Thursday, November 16, 2017

Nissan's pickup is a Titan, without a doubt

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 driven a lot of full-size pickup trucks lately … certainly more than I typically do.  But a recent week in the 2017 Nissan Titan provided a breath of fresh air.

The Titan was extensively reworked for 2017, and my tester with the 5.6-liter “Endurance V8,” PRO-4X four-wheel drive and crew cab configuration showed off the best of what’s new.

For starters, the Titan looks like a workhorse, big shouldered and seemingly taller than an NBA center upon first glance.

Getting into the tester, I was floored by the blizzard of luxurious, helpful comfort/convenience/safety features: power outlets galore, clear-as-day rearview monitor, dual-zone climate control, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, a manual gear-select option (a seven-speed automatic transmission is standard) and a voice-recognition navigation/audio system.

The Crew Cab's interior felt larger than an in-home den.

On the fly, the Titan quickly taught me to be careful.  Why?  Because the 5.6-liter V-8 with 390 horsepower and nearly 400 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm got up to freeway speed so quickly and effortlessly that hitting 80 miles per hour was a quick journey.

My Titan glided up and down the freeways, easily mixing with sedans, coupes and horsepower-laden sport-utility vehicles.  And yet, the interior cabin remained relatively quiet even as serious power was being dished up.

Throw in a generous bed with rugged interior walls, an impressive four-wheel disc braking system and a towing capacity of 9,230 pounds (when properly equipped), little wonder that the 2017 Titan pulled down a room full of awards shortly after it was introduced.

Even with the “Endurance V8” engine, gas mileage comes in at a so-so 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.

The starting price is around $45,000, but my tester was loaded up with extras that pushed the bottom line to $52,305.

No matter. It was a pleasure to put this Titan through its paces.  And yes, it stands up well against those American-made competitors that fill the airwaves with commercials throughout the holiday season.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Acura TLX sedan brings the heat and the luxury

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

Sacramento, California Sometimes, you can get blurry-eyed and lost in Acura’s lineup of “X” cars, but the recently tested 2018 Acura TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec sedan doesn’t let that happen.

Its enthusiastic performance stays in your brain, and it’s a fun-filled blast when you’re dishing it out behind the wheel.

The is not the 573-horsepower NSX, but this TLX A-Spec added to the lineup for 2018 does just fine with its 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 matched with a nine-speed gearbox and a sport-tuned suspension.

My ride dispatched most everything else on the road, with my right foot planted only halfway to the floor, as pleasing a feeling as one can expect these days on the typically gridlocked freeways.  Acceleration in the low end is pretty good, and it gets better from there as the revs ramp up.

And instead of the $160,000 or so you need to walk in the door just to look at an NSX, the tested TLX A-Spec wore a bottom line of $45,750, and that included everything on the standard equipment sheet.

My tester had an arm’s length list of safety features (including a driver’s knee airbag and vehicle stability assist), and the interior luxo package included heated front seats, a driver-recognition memory system and a remarkably versatile touch-screen control center.

The tech package utilized a multi-view rear camera, real-time traffic/street conditions and rain-sensing wipers.  A special A-Spec package piled on with ventilated seats, singular styling touches, 19-inch alloy wheels and parking sensors.

Yes, luxury and performance made for an enjoyable week, and the TLX’s racy lines were easy on the eyes.  That “matte-black diamond pentagon grille” wrapped in chrome is a head-turner in parking lots.

For all its spirited oomph, the TLX ride was exceptionally quiet and smooth, a hallmark of Acura engineering.  And yes, the paddle shifters on the steering wheel were a joy to mess with.

Fuel mileage checked in at an OK 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Luxurious perks and rubber-burning performance are nice, but I also was impressed with the simple usefulness of the vehicle.  Plentiful interior space, a generous trunk and rock-solid road manners are not to be taken for granted.

This TLX competes in a tough neighborhood that includes the BMW 3 Series and the likes of the Audi A4, but it compares well with both.  Testing the BMWs and Audi and passing on the TLX would be a mistake.

This new TLX offering raises Acura’s fleet a notch or two in my book.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Lexus RC 350 coupe reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the 2017 Lexus RC 350 coupe in the latest, November 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, November 2, 2017

Tiguan compact in name, sizable in usefulness

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 – When is a compact crossover sport-utility vehicle not a compact crossover SUV?

When it’s the second-generation 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Well, that’s my take on it anyway.

My 2018 VW Tiguan 2.0T SE w/4Motion tester handled like a compact but looked like it had the passenger- and cargo-carrying capabilities of a midsize model.

At 185.1 inches long (almost a foot longer than the previous-generation Tiguan) and nearly 75 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded, the Tiguan stacked up to me as darn near the perfect suburban chore wagon/commuter.

The tester was a generously equipped daily driver with an easy-on-the-eyes bottom line of $30,280.

Yes, I was surprised by the charms of this Tiguan, which surpassed my expectations as just another crossover sport-ute.

Checkmarks in the plus column included 17-inch all-season tires, a lengthy list of state-of-the-art safety features, a heated driver’s seat with 10-way power and lumbar support, an excellent rearview camera system and super-generous warranties.

On the fly, the tester’s 2-liter turbo 4 engine rated at a max 184 horsepower handled all situations with ease and authority.  Response off the line was good.  The Tiguan made quick, agile maneuvers on city streets and in dicey freeway traffic.

For steering comfort, it had perfect pitch.  Simply put, it was fun to drive.

The center stack of controls was nicely arranged and easy to use.

Fuel mileage was fair at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

The latest-generation Tiguan appears to have been assembled with California motorists in mind, including roof rails standard across all trim levels and a slightly lower-than-usual tailgate height that makes loading it up a bit easier.

The one thing I didn’t like was the balky automatic shut-off feature, which I routinely disabled upon starting the vehicle.

Given the considerable competition in the compact crossover SUV segment, it’s easy to lose track of what’s out there.  Don’t make that mistake with this new Tiguan.

It’s a player in the segment and should be test-driven if you’re pondering the purchase of a practical-size SUV.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is rugged to the max

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 some sport-utility vehicles you walk up to and instantly think to yourself: I’d never take this vehicle off-road.

The recently tested 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 is NOT one of those vehicles. In fact, it’s so well equipped for non-pavement purposes that you instantly want to roll onto the mud, rocks and rivers.

This vehicle can take it.  Ask Four Wheeler magazine, which named it 2017 SUV of the Year.

The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is engineered with Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension, which I did not test to the max.  But colleagues who did raved about its capabilities in the off-road world.

The Trailhawk looks rugged and broad-shouldered at first glance.  A quick tour of the on-vehicle equipment lets you know that this Trailhawk can tackle just about anything.  Handling/enhancement features include speed control, hill-ascent control, hill-descent control, skid plates, 18-inch off-road aluminum wheels, 18-inch all-season/terrain tires, Kevlar reinforcements, premium fog lamps and red tow hooks.

With good ground clearance thrown in, this is a vehicle you can take into the backcountry feeling supremely safe and secure.

Fuel mileage is OK at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

The power plant is a 3.6-liter V-6 with nearly 300 horses. It was strong and able, and yes, its muscle on the paved roadways was more than adequate.

An eight-speed transmission gave me the option of running the gears via paddle shifters.

For all its rugged looks and features, the tester was stocked with a generous number of luxury-level perks.  That included heated/ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate and power-folding mirrors.

My ride was dressed up with even more luxury and safety extras that brought the bottom line to a hefty $50,620, more than seven-grand north of the base price of $43,095.

The optional lane departure-warning system seemed a little forceful for my taste, but it was nothing close to a deal-breaker.

Lots of folks brag about their tough trucks or SUVs.  This Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 is one of those rare vehicles that lives up to the bragging.

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?