Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nissan's Rogue gets everything "just right"

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

Sacramento, California – They ought to call the Nissan Rogue the Goldilocks vehicle.

Why’s that?  Because everything is “just right.”

Well, that’s what my passengers said in my week with the 2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD sport-utility vehicle.

They praised the practical size of the Rogue.  And in the next breath, they talked about the generous cargo space when the rear seats were properly folded.

The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 170-horsepower engine was no screamer, but it moved the Rogue about with authority in virtually all conditions.

It has sporty styling that is instantly recognizable as SUV-worthy, with nicely cut angles here and there that offer up the promise of sporty maneuvers.

In sum, it’s an utterly functional sport-ute that starts in the $25,000 ballpark and moves up from there -- $35,475 on my super-loaded tester.

Fuel mileage, by the way, is quite good at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

When the Rogue made its debut in the 2008 model year, it was touted as a sweet match for young folks.  It even made appearances in TV shows, hammering home that theme.

Thing is, older motorists liked it as well, which is why the Rogue has been a pleasantly robust best-seller for the Nissan in the United States.

The mass appeal is easy to understand. The Rogue is generously equipped, and the option packages are equally attractive.

My tester’s comfort/convenience features lineup included a nine-speaker Bose sound system, an around-vehicle monitor, a moving object-detection system, leather seating surfaces (ditto the steering wheel and shift knob), a remote engine-start system, a motion-activated liftgate and a clever cargo system that included moveable components.  Oh, LED daytime running lights, heated exterior mirrors and those so-very-useful roof rails were part of the standard package.

My ride was dressed up options that included a power panoramic moonroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, intelligent cruise control and a pair of lane departure-warning systems.  Quite the road trip package, this one.

And it was a nimble dodger in crazy downtown traffic, where no lane change is ever accompanied by a turn signal.

The “just right” characteristics of the tested Rogue were so pleasant that, if I was footloose and fancy free and inclined to take a weeklong road trip on an hour’s notice, I’d likely put the Rogue at the top of my list as my vehicle of choice.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Primo Escalade lives up to super-lux reputation

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

Sacramento, California – Here’s the thing about driving a primo Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle wearing dark-colored paint: You get out of it and people are surprised that you’re not wearing a bullet-resistant FBI vest or opening the rear door for the governor or some other high-ranking public official.

Yeah, stereotypes.  Gotta love ’em.

But frankly, the Escalade has earned those stripes in every way over the years.  It is the quintessential big brute luxury transporter, and if you have to travel in big style, this is your ride.

In my case, the 2017 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Premium Luxury tester wore a sticker with a bottom line of $94,130.  Yes, I’m serious.

That’s about a thousand bucks short of what I paid for my home when I moved to California in 1984.

To be fair, you get a lot.  Fuel mileage is not on that list, however, coming in at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway (premium fuel is recommended, but not required).

Beyond that, the perks are nothing short of astounding.

There’s the 16-speaker Bose Surround-Sound audio system. There are 12-way power-adjustable seats. Heating and cooling are to be had in the front bucket leather seats. Seats can be folded via power (folding everything gives you a cavernous 121 cubic feet of cargo space). There’s a rear-seat entertainment system, of course.  Climate can be controlled in three zones.  The power tilt/sliding sunroof is easy to use; ditto the hands-free power liftgate.  Automatic park assist is there for nervous parallel parkers.

I could go on and on, but you’d be reading all night.  For the record, the list of safety and driving-enhancement features is just as long as the list of comfort/convenience highlights.

This is a big vehicle, riding on 22-inch wheels.  I had to make a plan to climb up into the driver’s seat.  Smaller folks might need your help vaulting into the passenger leather bucket seats.

From the cockpit, I felt like I was sitting in an elevated command center, yards higher than the surrounding traffic.

The tester was so big that I had to take care driving it.  I allowed plenty of space between my Escalade and the vehicle ahead of me in stop-and-go freeway commutes.  It’s not that the tester’s four-wheel disc brakes lacked grip – they were exceptional, actually – but you can feel every ounce of the Escalade’s nearly 6,000-pound curb weight when you’re on the move.

The 6.2-liter V-8 engine rated at 420 horsepower doesn’t have any trouble getting that weight going mind you.  It does that quite well, which is why you need to be careful.  The big vehicle can be going 70 miles per hour before you know it, and the smooth ride makes it feel like 50 mph.

So, there you have it: Luxury, performance and head-turning presence in a single package.  For those who can afford the ride, I salute you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Infiniti's Q70 sedan has pop, and all the perks

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

Sacramento, California – I’ve always liked Infiniti’s lineup with its nice mix of generous standard features and peppy performance.

The recently tested 2017 Infiniti Q70L 5.6 sedan gave me no reason to re-evaluate my long-held perceptions.

Please understand that we’re talking about a pricey piece of hardware here – $64,850 to start and $69,055 on the tester.  Luxury sedan, check.

Performance?  Yup, also there in spades.

The tester was driven by a 5.6-liter V-8 pumping out a max 416 horsepower and 414 foot-pounds of torque.  Mashing the accelerator on the Q70L delivered a satisfying engine roar and a heart-racing run-up through the seven-speed automatic transmission.

The car’s a terrific road cruiser, but the enthusiastic power plant allows the driver to fulfill some road warrior fantasies without going off the reservation.  The tester also came equipped with a manual shift mode, by the way.

OK, fuel mileage suffers amid all that power, coming in at a tepid 16 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

I’m assuming most Q70 buyers have the kind of coin to disregard gas costs, the better to enjoy the luxury/comfort/convenience features to be found on this ride.

The tester came with multiple LED lighting features, leather/climate-controlled/10-way power front seats, a heated steering wheel, Japanese Ash wood interior trim, power sliding/tinted glass moonroof, heated rear seats, a super-sophisticated navigation system, a Bose audio system with 10 speakers and enough safety/security features to qualify for recognition from the United Nations.

The tester had some subtle driving-assist features that drew my attention but did not come off as annoying – a pleasant plus in this era of overly sensitive driver-warning systems.

Handling was excellent, even on tight city streets.

Brakes were exceptional, part of a “Premium Select Edition” package that included sport brakes with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers.

Those brakes came to my rescue in the Sacramento International Airport parking garage, where a careless driver suddenly darted across the bow of my Infiniti.  As it was happening, the words “unavoidable crash” flashed through my mind, but my ride stopped on a dime and avoided a costly crunch by maybe six inches.

There are times when you thank the car for bailing you out.  This was one of those times.

Overall, my Q70L 5.6 sedan was a solid B-plus or A-minus of a luxury sedan, a good grade in a field of crowded competitors from all over the world.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Reworked Audi A4 leaves them in the dust

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

Sacramento, California While they’re close cousins sharing plenty of DNA, there are differences between power and performance.

Power, as in that put out by a motor vehicle’s engine, is pretty straightforward, with specific measurements as you run up through the engine revs.

Performance is a more nuanced.

Performance can gently press you deep into your driver’s seat or snap your neck in such a way as to create pain that lingers for a day.  And some cars have what I call freeze-frame performance.  That’s where the car’s acceleration and movements are so abrupt that everything surrounding the car appears to freeze in place.

Those of you who remember the old “Six Million Dollar Man” TV series know what I’m talking about.  Ditto if you watch current TV episodes of “The Flash.”

The extensively reworked for 2017 Audi A4 has freeze-frame performance.  Or to be precise, I experienced it in my tester: the 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro S tronic.  Got that?  Good.

What most of that means is that my ride had a 2-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 252 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque linked to a seven-speed S tronic transmission and a very sophisticated all-wheel drive system.

Now those aren’t spectacular numbers or unique features, but the way the A4 employs them gets the heart racing.

Acceleration from a standing start is pretty exciting, but the real blast comes when the A4 is asked for more at, say, freeway speed.  Traveling among a group of cars at around 60 miles per hour, an added tap on the accelerator sends the Audi into freeze-frame mode.  It just sprints away from everything, and everything else appears to be super-glued to the pavement.

What a rush!  Naturally, I repeated this move numerous times over my week in the car.  It never ceased to amaze me.  Just for the record, Motor Trend magazine tested the A4 2.0T at 5.4 seconds in the zero-to-60-mph run.  So believe us, the performance is there.

Beyond that, the A4 sedan is a luxury liner stuffed with enjoyable comfort/convenience features and state-of-the-art technology.

Standard perks on my tester included LED lighting inside and out, a power sunroof, three-zone digital climate control and a keyless engine stop/start system.

The starting price of the tested A4 2.0T was $39,400, but it was dressed up with packages that swelled the sticker’s bottom line to $51,575.  The extras included a “Prestige” package that included heated/auto-dimming/power folding exterior mirrors, a blazing surround-sound audio system and a full color head-up display.

Exterior styling is sleek, but elegantly understated – just the right note for a luxury sedan.

And for all its performance, the fuel mileage ratings were an impressive 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

You’d think that with all that luxury and years of engineering genius that they could place the front cupholders in a smart spot.  Instead, they’re flush against the bottom of the center stack of controls, meaning you’re out of luck if you have anything more than a small plastic coffee cup.

That’s a minor gripe for an Audi A4 that is otherwise an A-grade car all the way.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Power-laden Fusion reviewed in latest Cruisin' News

Check out my review of the performance-loaded 2017 Ford Fusion V6 Sport sedan in the latest, June 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, 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, June 1, 2017

Toyota, Lexus sedans get high hybrid marks

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

Sacramento, California -- In this tale of two hybrid sedans, the buyer comes out a winner in either case.  It’s just a matter of how much you want to spend.

I tested the 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE (pictured) and the 2017 Lexus ES 300h, respectively, over two consecutive weeks, and frankly, it was difficult to favor one over the other.  That’s saying something given that the bottom line on the Lexus was a hefty $48,415, or $12,000 more than $36,351 on the Toyota.

The Camry’s monster-selling characteristics were fully evident in my ride, with generous comfort/convenience features, excellent safety ratings and a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine nicely assisted by an electric “Hybrid Synergy Drive” system.  Yes, you’re paying some for the hybrid technology, but 40 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway feels pretty good.

Road manners on the Camry were exceptional, and the hybrid propulsion system demonstrated admirable oomph when asked.

My Camry was loaded up with an incredibly long list of extra goodies, including illuminated door sill enhancements.  It was all very nice, but the basic XLE with hybrid technology stood tall on its own.

My Camry was dressed up with a wide assortment of communication/audio perks, and even though the Camry has been around for seven generations now, it’s hard to imagine a young motorist walking away from this tech-ready ride.

Moving to the Lexus ES 300h demonstrated to me that the two sedans shared similar charms, but this being a Lexus, there were subtle things that stood out.  The ride seemed a bit smoother, a bit firmer.  Fit and finish was more perfect.  The solid “ka-chunk” of closing the driver’s side door spoke of a solid, sure-footed machine.

I was somewhat surprised to see that the Lexus hybrid got a little better fuel mileage than the Camry, coming in at 40 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

The Lexus stood out for its lengthy list of safety features, which included “smart stop” technology, intelligent high beam headlights and a pre-collision system.

The tester featured a silky-smooth, quiet freeway presence, with a strong response when it came time to zip around weekday commute pokes.

Again, it comes down to money.

The Camry radiates reliable performance and long-haul comfort for a relatively affordable price, given its hybrid technology.  The Lexus, appropriately, is more of a luxury liner.  And it shows.

Performance history indicates that both will run forever, creating zero or very few surprise trips to the service center over the years.  Tough choice, but both are safe bets.