Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Outlander raises its game in crossover market

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

Sacramento, California – Want to compete in the crowded crossover sport-utility vehicle market?  You need to keep evolving.

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander has done just that.

Thoroughly redesigned and improved for the 2016 model year – more than 100 tweaks, according to Mitsubishi engineers – the reasonably-priced Outlander is stuffed with standard features covering all bases, from safety to cruising comfort.

My tester was the higher-end 2016 Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC … That last part stands for Super All-Wheel Control, by the way.  Kind of self-explanatory.

This Outlander GT, which means you get the 3-liter V-6 making a max 224 horsepower, started at a reasonable $30,995.  Remember, this is a three-row, up-to-seven-passengers SUV.

Naturally, the tester was dressed up with around $3,300 in extras that included a top-notch navigation system, a forward collision-mitigation system, adaptive cruise control and a lane-departure warning system.

Nice to have these things, but frankly, I’d be OK with the standard package.  For the record, this 2016 Outlander not only was awarded the max five-star safety rating from the federal government, it was a “Top Safety Pick” of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

If I listed all the standard features, this would have to be a two-part review.  The tester was liberally loaded with perks that included leather interior appointments, under-floor cargo/storage area, a power/remote liftgate and heated exterior mirrors.

The exterior look has been jazzed up, with aggressive, sporty styling, especially on the front end.

But the best news was in the driving: The tested Outlander was stronger, smoother and much quieter than Outlanders I’ve tested in past years.

Mitsubishi touted thicker door glass and more use of sound-insulation materials.  The ride also is enhanced by a more-rigid body structure.  Consequently, the Outlander was a silky freeway cruiser, and it was agile in downtown traffic when I wanted to hustle to my next appointment.

Fuel mileage with the V-6 comes in at an OK 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Some auto-reviewing colleagues complained that the 224-horsepower V-6 was not powerful enough for their tastes.  I found the power plant more than adequate in virtually all driving situations.  The engine did strain on extremely steep hill climbs, but that just puts the Outlander in a very large group.

Simply put, the Outlander bumps up from a previous “B” grade to an “A-minus” with all the changes.  Translation: It competes well among the crossovers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Crosstrek could be the multitasker of your dreams

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

Sacramento, California –  There are a lot of good reasons to buy a Subaru, and most of them can be found on the tested 2016 Crosstrek 2.0i Limited sport-utility vehicle.

You have your all-wheel drive, excellent off-roading capabilities, strong fuel mileage (26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway) and dare I say that the exterior styling looks downright cute.

Yes, I said cute.

And the starting price is pretty reasonable at $25,095.  Mine was dressed up with extras (a multimedia/navigation system and power moonroof were part of the deal) that brought the bottom line to a still-reasonable $28,840 for this five-passenger model.

Over the years, Subaru has mastered the art of driving dynamics.  I thought it was my imagination for a long time, but seriously, you can FEEL the strength of Subaru’s engineering right away.

Road manners are solid and smooth.  Off-road manners can be downright aggressive, when needed.

Auto-reviewing colleagues have taken some shots at this Crosstrek, noting that its flat-4 engine configuration is lacking in power, at around 150 horsepower.

Well, OK, maybe if you’re racing that Corvette to the exit ramp you'll find reason to complain. Otherwise, I found this crossover SUV quite capable in most conditions, certainly capable enough to keep me happy.

Subarus aren’t necessarily known as luxury liners, but the tester was nicely equipped with goodies that included leather upholstery, an all-weather package with heated front seats and multiple connectivity perks.

Standard safety features are plentiful, including a helpful blind spot-detection system.  Also noteworthy: top safety ratings, including a max five-star overall vehicle score from the feds.

The five-door design is functional, and while the Crosstrek looks small at first glance from the outside, it is surprisingly roomy on the inside.

In sum, this Crosstrek can do a lot -- on the pavement or off it -- and not crush your bank account.  It might shape up as that multitasker you been hunting for, a versatile commuter/suburan/wilderness warrior available at a nice price.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

'Baby Bentley' satisfies with Hemi V-8 power

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 June 2016 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California In some circles, the Chrysler 300 is known as the “Baby Bentley.”

For starters, the grille of the big-shouldered 300 sedan resembles what you’ll find on some high-class Bentley models.  It’s in the recently tested 2016 Chrysler 300C Premium, however, that you get the full near-Bentley experience.

My ride, with a base price of $42,445 and plenty of extras pushing the bottom line on the sticker to $51,430, was dressed up with flashy perks that you don’t see even in name-brand luxury rides.  That includes the front-center console cupholders that will heat or cool your drink at the push of a button.  Yes, I’m serious.

And then there’s the 900-watt, premium Harman Kardon audio system with NINETEEN speakers.  The steering wheel is heated.  There’s a rotary shifter.

You get the idea.  Unique and luxo to the max.

But the true Bentley experience in the tester was the presence of a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine under the hood.   This hits the performance hot spot.

With the 363-horsepower Hemi, the 300C loses any trace of bulky sluggishness.  Accelerations are crisp and strong.  On-the-fly lane changes are executed without strain.  Uphill runs are swift, invigorating climbs.

The Hemi drove the 300C with so much authority that I sometimes asked myself, “Am I driving this big hunk of sedan too fast for my capabilities?”  Maybe.

Naturally, there’s a price to pay for the performance.  Fuel mileage comes in at only 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.  I admit without shame that I didn’t care.  I was having way too much fun aggressively putting the 300C through its paces to worry about gas mileage.

While the performance rush is satisfying, the 300C’s numerous comforts are smile-inducing.

The roomy interior cabin is functional and quiet.  There’s plenty to keep you busy, and it’s all within easy reach of the driver’s seat.  Nothing like deciding to heat up your coffee in the front driver cupholder while cruising down the highway.  This must be how the other half lives.

And you can feel secure in knowing that the driving enhancement/safety features in the 300C are state of the art.  My package of extras included automatic high-beam headlamp control, blind-spot detection, a collision-warning system, adaptive cruise control and brake-assist.

I should add that the four-wheel disc brakes were top-tier stoppers.

I’ve liked the Chrysler 300 for some time, throughout its multiple variations.  I seriously recommend it with the Hemi V-8.  The 300 is a fine, upper-level sedan as is.  With the Hemi V-8 thrown in, it’s a performance-loaded every day driver that satisfies the need for speed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Buick convertible reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the all-new 2016 Buick Cascada convertible in the latest, July 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.