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.