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.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rip-roaring Raptor reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor 4X4 SuperCrew pickup in the latest, September 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, August 31, 2017

Little Kia Niro makes a big impression

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 – Is it a subcompact crossover sport-utility vehicle?  Maybe a wagon? Whatever you call it, I remember thinking that the new-for-2017 Kia Niro Touring was too small when I first laid eyes on it.

Like many times before, I was wrong.  Darn first impressions!

So, what Kia came up with here is an exquisitely functional vehicle that’s fun to drive and capable of carrying much more than you might guess at first glance.

I should know.

I drove my Niro from California’s Wine Country to Sacramento loaded down with suitcases, boxes, food, suburban supplies and enough wine to make the neighbors question my commitment to sobriety.

The Niro not only took on what I could load into it, the increased weight did little to slow it down.

The 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine matched with a 43-horsepower electric motor cruised well in dicey interstate traffic and did not seem weighed down with the floor-to-ceiling interior packed with humans and cargo.

Combined horsepower with the gasoline engine is 139, and the torque rating is a surprisingly robust 195 foot-pounds.  A Kia-touted six-speed dual-clutch transmission earned its praises with seamless shifts across the full range of revs.

Granted, this is not a road burner of a vehicle. If you want that, that’s a whole different shopping trip.

What the Niro does offer is good road manners, utility and versatility for an affordable price -- $30,545 on the tester.  That price included everything, including a full boat of safety features, a long list of comfort/convenience features (leather seat trim and heated/ventilated front seats among them) and a few upper-end exterior touches, such as LED daytime running lights.

Another bonus: 46 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.  A regenerative braking system chips in when it can.

And yes, it’s kind of sporty-looking machine riding on those 18-inch alloy wheels and the wide-and-low stance of a pro football linebacker.

I enjoyed my week in the Niro enough to mentally ask: Where were you years ago when I had a young family and a correspondingly tight budget?

No answer came to me.

That’s OK.  I enjoyed my time in the present with the Niro, a comparatively small machine with surprisingly large appeal at the curb and on the road.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Twin-turbo Genesis sedan provides a serious rush

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 had a recent run of Genesis models – think Hyundai with luxury and performance extras – but my recent week with the 2018 Genesis 3.3T Sport with rear-wheel drive takes the cake.

This new addition to the Genesis lineup stands out in performance, which is exceptional and downright addicting.

The 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 power plant doesn’t just propel the sedan…it projects it through a seemingly parallel universe where the laws of physics don’t apply.  Response is so instantaneous and so dramatic that surrounding cars in motion appear to freeze in place as my ride blazes ahead.

This is a serious rush.

I repeatedly found myself mashing the accelerator to get the full experience from the advertised 365 horsepower and 376 foot-pounds of torque.  This is a finely tuned piece of machinery that delivers the kind of response that other cars advertise, but don’t quite deliver the goods at this level.

This G80 dispatches pokes, texters, mobile phone chatters and slow-footed drivers so quickly, it’s like they were never there.  How many cars can do that? … cars that are priced less than $100,000 that is.

For perspective, my tester was feature loaded and wore an understandable bottom line of $56,225.

Beyond the primo sport sedan performance features, customer-pleasing perks were plentiful.

The comfort/convenience package included premium leather seating surfaces, a power tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof, an exceptional 9.2-inch touchscreen with multiple functions, a top-level 17-speaker audio system and even a wireless charging pad in the front of the cabin.

A full round of state-of-the-art driver safety/assist features comes standard.  Exceptional federal crash-test safety ratings are topped off by a max five-star overall score.  As usual, the Hyundai-based warranties are more than generous.

By the way, it looks good with sporty lines that are not overdone.  From all sides, the G80 radiates luxury more than it does power.

OK, fuel mileage isn’t so great at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, but I’m guessing the G80’s target audience is not counting pennies at the gas pumps.

My week with the tester only added to my respect for Hyundai, which has evolved from a one-time maker of cheap cars to a producer of top-quality vehicles.  And in my book, this G80 leads the automaker’s current fleet of models.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Honda's Odyssey is the ultimate minivan experience

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 minivans I drove on family vacations in the 1980s were Flintstone Mobiles compared with the recently tested 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite.

Oh, where were you when I needed you fair Odyssey?

The tested Odyssey was a mind-blowing combination of spectacular technology, entertainment features and pleasure perks.  It was a veritable amusement park on wheels.

The features in this fifth-generation Odyssey are so numerous that it’s hard to know where to begin … And once started, you don’t know where to stop, lest you leave out an eye-popping experience.

There’s the 4G LTE in-vehicle Wi-Fi that supports streaming video and music.  There’s the CabinTalk feature, sort of an in-car public address system that enables the driver to talk with second- and third-row passengers through entertainment system headphones of via speakers.

Then there’s the CabinWatch system that employs a ceiling-mounted camera with infrared capability, which enables the driver to keep an eye on back-seat passengers via an eight-inch display screen.

CabinControl works via an app that enables smartphone users to control the rear entertainment system, rear cabin climate and some aspects of the vehicle’s navigation system.  Part of CabinControl is the “Social Playlist,” which operates like a virtual jukebox, allowing up to seven passengers to upload their music choices to the audio system via smartphones.

“Magic Slide” seats can be quickly configured to the social patterns of the cabin.  Squabbling kids can be separated.  True pals can be closer together.

I know, can you believe it?

And I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg here.

On top of all this are multiple, state-of-the-art safety systems and top-tier interior comforts, including tri-zone climate control and heated/ventilated front seats.

The tester’s 3.5-liter V-6 with 280 horsepower was more than enough to handle most of the road chores, and the highly touted 10-speed automatic transmission handled things like a champ.  Freeway cruises were quiet and effortless.

How much for all this?  Well, the bottom line on the tested Odyssey Elite was $47,610, and yes, that is a big number to ponder.  But like I say, this vehicle has everything.

Even the gas mileage is pretty fair at 19 miles per gallon in the city and a notable 28 mpg on the highway.

For me, this 2018 Odyssey is the ultimate machine in the evolution of the minivan.  It’s hard to imagine how much more can be stuffed into this venerable family traveler, but somehow, I’m sure Honda is working on it right now.