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 Camry 4-door XSE

2018 Toyota Camry 4-door XSE

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Camry 4-door XSE. When we buy a product it’s always good to look at the philosophy of the company, to the extent we can. I’ve spent time in the manufacturing process in Japan and have reported, to you in the past, on their culture and thus its influence on work ethic. Here is a short look into how a company mission or philosophy can lead to the processes they employ in making the car you may own.

The push towards lean manufacturing originates from the Toyota Production System which is often referred to as Just-In-Time (JIT) Production. The Toyota Company became successful after World War 2 when Japanese factory owners adopted many American production and quality techniques. The manufacturing techniques of Henry Ford and the Statistical Quality Control ideas of Edwards Deming became the foundation of Toyota’s production process.

Unlike the American automotive industry, Toyota encouraged employees to be a part of the production process. The company introduced quality circles, which was a group of workers who meet to discuss workplace improvement. Quality circle members make presentations to management with regarding the quality of production.

Toyota developed a set of procedures that reduced the time required for setup and changeovers. Unlike Ford’s production, Toyota developed manufacturing in smaller batches and this required a set of processes that reduced setup and changeover times. The resulting procedure was Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED). There are seven steps used in the SMED method for the changeover, including streamlining the external and internal activities.

The developments made by Toyota were adopted by other Japanese manufacturers but none were as successful. In the 1980s, American companies began to adopt some of the processes developed by Toyota and gave these names such as Continuous Flow Manufacturing (CFM), World Class Manufacturing (WCM), and Stockless Production.

It is this playing off one another’s experiences that has been the foundation of our world society today. You know, the invention of the wheel. As simple or basic as things are, the rest could never follow to evolve without beginnings. I suspect we need be very careful of thinking ‘we’ did this or that, unless the “we” includes those who came before us.

General Information:

Assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky, USA; Classification is: Midsize; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Camry, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra.

Handling & Performance:

There are three driving settings, ECO, Normal and Sport. Select sport and it will ‘rocket’ your driving experience. It is a quick and fun performer, while the ECO setting will get top fuel economy, thus it fits all driving choices with a touch of a button. I like it – and Normal is good too.

Styling:

Toyota has always been in style and has led the way in many respects. This ‘Flag Ship’ of their fleet has attractive clean lines. Some may be off-put by some unusual accent lines but the look grew on me over the week of testing.

Fit and Finish:

Very good and consistent with a maturing reputation of Japanese quality. Remember Avis’ advertisements in competition with Hertz rent a car battles? Avis smartly said, “We’re #2 – We Try Harder”. Today reflects that slogan in that there are some ‘also rans’ to Toyota that are challenging their perch on the top spot.

Cost:

Toyota is at the upper end of the cost spectrum and for sure Hyundai will impress you as well for the money.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the hi-tech equipment features I recommend and generally very comfortable seating. I really enjoyed the ride.

Consumer Recommendations:

Toyota has earned their many years of consumer recognition of Toyota as a quality product. People have embraced the product, over those years, and thus they have been included in our test drives. They have become the standard of excellence image for foreign cars to America just as Cadillac has been the standard of excellence for domestic cars in America.

All here listed are worthy of your consideration. Try them all and you’ll make the most informed decision about the best car in your future.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Toyota Camry 36,000 26 5 4 Japan USA
Ford Fusion 35,000 20 5 4 USA Mexico
Acura TLX 37,000 24 5 4 Japan USA
Hyundai Sonata 33,000 26 5 4 Korea USA
Chevrolet Malibu 32,000 26 5 4 USA USA
Kia Optima 31,000 25 5 4 Korea USA

Good News:

Quality product with consumer endorsement, Camry has matured nicely over the years and this is a good example of that progress.

Bad News:

Annoying seat belt bell that goes from a gentle ding to a louder unnecessary gong. I get it. Perhaps if they provided a ‘variometer’ so I could adjust the reminder bell to decibels more suited to my sensibilities. I do wear my seat belt but I object to an obnoxious reminder.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter V6 301 hp engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, sport tuned suspension, pre-collision system, dynamic radar pedestrian detection, cruise control with lane departure detection, steering assist, ABS with brake assist and smart stop technology, traction control, ten airbags, electronic brake force distribution, blind spot detection with cross traffic alert, anti-theft system with alarm, 19” black machined finish alloy wheels, auto on/off LED headlights, panoramic glass roof with power moonroof, 8” touch screen with connected Nav and App suite, USB, AUD, 10” color heads up display, sport leather trimmed heated front seats and leather trimmed steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth phone and voice command controls, backup camera with dynamic gridlines, 7” multi-information display, tire pressure monitor, wireless charging pad, smart key system with push button start and dual zone climate control.

Gas Stats:

22 City and 32 Highway MPG

$3.25 / Gal avg. February 11, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $34,950.

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

2018 Mitsubishi Mirage GT 5-Door Hatchback

2018 Mitsubishi Mirage GT 5-Door Hatchback

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage GT 4-Door Hatchback. The last time I reviewed a Mitsubishi was the 2015 Outlander Sport. Mitsubishi is probably the least famous of all Japanese car companies, but the cars they make are every bit as good as the others.

A little history:

Like most companies, their formation and continued operations have traversed troubled times since Yataro Iwasaki founded the company in 1870. It started as a shipping firm and many other offshoots. It was the first Japanese company to open overseas routes. It then got into copper and coal mining and grew into shipbuilding in Nagasaki in the late 1880s. The company continued to expand their positions in banking, insurance and warehousing. Later the company expanded into Paper Mills and Kirin brewery, and on into real estate, marketing and manufacturer of plate glass.

Mitsubishi introduced its first car in 1917.

I was not surprised to learn future presidents of the company were educated in the US and Britain. Yataro’s son, Hisaya who became the company’s president in 1893 graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (USA), and in 1916 at age 38, Koyata Iwasaki, a graduate of Cambridge University (UK), became president.

What we see today is a company with a rich and diverse history and great traditions of the Japanese people. I have spent a good deal of time in Japan and have always been impressed with its people and their culture. Those experiences prompt me to see the good in peoples from all over the world and see how the tides of change over time help to define ourselves as occupants of one planet. Sometimes it seems we’re quite different but we aren’t.

So, if I have an affinity to the people of Japan, I haven’t always been so sure about the products they produce. Many will remember how cheap “Made in Japan” meant in the mid-20th Century. Not so today and we all know how far our relations with Japan have matured. You may recall in 1967 a town was founded in Japan with the name Usa (oosa). Coincidence or was it a marketing ploy to give the appearance (inferior products at the time) were “Made in USA”.

General Information:

It is assembled in Chonburi, Thailand; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Thailand 87%; Engine and transmission – Thailand; Classification is Compact Cars. Cars from Mitsubishi: iMiEV, Lancer, Mirage, Outlander and Outlander Sport.

Handling & Performance:

Although it has good mechanical, state of the art safety features, I found it to be a little light on its feet at higher speeds. To me this is a great around town or short trip car but not so good on the open highway with speeds over 75 mph.

In the 1960s VW Bugs were notoriously light and a stiff wind could move you from lane to lane at freeway speeds. That is not to say this Mirage is as light as the old VW Bug, but it will surely create a tenser driving experience on the open road. . . but then I tend to push the pedal and thus the upper limits.

Styling:

Basic economy car look. Nothing fancy as you would expect at this price point.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

It is hard for me to understand why ‘anyone’ would be without ‘wheels’ in today’s world at these New Car price. Astonishing to me!

Conveniences and comfort:

Basic but good features and the seating is comfortable.

Consumer Recommendations:

If you are in need of a reliable commuter this class offers so much for so little. I’ve tested them all and personally owned a Ford Fiesta in my early years when economy was high on my requirements list for transportation.

Recognised Competition:

Mitsubishi $17,000, Chevrolet Spark $18,000, Hyundai Accent $17,000, Ford Fiesta $20,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Mitsubishi Mirage 17,000 39 5 4 Japan Thailand
Chevrolet Spark 18,000 33 4 4 USA Korea
Hyundai Accent 17,000 30 5 4 Korea Korea
Ford Fiesta 20,000 30 5 4 USA Mexico

Good News:

Fantastic pricing and great fuel economy.

Bad News:

A little light on its feet at higher highway speeds.

Standard Equipment:

1.2 liter 3-cylinder engine, CVT transmission, front wheel drive, electric power steering, hill start assist, power ABS braking system with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, stability control, front, side curtain and driver knee airbags, tire pressure monitor, LATCH child safety system with rear door child locks, anti-theft engine immobilizer, fog lights, front and rear wipers, 15” alloy wheels, split folding rear seat, power front seats, power mirrors, leather wrapped tilt steering wheel, 6.5” display for audio and smartphone link, rearview camera, FM/AM/CD/MP3 4-speaker audio, Bluetooth technology, USB port, cruise control, steering wheel controls, remote entry and push button start, power windows and locks, 12V outlet.

Gas Stats:

$3.15 Gal avg. January 5, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

37 City and 43 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $16,595.

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

The Mazda6 Sedan

Mazda is introducing a new Mazda6 sedan starting this fall. The flagship mid-size sedan pricing starts at $30,695. Photos courtesy Mazda USA.

By Vince Bodiford

Mazda rolls out all-new 2018 sedan this Spring

Mazda has raised the bar with its flagship sedan, with an all-new 2018 Mazda6 that goes on sale early this Spring. In anticipation of the new model, we drove the current model, and put our sights on what’s to come. Without a doubt, the Mazda6 is a classy, fun-to-drive mid-size sedan.

Mazda6 has received improvements every year it has been on sale. Updates for the previous model year added more sound insulation throughout its cabin and available Nappa leather interior appointments.

Perhaps the greatest upgrade of Mazda6 Signature is its source of motivation. Mazda’s award-winning, SKYACTIV-G 2.5T gasoline turbo engine returns for its second application. Higher-grade models will also be available with Mazda’s award-winning turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine.

Mazda6 offers two powertrain options in the U.S., starting with the torquey, fuel-efficient SKYACTIV-G 2.5 naturally aspirated engine. Mazda6’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine comes with a host of upgrades to reduce internal friction and improve efficiency across all RPM, and it adds a greater level of refinement. A new technology that is unique to Mazda in North America is cylinder deactivation in a four-cylinder engine. The outside two cylinders can shut down when the vehicle is operated at steady speeds between 25 and 50 mph, but all four cylinders work instantaneously when needed for maximum performance. A centrifugal pendulum has been adopted in the torque converter of the six-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission, counterbalancing any vibration that might otherwise be felt when running on two cylinders. The result is an imperceptible switchover between two- and four-cylinder modes, yet with very tangible real-world efficiency benefits.

First available in the current-generation Mazda CX-9 midsize crossover SUV, the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T is a technological tour de force that produces 310 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 RPM and 250 horsepower on 93-octane fuel (227 horsepower with 87-octane gasoline).

Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo builds boost nearly instantaneously by using a small inlet port to force air into its turbocharger, akin to how water velocity increases when one holds his or her thumb over a hose. From there, a secondary valve can open up at higher RPM for increased airflow and maximum horsepower. A pulse-scavenging 4-3-1 manifold that prevents exhaust backpressure and helps the engine breathe freely.

Up front is Mazda6’s new grille, which accentuates a look of depth, with a strong framework, low center of gravity and wide stance. Its standard LED headlights integrate fog lamps and carry a crisp, wide lighting signature.
Inside, the interior is all-new, with only the steering wheel and small trim pieces carried over from its predecessor. It’s one of the most comfortable and contemporary interiors I’ve been in for awhile. Most noticeable is its horizontally stretched dashboard that accentuates Mazda6’s width and belies a sense of subtle sophistication.

In this latest round of thoughtful improvements, engineers have revisited every aspect of Mazda6’s chassis, with its suspension offering a smoother, more linear ride quality and greater NVH refinement similar to the ultra-quiet CX-9. Its steering rack is now rigid-mounted to the chassis, offering greater steering response and feel, and its SKYACTIV-CHASSIS has been stiffened in complement with the revised suspension to offer both a smoother ride and to improve outright dynamic performance.

Enabling this more comfortable ride without compromising the Mazda6’s handling, the suspension geometry has been revised, with roll-steer changes that promote more neutral handling.

Additionally, body reinforcements, thicker sheet metal in the rear wheel-wells, reinforced chassis bracing and even thicker suspension trailing link mounts help improve interior conversation sound quality, putting Mazda6 into rarified air when it comes to quietness, refinement and capabilities.

Overall, the Mazda6 continues to deliver great Mazda comfort, value and driving fun – pricing starts at $30,695 and our test vehicle was priced at $34,695 nicely equipped.

for more information, see your local Mazda dealer, or visit MazdaUSA.com

Test Drive by Vince Bodiford

In pursuit of premium, an engine isn’t enough. A chassis isn’t enough. An elegant interior and world-renowned design aren’t enough. Refinement and technology aren’t enough.

But together, they complete what Mazda expects to be yet another step to elevate the brand beyond the realm of mainstream vehicles, offering a “Mazda Premium” experience that will delight customers. As with its predecessor, the new Mazda6 will land among the world’s best cars, for those who love to drive. But it will aim higher, moving Mazda’s consideration with customers to a new, class-above place, because Mazda never stops challenging.

2018 Lexus LC 500 Coupe

2018 Lexus LC 500 Coupe

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Lexus LC 500 Coupe. Wow – I’m smitten and bitten by the Love Bug. Seriously, this is one of those special cars that light your fire. Surely every bit as exciting as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but for the money it even challenges Ferrari and Jaguar F-Type for a couple more examples that come to mind.

For me, this is, a very futuristic new entry into the luxury sports car market that will shake things up. Nice addition. Ok, so yes, I’m in love, but there will not be a word about marriage, no matter how sexy I think it is. A little pricey for my budget and you can’t get a pre-nup signed anyway. It is an exciting ride at close to 500 horsepower.

General Information:

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

Handling & Performance:

Special.

Styling:

Futuristically beautiful presence that will surely turn heads. I particularly was impressed with the Suede interior – very special.

Fit and Finish:

Exceptional.

Cost:

I’m thinking it is an introductory price point and when and if demand numbers rise so will the price. If you are a sport car enthusiast this will be an easy to swallow $100 grand.

Conveniences and comfort:

Enform Suite is a Lexus feature to access apps and Lexus apps for more advanced and more accurate voice recognition, and more.

Consumer Recommendations:

For sport car lovers you will want to see this car up close and personal where I believe it will impress you too.

Recognised Competition:

Lexus LC 500 $93,000, BMW 6-Series $93,000, Mercedes-Benz S-Class $124,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Lexus LC 500 93,000 19 4 2 Japan Japan
BMW 6 Series 93,000 19 4 2 Germany Germany
Mercedes Benz 124,000 20 4 2 Germany Germany

Good News:

A new and exciting addition to the luxury sport car offerings. Fast and super comfortable driving experience.

Bad News:

New entrant for Lexus that is yet to be accepted by consumers. High tech stuff is a double-edged sword, in my view, because for me it can be very distracting and potentially dangerous. We all know how cell phone usage is distracting, the LC operator controls seem to be an iPhone on steroids.

Standard Equipment:

5.0 Liter 471 horsepower V8 dual VVT engine, 10-speed sport direct shift automatic transmission with paddle shift and manual mode, adaptive variable suspension with multi-link front and rear six piston opposed aluminum calipers with high friction pads, 20: 10-spoke cast alloy wheels, run flat tires, safety system with pre-collision and pedestrian detection, all speed dynamic radar cruise control, intelligent high beam headlights, lane keep assist with steering assist and lane departure alert, front, side curtain airbags, smart stop technology, smart access with push button start and stop, heated and ventilated leather trimmed 10-way power adjustable front seats, dual zone climate control, leather trimmed steering wheel, power mirrors with defogger and memory, auto dimming rearview mirror, audio system with 12 speakers, CD and 10.5” screen, AM/FM/HD, SiriusXM, Bluetooth streaming and hands free calling, dual USB plug, Siri eyes free, backup monitor, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio, memory and cruise controls, power windows and Lexus Enform App Suite.

Gas Stats:

16 City and 26 Highway MPG

$3.15 / Gal avg. January 29, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $92,000.

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

Vintage cars are the star at Arizona Auction Week

The firstnew Mustang Bullitbuilt sold for $300,000 at Barrett-Jackson. Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company.

NAIAS Detroit and Scottsdale events dominate the car world headlines this week

By Vince Bodiford

Two of the auto world’s top events are in January – the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS) and Arizona Auction Week – the collection of annual vintage car auctions in Scottsdale. Both shows are coming to a close this week.

ClassicCars.com analysts provided us with data from the major sales and found mixed results, with top-flight European classics failing to hit estimates while muscle cars and entry-level collector cars continued to climb to new highs. Their team of experts covered all the auctions gavel-to-gavel, analyzing the results and market trends.

“Over the past 18 months, we saw the market flatten out and grow stale on entry and mid-level collector cars,” explained ClassicCars.com’s East Coast Editor and Analyst Andy Reid. “The rush on the car market ended, leaving only savvy investors and true enthusiasts bidding. This week, mid and entry-level cars began to pick back up, now reaching reserve much more often than in the past year. What is new is the number of no-sale cars at the top of the market. We may now be seeing the beginning of a correction for multi-million-dollar cars, possibly due to the fact that many who wanted those cars already have them, and those who are still looking are reluctant to pay the premium required to do so.”

Overall Top 10 Sales from all auctions:

1. 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale Coupe sold for $8,085,000 (Gooding & Company)
2. 1958 Porsche 550A Spyder sold for $5,170,000 (Bonhams)
3. 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider sold for $4,455,000 (Gooding & Company)
4. 1931 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster sold for $4,070,000 (Gooding & Company)
5. 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Roadster sold for $2,947,500 (RM Sotheby’s)
6. 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider sold for $2,640,000 (Bonhams)
7. 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS Spider sold for $2,530,000 (Gooding & Company)
8. 2017 Ford GT Coupe sold for $2,500,000 (Barrett-Jackson)
9. 2014 PaganiHuayra Coupe sold for $2,090,000 (Gooding & Company)
10. 1948 Tucker 48 Sedan sold for $1,792,500 (RM Sotheby’s)

Barrett-Jackson

The anchor of Arizona Auction Week as well as the largest and most well attended of the auctions, Barrett-Jackson benefitted from huge attendance numbers along with a variety of interesting cars on the block. Ford Motor Company featured the sale of the very first 2019 Bullitt Mustang (just days after the vehicle debuted at the Detroit Auto Show), which sold for an $300,000 benefitting Boys Republic.

Bonhams

Only two of the top-ten selling car prices came from the Bonham sale – one of the most exceptional 1958 Porsche 550A Spyders in existence ($5,170,000), and near-perfect 1991 Ferrari F40 that sold for just over $1.5 million, well above market average even for a car of its quality. Bonhams had an 86 percent sell-through rate – though post sales could change that number.

Gooding and Company

Gooding & Company finished its two-day sale some $16 million ahead of its 2017 Arizona sale. Not only did it post the high-sale of the week, but a 1931 Bugatti Type 55 roadster sold for $4.07 million and a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS brought $2.53 million. Gooding secured the week’s single-biggest sale, netting just over $8 million for a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale – a one-off car built for Batista Pininfarina himself.

RM Sotheby’s

After a par-for-the-course auction 12 months ago, RM hoped to begin the new year with significant results. The show’s headliner, a 1954 Jaguar D-Type, failed to sell despite a high bid of $9.8 million—well short of its pre-sale estimate of $12 to $15 million. However, the 1948 Tucker 48 personally owned by Preston Tucker netted $1,792,500, exceeding its estimate by $300,000.

Other auctions were also conducted by Russo & Steele, and World Wide Auctioneers. Compared with 2017, the week generated improved results for the middle- and bottom-of-the-market, while the highest-priced vehicles crossing the block netted inconsistent results. For more tips and information on collector car investments, visit ClassicCars.com.

2018 Toyota RAV 4 Platinum FWD SUV

2018 Toyota RAV 4 Platinum FWD SUV

An Automotive Love Affair

By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota RAV 4 Platinum FWD SUV. One thing I miss on the window sticker is the information about where the vehicle is assembled. We all pretty much know what the country of origin is. Many manufactures do a lot of their production in other countries as all are looking for the lowest cost labor pools. Countries like Mexico and China have far fewer regulations and restrictions as it was in America for so long. Somewhere between those sought-after countries and the ridiculous constraints in the US is where ultimately the regulations must settle.

I’ve owned a few Toyota cars and have been happy with them overall. However, in today’s world we have far more choices from around the auto producing countries – most notably South Korea. That reality is very evident by observing the rapid growth, in numbers, of Kia and Hyundai cars on our highways. And ultimately YOU will be the judge of which are best.

General Information:

USA; Classification is Small SUV; 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:

The mountain course that I call ‘The Crest Test’ is to determine how well each car does over the climbing and twists and turns for 40 miles between the desert and La Canada, CA. Surely the Angeles Crest Highway drive is NOT for the faint hearted. RAV 4 passed the test with high marks.

Styling:

You’re going to have to be the judge in this area since it is in the eye of the beholder where beauty is found. SUV’s are generally much the same in design these days, but some will spend 3-times the money to get what they consider that special look.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. And by the way, I have found no difference in quality based on where it is assembled. Some would argue the work ethic is better in third world countries. I don’t know about that. The only real difference is the higher ‘union’ driven costs in the US for that same quality of workmanship. Other countries are not fond of Unions.

Cost:

Consistent in pricing with others in class. My friends who drive Mercedes Benz would say if I can buy the Benz for the same money why wouldn’t I. Upkeep is the answer. Have you ever been to a German car repair dealership? If you have you know what I mean. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are verrrrry expensive places. I speak from experience since I owned a German and Italian car repair business for many years.

Conveniences and comfort:

One of the little talked about but surely one of my favorite conveniences is the keyless entry and push button start feature that is gaining support by consumers. Nearly all test cars I drive are equipped this way.

Another high point, is in technology, where our driving experience is improved is the Smart Cruise Control feature. Some are great while others, like this Toyota version, are only ok. I prefer the versions that operate from a full stop and will resume unattended in traffic. It is there where this feature can be most helpful in reducing the stress of the journey. The stress level almost disappears when you can rely on the car to stop and start without your intervention. Toyota could do a much better job in this area. Smart cruise disengages at 25-30 mph with the sound of a faint bell.

I drive about 100 miles a day in the majority of cars I test, and the RAV 4 is a comfortable ride on the long trips. I did however have a problem with the nagging seat belt bell. To me that unrelenting noise is unnecessary. As I’ve said before I’d prefer to be able to turn it off.

Consumer Recommendations:

Be sure to include the VW Tiguan in your test drives as it may be the exception to the German expensive maintenance rule. Nice cars. We did service VW in our shop, but not so much and not so expensive to fix.

Recognised Competition:

Toyota RAV 4 $36,000, Chevrolet Equinox $36,000, Audi Q3 $36,000, Infiniti QX30 $35,000, Kia Sportage $35,000, GMC Terrain $35,000, Jeep Cherokee $35,000, Mercedes Benz GLA $36,000, Volkswagen Tiguan $33,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Toyota RAV4 36,000 25 5 4 Japan Canada
Chevrolet Equinox 36,000 32 5 4 USA Canada
Audi Q3 36,000 23 5 4 Germany Germany
Infiniti QX30 35,000 25 5 4 Japan UK
Kia Sportage 35,000 21 5 4 Korea Korea
GMC Terrain 35,000 32 5 4 USA Canada
Jeep Cherokee 35,000 25 5 4 USA USA
Mercedes Benz GLA 36,000 26 5 4 Germany Mexico
VW Tiguan 33,000 24 5 4 Germany Korea

Good News:

Consistent performer, comfortable ride and competitive.

Bad News:

The seat belt bell bugged me.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 176 hp 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto trans, front wheel drive, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, stability control and traction control, 4-wheel ABS brakes with brake assist and brake force distribution and smart stop technology, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert, LATCH Anchor system for children, 18” alloy wheels, foot activated power liftgate, power moonroof, roof rails, privacy glass, climate control, JBL audio with integrated Navigation and 7” touch screen display, Sirius XM, ‘Bird’s Eye camera, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, power adjustable driver seat with memory settings, smart key system with push button start, 3 – 12 volt power outlets, USB port.

Gas Stats:

23 City and 29 Highway MPG

$3.05 / Gal avg. January 21, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $34,750.

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

2018 Subaru Crosstrek

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek which is a small SUV with a manual transmission. It is interesting to note, last time I looked, only 3% of cars are equipped with manual transmissions. Pretty rare and thus you have to wonder why manufacturers still equip their cars that way.

A company I worked with for many years confirmed my understanding of the fact that most people simply don’t know how to drive a “Stick Shift”. In the state of today’s cars and trucks there is very limited advantage to manual transmissions. The reason I came to understand it is that equipment with manual transmissions were being broken all too often. Clutches were going out and it pointed to poor driver training.

I get a similar feeling in the Subaru I get driving a Jeep Wrangler, but the Subaru is pretty in dress up clothes. And although it is not as comfortable off road as the Jeep, Subaru is surely capable off the highway if needed and still doubles as a family sedan.

General Information:

Class – Small SUV – Cars from Subaru – BRZ, Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback, WRX.

Handling & Performance:

Subaru’s all-wheel drive, standard on all their cars, gives great handling characteristics. Nice. It is also more than adequate with a 152 horsepower

Styling:

Subaru is an image of all around utility because of the all-wheel drive and higher profile for off road ability. Meanwhile it has a pretty face.

Fit and Finish:

Very Good.

Cost:

Excellent value. Remember this is an all-wheel drive company. All models are the same but since Subaru does it all the time it does it better than most that charge much more for that capable feature.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good features and great if you consider the pricing.

Consumer Recommendations:

If you are an outdoors guy or gal this is a great option for the physically active lifestyle.
It’s a good company making good cars.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ MPG Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled Drive Train
Subaru Crosstrek 23,000 25 5 4 Japan Japan AWD
Subaru Forester 24,000 24 5 4 Japan Japan AWD
Chevrolet Equinox 25,000 28 5 4 USA Canada FWD
GMC Terrain 26,000 28 5 4 USA Canada FWD

Good News:

Great pricing, AWD for those off-road times, doubles as a family sedan.

Bad News:

n/a

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 152 HP 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, dynamic control, 17” alloy wheels, 4-wheel ABS, power assist disc brakes, Hill-start assist, standard roof rails, rear vision camera, Multimedia system with 6.5” touch high resolution display, smartphone integration with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Aha and Pandora, Bluetooth hands free phone connectivity and audio streaming, Steering wheel Audio and Bluetooth control switches, electric power steering, display provides fuel economy, speed monitoring, digital clock and temperature, power windows and door locks and mirrors, tire pressure monitoring system. Crosstrek specific features includes All-weather package, 6-speaker’s audio, cloth upholstery, leather wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, auto headlights.

Gas Stats:

$2.99 / Gal avg. January 16, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

23 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,595

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

2018 Toyota Highlander SE FWD V6

2018 Toyota Highlander SE FWD V6

An Automotive Love Affair

By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Highlander SE FWD V6. In these recent week’s I’ve been covering some Toyota product after a long dry spell with Toyota. There simply are so many cars that have come on the scene we needed to consider contenders of Toyota.

My first impression is that it is what I expected. A good solid car that has enjoyed top billing in today’s world of cars. And rightfully so. I’ve owned a few Toyota’s over the years and personally toured Japanese manufacturing companies. I’ve been impressed with the work ethic there and always been happy with the work they do.

That being said, there are some hungry competitors out there still in the hunt for top spot. When you’re at the top you are very visible and everyone is taking pot shots at you. Toyota has remained vigilant and is a tough competitor. I have been spending a lot of time with South Korean Cars, Hyundai and Kia, and find them to also be tough and determined. I’ve also toured Hyundai production lines and they too are impressive in facilities and people. Don’t you just love Capitalistic competition, where the free market dictates winners and losers. Toyota is no loser, but neither is Hyundai/Kia (sister companies as you likely know). But then, Fiat is at the top today and have taken the lead as largest car company in the world.

General Information:

Assembly: USA; Classification is Small SUV; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, 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:

Bullet proof. Not much more need be said, but I’ll say it anyway. With 3.6 liters, you get great performance and handling over the mountain Angeles Crest curvy road it was comfortable and in control. Naturally high center of gravity SUV’s are not race cars and surely you can’t push too hard, but I tend to do just that to find limits. But all in all, it holds its own and keeps up with the flow of traffic just fine.

Styling:

We all have found Toyota to be recognisable on the highway – mostly because there are so many of them. But the lines are beginning to blur with the growing number of competitors like Hyundai/Kia who are quickly filling in the gaps.

Fit and Finish:

Toyota has been among the best in design and assembly. This Highlander is no exception.

Cost:

In line with the competition.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good. But wann-bes are pushing the high-tech stuff to gain an edge. You’ll want to watch closely and push contenders for the best features for the money.

Consumer Recommendations:

This field of brands are all worthy adversaries. At the end of the day you’re going to have to do a lot of test drives in class to find the best fit for your needs.

If you read my column regularly you know I am a fan of Hyundai/Kia, at this time – but we all know it is YOU who will vote with YOUR dollars and that is what counts. Just take the time and see all of them, because you’ll likely be driving your next car for a good long time. That wasn’t always true when many will tell us cars, in years past not always made for long lasting service.

Recognised Competition:

Toyota Highlander SE $41,000, CadillacXT5 $41,000, Buick Enclave $41,000, Ford Flex $41,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $40,000, Mazda CX-9 $41,000, Dodge Durango $39,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $40,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Toyota Highlander 41,000 23 7 4 Japan USA
Cadillac XT5 41,000 22 5 4 USA USA
Buick Enclave 41,000 21 7 4 USA USA
Ford Flex 41,000 18 7 4 USA CANADA
Jeep Grand Cherokee 40,000 21 5 4 USA USA
Mazda CX 9 41,000 24 7 4 Japan Japan
Dodge Durango 39,000 21 7 4 USA USA
Hyundai Santa Fe 40,000 20 7 4 Korea Korea

Good News:

Great array of features included as priced, good power, comfortable seating for up to 7 people.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

3.5 literV6 engine, direct shift 8-speed auto trans, power assist 4-wheel disc brakes, 19” alloy wheels, stop / start engine system, hill-start assist control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and steering assist, auto high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, 8- front, side and side curtain airbags, blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert, smart key, alarm and engine immobilizer, LATCH anchor system for children, power liftgate with flip-up window, power tilt / slide moonroof with sunshade, 7-seating leather heated front seats, 12-way driver power seat and 4-way passenger seat, 2nd row captain seats and sunshades, 3rd row 60/40 split fold flat seats, backup camera with 8” display, touch screen Nav, and audio and CD/MP3/ USB/Auxiliary, HD and SXM, Bluetooth phone/Music and App suite, 4.2” color nav linked multi-info display, 5 USB ports.

Gas Stats:

21 City and 27 Highway MPG

$2.99 / Gal avg. December 31, 2017

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $40,090.

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

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0 T, ULT, FWD

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0 T, ULT, FWD

An Automotive Love Affair

By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0 T, ULT, FWD (front wheel drive). Yet another of my favourite Hyundai products. I don’t have a dog in this fight or even have a bias toward the Korean people per se, (although the one’s I’ve met at the factory have been delightful people), the product they produce is reflective of people who care about their trade. I do believe Kudos where justly due.

Oh, incidentally ULT is short for Ultimate.

General Information:

It is assembled in West Point, Georgia USA; Parts – US/Canadian 45%, Korea 55%; Engine and transmission – USA; Classification is Small SUV’s. Cars from Hyundai: Accent, Azera, Elantra, Elantra GT, Ioniq, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, Sonata, Sonata Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, Tucson and Veloster.

Handling & Performance:

You know, I don’t think I’d ever want another car without it being Turbocharged. This Santa Fe is a delight to drive and doesn’t take a back seat to most cars on the road. This 4-cylinder develops 240 horsepower. You’re going to love this, not so small, SUV.

Styling:

Hyundai is becoming more recognisable on our highways as each day passes. No longer is Toyota the Dominant player in the market. South Korea is putting out some fantastic looking cars.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Hyundai and Kia came to play in a serious way. You have to be as impressed with the product and its people as I am. I believe you’ll get what you pay for.

Conveniences and comfort:

Aside from the sunroof and the remote start features, which I can always do without, it was equipped just the way I like it. By the way, if I lived it a cold climate I take back my comment about the ‘remote start’. In a cold climate, I have found that feature very desirable.

Consumer Recommendations:

Nice nice SUV. It rates high on my satisfaction meter.

Recognised Competition:

Hyundai Santa FE Sport $32,000, Kia Sorento $33,000, Volkswagen Atlas $33,000, Subaru Outback $33,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Hyundai Santa Fe 32,000 23 5 4 Korea USA
Kia Sorento 33,000 23 5 4 Korea USA
Volkswagen Atlas 33,000 20 7 4 Germany USA
Subaru Outback 33,000 28 5 4 Japan USA

Good News:

One of the hottest products on the market, good fuel economy, priced well, and this one was Turbo FAST.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

2.0 Liter 240 horsepower Turbo Gas direct injection 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, stability management, traction control, tire pressure monitor, front, side and side curtain airbags, 19” Alloy wheels, roof side rails, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, heated power mirrors with turn signal indicators, Panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, hands free rear liftgate with auto open, proximate key with push button start, manual rear side window sunshades, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, leather seating, steering wheel and shift knob, 40/20/40 split folding rear seats, dual climate control, multi-view camera system, power front seats, 8” NAV with android Auto and Apple CarPlay, AM/ FM/HD Radio with Sirius XM/ CD,MP3 with infinity premium audio with Quantum Logic Surround Sound and music restoration technology, Color multi information display, Blue Link (3 yr.) connected services, remote start, multimedia / Map .

Gas Stats:

$3.05-Gal avg. January 6, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

20 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $35,650.

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

2018 Buick Lacrosse Premium FWD

2018 Buick Lacrosse Premium FWD

By Phil Shuyler

The premium mid-sized sedan market is a crowded one, and the Lacrosse may be getting overlooked. Buick is still thought of as a brand for older generations, however if that’s you, the Lacrosse should be on your shopping list.

The Premium trim Lacrosse is an excellent value with loads of standard features, including heated and ventilated front seats (both driver and passenger), massaging front seats (both driver and passenger), fully heated steering wheel, rear vision camera, head-up display, lane keep assist, lane change alert, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, wireless phone charging, and the list goes on and on. All starting at $38,670. Not bad. And with all of the safety features, the Lacrosse has a 5-star overall safety rating.

The standard engine for the Lacrosse is a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, with an optional 3.6L V6 available on higher trim levels. The 2.5L has 194 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque while the 3.6L has 310 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to either the front or all four wheels through a standard 6-speed or available 9-speed automatic transmission. The combination works well and there are paddles on the steering wheel for those who want to take their Lacrosse canyon carving on the weekends.

The 2.5L 4-cylinder engine also includes eAssist light electrification technology, which uses an on-board battery pack to power the vehicle when it comes to a stop. This is handy as the vehicle does not go into “hibernation mode” like many other vehicles when the engine shuts off when it comes to a temporary stop. We’re hoping this technology makes its way into other GM vehicles as well.

Fuel economy is rated at 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway and 29 MPG combined. We experienced 26 combined, so it looks like we needed to drive with a lighter foot. The AWD model is rated at 20 MPG city and 29 MPG highway.

Both long and short trips are comfortable for all passengers. Ample leg room, supportive seats, and easy to access controls make the Lacrosse a pleasure to drive. We liked the redundant forward and back buttons that mirrored the same icons on the infotainment screen. These physical buttons were easier to reach and remained accessible even when the infotainment screen was not on the audio screen.

Available options include navigation, an 11 speaker Bose surround sound system, power sunroof with second row skylight, automatic parking assist and adaptive cruise control.

The starting price for a base model is $29,565, and a fully-loaded Lacrosse Premiumis around $45,000.

For added performance or traction in inclement weather, you can opt for the available intelligent all-wheel drive with active twin clutch. Keep in mind AWD is only available on the Premium model with the V6 engine, so the base price for an AWD model is $43,470.

The story here is more about value than anything else. What you get compared to what you pay makes this a great buy.

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