Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Buick's Encore a loaded, affordable crossover

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

Sacramento, California – Looking for a Buick sport-utility vehicle but don’t want to lay down the $40,000 to $47,000 or so it takes to get into the automaker’s Enclave?

If so, you might want to take a look at the latest Buick Encore, extensively reworked for 2017 and an SUV sufficiently loaded to make you feel really good about saving some money.

My 2017 Buick Encore Premium tester with front-wheel drive had a lengthy list of standard features for the starting price of $30,465, and even a substantial option package kept the bottom line at $34,675.

The extras included the variable valve timing version of the turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four cylinder engine with a max horsepower rating of 153, or 15 more horses than the standard power plant.

The tester responded quickly and enthusiastically in most situations, struggling just a bit on the steepest of hill climbs.  Handling was akin to what I expect from a midsize sedan, a good thing.

The Encore looks a bit pinched and squat parked next to its Enclave sibling, but the crossover has a clean look from all angles.  Smooth, aerodynamic styling on the front end is new for 2017.

The interior has likewise been restyled … for the better.  Chrome accents and carefully crafted stitching are definite improvements, and the center stack of controls is easier to use.  I really liked the easy-to-read, 8-inch color touch screen.

Five-star federal government safety ratings abound on the Encore, including a top-level overall vehicle score.  Fuel mileage on the tester came in at a strong 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Interior comforts were downright luxurious, with leather-appointed seats and a Bose premium audio system.  The tester was loaded with safety/security systems, including a rear cross-traffic alert (kept me honest in crowded parking lots several times) and forward collision alert.

The only minor gripe I had was less-than-optimum, 360-degree vision from my cockpit seat, but this was mostly negated by the standard side blind-zone alert system, standard on the Encore.

All in all, the Encore earns a B-plus to A-minus grade among the large field of practical-size, relatively-affordable crossovers.


Thanks for reading in 2016.  Happy new year to all.  Looking forward to offering my take on more vehicles in 2017 -- MG

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2017 Kia Forte feels fine, with a braking bonus

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

Sacramento, California – Thankfully, it’s not often that you experience the real-life engagement of a motor vehicle’s emergency safety system during a test drive.

But it happened to me in my recent week with the refreshed-for-2017 Kia Forte EX sedan. Let me explain.

My dressed-up compact came with an “Autonomous Emergency Braking” system, which will automatically take over the hard-braking duties if sensors determine the car to be an eye-blink away from serious trouble.  Yeah, you know what’s coming, right?

On a recent commute home to the Sacramento suburbs, driving a route I’ve driven hundreds of times, I encountered a perfect storm for a chain-collision crash while at the wheel of the Forte.

Rolling in the center lane of a three-lane highway in heavy traffic, the truck in front of me suddenly went into a full panic stop at around 60 miles per hour.  Naturally, I did the same. In a fraction of a second, I determined that we would not collide, so I took my foot off the brake, but the Forte’s AEB system took over and sent the brake pedal flat to the floor.

My instant reaction was panic, as I was certain that the car behind me would crunch my rear bumper hard.  I immediately pumped the accelerator, hoping to avoid this.

Amazingly, everything straightened out and no contact occurred.  Given all the evidence, I came to the conclusion that one of two things happened: For one, the driver behind me deserved a medal for reacting so quickly to avoid crashing into me.  Or two, the Forte’s AEB system saved my bacon.

I’m inclined to believe it was the latter.

So, if you are searching for a compact that just might bail you out of a hot spot during a dicey urban commute, put the Forte at the top of your list.

Oh, by the way, there’s much more to like about the latest Forte beyond that.

Sleek, sporty styling draws approving nods from folks viewing the Forte’s profile, and an upgrade in engines for 2017 bolsters the saucy look.  My ride had a 2-liter, four-cylinder power plant rated at 164 horsepower.  This was more than enough to move the Forte around with authority.

I found the Forte quite agile in quick slalom moves, and the steering balance was just about perfect, which is saying something for a compact sedan.

Fuel mileage ratings on the tester were a sublime 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.  The starting price on an EX is $21,200, with plentiful options available.

On the motion picture scale, this 2017 Forte deserves four stars … and my thanks for almost certainly braking me out of harm’s way.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Enhanced Mitsubishi Mirage is the best one yet

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

Sacramento, California – The Mitsubishi Mirage dates back to the disco era of the late 1970s, but the latest, reworked-for-2017 version is the best of the lot.

Basic transportation refined for our times.  That’s the ticket.

My tester was the 2017 Mirage GT five-door hatchback, and the sticker numbers that draw your attention right off the bat are: 37 miles per gallon in the city and 43 mpg on the highway.

Yes, that will put a smile on your face.  So will a starting price of $16,495.

Naturally, there are some sacrifices to be made to match those numbers.

The power plant is a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder creation rated at 78 horsepower, which is actually up 4 horses from the 2016 model.

Be advised: You really have to mash your right foot down hard to get rolling into the freeway traffic, and the three-cylinder engine will make a hair-raising amount of noise when asked to give its all.

The other side of the coin: This econo-liner is not stripped, and it looks good.

Standard features on the tester included a rear spoiler, a front seat heater, steering wheel-mounted controls for cruise/audio and fog lights.

Best of all, the look has changed for the better … much better, in my view.

Mitsubishi redesigned the hood, grille, front/rear bumpers, headlamps and wheels (15-inch, two-tone alloys on the tester).  The result is a cleaner, more-aerodynamic appearance.

The automaker also offers a lengthy list of entertainment and tech options, the better to dress up your Mirage to your liking.

My GT was nimble in downtown traffic, a plus in a driving environment where too many drivers make sudden, unexpected moves in an all-out effort to dent your bumpers.  Another downtown bonus: The tester was a snap to park in even the tightest urban lots. And the brakes were surprisingly grippy.

This being a Mitsubishi model, the consumer protections are outstanding – 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, 5-year/60,000 new vehicle limited warranty, 7-year/100,000-anti-corrosion/perforation limited warranty and a 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance program.

Overall, the newest Mirage GT stacks up as a deal-maker, with one potential deal being that you could get your college-age son/daughter a reliable new car instead of rolling the dice on a used model.  Likewise, this Mitsubishi is a smart choice as a daily driver for commuters watching their budgets and their fuel expenditures.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Maserati's Ghibli sedan is something special

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

This review first appeared in the November 2016 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California When you’re offered a drive in a 2016 Maserati Ghibli sedan, you jump at it.

This is something special, beyond the routine.  At least that’s what you expect from Maserati.

To put it mildly, I was not disappointed in my day with the car.

I knew about the Ghibli before it ever showed up in the United States.  News of its elegance and performance arrived before the car landed on these shores.  Happily, the advance reviews were accurate.

First off, even my basic Ghibli looked fast just sitting there.  The best of Euro styling accented a long, flowing front end that promised aerodynamic bliss.

Inside, a luxurious cabin is enhanced by thoughtfully placed controls.  Everything is so elegant and classy looking that you can’t imagine ever bringing a cup of coffee or any kind of food into this vehicle.  If a car can raise your sophistication level, this is the one.

An eight-speed automatic transmission was matched to a 3-liter, twin-turbo V-6 making a max 345 horsepower.  Frankly, the engine feels more powerful than advertised.  Jumps off the line are immediate and brisk.  Runs up to 60 or 70 miles per hour are a quick rush, made all the better by a satisfying growl from the power plant.

I found the steering a bit firm on the tester, but in a reassuring way.  At no time did I feel like I was laboring to take sharp corners.

Given the Ghibli’s power, fuel mileage is relatively fair at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

This might be the best $70,000 to $80,000 you’ll ever spend.

It should be noted that the Ghilbi can be dressed up with yet more power and some top-of-the-line options, including a blasting Harman Kardon audio system.

I know what you’re thinking.  This is beyond most household budgets.  I hear that loud and clear.  It’s beyond mine.

But consider the options for a moment.

This is essentially an entry-level Maserati, an exotic marque that carries the same kind of emotional impact as Ferrari.  The Ghibli is smaller and much more affordable than its big brother, the Maserati Quattroporte, which is priced well into the six-figure ballpark.  And the Ghilbi is loaded with safety features, making it more than a prestige-loaded Euro luxury liner.

Bottom line: A starter Ghibli can be had for what you might pay these days for some high-end sport-utility vehicles, and if you’re craving a Euro sports car with exotic leanings, the Ghibli might be the one you’ve been seeking for all these years.

Is it worth it?  You can make that call after a test drive.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lincoln MKZ sedan reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the 2017 Lincoln MKZ sedan in the latest, December 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.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Santa Fe Sport gets better with 2017 upgrades

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

Sacramento, California – The Hyundai Santa Fe has long been a dependable multitasker in the Korean automaker’s fleet.

Entry-level, second level, sturdy crossover, peppy sport-utility vehicle. Over the years, the Santa Fe has played all these parts.

But arguably the most pleasant experience I’ve had in the vehicle was a recent week in the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate FWD.  Long name.  Plentiful pleasure.

Hyundai’s engineers swung at the 2017 Santa Fe Sport with both fists, producing an extensively reworked version for the new model year.

The manufacturer says the latest Santa Fe Sport has nearly 350 updated components.

Since “Sport” is in the name, Hyundai tweaked the front and rear fascia to convey a more-aggressive look.  Smartly placed LED lighting and 19-inch alloy wheels worked well on the tester.

All Santa Fe powertrains offer multiple mode selections, enabling pilots to cover a range from dark green mode to let ’er rip.  The tester was equipped with a turbo 4 that made a maximum 240 horsepower.  That was more than enough to tackle the city streets, the daily suburban-urban commute and even twisty uphill climbs.

Steering was firmer than I remember in previous Santa Fe models, a positive thing when taking on mountain roads.

Some price has to be paid for the power curve, of course, so fuel mileage came in at a so-so 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

I’ll admit to being stunned at the long list of standard features on my ride.  The perks included a hands-free smart liftgate, heated seats all around, a multi-view camera system and an easy-to-read 8-inch touchscreen/navigation system.

The tester had an “Ultimate Tech Package” of extras (smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and auto-leveling headlights, to name just a few) that helped push the $36,500 starting price to $39,070 on the bottom line.

Hyundai rightly touts a strong safety record on the Santa Fe Sport, topped by a max five-start federal government safety rating.  As usual for Hyundai, the warranties are generous.

I used to tout the Santa Fe as a perfect downtown commuter that was equally useful in doing those endless suburban chores.  My latest experience tells me that it also would be a comfortable road trip warrior, with a generous cargo-carrying capacity.

Overall, this sweetly reworked Santa Fe Sport grades out in the B-plus to A-minus niche.