About: Autolove

Joe Mavilia is a syndicated columnist with more than 35 years in the automotive industry. He is a member of the Motor Press Guild and Automotive Press Association. His reviews have been published in print media including the Los Angeles Times, The Golden Transcript - Colorado, La Feria News - Texas, The Pasadena Weekly - California, and others around the country, including www.theweekenddrive.com where he is the West Coast Editor. Reviews and Opinion Columns may also be seen in Sunnews.org and The Country Journal every week in the Antelope Valley, CA. I hope they are helpful

Recent Posts by Autolove

2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0 i Limited

2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0 i Limited

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0 i Limited. In 2016 I reviewed the Impreza Premium and now I’m checking out the Small Wagon.

At the end of the day, I think it is my duty to present the good auto options and ignore others that don’t measure up to what we all demand in something so indispensable in today’s fast-moving population. Subaru is one of those good car manufacturers that seem to spend more on engineering than they do advertising. I don’t think they blow their own horn as much as most, but if you deliver a good product, as they say the world will beat a path to your door.

Advertising is self-serving, of course, so for me I’m more interested in the actual performance ‘at the wheel’ to get the experience, unrehearsed and unchoreographed, which is what advertising does.

For more than a quarter century I have been testing most all cars on and off road because the manufacturers believe in the process of independent reviews to give unbiased and unvarnished opinions of their cars. Never has a car company even hinted at the idea of saying only nice things about their cars. To me that is a testimony they have confidence in their products. Let’s face it, buying a car is a major purchase decision for us all, and one we won’t have to make any time soon.

General Information:

Parts- US/Canadian 40%, Japan 45%; Engine and transmission- Japan; Assembled in- Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Class- Small Wagon; Cars from Subaru- BRZ, Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback, WRX.

Handling & Performance:

I’m always impressed with the innovation that is taking place in the auto industry as they apply technology that is so subtle you don’t even know it’s working in the background.

Safety Pedal System, or Brake override protects, via computer, against the occurrence of both the accelerator and the brake being pressed at the same time. The system senses that and then applies the brake and closes the throttle. Yes, it may be a rare occurrence, but it can and does happen with bad results.

Another subtle feature is VDC (vehicle dynamic control), to increase stability on slippery surfaces and to improve cornering performance by preventing skids. It does that by reducing engine power and / or apply the brakes to slow down individual wheel spin to keep the intended path rather than allowing you to go off the road. Neat feature.

Styling:

Clean and conservative body design.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Subaru, to me, is always a good investment.

Conveniences and comfort:

A good features list for the money, but if you can afford the options noted for about 4-grand I think it is worth the cost.

Consumer Recommendations:

Subaru is ‘first class’ and should be looked at closely as an option for that next economy small wagon / sedan.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled Drive Train
Subaru Impreza 20,000 32 5 4 Japan USA 4WD
Chevrolet Cruze 20,000 33 5 4 USA USA FWD
Mazda 3 20,000 32 5 4 Japan Japan FWD
Hyundai Elantra 21,000 32 5 4 Korea Korea FWD

Good News:

Priced well, good quality, economical, comfortable ride for seating of 5.

Bad News:

N/A.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 4-cylinder Horizontally opposed engine, Symmetrical all-wheel drive, Continuously Variable (CVT) automatic transmission, 17” alloy wheels, Vehicle Dynamic Control, front, side and side curtain airbags, driver knee airbag, safety pedal system, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, rear vision camera, tire pressure monitor, anti-theft system with engine immobilizer system, power folding exterior mirrors with turn signals, climate control, multimedia audio system, smartphone connectivity, HD radio, Sirius XM, Bluetooth hands free phone, USB port with iPod and iPhone connectivity, cruise control, auto on/off headlights, power windows, Locks and mirrors, keyless access with push-button start, 6-way power driver’s seat, leather, illuminated vanity mirrors, trip computer, leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter, 60/40 split fold down rear seatback, all-weather package with heated front seats.

Options: On this vehicle included Eyesight feature including pre-collision braking, lane departure, adaptive cruise (smart cruise) control, power moonroof, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse auto braking, high beam assist, upgraded audio system, Sirius XM traffic. Cost: $3,845.

Gas Stats:

$3.45 / Gal avg. August 5, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

28 City and 37 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $24,595.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Jeep Wrangler Sport 4X4

2018 Jeep Wrangler Sport 4X4

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

“Faint hearted men are the product of a luxurious society; the same soil produces neither luxuries nor heroes.”

Early pioneers and those that followed up until 1960 were get ‘er done solid citizens of America. Most of the rest of the world is still in the stone ages while the good old USA prospers with the last vestiges of freedom that exist only in America. Don’t let it slip through your fingers or you will be flipping the finger to those great men and women who made this country great.

Overview:

This is the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sport 4X4. For starters there really is no competition in this area of off road vehicles. But we will throw in a few others that are AWD and could go off road but if you’re looking for special, Jeep is unbeatable.

I’m biased because I have a special love affair with Jeep from my Navy days in the South Pacific and elsewhere. The image of Jeep is that of raw and basic transportation. WWII days relied on those no-frills Jeeps that played a major role for the free world to win that war.

I also have tooled around the back country in an original 1942 version with a friend who owns one. Whether forging streams, going fishing or just rock climbing in the High Sierra’s it holds an aura of history and heritage where bonds between man and machine cannot be broken.

And finally, today’s Jeep is my intended next vehicle to tow behind a motorhome. It’s a dream I’ve had for a long time so when I get to my destinations, no matter the terrain I’m good to go.

General Information:

It is assembled in- Toledo, Ohio, USA; Parts- US/Canada 60%, Mexico 22%, Engine – Mexico, Transmission – USA; Classification is- Small SUV; Cars from Jeep- Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Patriot, Renegade, Wrangler, Wrangler JK, Wrangler JK Unlimited and Wrangler Unlimited.

Handling & Performance:

This short wheel-based Jeep has great turning radius and is a super sure-footed SUV I have tested in tough off-road conditions over many years. This 2018 is state of the art off-road and in today’s world it is my first choice for the adventurous.

In the process of testing all off-road vehicles, my first shot at the Humvee military version to replace the Jeep was not impressive. For personal use, the roads are just not conducive with the Humvee, while the Jeep will go where Humvee’s can’t. Our road systems and trails in the outback have been developed over hundreds of years to accommodate typical vehicles of the day which are far too narrow for the “Desert Storm” type of venue where the Humvee would be used.

Styling:

Traditional Jeep design has been retained from the first ones produced. That design has been mimicked by others but still the look and feel of Jeep is king.

Fit and Finish:

Jeep is as good as it gets for a serious off-road vehicle. It is the fluffy SUV that is a fish out of water off road. Jeep is most comfortable where ever it is asked to go. It is beautiful out there, but the roads are generally far from pretty.

Cost:

Not cheap, but when it’s the only game in town it is worth the price of admission. Plus, you must consider all the skid plates etc. to outfit it for rugged use, is what makes it special and that costs more.

Conveniences and comfort:

Jeep has continued to improve the ride on highway. It is surprisingly smooth and comfortable.

Consumer Recommendations:

Look at the video and although it will seem a bit extreme I have to tell you, I’ve been in extreme off-road conditions I didn’t believe possible for any commercial vehicle. Jeep made me a believer. If you’re looking for Bear Grylls kind of adventures, you’ll want to have the best. That is Jeep in my experience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5AWZvB1FuU

Pricing is up to you: Consider how you’ll be using this vehicle. Will you be traversing the hills of Beverly Hills or Rubicon in and around Lake Tahoe, CA? The way this Jeep is equipped I doubt you need all the options which are numerous but available. And if you want all the comforts of home I doubt you will be camping and trail blazing anytime soon. Then you will want the $12,000 of options to cruise Beverly Hills, Malibu or brave the summer heat of California. Let’s face it, you don’t need air conditioning in the Sierra’s at 9,000 feet. You won’t need keyless entry because you will probably be leaving the keys in the ignition. You know, those kinds of things that are unnecessary in the wilderness. Just say’s.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled Drive Train
Jeep Wrangler 28,000 18 4 2 USA USA 4WD
Hyundai Tucson 31,000 25 5 4 Korea Korea AWD
Ford Escape 34,000 23 5 4 USA USA AWD
Kia Sportage 35,000 21 5 4 Korea Korea AWD

Good News:

The best off-road vehicle hands down.

Bad News:

A little pricey and fuel economy continues to be extreme.

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter VS 24 valve VVT engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, front and side seat airbags, rear back up camera, 4-wheel drive, 3.45 axle gear ratio, front and rear solid axles, fuel tank skid plate, transfer case skid plate and transmission skid plate, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, stability control, electronic roll mitigation, trailer sway damping, hill start assist, keyless enter and go, sentry key theft deterrent system, tire pressure monitor, Uconnect 3 with 5” display, 8-speakers, media hub for USB and Aux, integrated voice command with Bluetooth, 12-volt aux power outlet, tilt and telescopic steering column, steering wheel mounted audio controls, manual seat adjustment and door locks, rear folding seat. This standard equipment is covered for the below listed MSRP.

Gas Stats:

$3.45 / Gal avg. July 27, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $26,995.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Lexus RX 350 5-door SUV

2018 Lexus RX 350 5-door SUV

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Lexus RX 350 5-door SUV. The general thought is that the RX has grown larger, heavier and longer in a negative way. Some miss the smaller cute version. Well, although I also didn’t see its classification as ‘small’ it is rather midsize to me, and I like the new more spacious size.

Surely it is a lovely and classy vehicle that is priced very well and is in a class with a lot of competition. Demand for SUVs has continued since the popularization of the ‘station wagon’ in the late 1950s and 1960s. They were then touted as a utility wagon for moms’needs and they even suggested dads could use it for fishing and camping trips. Jeep, of course, took rough and tumble adventures to a new level. That was shortly after and the adventurous embraced utility vehicles with a kinda pioneer spirt of a few generations before.

I suspect all these luxury models as noted here have more to do with consumer image rather than areal desire for the outdoors.

A U.S. News magazine article some 4 years agoexplained, “The rugged individualist has traded in his boots for a comfortable pair of Rockports.” And they also concluded the baby boomers have stopped pretending to be off-roading daredevils and SUV popularity would end soon.

Well, it looks like they got it wrong and SUVs continue to be highly prized even if it is the image that is the real draw. The SUVs of the past decade have gotten prettier and although the 4X4 versions are capable and sophisticated engineering marvels, they are rarely used off-road. You may remember my mentioning that only about 5% of SUVs will ever get off-road.

General Information:

Assembly- Cambridge Ontario Canada; Classification is- Small-Standard SUV; Vehicles from Lexus- CT, ES, GS, GX, IS, LC, LS, LX, NX, RC, RX.

Handling & Performance:

Super comfortable ride for your Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive shopping trips. Fast and quiet.

Styling:

Elegant classy look.

Fit and Finish:

Outstanding assembly, which is rightfully expected these days. Squeaky components are rare but as luck would have it,my personal truck came with an annoying whistle no one seems to know why it does that. My response: “Well it is a Ford, after all”.

Cost:

You can get into a new Lexus RX at the low $40,000 range but with all the bells and whistles and luxury packages you’ll be right at $50,000. Or you could put a down payment on a house and continue to drive the old reliable clunker a few more years.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very well equipped and with options available for even higher tech features and more luxury features so thatyou’ll want for very little.

Scout® GPS Link is a part of the equipment on this RX which is to connect your car to your smartphone and to the cloud. I like that because it would allow me to eliminate the Nav system built in. Most cell phones have nicely advanced navigation capability.

Consumer Recommendations:

Wow, this is a great field but also a lot to be considered. I have no favorites here. SUVs are here to stay and with nearly half of all vehicles on the road being SUVs and Pickups they will continue to dominate the market for some time to come (in my opinion).

New 2019 models are emerging in August and September, so I suggest if you’re interested in finding a new car, go for the 2018 model year and you can realize great savings.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Lexus RX 350 50,000 23 5 4 Japan Canada
Lincoln MKT 50,000 17 7 4 USA Canada
Dodge Durango 50,000 21 7 4 USA USA
Acura MDX 50,000 22 7 4 Japan Canada
Cadillac XT5 49,000 21 5 4 USA USA
VW Atlas 49,000 19 7 4 Germany USA
Toyota Highlander 50,000 28 7 4 Japan USA
Jeep Grand Cherokee 49,000 21 5 4 USA USA
Buick Enclave 49,000 21 7 4 USA USA

Good News:

Comfortable quiet ride, priced well in class.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 285 HP V6 engine, direct injection and VVT (Variable Valve Timing), 8-speed auto trans with Drive mode select, 18” Aluminum alloy wheels, 10-airbags, safety system with pre-collision and pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, auto high beam headlights, lane departure alert with steering assist and lane keep assist, Power ABS disc braking system with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), fog lights, daytime running lights, auto on/off headlights, theft deterrent system with engine immobilizer, electronic parking brake, Lexus Enform safety connect and service connect, back up camera, 9-speaker display audio system, HD Radio with iTunes tagging, dual USB ports, Sirius satellite radio, Scout GPS Link, rain sensing wipers, climate control, 10-way power front seats, power tilt and telescopic steering column, 40/20/40 split folding rear seat, power back door, smart access with push button start/stop, Bluetooth hands free phone and audio streaming.

Gas Stats:

20 City and 27 Highway MPG

$3.49/ Gal avg. July 22, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $43,270 plus.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0 T SE

2018 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0 T SE

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0 T SE. Large! What ever happened to cute little VW’s? Well, you can say VW has grown up and it’s gone from cute to mature. You know any company will chase the sales and consumer demand dictates what manufacturer’s will produce. So, you, the consumer, have more power than you may acknowledge or believe is possible. Manufacturer’s do listen and care what you think so make your views known.

General Information:

It is assembled in- Chattanooga, TN, USA; Parts- US/Canadian 48%, Engine – Mexico, Transmission – Japan; Classification is- SUV (small – I don’t think so); Cars from Volkswagen- Atlas, Beetle, CC, e-Golf, Golf, Golf Alltrack, Golf Gti, Golf R, Golf Sportswagen, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan & Touareg.

Handling & Performance:

Far faster than I expected for a mid-size SUV. I’d feel more comfortable if it were AWD since it is a good utility vehicle. I also found the steering super sensitive and I prefer more feel in my power steering. You may not find it as negative as I did.

Styling:

VW on steroids.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Right on target in class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Most of the tech features I suggest, however voice recognition needs a lot of help. It just isn’t very good, not-withstanding many of these systems require time to adjust to the user’s voice. I couldn’t get it to work properly.

Consumer Recommendations:

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Country of Origin Assembled
VW Atlas 31 24 7 Germany USA
Jeep Grand Cherokee 32 21 5 USA USA
Dodge Durango 31 21 5 USA USA
Ford Flex 31 19 7 USA Canada
Hyundai Santa Fe 32 21 7 Korea Korea
Chevrolet Traverse 31 21 8 USA USA
Kia Sorento 31 22 7 Korea USA
Toyota Highlander 32 22 8 Japan USA

Good News:

Roomy, comfortable ride with very good technology features and well-priced.

Bad News:

Voice recognition sucks, super sensitive steering.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter turbo 4-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection, FWD – front wheel drive with 4-wheel independent suspension, front, side and side curtain airbags, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, engine brake assist, anti-slip regulation, electronic brake force distribution, stability control, intelligent crash response system, LATCH system, tire pressure monitoring, 18” alloy wheels, auto LED headlights and daytime running lights, halogen front fog lights, heated foldable power mirrors with integrated turn signals, rain sensing variable intermittent wipers with heated washer nozzles, dual zone manual climate control with air vents in all three rows, leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel, tilt / telescopic steering column, 10-way power heated driver seat, 4-way manual heated passenger seat, 2nd row 60/40 split folding seats, adjustable with 3rd row easy access, 3rdrow 50/50 split fold flat seats, leatherette seating, reading lights all three rows, rear view camera, blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert, keyless access with push button start, composition media 8” touch screen, multi band radio & CD player, dual USB inputs, Aux-in, voice control & 8-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity for compatible devices, Sirius XM Satellite radio, anti-theft alarm system with vehicle immobilizer, cruise control, Electric parking brake.

Gas Stats:

$3.49/ Gal avg. July 16, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

22 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $33,590.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO 4X4 dbl cab

2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO 4X4 dbl cab

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO 4X4 dbl cab. Toyota says you can ‘go way, way, way off-road’ and take off-roading even further. TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development. There is a lot of buzz and ‘look-sees’ on line and on the road about this new offering to avid off-roaders. Even if folks didn’t know much about this new ‘tough guy’ they knew it looked serious about going outback.

Me, I took it to the High Sierra’s where most of the geography was solid granite. I can’t help wondering how well it would do on the Jeep Jamboree venue’s. Rubicon Trail, west of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains, is classed a 10 in difficulty and it is much like the Granite formations in the Sierra mountains where I tested this Tacoma.

General Information:

Assembly- San Antonio, TX. USA; Classification is- Small Pickup; Vehicles from Toyota- 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, C-HR,Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma Access Cab, Tacoma Double Cab, Tundra CrewMax, Tundra Double Cab, Tundra Regular Cab, Yaris and Yaris iA.

Handling & Performance:

It is promoted as a serious off-road truck and I don’t doubt Toyota’s assessment. I’ve been on Jeep Jamboree’s in past years and was hugely impressed with the sure-footed prowess of Jeep’s off-road. I didn’t get into as serious outback adventures as those Jamboree’s because I was not supported by 120 other Jeeps traversing the same terrain.

But I did pal around with a 1942 Army version Jeep and of course it is the “Original” granddaddy of tough off road, all terrain vehicles. The Jeep is much smaller so it could go places I could. Talk about basic, the Jeep is basic to the max. The Toyota is a ‘Cadillac’ by comparison.

I was far above the dust of the desert, but the 2019 model of this Tundra has moved the air intake above the windshield. So, if you’re intending to enter the Baja 1000 you may want that new design.

“Crawl Control” – there is a setting designed for driving on difficult terrain at low speeds. It assists the driver by controlling acceleration and braking, allowing the driver to focus on steering. So, if you’re on large and lose rock it crawls slowly. Those who have been over large boulders and challenging terrain know ‘fast’ isn’t a good thing in such situations. This feature will keep you in control. Pretty cool.

Styling:

Style is typically Toyota but this TRD PRO takes the look to another level of Toughness Japanese trucks haven’t been known for in the past. Nice addition to the brand.

Fit and Finish:

Very Toyota – very good.

Cost:

Pricing is just about where I expected it to be. I have a Ford F350 4X4 Long Bed and $70,000 just gets you in the door. So, after taking this Tacoma through its paces in the High Sierra rugged mountains I must admit the price is ok by me.

Conveniences and comfort:

This model includes all the important features I enjoy and demand for the cars / trucks I care to drive and own. The list is generous and all is included with no ups and extras. Nice, I like it.

In addition to the great on-road features, TRD Pro is equipped with a heavy duty 1/4” aluminum skid plate to avoid being ‘inconvenienced’ off-road.

Consumer Recommendations:

Not a large field of serious off-road trucks so the search is a short journey. Look closely and I think you’ll agree this TRD PRO is a very serious contender. It’s at the top of my list for sure.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin
Toyota Tacoma 45,000 18-22 5 4 Japan
Nissan Frontier 38,000 15-21 5 4 Japan
Chevrolet Colorado 44,000 19-22 5 4 USA

Good News:

Consistent performer, comfortable ride on-road and great off-road prowess.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

3.5-liter V6 / 278 horsepower engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel on demand, part-time 4×4 system with 2-speed electronically controller transfer case, locking rear differential; multi-terrain select. Crawl control; Hill-start control, towing receiver hitch, engine oil cooler, power steering cooler, 130-amp alternator, 4/7 pin connector and trailer sway control, Toyota safety sense, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, sway warning system, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, rear backup camera and rear parking sonar, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert, TRD-tuned FOX 2.5 internal bypass shocks with rear remote reservoirs, LED fog lights, TRD front skid plate and TRD exhaust, 16” TRD Black Alloy wheels, 5 foot composite bed with 120 v power outlet, deck rail system with 4 adjustable tie down cleats, easy lower, lockable and removable tailgate, smart key system with push button start, leather trim seats with heated driver and front passenger seats, leather trim steering wheel with audio controls, power horizontal rear window with privacy glass, front dual zone A/C with individual temperature controls, Entune premium audio with integrated Navigation and app-suite, 7” hi – resolution screen, AM/FM/CD, USB/AUX, Bluetooth, HD radio and SXM, Qi Compatible wireless smartphone charging.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 22 Highway MPG

$3.39 / Gal avg. July 9, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $43,520.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Lexus RC 350 2-door Coupe

2018 Lexus RC 350 2-door Coupe

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Lexus RC 350 2-door Coupe. Wow,FLAIR YELLOW will wake up the senses. But they have some other bright colors as well. It reminds me of the Socialist countries where a drab color has been the PC thing and you’re expected to wear dark earthy colors. Those colors are surely practical and Henry Ford’s early car production lines turned out cars of any color you wanted as long as it was Black. In today’s world painting cars has reached its pinnacle as they have perfected the process so well that any color is possible – even Black.

I say Celebrate the joy of life with vibrant (lively, vivacious, exciting) colors on your car. Some are adventuresome but by and large you see mostly white and black or other dark colors on cars. The bright yellow inspired me to think about why it is so uplifting. You need only go to Nature for a rainbow of color on Birds, and frogs and so many beautiful lives in creation. In LA you even see purple and yellow hair. It does look cool but I wouldn’t want to marry it.

Well back to this car. I’ve been through nearly all Lexus product recently and this RC Sport is no exception to the great performance cars these truly are. Yellow only adds to the allure of this fast and fun to drive sport car.

I’m not so enamored with Toyota product as so many are but they truly produce a fine automobile. I’ve owned a lot of cars including a few Toyota’s over the years and driven most all on and off the race track for nearly 50 years in the Automotive industry. I like this Yellow Lexus.

General Information:

Assembly- Japan; Classification is- Midsize; Vehicles from Lexus- CT, ES,GS, GX, IS, LC, LS, LX, NX, RC, RX.

Handling & Performance:

The RC “F”model is V8 powered but the RC 350 had a V6 that I had no problem with since there was no want for more power.

Styling:

Lovely design for style you can’t mistake.

Fit and Finish:

Always outstanding design and assembly at Toyota.

Cost:

More than I care to pay for transportation and not as much as I would pay for a gorgeous car. Since we’re looking at high end cars why not go test drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Refi the house before you go. I’ve owned some of those too over the years. BUT, I’ve learned if it Flies, Floats or goes fast, rent it or have a friend with one.

Conveniences and comfort:

OK, so there is one thing that was noticeably lacking in this car. Getting in and out is a pain. Literally it is the nature of sport cars and it must be taken into consideration. The older you get the more difficult it is to pour yourself into a low to the ground car. Getting out is even more interesting. Girls in dresses? Men in Kilts? Something to think about.

Consumer Recommendations:

If you’re in the market for a sporty car and you’re agile enough to enter and exit the car without hurting yourself this class is exciting to drive. I’ve known women as beautiful and exciting but quite frankly they can be a pain too. Know what I mean. On the other hand, to be fair, I’m sure the gals have known guys with inflated egos as well.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Lexus RC 350 45,000 23 4 2 Japan Japan
Mercedes Benz C-Class 44,000 25 4 2 Germany Germany
Audi A5 44,000 27 4 2 Germany Germany
BMW 4-Series 45,000 27 4 2 Germany Germany

Good News:

Fast, fun to drive and very pretty.

Bad News:

Mostly for the young at heart.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter V6 dual OH Cam, direct injection and VVT (Variable Valve Timing), 8-speed auto trans with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, Drive mode select: ECO, Normal, Sport and Snow, 18” Aluminum wheels, 8-airbags, Power ABS disc braking system with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution),Smart stop technology, Vehicle dynamic integrated management, Safety system with pre-collision system, pedestrian detection, high speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam headlights, Back up camera, Lexus Enform connect with Enform remote, tire pressure monitor, 60/40 split folding rear seat, 10-way power driver seat, 8-way power passenger seat, smart access with push button start/stop, genuine wood interior trim, information display including audio, phone and trip info, Bluetooth hands free phone and audio streaming, HD radio, real time traffic and weather, MP3 player, USB integration, CD, Sirius XM satellite radio.

Gas Stats:

20 City and 28 Highway MPG

$3.65/ Gal avg. July 2, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $43,576 plus.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Lexus GS 300 4-door Sedan

2018 Lexus GS 300 4-door Sedan

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Lexus GS 300 4-door Sedan(2018-year model name changed from GS 200t).

Few will disagree there is a nostalgia for cars of the early by-gone days but,clearly,all cars are far better today. And although competition is good for we consumers, I’d be ok with fewer brands. It’s likerestaurantswith long all-inclusive menus that give me more choices to choose from than I would like and too many confuses me.

Lexus cars are a delight to drive, and if this oneis within your transportation budget it will be a tough choice considering all the great cars on the menu. Some list the GS 300 in the middle of the ‘pack’, being topped by BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz. Surely, I agree the Germans put out a quality product, but my experience in owning a German and Italian auto repair business, leads me to take exception with some pundits. My bitch is simple – those same German cars are particularly expensive to maintain, topped by BMW. SO – I wouldn’t rank the Germans above the Japanese car makers because of that.

If you read my column regularly you know I have been test driving a lot of Toyota / Lexus cars over the past months. In my opinion, based on critiquing many, is they are consistently good cars across all models tested.

General Information:

Assembly- Japan; Classification is- Midsize; Vehicles from Lexus- CT, ES,GS, GX, IS, LC, LS, LX, NX, RC, RX.

Handling & Performance:

Twin Turbo acceleration is on the top of my list of performance aids, especially when you have a smaller displacement engine. To me, 4-cylinder engines make more sense in recent years, even though I grew up with muscle cars that Detroit carmakers conditioned us to believe in.That was when gas was $.19 a gallon here in the US, while Europe was hugely more expensive. To keep it in perspective, today US gas prices are around $3.50 / gal. while the same gallon of gas would cost over $13.00. My point is that European car makers were forced to be more interested in fuel efficiency than in the US.

With the benefit of forced induction (turbocharging) manufactures are moving rapidly toward more efficient 4-cylinder engines. Turbo technology coupled with VVT (variable valve timing), and direct injection of the fuel is what makes 4-cylinder engines possible and desirable. The racing world has made all this innovation a reality as they have pushed the envelope over the life of the industry. Some of the fastest cars, btw, are 4-cylinder engines.

Styling:

Lexus is not afraid of bold and innovative styling. Love it.

Fit and Finish:

Always great attention to detail at Lexus.

Cost:

Not cheap to buy, but you get what you pay for, and the cost of repairs is less than the German offerings.

Conveniences and comfort:

Perfect. More and more great features are found on higher end (higher cost) cars and depending on your threshold of financial pain you can pretty much have all the cool stuff available on cars these days.

There are a few downsides to this vehicle and one is its convoluted infotainment controls. The display is not a touch screen, and most settings are accessed using a distracting mouse-like controller.

Consumer Recommendations:

You can either test drive them all or hang this list on the wall and throw darts. You can’t go all that wrong either way. All these ladies are alluring but I’m partial to blonds so that doesn’t narrow the field much. But then come to think of it Kimberly Guilfoyle is hot too. OK, so I don’t have a problem testing them all.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Lexus GS300 48,000 26 5 4 Japan Japan
Acura TLX 47,000 24 5 4 Japan USA
Jaguar XF 49,000 28 5 4 United Kingdom United Kingdom
Volvo S90 49,000 27 5 4 Sweden Sweden
Audi A6 51,000 28 5 4 Germany Germany
Infiniti Q50 51,000 22 5 4 Japan Japan
Lexus ES 43,000 40 5 4 Japan Japan
BMW 5 Series 53,000 27 5 4 Germany Germany
MBZ E Class 54,000 25 5 4 Germany Germany

Good News:

Fast, fun, elegant and beautiful.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter inline 4-cylinder 241 horsepower twin turbo engine, 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted manual shifters, drive mode select with ECO/Normal/Sport modes, ABS power braking system with electronic brake force distribution, 17” alloy wheels, tire pressure monitor, 10 airbags, stability control, dynamic integrated management, blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert, back up monitor, pre collision system, pedestrian detection, all speed dynamic radar cruise control, high beam automatic system, lane departure alert with steering assist and lane keep assist, perforated leather seating with driver memory system, power tilt and telescopic steering column with auto tilt away, smart access with push button start / stop, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power tilt and slide moonroof, power folding mirrors, climate control, audio system with advanced voice recognition, HD radio, DVD/CD player, Bluetooth, USB audio plug and Sirius XM satellite radio.

Gas Stats:

22 City and 32 Highway MPG

$3.49/ Gal avg. June 24, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $46,310.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited. When you head out to the OUTBACK you have options. I like Jeep a lot but if I were buying an off-road vehicle Subaru and Jeep come to mind. Jeep is more rugged in appearance and for me I feel more protective in the Outback that is more of a passenger vehicle more suited to Beverly Hills than off-road hills if you get my meaning.

More importantly and unfortunately only manual transmission vehicles may be towed behind motorhomes, so not possible with AWD Subaru’s. So, for me, that narrows my choices to Jeep. And although it could be trailered it is not an option for me. Obviously, it doesn’t affect all that many people.

General Information:

Class- SUV; Cars from Subaru- Accent, BRZ,Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Legacy,Outback, WRX& WRX STI.

Handling & Performance:

A very nice ride that is comfortable and with adequate power with the advantage of AWD on all Subaru products is a big plus. All good.

Since 2015, select Subaru models feature a new yaw-control system called Active Torque Vectoring (ATV). Not to get too technical this relatively new technology makes handling more precise and enhances the vehicle’s agility while cornering by using the braking system to help turn the vehicle. With ATV, you can push driving to new levels of performance while also feeling a sense of command while driving.

Styling:

Traditional Subaru.

Fit and Finish:

Subaru quality is second to none.

Cost:

Very well priced.

Conveniences and comfort:

As equipped at $32,000 it has all the hot items I like to see. When I’m on the road a lot, especially for those long-distance trek’s I like to add Smart Cruise Control.

Consumer Recommendations:

If you are safety conscious and are an outdoor kind-a family this is a must for comparison with what else is out there. The outback is my choice out of the competition noted except for the VW Atlas that is new and I will be testing it next month.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled Drive Train
Subaru Outback 34,000 28 5 4 Japan USA AWD
Ford Flex 34,000 19 7 4 USA Canada FWD
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 34,000 22 5 4 Korea USA FWD
Kia Sorento 34,000 23 5 4 Korea USA FWD
Chevrolet Traverse 33,000 21 8 4 USA USA FWD
VW Atlas 33,000 20 7 4 USA Germany FWD

Good News:

Smooth, comfortable, AWD safety, good fuel economy SUV.

Bad News:

It only seats 5 if more is important.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter horizontally opposed (Boxer) 175 horsepower 4 cylinder engine, CVT – continuously variable transmission with 6-speed manual mode, AWD – all wheel drive, Hill descent control, active torque vectoring, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, hill holder, cruise control, electronic parking brake, auto power door lock, power windows and exterior mirrors, remote keyless entry system / ignition key, security system with engine immobilizer, roof rails, tire pressure monitor, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth and cruise control switches. Blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, keyless access with push button start, power moonroof, fog lights, 18” alloy wheels, foldable side mirrors with turn signals, All weather package with 3-mode heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer, dual mode heated rear seats, 10-way power driver seat and 4-way power passenger seat, perforated leather trimmed seats, woodgrain pattern with matte finish accent trim, power rear gate with memory height, illuminated inner door handles and overhead console, Harman/kardon premium audio system with 576 watt amplifier and speakers, auto up/down driver and front passenger windows with pinch protection, dual zone climate control, rear seat air vent outlets.

Gas Stats:

$3.49/ Gal avg. June 18, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

25 City and 32 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $32,695.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited. One of the reasons so many want to own flexible vehicles is their wide range of use. Although this Pacifica is a FWD vehicle and can’t go deep into the rugged back country where roads are non-existent, venues like the Mt. Whitney Portal area dirt roads west of the town of Lone Pine, California, are well suited for front wheel drive, low to the ground vehicles like this Pacifica.

For those who don’t know the area or history it is a beautiful part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range that is home to the tallest mountain in the contiguous US. It looms 14,505 feet above sea level. For the real adventurous traveler you can climb from the trailhead at 8,000 feet to go to the top.

For the movie buffs you probably know that 150 movies and about a dozen television shows have been filmed in and around Movie Road in an area named the Alabama Hills (Naming is a whole other story). In the early film days movies including Tom Mix films, Hopalong Cassidy, The Gene Autry Show, The Lone Ranger and Bonanza used this spectacular setting.

Also Classics such as Gunga Din, The Walking Hills, Yellow Sky, Springfield Rifle, The Violent Men, Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), the Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott “Renown” westerns, part of How the West Was Won, and Joe Kidd.

More recent productions such as Tremors and Joshua Tree, were filmed here. In Gladiator, actor Russell Crowe rides a horse in front of the Alabama’s, with Mount Whitney in the background, for a scene presumably set in Spain. Star Trek Generations was partially filmed here as well as Disney’s Dinosaur and even more recently, many parts of the films Iron Man and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

In the Mt. Whitney venue, where the scenery is awesome, you will appreciate Pacifica’s Tri Pane Sunroof… well the passengers will.

General Information:

It is assembled in- Windsor, Ontario, Canada; Parts- US/Canadian 58%, Mexico 29%; Engine – Mexicoand Transmission –USA; Classification is- SMinivan; Cars from- Chrysler:200, 300, Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid.

Handling & Performance:

On the highway Pacifica issuper quiet and a smooth ride even on the washboard portions of the dirt roads.

Styling:

Pacifica hasn’t changed much in looks over recent years, and to me that means it must be a winning design not needing major change. I get that change is generally a marketing ploy historically, and that I believe is because people want the newest in most everything. But even if your ego doesn’t require the newest design, what goes into the Pacifica is really most important.

Newer and higher tech stuff is what makes the most significant improvement in today’s car world. You can have all the cool stuff in the Pacifica. You can even have the newest and best seatback video systems for your passengers that include video remotes and wireless headphones (so they can be oblivious to the world around them).

Fit and Finish:

Beautifully assembled in Canada.

Cost:

A lot of car for the money even though many will say a lot of money for a car.

Conveniences and comfort:

Outstanding innovation that is, not only very impressive, it adds so much to owning a car like this. The stow-n-go seat storage is super easy to put the seats up or away and out of sight. Nice and perhaps the best of all in this class. And if you shuttle a lot of kids about you will appreciate the built-in vacuum cleaner that works great.

Sometimes it’s the small things that you appreciate and the one thingremained in my memory is the Capless fuel filler cap. Simple but a nice touch. And it doesn’t take much getting used to the hands-free power sliding doors and tail gate either.

Chrysler says wind noise is the best, quietest in class, allowing a speech intelligibility rating that is unsurpassed in its competitive set. Air leaking is to be around 225 CFM, also at the top of its class. This was done by using, among other things, acoustic 5.0-mmlaminate windshield glass; acoustic wheel liners; upper doors that don’t stick out; aero-optimized mirrors; and triple-sealed doors.Personally I think you will agree with me that the cabin is super quiet and very noticeable.

Consumer Recommendations:

Not a lot of cars to test drive in this segment so look at ‘em all. Sorry I can’t help much here because I like them all.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled Drive Train
Chrysler Pacifica 45,000 22 8 4 USA Canada FWD
Toyota Sienna 45,000 20 7 4 Japan USA AWD
Honda Odyssey 46,000 22 8 4 Japan USA FWD
Kia Sedona 43,000 19 8 4 Korea Korea FWD

Good News:

Super quiet comfortable ride with features that will spoil you while others will keep you safer.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter V6 24 valve with VVT (variable valve timing) engine, 9-speed FWD automatic transmission, front, side seat and curtain airbags (all rows) and front knee airbags, LATCH Child safety system, rear back up camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic detection, park sense with stop assist, stability control, sentry key theft deterrent system, keyless enter with push button start/stop and remote start feature, capless fuel filter, hands free sliding doors and liftgate, 7” color driver info display, Uconnect NAV with 8.4” screen display, Apple CarPlay & Google Android capable, Tri Pane panoramic sunroof, vacuum system, Noise control system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated 2nd row seats, power 8-way front seats, power folding 3rd row seats, front seats have auto advance and return, heated steering wheel, SiriusXM radio and travel link with traffic and guardian service, 506 watt amplifier, 3rd row USB charge port, 18” aluminum polished wheels with all weather tires, power folding mirrors with turn signals, foglights.

Gas Stats:

$3.69/ Gal avg. June 9, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

19 City 28Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $43,695.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT
By Phil Shuyler

Who knew horses could roar? In the case of the 2018 Ford Mustang GT, they can. From startup to full throttle and everything in between, the car just oozes muscle. And behind that muscle is a 5.0L V8 producing 460 horsepower and 420 lb. ft. of torque. That engine along with the optional GT Performance Package ($3,995) and Active Valve Performance Exhaust ($895) create an audible treat for those that love the sound of power.

Sound doesn’t mean as much if you don’t have the performance to match it. The Mustang GT comes through going from 0-60 mph in under 4.0 seconds. It’s hard to beat the speed of the 10-Speed SelectShift Automatic, however for those that want to row their own, a 6-speed manual transmission does come standard. The automatic adds $1,595 to the car’s price tag, so if you don’t need it, do yourself a favor and put that money toward the performance package and exhaust.

On the road, the Mustang feels stable and planted. Putting your foot down – just a little – provides good engine noise without finding yourself all of a sudden going 80. Push a little harder though and you’ll feel every cubic inch of the glorious power plant. I would have preferred the manual shifting mode to be a little more responsive, however having 10 gears to choose from means you can upshift and downshift as much as your heart desires.

There are 6 available drive modes, which include Normal, Sport+, Track, Drag Strip, Snow/Wet and MyMode. MyMode is where you can create your own unique mode. Each mode will adjust the steering, exhaust and suspension. Of those areas, the exhaust is probably the most noticeable when changed as it can transform the car from a sleepy kitten to a roaring lion.

During our week of driving, we experienced fuel economy of 29 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg with mixed driving. That bests Ford’s EPA numbers of 25 mpg highway, 15 city and 19 combined. Of course that’s with “normal” driving…no doubt a lead foot will mean more trips to the pump.

One feature I didn’t like was the Lane Keeping System. Overall I’m a big fan of this technology, however the Mustang provided feedback too early and too aggressively. The steering input was just too abrupt and I felt like it was pushing me around, especially in corners if I got anywhere near the lane markings. There is an option for “Intensity,” however this is only for steering wheel vibration intensity and has nothing to do with the sensitivity of the system. The Lane Keeping System gives you three options for feedback. In the menu you can choose between alert only mode, aid only mode, and alert + aid mode. If you find yourself continually being pushed around, consider trying alert only.

Exterior

On the outside, the Mustang has muscular shoulders that help give it an aggressive look. To take the style a step further, consider the optional Black Accent Package (includes a black painted roof), Performance Rear Wing, Raised Blade Decklid Spoiler, Unique Rear Spoiler, or Spoiler Delete. When it comes to wheels, Ford is offering 8 different styles including seven 19” options and one 20” option. You also have 11 different paint colors to choose from. Ours was Lightning Blue Metallic and probably received over a dozen compliments from people telling me how much they love the color. If you want racing stripes, you’ll either need to step up to the GT350, or put them on yourself.

Interior

The inside of the Mustang GT feels the part of a muscle car. It has clever switches used for toggling through the various modes, traction control, steering sensitivity and hazard lights. The available dual-zone climate controls also use a switch style design which looks fantastic, especially with their use of metal. The optional heated and cooled seats are comfortable and with the rear seats folded down, you can actually fit more cargo than you might think. Like any sports car, the backseat is really only useful for storing your things, not your friends.

Contrast stitching matches seat insert colors that include Ebony, Midnight Blue, and our favorite, Showstopper Red. The available customizable 12” fully digital LCD instrument cluster is spectacular and changes dramatically with each drive mode. There’s a 4.2” SYNC infotainment screen that’s standard, and an 8” screen is available. The SYNC system feels like it needs a big update as competitors like the Dodge Challenger have systems that look better and are more easy to use. If you choose not to use SYNC, you are able to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is a big plus.

Difference Between Mustang GT and Shelby GT350

So you may be wondering, what are the differences between the Mustang GT and the Shelby GT350. Well, first is power. The GT350 has a larger 5.2L V8 that has 526 horsepower and 429 lb. ft. of torque, versus the GT’s 460 and 420 respectively. The GT350 also only comes with a manual transmission. Of course you’ll get the Shelby badging and some standard exterior cosmetic treatments and performance enhancements as well.

The price of our GT with the Performance Package and other goodies was $52,265 while a similarly equipped GT350 is a little over $61,000. Both have performance that will not disappoint, so you’ll just have to decide if the extra power and Shelby badges are worth $9,000. I’d say save the money and put it toward some time on the track.

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