Thursday, April 12, 2018

Fiat 124 Spider Lusso two-seater is a small wonder

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 March 2018 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California In this era of look-alike car models, it’s pretty rare to draw a crowd around your vehicle the instant you park it, with assembling spectators breathlessly asking: “What is that?!”

It’s a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso (photo by CHARLES GLOVER), thank you very much, and I won’t pretend to tell you that I did not relish the attention the test vehicle was getting.  Of course, I eventually realized that 100 percent of the star power was in the car, not me.  But hey, you take what you can get at my age.

Anyway, the two-seat, rear-drive Spider is the definition of cute and sporty.  It’s an adult’s plaything starting at $27,495.  Mine was liberally dressed up with extras – including heated exterior mirrors, a primo navigation system and headlamp washers – that brought the bottom line to $33,725.  As adult toys go, that’s still not too bad.

For older adults, be forewarned that this Spider rides VERY low to the ground.  I pretty much had to fall down into it.  There was just enough room to swallow up my 6-4 frame and allow me to drive the car… just enough.

Getting out of the vehicle was my biggest challenge.  I had to employ the “swing two feet to the pavement, jump out of the car strategy” to get it done.

Not that I looked forward to getting out of the Spider.  For such a small vehicle, it was loaded with a surprising number of comfort/convenience perks.  The soft top was a hook/manual configuration, but it fell back into place and out of harm’s way with very little effort.

The best part was the ride.  No surprise there.

The Spider has a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder, multi-air turbo power plant under the hood dishing up 184 horsepower.  Given the light weight of the vehicle, that number of horses propels the Spider forward in a serious hurry.  It’s a noisy, aggressive rush.  A classic Euro sports car thrill.  I couldn’t get enough of it.

For those who get nervous in dicey freeway traffic, the Spider might take some getting used to.  You are riding very low to the ground amid 18-wheel trucks and assorted monster-size sport-utility vehicles, and some might feel intimidated.

And with the soft roof, exterior noise from those loud, neighboring vehicles does register in the cockpit.

I was not intimidated, simply because the Spider’s high-performance capabilities made it so easy to get out of harm’s way in a split second.  A quick blip on the accelerator, and I found myself gliding along in clean, open air in a heartbeat.  Plus there was the added bonus of the tester’s top-flight agility.  It could carve out spaces between cars easily, with rock-solid stability and perfect balance.  Very nice.

And the four-wheel anti-lock brakes functioned quite well to boot.

All in all, this Fiat is an ideal ride for those who enjoy the old-school pleasures of driving.  With two seats and enough trunk space for perhaps one suitcase, obviously, it’s not every motorist’s cup of tea.

But if fun is your primary goal, this Spider is worth collecting.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Having it all is just part of owning the LX 570

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 – So sure, when you get the primo Lexus sport-utility vehicle, you expect to see a hefty number on the sticker’s bottom line.

But even my jaded eyes blinked hard when I saw $99,315 on the tested 2018 Lexus LX 570.

That’s more than I paid for my three-bedroom home when I moved to California in the mid-1980s.

Welcome to the era of the super-loaded, high-priced SUV.  I’m sure plenty of people can afford a hundred-grand for a new vehicle, and for the record, those folks get a lot in the LX 570.

It’s an imposing-looking vehicle at first glance, particularly with that monster-size grille and riding on 21-inch alloy wheels. LED headlights and taillamps look sharp as well.

The package includes an adaptive variable suspension, a blizzard of on-board airbags, multiple braking-enhancement features, leather surfaces with rich wood trim and enough safety technology to impress a veteran astronaut.

My ride included extras, like a 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a handy-dandy cool box in the center console, presumably to keep my splits of Dom Perignon chilled.

Yup, this is pretty much a rolling five-star hotel room.

And on the roll, it’s a sweet ride.  The 5.7-liter V-8 is rated at 383 horsepower and 403 foot-pounds of torque.  Mated to an eight-speed, sequential-shift automatic transmission, that power package moves the LX 570 down the freeway with buttery-smooth, reading-room-quiet authority.

Cars tended to move out of the way of the tester, and I confess that it was easy to suddenly hit 80 miles per hour, a surprise because it felt like 50 mph by the seat of my pants.

In downtown settings, you have to be a bit more forceful with your right foot to get the LX 570 out of harm’s way.  And getting it settled into tight parking spots is no picnic.

Not surprisingly, fuel mileage ratings are a dreadful 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.  That said, fuel economy and gas pump savings are not the appeal of this vehicle.

The target audience has money to burn and a desire for a big vehicle with seemingly every perk known to the auto industry.  If this is you, I am officially envious.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hot VW hatchback reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn five-passenger hatchback in the latest, April 2018, 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, March 22, 2018

Acadia has size, but drives like a midsize model

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’ve long felt that GMC stands for Giant Massive Car, and the recently tested 2018 GMC Acadia SLT-1 with the All-Terrain package did little to knock me off that spot.

Thing is, it looks big from the outside, but it drives like a midsize in all situations.

Equipped with willing 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 310 horsepower, my Acadia scooted right along, dodging city stragglers and moving away from freeway pokes with gusto.

Simply put, it was an effortless pleasure to drive.

Beyond that, it was so loaded with perks that there was plenty of time to enjoy every little thing.

The exterior heated mirrors were a bonus, given that my week in the Acadia coincided with some chill-your-bones cold weather and frost.  And the Acadia heated up quickly; no five-minute wait to feel comfortable in the cold cockpit.

Leather seating surfaces were comfortable and versatile, with plentiful position and lumbar options.

The Bose audio system blasted tunes with perfect pitch, never squawking at high volume settings.

The All-Terrain package was a pricey, but generous plate of extras.  That included special exterior trim touches, an advanced all-wheel-drive system, hill-descent control and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

I also had a sunroof.

Going off the paved road never looked so stylish.

All this brought the bottom line on the sticker to an eyebrow-raising $48,435, but I really could not complain about that price, given the size of the vehicle and all it had stuffed into it.

Fuel mileage was so-so in this class at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the open road.

I see this Acadia as an ideal vehicle for the weekend sportsman/sportswoman … someone who commutes daily to work, looking forward to hitting the ski slopes on winter weekends, or towing a boat to the nearest lake in the spring/summer months.

This is the kind of vehicle you keep for a long time, and my take is that it will easily serve your work and recreational needs big-time.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ram with a Hemi makes for a fun power trip

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 was confused just reading the window sticker.

It said I was getting into a 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4X4 pickup truck.  In other spot, it said the vehicle was a 2018 Ram 1500 Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4. Oh, and I got the “Limited Tungsten Edition” suite of goodies as well.  Tungsten all around, I tell you.

Bottom line, no matter what you call this truck: It certainly is big. A visual beast for the eyes.

It looked capable of toting a Longhorn cattle herd in the back bed, so I cheerfully vaulted myself up into the cockpit seat and fired it up.

I noticed that I was surrounded by a ridiculous number of extra perks: heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, power sunroof, leather everywhere and so on.

That explains the $63,525 bottom line on the sticker, I thought.  A real Cowboy Cadillac, this Ram.

I was still taking it all in when I hit the gas on the uphill entrance ramp for the freeway.  My Ram pickup took off like scalded cat, roaring up the ramp and easily slipping into an open space at an effortless 70 miles per hour.

OK, that was worth the price of admission.

The tester was outfitted with a top-of-the-line 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 producing about 400 horsepower and a like number of foot-pounds of torque.  So powerful was the tester that I constantly felt like I was motoring way over the speed limit.

It turns out that I was doing just that.

Yes, it was a rush ... That much truck moving that quickly through traffic with seemingly little pressure on the accelerator.

Can you get hooked on that?  Yes, you can.

There is a price to pay on the fuel side.  The tester’s fuel economy ratings were a dreadful 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

I didn’t care.  I had a super-fun week putting the big brute through its paces, comforted a bit by the strong federal government safety ratings for the 2018 Ram pickup.

To be sure, Ram has rolled out a new and improved 2019 version of the Ram 1500 just barely in 2018.  It will have a basic Ram 1500 starting price of less than $32,000.

Does it have the HEMI engine option?  Yes it does.

I’m excited already.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Is it a Corvette? A Ferrari? Yikes, it's a Lexus

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 February 2018 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California As I walked into the parking lot, I thought to myself: “Wow, I wasn’t expecting a Corvette” And then when I was closer to the delivered vehicle, that changed to: “Is that a Ferrari?!”

Standing next to it, the truth hit home.  It was a Lexus, an all-new 2018 Lexus LC 500, one of the automaker’s all-new new flagship performance, rear-driving coupes.

Sleek, sculpted, angled in just the right places and clad in brighter-than-bright “Infrared” paint, the LC 500 absolutely could have passed for a Corvette or a Ferrari at first glance.  And there were other similarities.

Stepping into the cockpit transported me to a world of luxury and primo sports car bliss.

I sat in a 10-way power, heated/ventilated, leather seat that instantly contoured to my frame.  Electroluminescent gauges and read-outs cast a warm glow throughout the cabin.  The audio system was a Mark Levinson surround-sound scorcher with 13 speakers. Three-point belts for all seats (with force-limiting pretensioners, of course).  Can’t forget the on-board Siri Eyes Free technology, or the easy-to-use heads-up display.

The long list of safety features included state-of-the-art systems capable of controlling multiple car functions on the move.  Getting into trouble in this ride would be a challenge; that’s how sophisticated the safety systems are in the LC 500.

But who am I kidding?  The best part was starting it up and putting the LC 500 through its paces.  What a rush!

I barely tapped the accelerator feeding fuel to the 5-liter, 32-valve V-8 with 471 horsepower, and the LC 500 responded with a press-me-to-the-seat blast that was accentuated by a deep roar from the front end.  It was almost scary knowing how much I had left to give with my right foot.  Triple-digit speeds are just a subtle toe tap away.

Power was dished up so smoothly, however, that I never had a sense that I was overmatched by the car.  It rode rock-steady, with not even a hint of side sway.

The 10-speed transmission functioned with seamless precision, and yes, you can do those gear-changing chores with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Ridiculously strong, responsive brakes with high-friction pads brought the tester to heel with seemingly no effort whatsoever.

As I blazed past virtually everything on the road on 21-inch forged wheels, I could see the open-mouthed stares of fellow motorists.  Some sped up, to my bumper … perhaps to confirm that this really was a Lexus and not some super-exotic model hand-built in an immaculate European garage.

Sure, there were looks of envy.  If only they knew; the LC 500 was mine for only a week.

Those wishing to make it theirs for the long term need to bring sufficient funds to wrap around the starting price of $92,000.  With extras, the bottom line on my tester was a heart-stopping $102,890.

Which I had no problem with … Lexus should have a show-stopping model at the top of its food chain.

In the LC 500 coupe, it has a beauty.
 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Fiat Spider reviewed in the latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the high-performance 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso two-seater in the latest, March 2018, 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.