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 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.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV
By Phil Shuyler

Living with an electric car no longer has to feel limiting. For years, electric vehicles came with no emissions, but they did come with range anxiety. That feeling of running out of juice nearly goes away with cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV. It still may be difficult to go on long road trips with the Bolt, but everyday driving, commutes to work and trips to the grocery store have never been easier.

The Bolt EV has a range of 238 miles per charge. That means many people may only have to charge the car a 2-3 times per week. And with more businesses and office buildings offering EV charging stations, finding a place to plug-in is easier than ever. The 238 mile range could also mean you never have to charge away from home, making the cost of ownership even lower.

Driving

Currently, the Bolt EV has the longest range of any EV without a Tesla badge. It drives smoothand comfortable and has good power, even at higher speeds. That’s a big plus as a downside to many EVs has been the lack of high speed torque. It even has a Sport mode if you really feel like burning some kWs.

Some available safety features include lane keep assist, collision alert, rear cross traffic alert and electronic stability control.

Exterior

As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I personally like the Bolt EV’s exterior styling more than that of its EV competitors. It feels tall and has a large greenhouse that provides excellent visibility. The Cajun Red color of our test car is probably our least favorite of the available colors, which include Arctic Blue, Mosaic Black, Nightfall Gray, Summit White, Kinetic Blue and Orange Burst.

Interior

Of all EVs on the market, I like the interior of the Bolt EV the most. It feels open, bright and technologically advanced. There’s some attractive accent lighting and a great use of contrasting colors with a variety of textures. In the center of the dash is a large 10.2” infotainment screen that provides a wealth of information. It also combines with the available Bose audio system to pump sound through 7 speakers. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility comes standard and 4G LTE Wi-Fi is available.

To keep you comfortable, it’s available with heated seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, and ample front and rear legroom. The cargo capacity is also respectable and quite functional at 56.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

The 8” LCD Driver Information Center (aka instrument cluster) is crisp, uses bright colors and contains a wide variety of information. You can also customize the display from Classic to Modern and Enhanced Visual Modes.

While on the go, the my Chevrolet Mobile App allows you to remote start the vehicle, lock or unlock doors, monitor charge status and find charging stations. Being connected to your car through your phone is one of those things that you don’t think you need, but once you have it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Pricing for the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV starts at $36,620 for the LT and tops out around $44,000 for a fully loaded Premier trim. Those prices are before any tax incentives, so be sure to check for available state and federal incentives if you’re considering the Bolt or any electric vehicle.

Some big news in the industry is the announcement of the 2019 Hyundai Kona EV, which will have an EPA estimated 250 miles of range. That’s going to be a prime competitor for the Bolt EV when it goes on sale later in 2018. For now, it’s hard not to be tempted by the bowtie’s EV.

2018 Jeep Compass Latitude 4X4

2018 Jeep Compass Latitude 4X4

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Jeep Compass Latitude 4X4. You can get into this Jeep for about $25,000 but if you want all the bells and whistles you may find yourself at $35,000. Either way it is a great, historic off-road capable SUV. This will appeal to the out of doors active folks from 20 to 102. Much older than that you’d need oxygen and a walker. I’m a ways from the top end but that is my planned next vehicle. The Wrangler is my choice to tow behind the motorhome to see, not only the highways and byways of much of the country, but take in the adventures of getting off the beaten paths.

General Information:

It is assembled in- Toluca, Mexico; Classification is- Small SUV; Cars from Jeep- Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Patriot, Renegade, Wrangler, Wrangler JK, Wrangler JK Unlimited and Wrangler Unlimited.

Handling & Performance:

Multi-air is relatively new technology to hydraulically actuate the variable valve timing (VVT). That technology was first available from the Japanese and now is becoming more common. The US companies dragged their feet much longer.

Selec-Terrain is one of Jeep’s solutions for increasing the off-road abilities. It allows the driver or the vehicle to choose a suitable setting to travel on various on and off-road terrains. There are five settings: Auto, Snow, Rock, Sand/Mud and Sport.

Styling:

Thankfully the styling has been true to the look and feel begun in the early 1940s, and it continues to ID the vehicle more than 75 years later.

Fit and Finish:

Before Jeep found new homes of ownership over the past few decades the quality was not as good. Today it is Very Good but it retains that rough and ready, tough and tumble image as well as it does in action.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5AWZvB1FuU

Cost:

It is very competitively priced for the basics but you can spend another ten grand if you want the available options.

Conveniences and comfort:

I found the new adaptation of the electric park brake an annoyance initially, but I eventually got used to it and appreciated the addition of safety. When you put the car in park the parking brake automatically sets. It is a great convenience that I think will be seen on more cars over time.

Every once in a while, the test car I get is equipped with the cap-less fuel filler. This simple addition is bound to catch on more in the future on more cars.

Consumer Recommendations:

You gotta love off-road excellence. Look at this YouTube video.

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

There is a large field to choose from so the consumer wins when you take the time to find what tickles your fancy. For an off-road option Jeep is my choice because I have engaged Jeep up close and personal on Jeep Jamboree’s and was blown away at how agile Jeep is off road. Most people don’t go off road so the other contenders listed would do just fine for those who only need to negotiate the speed bumps around town.

Again, as I remind my readers, it is important to identify what you will use a vehicle for and find which one fills that need the best. Subaru is my second choice because it is the recognized specialist when it comes to AWD that is standard on all their models. I think they do it best.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled Drive Train
Jeep Compass 30,000 22 5 4 USA Mexico 4WD
Chevrolet Equinox 30,000 25 5 4 USA Canada FWD
Subaru Forester 30,000 28 5 4 Japan Japan AWD
GMC Terrain 31,000 26 5 4 USA Canada AWD
VW Tiguan 27,000 23 5 4 Japan United Kingdom AWD
Infiniti QX30 35,000 25 5 4 Japan United Kingdom AWD
Subaru Crosstrek 27,000 29 5 4 Japan Japan AWD
Audi Q3 36,000 23 5 4 Germany Germany AWD
Mercedes-Benz 36,000 26 5 4 Germany Germany AWD

Good News:

Great off-road champ, comfortable on the highway.

Bad News:

Fuel economy is not the best attribute of Jeep and never has been. That thought reminds me of the Will Rogers quote: “Things ain’t what they used to be and never were”.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 Liter Inline Multi-Air Engine, 9-speed automatic transmission, remote Keyless entry with proximity entry, Push-Button start/stop, cruise control, speed sensitive power door locks, rear back up camera, rear window defroster, front, side curtain front and rear airbags, front seat mounted side airbags, deep tint sunscreen glass, selec–terrain system, stability control, electric park brake, Roll mitigation, capless fuel filler, air conditioning, Uconnect with 5” display, Bluetooth streaming audio, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

Options are available for some of the hot features you will want to add: Cold Weather and Navigation Groups, including Power heated front seats, Nav and Car Play, climate control and other upgrades ($1,700), Advanced safety features like Lane sense / Lane departure warning and forward collision warning ($895), Safety group – blind spot and cross traffic detection ($795).

Gas Stats:

$3.89/ Gal avg. May 24, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $24,295.

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

2018 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Sport

2018 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Sport

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Sport. There is a broad field of competition in this class as you would expect for a sedan that is affordable and decent size just perfect for most families. For the more adventuresome or out of doors active folks, I’m guessing most would opt for an SUV instead. But if the Sedan suits your need this segment of the market makes a lot of sense as it is more economical. For the money this is a heck of a bargain sporting AWD standard on all Subaru models, and that is unique in the industry.

I’ve heard some say that “Subaru spends more money on quality and features and less on advertising”. Come to think of it you do see less ads for Subaru than most other models… well except for Ferrari or Lamborghini who need zero promotion via advertisement. More advertising has a reverse effect that seems to cheapen the product. After all, if you must blow your horn too much it generally means others are not singing your praises. That applies to a lot more than car sales, don’t you think.

General Information:

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

Handling & Performance:

No complaints here and in the pack of contenders this is the only midsize sedan with standard AWD feature. And it comes from the master of All Wheel Drive vehicles since all of Subaru’s are AWD.

Subaru has developed a new yaw-control system called Active Torque Vectoring (ATV). This new technology makes handling more precise and enhances your vehicle’s agility while cornering by using the braking system to help turn the vehicle. With ATV, you can push your driving experience to new levels of performance.

Styling:

Generic – and that is a good thing.

Fit and Finish:

Subaru fine.

Cost:

Very good as it includes AWD safety.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good overall and the only feature I miss from car to car is the ‘smart’ cruise control that is such a great addition to today’s automotive technology. Otherwise Subaru is a comfy and convenient mode of transportation.

Consumer Recommendations:

Look closely at Subaru because they don’t blow their own horn so I will. Test drive it and you may agree it is a better ‘toyota’. . . just say’n.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled Drive Train
Subaru Legacy 27,000 29 5 4 Japan USA AWD
Ford Fusion 27,000 42 5 4 USA Mexico FWD
Kia Optima 27,000 28 5 4 Korea USA FWD
Hyundai Sonata 28,000 28 5 4 Korea USA FWD
Toyota Camry 26,000 32 5 4 Japan USA FWD
Chevrolet Malibu 26,000 30 5 4 USA USA FWD
Buick Regal 26,000 26 5 4 USA Germany FWD
Acura TLX 34,000 27 5 4 Japan USA FWD

Good News:

Great value for the money, good fuel economy, roomy sedan, great engineering AWD handling and safety.

Good News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 175 horsepower 4-cylinder horizontally opposed (boxer) engine, symmetrical all-wheel drive, continuous variable 6-speed automatic transmission, active torque vectoring, air conditioning, cruise control, electronic parking brake, power automatic door lock and unlock, power windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry with push button start, security system with engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor with individual wheel display, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth and cruise control switches, power moonroof, fog lights, 18” alloy wheels, sport trunk spoiler, foldable side mirrors with integrated turn signals, heated front seats, exterior mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer, auto dimming rear view mirror with compass, 10 way power driver seat, illuminated inner door handles and overhead console, dual zone climate control.

Gas Stats:

$3.89 / Gal avg. May 18, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

25 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,345.

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

2018 Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year

2018 Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year

By Phil Shuyler

It’s not an easy task picking a “vehicle of the year,” let alone an outdoor activity vehicle of the year in the Northwest. This year there were many deserving candidates, and a total of 7 winners, including the pinnacle award of Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year.

Lets cut to the chase – the overall Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year is the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. It’s go anywhere attitude and redesigned interior and exterior styling for 2018 helped cement the Wrangler as the leader in achievable off-road performance vehicles.

Personally, I loved the new Hyundai Kona a bit more all-around. The Wrangler blew the competition out of the water off-road, however that capability comes with a price on-road. It’s not uncomfortable to drive, it just feels larger, feels less nimble at speed and has less cargo space than most or all of its competitors. Enter the Kona. It’s in the subcompact SUV segment, so it’s definitely small, however it’s plenty big for the needs of most people. It has adventurous looks and comes in both green and blue colors that are a call to nature just by themselves. The Kona did however win the Subcompact SUV of the Year.

Another vehicle high on our list was the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure. This trim for the RAV4 provides an increased ride height, larger over fender flares, durable rocker panel guards, and more. And like the Kona, the RAV4 Adventure looks like it’s ready to go exploring. You also receive Toyota reliably and dependability as well as appealing stying both inside and out.

Of course one can’t consider an activity vehicle without mentioning pickup trucks. Two standouts in this category were the 2019 Honda Ridgeline and the 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel. The Ridgeline excelled on pavement, but was not as capable off-road as the Rebel. Conversely, the Rebel is much larger, so its behavior on pavement made it feel like the large truck that it is, but once off road, it felt right at home. That’s not to say the Ram 1500 isn’t comfortable in and around town however. Its air ride suspension is silky smooth and gives you height for clearing rocks and logs, and then lowers for increased aerodynamics on the highway.

Rounding out our top picks is the 2019 Jeep Cherokee. This completely redesigned model is more capable than you might think, and the Trailhawk version also looks the part. Aside from the Wrangler, the Cherokee had the least amount of difficulty crawling over the logs and traversing the hills we encountered during our testing.

Here’s the full list for each of the category winners:

Subcompact SUV – 2018 Hyundai Kona
Compact & Midsize SUV – 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Family SUV – 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
Luxury SUV – 2018 BMW X2
Pickup – 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel
Extreme – 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
NW Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year – 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

(All photos courtesy Ryan Douthit/NWAPA)

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