Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Big Chevy Tahoe is like a home on wheels

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­ Standing 6-4, I still felt small walking up to the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD LTZ sport-utility vehicle.

Everything about it was big.

Huge frame, massive 22-inch aluminum wheels, a cargo area the approximate size of a hotel lobby.  And a glimpse at the sticker smacked me down to the pavement.  It read $70,435.

Welcome to the world of big SUVs in America.  My tester wasn’t even dressed up that much.  The starting price was a still-hefty $64,610.

Needless to say, if you’re going to put down that kind of coin for a large SUV to do some serious chores over the long-term, you’d better be sure you’re getting the one you want.

On the tested Tahoe, that means a 5.3-liter V-8 engine with 355 horsepower.  This is worth the money, a brute motor that makes the big-shouldered Tahoe do just about anything a large sedan can do.

For all its bigness, the Tahoe actually handled smoothly on the highway and with surprising nimbleness on city streets.  When the engine is asked for a lot, a fair amount of noise makes its way into the cabin … but not as much as you might think.

Interior space is enormous, like looking out over Monument Valley in Arizona.  You’ll have no trouble transporting a big family and hundreds of pounds of their belongings.

The tester was filled with downright luxurious, passenger-spoiling perks.  A short list included perforated leather seats and with heating/cooling options, a heated steering wheel, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system and second-row power release bucket seats.

My impression of the Tahoe enthusiast is one who loves the comforts of home so much that he/she really wants to transfer those comforts into their primary motor vehicle.  If that’s what you want, the Tahoe delivers big-time.

I had a couple of gripes.

The front collision-warning system was quick on the draw, buzzing my seat during simple parking maneuvers.  Naturally, the first time this happened, I darn near launched myself out the top of the vehicle.

The power liftgate at the back surprised me the first couple of times I opened it by not yawning wide open to let my 6-4 frame comfortably fold underneath it.  A couple bumps on the head programmed me to be more careful.

Otherwise, as big SUVs go, this one is a solid B-plus, or maybe even an A-minus if you can easily adjust to some of its characteristics, big and small.

If you want to go big when you go home from the dealership, this Tahoe just might be your cup of tea.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ending 2015 in style, with a milestone Mustang

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review first appeared in the December 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, CaliforniaSometimes, you get to wrap up a year the right way.

For me, it was a week in a 2015 Ford Mustang Premium convertible, decked out in “Competition Orange” paint … an absolute head-turner at every stop. Photo by Charles Glover.

While we’ve moved on to the 2016 model year in earnest, I had been seeking the 2015 Mustang for some time.  Milestones are involved.

For Ford, the extensively reworked-for-2015 Mustang was a celebration of 50 years of the model.  For me, this was a shout-out to the first car I ever drove, a 1965 Mustang.  If you’re doing the math in your head and thinking that I’m 88 years old, let me enlighten you.

I was FAR short of the legal driving age when I drove the ’65 Mustang.  I was taken to a local school parking lot – where the nearest obstacle to collide with was perhaps a half mile away – and allowed to tour the thing around for a blissful half hour or so.

To this day, authorities in my native Ohio have not issued an indictment for this violation.  I assume the statue of limitations has run its course.

The tested 2015 Mustang was a fabulous mix of the old and new.  Happily, it looked like a Mustang at first glance, with the familiar pony car sculpting.  And in the tested droptop, the soft roof put on a great show disappearing into the boot at the push of a button.

The three-spoke steering wheel was a blast from the past, and the interior controls were laid out to make working them a snap.  Ebony, leather-trimmed seats were comfortable and sporty-looking.

My ride was a comparatively humble version with the 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine.  Even so, the max horsepower rating was a robust 310, and the tester responded with enthusiasm when asked.  It was nimble on severe corners taken at high speed, although there was just the slightest give in the steering wheel when making slalom maneuvers.

The Mustang is known for high horsepower at a low price, although the tester started at a somewhat hefty $34,800.  It was dressed up with extras to push the bottom line on the sticker to a primo-level $41,295.

Despite 300-plus horses under the hood, fuel mileage ratings are pretty fair at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Extras on my ride included adaptive cruise control, reverse park assist and a voice-activated navigation system.  That’s all very nice, but in a Mustang, I kind of prefer the basics: horsepower and driving pleasure.

Thankfully, I had the chance to drop the top on some sunny, warm fall days and enjoy the full convertible experience.  This gave me a chance to appreciate spirited runs on the open road in the perfect vehicle for doing that.  I wanted to keep going, maybe to the East Coast and back, but my family would have missed me.

Was I remembering past runs in Mustangs of my youth doing this?  You bet your life.

In the end, I didn’t want to hand over the bright-orange dream machine, but you know how it goes.  Life goes on.  But hey, it’s good to hang on to those motoring memories from years ago.

A nice ending to a good year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

This Escape happens in a hurry with turbo engine

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– I remember getting some seat time in the 2014 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD sport-utility vehicle, but for some reason, I don’t recall it being as enjoyable as my recent week in the 2016 version of the model.

That’s the tricky thing about evaluating automobiles.  Some models just evolve over time … or maybe the brains of auto reviewers get softer.

For obvious reasons, I’m going with the former.

The Escape is the essence of practicality.

Not oversized. Just right for a daily driver and road-trip runner, capable of carrying a fair load of cargo.

Not overpriced, starting a shade short of $32,000 on the tester.

Fuel mileage is pretty nice at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

It looks spiffy head-on and in profile, wearing an eye-catching set of 18-inch, nickel-painted wheels.

This Escape was smooth and quiet in operation.  Passengers said they were comfortable, even with me at the wheel.

A generous package of standard interior cabin features included leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a nicely tuned Sony audio system (with 10 speakers, no less) and cool interior illumination.

Still, you can get all this in numerous SUVs on the market.  So, what impressed me so much this time around?

Maybe it was the 2-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged, 240-horsepower engine that moved the tested Escape around like a scalded cat.

I swear, I don’t recall getting this kind of performance out of an Escape SUV.  But I wasn’t complaining.

Zipping into freeway traffic from the on-ramp was a sports car-like experience in the tester.  Significantly, a quick lift off the accelerator for a breather did little to knock the Escape off its stride.  If I wanted a second burst to change lanes at high speed, it was there.  Instantly.  No turbo lag here.

With right-now response resting under my right foot, I found myself putting the Escape through its paces in a much more aggressive way than I would other similar vehicles.  Simply put, the Escape showed all the willingness to make the moves, and I was enjoying myself.

The Escape was similarly robust in tight city traffic, darting in and out of harm’s way with a quick blip of the accelerator and a snap-turn on the steering wheel.

Kudos to Ford for installing this surprise pocket-rocket under the hood.  It has been some time since I had a serious heartbeat rush in an American-made sport-ute.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Milestone Mustang reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the 2015 Ford Mustang Premium convertible in the latest, December 2015-January 2016, 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, call (916) 933-0949 or send an e-mail request to Mailed requests for information should be sent to Cruisin’ News, P.O. Box 1096, Folsom, CA 95763-1096.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mini with a turbo-4 is a rocket ride

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review originally appeared in the November 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, CaliforniaWhen the days of an outgoing model year come down to a precious few, the restless auto reviewer starts to ponder what he/she missed along the way.

Which is why I jumped at an offer to get some brief seat time in the 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door hatchback.  Even better, this model goes into 2016 virtually unchanged.

It had been awhile since I’d been in a Mini.  I missed the neck-snapping scoot off the line, the darn-near-ridiculous handling efficiency and the high-pitched buzz of a turbocharged engine.

The tested Mini had all that in spades, even with four doors.

The exterior styling is decidedly Euro and sporty.  Folks can spot a Mini product from a mile away, and yet, it still draws admiring stares from passersby.  I think that might be the definitive test for long-term styling success.

Inside the cabin, controls are wrapped around the driver in a considerate manner, which also is Euro to the max.  Driving a Mini is like a visit overseas.  Honest, you start talking with an English accent after you’ve been in the car for even a short amount of time.

The best part comes from putting the Mini through its paces.  The tester came with the 2-liter, four-cylinder turbo power plant rated just shy of 200 horsepower.  This particular power source in this particular car pretty much turns the vehicle into a rocket.

I bolted from standing starts and zipped through interstate traffic like a freeway fool, but it was all entirely enjoyable, and felt rock-solid safe.  Steering response on the tester was remarkably instant, and yet the suspension was tuned in such a way that at no time did I feel that I was lurching the car from spot to spot.  Keep in mind that this is a front-driver.  Sport-tuned well, you ask?  Sweet as honey.

The starting cost for this behind-the-wheel enjoyment is an entirely reasonable $25,100, a number uncharged for the 2016 model year.  The 2016 model year fuel mileage ratings were a decent 23 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Mini has been making stops at auto shows worldwide, saying it wants to redefine the premium small-car market with its Hardtop 4 Door offerings, and with a new auto show season coming up this fall, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of the same.

I wouldn't say that Mini is redefining the premium small-car sector … More like refining it, in my view.  By stuffing its stylish, sporty offerings with generous perks and keeping the horsepower curve relatively high, these Minis are giving buyers plentiful reasons to check them out.

I’m not sure that you can ask anything more from a car manufacturer.

Monday, November 23, 2015

In the end, a most-deserving NASCAR champion

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– When it was all said and done Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Busch emerged as a most-deserving NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

No question, it’s likely that most of NASCAR Nation wanted Jeff Gordon to polish off his last campaign with a storybook finish, pulling in a fifth championship.

But frankly, the first title for Busch was the more remarkable story.

His comeback over a single season ranks as perhaps the greatest in motorsports history. Only Niki Lauda’s comeback to nearly claim the 1976 Formula One world championship after suffering hideous burns in the German Grand Prix that same year comes close.

Busch’s February in Florida was light years removed from his Sunday evening in the Sunshine State.

Nine months ago, Busch broke his right leg and left foot in a brutal crash in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.  He would be laid up for weeks, missing the Daytona 500 and 10 more Sprint Cup Series races before coming back.

That interval between races typically is reduced to one sentence.  But if you’ve ever had to rehab broken bones on both legs, you know that what occurred during Busch’s absence from the track was nothing short of torture.  Rehab from those injuries involves sweat, blood, pain and depression.  And in Busch’s case, determination.  A ton of it.

I had written him off seconds after he smashed into the inside wall at Daytona.  I was wrong.

Just getting back into the car within the year would have been an accomplishment.  Keep in mind, the pain of broken-leg injuries doesn’t go away when you’re mobile again.  It lingers.  So, just imagine trying to dance on the pedals of a heavy NASCAR machine in the heat of competition with that going on.

Instead of just showing up, Busch quickly went on a tear, winning four races.  Incredibly, he somehow managed to climb from the depths of the well into the sunlight.

He makes the Chase.  Yet not much conversation centered on Busch as NASCAR’s “playoffs” unfolded.

Instead, most attention was centered on suspicious yellow flags and the mind-numbing Matt Kenseth-Joey Logano “duel.”   It was disheartening to watch.  Kyle Busch?  He just kept driving.  And advancing.

On Sunday, back in Florida nine months after leaving it in pain, Busch quickly established himself as one of two drivers with enough juice to win the race and 2015 series title.  The other was defending series champ Kevin Harvick.

But it became apparent to me as the laps wore down that Busch had Harvick covered, and Busch wasn’t giving up the title unless the track suddenly disappeared into a giant sinkhole.

Great story?  Absolutely.

Do I still believe that NASCAR needs to tweak its playoff system to avoid elimination of Cup contenders as a result of accidental or deliberate crashes?  Yes.

NASCAR has several months to work on it.  As for Busch, I think he’s earned some quality family time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Something new, and good, from Lexus

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– The 2015 Lexus NX was introduced early this year, and it proceeded to draw rave reviews from some highly respected auto experts.

Having recently spent a week in the 200t F Sport version of the crossover SUV, I finally understand what all the excitement is about.

First off, it’s not your typical Lexus at first glance.

Angular sculpting touches, particularly on the bottom half of the vehicle in profile, make it look like some super-sporty Mercedes-Benz prototypes I’ve seen in years past.

This being a Lexus and taking in its Stealth jet fighter lines, I assumed my ride probably came in at around $50,000.

Not even close.  The starting price was a very reasonable $36,580.  And even with the classy F Sport package touches and a generous round of extras – including a power tilt/sliding moonroof – the bottom line was a still easy on the eyes $43,230.

The NX represents a series of firsts for Lexus.  First compact crossover.  First turbocharged gasoline engine.  First luxo compact crossover that looks like it could take on a Nissan Z.

OK, I made up that last one, but you go with your gut sometimes.

On the fly, the 2-liter, 4-cylinder turbo engine rated at 235 horsepower was an enthusiastic power driver.  Response durng aggressive accelerations into tight quarters was excellent.  Steering characteristics were likewise superb.

Also, it’s a true crossover…that is to say that it handles like a sedan but gives you all the interior seating space and cargo room that you need for the basic chores in urban, suburban and rural settings.  I’m not sure I’d use it as a ranch vehicle, but frankly, I think this NX is up to the task.

Interior amenities are satisfyingly Lexus-like.

Controls are easy to understand and use.  The interior cabin is comfortable and quiet.  The vehicle feels luxurious just stepping into it.  After some time on the road, you’re feeling positively spoiled.  Shouldn't we be paying more for all this?  It occurred to me.

The F Sport package gives you the additional perks of a sport-tuned suspension and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.  Lots of fun to be had here.

By the way, the 2016 NX model comes off the line virtually unchanged from the 2015 intro vehicle.

Imagine my surprise when I read that Lexus geared the NX to a “social, highly engaged, youthful audience.”

OK, so they missed my demographic by a mile.  No harm, no foul.

I still enjoyed the NX immensely.  It’s a solid addition to an already outstanding vehicle lineup from Lexus.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Acura's MDX has racy looks, earnest oomph

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, CaliforniaI see on the schedule that I am due to receive the 2016 Acura MDX with all-wheel drive and a ton of special extras.

And while getting a luxury sport-utility vehicle wearing a $58,000 sticker price is certainly something special, it doesn’t get the heart racing like, say, a Corvette or a wickedly overpowered Mustang.

A three-row, seven-passenger SUV doesn’t have that kind of spice and … What the ????!!!

My MDX tester (PHOTO by Charles Glover) shows up in all its silver paint splendor, and I see right away that it’s equipped with a NINE-speed automatic transmission and an upgraded AWD system, wearing the name Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.  The front end of the thing has a grille-by-NASCAR look and that is accentuated to the max by a string of “Jewel Eye” LED headlights.

Further inspection of this seriously-made-over-for-2016 model reveals push-button gear shifting (I can hear the purists howling from here!!!) and a four-wheel independent suspension.  Naturally, this being an Acura and priced higher than my first house, it’s loaded with enough comfort, convenience and safety perks to fill a big-city phone book.

Even as I start it up, I don’t know what to expect, given that laundry list of somewhat surprising features related to forward movement.  About a half hour later, I’m pretty impressed.

Luxurious and quiet cutting through the wind, this MDX is also a performer, reaching a level that far exceeds the advertised 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 290 horsepower.  And I’m not used to seven-passenger SUVs responding so quickly and enthusiastically when I mash my right foot to the floor.

The run-up through the nine gears is seamless and pleasingly rapid.  Handling is downright sedan-like.  The MDX felt totally secure and in control in my hands.  I already know that this MDX is a big-seller in the Acura lineup, and now I’m thinking: “Wait until folks get a load of this upgraded version.”

For all its high-spirited energy propelling a weighty vehicle, the MDX gets pretty good fuel mileage at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

Cargo-carrying configurations run the gamut with moving second-row seats and folding third-row seats to produce a formidable package hauler.  There’s even a handy sub-floor storage space at the very back to hide a briefcase or similar-size item.

The list of safety features is incredibly long, with enough on-board warning systems to save your bacon even if you’re asleep at the wheel.  I found the front-end system warning system a little too fast on the draw, however.  It seemed perpetually convinced that I was going to ram the car in front of me during typical rush-hour commutes on the freeway.

There are small, cool touches that I found interesting.  For example, the digital display showing the desired interior cabin temperature would flash red when I upped the automatic control and blue when I pushed down to make it colder.  A small thing for sure, but nifty.

All this was pleasant.  Rarely am I surprised by a vehicle these days, but this MDX did the trick.  As year-over-year improvements go, the 2016 MDX is a winner in the high-end SUV segment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Four-door Mini Cooper reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardrop 4 Door hatchback in the latest, November 2015, 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, call (916) 933-0949 or send an e-mail request to Mailed requests for information should be sent to Cruisin’ News, P.O. Box 1096, Folsom, CA 95763-1096.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Enclave competes well in luxury crossover niche

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– I have friends who have purchased a Buick Enclave sport-utility vehicle.  They love it.  And that’s no surprise to me.

An Enclave, various versions of which can be had for between $40,000 to $50,000, just feels more substantial than the standard offering…Sort of the way a Cadillac sedan feels compared with a Chevy.

The nicely styled Enclave is downright limo-like and luxurious throughout, in my view.

Who wouldn’t love that after plunking down the asking price?

My recent week in the 2016 model was an experience of driver-spoiling superlatives.

Smooth, quiet ride. Check.

Long list of comfort/convenience features. Check.

Three rows of comfortable seating. Check.

Outstanding safety features. Check.  Bonus: In 2015, the Enclave received a top-tier, five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Changes for the 2016 model year are few, but particularly eye-catching are the gleaming 19-inch wheels ­– aluminum is standard, chrome-clad rollers are optional.

The Enclave feels big when you haul your body up into the driver’s seat, but the vehicle feels smaller on the fly.  My tester was pleasingly responsive on freeway commutes, not something I always feel in a three-row sport-ute.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Enclave in a hurry.  All-around vision from the cockpit is superb, another rarity in a three-row SUV.

With the 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated at 288 horsepower, the Enclave was peppy enough in most situations, although it did whine just a bit on a particularly long, steep hill climb out of the Sacramento Valley.

The smooth ride and plentiful standard entertainment features make this Enclave an ideal family road trip vehicle.  Taking along a lot of stuff?  The cargo room behind the third-row seat alone is 23.3 cubic feet, but the SUV can be configured to tote a monstrous 115.2 cubic feet of belongings.

Considering that the Enclave is a relatively recent arrival with its 2007 launch, it has done rather well, with around 500,000 units sold since then.

Again, I am not surprised.

The Enclave competes in a tough class that includes Lexus, Acura, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz makes, but this American-made luxury crossover has the goods to hold its own in that crowd.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

NASCAR's "playoffs" are out of control

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– If you’ve been keeping up with what NASCAR calls its Sprint Cup Series “playoffs,” you’ve likely lost touch with racing.

Because what it is going on out there right now is not what I’d call racing, a genuine shame since I’ve truly enjoyed my sometimes intimate involvement with NASCAR over the decades.

But what we have at the racetrack now is something akin to Big Time Rasslin’ or Roller Derby.
Whose fault is it?  One word: NASCAR.

The racing body built this house of horrors brick by brick, and even though the ominous writing was clearly written on the wall a year ago, the series now finds itself on the extreme end of a sham – far removed from “have at it, boys” and now firmly entrenched in the “omigod, what are they doing out there?” zone.

Two weeks ago at Talladega Superspeedway, the “greatest drivers in America” couldn’t execute 100 feet of green-flag racing on two race-ending restart attempts.  Coincidentally, defending series champ Kevin Harvick, helped trigger the second incident.  He was in a badly lame car and just happened to catch the rear bumper of a car blazing past him on the right.  The ensuing wreck secured Harvick’s advancement to the next round.

No evidence of foul-play, NASCAR said…Wink, wink.

Then last weekend, in the endless 500-lap run around Martinsville Speedway’s oval, Matt Kenseth made good on his repeated threats to stick it to Joey Logano, who has dominated this year’s playoffs and was dominating Sunday’s race when he was intentionally wrecked by Kenseth.

By the way, Kenseth was delivering “payback” for a recent racing incident that was nothing more than hard, competitive racing between him and Logano … the kind of bumper-to-bumper battle that fans see a thousand times in a typical NASCAR season.

NASCAR has created the current situation with short playoff rounds in which a single bad race can eliminate a competitive driver … Jimmie Johnson this year, for example.  So, it didn’t take long for drivers to figure out that competitors could be eliminated from the series trophy chase by wrecking them.  Or perhaps you can wreck another driver who is in line to win the series championship simply because you’re mad at him.

Is any of this a surprise?  No.

I wrote the following in a blog post on Nov. 17, 2014, just after the conclusion of last year’s Sprint Cup Series season: Keep this format in place, and I can pretty much guarantee that the inevitable will occur: A driver or his teammate will deliberately wreck a competitor to eliminate him from the playoffs. It will happen. Count on it.

And so, here we are.

And while I appreciate the storybook ending folks want as Jeff Gordon prepares to wind up his sensational career, I have serious trouble with him inheriting what would be a fifth NASCAR championship with the aid of strategic wrecking. I would rather have the drivers decide it with their skills, no matter what form of racing we’re talking about.

For example, at the 2014 Indianapolis 500, I would have been pleased to see Helio Castroneves win his record-tying fourth Indy classic.  Instead, he lost by an eye-blink in a spectacular late-race duel with winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

But suppose a Castroneves teammate (or friend) had decided the outcome that day by, say, deliberately crashing out Hunter-Reay during a previous caution period, giving Helio the win.  For my money, that would have been the most undeserved Indy 500 victory of all-time.

What’s next for NASCAR?  Racing teams deliberately crashing out the cars of other racing teams, based on pre-race plans?  Can you imagine the screaming if the equivalent happened in pro football?  A defensive end perhaps crushing the knee of the opposition’s star quarterback two seconds after the whistle blows on a given play, all in the name of “doing anything it takes to win the championship?”

Sad.  Wake me up if you ever go back to racing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Corolla says it all, in a good way

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– There have been many sports superstars who were instantly known by a single name.

A couple come to mind: Tiger in golf.  Shaq in pro basketball.

And so it is with cars.  There are some vehicles that have been around so long, are so reliable or so iconic that a one-word mention says it all.

The Camry is certainly in that group.  Mustang and Camaro, of course.  And for today’s review, Corolla.

Yes, the monster-selling Corolla is in the one-word-only crowd, and rightly so. Over the years, I’ve seen numerous conversations like the following:

“Hey Joe, Cindy is going off to college soon.  What’s she gonna drive?”

JOE: “Got her a Corolla.”

Yup, say no more.  The Corolla has built a sterling reputation because it tends to run trouble-free forever, is nicely equipped for an economical price and has safe/sane performance characteristics that make it more likely to stay out of harm’s way.

And there’s this: It an easy, enjoyable daily driver.

This is not rocket science, but I appreciated Corolla’s brilliant simplicity again recently with a week in the 2015 Toyota Corolla S Premium, wearing an easy-on-the-eyes $24,659 on the bottom line of the sticker.

My ride had just a few extras to boost the $22,905 starting price, but what caught my eye was its standard appearance.  The tester looked saucy and bossy in “Blue Crush Metallic” paint and 17-inch alloy wheels that looked ready for a round of street racing.

Maybe the sporty look explains why the 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine linked to a seamless, continuously variable transmission seemed so much stronger than the advertised 132 horsepower.  My tester was peppy in most situations, particularly in accelerations from a standing start.  It won’t blow off a Porsche, but I did not expect miracles for this affordable price.

Fuel mileage does blow most away.  The tester came in at 29 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the open road – definitely numbers you can live with if you want a reliable sedan that won’t cut deeply into your monthly gasoline budget.

The tested Corolla also was awash in safety/convenience features, and lest you think it’s cheap, standard perks included a power tilt/slide moonroof.  Four-wheel disc brakes also were a plus.

I could go on and on, but this long-established model needs no further praise.  It has had sales and star power for a long time: Corolla.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lyn St. James at California Automobile Museum

Sacramento, California – Before Danica Patrick arrived on the scene in a gigantic way in 2005, racing devotees asked to name a female race driver likely would have instantly responded with: Lyn St. James.

Highly talented with a string of top-tier accomplishments – including the 1992 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year – over her racing career, St. James also has a talent for relating her singular experiences on camera and in her own book.

On Nov. 13, Sacramento-area residents have the opportunity to attend “An Evening with Lyn St. James” at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front St., in Sacramento.
The 5:30 to 10 p.m. event includes a “Farm-to-Fork” dinner, cocktails, silent/live auctions, live entertainment and, of course, St. James.

Tickets are $75 until Nov. 1, and $85 after that.  Group/table packages also are available.  Proceeds will benefit the museum.
For more information on tickets and the event, go to or call (916) 442-6802.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Luxurious Lexus SUV resides in upper class

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– I had some seat time in the Lexus GX 460 sport-utility vehicle a little more than a year back, and getting another bit of time recently in the 2015 version, I was reminded of something.

You pay a Lexus-level price for a reason.

I’ve been on the SUV-testing highway for more than a month now, and reviewing a bunch of sport-utes in a row can make you jaded.  But my time in the “Luxury” version of the GX 460 stood out, because of the nearly obscene levels of luxury, quietness, smoothness and comfort.

And yes, you should have all those things when the bottom line on the sticker reads $65,980.

I should point out at this time that the GX 460 continues into 2016 with very few changes.  That hefty price stays in place, however.

Well, if you can afford the fare, I not only salute you, but I envy you.

The exterior look is pretty classic: big grille/boxy SUV, but inside it’s a luxury suite.

In the tester, I was surrounded by leather trim, a screaming Mark Levinson audio system and beyond-the-norm goodies such as three-zone climate control.

Standard safety features and enhanced-control systems numbered in the dozens.  Suffice it to say that this GX 460 monitors your every driving move and can warn you of imminent contact on all four sides of the vehicle.  It does this at low speed or high speed.

Make you feel secure?  Absolutely.

On the fly, the 4.6-liter V-8 with variable valve timing was something to enjoy for the long-term.  Enthusiastic on the city streets or in the commuter freeway wildlands, the tester was likewise responsive to my motions on the steering wheel.

At high speed, the tester’s interior cabin was old-school library quiet.

Closer inspection shows that the GX 460 is more than adequately equipped for off-road use.  In fact, Lexus enthusiastically promotes this fact, although I’m not sure that I would be inclined to scratch up my nearly $70,000 ride in the unpaved wilderness.

I walked away from the vehicle thinking that it gives you more on so many fronts, and I suppose that’s the definition of luxury, whether it’s in an SUV, a home or a hotel.