  And that statement is: I’m the baddest thing on the road, so get out of my way when you see me coming.

My tester was the sizable 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor 4X4 SuperCrew edition (pictured, photo by Charles Glover), with roomy seating in the back of the cabin and a 145-inch wheelbase.

Where to start?  Well, it looks like a rolling battering ram at first glance, riding on 17-inch forged aluminum wheels and an enormous grille that looks like it could squash a Hummer.  The saucy “Raptor” graphics on either side of the truck simply enhance the powerful look.

Starting the 3.5-liter, turbocharged V-6 engine produces a roar that brings the neighbors to their front windows to see who brought a top-tier NASCAR stock car into the neighborhood.

On the fly, you feel every bit of the 450 horsepower and 510 foot-pounds of torque at your command.  In fact, it’s a little frightening to feel how quickly the Raptor can get up to 70 miles per hour from a virtual standstill.  Fortunately, the four-wheel disc brakes are powerful enough to bring the beast under control quickly.

No one gets in the way of the Raptor.  You sense that right away.  I can’t tell you how many times I saw fellow commuters consider a quick lane change across my bow, only to duck back into their lanes when they sized up what was coming in their mirrors.

For all this muscle, I actually felt secure and comfortable in the big brute fairly quickly.  Kudos to Ford engineers who mastered the chassis/suspension package in such a way as to make the Raptor drive “lighter” than it actually is.  My sense of security also was bolstered by the vehicle’s five-star federal government safety ratings, including a perfect five stars in the overall vehicle score.

Inside the tester, exceptional comfort and four-star luxury could be found.

My ride included a twin-panel moonroof, inflatable rear safety belts, a trailer backup-assist system, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a 360-degree camera.

Naturally, there’s a price to pay for all this: $69,995 on the sticker’s bottom line on my tester.  Yes, I agree.  WOW!  And yet, given all that it has, the Raptor’s price is pretty fair.

Here are some other numbers worth pondering: only 15 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.  Consider that the Raptor is equipped with a 36-gallon fuel tank and … well, I’ll let you do the math on fuel stops.

OK, so you get the idea that this is not necessarily the truck you want to get scratched up at a work site or doing the heavy lifting on a farm or ranch.  If you want that truck, look elsewhere.

The Raptor is the kind of truck that bespeaks performance and a two-fisted attitude.  Argue with me if you like, but I’m telling you to take that to the bank.   And if you doubt the look-at-me appeal of this Raptor, just park it for a few minutes in a crowded lot.  In my week with the pickup, that was an invitation for a free show.

Numerous folks came up to me, asking: “Is that the Raptor?” or “How fast does it go? Or even: “Can you take me for a short ride, just around the block?”

If you crave that kind of attention, the Raptor won’t disappoint you.  Did I have a fun week in this menacing machine?  Really, what do you think?

 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Peppy Acura sedan reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the 2018 Acura TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec sedan in the latest, October 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.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fiat's fancy 500X Trekking ... Yes, it is an SUV

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 – I had been test driving the 2017 Fiat 500X Trekking FWD for three days when I learned that it was considered a sport-utility vehicle.

Oh, come on!  Really?  Yes, really.

Silly me, I thought I was testing a specialized Fiat sedan, only to learn that I was driving a small crossover being marketed to young SUV buyers.

Along that line, by the way, the 500X Trekking shapes up rather nicely.  It has room for some cargo and more than a few passengers.  No, it won’t carry the entire Little League team and all its equipment, but it’s not supposed to do that.

It looks nice with Fiat relentlessly referring to its exotic Italian styling. In simpler terms, I thought it looked sleek and smooth.

As time went on, I started appreciating the advantages of my particular 500X tester.

For starters, instead of a standard 1.4-liter engine (like you get on other Fiats), my 500X Trekking model was equipped with a 2.4-liter, in-line 4 rated at 180 horsepower.

Wow, what a difference!  Matched to a NINE-speed automatic transmission, my ride briskly whipped through traffic when I mashed the accelerator.  The level of spirited performance was surprising, not only to me but to trailing drivers who watched my little SUV leave them in the dust.

The power plant is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, pretty good numbers for sure.

The price was reasonable at $23,350 to start, but mine was exhaustively spruced up with extras that brought the bottom line to $29,480.

Not that I was complaining.  The Advanced Safety Package, the Cold Weather Package and the “Trekking Popular Equipment Package” (a power, eight way driver’s seat and a “ParkView” rear back-up camera were part of that) were welcome additions.

I did have a gripe with the way-too-sensitive blind spot-monitoring system.  It would blare a loud “beep” when I was 15 yards past another vehicle and moving 25 miles per hour faster than the trailing vehicle.

Maybe my ride was calibrated to “aging old man,” which I can’t argue with, but the continued beeps were jarring and annoying.

But that’s not enough to spoil the whole package.  Not even close.  This Fiat compares favorably with the recently tested Nissan Juke subcompact crossover SUV.

Want to go trekking?  Fiat has your ride.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Safe, sporty and well-equipped, this Edge is OK

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 – Ford tweaked its five-passenger Edge sport-utility vehicle for 2017, and from my seat, it delivered on its sporty promise.

The tested 2017 Ford Edge Sport AWD looked sleek and racy straight on and in profile, and those 21-inch premium, painted aluminum wheels definitely added to the eye appeal.

Even the neighbors were surprised to learn that this was a Ford sport-ute, initially guessing that it was a saucy foreign make.  There’s a message there, and for Ford designers, I think it’s a positive one.

On the fly, I was genuinely impressed with the performance and responsiveness from the 2.7-liter, twin-turbo V-6, rated at 315 horespower and 350 foot-pounds of torque.

When asked, the tested Edge zipped into tight spaces coming down the on-ramp, and it raced away from most everything surrounding it, offering a secure feeling of comfort when it came time to dart out of harm’s way.

That feeling was enhanced by a blizzard of top-level, five-star federal government safety ratings, including five stars for the overall vehicle score.

Please note that it takes some juice to wind up that V-6 engine: 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

My ride was dressed up significantly with a solid navigation system, a remote-start system, a park-assist system and rain-sensing wipers.  There were enough perks to make me feel only slightly queasy about the imposing bottom line on the sticker: $46,980.

I’m sure there was a day when I might have envisioned a five-passenger Ford SUV costing some $50,000 to drive it off the lot … but I can’t remember that day.  Welcome to the modern era of feature-loaded vehicle buying.

And there is this: the Edge has an exceptional list of driving/operational safety and security features, the kind of long list you might have once associated with a Mercedes-Benz or a Volvo product.  Believe it, this Edge has the full suite of safety/security technology.

I think the market for this current-generation Ford Edge is a suburban family with multiple children beyond the toddler age.  That means frequent road trips, soccer practice, Little League, endless grocery runs and serious driving vacations to faraway locales.

In other words, I think you buy this Edge to keep it for a long time and enjoy every memory it dishes out for your and yours.

That’s a pretty happy goal for any motor vehicle.  I think the current Edge can make it happen.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Brilliant Volvo has upper hand in this test drive

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 – There are times as a motor vehicle reviewer that you have to own up to the fact that the car is the master, and you’re the totally overmatched apprentice.

The recently tested 2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription sport-utility vehicle is one such auto.

For the record, this is an all-star SUV, a recent winner of Motor Trend magazine’s SUV of the Year award and a vehicle so loaded with performance, luxury, safety features, technology and general overall brilliance that you have to snap off a salute when you finish driving it.

Yet it has so much to offer that there is no way to sample all the goodies in a week’s time, not even if you give up sleeping for a week.  It’s like snatching a black hood off a hopeless sweets freak in a 25,000-square-foot candy store and barking, “OK, you have five minutes.”

Impossible.

But what I did sample, I thoroughly enjoyed.

I loved the 2-liter, supercharged/turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 316 horsepower that dished up heart-racing torque on the low end, but did so in such a way that I could hear the soft-spoken conversations going on in the seats behind me.

And yes, I liked the laminated panoramic moonroof with the power sunshade.  The driving/safety-enhancement features were so numerous that I’m pretty sure I could have safely piloted the XC90 with my hands in my pockets.

Luxury extras?  Oh my, yes, including seats that offered power, heat, cooling and massages.

A 12.3-inch digital instrument display had more menus and options than a grossly over-apped iPad, and the fit and finish on this Volvo were as fine as anything I’ve seen in the upper-end SUV class.

Did I get to everything?  Not a chance.  I barely skimmed the surface.

Then again, I knew it was a losing proposition from the beginning when I looked at the tester’s sticker.  The starting price on my ride was just a tick more than $54,000.  When all the options were added up, the bottom line read $74,090.

Those extras included an integrated center booster cushion, illuminated door handles, heated water nozzles and a list of safety/convenience technology features that was longer than a congressional budget bill.

Was I complaining?  Not at all.  Nothing left for me to say but thanks for letting me go along for the ride Mr. Volvo, sir.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

This Chrysler sedan's Hemi delivers the heat

A menu of 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 August 2017 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California The first thing you notice walking up to the Chrysler 300 sedan is that mother of all big grilles, seemingly capable of swallowing midsize models in a single bite.

So when you see this, naturally, you want some performance to go with the look.

The recently tested 2017 Chrysler 300S gives you that, and then some.  Equipped with the legendary 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, the 300S delivers 363 horsepower and nearly 400 foot-pounds of torque in a noisy symphony that pleases the ears of all fans of classic American muscle.

The Hemi takes the full-size sedan from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds.

This is not subtle power delivery.  The 300S runs up through the gears with a get-outta-my-way attitude that makes your skin tingle with the sweet understanding that all that juice is at your command.  Most motorists do indeed get out of the way when they see the 300S coming.  The rapid closing speed and that big grille really do make an impression.

The tested 300S started at $35,675, but it was dressed up in a veritable automotive tuxedo of extras to bring the bottom line to $48,240.

Say it with me: WOW!

The extensive list of options on my ride included a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, premium LED fog lamps, a park-assist system, heated second-row seats and a forward collision-warning system.  Believe me when I tell you that is the short list.

Riding along in the lap of luxury, I found the cockpit seat totally comfortable and offering an excellent 360-degree view of my surroundings.  Volunteer passengers commented on the sedan’s comfortable seats, with plenty of room to stretch elbows and long legs.

Please note that it’s easy to creep up into the 80 mph range with that Hemi V-8 doing the heavy lifting, so it pays to adjust your right foot accordingly on the open road.  Surprisingly, given all the oomph at hand, fuel mileage is a not-so-bad 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.  For my money, this 300S is no city driver.  It’s made to be opened up on wide-open roadways far from the land of parking meters.

The car drives like a big-shouldered sedan, but its steering characteristics are pleasantly stable, with just the right amount of firmness in quick lane changes or when taking curves at moderate or high speeds.

For the younger driver who needs to have the full set of electronic bells and whistles, the 300S does not disappoint.  The automaker’s Android Auto feature enables access to Google voice search, Google Maps and Google Play Music, all via an 8.4-inch touchscreen or through controls on the steering wheel.  Access to Apple features can be had that way as well.

All in all, my week with the 300S was thoroughly enjoyable.  I also enjoyed the fact that Chrysler has brought this 300 along in a practical, common-sense way since the rear-driver made its debut at the 2003 New York Auto Show.

The current-generation 300S with the Hemi V-8 stacks up as the near-perfect family car for drivers who also like a shot of old-school muscle in their outings on the roadways.